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Fall 2012

Two Easy Ways to Get More Years Out of Your Hot Water Heater

A hot water heater can break down for a number of reasons, but with proper maintenance, you’ll cut out almost all potential problems before they can occur.

One of the first things to take into account when you’re worried about how long your water heater will last is the hardness of your water. The term hardness refers to how much of certain minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium, is dissolved in your water. A moderate amount of these minerals is fine, but when the concentrations become excessive, the water can actually damage many parts of your plumbing system, and that includes your water heater.

The damage from hard water comes from a buildup of minerals inside your tank and the pipes that flow into and out of your water heater. This buildup will eventually make it impossible for your water heater to function properly and will probably shorten the life of your equipment. If you discover you have hard water in your home, the best thing to do is install a water softening system to get those minerals out before they cause you bigger problems.

Cleaning and Part Maintenance

Even if you don’t have hard water, you should still protect your water heater from sediment buildup. All that really means is draining your tank and getting inside to clear out anything that’s accumulated in the bottom. The frequency of these cleanings really depends on how much builds up in your tank and how quickly it happens, but a good rule of thumb is to clean it twice a year.

You can reduce the stress on your water heater and even your entire plumbing system by having a Pressure Regulating Valve installed in your home. This helps a lot if water comes into your home at high pressure. Regulating that water pressure will reduce the stress on your water heater and help it work well for longer.

Of course, no matter what steps you take on your own, it’s always a good idea to have a professional come in once a year to inspect your water heater and perform thorough maintenance on your system.

During one of these checkups, a certified technician will inspect your entire water heating system to make sure it is functioning properly and free of debris. They will also clean out any sediment or residue that built up and replace any parts that aren’t functioning properly or that are showing signs of wear.

While you may think that your water heater is working fine, it won’t be able to function as efficiently without regular maintenance. Taking a few easy steps now will have a significant impact on the lifespan of your water heater.

 

How to Spot a Leak

A leaky plumbing system is no good. Even a small leak can cause serious water damage, foster the growth of harmful mold and mildew, and invite termites into your home. For these reasons, it is important to get leaks repaired right away, but what if they are not obvious?

Read on to learn how to spot the warning signs of leaks before they become a serious nuisance.

Look Around

Although you may not be able to see a leak directly, many times there is evidence left around the house. Call a professional to inspect the plumbing system if you notice any of the following warning signs:

  • Damp carpet or water on floors that cannot otherwise be explained. Water may be seeping up through the floor or dripping from the ceiling above.
  • Brownish stains on the ceiling or near the top of walls.
  • Mold or mildew growing on walls or floors. These tiny plants need water to survive and grow, so their presence often indicates an increase in moisture. They especially like to crop up in bathrooms, where it is warm.
  • Puddles or other unexplained damp spots in your yard. This can be a sign of a water or sewer line leak.

Listen Up

Even if you don’t see signs of a leak, you can sometimes hear them. For instance, if it sounds like there is water running through your pipes even when no one is using water, it can be a sign of a leak. If you notice these sounds, especially combined with any of these other red flags, it is probably time to call in a professional.

Pay Attention

Lastly, there are two important areas where you should watch for changes. One is water pressure. If your home’s water pressure drops appreciably, it can mean that there is a leak somewhere in the system. Signs of low water pressure include weaker streams from the shower head and the washing machine taking longer to fill.

You may also notice that your water bill has increased, even though your family’s usage habits have not. This is a sign that water is being wasted somewhere, and a leak may be the culprit.

No matter what the warning signs, it is important to have all leaks looked at and fixed right away in order to prevent serious damage. Call a professional at the first sign of trouble to stop leaks before they start.

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