How to Determine the Age of Your Water Heater

Whether you’re preparing to sell your home or looking to learn more about the home you’re living in, being able to determine the age of your water heater is an essential skill. Most hot water heaters have a lifespan between 10-15 years, and after that period passes they are less efficient and sometimes even damaged. How can you quickly determine the age of your water heater?

Know Where to Look

The quickest way to determine age is easiest on newer models. Most of these models have an information sticker that shows the installation date so that you know exactly when it was placed in the home. With older models, things are more complicated. First, you will need to find and decipher the serial number. This number is typically located on the side of the water heater near any warning labels. The serial number will contain the month and year of construction, but every manufacturer uses a different format to record this information. Before you can learn the date, you must know the manufacturer.

What Is the Age of Your Water Heater?

  • O. Smith: This manufacturer uses a simple system. For any models created before 1997, the year and week are in the first four numbers of the serial number. It will read YYWWxxxxxx. For models made between 1997-2008, there will be a number followed by a letter between A and M (but excluding I to eliminate the confusion between 1 and I). A is January and M is December, and the two numbers after the letter are the year. Current models return to the pre-1997 format.
  • Rheem: The age of your water heater is fairly easy to find if you have a Rheem water heater. Models made after 2000 have the month and year of manufacturing in the serial number. The four digit code is the third through sixth digits in the serial number, so it will read xxMMYYxx.
  • Navien: This manufacturer uses a very different approach. You will see four different numbers that are followed by a letter. Next, you’ll see a number that shows the year it was made and another letter. This manufacturer does not include the month or week that units were built, so you will only get information about the year it was made.
  • Bradford White: Bradford White uses a simple two-letter code to give the date of manufacture. The first letter is the year and the second letter is the month.
  • American Water Heater: This brand is associated with A.O. Smith, so they use the same code that A.O. Smith does, including the differences between models made between 1997-2008 and after 2008.
  • State Industries: This manufacturer has a confusing formula to determine the age of your water heater. One uses only numbers and another uses a combination of letters and numbers. In the first format, the first two numbers are the year and the second set of numbers are the week. Much like other companies, they use the A-M system to signify the month and then use two digits after it to represent the year.
  • Rinnai: Rinnai’s water heaters use two different serial number patterns. Newer models use letters to represent the month and year, but in older water heaters that were manufactured before 2010 they used exclusively numbers.

When Should You Replace Your Water Heater?

Once you determine the age of your water heater, you should take steps to think about whether or not it’s time to replace it. Water heaters are designed to be durable and last a long time with proper maintenance, but there are subtle signs that can indicate it’s time to replace sooner rather than later. Some of the signs that you need to replace your water heater include:

  • Age of the Unit: Once the water heater is past the 10-15 year mark, it will be less energy efficient and need to be replaced.
  • Less Hot Water: If there is less hot water available than there used to be when you are taking a shower, it might be a sign that your hot water heater is accumulating sediment or unable to provide enough heat for an average shower.
  • Elevated Electricity or Heating Bills: Almost 20% of your annual household energy bills cover the costs of heating your shower and other hot water. Older water heaters are less efficient, so your bills might increase over time.
  • Corrosion: Visible corrosion on your water heater is a worrying sign, and it means that it should be replaced as soon as possible.

How Can I Have My Water Heater Inspected?

Call Alban Inspections today at 800-822-7200 to schedule an appointment for a water heater inspection in Bethesda, MD. We have flexible scheduling and always show up on time to your appointment. We serve homeowners throughout Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania and can also complete radon testing, mold testing, water and septic system testing, lead-based paint inspections, commercial inspections and consultations. We are ready to help you feel confident purchasing your new home or property.

A Realtor’s Guide to Wellness

As a realtor, taking care of your finances is one of the best things you can do for yourself, but don’t forget to take care of your physical and psychological needs. Mental and physical health play critical roles in the success of any business or company. We often forget both physical and emotional health these days, when, in reality, they have a significant influence on other aspects of your life, including your financial health. Here are a few tips on improving realtor wellness.

Physical Wellness

If you want to improve or maintain your physical health, stay active. Be sure to exercise regularly and make it a part of your routine. Whether it’s running, going to the gym, walking, or swimming, find something you enjoy that will keep you physically active. You will feel more efficient and energized when working.

Consider investing in a humidifier to help reduce the transmission of viruses, improve allergies, and maintain healthy skin and hair. Implement a healthy diet and drink plenty of water and fluids.

Mental Health

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with negative news and social media posts. Ensure the news you receive comes from reliable sources, and limit the amount you watch or read to the most important headlines. Keep in contact with friends and loved ones at least once a week, and, if possible, safely get outside each day to exercise and get some fresh air.

