Did you know that you can call us to ask a home inspection related question EVEN if we are not the home inspector that inspected the home you are buying or selling? So feel free to reach out to Jerry to get his opinion on any home related question you may have. With over 35 years of home building and inspecting experience he really has the knowledge to help explain things, or direct you to the right person. We look forward to helping you!
When we do a home inspection we look at the home’s water heater to make sure it is installed properly and well maintained. Keeping the system well maintained can help you when you go to sell your home too. We inspect homes in the Prescott area as well as the northern part of Phoenix metro (Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Carefree, Anthem). But here are maintenance tips you can do yourself.
Storage tank water heaters are the type of appliance that can hum along for years. Once installed, they don’t need constant attention. However, they do require maintenance to keep them running at peak efficiency. These are mostly simple tasks that you can do yourself, but you can also hire a pro to perform regular maintenance for you. Here are some tips on how you can keep your water heater working proficiently, and how often it will need maintenance.
Understanding Your Water Heater
Be sure to review the owner’s manual that came with your water heater. It usually spells out necessary maintenance tasks, as well as other important information, such as safety precautions and size specifications. When in doubt, refer to the manual. If you can’t find the manual, check the manufacturer’s website for instructions on obtaining a copy.
Consult a professional before attempting any maintenance tasks, and make sure that the water line and the power to the water heater are safely shut off before beginning.
Keep the area around the water heater free of clutter. Gas heaters have vents at the bottom that must be kept clear to aid in the heating element combustion. Never store anything with flammable vapors, such as gasoline or paint thinner, near a gas water heater. Providing a clear space around the appliance makes it easy to get to the water shutoff in an emergency. It also gives repairmen room to work on the heater, should a service call be necessary.
Every Few Months
Drain some of the tank’s water to remove the sediment that collects on the bottom of the tank. All incoming water contains sediment that, over time, can hinder the performance of your water heater. The amount you need to drain will depend on the condition of the water.
- Shut off the power. For electric heaters, shut the unit down completely. For gas heaters, move the control dial to “pilot.
- Turn off the cold water supply to the tank.
- Connect a garden hose to the drain valve located near the bottom of the tank, and then run the hose to a drain.
- Open a hot water faucet in a nearby sink and leave it open.
- Open the water heater’s drain valve. Caution: Be careful. The water will be very hot.
- Drain the tank until the water runs clear. This may take a few minutes or longer.
Pro Tip: Plumbers will often turn the water on and off a few times to help stir up the sediment at the bottom of the tank.
- Once the water is clear, close the drain valve and turn on the water supply. You’ll know the tank is full when water is flowing through the faucet you left open earlier.
- When the tank is full, turn the power back on.
The frequency of this procedure will depend on the condition of your water. If the water is perfectly clear from the start, you probably don’t need to drain your tank often. If the water is very dirty, you may need to drain it more frequently.
Test the temperature/pressure-relief valve. It’s located near the top of the storage tank and should be attached to a long tube that extends almost to the bottom of the tank. The valve is designed to relieve pressure that builds up above acceptable levels inside the tank.
- Place a small bucket under the extension tube.
- Lift the valve up, and then push the lever back into position to close the valve. Caution: Stand back because hot water will be released from the valve.
- If there is no release of pressure in the form of air and/or water, the valve may be defective. Consult a plumber to have it fixed.
Check to make sure the venting system is operating properly on your gas water heater. On top of the tank is a draft hood raised above the flue, which is located inside the tank. The hood should be attached to connectors that run to the chimney. If the flue is not drawing adequately, gases that should be going up the chimney could be lingering into the room.
- Turn the temperature controls up so that the burner starts. Wait a few minutes to give the unit time to get going.
- Place your fingers near the opening between the hood and the top of the tank. If you feel air brush across your fingers and up the draft hood, the flue is drawing properly, so you can reset the water to normal operating temperature.
- If you don’t feel air, the flue may not be drawing. Black soot around the top of the tank and the vent hood is also a sign that system is not venting properly. There could be a couple of reasons for the problem, including blockage in the chimney. To be safe, shut down the unit and call in a professional to inspect the system.
Every Few Years
Check the anode rod, and replace it, if necessary. The rod is usually made of aluminum, magnesium, zinc, or a combination of corrodible metals, and is suspended inside the tank. Its purpose is to attract any corrosive elements in the water. The theory is that any corrosion that attacks the rod will not attack the inside walls of the tank. Eventually, corrosion will get the best of the rod, and a new one must take its place.
- Turn off the power to the water heater, and shut off the water.
- Drain off 4 or 5 gallons of water through the drain valve. This will help prevent water splashing up on you as you remove the rod. It is not necessary to drain the entire tank.
- Locate the rod. It’s often threaded to the top of the tank. You may see it right away, or you may need to consult your manual for its location.
- To remove the rod, you will need a ratchet with a 1-1/16-inch socket. Have a helper hold the tank steady while you loosen the rod, and then carefully pull it out.
- If there are sections of the rod missing, you should replace the rod. If necessary, cut the new rod to match the size of the old one. Apply some plumber’s tape to the threads of the new rod, and then carefully lower it into the tank and tighten it.
