With the cold winter months fast approaching, you will undoubtedly be interested in learning how you can keep your water heater healthy this winter. As well as ensuring that it does not break down when you really need it, you will probably want to find out tips for improving its efficiency and even reducing those ever-expensive utility bills. Well, you came to the right place. In the following post you will find some great actionable advice that will help you to minimize damage to your water heater, while increasing its efficiency and life-expectancy.
This should go without saying really, but as a lot of people don’t seem to know where their water heater is, if they are renting for instance, it is worth mentioning this first. You should not just know where the water heater is in your home, but should make sure that you have clear and unobstructed access to it. Often water heaters are hidden away in the basement or attic and it can mean the plumbing can be quite tricky to reach. So, find yours and make the pathway to it as clear as possible.
It is crucial that you know exactly what type of water heater you have in your home. Is it tank-less water heater or a storage tank heater? Is it propane, electric or even natural gas? Consult your landlord if you are renting or look at the heater or the manual it came with to find out the information. Failing that speak to the company that supplied your water heater. You should also take a note of the serial number and model number, or at least know how to locate this information on the actual tank, as the gallon capacity and age are coded into it. This is essential if you need to refer to your warranty and is typically one of, if not the first question the water heater repair company or a plumber will ask you.
Another piece of information that can be helpful, especially when you are faced with water heater problems, is how you turn the water off. You should also learn how to switch off the power supply or fuel to your water heater too. This is crucial from a safety point of view, if you smell gas or know your water heater is leaking. There is usually a disconnect switch or a gas valve only a few feet away from the heater. Knowing the breaker that is used for your water heater and where the main shut-off gas for your property’s gas supply is located, are also helpful.
The majority of water shut-off valves are situated on the cold side piping above the water heater. You should be able to locate your water shut-off valve entering your home. If opening the breaker box or turning the valve to the off position requires any specific tools, store these somewhere safely, but easily to find. This will make a whole world of difference in time-sensitive situations when you smell gas or water is leaking allover your house.
One of the problems with where water heaters are normally placed in your home is that they are often places where you store stuff away out of sight, out of mind. While you may not know it, this can not only damage the water heater, but pose health and safety risks.
Therefore, it is wise to keep the area surrounding your water heater clear, for some very good reasons such as:
Items that are stored too close to a water heater pose a fire risk
If the water heater starts to leak, you might not be able to catch it soon enough if you can’t see it clearly. This can not only result in needlessly wasting energy as the heater continues to reheat and reheat the water, but can also cause extensive water damage to your property.
A unit operated by a gas fire requires a considerable amount of oxygen to enable it to burn the gas. If something is smothering your water heater or it just can’t get enough oxygen, it can cause damage to the burner chamber or other important parts and even reduce the efficiency of the heater. This can even lead to serious health risks such as carbon monoxide leakages. Carbon monoxide is particularly dangerous because it is odorless and not easily detected.
Every year, at least once, you should drain at least a few gallons of water from your water heater, using the drain valve. You can do this by using either a garden hose or a 5 gallon bucket. When using a hose, run it to a place where the hot water coming out will not cause any damage. With this in mind, it is best to avoid draining the water onto your lawn or yard as it could kill the grass.
A full flush is advised if you notice debris and sediment. A full flush involves turning the temperature right down and completely draining the tank until it is empty. You then turn the water back on, with the drain still open and allow the water to flow out for at least a minute to remove any remaining debris or sediment.
You can turn the thermostat back up to your preferred setting once you have completed the task and the tank is full again.
Begin at the top of your water heater and look out for any serious corrosion or leaks on the valves and piping. With gas-powered water heaters, inspect the draft hood and ensure it is installed correctly. There should always be a few inches of air space between the part that connects to the vent and the tank. Also be aware of any wear and tear or corrosion on the piping and gas line. Thoroughly check where the gas chamber is situated and the thermostat and area below it.
If you happen to spot any charred metal, soot or black residue during your inspection; you should contact a professional to assess and service your water heater as this could be a sign of combustion issues. If you smell any hint of gas, switch your gas supply off immediately and call a professional. With electric-powered water heaters, check for signs of any leaking like residue or rust lines around lower and upper panels that cover the tank’s electrical parts. If you ever smell gas, turn off the gas supply and contact a professional.
If you’re lucky enough to live in an apartment or house with a garbage disposal, you will be fully aware of how just how handy these devices can be. Take unwanted leftovers from mealtimes and toss them into your unit to be ground up and whisked away – it couldn’t be any simpler, right?
With Thanksgiving and the Holidays coming, you’re likely to be tempted to shower your garbage disposal with affection for all the labor and time it is set save you as you clean up after the feasts you will be serving your guests. In order to avoid creating a long-term plumbing problem, however, you’ll need to ensure that you treat your appliance with an appropriate level care and respect. That means keeping your device clean and operational, and only dropping suitable waste into it.
This guide will talk you through the essential do’s and don’ts associated with a traditional American garbage disposal. Follow this advice, and you can use your appliance sage in the knowledge that you are not risking clogged pipes, damaged blades, and the need for professional assistance in making your garbage disposal operational again.
There are certain steps that you need to take in order to keep your garbage disposal operating at maximum capacity.
