Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top 10 New Year’s Plumbing Resolutions

For some of us, New Year’s Day is all about making resolutions – and hopefully, keeping to them. 

While few of us are deluded enough to actually believe that the most difficult of resolutions will stick, there are a few that you can choose to adopt that are easy and that will help make the world and your home a much better place. Consider calling some of these plumbing resolutions your own for 2011:
  1. Treat your kitchen drain right. Although you probably shouldn’t wait for the New Year to resolve to take measures for extending the life of your kitchen plumbing, it’s better late than never. Start by making sure that everything that goes into your garbage disposal can be ground up easily and never – ever – pour grease down the drain again.
  2. Up your recycling efforts. Having a compartmentalized kitchen recycling bin at the ready will help you separate your trash from bona fide recyclables. Its proximity to your kitchen sink will also limit the likelihood that foreign objects will inadvertently wind up in your disposal.
  3. Use eco-friendly drain cleaners. These days, there are a growing variety of alternatives on the market that will let you take care of a clogged drain without having to use industrial strength chemicals that could do damage to the environment as well as your pipes.
  4. Go Energy Star. When you take into consideration the fact that your refrigerator is the biggest energy guzzler in your whole house next to your heating and cooling systems, it only makes sense to set your sights on upgrading that old fridge to an Energy Star-rated version. Not only will you be reducing your home’s overall carbon footprint, but you’ll also be saving money on your monthly bills in the process. 
  5. Put in low-flow showers and faucets throughout your home. Doing your part to cut back on water waste can be as easy as upgrading your shower heads and faucets. A low-flow shower head increases the amount of air in the water so that you’ll still be able to achieve high pressure without minimal waste, and automatic shutoff faucets also act as gentle enforcers of water conservation.
  6.  Install low-flush toilets. Probably the second best thing you could do to cut back on needless water waste is to replace your old toilets with updated, low-flush technology. Going for a dual-flush option gives you even more control over your usage.
  7. Add solar. Solar water heaters can cut your water heating bill in half and last up to 20 years. If that’s not enough, consider this: going solar with your water heater drastically reduces your carbon emissions and has been said to have a positive impact as significant as not driving your car for four months.
  8. Get a home water purification system. This has both health and environmental benefits. The health benefits are obvious: purified water means less harmful chemicals and lowered exposure to water-borne bacteria. The eco-impact is substantial as well: purified water in your home eliminates your reliance on bottled water, which, in turn, means less plastic bottles in landfills and less water delivery trucks on the road.
  9. Insulate your pipes in winter. You don’t have to live in arctic surroundings to do this, although those living in semi-tropical climates are mostly excluded. Harsh winter conditions can wreak havoc on your pipes if they’re not properly shielded, and taking this extra precaution can save you buckets (pun intended) in the event of an unfortunate pipe burst.
  10. Build up an emergency savings fund. One of the last things you need is to have to call for the services of a plumber and not have enough in the bank to cover costly expenses. By setting aside a certain amount every paycheck, you’ll be able to handle anything that circumstance throws at you without having to take a serious financial setback.
Do you have any plumbing resolutions for the New Year that you don’t see here? Please share them in the comments box below. Everyone at Pete’s Plumbing wishes you health and happiness for 2011!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Plumbing Tips - Caring for Your Home’s Achilles Heel

