If your home was built more than ten years ago, chances are many of the fixtures — especially those that were builder’s grade — are starting to show their age, meaning leaks, plugged drains, toilet troubles, and maybe a water heater that is due for replacement.
Take it from your Calgary plumber: avoid unpleasant surprises by making these four quick checks to prevent problems before they occur:
The Hot Water Tank
Typically, hot water tanks are the first thing to go in a 10-yr-old home. Because Calgary’s water is so high in mineral content, it is especially hard on hot water tanks, and if yours makes it past the 8-10 year mark, you’re doing well.
If you are at the 8-10 year mark now and looking for ways to stretch the life of your tank a little bit, replacing the anode rods in the tank should do just that. For a couple hundred dollars plus labour, you’ll lengthen the life of the tank and put off having to replace it.
The overall length of your hot water tank’s life does depend on how hard you’ve worked it, of course, and it’s worth weighing your options. In a house with just one or two residents, replacing the anode rods at the 10 year mark may buy you another couple years. However, if you’re a couple with a few kids (especially if you have teenagers!), and the tank has been over-worked and under-maintained, you might as well just replace the tank rather than putting the money into replacing the anode rods. Like putting new tires on a car whose engine is about to fail, there’s no use paying for this upkeep on a tank that isn’t going to make it another year anyway.
Check your toilets! At the ten year mark, the flappers likely need changing — if it hasn’t been done yet, now is the time to do it. And if you’re replacing the flappers, this is the perfect time to replace all the moving parts, so plan to install a new fill valve and ball cock in each toilet in your home as well. This will keep them from leaking and ensure they are as efficient as possible.
Depending on who has been using the plumbing in your home and what has been flushed down over the years, your drains may need a good cleaning. Yes that’s right: if you’ve raised any toddlers in your home over the past ten years, your drains could likely use it. We always recommend Bio One enzymes to safely break down any debris or blockages without damaging your pipes, and if this isn’t enough to get things running smoothly, we can come and jet the lines out to clear any sludge that has built up over the years.
In the kitchen and bathroom, seals may be breaking down and hard water build-up might be causing water to run not-so-smoothly. There are a few quick, easy and affordable fixes that will have these essential rooms working like new again.
First, check the aerators on your taps as they tend to get clogged with calcium over the years. These can easily be taken off and replaced, and you will notice that the taps run nice and smoothly with new aerators. You can also choose aerators that control water flow to a certain rate to help reduce water usage within your home. If you would like to prevent future hard water build-up, you may consider installing a water softener.
Next, check the condition of your shower heads. If they are clogged, or cracking, you will want to change these as well. While you’re in there, look at the general seal on the bath tubs and showers — if the silicon seal is starting to show, it could start to leak, so redoing the seal will prevent any potential future damage and keep the tubs and showers looking new.
Is your shower cartridge dripping? It likely has calcium build-up. Soaking it in a water and vinegar solution can break down the calcium and getting things running smoothly again, but if the build-up is beyond this fix, it might be time for a new shower cartridge.
Lastly, take stock of your kitchen faucet. It is likely showing good bit of wear after ten years! Is now the time to upgrade to something distinctive? It’s amazing what a difference a new faucet can make to a kitchen.
Houses start to show their age around the ten year mark, but with some simple maintenance and preventive action, you can keep yours looking and functioning like new for many years to come! If fixtures or appliances around your home are due for an upgrade, give us a call! We can give your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room or general plumbing system the TLC it needs.