HOW TO PREVENT A WATER HEATER FAILURE

Imagine waking up to a strange sound. You walk through your home, searching for the source of the popping, hissing, humming, or rumbling noises. With further inspection, you realize the sound is coming from straight from your water heater. What do you do? If you want to avoid the damage and headache that comes with a water heater failure, learn the signs that your water heater is failing, how to turn it off if you suspect a problem, and what you should do if it does end up breaking.

WHAT CAUSES A WATER HEATER TO BREAK?

Whether gas or electric, water heaters typically last 10-13 years – if you pay attention to them. Sometimes, a water heater will start leaking near the supply lines, and if you don’t correct the leak, it could not only damage your surrounding floor and drywall but also lead to corrosion and failure. Other common causes of water heater failure are internal rust, sediment buildup, and high water pressure. Improper sizing can also cause your water heater to burst unexpectedly, leaving you with a huge, expensive mess.

HOW CAN I KEEP MY WATER HEATER FROM BREAKING?

As with any appliance, frequent inspection can make your water heater last longer. Set an annual reminder to check for moisture or pooling water around the water heater, and tighten any loose fittings you find. If you see signs of water or mold damage, call the experts at ServiceMaster immediately. The faster you fix the issue, the less damage and cleanup you’ll have.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK MY WATER HEATER MIGHT BREAK?

First thing’s first – turn it off. If you notice any signs that your water heater is about to burst, including any strange noises, immediately shut it off. If it’s a gas water heater, twist the dial on the top of the thermostat from the ON to the OFF position. If it’s an electric heater, switch the circuit breaker to the OFF position.

AFTER YOU TURN OFF YOUR WATER HEATER:

  • Turn off the water supply. Turn the water valve located on your water heater clockwise until it stops. If it doesn’t move or turn off, shut off your home’s main water supply.
  • Drain your water heater. Attach a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of your water heater’s tank. Run the other end of the hose to a lower area where you can drain dirty water without risking more damage. Then, open the drain valve. You may need to use a screwdriver or another tool to open it.
  • Open the pressure relief valve. Flip the relief valve handle to prevent a vacuum from forming while the water heater drains. Be careful – the water may be hot.
  • Rinse with cold water. After your water heater is finished draining, open the water supply for a few minutes to flush any remaining sediment out of the water heater.

Even if you think your water heater is in good condition, you should drain and refill it once a year as part of your regular water heater maintenance to keep it working properly and efficiently. Simply follow the steps above, and then close the relief and drain valves and turn the water supply back on to refill it.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY WATER HEATER BREAKS?

If your water heater is broken, find a professional to assess the problem right away. If your water heater has burst or you know there’s water or mold damage to the area, call the experts at ServiceMaster Restore®. Our water damage services are available 24/7/365 to ensure you get the help you need, right when you need it.

Mold or Mildew – How Do You Know?

Mold growth is more likely than mildew in your house

Mold on interior wall.

As a young parent, one morning I pulled back the curtain in my baby’s newly decorated nursery to find black furry spots covering the window frame. The question of mold or mildew did not apply here; this was definitely mold growing undetected on the wood frame of a damp single pane window. The warmth of the sun on the window and moisture from my too-frequent use of a humidifier provided its favorite conditions. It couldn’t have been happier.

I was staring in disgusted shock at what is commonly referred to as “black mold” (Stachybotrys Chartarum).  But not every patch of mold or mildew encountered is so easily identified. There are in fact thousands of types of mold in the United States and hundreds of thousands of types worldwide.

Mold grows on dead organic materials

Heavy mold growing in wallboard.
Drywall contains cellulose, a plant fiber, which is a favorite food for mold.

The difference between mold and mildew is best determined by the substance on which it grows. A general rule of thumb makes for easy determination:  mold grows on dead materials that were once alive. These materials include wooden framing or sheathing in the attic, drywall under the sink, underneath bathroom vinyl or just about anywhere in your home. It can grow on dead leaves in a crawl space, leather furniture left sitting on a damp carpet and even on natural fibers such as cotton and wool garments.

Powdery mildew on the other hand, generally grows on living organisms – plants. Powdery mildew looks like its name: it has a white appearance and spreads in a flat pattern. It’s not typically found indoors except on houseplants.

Mold and mildew growth should not be allowed in your home

Mold growth discovered on wall and floor after moving appliance.
It’s possible to have mold growing behind cupboards and appliances and not be aware of its presence.

Of course, whether it’s mold or mildew isn’t usually critical to determine. Both have the same undesirable characteristics of maturing to the point of releasing viable spores. When these spores are inhaled, they may cause negative effects on those allergic to the substances they emit. Both will spread if proper conditions continue. And both should be removed to maintain the health and integrity of your home. Click here to read more about mold’s effects on your home and health.

Mold requires specialized cleaning techniques

Crew member in hazmat suit applying mold serum to interior sheeting
Large areas of mold removal require professional equipment and safety gear.

For more information on mold and how to clean mold yourself, The Centers for  Disease Control and Prevention provides excellent information. Or, if you already know you have a bigger job than you can handle and are wondering how much it costs to get mold removed, contact us. We are mold and mildew removal experts.

If it is necessary to determine the type of mold or mildew present in your home, or how to test for mold toxicity, ServiceMaster by Roth can help. Contact us.