Time to Ask & Answer more homeowner questions

Ask & Answer questions while you mingle.

Free, expert advice about home maintenance.

Wednesday, Oct. 17th, 2012, from 6-7PM, is another opportunity for homeowners to Ask & Answer questions concerning home maintenance and remodeling projects. Ask & Answer is a monthly gathering of homeowners and home service professionals.  Here, you can get expert advice for all topics related to buying, owning and maintaining a home. Savvy Seattle Women Board members and other home service professionals will be on hand to answer whatever questions you’d like to ask of us. This is an excellent opportunity to meet and interview local business professionals such as general contractors, painters, lenders, handypersons, etc. in a friendly, non-sales environment.

Here are examples of some of the questions you could get answered during these informal drop-in gatherings:

~ What home maintenance tasks should I do on a regular basis to upkeep my home?

~ I currently rent, but I’d like to own. What steps should I take to achieve this goal?

~ What are my options for refinancing my home?

~ What are my options for financing remodeling projects?

~ What remodeling projects will net me the highest return in re-sale value?

~ What are some low-cost DIY projects I can do for my home?

~ I’m thinking of selling my home. How can I find a good real estate agent?

~ How do Community Property laws affect my rights as a home owner?

~ How can I find a good electrician? plumber? contractor? painter? etc.

Ask and Answer is hosted by Alice Kuder and Savvy Seattle Women at the Prudential Northwest Real Estate office in Jefferson Square Shopping Center, West Seattle. The address is 4700 42nd Ave SW, Suite 600, 98116.

There is plenty of free parking available on the street and a limited amount on the second floor of the underground parking garage (accessed from 42nd Ave SW).

Drop by on your way home from work; stay for a few minutes or the whole hour. We provide complimentary refreshments to ensure that you won’t starve before dinner.

Is your water heater a ticking time bomb?

Hot water heaters are something we tend to take for granted until they start leaking or fail altogether. Once that happens, we are likely to grab the yellow pages or hop online to find the nearest plumber who can come right away. (Unless you are a renter, in which case you will call your landlord. There are upsides to renting.)

The life expectancy of the average, conventional water heater is 10-15 years (longer, if you make a habit of draining it annually).  So if yours is nearing the 10-year mark, you could save yourself money by researching  your options before it fails. The original installation date should be written on the outside of the tank.

There are several types of water heaters. Your options will depend somewhat on the fuel source in your home, i.e. electric, natural gas, or liquid propane gas.

Storage tank water heaters are the most common type and usually hold 30-80 gallons. The correct size depends upon the amount of space you have, the number of people living in your home and the recovery rate you require. Recovery rate refers to the number of gallons the tank can heat in an hour. No one likes a cold shower.

Before you buy, check the Energy Guide label on the tank to determine the energy efficiency rating. High efficiency tanks cost more at the outset but are designed to save you money over time and are kinder to the environment.

Tankless (aka on-demand) water heaters heat water as it is needed rather than storing hot water in a tank. Water is heated by passing through a series of coils. They are available for electric, natural gas and propane fuel sources but the electric models offer far less benefit in terms of energy efficiency and cost savings. (A better alternative for electric water heaters is to add a timer that will shut off the power to the tank at specified times when you know hot water will not be needed.)

An upside of tankless heaters is that they take up much less space. A downside is that they typically provide a lower volume of hot water — an average of 3.5 gallons per minute — so are less useful if you need hot water from more than one location, such as running the dishwasher and washing machine at the same time.

Solar hot water systems may be more common than you think. Over half a million have been installed in single-family homes in the United States alone. Solar hot water systems are typically installed on roofs and often look like skylights. Sometimes considered to be an expensive proposition, it is worth noting that the cost of installing solar panels declined by 30% between 1980-1990. Further price drops aren’t likely to be as dramatic, but the cost will surely continue to decline as demand increases.

Still inclined to ignore the condition of your current water heater? Then consider this. If your tank fails, it’s likely to cause damage to everything around it (especially flooring and dry wall), so you may end up having to replace/repair more than just the hot water tank.

How old did you say your tank is?

Note: although several links in this article are from the website for Washington Water Heaters, this is not meant as an endorsement of that company’s products or services.The links are offered as a source of general product information only.

Find Energy Star Products here.