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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.


Controlling the water pressure to your home

Friday, October 4th, 2013

You’ll probably only ever think about the water pressure in your home when it’s too low. The fact is, however, the pressure can also be too high. This can damage appliances that utilize your plumbing system, including the washing machine, the water heater and the dishwasher.

When it comes to pressure that is too high, the force of the flowing erodes materials within the plumbing components, such as seals. In turn, this can cause your water heater or other appliance to start leaking. Additionally, overly high pressure can cause “water hammer,” a situation in which an appliance’s valve is suddenly closed. This may cause annoyances like noise, but in more serious cases it can cause pipes to fail and shorten the life of those expensive and essential appliances.

Further, you should consider the annual savings you can realize on your water bill. For instance, if water pressure is reduced from 100 pounds per square inch (psi) to 50, you can reap a one-third savings on your annual water bill.

If the water pressure in your home is high, hire a licensed plumber to install a regulator. This can reduce pressure to your appliances without affecting areas where it ought to be higher, such as the garden hose or the shower. A very common task for a plumber, installing a regulator also can bring savings on the maintenance and repair of your plumbing system and appliances. Hiring a plumber to take care of this task for you will not only ensure that the part is installed properly but that it is adjusted properly, as well.

If you have any doubt about the pressure in your home or are experiencing any of the signs of high pressure, such as water hammer, be sure to contact a licensed plumber sooner rather than later to prevent serious damage.


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.


Got Plumbing Questions? We’ve Got Answers!

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

In most cases, if you have plumbing questions, it’s best to call a professional plumber, who may be able to answer your question over the phone— with no service fee. During the call, the plumber will ask key questions and confirm that you’ve covered a few simple checks to be sure that your problem is a minor one.

Before calling in the cavalry, however, run through this FAQ. You may find the answers you seek. If you have a full-fledged plumbing emergency like a burst pipe or a drain that repeatedly clogs, however, it’s best to call a professional plumber right away.

How can I prevent frozen pipes?

Plummeting winter temperatures cause many homeowners to fear for their pipes, and rightly so: Exposed pipes in uninsulated areas like the basement are more susceptible to freezing. When ice forms within the pipe, the pressure of the blockage causes the pipe to burst, sending water all through your basement.

Here’s how to prevent pipes from freezing:

  • Wrap exposed pipes with insulating foam to maintain water temperature.
  • Insulate and seal the basement to keep cold air out.
  • If you’re going away for an extended period, give a family member or neighbor a key to your home so that someone can turn a faucet on to a drip when temperatures threaten to drop.

My water bill has jumped significantly. Could this mean I have a plumbing problem?

Unless your water utility has raised prices significantly, you may have a plumbing emergency on your hands. Check your home for evidence of a slow drip or a pool of water on the floor or under cabinets. Deal with leaks swiftly, and get a plumber on the scene.

How can I control water usage?

Toilets consume the most water of any home appliance. If a toilet in your home runs, try to fix it right away.

What plumbing emergencies must be dealt with immediately?

If you discover a leaky pipe, you can attempt to tighten the connections with a pipe wrench and then schedule an appointment with a plumber. Your need for a plumber’s services will be more urgent if you notice:

  • A gas leak.
  • A significant water leak.
  • A backed-up sewer.

A gas leak poses a very high risk to your family’s health. If you notice the smell of rotten eggs, get everyone out of your house immediately and call your local gas company or the fire department.

What are the most common problems that require a plumber?

Don’t hesitate to make the call if:

  • There is water under a sink or on the floor in the basement. This indicates a leaky pipe.
  • There is a decrease in water pressure.
  • You notice rust around your water heater or on the pipes connecting to it.
  • You find evidence of mold, which may indicate a water leak.
  • Noisy pipes.
  • Faucets that drip.

If you’re still not sure, or if you have plumbing questions or a plumbing emergency, contact a reputable plumber right away.


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.


When to Have Septic Pump Service

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Your septic tank is an enclosed sewage system that services your home only. Normal, properly maintained septic systems should only require pump service every 3 to 5 years.

The system consists of a tank, PVC pipe, sand and gravel. The tank may be made out of a variety of materials, including concrete or plastic. Sewage leaves your home and goes into the underground holding tank.

The tank has a baffle in it that keeps solids on one side and allows fluid to flow to the other side. From there, the fluid leaves the tank and enters the drain field through a pipe called a French drain. This pipe has holes in it that allows the liquid to flow into the gravel bed. The liquid then gets filtered by the land in a process called percolation.

As you and your family go about your daily business, you generally will not have to worry about your septic system, as long as you follow some simple rules. These rules include:

  1. Never flush anything other than septic-safe toilet paper into the system. This means no paper towels, tampons, sanitary napkins, diapers (even if they are labeled as flushable) or anything else.
  2. Never dump old oil, mineral spirits, paint, paint remover, or paint thinner into the drain system. The tank has natural bacteria in it that helps break down the solids. These materials can kill that bacteria and the septic system will fail.

