“My water heater is 8 years old, and lately I’ve noticed it takes longer for the hot water to appear, and it never really seems to be all that warm. Is that a sign of needing a new hot water heater? Should I just replace it rather than have a plumber out to repair it?”
The average life of a water heater is 10 to 12 years, so you may still have life in your water heater. But of course it’s impossible to know without actually looking at the water heater itself.
In many cases, people notice a drop in the water temperature this time of year. With the cold Colorado nights we’ve been having since November, your water heater is having to work overtime to keep hot water available for your family.
Beyond the cold weather, you may also be experiencing mineral deposit buildup in your tank.
Tank water heaters have a steel tank with a fiberglass liner that prevents it from rusting prematurely. The water heater has a burner and a temperature sensor located at the bottom, which keeps the water at the temperature you set. As the burner turns on and heats the water, its also separating dissolved minerals from the water, and allowing them to accumulate back down at the bottom of the tank.
Here in Colorado, we have different qualities of water, depending on which part of the city you live in. So the amount of mineral accumulation will vary greatly. If you haven’t flushed these minerals out in awhile, that could potentially be your problem. The more sediment you have, the more your heater will have to work at heating the water.
If you hear gurgling noises coming from the tank, it may be a sign of heavy accumulation of sediment. Water may be getting trapped in the sediment, and be turning to steam as the water heater continues to work. The harder it works, the more it’s costing you in efficiency and in your gas prices.
At 8 years old, you still may have a few years of life, depending on the true problem. Our plumbers can service your hot water heater, and give you the best course of action for fixing or replacing your system.
Here in Colorado, last summer was ranked in the top 15th percentile of wettest summers, and in the bottom 15th percentile of hottest summers. Will it be similar this summer? Only time will tell.
But no matter what type of weather we do have, water conservation should be at the top of our minds. Last year Denver Water entered 2009 with a goal for people to water their lawns two minutes less each time, and we would save 1 billion gallons of water over the course of the season. The great news is that goal was achieved many times over – with over 9 billion gallons less used in 2009 than in 2008.
Even though we can hope for another rainy year this year, planning is the surefire way to make sure we stay on track in 2010, and keep water conservation a growing initiative here in Denver.
1. Commit to watering less again this year. Stick with Denver Water’s goal of watering two minutes less each watering cycle. And make sure you water in the early morning or late evening hours to allow the water to penetrate the soil.
2. Put in a rain sensor. Last week we wrote about Denver Water’s rebate program for 2010. Once again, they will rebate back to you on the installation of rain gages, water sensors and rotary nozzles. Make sure you take advantage of these programs – they help you and the community do all we can to conserve.
3. Check for broken pipes and slow leaks. Denver has been cold this winter, and we’ve seen weeks of freezing days and nights. As spring arrives and we begin to thaw, make sure you head outside and begin checking for water leaks. When a pipe bursts and you have thousands of gallons of water running through your yard quickly, it’s easy to notice. But small cracks can allow thousands of gallons of water to leak over time, especially if its still cool and you’re not outside much. Make the rounds in your yard, and watch for quick changes in your landscaping.
4. Change your landscaping. Xeriscaping is still one of your best options. There are many plants that are perfect for Colorado’s climate. They can thrive during our hot, dry summers, which will return at some point. Check with your local nursery to learn more about suitable plants for Colorado’s climate, and that will suit your taste and work well on your property.
Didn’t take advantage of the Denver Water Rebate program in 2009? Not a problem. Denver Water has extended the water rebate program for all of 2010.
Rebates for Denver residents and customers are available on the following:
- $150 rebate on a qualifying clothes washer. Limit 1 clothes washer per household, must qualify from the model list.
- High efficiency toilets, $125 rebate. Limit 3 toilets rebates per home on eligible toilets using 1.28 gallons per flush or less.
- $25 on a rain sensor, $50 on a wireless rain sensor. Limit 1 per residence.
- Rotary nozzles, $5 rebate per nozzle, must purchase at least four.
- 25 percent of the purchase price on a weather based smart controller
All qualifying model lists are located directly on the Denver Water website.
The town of Castle Rock, Colorado is continuing with their water rebate program for 2010. The Water Conservation Master Plan allows Castle Rock residents the opportunity to voluntarily reduce the amount of water they are using by installing new equipment in their homes, with Castle Rock rebating back a portion of the purchase price. Each rebate can be honored only once per household. The following rebates are available:
- $150 rebate on a qualifying clothes washer.
- 50 percent rebate on the purchase of a rain sensor, up to $50.
- Rotary nozzles, $5 rebate per nozzle, minimum $20, maximum $200.
- 50 percent, up to $300, of the purchase price on an approved smart controller.
- $25 rebate on the purchase of a three day programmable irrigation controller.
- As a part of the smartscape renovation program, receive $1 per square foot of high water use plant materials removed.
Castle Rock residents must meet certain qualifications and provide appropriate forms. Please visit Castle Rock Water Rebate for more information.
Aurora Water will be continuing their water rebate program for 2010, and offer residents of Aurora the opportunity to install high efficiency appliances, and receive a rebate back on the purchase price.
Aurora Water is offering rebates on:
- The purchase of high efficiency toilets using 1.28 gallons per flush
- The purchase of a Tier 2 or Tier 3 high efficiency washing machine
Please check out the Aurora Water Rebate Program for more details.