There’s an old saying that reminds us that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” but vigilance and a watchful eye can trump them both. The arrival of winter – especially winters that are particularly harsh – can have an isolating effect on us. 
People cloister in their homes, staving off the bitter chill outside. But, far too often, this can lead us into a false sense of security that could sneak up and bite us if we’re not watchful for the tell tale signs of winter’s wrath. Your plumbing can be your home’s Achilles heel when cold weather strikes, but there are measures you can take to limit its impact.
Circulate the Air in Your Home
For many homeowners, it is common practice during winter to seal heating vents and close off unused rooms in their home in an attempt to minimize gas and electricity usage. 
After all, what’s the point of heating a room that you next to never use? But, this kind of conservation should be balanced with an acute understanding of what lies beneath – or directly behind as is the case with walled in plumbing.
Most plumbers will remind you that by cutting a few corners in your monthly heating bill, you could actually end up spending thousands of dollars more out of pocket on emergency repairs as a result of burst pipes that have frozen because of poor air circulation in your home. For this reason, it’s strongly recommended that you heat your entire home and maintain a constant temperature of at least 55 degrees in every room. Keep doors open to facilitate optimum circulation of warm air. Although you can’t carve a hole in the wall to allow the warm air to reach the pipes in your walls, you can open cabinet doors underneath your sinks to allow them greater exposure to the warmth.
Keep Your Plumbing Active
If you’ve already adequately insulated your pipes, you may not find it necessary to take extra preventative measures – but doing so never hurt anyone. To be absolutely certain that you’re doing all you can to prevent your pipes from freezing over, it’s recommended that you routinely run the inside faucets.
During particularly sharp cold snaps, though, it’s crucial that you keep your plumbing active for an extended period of time. To accomplish this, open every valve in your home to allow a small trickle of water to come out, and leave it on overnight.
Monitor Your Water Pressure
It’s not enough to simply run your water valves every few hours if you’re not actually paying attention to what the water’s doing as it comes out. This is where vigilance and a watchful eye comes into play, because restricted water flow or gradually decreasing pressure can be the very first sign of piping that’s frozen over.
If you notice this is the case, then be sure to contact a professional plumber sooner rather than later. Neglecting this warning sign could lead to potentially devastating water damage to your home – not to mention astronomical emergency plumbing repair bills that come as the result of hoping things will work themselves out on their own.
Keep Your Garage Door Closed
Many homes have the water heater located in the garage, which can leave it exposed to temperatures of extreme cold throughout winter. Keep your garage door and all windows to your garage closed as often as possible.
If you identify that you’ve got a cold draft moving into your garage through poor insulation and the weather reaches extreme lows, consider placing a space heater in close proximity to your water heater. Since you should never operate a space heater when you aren’t in the room and able to keep an eye on it, this should be something you reserve only for the coldest occasions.
Awareness plays a big part in surviving winter without incident. But, taking the occasional temperature reading both inside and outside of your house may not be enough. Stay updated with the local weather service so that you can anticipate the extremely nasty bouts of cold weather that could put the well being of your plumbing – and your wallet – in peril.
Think of anything we missed? Send us an e-mail or add your comments below. Share your best practices for guarding the integrity of your home’s plumbing through the winter months.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Three Ways to Go Green and Save Money, Too

It used to be that doing things the “eco-friendly” way was taking the hard route – making the sacrifices you felt were necessary for the benefit of the world around you. But, things have changed.
These days, so many people are expressing an interest in going green and just about as many companies, making strides in technology to make it easier for us to do so. The result is that you can enjoy the benefits of saving money while you’re also sustaining the environment and giving back to the planet in a good way.
Dual Flush Toilets
We all know how impactful low flow toilets are to saving water and cutting back our monthly water bill in the process, but did you know that a dual flush toilet has the potential of saving over 60 percent more water?
A dual flush toilet is just what it sounds like – a toilet that allows you to decide between two different flush settings, or a full flush versus half a flush. The savings come into play in the amount of water that is used per flush. The lowest flush setting uses half the amount of water that the 1.6-gallon full flush does, giving you the opportunity to make a dramatic impact in your daily water usage.
There are even tools on the market that will allow you to retrofit your existing toilet to convert it into a dual flush, making it unnecessary to tear your old toilet out and tossing it in a landfill somewhere.
The Double Whammy of Pipe Insulation
Insulating your home’s exposed plumbing is easy. If you can reach the pipes, you can insulate them. All that’s required is some foam insulation tubing, a putty knife, and the desire to make a serious dent in your water and energy bills.
How does insulating your pipes save water in addition to energy? Simple. Think of it this way: the fact that your piping is now insulated from the elements means it’ll take far less time for your water to heat up. 
And, taking far less time for your water to heat up means you’ll waste a lot less water by letting it run until it reaches an acceptable temperature. This may not seem like much at the time, but bear in mind that conservation isn’t about taking giant leaps at a single time; it’s about incremental savings that ultimately add up.
Saving Water Can Be Relaxing
You’re probably already familiar with how much of a difference can be made by the home installation of an auto shutoff faucet. And, if you’re as eco-conscious as you should be, you might have even installed them throughout your house by now along with low flow shower heads that let you enjoy guiltless showers longer than 30 seconds.
But, what about a green bathtub? No, we’re not talking about the color; it’s all about the size. If you’re one of those people who have missed out on the simple pleasure of a relaxing bathtub soak because you just can’t see wasting 40 to 60 gallons of water, there is a way that you can have your bathtub and enjoy it too. Just look for one of many environmentally conscious bathtub designs that use far less water to fill.
These are a big hit in Japan where living space limitations sometimes prevent people from having the room to accommodate a full sized tub but are readily available for installation everywhere else.
Technology and Environmental Accountability Converge
Who knew that technology would eventually start to catch up with environmentalism, making the lives of conservation-minded people that much simpler – and cheaper? If you didn’t see it coming, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone.
Tell us if you have any questions about what it takes to have Pete’s Plumbing help you become more conservation-oriented or be sure to leave us a message on how having eco-friendly plumbing has helped your bottom line.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

