Noisy Water Heater / Phantom Flushing / Check For Asbestos Tiles First

In Asbestos Tile, Hot Water Tanks, Plumbing on August 6, 2012 at 11:00 am

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My gas fired water heater “cracks and pops” like a steam radiator during the reheat cycle. Is there a cure?


Providing no one spilled a box of cereal into your tank, you may just have purchased and inexpensive tank. Even so, there are a few things you can do.

First, turn down the temperature setting, on the dial, on your tank. It should be set to 120-degrees. Next, periodically turn off the gas and using the hose of a vacuum cleaner, vacuum out the sediment that accumulates on the top of the burner compartment.

Another thing, twice a year, drain a pail of water from the hose bib at the bottom of your tank. That will flush some of the sediment out and help the tank last longer and be quieter.

One more thing, many people think turning the temperature up all the way will give them more hot water or hot water faster. Wrong on both counts. All you’ll do is take years of life off the tank, spend a lot of extra money trying to maintain the temperature of the water, which you’’ just have to add cold water to so you don’t scald yourself.


I have a toilet that all of a sudden flushes by itself. I know something is wrong and I know it’s flushing money down the drain. But what causes this?


Depending on the frequency that could be a few hundred dollars annually down the drain.

To correct the problem, pour a few drops of food coloring into the tank. Wait about 10 to 15 minutes and lift the seat of the commode. If the water turned the color of the food coloring, you’ll need to replace the tank ball or flapper ball not the float. It is generally black or rust colored at the bottom, center of the tank.

Turn off the water and drain the box. Simple to install replacement kits, which are easy to attach to the overflow pipe are available at neighborhood hardware stores for under ten dollars.

But before you install the new flapper ball, lightly clean the rim that the flapper sits in with a fine steel wool, you’ll now have what is known as a “Royal Flush”.


I have an older 1940’s house with a tiled basement floor. Some of the tiles are cracked, broken or have become loose. Can the old tiles just be yanked out and replaced?


If the tiles measure 9-inches by 9-inches in all likelihood those tiles contain asbestos. Normally floor tiles with asbestos present no health problems unless the fibers are disturbed. The only way I know of doing that would be to use a buffer/stripper machine on the tiles or damage and break the tiles. Feeling bored and looking for something to do? First take one of the broken or loose tiles to a testing lab (check the yellow pages). If it’s not asbestos, pretend you’re married to me and ignore what I’m saying.

If they do contain asbestos, to remove the old tiles you’ll need a large, long handled, metal scraper. Of course, prying and scraping the tiles will indeed disturb the asbestos. The only way to do it safely is to keep them wet while you’re working. Once loose, place the wet tiles in a large double-bagged garbage bags and dispose of them properly. The remaining adhesive may also contain asbestos fibers so instead of sanding them down, use a chemical remover.

If the basement is dry and you’re planning on carpeting it, leave the asbestos tiles down and just replace the damaged, missing or loose tiles with any tiles just so the floor is even. Remember, the asbestos tiles will be a good insulator between the cement floor and your carpeting.



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