Today’s Simple Home Precaution: Hot Water Heater Check

Hot Water Heater Flood

Remediation companies including the Flathead’s Floodco LLC respond periodically to water damage scenarios caused by leaky hot water heaters. Serious structural water damage may require demolition and replacement of floors and walls when water heaters have been leaking for awhile. Sadly, these are often home flooding situations that could have been avoided with simple visual checks by the homeowner.

It costs nothing to periodically check around your hot water heater for evidence of corrosion or leaking from fittings on the intake or outflow lines, temperature pressure, TP, valve, or dampness at the base of the tank. Minor leaks often show up well before a catastrophic tank blowout and flooding event. Slow drips do not fix themselves, so call a plumber or qualified handyman for an evaluation.

Water heaters don’t last forever. Like other home appliances, they can be expected to fail in some way around 10-15 years of service. ‘Planned obsolescence’ is engineered into common home appliances to make them cheaper to manufacture or stimulate more frequent repurchase.

Failures of a heating element or pressure relief valve might be easily repaired by a qualified contractor or handyman. However, If your water heater is pushing 12 years old or beyond we suggest that you replace that older appliance with a newer model having the latest energy efficiency standards.

In the long run you will have purchased peace-of-mind – Preventing more expensive problems. You will also avoid expensive after hours or weekend emergency service calls by replacing a water heater on your schedule, rather than the plumber’s. Energy efficiency will save on operation cost providing a darn quick payback.

Water damage caused by even the slowest of appliance leaks can be very expensive to repair. Long running leaks will inevitably generate a mold infestation in wet building materials. Mold stemming from neglected maintenance is likely not going to be covered by your homeowners’ insurance. 

Make a point this weekend to visually inspect your hot water heater. Figure out its age and plan to replace with a newer unit if it’s beyond the expected life. Please call Floodco 406 892-1717 with questions on water heater water damage concerns. Chances are very good we have the answers.

Posted by Lloy Griffing  October 31, 2014    Email comments welcome: lloy@floodco.net

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The story of a Bumbling Bear and a BBQ Burning Briquettes

bear

Like most of us, you have furnished your deck or porch or patio with a gas grill or traditional Weber-style charcoal grill. It is important to recognize the serious fire hazards of these grills when located too near a home. There is the obvious risk of igniting wooden deck or siding adjacent to a hot grill. Deck fires happen thousands of times a year across the country killing many and causing many millions of dollars of damage.

Maybe not so obvious is the very real risk of a bear (or other large wildlife or dogs) starting your home on fire with a grill. 

If you live in or near the woods or in communities near bear country, you are probably aware that bruins do wander through occasionally. Smells from grilled food will tempt hungry animals to investigate. They are attracted to a grill hoping for a tasty midnight snack of smoked salmon, burger or steak.

We recently responded to a home that caught fire in the wee hours of the morning after a suspect bear tipped over the Weber. The homeowner had grilled earlier that evening and closed up the lid and grill vents. The animal of unknown size tipped over the grill and still warm coals spilled out onto their cedar deck. After smoldering for awhile, the deck ignited around the refreshed coals and then flame quickly spread to the home’s structure.

Fortunately the homeowners and family escaped without injury when awakened by their smoke alarms as smoke and flames entered the home. Multiple area fire departments responded and managed to extinguish the hot blaze, but the structure was extensively damaged and many irreplaceable family keepsakes were lost.

Ask yourself if you really must keep and use the grill on your deck. If the answer is ‘Yes’, please find a way to secure it so that it can not be upset by your neighborhood Yogi or Boo- Boo (or neighbor’s Boxer, Bowser). (Also, you could place the grill on a fireproof platform of ceramic tile or paver bricks that are a safe distance from flammable siding and deck railings.)

weber grill on patio

Posted by Lloy Griffing 10/24/2014. Your comments are welcome.

Email lloy@floodco.net

Clothes Dryer Fires. Important Family Safety Notice.

clothes dryer

Most consumers would agree, the clothes dryer is essential – an appliance of huge convenience and necessity. This appliance can be very wasteful of energy and dangerous to own if not correctly installed and maintained. Is yours operating at maximum efficiency and safety?

Did you Know?

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 15,500 fires associated with clothes dryers occur annually. These fires account for an average of 10 deaths, 310 injuries and more than $84.4 million in property damage annually.

Clothes dryers are one of the most expensive appliances in your home to operate. With excess runtime, the more money it costs the homeowner and the greater the risk of a fire starting from its hot operation.

If your dryer is taking longer than it used to drying a load of clothes and clothes come out feeling hotter than usual, your dryer’s vent is likely plugged with dust, fiber and lint. Lint buildup is highly flammable and a possible fire ignition source.

Lint buildup will also cause the dryer’s heating element to burn out prematurely leading to an expensive repair bill. Clothes last longer when not exposed to longer duration and excessive drying temperatures.

Clothes dryer fires happen more frequently in the fall and winter months due to the quantity and type of clothes worn in these seasons. Fall is an ideal time to thoroughly inspect and clean in and around your clothes dryer and vent ducting.

Certain types of ducting should never be used with clothes dryers. Plastic or flexible foil ducting should be replaced with solid metal ducting with smooth inside surface. Length should not exceed 35 feet and must be vented directly outdoors – never into attics, soffits or crawlspaces to be code compliant.

Possible causes of fires!

What causes some clothes dryer fires? Lack of maintenance is a big contributing factor. People are not cleaning lint traps as often as they should nor are they checking and cleaning vent systems on a periodic basis. Reduced airflow resulting from lint buildup in the screen or other areas around the dryer can cause the dryer to perform poorly, operate at elevated temperatures and possibly overheat.

Problems can also occur if consumers place improper items in their dryers, such as foam backed rugs or athletic shoes, or vent their appliances with plastic or vinyl exhaust materials.

Small birds or other nesting animals and their debris can also obstruct air flow from dryer vents.

A simple solution

Rigid or flexible, but smooth metal venting and ducting materials help sustain airflow, as well as reduce operating costs and extend the life of the dryer and also clothing from lower drying temperatures.

Important safety instructions

  • Clean the lint filter before or after each load. Do not forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can be trapped.
  • The interior of the dryer and venting system should be cleaned periodically by qualified service personnel. If you notice the drying time is longer, clean the vent system thoroughly to ensure proper airflow.
  • Replace plastic or vinyl exhaust hoses with smooth, rigid metal ducting. Do not use coiled wire foil ducting.
  • Do not dry clothing or fabric upon which there is anything flammable (e.g. alcohol, cooking oils, gasoline, spot removers, dry-cleaning solvents). Flammable substances give off vapors that could ignite or explode.
  • Read manufacturers’ warnings in use and care manuals that accompany new dryers. Also, make sure to read the warning markings that can usually be found on the inside of the dryer’s lid.

Beware the Steady Drip, Drip Drip!

Often the most extensive, expensive water damage in your  home is not caused by the big, bad flood.

If you think a small, slow leak will just stay small, think again! The damage from a tiny dripping water leak can often extend far beyond the water source into other parts of a room or home. Slow drips behind or under a dishwasher, refrigerator or washing machine can grow and spread under flooring, through one level of a home into another. This water damage eventually erupts as mold and/or heaving floors, wet wallboard or ceilings, leaving you with unnecessary, unplanned and very costly repairs.

Don’t let a simple leak turn into a big problem that disturbs the rest of your house. If you start seeing any indication of leaks in your home, call us immediately. Our expert technicians will assess the situation and take necessary steps to be sure your carpet, drywalls, and floors remain in good condition. The cost of fixing a leak early is a very small fraction of repairing advanced structural water damage.