$1,500 Tankless Water Heater Rebate Set to Expire on December 31st

The holidays are afoot. And, with their arrival comes the opportunity not to watch our savings dwindle away as we shower the ones we love with gifts but to save money. How, you ask? Come close, we’ll let you in on a little secret.
 It’s actually not a secret. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was big news when it was passed, and it still continues to dominate the headlines. You may have heard of it by its alternate nickname: the Stimulus Package. However, today, the headlines are no longer shouting about the arrival of the various federal tax credits you could qualify for. 
Instead, they are warning of their impending expiration, which happens on December 31. After that, you’ll no longer be able to take advantage of a certain federal tax credit that could save you thousands of dollars come April 15.
$1,500 Tankless Water Heater Credit
It’s as simple as this: install a qualifying tankless water heater in your primary residence by December 31, and take a federal tax credit up to $1,500 when you file your 2010 tax return. For some, this could mean the difference between owing big and breaking even – or, owing some and getting a hefty return instead. Of course, there are certain guidelines you have to follow, but they aren’t that difficult to meet:
  • Your tankless water heater must be installed and in use by December 31.
  • It must be installed at your primary residence within the United States (in other words, you can’t take advantage of the tax credit if you have a tankless water heater installed at your vacation home).
  • The tax credit will cover 30 percent of the cost of purchase, up to $1,500.
Something for Dad – The Gift that Keeps on Giving
If you’re looking for something special to buy Dad this holiday season, forget that loud, expensive tie collection you’ve been mulling over and consider the possibilities of giving him the gift that keeps on giving. 

Although it may not be anything he thought to jot down on that spur-of-the-moment wish list you had him draw up – and even though it might be a bit difficult to gift wrap – a new tankless water heater can literally be the gift that keeps on giving.
  • Hot water, all the time. Everyone loves a hot shower, especially one that doesn’t culminate with a dash of cold water the moment that hot water’s been spent. The beauty of a tankless water heater is its ability to provide a seemingly endless reservoir of hot water. And, no more waiting for the water to heat up. The technology of tankless water heaters means that when you crank the knob for hot water, you get hot water.
  • Big monthly savings. Tankless water heaters are energy efficient and have the potential of cutting down on a home’s energy bill substantially – by some accounts, the savings could reach as high as 45 percent.
  • The cherry on top of this sweet gift. Come April 15th, the federal tax credit can almost be seen as a time-delayed Christmas bonus. Think about it – when was the last time you bought someone a gift that brought with it monthly savings and a substantial tax credit?
Best. Gift. Ever.
As far as gifts go, you might have stumbled across the ultimate gift idea (we’ll let you take the credit for thinking of it on your own). But, just remember – the holidays are also a good time to buy yourself a few things, too. 
If you’re relatively certain that you won’t wake up on Christmas morning to find a tankless water heater sitting beside your tree adorned with ribbons and bows, why not spring for a tankless water heater for yourself and your family?
Act Now
Don’t forget, the $1,500 tax rebate expires December 31 and any purchases you make after the fact will not qualify. Think you haven’t got enough time? Think again. The professionals at Pete’s Plumbing are ready to come to your assistance and are so eager to help you take advantage of the expiring rebate that they’re offering an incentive of their own – a $25 discount on labor costs for tankless water heater installation.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bracing Your Home for the Relatives – Tips to Help Your Plumbing Survive the Holidays

