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water-heater-101

Water Heater 101: Maintenance, replacement time and more

You may not look at your water heater very much, but you rely on it every day. When it malfunctions, it’s noticeable, and it can be expensive to repair.

If you feel completely lost when it comes to water heater maintenance, this blog post will give you the basics and let you know when it’s time for replacement.

Welcome to Water Heater 101!

What maintenance should I perform on my water heater to keep it running smoothly?

Before performing any maintenance on your water heater, first shut off the power and read your owner’s manual.

  • Check for signs of thermal expansion (Twice per year)Thermal expansion is the greatest contributor to early water heater failure. If your home has a closed water supply system (one that has a one-way valve to keep water from expanding back into the city’s water supply), your water heater may be at risk. Check for signs of thermal expansion by watching for bulging in the top or bottom surfaces of your tank and signs of deformity in the relief line or connection nipples at the top of your tank. If you have a closed water supply system or you’ve already experienced water heater failure due to thermal expansion, you probably need a thermal expansion tank.
  • On gas units, check your water heater burner (Twice per year) – The burner should appear blue with yellow tips. If it’s mostly yellow or if it’s sooty under there, your flue may be clogged. This is a dangerous situation, and you should call a technician to inspect the appliance.
  • Flush the water to remove built-up sediment (Twice per year) – By removing built-up sediment, you’ll improve your unit’s efficiency and avoid harmful corrosion. This process is especially important for Hoosiers living with Indiana’s hard water! Learn the steps to flush your water heater.
  • Test the pressure-relief valve (Twice per year) – If your water is over 80psi, we recommend a pressure-reducing valve on the system. To test an existing pressure-relief valve, lift the valve’s handle, and let it snap back. This should release a burst of water into the overflow drainpipe. If it doesn’t, your valve needs replaced.
  • Have your water heater serviced by a technician (Every 2 years) – A leaking water heater can cause expensive property damage. Having a qualified professional inspect your water heater on a regular basis will help you avoid costly repairs in the future and extend the life of your appliance.

How long does a water heater typically last?
The average life expectancy of a water heater is 12 to 15 years.

How do I find out how old my water heater is?
Installation dates can typically be found on the “rating plate” or manufacturer’s label attached to the side of your water heater. If you don’t see a specific date, write down the serial number and contact your manufacturer to find out how to decode the age of your water heater from the serial number. You may also be able to find out your manufacturer’s serial number decoding process with a Google search.

How do people know when it’s time to replace their water heater?
If your water heater is more than 12 years old, has a leak around the base of the tank or is not working as efficiently, it’s probably time to replace it. Replacing the unit can improve your energy usage and lower your monthly utility bill. However, before committing to replacing the unit, be sure to check that you haven’t blown a fuse or tripped a breaker, causing your unit’s malfunction.

7 spring plumbing tips to prevent damage and costly repairs

Spring is here! But before you pull out your lawn chairs, there are some things that need to be done inside and outside your home that will help you prevent costly repairs in the future.

Outside your home:

  1. Check your hose bib for leaks or damage. Do a visual check for leaks coming from your hose bib. Those can cause expensive damage to the exterior, interior or foundation of your home if left untreated.
  2. Clean out your gutters. Over the winter, leaves and debris may have gotten stuck in your gutters. Be sure to clean them out to ensure water can escape. Clogged gutters can cause mold to grow.

Inside your home:

  1. Check for leaky faucets and pipes. Did you know even small leaks can waste as much as 150 gallons per day? Do a visual check of all your faucets and pipes under your kitchen and bathroom sinks. Finding and repairing these leaks right away will help prevent future damage to your fixtures and pipes.
  2. Check for leaky toilets. You can do this by adding a small amount of red food coloring to the tank, and then check the toilet bowl later. If the toilet bowl water is colored red, water is seeping through from the tank. If it is leaking, you should replace the flapper.
  3. Clean your showerhead and faucet aerators. Because mineral deposits can build up on showerheads and aerators, it’s important to clean them on an annual basis to ensure water can flow freely. Here’s a trick for cleaning them. Pour some distilled white vinegar in a plastic baggie, and secure the baggie around the showerhead with heavy-duty rubber bands so the showerhead is completely submerged in the vinegar. At the same time, detach your sink faucet aerators, and put them in a separate baggie filled with distilled white vinegar. Leave them overnight, and by the next morning, your showerhead and aerators should be clean!
  4. Flush your water heater. Over time, sediment builds at the bottom of the heater, which can hamper performance. Draining a gallon or so helps remove the sediment and improve functioning.
  5. Test your sump pump. With springtime, you can expect plenty of rain. It’s smart to test your sump pump before any major rains to ensure it’s working properly. You can do so by dumping a bucket of water into your sump pump pit. The system should turn on, clear the water and automatically shut off. If it doesn’t, call your plumber.