- Turn the water on and wait for the tank to fill up again. Then, turn the power to the water heater back on.
Keeping your water heater running at optimal performance can save you from needing to replace the unit more often than necessary. Performing regular maintenance will ultimately help extend the life of your water heater, which should be a priority for all homeowners.
It has been one year since we relocated to Prescott, Arizona – but it seems like just yesterday that we sold our Scottsdale home. Most of the home inspections we do are for home BUYERS, but you will see the number one item on this list is to get a PRE-LISTING inspection done by a certified home inspector (like us!). But there are other things you can do as well to prepare your home to get top dollar. Let’s take a look.
- Home Inspection. YES, hire a home inspector to help head off any surprises when you do get a buyer. The National Association of Realtors says that over 75% of buyers will hire a home inspector to look at the house they are interested in. Why not hire someone yourself and then fix the items you can before you get surprised by the buyers inspector. You may have to disclose items you find, but those items will most likely be found anyway, so don’t give the buyers any more ammunition to negotiate the price.
- Pay attention to the curb appeal. Clean up the yard and hire a professional landscaper if needed to trim trees and bushes. If the house needs painting then get that done – it will pay for itself. At least give the front door a new paint or varnish coat. Sweep off patios and courtyards, and get a few potted plants or flowers for the front entry, along with a nice welcome mat.
- Clean and paint inside – Clean or replace carpet and hard floors as needed. If you have a taste for wild colors on the walls, you may want to consider painting them a neutral color for the sale. We even had our kitchen cabinets painted to give them an updated look. Well worth the price.
- Organize – De-clutter all closets and cabinets. Then when you get that done make sure you do the same for garages and basements. We became very well known at our local thrift shops and Goodwill stores! Donate or toss stuff that will not make the move with you. Trust me, it feels good.
- Stage the home – Finally, it is time to stage the home so it shows well. Often your agent will help you with this detail, but you may also consider hiring a professional home stager if you can (depends on the price range of home you are trying to sell). I had a couple neighbors who were great decorators come into the house to give me honest feedback and ideas to help it show better (and we are still friends!).
Good luck with the process, and if we can help just give us a call. Even if you just have a question that you want to ask a home inspection expert. We are here to help.
Advantages of hiring InterNACHI inspectors:
- have to pass InterNACHI’s Online Inspector Examination, and re-take and pass it every three years (it’s free and open to everyone, and free to re-take);
- have to complete InterNACHI’s online Code of Ethics Course (free to take after joining, and self-paced);
- have to take InterNACHI’s online Standards of Practice Course (free to take after joining, and self-paced);
- must submit a signed Membership Affidavit;
- substantially adhere to InterNACHI’s Standards of Practice;
- abide by InterNACHI’s Code of Ethics;
- have to submit four mock inspection reports to InterNACHI’s Report Review Committee (for free) before performing their first paid home inspection for a client if the candidate has never performed a fee-paid home inspection previously;
- within the first year of membership, have to successfully pass the following free online, accredited, and self-paced courses and exams:
- InterNACHI’s “Safe Practices for the Home Inspector” course,
- InterNACHI’s “25 Standards Every Inspector Should Know” course,
- InterNACHI’s “Residential Plumbing Overview for Inspectors” course,
- InterNACHI’s “How to Perform Residential Electrical Inspections” course,
- InterNACHI’s “How to Perform Roof Inspections” course,
- InterNACHI’s “How to Inspect HVAC Systems” course,
- InterNACHI’s “Structural Issues for Home Inspectors” course,
- InterNACHI’s “How to Perform Exterior Inspections” course,
- InterNACHI’s “How to Inspect the Attic, Insulation, Ventilation and Interior” course,
- InterNACHI’s “How to Perform Deck Inspections” course,
- InterNACHI’s “How to Inspect for Moisture Intrusion” course, and
- InterNACHI’s “How to Inspect Fireplaces, Stoves, and Chimneys” course.
- have to pursue inspection-related training by taking 24 hours of additional accredited Continuing Education each year;
- have to maintain their Online Continuing Education Log (free), per InterNACHI’s rigorous Continuing Education policy;
- have access to InterNACHI’s Message Board for exchanging information and tips with colleagues and experts;
- have access to InterNACHI’s “What’s New” section so that they can keep up with the latest news and events in the inspection industry;
- have access to InterNACHI’s time-tested Inspection Agreement, which keeps them (and you) away from lawsuits;
- have access to InterNACHI’s Report Review/Mentoring Service;
- have to carry E&O Insurance;
- have access to a real estate agent Hold-Harmless Clause;
- and have access to many other benefits, training, marketing tools and information to help themselves, as well as consumers and real estate professionals, provided for free by the world’s largest inspector association.
I just finished doing a home inspection in Scottsdale, and on the drive back to the office in Prescott Valley I went past the burned out area from the Goodwin Fire. It was very sad to see, but I hear that the fire is now 75% contained. I do hope everyone keeps these fires in mind as they celebrate our countries independence – be careful with the fireworks and sparklers – and enjoy your friends and families. Have a safe and happy 4th of July from all of us at Sonoran Property Inspections.