The holidays are right around the corner. Yes, already. And, although you’re probably unaware, at this very moment your home is silently bracing itself for the onslaught of visitors that are sure to arrive, bearing gifts, food, well wishes… and a potential workout for your home’s plumbing. 
Here are a few tips on how you can help your home cope with holiday stress while making your home a hospitable place for all.
Spare Your Visitors an Arctic Showering Experience
Unless you’ve had a tankless water heater installed that has the power to provide a seemingly endless supply of hot water to your shower head, you will likely encounter times throughout the day when your water heater simply isn’t capable of keeping up with the demand. 
Your visitors need to shower – some more often than others – and in the interest of giving everyone a harmonious, well-scented visiting experience, you will have to take steps to ensure that none of them inadvertently step into the shower to find themselves chilled to the bone by a blast of ice cold water.
Have an open discussion with your guests. Let them know that they are more than welcome to shower, but offer a word of advice by delivering a bit of fair warning about the hot water supply. To do your best to prevent the familial squabbles that are all too likely to erupt, consider posting a shower sign-up sheet on the door of each bathroom. 
As silly as this may sound, doing so will have the dual effect of spreading out your hot water use throughout the day in addition to raising the awareness level of your guests so that they don’t take extravagantly long showers that will waste water unnecessarily. Ensure that guests understand they should wait at least ten minutes between showers to allow hot water to build back up again. Then again, it’s also not too late to consider a tankless water heater either!
Crank Up the Temperature
Yet another option for squeezing every last warm drop from your overworked shower head is to turn up the temperature of your water. 
This can be done by slightly turning the regulator knob on your water heater, but it’s crucial that you don’t turn it up too far and that you never exceed the 125 degree mark. Doing so could put you, your family, and your guests at risk of scalding and could make for some seriously unhappy campers in your Yuletide abode.
Test Your Waterworks in Advance
Planning ahead never hurt anyone. If you’re expecting visitors this holiday season, it would be prudent to check the temperature on your water heater and test the water pressure of your showers long before that first welcome knock at the door. 
If the water pressure coming out of your shower head seems abnormally low, this could be due to a clog or a shower head in need of cleaning.If you’ve already maxed out your spending account on Christmas presents and buying a new shower head is out of the question, just be sure to clean it thoroughly. 
This can be accomplished by simply removing the shower head and soaking it in vinegar overnight to break down the buildup and then scrubbing it clean the following day.
Save Your Toilets from a Choking Death
Your toilet bowl wasn’t invented to be a garbage receptacle, but, in many instances, this is exactly what it winds up becoming when one guest after another passes through. 
Short of standing guard and barking orders at each bathroom visitor, what can you do to prevent your toilet from being clogged up with unflushables like paper towels, cotton balls, toothpicks, floss (and possibly even fruitcake)? Simple.
Make sure you have a large, visible waste basket next to the toilet – and make it a point to empty it frequently so that you don’t wind up getting an enormous plumbing bill for Christmas alongside that impossibly loud sweater you’re destined to receive.
How do you prepare your home plumbing for holiday visitors? Feel free to share your ideas with us. Or, if you have questions, drop us a line.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving Tips from Pete’s Plumbing

Believe it or not, plumbing companies typically experience a spike in emergency calls during the Thanksgiving holiday. 

Is it a result of frozen water pipes bursting at the most inopportune times? Apparently not, since even plumbers who work in states that don’t see sub-zero winter temperatures also experience the very same spike in calls. So, what gives? The reasons may surprise you.
Relatives on the Loose
Thanksgiving is the time of year when many brave souls open their homes to their relatives. Doing so keeps the bonds of family strong, but it can also inadvertently take its toll on your home. The bottom line is people behave differently when they’re not in their own home. Although they have a tendency to be a bit neater out of consideration for their hosts, they’re also given to do some rather silly things – like accidentally clogging up your bathroom by using too much toilet paper. And, then, of course, there are the children to consider. 
Even if you’ve got your own, housing an additional half dozen youngsters can leave your home open to some serious mischief, especially if the little ones aren’t constantly watched. Such hazards that plumbers over the years have reported include the occasional stuffed animal flushed down the toilet or the odd Matchbox car finding its way down the kitchen sink.
Speaking of kitchen sinks, that brings us to the number one most common reason for emergency Thanksgiving plumber calls.

