Water Heater, Graffiti, Fence Posts

“To get the most life out of a residential water heater, a yearly tank draining and cleaning is recommended.”

Dear Maintenance Men:

My duplex has a 40- or 50-gallon water heater. What is the procedure for cleaning out the tank? I’m sure it has sediment as our water is fairly hard. However, I don’t see a clean out for the tank other than a drain valve.


Dear Frank:

To get the most life out of a residential water heater, a yearly tank draining and cleaning is recommended. Here is a quick run through on how to clean the sediment out of a tank without a dedicated clean out port:

  1. Turn off the gas or electrical source to the tank.
  2. Allow the water in the tank to cool for at least two hours or open a hot water valve such as a bath valve and let it run for about ten minutes. If you are in a drought-prone area, just let the tank cool by itself.
  3. Turn off the cold water inlet valve for the tank and open a hot water sink faucet or bathtub valve to relieve water pressure in the tank.
  4. Connect a hose to the bottom drain valve at the bottom of the water tank.
  5. Open the bottom drain valve to allow the draining of the tank. Be careful the water is not scorching.
  6. Once the water is all drained away, it is not a bad idea to remove the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and insert a cleaning brush to remove any debris still loose at the bottom of the tank. It is recommended you get a refrigerator coil cleaning brush as it is long and skinny and easy to insert through the drain opening at the bottom of the tank. (If the bottom drain valve is plastic, we recommend replacing it with a brass ball valve. This will ease future tank cleaning.)
  7. It is sometimes recommended once all the water is drained out and before removing the drain hose: close all hot water faucets and repeatedly open and close the cold water tank valve, allowing about a minute’s worth of water to escape under pressure to help clean out the last of any loose debris in the tank. Re-close the cold water inlet valve.
  8. Remove the drain hose and close the drain valve.
  9. Now you are ready to refill the hot water tank. Make sure the bottom drain valve is closed and a hot water faucet is open in the unit. (The open faucet will allow air to be purged from the water tank.)
  10. Open the cold water inlet valve leading to the water heater and allow the tank to fill. You will know it is full when the hot water faucet in the unit stops sputtering air and only water is coming out of the faucet. It is a good idea to open other hot water valves to help clear air in the lines as well.

Dear Maintenance Men:

My building gets hit by graffiti on a regular basis. How can I stop this curse?


Dear Jim:

We understand. Our company maintains several properties that attract graffiti like a magnet. There are several solutions that may help.

  1. Painting over graffiti as quickly as possible will help deter future vandalism. We recommend painting over the same day or within 24 hours of the graffiti appearing on your property.
    Graffiti vandals like to advertise. By removing the graffiti quickly, the less recognition the vandals will receive, thus making your building less attractive to graffiti taggers.
  2. Install lighting in areas prone to graffiti. Motion activated lights also work well to deter vandals.
    If you have a sense of humor, install motion activated water sprinklers.
  3. Planting vines or bushes along a wall or the side of the building is a good long-term solution. As the landscape grows, it will make it more difficult to graffiti your walls.
  4. Anti-graffiti paint. This special clear coat paint makes removing the graffiti as easy as washing your walls. There are different versions of this paint. Some are sacrificial (barrier) coatings; others are more permanent.

Dear Maintenance Men:

I am replacing a number of rotted pressure-treated 4×4 fence posts on my property. Why do some posts rot and others do not? I cannot see any rhyme or reason for one post to be good the other bad. How can I avoid this trouble in the future?


Dear Kent:

The issue of the rotting posts lies in the tree growth rings and their location. The rotting posts may have centered growth rings. If you look at the 4×4 post end, the growth rings will be either centered or not centered. A centered growth ring is common in posts made from a peeler core. The tight centered growth rings of the peeler core will not accept pressure treatment as well as a post with off-centered growth rings. Chances are the fence you are repairing may have a mixture of peeler core posts and off-center growth ring posts. A peeler core is the by-product of plywood manufacturing. A log is turned on a lathe to produce plywood veneer and the center that remains is called a peeler-core. When buying pressure treated posts, look for off-center growth rings.

WE NEED Maintenance Questions!!! If you would like to see your maintenance question in the “Dear Maintenance Men” column, please send in your questions to: [email protected]

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 [email protected] 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.