Your home’s mechanical system is made up of 6 major components. The first step in home maintenance is to understand these vital components, their life expectancy, and how you can get the best performance out of them. Let’s first outline the main components of your home then we will discuss how to keep them in tip top shape as well as when is a good time to replace them.
●Furnace, Air Conditioner and Coil
●Sewer or Building drains
●Water Service & Distribution Pipes
Furnace, A/C and Coil – Average Life Expectancy – 10 Years
● Regular cleaning and tune-up of the furnace should be done every fall, and at least every other year should include a removal and deep cleaning of the blower wheel
● Regular cleaning and tune-up of the A/C condenser and coil should take place every spring. A complete and thorough cleaning of the outdoor condenser should be performed. If possible, an inspection of the indoor coil and potentially a cleaning of the coil should happen on an as needed basis. All electrical capacitors should be checked, and values logged to make certain they are within manufacturers specifications. High or low draw out of spec electrical components can ruin your system quickly and are often the leading cause of early replacement.
● Your furnace filter should be changed at the regular required interval as set by the manufacturer and is dependent on the type of filter system in place. Please note that you can never change your filter too often and that this is the number one cause of furnace and A/C failure.
Water Heater – Average Life Expectancy – 6 Years
● Annual draining is the number one way to extend the life of your tank type water heater. A proper flush of the tank will remove any built up sediment or other debris from the inside of the tank. Unremoved sediment sits in the bottom of the tank and deteriorates the steel, this is what causes tanks to leak. Additionally, a clean tank is more efficient in heating the water as the burner does not need to heat the sediment prior to beginning to heat the water.
● The burner assembly should be removed and cleaned every other year. Removal of the burner and a thorough cleaning will help make sure that your unit is running as efficiently as possible.
Interior Drains – Average Life Expectancy – 45 years
oIn our area interior drains are constructed of 3 different types of material:
▪ PVC is the newest approved material for a home’s drainage system as well as the most durable and requires the least amount of maintenance. Properly installed PVC drains have a smooth interior and promote unrestricted flow the best. A PVC drainage system should require minimum maintenance and provide the longest worry free life.
▪ Cast Iron drains were very popular in the 40’s – 70’s. Cast iron is a very heavy material and is often quite durable, however the interior of the cast iron pipe is often gritty and is very prone to clogging.
▪ Copper drains were used post war during the housing boom due to ease of installation. Copper drains are the least durable and most prone to rot.
● No matter what material your drainage system is made of, proper maintenance is required to ensure trouble free operation. Drains like to see water, and in this day and age of low consumption fixtures running a little extra water down your sinks or giving the toilet and extra flush every now and again will help move the waste and debris into the sewer, as well as clean your pipes.
● NEVER use drain-o or liquid plumber. These caustic chemicals can harm your drains as well as are dangerous to your plumber if they should have to work on them after these chemicals have been used. If you do pour chemicals down your drain, make sure you alert anyone who will be working on them after this treatment has been completed.
● Periodic power rodding of your home’s drain can ensure that they are free of any obstructions as well as soap and grease build up, this should be done every few years.
Sewer or Building Drain – Average Life Expectancy – 50 Years
Sewers in the Illinois area are constructed of 3 different materials.
oPVC, SDR (both plastic materials)
oVCT (Vitrified Clay Tile) Most Common in homes built prior to 1980.
oCast Iron (typically found only in the first 5’ from the home)
● A properly working sewer should never have any root intrusion. Root intrusion is only possible when there is a break in the sewer line.
● When you flush a toilet or run a sink it takes several hours or days for the waste to make its way through the building drains, down your sewer and into the municipal sewer main.
● Most homeowners are responsible for maintenance of the entire sewer from the point it leaves their home to the point it connects to the municipal pipe and in some cases even the connection to the municipal sewer pipe.
● Your sewer should be televised every other year to ensure there are no breaches or breaks.
Water Service & Water Distribution Piping – Average Life Expectancy – 45 years
● A water service is the pipe that is attached to your city’s main water supply and brings incoming water into your home. Prior to 1980 most water services were constructed of Lead pipe. If your home has a lead water service, it should be replaced with a copper line.
● Interior water lines can be made of 2 different materials common in our area.
oGalvanized (commonly installed until 1975)
oCopper (Installed 1970’s – Current)
▪ If your home has galvanized water lines they should be replaced. Galvanized lines are prone to corrosion and have tremendous mineral build up inside of them after about 10 years. Seeing as this material hasn’t been common since the 1970’s these pipes are beyond their useful life and should be replaced.
▪Properly installed copper water lines will provide the longest life expectancy. Copper water lines should never be installed in contact with any other ferrous material as this can cause electrolysis and lead to leaks in your water distribution system.
Intelligent Service Owner