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Super Handyman: How to maintain your water heater

A standard tank-type water heater is still the most popular water heater around and, more people have this type than any other. They are fairly easy to install and work pretty well. Maintenance is simple for most units, and they last about 10 or 15 years, and even longer if properly maintained. Here are the basic steps to maintaining a standard water heater tank.

The biggest problem with water heaters usually is a buildup of mineral deposits. As water is heated, minerals tend to separate. They can build up around electrical elements and pipe joints, and spread to the appliances that use the hot water. But if you drain your water-heater tank once a year, you can flush out these deposits and prevent this problem.

Just hook a garden hose up to the faucet on the front of the water heater, located near the base, and run it outside. Then turn the handle to release the water from the tank. Take caution, as this water will be hot when it comes out. Direct it away from plants. You should see a sand or salt-looking material come out fairly quickly. Once it drains clear, you can shut off the faucet and remove the hose.

If the faucet on the front drips, just install a hose-end cap. These cost less than a dollar at your plumbing-supply store.

Your water heater should be placed in a pan to catch any drips.

There is a valve at the top of your water heater that is there to release excess pressure, should too much build up inside. You should have a hot-water pipe hooked up to this and directed outdoors. In case it ever opens, you will want that water flowing outdoors, not onto your floors.

One easy way to run your water heater more efficiently is to wrap it in fiberglass insulation. If you have a gas unit, make sure that you don’t cover the vent at the top.

You should keep your water heater in the medium temperature range to prevent accidental scalding. This also will save you money on your utility bills.

These simple tips will keep you both in and out of hot water!

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Q: When I was out watering my plants the other day, I noticed my AC unit making a high-pitched squealing noise. It did not sound good. Is this something I can address myself? – A.N.

A: This is something that a professional probably should deal with, unless you have some previous experience with these units. If you want to give it a shot, shut the power off to this unit and carefully access its fan motor. Give it a shot of lubricant, and see if this fixes the problem. If not, the motor can be replaced.

Super HandyMom tip

I don’t know about you, but over the years, I have amassed a lot of stick-on address labels. To clear some of them out, I put them on a lot of my tools, books and other items that I lend to friends and family. This reminds them who to return them to and clears out some room in my office, too.

Shoptalk

The average air purifier is a tabletop model that isn’t exactly quiet and discreet. You have to see the MinusA2 by Rabbit Air.

It’s a mere 7 inches thick and only about 20 by 21 inches in size, which is smaller than most computer monitors and TV sets these days. It can be placed on a tabletop, floor or even mounted on a wall. It comes in black and white, and will barely show at all in most homes.

It’s powerful enough to cleanse the air in a large room twice in an hour. It can be customized to remove everything from odors, bacteria, allergens, germs and even toxins, and runs super quietly. You probably won’t even notice it running at all.

A built-in light sensing mode automatically transitions to sleep mode when it gets dark, and revs back up when light levels increase. The built-in ambient light also is adjustable and is Energy Star-rated to save money while in use. Check it out at rabbitair.com.

Got a question or a handy tip? Visit thesuperhandyman.com. Those of general interest will be used in future columns.