Kitchen Disposal Woes
It’s that time of year for clogged garbage disposals. Think about it – although if it’s already happened to you before, you’d probably prefer not to – but it makes perfect sense. Unless you’re given to throwing football parties every weekend during NFL season or hosting gatherings for no particular reason other than the joy of having a full house, Thanksgiving is probably the only time of year that your kitchen really gets a serious workout.
So many mouths to feed also equals so many uneaten leftovers to get rid of and this can translate into serious abuse for your kitchen garbage disposal. This is especially the case if your visitors are well-intentioned enough to want to “help out” in the kitchen afterwards. Potato peelings and coffee grounds are the most frequently identified culprits, but it’s really the sheer volume that really does the trick.
Preventing Unwanted Plumbing Mishaps
This doesn’t mean you have to skip Thanksgiving duties at your home. Those of you looking for an excuse to get out of hosting next year’s big family gathering won’t get off the hook that easy, unfortunately. 
But, there are a few smart, subversive steps you can take that will minimize the risk of your guests overburdening your disposal – allowing you to focus on other aspects of the day’s activities without having to constantly police your kitchen for destructive do-gooders:
  • Use paper plates. It’s substantially more eco-friendly to separate your food and recycle your paper plates, but when you’re entertaining an army of visitors, enforcing this sort of thing could be the equivalent of taking on far too big of a task. You may ask, How will using paper plates keep your garbage disposal free and clear? Simply put, it will encourage your guests to throw away their plates when they’re done rather than marching into the kitchen to rinse them off and clogging up your disposal with uneaten leftovers.
  • Make room for extra garbage cans in the kitchen and dining areas. This doesn’t mean that each person should be handed a bucket or that you have to create some sort of bizarre obstacle course of 30-gallon trash barrels for your relatives to negotiate. The simple placement of two or three additional waste bins near the kitchen entry way or the dining room exit will have the effect of heading your well-intentioned guests off at the pass, making them far more likely to dispose of their waste in the nearest available receptacle instead of using your kitchen garbage disposal.
  • Plan your menu accordingly. Serve mashed potatoes --makes sense, considering that the number one item that causes the most amount of clogging damage to garbage disposals across the country on the last Thursday of November are potato peels. Using the same rationale, you might think that buying a new (and, incidentally, more eco-friendly) coffee maker with a reusable filter would prevent your disposal from becoming clogged with used filters. However, unless you’re the one constantly manning the coffee pot, it’s far more likely the disposed grounds will end up down the drain where they’ll expand and clog up your disposer’s workings faster than you can say, “None more for me, thanks.”
  • Ensure your kitchen garbage disposal is in optimum working order. Doing so doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily condoning its use, but it’s far better to play it safe. One method of keeping your disposal clean and running smoothly is by occasionally tossing easily grindable bones – like chicken bones – into your unit and turning it on and running a steady stream of cold water as it works. Doing so cleans the disposer’s blades and also removes any gunk that has collected there over time
In a perfect (green) world, composting your food is a far better alternative to using your garbage disposal or throwing your leftovers in the garbage. It decreases your carbon footprint, lessens the load in our landfills, and prevents sludge buildup in our municipal sewage systems.

But, sometimes, we have to make compromises. And, what Thanksgiving would be complete without those?
Your Thanksgiving Stories
Send us your Thanksgiving plumbing stories, tip, or plumbing questions related to keeping the holidays festive and worry-free.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Saving Money by Going Hybrid with Your Home Water Heating Efforts

“Hybrid” is a word that’s sort of lost its luster as of late. Back in the old days, it was one of those futuristic buzzwords that brought to mind all sorts of Sci-Fi connotations. Today, it’s become a term used to describe energy-saving options that unfortunately don’t always convert to the monetary level we’d ideally like to see.
That is, unless you’re talking about the new hybrid water heaters available from such well-known and trusted manufacturers like G.E. Electric and A.O. Smith. 
In that case, you’re talking about something completely different. The latest generation in home water heating equipment, the hybrids offered by these companies as well as others, offer some of the most significant cost savings you’re likely to find anywhere.
Why Go Hybrid?
Let’s face it. If you’re going to mount a full-scale attack to trim down your home expenses, it only makes sense to go after the big guns. And, according to the experts, water heaters rank in the top three culprits associated with your home’s most costly expenses.
That alone should be enough of an incentive. But, with the added impact of water conservation as your secondary motivation, you may have a decidedly hard time coming up with reasons not to go hybrid.
The Hybrid in Action
In true “hybrid” fashion, hybrid water heaters combine the technologies of conventional water heaters and their more eco-friendly sibling, the tankless water heater – only with a few added bonuses. The hybrid water heater absorbs heat from the very air and transfers it into the water. This process of absorption prevents the need for generating heat, which, in turn, saves energy.
Hybrid water heaters also have a small reservoir where heated water is stored, ensuring that no cold water surprises when you hop in the shower or turn on the tap.
Multiple Benefits on Offer
So, what exactly are the benefits of installing a hybrid water heater? Read ‘em and weep (or count your dollars saved):
  • A hybrid water heater produces the same amount of hot water that a traditional water heater does, but, due to its unique method of heat transfer, only uses half of the energy to do so. Translated: Ka-ching!
  • Certain G.E. hybrid water heater models are capable of reducing the cost of heating your home water by as much as 62 percent. Translated: Serious savings!
  • A hybrid water heater has the potential to cut your overall home energy costs by up to 15 percent. Translated: Savings for your entire home! 
But Wait, There’s More!
By installing a G.E. or A.O. Smith hybrid water heater in your home, you’re not only doing something positive for the environment by limiting your yearly energy consumption, but you’re also fattening your wallet.
Thanks to federal tax credits that have been extended through December 31st, you can qualify for a tax credit, starting at $450. And, if you live within Georgia state lines, you might even be able to qualify for local tax incentives.
Interested? Talk to Pete’s Plumbing today to set up a consultation to install a hybrid water heater in your home.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