Life and Community

Set up social media profiles to communicate with your friends and loved ones. An easy way to keep in touch is to create a schedule that ensures you regularly check-in with friends, family, and workmates. You can also consider volunteering in the community, or simply doing something kind for a stranger.

Facing Challenges

If you’re facing financial difficulties, reach out to your mortgage company or landlord and ask for a deferment. When cash flow is tight, you may not be able to pay your bills on time. Reach out to any creditors, such as auto or student loans, credit card companies, or medical payments, and notify them of a possible delay. Confide in a family member or a close friend when you are facing challenges and seek support.

A well thought out payment policy will help build a strong and trusting relationship with your creditors and other suppliers. If needed, reach out to your utility providers and other merchants you’re paying and request a payment extension or agree on an updated payment plan.

Resources and Benefits

Outstanding payments are one of the biggest challenges people face when going through financial difficulties. Consider researching funds that may be available to you based on your employment status, for example. Your state, county, or local community may also have additional financial resources available to you. Set up Google alerts and visit local government websites to receive notifications as new information is provided.

To avoid incurring heavy interests and fines on late payments, be sure to clear any debts and make a conscious effort to pay all invoices and bills on time. Setting payment reminders through your bank or enrolling in automatic payments should make the process a lot easier.

Next Steps

Tough times can be challenging but try to maintain a positive mindset. Rather than panic, follow the CDC’s guidelines for being prepared, and think of the items you might need to stock up on if you get sick: cleaning supplies, cough drops, herbal tea, etc.

Give your home a thorough cleaning by sanitizing common areas and limiting or eliminating the number of visitors. Since some of your friends or family members may not be able to leave the house, be sure to check in with them. If you need physical or emotional guidance, seek help from a medical professional, and don’t forget to inform those closest to you.

Establish an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund creates a buffer that can help you survive during tough economic times. How do you do this when you’re already on a tight budget? Cut out any unnecessary expenses and put as much as you can directly into your emergency fund. Selling off items you don’t need and saving on your tax refund can also add to your savings.

Create and Work with a Budget

Realtors can easily succumb to the pressure to drive fancy cars, wear expensive clothing, and take clients out to fancy restaurants. These items can be costly and may sink you deeper into debt. To get out of debt, start investing your hard-earned money and diversify your portfolio. Hire a knowledgeable financial planner and try to stick to a budget.

The tips mentioned should significantly improve your chances of maintaining overall realtor wellness. At Alban Inspections, we work with realtors to overcome these challenges and achieve success. Call us today at 800-822-7200 to learn more about our extensive home inspection process.


Closing Gifts Should be Sticky

From the desk of

Arthur S. Lazerow

Chairman, Alban Inspections, Inc.

October 2020

What means Sticky? I was discussing marketing with my second son who owned one of the largest ad agencies on Facebook and merged it into  The subject of logo handouts came up and he explained that anything my company’s’ gifts to Realtor, clients or show attendees should be hard goods that the recipient should want to keep forever, thereby keeping the company name, logo and phone number in sight forever.

Consumable closing gifts not sticky, but are terrific.  A cheese platter, bottle of fine wine or fruit basket delivered while your client is moving into the new home will be much appreciated, and probably sweetly remembered, but not sticky.  Develop lasting relationships with clients using sticky closing gifts.

When thinking about all the logo items we have used at Realtor fairs, meetings or other group affairs, my favorites were eyeglass cleaning clothes, pens with an LED at the top end, keychain LED flashlights, and note pads.  Not strictly sticky a 50 page note pad lasts for a good while.  From 1994 until the late 2000s, I taught a 3 hour continuing ed course on home inspections and environmental testing in Realtor offices almost every Tuesday morning.  I loved walking through the bullpen area and seeing the Alban Inspections’ pads on numerous Realtors’ desks.  My other favorite handout was a metal tape measure that we found by the 100s at a dollar store for one dollar.  For sixteen cents each, we had designed and printed a logo sticker for the center area of the tape.  For $1.16, those logo marked tape measures are still in clients’ hands.

How about a sticky home related closing gift?  4Imprint sells a reversible screwdriver for $1.29.  A larger handle reversible screwdriver would be even better.  How about the metal tape measure idea?  That’s another great sticky gift.  Any good logo corporate gift vendor will have numerous items at affordable prices.  Be creative, but be Sticky.



Be Kind to Your Home Inspector

From the desk of

Arthur S. Lazerow

Chairman, Alban Inspections, Inc.

