How Long do Water Heaters Last?

How Long do Water Heaters Last?

As with all appliances, despite the inconvenience, water heaters are susceptible to wear and tear over time. How long they last, though, varies a fair amount due to a couple of significant factors, mainly relating to some specific factors. In the case of a water heater, these factors include the anode rod, and the make-up, electric or otherwise, of the water heater.

The water heater age can be less or more so than the actual length of time you have had the appliance, depending on how well-cared for it has been. Heater replacement is likely to occur sooner if the water heater is not maintained well enough. If you are timely and aware of the maintenance required for the upkeep of your water heater, replacing the water heater will happen later on in its life.

Water Heater Lifespan: How Long do Water Heaters Last?

Water heater lifespans can vary. The most common, traditional water tank-style heaters can last anywhere from 8 to 12 years.

When Should You Replace Your Water Heater?

Replacing your water heater is necessary at some point in time. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms, and if they are appearing in your water heater, then it’s time to replace it before it fails completely. The symptoms include age, rust or corrosion, drain malfunction (i.e., not draining), hot water tank malfunction (i.e., leakage), temperature malfunction (i.e., too cold or staying luke warm).

Repairing Your Water Heater and Watching for Symptoms

Before you replace your water heater entirely, you can opt to repair some of the above symptoms, particularly if you are hoping to lengthen a water heater’s lifespan. If repairs are done properly, sometimes with the help of a professional, you might be able to go so far as to double the lifespan of your water heater. Below are some symptoms to monitor to keep your water heater in good repair.

Watch for Rust

Water tanks are made out of steel and will rust eventually. If your tap water is slightly red when dispensed, it is likely due to rust in the water tank. The tank would then need to be replaced. Once it has begun to rust, it is difficult to slow the process. Rust leads to corrosion, which could cause your water tank to leak. Leakage can damage your home, so it is best to take action quickly in replacing your water tank. This is especially important if the water tank is in your home. If the water tank is in your garage, less damage will come of it, so you do not need to replace it as often.

Monitor for Leaks

If you are worried about leakage and cannot replace your water heater quickly, then you can find alarms online to let you know when there is a leak. Alarms are relatively accurate and inexpensive, with the added benefit of putting your mind at ease.

At the bottom of your water heater’s tank, there is a build-up of sediment that occurs over time. For those with gas water heaters, it’s likely that you have heard a ‘pop’ when the burner is on. This popping sound is a clue that the sediment build-up is significant. Sediment builds up in electric water heaters, as well, but there is no popping sound.

Prevent Sediment Buildup and Clogs

The build-up of sediment can clog the drain valve of the water heater and lead to a breaking down of the steel tank. Once per year, flush your water heater so that the sediment is removed. This will help to prevent any damage to the tank or the drain valve. If you are not regularly flushing the water heater tank, the sediment will cause major issues and shorten the lifespan of your water heater.

If it comes to the point where the drain valve is so clogged that it cannot be drained at all, then you should call for professional help or you might need to replace your water heater entirely.

Replace the Anode Rod

To really extend the life of your water heater, replace the anode rod. The anode rod is a long metal piece that draws corrosive pieces from the water. If the rod itself is corroded, then it cannot properly do its job. Anode rods are made from aluminum and magnesium.

The top of the anode rod can be seen from the top of the water heater, and is shaped like a hexagon. If you can’t see the head of the anode rod, check with your water heater manual. The rod might be hidden slightly under the heater’s top metal sheet or connected to the hot water outlet. Be careful if you are attempting to replace the rod by yourself as the water will be, of course, quite hot.

By replacing the anode rod, the corrosion mentioned above is slowed down. It’s important to replace the anode rod before the water heater is too close to failure or completely in failure. You will likely need to replace the anode rod every five years or so. Aluminum replacement rods for the anode rod can be found at home improvement stores.

When to Stop Repairing and Just Buy a New Water Heater

Heater replacement is more common in older water heaters. If your water heater is edging in on the 12 year mark, or is older than 10 years, then it’s probably time to look at entirely new options for your water heating system. Even with careful maintenance, some water heaters will need to be replaced sooner than you might hope.

It’s possible to make your water heater last longer if you maintain it carefully, whether it’s an electric water heater or a gas water heater. By maintaining your water heater, you can lengthen its lifespan and avoid replacing your water heater too often or too early.

Ice Maker Not Making Ice?: Try This

Ice Maker Not Making Ice?: Try This

Ice maker not making ice? As with most home appliances, ice makers have a breaking point. It can be quite an inconvenience when an ice maker is not making ice, but there’s no need to jump to call a professional just yet. Try some techniques on your own and see if you can repair your ice maker with minimal costs.