You Don’t have to Have a Good Reason to Want Purified Water In Your Home… But Here Are a Few Anyway

Being eco-conscious isn’t just limited to what you put into the soil and air around you. You also have to watch what you’re putting into your own body – and that includes the very water you drink. 
Depending on your location, the quality of the water supply may be less than desirable. For this reason, and to combat any health issues that could arise from drinking impure water, you may want to consider a water purification system.

How Does it Work?
A water purification system does just that – it purifies your water – through a method called reverse osmosis. This is just a fancy way of saying that the water coming into your home is run through a filtration system that removes unwanted chemicals, parasites, and other contaminants that might be floating around.
A water purification system is a bit more complex than a simple filter you install at the end of your tap and is significantly more effective at cleaning your water. For example, did you know that a standard water filter won’t reduce sodium fluoride and chlorine from your tap supply? However, a reverse osmosis purification system will.

Why Purified Water?
Do you really have to have a reason to want clean water coming into your home? Of course not! But, if you’re looking for reasons, there are plenty of them – and they’re not even all health related.

  • Taste and Health Benefits: Put simply, purified water tastes better. And, we’re not just talking about drinking water. Think of everything else that you make in your home that requires water – from coffee to pasta – and imagine how much richer the taste would be if the water you’re using is purified. Often times, unpurified water can contain unpleasant odors, probably never more obvious than during shower time. Bathing in water that hasn’t been purified can not only be a negative olfactory experience, but it can also lead to skin irritation and other dermatological health issues.
  • Economic Benefits: Home water purification systems are affordable and readily available. Having a water purification system installed in your home isn’t just a way to get great tasting, healthy water coming from your tap, but it’s also an investment that will pay off in the long run. First, you’ll no longer have to pay the exorbitant cost of bottled water. Right now, that price is about $3 per gallon for the pricier brands and more if you buy your water from a vending machine. This kind of habit, although far preferable to drinking unpurified water straight out of the tap, can amount to a significant expenditure. Second, the improved quality of the water flowing through your pipes and your appliances will keep them running for much longer.
  • Environmental Benefits: Believe it or not, installing a home water purification system in your home is a great way to decrease your carbon footprint. How so? Well, to begin with, purified water in your home will eliminate your dependence on bottled water. And, as you know, the bottled water industry is responsible for:
    1. More plastic bottles in landfills. Four out of five bottles aren’t recycled and end up being thrown away with your garbage.
    2. Increased fuel consumption and burning of fossil fuels. There’s a lot of transportation involved with bottled water -- from cargo planes that deliver the water from overseas to diesel trucks that make coast to coast trips delivering the water to your local grocery store.
    3. Higher levels of pollution from the manufacture of plastic bottles and the operation of bottling factories.
The Last Drop
In the end, it’s not just about the health benefits; it’s also about voting with your wallet. If you want to help lower energy consumption and waste, start by making changes in your home
If you’re interested in finding out how much it’ll cost to have a home water purification system installed, contact Pete’s Plumbing today for a free estimate.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Winterization Procedures for Inside and Outside Your Home

In case you haven’t heard – or maybe you’ve just been too busy racing back and forth to notice – fall is here and winter will be following hot (or rather, cold) on its heels pretty soon. Depending on where you live, that can mean quite a bit of work for you, especially if you’re set to expect plunging temperatures in the coming weeks.
Here are a few tips to get ready for the not-so-distant chill by winterizing your plumbing so that you limit the nightmare that frozen or burst pipes can cause. 