Colorado Springs has announced it will be continuing on with some of its rebate programs from 2009, and will be starting up new rebates sometime in the spring of 2010. Below is a list of the current rebate offerings for 2010, but make sure you check back to their website to find more programs in the coming months.
- $75 rebate on a qualifying clothes washer.
- $100 rebate on a qualifying toilet. Rebate cannot exceed the actual cost of the toilet.
- Up to $200 on qualifying purchases for irrigation systems, including rain shutoff devices, irrigation heads with check valves, matched precipitation sprinkler nozzles, and weather based irrigation controllers.
See the Colorado Springs website for more information, including forms.
When should you call a plumber?
That’s a question many homeowners face when they attempt to do home maintenance themselves to save money, yet aren’t quite sure of the steps to accomplish each task. Here’s a list of 8 calls we receive regularly from homeowners.
1. Clogged sink. What do you do when a bottle of drain cleaner doesn’t fix the problem? We’ve helped many homeowners with problems located deep in the pipes.
2. Flooding. While you may be able to spend several days trying to clear a clogged drain, flooding is a problem you must act on immediately. It could be as simple as a clog, or something more serious like a broken pipe.
3. No hot water. It could be a simple fix, or require replacing the water heater – no hot water especially in the heart of winter isn’t something you can ignore.
4. Water around hot water heater. When a hot water heater starts to leak, its usually because of a cracked tank. Its time to replace the water heater.
5. Overflowing toilet. The last thing you want is sewer water inside your rooms. The quicker you fix the problem, the less cleanup you’ll have.
6. Gas lines. Whether you’re installing a new fire pit in the back yard, or putting in a new gas range, only someone experienced with gas lines can guarantee your safety.
7. Home repair. If a faucet has been dripping for a while, knowing it needs to be fixed and having the time to do so are two different things. We help many homeowners fix up even the smallest of problems.
8. Remodeling. Maybe you’ve wanted to redesign a bathroom. Or maybe you’ve purchased a new toilet and faucet for the bathroom. As a plumber, were happy to install anything you’ve purchased, and help you give your house a fresh new look.
Even when Colorado has above average snowfall, and water restrictions are limited, it’s still important to focus in on how we can conserve water in our daily lives. In addition to saving money on your water bill each month, water conservation also helps keep lakes, reservoirs and water tables high, reducing overall pollution in our systems.
While we’ve gone over many water saving tips here on our blog, and you can find them easily in the news these days, its always nice to have a quick checklist that can help you make sure you are doing everything you can as a homeowner. Here are 12 ways you can save water in your home.
1. Check faucets and pipes for leaks. Even a slow drip can add up to many gallons of wasted water each year.
2. Don’t use the toilet as an ashtray or for a bit of trash. Keep a trashcan in every room in the house.
3. Install water savings faucets and showerheads in every room.
4. Teach the entire family about water conservation, and begin reducing the amount of time spent in the shower.
5. Update appliances and toilets with water saving models. In 2009 there were many rebate programs and specials on water savings appliances. Watch our blog in 2010, and we’ll let you know when we here of new programs.
6. Never let the water run when you’re working near the sink. Fill the sink for rinsing dishes. Turn off the water while shaving or brushing your teeth.
7. Use the dishwasher and clothes washer with full loads only.
8. Keep a pitcher of cold water in the fridge to avoid letting the tap water run to cool down.
9. Consider installing a hot water circulating system to bring instant hot water to every faucet in your home.
10. Insulate your pipes. Especially with the cold weather we’ve had lately, a little insulation can help save you in many ways.
11. Put in drought resistant landscaping. Xeriscape your yard, and choose low maintenance plants.
12. Water your lawn only when it needs it. Put in a sensor on your sprinkler system, and only water when we haven’t received moisture.
I never realized how much I used my garbage disposal until it quit working after the holidays. Is it time to replace the garbage disposal, or can it be fixed?
It’s funny how we think little of some of the appliances in our home, especially the ones we use on a daily basis – until they stop working.
First, how old is your garbage disposal? A typical disposal will last approximately 10 years. If its nearing that age, it may be better to have us install a new one for you, rather than investing in maintenance on something that has little life left.
If your disposal is still fairly new, it may be a number of things.
A faulty switch
A broken or stuck flywheel
Faulty bolts or connections
Through simple trial and error, we can usually find the problem quickly, and give you an assessment on the right way to proceed.
If you find yourself using your garbage disposal frequently, and with a variety of foods, you may also decide to upgrade and put in a disposal with a larger capacity. They typically range from ¼ to 1 horsepower, with 1 HP being the typical choice for a family home.
Once you make the decision to convert from an existing system to gas (such as from electric to gas range) or you decide to add something new to your home like a gas fire pit, we’ll help you put it into place.
As a plumbing service, we are licensed and trained to help both with water and gas piping throughout your home. Running gas lines is not a simple task, and should be handled with the greatest care to avoid potential hazards.
Here in the Denver Metro area, we typically run gas lines from one of two sources: either natural gas through underground pipe lines into your home, or from storage tanks of propane gas located somewhere on your property. Once you decide on your home improvement, we’ll locate the most effective way to connect up a gas line from an existing pipeline, and run it to the new location.
Before and after any installation, keep in mind the general safety rules for gas. Natural gas has a distinct odor; if at anytime you smell gas, it could be a sign of a leak. Locate the main shut off valve and turn off the gas immediately. Than contact us and we’ll plug the leak for you. Never light a stove, candle, fire or use an electrical appliance – any spark can set off an explosion.