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Energy efficiency: It’s possible to achieve with your plumbing, too!

Monday, October 7th, 2013

We all know we can boost the energy efficiency of our homes by upgrading our appliances and heating and air-conditioning equipment, but did you know that plumbing fixtures could play a role, as well?

When choosing efficient plumbing products, look for the WaterSense label. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the WaterSense labeling program to help consumers identify products with high efficiency, and an independent third party performs certification.

Here are some plumbing fixtures to consider in your energy efficiency plan:

  • Showerheads. According to the EPA, showering makes about 17 percent — or 40 gallons per day — of residential water usage. A standard showerhead consumes about 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm), while a water-saving showerhead with the WaterSense label will use, at most, 2.0 gpm. Over time, these savings will add up, and you’ll see the savings in both your water-heating bill and your water bill.
  • Faucets. Standard faucets generally allow about 2.5 gpm or more to flow out. For energy efficiency, install a low-flow aerator on the kitchen and bathroom faucets. WaterSense products must achieve a flow rate at or below 1.5 gpm. Installing one will reduce the flow of water by around 30 percent.
  • High-efficiency toilets. Yes, there is such a thing. In fact, they’ve been around for a while. Early iterations of low-flow toilets saw problems with the removal of waste. The technology behind them has become smarter and more effective, however, and today’s low-flow, high-efficiency toilets use just 1.28 gallons per flush, or even less.
  • Dual-flush toilets. These ultra efficient toilets have two flush buttons. The lowest-water option is best for eliminating liquid waste. For tougher jobs, use the higher-water flush.

Reducing water usage is a great way to conserve natural resources, and it’s critical for drought-prone areas where water shortages are common.

If you’d like expert advice about ways to reduce water usage and boost efficiency in your home, an experienced plumbing service can help design a water-saving plan and suggest upgrades such as a tankless water heater to drive efficiency even higher.


Positive effects of a high-efficiency toilet

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Installing water-efficient fixtures, especially a high-efficiency toilet, saves money, supports the environment and adds dollar value to your home. With a variety of styles to choose from, upgrading from traditional flush toilets to high-efficiency models is easy.


According to the Southern Nevada Water Authority, there are three types of high-efficiency toilets (HETS): dual flush, pressure-assisted and gravity flush. Each style has advantages and drawbacks. The size of the household will determine which system conserves the most water and saves the most money on a monthly basis.

Dual-flush toilets incorporate the best of both worlds in terms of water conservation. With this model, users have the option of choosing between a pressurized system to remove liquid and a gravity-assisted system to dispose of liquid or solid waste. Some dual-flush models offer two push buttons on top of the tank or dual-flushing handles on the side of the tank.

The liquid-only flush uses significantly less water than the solid waste option. For example, an estimate of water usage per flush runs around 0.8 gallons for liquid waste and 1.6 gallons for solid waste.

Ultra low-flow toilets use approximately 0.8 gallons per flush regardless of liquid or solid removal. The low water flow works in conjunction with a pressurized vacuum process. Once the toilet is flushed, the force of the water on the trap creates additional suction to help pull liquid and solid waste from the bowl.

Urinals, rebates and more

Waterless urinals may seem like an odd choice for a residential bathroom at first look. But waterless urinals offer the ultimate in water conservation, putting these fixtures high on the eco-friendly list and making them very popular among green-living enthusiasts. These low-flow, high-efficiency toilets come in a variety of styles and colors, so they fit nicely into traditional bathroom decor. Estimates on water conservation run as high as 40,000 gallons per year, depending on the frequency of use.

Homeowners who install high-efficiency toilets may also qualify for state or county rebates, which only add to the savings on water bills and the property value increase.

Whichever style you choose, the advantages far outweigh any additional costs. For more high-efficiency toilet information, check out these facts from the Environmental Protection Agency.


Dealing with a blocked drain

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Blocked drains, like taxes, are an inevitable part of life. Despite what advertisers say, solving the problem is not as easy as pouring some liquid into the stopped-up fixtures and letting it work its magic. Liquid cleaners are usually ineffective against blocked drains. Even worse, they are also caustic, as they contain potent acidic cleaners that can damage porcelain and sometimes even older trap pipes. In addition, your sink and pipes are now filled with acidic chemicals that may leak out onto hands and cabinetry when the drain lines are opened up to properly fix the blocked drain.