Get an annual service plan & get a discount on future repairs!

Consider hiring a plumber to do a general home inspection of your plumbing. Professionals can do all of the above and are able to spot trouble areas that homeowners may not be able to find. Justin Dorsey Plumbing offers an annual whole-house service plan that will include a 10-point inspection of all your mechanical systems and routine maintenance. The best part? Customers with the annual service plan earn a 12-percent discount on all labor for future repairs.

Call (888) 242-2937 to schedule your first service plan visit!

Fall Pipe Prep: 4 tips to prevent frozen pipes this winter

4 tips to prevent frozen pipes this winterWhile Indiana’s recent unseasonably warm temperatures might have had you fooled, the fall season is here, and it’s time to start thinking about prepping your plumbing for winter.

When water freezes, it can slow the passage of water inside your home’s pipes to a trickle, and, if left untreated, the frozen water will continue to build and expand until the pressure causes the pipes to burst. Frozen pipes and pipes that have burst can be costly to fix.

Avoid frozen pipes by taking these proactive steps before the cold weather arrives.

  1. Drain water from outdoor faucets and water systems. 
Prevent standing water from freezing in unused pipes by draining the water from the pipes before the season’s first freeze. Not sure how to do this? Follow these helpful steps from DoItYourself.com.
  2. Add insulation to any pipes that are outdoors or in unheated areas, including pipes connected to outdoor faucets, garden hoses, underground sprinkler-systems or pipes in crawl spaces, unfinished basements, attics and garages. There are various types of insulation you can use, from newspaper and plastic wrap to more durable foam insulation pipe sleeves you can purchase at a hardware store.
  3. Leave your kitchen and bathroom cabinets open if you’re away from home for a long period of time.
    If you plan to go out of town or be away from your home for more than a day, lower your chances of frozen pipes by keeping your kitchen and bathroom cabinets open. This will ensure your pipes have access to the warm air inside your home.
  4. Never set your thermostat to lower than 55 degrees.
    It’s common for homeowners to try to save on winter energy costs by lowering their thermostats during the night or when they plan to leave town for the weekend. However, this can be a risky decision when low temperatures are expected. If you’re expecting subzero temperatures or wind chills, let your furnace blower run. This will more evenly heat your entire house, including those areas that are harder to reach, like the crawl space. Slightly higher energy bills will be less cumbersome to deal with than costly repair bills.

We know it’s never a good time to not have running water! If you suspect your pipes are frozen or your pipes have burst, contact us at (888) 242-2937, and we’ll get you up and running again.

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Avoid a plumbing disaster with a free plumbing inspectionThere’s a long list of things that can go wrong in a home’s plumbing systems. After more than 30 years in the business, we’ve seen and fixed it all.

Here are 4 common plumbing problems that we repair on a regular basis and how to prevent them:

  1. Leaky toilets – At least once a year, check your toilet for leaks by adding a small amount of red food coloring to the tank, and then check the toilet bowl later. If the toilet bowl water is colored red, water is seeping through from the tank, and you should replace the tank ball and its connectors.
  2. Malfunctioning water heaters – Before doing any maintenance on your water heater, first shut off the power and read your owner’s manual. At least once every three months, drain water from the tank to rid the tank of built-up sediment. 
   Periodically you’ll need to check the water heater burner. It should appear blue with yellow tips. If it’s mostly yellow, or if it’s sooty under there, your flue may be clogged. This is a dangerous situation, and you should call a technician to inspect the appliance. 
   Have your water heater serviced by a professional technician at least once every two years.
  3. Clogged sink or shower pipes – To help prevent clogs, avoid rinsing fats and cooking oils down the kitchen sink, and fit all your tubs and shower drains with a strainer that will catch hair and soap chips. If left to go through the pipes, these items solidify and cause clogs.
  4. Garbage disposal problems – Extend the life of your garbage disposal by using cold water when running it, avoiding overloading it, never disposing of hard items like bones or corn husks and never using a caustic drain opener (like Liquid-Plumr). If the disposal stops working, try the reset button located on the bottom of most disposals before calling a technician.

We hear it all the time. Homeowners call us with a plumbing emergency and then say, “I wish I would have known how to prevent this.”

You can prevent plumbing emergencies by being proactive and scheduling a Free Plumbing Inspection with us.

Our free plumbing inspection includes:

  • A visit from one of our efficient, highly-skilled plumbing technicians, who will check your home’s plumbing.
  • A thorough inspection of your plumbing – everything from pipes, faucets and washing machine hoses, to supply lines, water pressure and toilets.
  • A written report of our findings and recommendations on how to proceed.

This is a $167 service and worth every penny, but we’re giving it to you for free until May 31!

Schedule your free inspection today by filling out our online request form or calling us directly at (317) 745-4830.