now browsing by category
Dryer vents are one of the leading causes of house fires. If they are short through-wall vents, maintenance is fairly simple. Slide the dryer out so you have room to work. Disconnect the flex hose from the wall. Slip a dryer duct brush through the duct and out the other end. This should be inspected annually and cleaned as necessary.
If your duct runs up through the attic and out through the roof, you’ll probably need a professional to clean it. These are even more troublesome as dryers are not built to move air through a long length of duct.
You see these on almost every roof. They are the vent pipes that let the sewer drain pipes “breathe”. Without vents, your drain pipes would not function properly. Much like holding your finger over the top of a straw and finding out the liquid will not drain out of the straw, your drainage system needs to allow air in to allow liquids out.
Most of our vent drains have a lead boot covering them. Something like this:
But if you have squirrels in your neighborhood, and they travel across your roof, they will often stop to gnaw on these lead vents. Evidently, chewing on the lead feels good to them. The down side is that once they chew through the top of the boot, moisture (rain) can get into the home via the gap now in the system. This water will drain down into a wall cavity where it and it’s associated damage are hidden from view.
Here we can see two examples of failed boots. They both are allowing water into the walls of the home.
Here we have a video of a leaking mixing valve in a shower. The valve is old even though the shower has just been retiled. The flippers did not bother to update the plumbing while they had it exposed.
The valve is obviously leaking out of the front, but this sort of valve relies on o-rings to maintain the seal. It could also be leaking out of the back as well, depending on how many o-rings are worn out. If it is leaking out behind that trim pieces or the back of the valve, water is getting into the wall cavity behind the shower. Water in a nice warm cavity with lots of wood will grow fungus and molds. All that pretty new tile may have to come off to repair the damage.
The good news is that most leaky shower valves are repairable. A good handyman or plumber should have the unit repaired so that water only comes out where it is supposed to.
If you own a home, you probably have a water heater.
Unless it is one of the tankless types, your heater consists of a tank with an inlet, an outlet, and some sort of heating method (gas or electric). These tanks act as sediment bowls for the home. Incoming water sets in them and the suspended particles settle out. The number one killer of electric water heaters is this sediment. It accumulates to the point that it comes in contact with the lower heating element, overheating the element and killing it.
Periodically, the tank should be flushed to eliminate this sediment. If your tank is older than 10 years old or has rust showing on the base or top and has not been flushed before, you may not want to flush the tank as the sediments may be plugging pin-hole leaks.
Flushing a water heater is a fairly straightforward process:
- Connect a hose to the lower drain.
- String the hose out to a safe place to drain it. The sediments may not be good for planting beds or grass.
- Turn the drain valve on and run until clear.
- Shut off the drain valve.
- Disconnect and remove the hoes.
- Repeat every 6 months.
Some valves require a large screwdriver to open (like the picture above). Other have a standard knob like the hose bibs on your home.
As the mixing valve in the shower ages, sometimes the water inside the valve comes out of the valve. Mixing valves of various brands us various types of cartridges and o-rings to keep the water inside the valve. The chemicals in the water such as chlorine and calcium break down the synthetic rubber compounds in the o-ring, aging it and making it brittle. As the valve gets twisted or pulled, the brittle rubber o-ring cracks, allowing water to escape the valve. A new cartridge will normally correct this.
If the leak falls onto the edge of the tub or the spout, water may get back behind the tile and into the wall cavity. This will lead to mold, wood rot and worse. Keep the tub spout well caulked in any case.