Author Topic: Do I really need to perform maintenance on these systems?  (Read 2055 times)

BlueHouse

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Do I really need to perform maintenance on these systems?
« on: June 11, 2017, 12:34:34 PM »
My house is pretty expensive to maintain and when I look at all the things I'm supposed to do, it would take every weekend and hundreds of dollars to do!  But I question how many of these regular maintenance things are really needed. 

HVAC Systems:
Growing up, no one ever "serviced" the furnace.  When it broke, you called "the guy".  He fixed it, and then you went another 10 or 20 years before it broke again.  Those fixes were expensive, but you didn't pay any money for 10 years, then it kind of evens out. 
Now, I have two systems in my house and am expected to have both of them serviced, twice per year.  The going rate (if you sign a long term contract) is $500-600 per year for both systems.  Our units are 5 years old and low quality installed by the developer.  There is a known defect in one of the systems, which seems to kill the system at about the 5 year mark (more than 45 instances of this in my smallish neighborhood).  4 years ago, I decided to stop paying for the twice/year service calls.  I'm pretty sure in this case I made the right call.  I change the filters pretty regularly, but don't do anything else.

Have:  is anything more than changing filters really needed?
Dishwasher:  I've never done anything unless there is something visibly wrong (water pooling or a smell).  Some places tell you to disassemble the filter once a month.
Faucets:  no changing/cleaning of aerators or washers unless a problem.  Some people change these once per year.
Water heater:  I think I will flush the water heater this year, but I've never done it before.  I never did it in my condo, and it lasted the "normal lifespan" of a water heater. 
Caulking of windows:  I think I should have this done, but can't find anyone willing to do the outside upper floors.  It's going to be expensive because it will require scaffolding. 

So how many of these systems really need the recommended maintenance and how many can go without? 
« Last Edit: June 12, 2017, 05:36:32 AM by BlueHouse »

Reynolds531

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Re: Do I really need to perform maintenance on these systems?
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2017, 03:57:28 PM »
I'd agree with all except visually inspect caulking from inside an open window. You don't want water in your house.

Otherwise dishwasher water heater etc are consumables. Buy quality but 99 percent of people never touch.

MayDay

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Re: Do I really need to perform maintenance on these systems?
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2017, 05:27:32 AM »
I wonder about this too.

For the water heater, people talk about flushing them.

But NO ONE that I know in real life does it. And even the pro-flushing people say not to flush it unless you've been flushing it annually since it was new.  Idk.

For dishwashers, we had one with bad seals. You knew it was time to fuss with it because water was on the floor, lol. Every other one has been just fine for the decade+ it had been in operation be with no maintenance.

We tend to do less/no preventative stuff. Like you said, if you looked at everything​ in the house, you'd be doing something every weekend. We do try to get simple stuff that requires less maintenance- like no ice maker in our fridge. One less thing to go wrong.

Mr. Green

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Re: Do I really need to perform maintenance on these systems?
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2017, 06:58:46 AM »
We've been on our house for 12 years now.

For me HVAC I've only ever changed filters and cleaned out the trap where the unit pulls in air from the roof (insects fly into the tube and die). I would caution you for clean out the condensation drain for your A/C unit once in a while though. I didn't realize we could do this. Our unit is about 10 years old and enough dust had built up in the line that it blocked the trap and condensation water started backing up into the unit and run down onto the heat pump below. Thankfully my neighbor is a HVAC guy and he diagnosed it out for me. That would have been an embarrassing service call.

Never serviced the dishwasher. Don't think there's anything to service on mine. I have replaced the seal on the door but only have we had a leak problem.

Never touched either of my hot water heaters.

Only ever changed a faucet aerator to improve efficiency. We have county water though so it's not as hard (mineral content) as some well water can be.

I've touch-up caulked some of our windows on the inside as the original caulking has started to crack but that's for keeping air leaks out. The house siding and flashing handles the water aspect. If you have brick or something else on the outside where the windows are caulked, it's definitely worth your while to see that this is maintained periodically.

Fishindude

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Re: Do I really need to perform maintenance on these systems?
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2017, 08:00:42 AM »
Have:  is anything more than changing filters really needed?
About all you ever need to do with a functioning HVAC system is change filters once or twice per year, and make sure the furnace flue stays clean and unobstructed.

Dishwasher:  I've never done anything unless there is something visibly wrong (water pooling or a smell).  Some places tell you to disassemble the filter once a month.
Nothing to maintain on a dishwasher that I'm aware of.

Faucets:  no changing/cleaning of aerators or washers unless a problem.  Some people change these once per year.
Clean the screens if they lime up and start spraying funny, otherwise nothing.

Water heater:  I think I will flush the water heater this year, but I've never done it before.  I never did it in my condo, and it lasted the "normal lifespan" of a water heater. 
I've never flushed one.   Water heaters are good for about 10-12 years, so if yours is older, might be good to replace it now rather than wait until the pop off valve goes.

Caulking of windows:  I think I should have this done, but can't find anyone willing to do the outside upper floors.  It's going to be expensive because it will require scaffolding.
If you can see missing caulk or visual gaps or cracks in the caulking, take care of this.   Most painters can do this kind of work.

cadillacmike

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Re: Do I really need to perform maintenance on these systems?
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2017, 10:44:26 AM »
I would only ad that you should check the AC filter at least monthly and change it every 203 months, especially if you have a pet(s).

