For most people, not just seniors, there is one room in your house that will never get finished.
I’m not saying it won’t be functional, it just won’t be painted or pretty.
We’re talking about your mechanical room.
There’s a lot to discuss in this room, so we’re going to break it into several articles over the next week or two.
Today’s topic revolves around your water heater.
Mechanical Room Part 1
Water Heater size:
In all of our retirement communities to date, we’ve installed gas powered water heaters. Most of us are familiar with these tanks. For many of us, we remember sitting in the shower and running out of hot water.
This begs the question, how big are the water heaters that we install in our active adult communities?
Luckily, since these are age restricted homes, most of the people living here will already be using a lot less water. The biggest reason for this, is that your kids have all moved out. Because of this, a 40 gallon water heater is usually more than sufficient to take care of your household.
While most of our floorplans have a 40 gallon tank, our Grandview floorplan, our largest does get a 50 gallon tank standard.
How to start the pilot light?
Gone are the days of matches and burnt fingertips. Lighting your pilot light now is as easy as pushing a button.
At the base of your water heater is a little knob with a push button next to it. Simply turn the knob till the arrow points to the word “Pilot.” Then push the knob in like a button, and hold it.
While holding the knob in, push the little square button nearest to it. You will hear it click, like a BBQ ignition switch. I like to push it two or three times.
Continue holding the knob in for about 30 seconds. When at last you release the knob, the pilot light should remain ablaze. You can now turn the knob to whatever heat level you desire. If your tank has not been heating for a little while, you will likely hear an immediate flare up of the burners inside while it heats the water.
If you didn’t hear the flame start, you can either assume that your water is already up to temperature, or you can pull off the removable metal trim that juts out at the base of the water heater. Inside, there is a small window. With the lights to your room turned off, you should be able to see whether or not the pilot light is burning.
What’s that extra little tank up there?
This is an expansion tank. We all know that water expands when it freezes. It also expands when it heats up. This tank is to protect your plumbing. It is required by code to be there.
Water Heater Safety
If you smell gas, turn off the gas line valve immediately. It will be located somewhere along the gas line that leads to your water heater.
Also, when your water heater is running, the hot air should be going up and out through the exhaust vent. If air is blowing down instead of up, your room could fill with carbon monoxide, very dangerous. If this is happening, call an HVAC contractor immediately.
If you want to know more about your water heater, there are usually instructions printed on the tank itself. Most water heaters will last a good ten years. If maintained well, you can often get more than that.
Good luck, and if you want to play a fun joke on your spouse, there is a water shut-off valve directly above your water heater. You can always turn this valve off if your significant other or visiting relative is taking too long in the shower—though I don’t guarantee that the cold water will translate into a warm reprisal.