Tag Archives: Water

Home Inspector Gives Tips on Water Main and Doors

If you are the slightest bit handy around the house you could save yourself thousands of dollars by taking care of the 10 most common repair problems. We’ll cover two of them here.

Let’s start with the main water valve. It is very important to know where the main water valve is and where to shut it off. You never know when a major problem will happen with your water. For example, a pipe could freeze up and break in the winter. Or you just may have a pipe break because of age.

So knowing the location of the main water valve is very important. Put a tag on it saying that this is the main water valve. Then show it to family members so they know where it is and how to shut off the main water valve in case there is a problem. This may save you thousands of dollars. Make sure that the valve turns easily so that anyone could shut it off if necessary.

The second simple repair is those pesky doors that stick. I am not talking about doors that are out of square because of a structural problem. I am talking about those doors that rub and have sticking problems. Let me give you the two main causes of doors sticking.

One of the easiest things to check and to fix is the door hinges. Sometimes the door hinges come loose over time. There is a very simple fix if your door hinges are loose. Just take a screwdriver and tighten up the screws that hold the door. This will tighten the door up and let it fit properly in its position.

Sometimes you will find that the screws will not tighten up but there is no reason for alarm. Here is a very simple way to fix that problem. The first thing you want to do is support the door because you want to take out all the screws that are holding the hinges.

Now this is the most expensive part. Take a little bit of glue and some toothpicks and stick them into the screw holes. Let the glue dry for about 20 to 30 minutes and then put the hinges back together. I know this may sound strange but it really is an old trick and it works very well. You will be very surprised how well it works.

The second problem with doors is between summer and winter. In the summertime you will notice that the door and frame swell and cause the door to stick and in the winter time the door works fine and has no sticking or rubbing.

On this particular problem where the door is swelling you can try and check the hinges first. But if this does not work you can buy a very inexpensive tool that costs under $20 and can be purchased at any hardware store. You probably can just borrow one from a friend. This particular tool is called a block planner hand rasp.

It looks like something that you would cut cheese with but I do not suggest that you do that. What you want to do is leave the door open and mark the door where it is rubbing. Once you mark the door you can start planing that area. Keep planing until the door closes properly. When you plane the door you are removing small portions of the edge of the door at a time.

This will only take a few minutes and you will find out that you do not have to remove very much material. If the door is real bad and you can not get the door to close then you might have to get a professional carpenter to look at your door problem.

Most likely with just a little planing your door will be fixed.

If you are buying a home, be sure to work with a professional home inspector who will examine the residence and let you know of any items that could turn into major repairs.

Shopping for a New Water Heater

If your water heater is getting older, it’s a good idea to shop for a replacement before you run out of hot water, or worse… wake up ankle-deep in it!

Take note of the energy sources available to you, and the amount of hot water you expect to use. Not every form of energy will work with every kind of heating appliance and some work slower than others. Tanks work with solar, electricity, oil and gas (natural or propane) but tankless units work with only electricity and gas sources. Heat pumps use only electricity.

Estimate how much hot water your household uses during peak hours and look for a heater with a first hour rating (FHR) that meets your demand. A licensed plumber is the best person to make this calculation and help you choose the right size.

Hot water can add up to 25% of your energy bill, so be sure to choose an energy efficient heating appliance.

Storage tank

This is the most common in residential applications, heating and storing hot water until needed. When you open a faucet, the released hot water is replaced by incoming cold water, which is heated and stored again at a temperature controlled by one or more thermostats in the tank.

Storage tanks are simple, maintenance-free and relatively inexpensive to install – but due to constant reheating they use energy 24/7 even if you’re not running any hot water. Electrically heated tanks can be covered with an insulating blanket to help save energy, but not gas or oil-fired tanks.

Tankless

Tankless water heaters, also known as “on demand” heaters, heat water without a storage tank, using energy only when needed – rather than maintaining a tank of hot water. Sometimes individual units are used in a number of locations throughout a house, but most newer homes have one high-output tankless heater to supply hot water throughout the home.

Due to the storage volume of hot water tanks, and the high-output nature of tankless heaters, both are commonly used for heating a home with in-floor radiant systems or through a radiator coil in a forced-air heating system.

Heat pump (hybrid)

Heat pump water heaters are not directly heated. They use electricity to pump heat from the air or the ground to your water tank, using less energy than traditional water heaters.

You can install a standalone heat pump water heater or combine your water heater with your heating and cooling system, employing an air or ground source heat pump. Although installation costs are higher, heat pump water heaters cost less to run over the longer term.

Solar

Solar collectors can be used to harness the sun’s energy and heat your water almost for free! Solar water heaters use a primary tank for storing pre-heated water before it is transferred to a conventional hot water tank, operating on electricity, gas or oil.

Solar collectors can be installed on roofs or on stands at ground level. Shop for a better quality, energy efficient model which will last longer and save money.

Features to Consider

  • Warranty: Typically three to twelve years. Purchase prices are closely tied to warranties, and longer warrantied water heaters tend to be better built and better insulated. In addition to choosing a water heater with a good warranty, check consumer reporting websites and reviews from individual owners.

  • Anti-scale devices: Although scale can shorten the life of a water heater, you don’t need to invest in extra features to get a dependable water heater. Just buy a good quality tank with a good warranty.

  • Brass vs. plastic drain valves: Near the base of the water heater, these valves are used to periodically drain sediment from the bottom of a tank. Brass drain valves are more durable than plastic.

  • Glass-lined tanks: Are designed to minimize corrosion.

  • Digital displays: Easily monitor and control the operation of your tank; set the temperature of the water, set a vacation mode and other functions.

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