August 2020

Home inspectors work hard and with great focus for our homebuying and homeselling clients.  We also love what we do.  We derive great personal pleasure helping our clients and the Realtors® who serve them.  I worked as a home inspector from 1994 to 2011 and woke up every morning excited to start my inspection schedule.

While we typically serve our clients once and then have little further contact with them, the close relationships we develop with Realtors® are extremely meaningful.  Not a week went by that I was not called by multiple Realtors® for advice about a specific condition found in a home that a client was interested in putting under contract or a condition a listing agent found troubling.  I probably spent 10% of my time consulting and advising both Realtors® and past clients, all without charge.  Payment was the gratification experienced knowing that I could be helpful.

I wish I had kept a diary of my unique experiences while inspecting.  Here are a few that standout.

I arrived early for a townhouse inspection in Colmbia, MD, so I decided to look around the back.  As I walked around the end unit to locate the home to inspect, there were three gigantic Ravens lounging on my client’s deck.  Ravens are big, scary, ugly birds.  Just ask Poe.

I performed a radon test on a McMansion in Howard County.  When I reported an extremely high radon level to the Realtor® to insure this was not ignored, I learned that the wife-seller was suffering from lung cancer.  She was a non-smoker.  Apparently she lived in that house, raised her family and breathed radon loaded air for many years.

Two Montgomery County police officers were getting married and were buying a small cottage near Holy Cross Hospital.  The room where the electric panel box was located was filled with boxes.  I recall that I actually climbed over the boxes to open and inspect the electric panel box.  After the house was vacant and my clients settled, they discovered a massive mold infestation in that room.  After my mold inspection to determine the extent of the infestation, they arranged for an expensive remediation, removing walls and flooring so that their contractor could reconstruct a  mold-free room.  They then sued that seller.  I testified at the trial on their behalf.  When the defense attorney tried to blame me for not reporting the mold during my inspection, I retorted that my memory was clear; his client hid the mold with boxes, which I climbed over to inspect the electric panel box.  The judge awarded my clients their entire claim.

This one ended up in the Montgomeryt County State’s Attorneys office.  The house was near Falls Road and Tuckerman Lane and the seller owned a general contracting busines.  He bragged about knowing more than me.  The standard inspection protocol for a garage door is to close it onto a 2×4 piece of lumber standing on it’s 2” side.  The door should atomatically reverse to prevent a child from being crushed.  When the door hit the wood block, the entire operating assembly exploded.  I noted that there were no solid struts. The entire gear box was supported with limber metal straps, swaying in the wind.  The nasty seller went crazy and threw me, the buyer and her Realtor® out of the house.  He also refused to permit me to pickup the electronic radon machine I had started at the beginning of the inspection.  A $4,000 tester was nothing to walk away from.  After several diagreeable conversations requesting its return, I filed a complaint with the Montgomery County State’s Attorney.  One of his deputies called the miscreant  and offered him the choice between arrest for grand larceny or to permit me to pickup the machine.  The next day I traveled with an off-duty cop to rescue it.

FYI for Montgomery County real estate transactions: In the 17 years of testing for radon, the highest radon level I detected was in a Potomac home located behnd the Bindeman Center near Falls Raod and Tuckerman Lane.  Radon can be found in heavy concentrations in Potomac and in the Germantown areas.

One last story.  I hated crawl spaces, but when necessary, I donned overalls and went crawling.  This particular crawl space had a tight entrance, with an HVAC duct blocking a portion of the opening.  Somehow I entered and made my inspection, but I could not get out.  The solution was to lay on my back, extend my arms over my head and through the opening.  The two kind women literally pulled me out of the crawl space.

As a  home inspector, I considered myself in the service industry.  Since each property is different and presents differing challenges, every day was different.  I was also very busy.  I could perform 3 inspections a day.  One week I did a Realtor® who frequently requested me for her clients a favor and squeezzed in the 22nd inspection.  Be kind to us grizzley old home inspectors, we work hard for our clients and their Realtors®. And we love every minute.


PS: Realtors® and the Pandemic.  Please stay safe and Covid-19 free.  By nature, Realtors® are social people, from start of a transaction working to establish rapport with a new client through closing.  Realtors® thrive on close contact with many others.  For most Coronavirus patients, recovery is very unpleasant.   Survivors leaving hospitals uniformly report how utterly awful the course of the disease feels.  However, I believe news reports are not stressing enough that surviving CV may leave lasting health defects, including scarred lungs, heart and blood clotting problems and cognitive deficiencies.  It is one thing for an 80-year-old person to recover with some lasting problems, but currently Covid-19 is rampant among younger people in their 20s to 40s.  A thirty year old with cognitive disabilities for the remaining 50 years of his or her life seems devastating.  Please follow public health official’s guidance.