If you ever have any doubt about whether something can be flushed, just throw it in the garbage. It’s much cheaper to do that than to clog the system and have to have a pump service to come and empty the tank. The worst possible thing is for your septic system to back up into the house. If it ever reaches that point, you may have more serious problems than just having to hire a pump service.

There are some signs that your tank needs service.

  1. There may be a lot of moisture around the tank cap when there hasn’t been any rain.
  2. You smell sewage.
  3. The toilet backs up or overflows for no obvious reason.
  4. Sometimes you can hear drains gurgling when they normally don’t.

A septic service handles waste water from residential and business buildings. They make use of tank trucks with pumps designed to remove the waste from your septic tank relatively fast. Most companies can provide emergency service for an extra charge. “Emergency service” can even take place during business hours if service is needed right away. So take proper care of your septic system and schedule a pump date. You’ll save money as well as keep your system in good shape.


Go Green with a Tankless Water Heater

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

People today are more conscious of their environmental footprint. With natural resources dwindling at unprecedented rates, it is more important than ever to reduce waste and practice energy conservation. One ideal and cost-effective measure that you can adopt is to install a tankless water heater in your home. Such a system could lower your water-heating energy costs by as much as 50 percent.

Often referred to as point-of-use water heaters, tankless appliances are designed to provide hot water on demand. Conventional water heaters must heat, store and maintain the water’s temperature in a tank for future use. Tankless water heaters, however, heat the water only as it is called for, eliminating the energy required to maintain water temperatures 24 hours a day. This greatly lowers energy consumption and utility bills.

Tankless water heaters use heating elements called heat exchangers that heat the water as it enters the unit. The heat exchangers can be powered by an electric heating coil or burners fired by natural gas or propane. When the water is turned on, flow sensors incorporated in the unit switch on these heating elements, and the water is heated as it passes the element.

Point-of-use water heaters are much smaller than traditional systems and are designed to fit into small spaces, such as under the kitchen sink. Traditional residential water heaters typically consume about 29 cubic feet of space compared to the 3 cubic feet or so required by a tankless system. This makes the compact, tankless systems ideal for small homes or apartments.

The smallest units are not capable of supporting an entire household, so you may need to incorporate several tankless water heaters in strategic locations. Larger, whole-house systems capable of supplying the entire household with hot water are available. Because they typically use gas-fired burners to heat the water, interior applications require installing an exhaust vent through the roof or exterior wall.

Installing a tankless water heater is a good start on the road to reducing your environmental footprint!


What to do when the kitchen sink is clogged

Monday, August 5th, 2013

In most cases when the kitchen sink is clogged, it can be cleared easily. The kitchen sink tends to be the most used sink in the house, and because of this, it is more likely to clog than the others. You use the kitchen sink to clean the dishes, to clean food during food preparation and, of course, to clean the kitchen.

If your sink gets clogged, follow these simple steps to clear it. If these steps do not work, the problem may be something more serious, meaning you’re going to have to call in the professionals to open the drain back up. Companies like RooterPLUS! can have your drains cleared and working again shortly.

  1. Check the drain opening and strainer first. Leftover food plugging the drain often will be the cause of the problem. You will need to reach into the sink and remove any food or debris from the opening to clear it.
  2. Another problem can occur when grease from the dishes gets into the drain. When this happens, the grease hardens in the trap, clogging the sink. In most cases, you can run hot water to melt the grease and open the drain. If there is already water in the sink, you will need to remove it first before running hot water over the drain.
  3. If the previous method does not work, something else may be clogging the kitchen sink drain. Try using a plunger to clear the clog. Place the plunger into the sink so that it covers the drain completely. Push down on the handle firmly several times. Remove the plunger and wait briefly to see if the water drains. If it does not, insert the plunger a second time and repeat the process. Keep in mind that on really tough clogs, it might take several attempts to clear the drain.
  4. If your kitchen sink is clogged and you have a garbage disposal installed, simply turning the disposal on may help to clear the clog. If this does not work, or if your disposal will not come on, it’s time to call RooterPLUS! for assistance. Removing a garbage disposal unit is not something that most homeowners will want to do. It involves not only plumbing but also electrical work.

If you run into a situation where you lose a piece of jewelry in your drain, this is a situation best left to the professionals. There are many scenarios where your beloved piece of jewelry could be lost forever or damaged beyond repair when you try to retrieve it yourself. When you drop a piece of jewelry down the drain, call RooterPLUS! immediately before using the sink. Doing so could push the item further into the plumbing system.


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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