Our home inspection office is located in Prescott Valley, and as we watch the smoke grow each day and hear the planes and choppers flying overhead going to fight the flames, we just want to say that our thoughts are with all of those dealing with this terrible wildfire. It is so sad to see this, and to hear about those being displaced. We took some food over to the Salvation Army downtown Prescott to help with feeding those in need, but still feel so helpless. No rain in sight, and the winds just keep whipping. So to all those hotshots and firefighting crews that are working so hard to contain the fire we say THANK YOU and please be safe out there!
- Never use anything but the proper fuse to protect a circuit.
- Find and correct overloaded circuits.
- Never place extension cords under rugs.
- Outlets near water should be GFCI-type outlets.
- Don’t allow trees near power lines to be climbed.
- Keep ladders, kites, equipment and anything else away from overhead power lines.
- Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
- Hire an InterNACHI inspector. InterNACHI inspectors must pass rigorous safety training and are knowledgeable in the ways to reduce the likelihood of electrocution.
- Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old and damaged appliance cords immediately.
- Use electrical extension cords wisely and don’t overload them.
- Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
- Don’t allow children to play with or around electrical appliances, such as space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
- Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least 3 feet from all heaters.
- If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
- Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch, as well as lights that flicker. Use safety closures to childproof electrical outlets.
- Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.
It’s wildfire season here in the Prescott area, so I wanted to make today’s topic concerning home inspections all about fire safety in the home. Well, maybe not ALL about fire safety, but a few tips that may help you stay safe. Even us home inspectors need these reminders. Just last night our smoke alarm in our Prescott Valley home made the chirping (short beeps) noise that signals a need for a battery change (or possible reset).
If you don’t already have permanently installed smoke alarms hard-wired into your electrical system and located outside each bedroom and on each floor, purchase units and place them in those locations. Install them using adhesive or screws, but be careful not to touch your screwdriver to any internal wiring, which can cause an electrostatic discharge and disable them. Many smoke alarms are hard-wired into the home’s electrical system, but may still have batteries for backup in the event of a power outage. They also typically have a test button. Make sure you test them once a month, and replace the batteries once a year. If you hear a chirping noise, this is a signal that the batteries are weak and need replacing.
All new residential construction requires the installation of smoke alarms, usually on each floor of the home, as well as outside each sleeping area. Many newer smoke alarms can also detect carbon monoxide. This silent and odorless killer is one of the primary causes of accidental death because family members can be fatally poisoned while sleeping.
Smoke alarms come in two types. Photoelectric alarms can sense smoky and smoldering fires. Ionization alarms are quicker at detecting flames and fast-moving fire. Dual-sensor smoke alarms combine both these features, and are recommended by the USFA because it’s impossible to predict the type of fire that may erupt in a home. There are also smoke alarms that vibrate and/or flash strobe lights to alert home dwellers who are vision-impaired or hard of hearing.
The leading U.S. manufacturer of residential smoke alarms, as well as home fire extinguishers, is Kidde. Their dual-sensor smoke alarms were the subject of a voluntary recall by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in the summer of 2009 because of a malfunction caused by an electrostatic discharge created during their installation, rendering them inoperable. Make sure that you install any portable smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors safely, and test them after installation. You can also ask your local fire department to do this for you.
Sonoran Property Inspections did another Scottsdale, Arizona home inspection this past week. Here are some hints to help you understand the importance of the care of water heaters and drain pans.
The 2011 water heater had an aluminum drain pan under the water heater to help contain any leakage that might occur if there is a failure. Water heater drain pans are not required by code, however they are becoming more of a standard plumbing item. The drain pan is approx 3” deep and about 1” in diameter larger than the water heater. It also has a separate drain line that is traditionally run to the outside of the building, or to a lower level of a garage floor.
The water heater that we inspected had a drain fitting, however NO drain line which renders the drain pan useless. We of course recommend finishing the pvc drain line to make this drain pan a usable pan in the event of a leak. Certainly not a deal breaker, but it is the type of item our clients appreciate knowing!
Sonoran Property Inspections can perform your Home Inspections and would be happy to discuss this with you. Please contact us for more information on pricing and scheduling.
Recent changes in the Arizona residential Purchase Contract has removed “warranted items” from the contract; leaving all repairs open to negotiation. But just because the seller of the home is not obligated to fix anything, you should STILL get an inspection whether you are buying a home in Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, north Phoenix or the Prescott area.
If the inspection finds something major, the buyer can still walk away from the deal with deposit in hand (make sure you are still within the inspection period). Buyers and sellers can always negotiate any issues that come up when the inspection is done, and even if the seller doesn’t fix anything, the inspection report can serve as a to do list for the buyer. Jerry at Sonoran Property Inspections can also give buyers a rough idea of what any repairs might cost so that they know what to set aside (or ask for in compensation from the sellers).
Remember, the cost of a home inspection is very small compared to the price of the home. Be an informed consumer when buying an “as is” home, and hire a professional certified inspector like Jerry. For your peace of mind if nothing else.