Enzymatic cleaners are a bit easier on the environment, but they are designed for preventative maintenance, not quick fixes, and can take a few days to clear a blocked drain.

For more information on the dangers of liquid drain cleaners, check out the U.S. National Library of Medicine report on the subject.

Fortunately, clearing a blocked drain can be easily taken care of by most DIYers.

For drains with pop-up stoppers, such as those in bathroom sinks, removing the pop-up plug and clearing away any hair, grease or other debris is a quick and easy way to remedy the problem. If the sink is full of water, take care to place a bucket and towel under the trap before loosening any parts. With necessary precautions taken, loosen the pop-up lever nut. This is located directly under the sink facing the back of the drain line. Remove the pop-up plug and clear away any obstructions. While the plug is off, look down the drain with a flashlight and remove any further clogs with a clothes hanger.

If the problem persists, the clog is likely further down the line. You can attempt to plunge the sink, though depending on the size and density of the blockage, this might prove futile.

If plunging and cleaning the pop-ups fail, you should contact a licensed plumber who can snake the line. While you can rent snaking equipment yourself, there is the risk of damaging the pipes, particularly with power augers, which can break through drain lines.

If you are dealing with a “slow block,” in which the sink backs up after water has been running for a little while, your clog is likely very far down the line. In addition to the slow buildup, other fixtures in the home will be slow to drain, as well. This is a sign that the clog is somewhere in a main drain line (and perhaps caused by tree roots) and will likely require some heavy-duty equipment. To resolve this problem, you should call a licensed plumber, as the equipment necessary for this job is powerful, and the potential for injury is high for those without experience.


No Hot Water? Call a Pro!

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Nothing wakes you up like the cold adrenaline rush you get when you step into the shower and discover … no hot water! A lack of hot water can be caused by any number of problems. There are a few things you can do to help your plumbing professional diagnose your hot water problem.

If you see water leaking from the bottom of the water heater, the unit may have an internal crack. This means that you will need a new water heater. Other problems are less catastrophic and can typically be repaired by a plumbing professional.

On the other hand, if your water heater is leaking from the top of the unit, the culprit is most likely a malfunctioning fitting or other part. In most cases, it’s a simple repair.

Some problems leading to a lack of hot water are because of the unit itself. If your hot water heater runs on natural gas and you don’t have hot water, it may be that your pilot light is out. This may be something you can fix yourself, but natural gas is nothing to play around with. Be safe and contact a professional to get your pilot relit and to make sure there’s not a bigger underlying problem.

On electric units, check to make sure that a circuit breaker has not tripped. If all breakers are intact and you still have no hot water, your unit’s thermostat may have failed. Again, this is a repairable situation and can be fixed quickly by a plumbing professional.

Sometimes a water heater is simply unable to keep up with a household’s demand. This can be caused by wear and tear, sediment buildup or simply increased demand. Whatever the cause, if you are experiencing a lack of hot water, don’t hesitate to call a pumbing professional right away.


Bathroom Renovation Tips

Monday, August 5th, 2013

A bathroom renovation project can be as large or as small as your budget allows. The simple fact is that homeowners can easily manage most bathroom renovations. One exception, perhaps, would be moving and installing plumbing fixtures and piping. You should never cut corners when it comes to plumbing. If it’s not done properly, leaks can develop that can cause serious damage throughout your home. Hiring a trustworthy company to do the job will ensure that it’s done right the first time.

Before you begin your bathroom renovation, consider how much you can afford to spend on the project. Decide what, if anything, you are going to keep in the room. If you are going to replace the toilet, faucets and fixtures, be sure to include that in your budget along with the necessary cabinetry and materials.

You may choose to keep the existing tub and install a one- or two-piece bathtub/shower combination unit. If your bathroom is very small, you may want to simply remove the tub and replace it with a stand-alone shower only.

It’s also important to consider the way the components of your bathroom are arranged. If you choose to rethink the layout, you may have to move the toilet and/or tub to another location. This is one of the most expensive aspects of a renovation, and you will need to include the cost of new pipes in your budget, as well. If you keep the original layout, your plumbing costs are going to be much lower.

Whichever approach you take, make sure that the project isn’t compromised by faulty plumbing. Enlisting the help of a company like RooterPLUS!, whose licensed and insured plumbers undergo regular training sessions on top of their years of experience, is a smart stepping-off point. Your home is the largest investment you will ever make, and you simply cannot take a chance on hidden damage because of faulty plumbing.


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