Summer Time and the Weather is Hot, Hot Hot: How to be Comfortable

From the desk of

Arthur S. Lazerow

Chairman, Alban Inspections, Inc.

July 2020

Summer is officially here and Mother Nature has paid attention.  Yesterday, after a thunderstorm, I walked outside to pick up the mail and I could literally swim in the humidity over the 20 yards to the mailbox.  Today was hotter, but without humidity.  I was comfortable potting a Meyer Lemon tree my wife gifted me for Father’s Day.  This was a rare delightful summer day which we will be able to count on fingers and toes from now until September.  Pepco reported to me that A/C for my 3,500 sf house cost $800 last year and was 42% of my electricity usage.

Here are some tips that you can send to your clients:

  • Air Conditioning is a human necessity these days. An air conditioning system needs replacement with a higher efficiency system if over 10-12 years old. If younger, annual pre-season maintenance is a must.  If you or your clients have forgotten to call an HVAC service company for a routine checkup, do so ASAP.  I was having an electrical problem with an otherwise fully operational system at my house last week.  We were comfortable but the service tech unexpectedly found a low refrigerant charge.
  • Keep your house comfortable.  Lower A/C costs by closing drapes and blinds to reduce radiant heating through your windows.  Remember the TV ads for canopies over an outside patio, which the ad claimed to reduce the temperature under the canvas canopy 15 degrees by blocking the radiant heating affect.  Think how this equates to inside temperature rises and stress on the A/C system.
  • Plan to run appliances at night when air conditioning your house becomes easier. A clothes drier and a dishwasher adds significant BTUs to the interor of a home.
  • Turn up the thermostat temperature several degrees. A/C works to dehumidify, so  slightly higher interior temps will still to continue dehumidification.
  • Alban Inspections preaches energy efficiency to all our clients and their Realtors®. After an energy survey of her home and completing an energy efficiency retrofit, we were able to reduce our Realtor® client’s summer air conditioning costs by a half. The home was a small rambler, so other type homes, such as Cape Cods, split levels or other style homes, may not see such a dramatic reduction, but 15% to 25% can be a significant saving.

Every house has air leakage.  Simple steps like adding more effective door weatherstripping, recaulking windows and insulating attic hatches can be homeowner chores worth the money.  If practical, have a window contractor install storm windows over windows without insulated glass panels.  Also, replace incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs that do not operate as heaters.  Hold your hand near an older bulb that has been on for several minutes and feel the heat.  Close doors to unused rooms and close their registers to better distribute cool air throughout your living areas.

Do not laugh at these, even though they may seem obvious or silly.  Should a  home not be air conditioned or a system breaks down, remember these:

  • For a hot spot that is difficult to cool but where you spend time, create your own localized cooling system. Place a pan of ice and water in front of a box fan and blow cool air and mist directly at you.
  • Wear loose cotton clothes and sleep on cotton sheets.
  • Enjoy a frozen treat. Ice cream and flavored ices are also cool.
  • Take cold showers and place a cold wet clothes on your neck or wrists.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Freeze water in your plastic water bottles and apply as needed.


PS: Realtors® and the Pandemic.  Please stay safe and Covid-19 free.  By nature, Realtors® are social people, from start of a transaction working to establish rapport with a new client through closing.  Realtors® thrive on close contact with many others.  For most Coronavirus patients, recovery is very unpleasant.   Survivors leaving hospitals uniformly report how utterly awful the course of the disease feels.  However, I believe news reporters are not stressing enough that surviving CV may leave lasting health deficiencies, including scarred lungs and heart and blood clotting problems and with cognitive processes.  It is one thing for an 80 year old to recover with some lasting problems, but currently Covid-19 is rampant among younger people in their 20s to 40s.  A thirty year old with cognitive disabilities for the remaining 50 years of his or her life seems devastating.

Public health officials recommend that to have the greatest chance of avoiding CV is to stay at home as much as possible, to wear face coverings, to wash hands carefully for 20 seconds and to maintain social distancing.  These should be mandatory for you, your family and your clients.  Ignoring these recommendations is now leading to the current second wave surge in new Coronavirus cases.


