Ken Fielding of North Lake Plumbing

How to winterize your Tahoe Home

Make sure you have a main water shut off located within your home that works. If it hasn’t been used in a long time it can freeze up and require replacement. If it is located in an inconvenient area of the house, such as a crawl space, we can put a rod up through the floor that is accessible under a cabinet. In some cases it may have to be relocated. The shut off at the street does not belong to the home owner, they are actually owned by the water company. It is critical to be able to turn your water off when you’re not home.

Some homes have automatic drain valves. Other homes you will need to open all faucets, including tub spouts, to drain the remaining water out of the pipes. If you have a dishwasher, run it for a few minutes after the water is turned off. To save energy with your hot water heater, turn down the control knob to the ‘vacation’ setting.

If you’re shutting down for an entire winter, add RV anti-freeze to your toilet tanks and bowls (about 1 cup each).

Ken Waterheater

Do I have the right water heater?

A lot of folks are wondering if now is the time to switch their tanked water heater over to a tankless. Although future energy codes require a certain efficiency rating on water heaters, there are a few other factors to consider.

Tankless water heaters are expensive to install, and repairs are generally more expensive on them. That being said, they are 15% more energy efficient than tanked water heaters. The staff at North Lake Plumbing are certified to install both Rinnai and Rheem tankless water heaters, and have been installing them for years. Here’s a list of pros and cons that Ken put together on tankless water heaters.

Pros – Tankless Water Heaters

  • Unlimited hot water, for multiple showers
  • Energy efficient
  • Space efficient
  • Altitude (Lake Tahoe is at 6,330 ft above sea level) requires a more powerful water heater. Water heaters are 22% less efficient at altitude. Tankless water heaters heat better than a tanked water heater.

Cons – Tankless Water Heaters

  • Expensive, you do not save money in the long run
  • Installation costs
  • Repair can be difficult
  • Hard to install
  • Government will require them in the future
  • They can freeze in the winter, requiring the whole unit to be replaced
  • They need to be cleaned once a year
  • Altitude: water heaters in Tahoe have to work harder to heat water. We are 4-6000′ higher than the Valley and Bay Area.