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Water Heater & Shower Maintenance

Most water systems are simple in design and rarely need repairs. That does not mean routine maintenance can be neglected. Hard water, rust and leaks are just a few of the problems that need to be watched closely. Today we will take a look at what maintenance is required for water heaters and showers.

Shower and Tub Maintenance and Cleaning

The main focus for showers and tubs is keeping the surfaces clean and the shower head (or faucet) free of blockage. Hard water is usually the culprit for these problems. This type of water carries in minerals that leave deposits. Over time these deposits slowly build up. On the walls of a shower and the surfaces of a tub it creates an unsightly stain look. For faucets and shower heads, this build up slowly closes the orifices and restricts water flow.

The best defense against buildup is vinegar. For surfaces make a mixture of 4 parts vinegar and 1 part of dish detergent. Heat the mixture in a spray bottle for 60 seconds. Spray the mixture on all of the applicable surfaces and wait for two hours. Come back after the wait period to wash the cleaning solution off with water and scrub brush. The surfaces should be much cleaner. Repeat the process for tougher jobs.

One way to help prevent the need for this process is to use a squeegee. After taking a shower or a bath, use the squeegee to clean the remaining water. Try to move it towards the drain. The mineral deposits appear after sitting water evaporates. The water will disappear and leave the minerals behind.

Water Heater Maintenance

Water heaters come in either an electric or gas version. Before beginning maintenance, remove the power source for safety. We will start by cleaning the tank. The same minerals that cause problems with the shower and tub also are a concern for water heaters. The minerals gather at the bottom of the tank over time. This sediment can be corrosive and create a leak, if left unattended. At least a couple time a year, drain the sediment from the water heater tank.

The power should already be removed. Detach the cathodic anode on the top of the tank. It should be a hex nut that spins out with the rod attached. This rod helps neutralize the minerals. Inspect in for wear and install a new one it is severely degraded. With the cathodic anode rod out, dump in a solution that helps break up the sludge and sediment in the tank. You local hardware store should have product specifically for this task. Put the rod back and in place and wait the recommended time.

Now attach a garden hose to the valve at the bottom of the tank and put the other end outside or in a bathtub. Very slowly open the valve to drain out the water. If it is opened too fast, sediment might kick up and make it difficult to remove. Have a partner watch the other end for water color. It will most likely start out yellowish and then slowly turn clear. Close the valve once it turns clear.

The next step is testing the safety feature on the water heater; the TPR (temperature pressure relief) valve. If too much pressure builds up¬†inside the tank, the TPR valve opens and relieves the buildup. If it fails, the tank could explode. There should be the word “test” on a lever. Push this lever and some water should come out and into the drip pan. Have a professional replace it if it is defective.

An optional step of the process is to clean the heating element. Clean the burners for gas-powered units and clean the heating pads for electrically-powered units. The focus here is simple to clear off any build up in between tank and the heating element. Check the flue for cracks or leaks on gas-powered units.

Drain Clog Prevention

The key to fixing clogs is preventing them before they occur. Avoid flushing hair, grease and solid objects down any drain. Use a strainer to catch any problematic material and empty after each use. One a month drop vinegar down the drain to clear up buildup and debris.

Water Softener

A great way to reduce the problems of hard water is to install a water softener. This is not a cheap solution. However, it is very effective. The salt chemicals used in a water softener work to neutralize the minerals in hard water that promote corrosion or soap scum. Just make sure to break down salt clump in the bin and to keep the bin at least half full of salt.

This article was written by Tyler Golberg of www.HomeSpotHQ.com, an online tool for tracking projects, home maintenance checklists, and recording home facts.

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