Ice Maker Repair: Understanding Common Problems

Ice makers are not complicated technology, so if your ice maker stopped working it shouldn’t take too long to get it back up and running. There are a few common problems with ice makers, most often the case is that the ice cubes are not coming out of the ice machine at all. Below, some simple ice maker repair strategies are explained.

Initial Ice Maker Repair Strategies

If your ice maker is not making ice cubes, then the problem is typically due to a clog in the supply line where water has frozen.

1. Unplug the Refrigerator and Turn off the Water Line

To fix this, start by unplugging the refrigerator. Find the shut-off valve – it’s likely underneath the sink or directly behind the fridge. Turn the shut-off valve completely ‘off.’

2. Clear the Water Line

Once everything has been turned off or unplugged, you will need to warm the water line. The most efficient way to warm the water line would be to run some warm water over it. A turkey baster or other tool that allows for precision work best in warming up the water tube.

Another option, if you do not have access to warm water or a proper way of dispensing it over the water tube, would be to let the refrigerator remain unplugged for two hours of more. Of course, remember to empty the contents and find a place to store perishables so the food does not go bad while you are warming up the refrigerator.

3. Turn the Water Line Back On

After the water line is warmed up, turn the shut-off valve back ‘on’ and plug in the refrigerator. If the clog in the supply line is gone, so the water is no longer frozen, then you should be able to hear the water running to fill the ice mold. Ice cubes should start to be produced shortly after.

4. If All Else Fails, Replace the Water Filter

If the clog seems to be due to something other than frozen water backing up the ice maker production, then you might need to replace the water filter.

It’s not uncommon that an ice maker stops because the water filter itself is backed up. Find the water filter and replace it with the proper piece. Water filters for ice makers are typically inside the refrigerator. If water filters and tubes were in the freezer alongside the ice maker, the freezer temperature would cause the machine to stop producing ice entirely.

Alternative Ice Maker Repair Strategies

When your ice maker is still making ice, but the ice cubes are massive or too small, there are some easy fixes. In this case, it is likely not due to a clog, and will be fixed with some minor adjustments to the ice maker.

1. Remove the Ice Maker Cover

Focus directly on the ice maker to fix this issue. To start, take off the cover of the ice maker. The cover is the white plate at the front of the ice maker and it should not require much effort to remove.

2. Adjust the Level of Water Flow

The next step will likely require a flat head screwdriver. Underneath the cover, once it has been removed, use the screwdriver to screw towards the minus or plus symbol on the ice maker control panel. The minus symbol will decrease the amount of water used in ice production and the plus symbol will increase the amount of water. Depending on if you want smaller or bigger ice cubes, you will move the screw in either direction.

Other Reasons Your Ice Maker Stopped Working

There are some more specific issues that could be to blame for why your ice maker stopped making ice. If the above issues are not the cause, then it could be that the tap valve is bad.

1. The tap Valve is Bad

The tap valve is a small device which links the ice maker water supply line directly to the water tube. Replace the inlet valve and the tap valve if these appears to be the issue. For this more complicated cause of ice maker repair needs, you can find a repair kit online to do it yourself, or call for a professional to install a new inlet valve or tap valve.

2. There’s a Problem With the Solenoid

Another more complex issue has to do with the solenoid. The solenoid is attached to the water line. This piece of the ice maker can be found either at the back or very bottom of the refrigerator and connects to the ice maker from there. The solenoid is meant to receive power to fuel the ice maker’s production of ice.

When working with the solenoid to troubleshoot, unplug the refrigerator. Remove the sediment screen inside the solenoid and clean it with some water. Check that the piece, as a whole, is not defective. If there appear to be any issues, you can buy a replacement solenoid online.

Ice maker repair techniques like this should not take up too much time or money. If some problems persist, then you might need to call in for some extra help. Be careful working with the ice maker controls and while replacing or cleaning any of the fill tubes, inlet valves, or water tubes.

Washing Machine Drain Pans: What Are They and Why Should You Have One?

Washing Machine Drain Pans: What Are They and Why Should You Have One?

Your washing machine is without a doubt an essential home appliance, but it is also the one that poses the greatest threat for flooding your home. A single burst hose lets water flood out at the rate of six gallons per minute and can cause thousands of dollars of water damage to your home in just a few moments.

Even a small drip or a buildup of condensation under your washer can eventually turn into a serious problem by creating a perfect environment for mold to grow inside the walls or floor. However, there is one thing you can do to prevent a watery disaster and the expensive repair bill that comes with it: install a washing machine overflow pan.

What is a Washing Machine Pan?

A washing machine pan (also called drain pans for washers, or washing machine overflow pans) is a tray that slides under your washing machine and is designed to catch water from machine leaks, burst hoses, drips from where the hoses connect, overflows, or accidental spills. It will also protect your floors from condensation. You can purchase one at any home improvement store and there are a range of options available so you can easily find a washing machine overflow pan that will fit into your space and your budget.