Identify the Cold Spots
The first thing you’ll want to do is to identify all of the areas in and around your home that are likely to freeze during the winter months. Keep in mind that this includes any exterior walls that have little or no insulation as well as unheated crawl spaces.

Once you’ve zeroed in on these areas, check them for their proximity to your home’s plumbing. If they’re clear of pipes, you can exclude these areas, but if there are any pipes within easy reach, taking preventative measures can save you precious time and money on emergency repairs.

Bundle ‘em Up
Once you’ve identified the sections of your home plumbing system that are directly in harm’s way from the ravages of the impending cold season, it’s time to bundle them up. You can accomplish this by physically wrapping your pipes in foam insulation tubes easily found at most hardware stores. If you’re convinced the Mother of All Winters is on her way (or if you’ve had an experience where your pipes have still frozen even through the foam), you can reinforce your efforts by putting heat tape underneath the tubing.
Not exactly what it sounds like, heat tape is a cable that you fix in place directly onto your piping that physically heats up to prevent the pipes from freezing. It operates by being plugged into an electricity outlet. 

One of the drawbacks is that it can be substantially more time-consuming to install than standard foam insulation. However, for areas that see extreme cold, it may be strongly recommended.

Outdoor Piping and Irrigation
If you have an underground sprinkler system, there are some steps you should take to ensure that, come spring, you’ll be able to water your lawn without having to first perform lawn surgery to fix burst pipes. The simplest procedure is to turn off the exterior water supply that feeds your sprinkler system.

If you have access to an air compressor, you can use it to literally blow air through your pipes to clear the lines of water, but if not done right this procedure can get tricky and could result in you sending sprinkler heads popping off or, worse yet, launching like bottle rockets. Once you’ve finished, leave all exterior faucets open and remove any attached hoses that could still hold water.

Winterization for Pools and Spas
You’ve probably seen it on TV before or at least heard about the exploits of bold and wacky North Pole adventurers who take dips in icy waters for recreational purposes. But not all of us are cut from the same cloth and, when winter comes, the last thing we want to do is to pay our backyard pool a visit.

If you count yourself among this number, get in touch with a local swimming pool professional to make sure you care for all necessary winterization procedures. If you’ve got an outdoor spa and aren’t adventurous enough to plan on taking advantage of it in the icy cold, refer to your equipment manual or contact a professional for information on how to securely winterize it.

Go with a Pro
Plumbing winterization can entail a lot more than the average homeowner is willing or able to take on by themselves. In order to ensure that you don’t make a mistake that could result in a ruptured pipe, you can contact a professional plumbing service to winterize your plumbing for you.

Think of anything we didn’t mention? Feel free to leave your feedback here or share your best practices on winterizing your home plumbing with our online community.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Time’s Running Out – But You Can Still Get Your $1,500 Tankless Water Heater Rebate

There’s an old saying that reminds us “there’s no time like the present,” and those of you who have been mulling over the installation of a tankless water heater for your homes are about to learn a lesson in how true that adage is. 

Why? Because, as of December 31, 2010, the federal tax rebate offering 30% cash back up to $1500 is set to expire.
The good news is that there’s still time left to take advantage of the savings. Here’s how it works.

What Do I Have to Do?
The arrangement is simple, straightforward, and incredibly enticing. All you have to do is the following:
  • Purchase and install an energy efficient tankless water heater by December 31, 2010. Notice the word “install” – the rebate doesn’t count if you buy a unit and don’t put it into operation.
  • Ensure it’s put in service at your primary residence (second homes don’t count). Your primary residence also has to be within the United States. This makes sense since you’ll be receiving a tax rebate from the U.S. Government.
  • Save your proof of purchase and the paperwork that comes with your tankless water heater, certifying that it qualifies as energy efficient.
  • File your income tax return in 2011 (yes, this is a requirement – sorry to all of you who thought you’d simply get a check in the mail!).
What Will I Get?
As long as you’ve followed all of the requirements above, when you file your 2010 tax returns (due April 15, 2011) you’ll receive:
  • A tax credit giving you 30% of the cost of the tankless water heater up to $1500.
  • Home energy and heating savings. Depending on the size of your home, you could save anywhere from 15 to 45 percent in energy costs.
  • The peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re doing something positive for the environment.

