Your Home Improvement: Hot water heaters and water pumps

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Question No. 1

Hey Robert,

I live in Canyon Country and I’m in the process of buying a newer home.

The inspection shows that the hot water heater is about seven years old, and I’d like to know if this is something that I should have factored into the purchase agreement, so that a new one is put in prior to my purchasing the home.

I was watching a home-improvement show over the weekend where this subject came up, and they mentioned that between 5-12 years of age, hot water heaters usually fail and need replacing. What is your opinion on this? Every penny counts and I’m not sure if this is something I should deal with during a purchase. I’d appreciate your opinion on this, please.

Gina R.

Answer No. 1


Absolutely, I’d add this in to the agreement. At seven years old, this unit is not even as energy efficient as what is now made, plus it is well into its life expectancy. When the new install happens, be sure that they also install new shut-off ball valves so that in the event that there is an issue, you can shut the water off to the tank but not the whole house.

They should put all new flex lines and new earthquake strapping, also. I personally wouldn’t have it be a deal breaker for the purchase, but at the very least I’d be sure that the seller includes a home warranty in the purchase.

If you at least had a home warranty, then if and when it does fail, you’ll have very little cost to incur, as long as nothing else goes wrong at the same time. Remember though, a home warranty is only good for a year, you’ll have the opportunity to renew annually, and I’d recommend that if this is an older home where major covered items haven’t been updated.

Definitely check into this option either way — there are other things a home warranty covers aside from the hot water heater. With funds being tight, these home warranties can really help when things go wrong.


Question No. 2

Hi Robert,

I live in Canyon Country, where we have a pump inside of a big pit in our underground parking garage.

About a year ago, we had our association’s handyman replace the pump, but with these rains I’m not sure what is happening, it’s not keeping the water out of the garage.

We get about four inches of water around it, though it eventually drains down. I’m not sure if something is wrong with the pump or if there is another reason, we just can’t figure it out. We opened the lid to the pump pit and the pit is full of water, then we went out to the street where it drains to and there’s not much water coming out.

Does that mean that the pump is bad? What should we do? We’re not heavily funded, but we have to get this under control for safety reasons — we don’t want anyone slipping and falling with all of this water.

Mike R.

Answer No. 2


It could be one or more of several things. If the rating (calculations) weren’t done properly when choosing this pump, that could be a factor.

The rating has to do with rise and run. Rise, meaning how high the water has to be pumped up, and the run is how long the horizontal run is, out to the street or culvert. Those calculations need to be done before choosing a pump, because they come in different sizes and GPM (gallon per minute that the pump will push, with the rise and run taken into

consideration). If the previous pump worked and this new pump was chosen “like for like”, then there is a possibility that the pump has failed though this is unlikely after only a year. Definitely a possibility, though.

Your discharge line could have roots or debris in it, this needs to be checked. I’ll send separately to you, a recommendation for a plumber who can check the rating, run a camera and ensure that all possibilities are looked at for you. If there is debris in the line, they can clear it for you and get you up and running again.

You’re correct in wanting to get this tended to due to liability, I would prioritize this before the next rains come, so you are prepared and protected.


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