This is a question that we get all too often. In our experience, the realistic options are limited, especially if you own a vacation home at the shore that you are not inhabiting during the winter. Our best and most reliable suggestion is to winterize your home, which is a process of blowing your water lines out and filling any drain traps with anti freeze. There are other ways that we highly warn against such as leaving a faucet or shower trickling to keep water moving and prevent freezing. Sounds practical, it's just a trickle after all, right? Wrong. That trickle isn't enough to keep the water in the drains moving enough to keep them from freezing. Your drains end up freezing and that trickle fills the sink or shower up and overflows onto the floor flooding out the bathroom and eventually the rest of the house. Give us a call to winterize your vacation home to be absolutely sure that it is safe when the freezing temperatures hit.
Absolutely not, one of our biggest problems is running toilets. We find that 9 out of 10 times it is because there was some sort of additive or cleaning aid put in the toilet tank. These agents attack the inner parts that are made of rubber and plastic and degrade them quickly. A usual sign is the dulling in color of the toilet flapper ro the flapper starting to cave in because the rubber has been weakend. There are also seals at the flush valve that these cleaning agents can attack and cause leaks onto the floor and cause major damage. Not to meantion that most toilet manufacturers place a sticker inside their toilet tanks that state,"Any use of in-tank cleaning products will void warranty."
Definitely, this is always a great idea. All too often we receive calls that someone didn't turn their water off and a supply tube let go and flooded their house. These things can happen even when not exposed to freezing weather. With city water being treated with chlorine and flouride, it tends to be harsh on rubber hoses such as the ones that connect to your washing machine or lavatory faucet. It is a good idea to have an "above floor stop" installed. What is that? Very simply, it is a valve that we place in an accessible yet out of the way location, in the house (above floor rather than in the crawl space), that will interrupt flow from the water main into the water distribution system. This is a very simple, inexpensive way to prevent what could be very serious water damage and restoration expenses.
This question is really a matter of preference. Tank-type water heaters are typically more simplistic to service and parts are normally inexpensive and easily had. Tankless water heaters normally require a call to the tech support line to assist in diagnosis. Tankless water heaters are, hands down, more efficient but the innitial cost of installation can scare some people off. Most tankless water heaters are eligible for the NJ Clean Energy rebate of $500, which can help with the install costs. Tank-type water heaters are usually less expensive for installation except in the case of a Power-Vent type, which uses a fan to remove flue gases rather than atmospheric venting. If you have a boiler and a water heater, a combination tankless water heater/boiler may be a good option. They are margainally more expensive than tankless water heater only models and they are eligible for a $900 NJ Clean Energy rebate since they do heat and dometic hot water. There are many things to consider now with replacing your water heater. Space is usually the biggest consideration, tankless units are less than half the size of a traditional tank-type water heater and offer serious energy cost reduction along with energy rebates. Tank-type water heaters of certain designation are eligible for the same rebate but are normally the Power-Vent type and are more expensive. Tankless water heaters should be "de-scaled" once a year. They have heat exchangers with small pathways and can scale from deposits in water and inhibit their ability to efficiently heat water. Tank-Types don't require this but they should still be flushed once a year because they can have sediment build up in the bottom of the tank that can inhibit their ability to efficiently heat the water as well and it could add a "rotten egg" smell to your hot water. With all that said, there are pros and cons to both units. This decision should be based on your home, energy costs, space savings needed and budget.