Water Heater, Dry Rot, and Shower Doors

Water Heater, Dry Rot, and Shower Doors

Dear Maintenance Men:

Two years ago we installed in our single-family home rental an AO Smith Proline GUC-50 400 50 gallon commercial grade water heater. It was installed by a licensed plumber with whom we have always had good experience. From the get go the water heater would make a loud humming noise several minutes after the hot water is used for any long period of time, such as when the shower runs. It isn’t just a low humming noise; the volume is similar to someone playing one note on a clarinet down in the basement! When I asked the plumber, he didn’t seem to know why it did that. By the way, we have a whole house salt-free softener water filter system. Can you please tell me if there is any solution to this?


Dear Shari:

Thankfully, your issue is not unique and not costly. The water heater was being gas starved (if it is what we think it is.) Most likely the plumber did not replace the existing gas line with a larger diameter “gas appliance, flex supply line” which is why it whistles during the “fire up” and burner function.

Dear Maintenance Men:

I have had rental properties most of my life and I’m continually plagued with dry rot damage on my fascia boards. Almost without exception, the rot occurs on the corners where two fascia boards meet. I’ve resorted to cutting and replacing the damaged wood with new wood but would like an easier solution. Everyone I talk to has a different suggestion. The products on the market for treatment and repair of dry rot range from inexpensive to very costly. This brings me to my questions. First, why do I keep getting dry rot? What can I do to prevent it from happening again? And finally, what is the best way to repair wood that is damaged by dry rot.


Dear John:

Sounds like dry rot is setting into the joints. Surprisingly dry rot is caused by damp conditions that encourage the growth of a fungus that eats the wood and results in a cracking and powdering of the lumber. Look for causes of wet or damp wood around the structure. Some causes may be sprinklers wetting the area compounded by a lack of air circulation caused by bushes or trees. Another issue might be poorly placed or installed drip rails allowing water to accumulate or drip down onto the fascia boards. A simple solution will be to seal any wood end pieces to inhibit water intrusion into the end grain of the lumber. Any corners or joints should be caulked to keep water out of the joints. Best to caulk both the front and back side of the joint if possible. Keep the paint fresh on any exposed wood. Dry or chalky paint will also allow moisture to penetrate and contribute to dry rot.

Dear Maintenance Men:

I’m starting a rehab in my unit’s bathroom and am thinking of replacing the shower curtain as part of the work. A shower curtain is a fast and easy job. What are the pros and cons of a shower door versus a shower curtain in my rental unit’s bathtub? How do you install a shower door? I don’t want to poke holes in the bathtub.


Dear Bryan:

While appearing as a guest on “The Tonight Show” one evening many, many years ago, famed hotelier Conrad Hilton was asked by his host (Johnny Carson) whether he had a “message” for the American people. With great gravity, Hilton paused momentarily before turning to the camera. “Please,” he pleaded, “put the shower curtain inside the tub!”

Keeping with Mr. Hilton’s thoughts, we are big fans of shower doors as opposed to shower curtains, because residents also leave the shower curtain outside the tub. Shower door installations are a great do-it-yourself project, because it is easy to do and the results looks great.

After removing the existing shower curtain, clean the tub and walls to remove any accumulated soap scum. Measure the tub ledge wall to wall and subtract 3/16 of an inch (to leave room for the wall channels) and transfer the measurement to the bottom rail track of the shower enclosure. After measuring twice and cutting once, temporally set the bottom track on the tub ledge and tape it in place. Next, set the wall channels in place, use a level to make sure it is plumb with the wall. Mark the mounting holes of the wall channel with your pencil. Do the same thing for the other side. Remove the channels and before drilling, center punch the hole to keep the drill bit centered. If drilling through tile, use a ceramic drill bit. (Do not center punch tile.) Once you have made your holes, insert wall anchors.

Now you are ready to set the bottom track. Use adhesive caulk and if you feel the track may be abused, also use some Liquid Nails adhesive at several spots under the track. Remove any excess caulk and then use painter’s tape to temporally hold the track in place. Before fitting the side channels, run a bead of adhesive caulk on the backside of the channel. Install the channel, use the supplied screws and bumper to fasten the channel to the wall, repeat on the other side. Wipe away any excess caulk.

To install the top rail channel, measure from wall to wall at the top of the wall channels. Subtract 1/16 of an inch and cut the top channel to that length. Again, measure twice. The top channel should fit snug between top of the wall channels. Lastly it is time to hang the doors and adjust the fit. Most doors come with good instructions, read them, as there may be details not included in our explanation.




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If you need maintenance work or consultation for your building or project, please feel free to contact us. We are available throughout Southern California. For an appointment please call Buffalo Maintenance, Inc., at 714-956-8371. Frank Alvarez is a licensed contractor and the Operations Director and co-owner of Buffalo Maintenance, Inc. He has been involved with apartment maintenance and construction for over 20 years. He is also a lecturer and educational instructor for the Apartment Association. Frank can also be reached at Frankie@BuffaloMaintenance.com. For more info please go to: www.BuffaloMaintenance.com. Jerry L’Ecuyer is a real estate broker and has been involved with apartments as a professional since 1988.