What are Washing Machine Pans Made of?

Most washing machine pans are made from plastic or another composite material. However, these pans are vulnerable to cracks during installation and may develop leaks over time as well; some companies have begun offering washing machine pans made from stainless steel that are more durable but may be less DIY-friendly to install.

Where Should You Connect Your Washing Machine Pan?

Regardless of which type of overflow pan you choose, it must be connected to a drain pipe to allow any water caught in the pan to drain away from the area. All overflow pans will have a drain fitting on either the bottom or side that needs to be connected to your home’s waste drain system through a drain fitting and PVC pipe. For the DIY homeowner, most of the plastic washer pans available on the market will have a hole already drilled into the pan and may even include the necessary PVC fittings to make installing your washing machine pan quick and painless.

Should You Hire a Plumber to Install Your Washing Machine Pan?

If your home does not have an existing drain in the laundry room or you decide to purchase a metal washer pan, you may need to hire a plumber to handle the installation. There are also washing machine pans that do not require the drain to be connected to a floor drain; instead you can run a hose from the drain in the pan into a laundry tub or even through a wall to the outside. These are extremely useful in homes without existing floor drains or upstairs laundry rooms.

Washing Machine Pan Maintenance

Once you have installed your washing machine pan, some simple maintenance will ensure that your home stays protected from water damage in the event your washing machine leaks or overflows. Check the pan after every load of laundry for cracks or standing water in the pan or if you notice an unpleasant smell in your laundry room. This could be caused by water that is not draining properly and should be addressed as quickly as possible to minimize damages. You should also clean the drain pan with a household cleaner regularly to control odors and to ensure that the pan is in good repair.

Hopefully, you can now see why installing a washing machine pan is so important. It is a fairly inexpensive, simple way of protecting your home from water damage that could ruin your home and your wallet in a matter of minutes.

How to Replace a Shower Diverter Valve

How to Replace a Shower Diverter Valve

You’re probably asking yourself, “What is a shower diverter valve anyway and does mine need to be replaced?” This article will explain exactly what a diverter valve does and list the different types of valves available. It will then show you how to replace a shower diverter valve.

What is a Shower Diverter?

Generally, when you turn on the water in the shower, it comes out of the tub spout and you have to pull a little handle to make the water come out of the shower head. The part inside the spout that does that is a shower diverter valve. This is the most common type of diverter valve and is commonly called a 3-valve diverter or tub diverter valve. These types of valves can also be a 2-valve or tee diverter (the difference will be explained later). Another type of shower diverter is located on the shower head itself and is usually seen in showers with detachable, hand-held shower heads or in showers with multiple shower heads.

What Does a Shower Diverter Valve Do?

Simply put, a shower diverter valve directs the water flow from the tub spout up into the shower head and eliminates the need for a separate shower stall. Next, we’ll briefly explain the different types of valves.

Types of Shower Diverter Valves

There are many types of shower diverter valves. Here are some of the most common.

3- Valve Shower Diverter:

This type of valve is located between the hot and cold taps on the faucet and turning the handle allows water to be diverted to the shower head after the hot and cold water has mixed to the desired temperature.

2- Valve Shower Diverter:

This type has two L-shaped valves and like the 3-valve diverter, it directs the water flow to the shower head once the desired temperature is set. This type of valve can have either a single dial for adjusting the water temperature or can be installed between the taps on a 2-tap faucet.

Tee Shower Diverter:

This type of valve has only a single valve and is located inside the tub spout itself. Once the water temperature is set, you pull a handle on top of the spout to direct the water flow to the shower head. It is probably the most common type of shower diverter valve and is the easiest to replace because the valve is not integrated with the plumbing pipes inside the walls like the previous types of valves.

Shower head Diverter Valve:

This type of diverter valve is usually only seen in installations with multiple shower heads or with shower heads that feature a detachable handheld shower head. Rather than directing water from the spout to the shower head, these valves direct water between two or more shower heads.

How to Replace a Shower Diverter Valve

If you’ve tried turning on your shower and the water isn’t coming out of the shower head — or, if it is coming out of the tub spout and the shower head at the same time — it is likely that your diverter valve needs to be replaced.

This section will take you through the steps to repair a defective valve. Although the process is similar for all the different types of valves, your shower setup may be slightly different from what is described. Also, keep in mind that because both the 3-valve and 2-valve types are integrated with the plumbing pipes inside your walls, you may need to call a plumber to repair or replace the valve.

How to Replace a 3-valve or 2-valve Shower Diverter Valve

For showers with either a 3-valve or 2-valve diverter, you’ll need to remove the handle that controls the valve first. Pop off the plastic cover and unscrew the handle. Next, remove the sleeve over the diverter. Using a socket wrench, remove the diverter valve. Take it with you to a plumbing supply store to ensure you get the correct replacement valve and simply reverse the steps to install the new valve.      