Note These Exclusions
You knew there had to be a catch, didn’t you? Actually, this only affects people who installed tankless water heaters in their homes prior to 2009 and are just now trying to take advantage of the tax rebate. The installation has to have taken place between January 1, 2009 and no later than December 31, 2010. For those of you that haven’t yet made the purchase, you’re in the clear.

Not sure where to start? Contact an expert at Pete’s Plumbing today to ask questions and set up an appointment before time runs out.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Where Do We Go From Here? Budgeting for an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

So, your home is up to date on the latest and greatest eco-friendly technologies. Your bathrooms are all equipped with ultra low-flush toilets and low-flow shower heads. You’ve got automatic shut-off faucets in the bathroom and the kitchen, a solar powered water heater, and you’ve even got hydronic radiant heating installed below your floorboards. Your home’s been retrofitted for maximum energy efficiency and minimum carbon foot-printing.
If this reads more like a wish list than actual checklist of your home improvement accomplishments, don’t feel bad. The majority of us still have a long ways to go before we’re fully caught up with the green movement. But, for those of you who have taken all the necessary steps to making your home more green friendly, you might be wondering, “Is there any place left to go?” As it turns out, there certainly is so much more to be done. There are both low- and high-cost upgrades you can make to your home to make it even more eco-friendly.
Eco-Friendly Ideas on the Cheap
Not everyone’s got money to burn, especially those who’ve just sunk thousands into upgrading their home’s sustainability. But, that doesn’t mean you have to curtail your efforts to build a better environment. Here are a few extras you can do around the house to continue making a positive ecological impact without costing you too much:
  • Install fluorescent lighting in your kitchen, bathrooms, and throughout your home. These are known to cut energy usage by 50 percent.
  • Only buy green cleaning products. Traditional, big name cleaning products can have an adverse effect on both your health and that of the environment. If buying green products isn’t an option, you can use baking soda and vinegar as a cheap, effective, and safe alternative.
  • Stay away from vinyl shower curtains. Not only are they difficult to recycle, but you’ll also find yourself replacing them far more often than you will an organic, fabric shower curtain. Fabric shower curtains can be washed and re-used whereas nylon shower curtains typically have to be thrown away and replaced.
  • Set up convenient recycling bins in your kitchen to make it easier to separate your trash from your recyclables.
Earth-Saving Tips Where Money is No Object
Those fortunate enough to be able to keep on keeping on in their efforts to make their homes the epicenter of all things eco-friendly and green don’t have to stop at kitchen and bathroom improvements. 
There are many more areas where you can fight the good fight without so much as opening your front door--although a little fresh air never hurt anybody. Consider these “money is no object” earth-saving tips:
Want to replace your flooring? Go green with cork. This is a far more eco-friendly option than typical hardwood, tile, or linoleum flooring and is naturally thermally insulating. If you’re hooked on the look of tile, you can get your hands on beautiful recycled glass tiles that have a uniquely modern look.

Re-insulate your attic and your walls. One of the major causes of excessive energy use comes as a result of not being able to keep warm air inside your home where it belongs. The same goes for cool air. A well-insulated house will keep you from having to run your home’s heating or cooling system 24-hours a day.

Install energy-efficient windows, doors, and skylights throughout your home. This can have a dramatic impact on the amount of energy you consume by cutting down on heating costs during winter, cooling costs during summer, and electricity costs during the day.  In fact, skylights are a great source of natural light that eliminate the need for electric light during daylight hours. Through December 31, 2010, you can take advantage of a $1,500 tax credit for upgrading to qualified replacements.

Landscaping? Consider this. If you fill the earth of your backyard with a bunch of plants that require a lot of water all the time, you’re going to end up ramping up your water use. But, you have alternatives. Look into plants and trees that have a higher tolerance for drought conditions. Choices will vary, depending on your location, but this is a good idea that can beautify your back yard and ensure low water usage and maintenance.

What are your thoughts? If you have any low-cost, eco-friendly solutions that haven’t been mentioned or advanced ideas for those wanting to make additional modifications to their homes, please share them. Your valuable input could make a significant impact to the well-being of our delicate ecosystem.