DIY Fix-it Projects at Mom's

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, we flew out to Mom's out in So Cal. Ever since Dad, the Mr. Fix-it of the family, passed away and now that Mom's getting older, we noticed that her house (the one we lived in for the first 18 years of life) has fallen behind in some general levels of upkeep. Nothing too major, but we accomplished two small, easy DIY fix-it projects while visiting her house. After the jump, read more about them and how we did both.

First, we noticed and were horrified by the deposit-ridden showerhead in one of her three bathrooms. She doesn't use the shower in this bathroom, so she wasn't bothered by the scaly grossness of its showerhead, but we were! We recalled a post on how to clean and remove deposits from a showerhead using white Vinegar, so we brought out the bottle of Heinz and got to work.

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Head, wrapped in plastic

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After! What an improvement

Rather than removing the showerhead, we filled a small Ziploc bag about 1/3 full of vinegar, placed it over the showerhead, and rubber banded it in place. We didn't heat the vinegar, nor did we mix it with water, instead we let the full power of vinegar do its work overnight. The next morning, after brushing off the small remaining specks of deposit with an Oxo dish brush, the showerhead was magically transformed! Not only did it look better, but its water pressure was drastically improved as well!

The following morning, we woke up to Mom complaining about rust colored water coming from the sinks, showers and bathtub whenever the hot water was turned on. After a quick Google search, we figured that it probably was the hot water heater. Water heaters accumulate sediment made up of sand, gravel, grit, and mineral deposits which isn't only nasty looking when it starts coloring the water you use, but can also reduce the amount your water heater holds and reduce the efficiency of the unit. I gave a call to Water Heaters Only, Inc. to get an expert's opinion and guidance on whether or not flushing out the heater was the answer, and how to do it safely. The nice man on the phone explained that I simply needed to attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and to open the valve, letting the water flow through until it was no longer brown.

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Here's the valve where you attach the hose.

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If it's brown, flush it out. But re-use the water!

A few things the man didn't tell me that he should've: 1.) Find out if the heater is gas or electric. If it's gas, turn the gas valve to "pilot" to prevent the burners from going out during the flushing, if it's electric, shut off the circuit breakers. 2.) The buildup of sediment at the bottom can harden and sometimes clog the drain valve. If this happens, you will need to remove the hose from the valve and use a long screw driver to break up the clog. Fortunately, I was able to skip this step. 3.) Before opening the valve, turn the heater down to a low setting so that the water coming from the hose isn't burning hot. 4.) Collect the water coming from the hose to re-use the flushed water for clean-up projects or watering plants. It's recommended that you flush out your water heater annually to extend the life and quality of your water heater.