How to Protect Your Family from Allergens and Irritants in the Home

Many people know to take precautions outdoors to protect themselves from common allergens like pollen when the seasons change. However, when the weather gets colder and you start spending more time indoors, you are exposing yourself to many indoor allergens like pet dander and dust mites. These are often overlooked, but should be taken seriously to protect the health of you and your family.
Family members spend a lot of time in confined spaces in the home which contribute to significant and chronic health problems. As a result, we must take steps to limit their exposure to mold and other allergy producing irritants. These simple procedures will help to keep your home free of these allergens and irritants:
  • Have heating and air conditioning system serviced regularly.
  • Replace air conditioning filter with small particle or HEPA filter. Make sure that the filter holder is airtight to prevent air bypass.
  • Encase pillows, mattresses and box springs in dust mite proof covers.
  • Spread aquarium gravel over the dirt in plants to help contain mold and be careful not to spill water on the carpet when watering the plants to prevent mold growth in the carpet.
  • Avoid using wood burning fireplaces and make sure that gas fireplaces vent to the exterior.
  • Use the exhaust fan in the bathroom to reduce moisture and mold buildup while bathing and showering. Leave the fan running an hour to two after showering.
  • Don’t allow smoking in the home.
  • Remove shoes prior to entering the home to prevent contamination from mold or lead dust.
  • If home is equipped with a front loading washer, make sure the door gasket is cleaned with bleach frequently to prevent a buildup of mold.
  • Use tapered candles instead of jar candles to prevent spreading soot particles.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to prevent spreading dust particles throughout the home.
  • Avoid running your automobile in the garage for an extended period of time to prevent combustion gases from entering adjacent living spaces.
  • Keep doors and windows closed during warm weather and use air conditioner and dehumidifiers to keep moisture in the home at a minimum.
  • Clean the refrigerator drip tray annually to avoid spreading contaminants that have collected in the tray.
  • Avoid using scented laundry, cleaning and body products which contain chemicals that contribute to allergies.
  • Control pest infestations from cockroaches and mice by utilizing inexpensive traps. Seal any cracks or holes where mice could enter.  Remove allergy triggering insect and mouse residue by thoroughly vacuuming carpet and washing hard surfaces.
By following these suggestions, you should significantly reduce your family’s exposure to allergy causing irritants. To further protect your home from harmful allergens, schedule an appointment with our experienced and certified home inspectors. You can reach us at 800-822-7200 to learn more about our extensive inspection process.

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Alban Inspectors Identify all Important Valves in a Home

Alban Inspections has published and printed a new valve hanger identifying all important water and gas valves in the homes we inspect.  Our home inspectors will place one of these hangers on each water and gas valve to help our clients, once they are living in the home, to find and operate each valve in case of an emergency.  Take a look at the valve identifier. Alban Valve Door Hanger

Alban Establishes Handyman/Renovations Division

The Alban family of companies provides the complete range of real estate services.  Through fully coordinated relationships among Alban Real Estate Services, Alban Inspections, Inc., Alban Management LLC, and residential and commercial Realtors®, we can satisfy every aspect of your real estate needs, from buying and selling properties, to pre-sale or pre-purchase* inspections,  handyman repairs or full renovations. Alban Establishes Handyman Renovation Division(1)

Sandy Watkins and Terry Toms Celebrate Important Anniversaries of their Alban Employment Tenure

WOW!!! Arthur Lazerow, principal of the Alban family of companies, is so proud to celebrate having both Sandy Watkins and Terry Toms as colleagues for so many years. A forty-year and thirty-five year is fantastic and has been enormously productive – development of new businesses, working toward their success, experiencing personal growth with life cycle events shared, from marriages to child births to grandchildren to parents’ funerals…so much joy and sorrow shared over these years. These years represent over half of each of their lives together and what productive years they have been! Both Sandy and Terry are trusted advisers to Art Lazerow and bring to the Alban family of companies reasoned and practical thinking.

Sandy Watkins joined Art Lazerow as his secretary in 2017. Housed in a dusty construction trailer shared with a construction superintendent and Art, Sandy helped build the communities of Frederick Heights and Alban Place in Frederick, Maryland and property management in Frederick and Phoenix Arizona. Along the way, she became a first-rate property manager and earned her real estate license. She currently serves the Alban family of companies as chief executive and head of all property management, home inspection and handyman/renovation activities of the Alban companies. Sandy has been married to Leroy for 53 years. They have a son and daughter and six grandchildren.

Terry Toms came to work with Art in 1982 as one of several junior bookkeepers for the growing homebuilding and property management company under the banner of Lazerow Development Corp. Over the years, her knowledge of bookkeeping for these businesses grew and she was promoted appropriately and repeatedly. She now serves the Alban companies as Chief financial officer, Chief Bookkeeper and Chief of frugality. Terry has been instrumental in the financial success of the companies. Terry has been married to Skip for 35 years. They have a son and daughter and two grandchildren.

Art Lazerow has said repeatedly: “What a blessing to have such fine people around me as colleagues and friends. I appreciate their good humor, great judgment and well reasoned business advice.”