Better yet, get an electrostatic re-usable one with a metal frame. You can vacuum or wash it out from the back and it will last decades. The one one have is almost 20 years old and still working fine. I clean it every couple of months (we have a Yorkie). sometimes just with the vacuum, sometimes it needs to be power flushed (after vacuuming) from the back.

Ive never had a water heater blow the safety valve, but two have developed leaks over the years.  That's just as bad.

index

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Re: Do I really need to perform maintenance on these systems?
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2017, 10:58:53 AM »
You should clean your outdoor AC unit in the spring. Spray it down with TSP out of a garden sprayer and spray it off with the hose. You will be surprised how much dirt comes out.

Flushing the hot water heater is a good idea as it gets some of the build up out of the bottom. Replacing the anode rod every 5 years would extend the life of your water heater by 5 years plus.

BlueHouse

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Re: Do I really need to perform maintenance on these systems?
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2017, 02:53:49 PM »
Wow, I feel like I've been a sucker for getting the HVAC "service" at all over the years.  So I'm glad I stopped now. 

Are there other systems that you can save money by not doing the "recommended maintenance" on them?

  • Car Battery -- I don't replace until they are dead.  My car dealer keeps telling me I should replace at 60, 70, or 80% used up.  hell no.
  • Residential Fire Protection System (home sprinklers).  I'm having mine serviced next week for $200.  I'm supposed to do it every year, but the first year was a visual inspection for $200 and after that I said, I am capable of looking at the sprinkler heads, thank you!
  • Smoke detectors - I don't replace batteries every 6 months.  I think that's overkill, especially when there's a button you can push to see if the battery is dead. 
  • water filter in fridge - I do replace this when the fridge tells me it's time.  I don't know how to tell whether it really needs it or not
  • cleaning the dryer vent hose - Can I just aim a leaf blower into my dryer and push all the lint out the other end? It's really inconvenient to get to the outdoor portion of the vent and almost impossible to move the washer/dryer in order to get to the vent pipe inside

freeat57

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Re: Do I really need to perform maintenance on these systems?
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2017, 03:02:48 PM »
The need to flush the water heater depends on how hard your water is.  I lived in Indianapolis for a number of years.  Many people there use water softeners.  I did not.  The water was very hard there.  Lime buildup would form around faucets and it would kill houseplants after a couple of years!  A couple of years after I bought my house, the many years old water heater died.  After draining it, two men could hardly get it up the basement stairs.  It was almost completely full of mineral sludge.  After installing the new one, I drained it and cleaned it every 12-18 months.  Each time, I would get a bucket full of mineral flakes out of it.  Sooooo, it just depends on how hard your water is.

It was also a big help to run a cycle with CLR (lime remover) in the empty dishwasher every year or so.  Otherwise, the screen on the filter would crust over and impede draining.

Mr. Green

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Re: Do I really need to perform maintenance on these systems?
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2017, 03:10:43 PM »
Wow, I feel like I've been a sucker for getting the HVAC "service" at all over the years.  So I'm glad I stopped now. 

Are there other systems that you can save money by not doing the "recommended maintenance" on them?

  • Car Battery -- I don't replace until they are dead.  My car dealer keeps telling me I should replace at 60, 70, or 80% used up.  hell no.
  • Residential Fire Protection System (home sprinklers).  I'm having mine serviced next week for $200.  I'm supposed to do it every year, but the first year was a visual inspection for $200 and after that I said, I am capable of looking at the sprinkler heads, thank you!
  • Smoke detectors - I don't replace batteries every 6 months.  I think that's overkill, especially when there's a button you can push to see if the battery is dead. 
  • water filter in fridge - I do replace this when the fridge tells me it's time.  I don't know how to tell whether it really needs it or not
  • cleaning the dryer vent hose - Can I just aim a leaf blower into my dryer and push all the lint out the other end? It's really inconvenient to get to the outdoor portion of the vent and almost impossible to move the washer/dryer in order to get to the vent pipe inside
I can't say that I know if there are multiple types of residential sprinkler systems. I only know of what is in my house and that is a head that has a little round disk that holds in two prongs. During a fire, the heat melts the disk and the prongs open, releasing water. There's nothing to maintenance. Been in the home 12 years and never even heard of a neighbor talking about sprinkler maintenance.

The dryer vent is trickier because moist lint that gets past the screen can build up in the pipe. I know you're supposed to clean them fairly regularly but I've been a big slacker here. Never done it in all the years we've owned the house.

redbird

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Re: Do I really need to perform maintenance on these systems?
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2017, 04:13:07 PM »
BlueHouse - Do you have a ShopVac (or other brand wet/dry vacuum)? I've heard those can be good for cleaning out dryer vents. I haven't actually tried this though. I just realized I should probably do this in a previous apartment rental where the maintenance guys did it once per year for all units. I own a house now but I haven't tried to clean it. I've only been here for about a month.

To the general thread-posters/viewers - Is there anything maintenance-wise that you need to do for a tankless water heater? I have a tankless gas one.