How to Replace a Shower Diverter Valve Located Inside the Tub Spigot

For showers with a diverter valve located inside the tub spigot, you’ll need to replace the entire spigot. Find the set screw on the underside of the spigot and unscrew it. You should then be able to unscrew the spigot from the wall. If there is no set screw, your spigot will have a fitting inside that screws onto the copper pipe that comes out of the wall. Carefully unscrew the spigot to avoid damaging the fitting on the pipe. Regardless of which type of spigot you have, you should clean the pipe or fitting before installing the new spigot. This will ensure that the new spigot fits securely and will prevent leaks.

How to Replace a Shower Head Diverter Valve

For showers with a shower head diverter, you can simply unscrew the diverter valve from the pipe and install a new one in its place. Installing a new shower head diverter valve is fairly simple also. Just remove the old shower head and attach the new valve onto the pipe. Replace the original shower head and attach the handheld shower head, making sure that both attached securely and that there are no leaks.

We’ve shown you how simple a shower diverter valve repair can be and that with a little bit of time and money, you can be sure your shower will be warm and relaxing and will stay that way for years to come.

Washing Machine Not Draining? Don’t Reach for Your Wallet Until You Try These DIY Repairs!

Washing Machine Not Draining? Don’t Reach for Your Wallet Until You Try These DIY Repairs!

For most of us, doing the laundry is about as exciting as watching paint dry, but discovering that your washing machine isn’t draining as it should can turn a dreaded chore into a laundry nightmare. Thankfully, the most common causes of a washing machine not draining can easily be fixed with a little bit of knowledge and a few simple tools.

In this article, we’ll explain some of the common culprits that may be causing your washing machine to stop draining and give you some quick tips for how to drain a washing machine and save yourself the headache and expense of a costly plumbing repair.

Washer Not Draining? Check The Owner’s Manual First

Before you start dismantling your washing machine, make sure to check your owner’s manual for information about your warranty. Some manufacturers will not honor the warranty if you attempt to repair the machine yourself. The troubleshooting section of your manual should also have some useful information that may help you identify the cause of the problem and suggest ways to repair it.

How to Drain a Washing Machine

If your washing machine won’t drain, here’s a step-by-step troubleshooting guide that will show you how to identify and repair the most common problems that can cause your washing machine to stop draining.

How to Drain a Washing Machine (Step 1): Remove Standing Water

Try to remove as much water as you possibly can before unhooking any hoses. It will make the job much easier when the water’s out of the way. Once you’ve gotten as much of the water out as you can, unplug the machine and remove the front panel

How to Drain a Washing Machine (Step 2): Check for Clogs

The most common cause of a washer not draining is a clogged water pump or drain hose. It is not unusual for small clothing items like socks or rags to get pulled into the machine’s drain system and block the hose going into the pump. They may even clog the water pump as well.

Remove the drain hose from the back of the washer and run a steady stream of water through it (a garden hose works great for this). If there is something blocking the hose, this should flush the clog out. When you replace the hose on your machine, make sure that it is not bent or kinked, as this will slow the drain time and make it easier for small items to get caught in the hose again.

How to Drain a Washing Machine (Step 3): Run the Spin Cycle

Reconnect the drain hose and try to run the machine’s drain/spin cycle. If the water drains out, you’ve found the problem and you’re done. If not, the next step is to locate the pump and clean it.

The pump will be a circular, plastic object near the drain hose. Remove the top to get access to the screen inside. This screen acts as a filter to catch lint or small pieces of clothing or debris that could clog the pump and cause the washing machine to stop draining. Run clean water through the screen until it is completely clean and then, using your finger, make sure the pump’s fan spins freely.

How to Drain a Washing Machine (Step 4): Run the Spin Cycle Again and Determine if You Need a New Pump

Re-install the pump and try to run the machine’s drain/spin cycle again. If the water still does not drain or the pump’s fan isn’t spinning, then most likely you will need to replace the pump. You should be able to get a new pump at any plumbing supply store and it is a fairly simple repair.

Once the new pump is installed and the hoses reconnected, run the drain/spin cycle one more time to ensure that it is working correctly and to flush out any dirt that may have been stuck in the hose.

Regular Maintenance to Keep Your Washing Machine Draining Effectively

Once your washer is working properly again, you can avoid future problems with your washing machine not draining by cleaning the drain hose and pump filter regularly. A clogged pump can burn out the washing machine’s motor if it is not fixed quickly, and that is a machine repair that can end up costing you hundreds of dollars.

Discovering that your washing machine isn’t draining can be a nightmare, but hopefully the tips provided above can get you back to laundry day with minimal hassle and expense. You might also look into a home warranty that will cover you in case your washer breaks.