Conventional wisdom suggests that electrical appliances are best used sparingly so as not to be worn out, but this is not the case with your garbage disposal. Even if you have no intention of using the device, turn it on at least every few days and let the blades spin, running a little cold water over them for around thirty seconds.
This will prevent your garbage disposal from seizing up (think of it as a warm-up for the main usage that will follow in time), and will prevent the blades from experiencing any rust or corrosion. What’s more, regular running of your appliance will ensure that any food remnants that may be lingering out of sight will be flushed away and avoid solidifying and causing an unwelcome blockage.
Cleaning your garbage disposal is essential. It will not only prevent any unwelcome foul smells from filling your kitchen, but it will also sharpen the chopping blades and ensure that you enjoy a long and beneficial relationship with your appliance.
Bleach is certainly effective, but you’ll want to avoid constantly pouring harsh chemicals into your garbage disposal. Instead, simply use cold water, run at regular intervals, and toss in some ice cubes. Couple these with salt and baking soda and you have the makings of a very potent DIY method of cleaning the blades and pipes of your tool, or freeze a little vinegar within the ice cubes.
This will sharpen the blades of your garbage disposal too – or you could also include some eggshells for the same purpose, provided they have not been hard-boiled.
Another hugely effective way of cleaning your garbage disposal is to chop up a citrus fruit, such as lemon, and feed this through. Make sure that you include the peel, as this contains the most acid, and you’ll find that your appliance retains optimum performance as well as smelling great.
To finish up the cleaning process, take an old toothbrush and clean around the rim. Use a little soap if necessary, or work with the domestic products that we have just discussed – vinegar, salt and baking soda are all very powerful weapons in the battle against a dirty garbage disposal.
It sounds obvious, but so many of us fall into the trap of expecting too much of our garbage disposal. Don’t just pour an entire plate of waste into the sink and switch on the device, expecting it to do all of the work for you – the blades are only so large and powerful, after all. Instead, sift through what you’re planning on using your garbage disposal for, and use a kitchen knife to chop these leftovers into the smallest possible pieces.
Have you ever tried to cram too many sheets of paper into a shredder at once, and found that they jam the blades of the device? The same will happen if you attempt to squeeze too much food into your garbage disposal – with the main differences being that paper will not begin to smell terrible after a day or two, and attempting to yank a rogue carrot from a garbage disposal is more likely to cost you a finger than wrestling paper from a shredder.
Don’t take any chances. Spend an extra minute or two getting your food waste as small as possible for a fast and efficient service from your appliance.
Once you have finished chopping your leftovers, don’t switch off the disposal immediately afterward – leave the water running for an extra fifteen to twenty seconds once you’ve finished. This will help flush away any stubborn food remnants that are clinging to the pipes of your garbage disposal system, just out of your sight.
For every positive step, however, there is an equally essential negative action that must be avoided at all costs. If you find yourself acting against these instructions, you could find yourself in all kinds of trouble with the maintenance of your garbage disposal.
You may be used to washing up with warm or hot water, but cold water is the way to go with a garbage disposal. Hot water will melt down and soften up food remnants, which will help this waste cling to – and clog up – the pipes of your disposal system.
When you have a sink filled with dishes following dinner, it’s easy for things to get mixed up and non-food items can land in the garbage disposal.
This is potentially damaging if it’s a piece of silverware such as a fork or spoon, which will potentially blunt the blades as the continually clash with the utensil, or it could be increasingly dangerous if a glass or porcelain mug or cup ends up in there. Obviously you should also avoid grinding any non-food related item such as paper!
If you are concerned about the possibility of non-food related items ending up in your garbage disposal, consider leaving it switched off until you have cleared the kitchen sink.
We get it, bones are icky and you have plenty left over once you have carved a huge turkey or chicken to feed your hungry family. Don’t be tempted to throw the carcass of your main course into the garbage disposal, though; they will lead to the blades of your appliance becoming dull, and potentially slide straight down the pipe and cause a blockage.
Throw such remnants straight into the trashcan, along with tough pits or seeds from fruits. Your garbage disposal is tough but it’s not invincible, and it won’t be able to slice through anything too small to be captured.
Foods such as pasta or rice will expand once they get wet, so anything that is not sliced and diced by the garbage disposal will later end up blocking pipes. High fiber foods, such as lettuce, the skins of onions or potato peelings, are also to be avoided.
These items can wrap around the blades of your garbage disposal, slowing it down in its work and eventually jamming the blades entirely. Picking them out by hand can be a dangerous business, so don’t put yourself in such a position where that becomes necessary.
Nobody enjoys disposing of hot oils and fats, and the idea of just tossing them into a traditional trash bag is hideous to many. For a start, there’s the smell to deal with, as well as the risk of younger family members burning tiny fingers on the liquid, or family pets being attracted by the strong scent and tearing the bag open.
All the same, throwing oil or fat down the drain is a surefire way of clogging up your garbage disposal. These liquids will solidify and congeal further down the pipes, and it’s likely that no amount of cleaning will deal with that. Wipe down the contents of your pots and pans with some kitchen towel before giving them a good hand wash, or invest in some airtight disposable Tupperware and throw away your grease and fat wastes this way. It’s the safest method in the longer term.
If you follow these steps, you should enjoy a long and fruitful relationship with your garbage disposal – and will understand just how useful these tools can be. Treat yours with the appropriate respect, and it will save you all kinds of effort and expense in the longer term.