Monday, July 26, 2010

Green Clean: Tips for Dealing with a Clogged Drain

Dumping chemicals down your drain may be a quick and easy way to fix a clogged drain, but you should stop to consider the potential negative effects to the environment that you may be inadvertently creating. Although some sources have indicated that sodium hydroxide, the active chemical in readily available drain cleaners, is not as ecologically harmful as it could be, there’s uncontested proof positive that nothing is quite as environmentally beneficial as good old fashioned elbow juice. 

Got a clogged drain? Consider the following eco-friendly approaches.

The Plumber’s Helpers
What was purportedly invented by a Scottish farmer as a weapon of war against gophers, the plumber’s helper (or plunger, as it’s more commonly known) should be the first tool that any self-respecting, eco-conscious victim of drain clog should reach for in times of emergency. Sometimes the source of backed up water can be handled by the simple thrust of an air pocket. 

If that fails you, never fear, there are still other options. Get hold of an electric eel but not literally, though. This is just a colorful name used to describe a plumber’s snake, which is a flexible metal wire that works by either breaking up the source of a clog or digging into it so that it can be pulled out of the pipes and properly disposed of in a way that you can feel good about.

Earth-Friendly Products
If these old fashioned methods leave you high and dry (or your sink or bathtub plugged even higher), there are alternatives to using traditional industrial strength drain cleaners. These days, you don’t have to travel far to find ecologically safe products that will clean your pipes effectively without compromising the environment.

A good solution from products that are most likely in your pantry is to use baking soda mixed with vinegar followed by a burst of boiling water. Even carbonated drinks and salt have been known to do the trick. All that bubbly and sodium might be better served in your drain rather than your diet anyways! In the store, try to find earth-friendly enzymatic biological drain cleaners that include a combination of natural bacterial and enzyme mixture.

An Ounce of Prevention
Consider this: taking a few preventative steps could have saved you all that work. If you find that you or your family members are constantly clogging the pipes with hair, consider spending a few bucks on a strainer that you can clean out every time you or your family has a wash.

If your main source of grief is the kitchen sink, find out what you’re doing wrong and change your food disposal habits. Ideally, you should only use your kitchen sink to dispose of water unless you are using the garbage disposal. Even then, consult the manufacturer about what type of scraps will be disposable-friendly. Use your garbage can for everything else, especially when disposing of the kitchen sink’s number one enemy--grease.

Only a Phone Call Away
Of course, we at Pete’s Plumbing are also here to help. After all, we are experts at handling clogs. If some of the suggestions mentioned here are just not working, this could be a sign of something bigger. Give us a call and we’ll be sure to get to the bottom of what’s clogging your pipes.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Make a Difference by Installing an Eco Friendly Faucet

If you’re one of the many who are starting to think about what you can do to save the environment, you don’t have to wait for Earth Day to make your first move. The opportunities exist everywhere we look--from recycling bins that work to lower the levels of our landfills to a welcome resurgence in the popularity of solar power. But, did you know that water conservation is equally critical? Moreover, did you realize that you can make eco-friendly plumbing modifications to your household that will significantly decrease the amount of water you waste?

Eco-friendly faucets, or “green faucets,” have become increasingly popular for their environmental benefits as well as how much they can lower your water bill. Here’s how they work.

Automatic Shutoff
Ever go into a public restroom and see those faucets that shut off automatically after a few seconds so that you don’t have to touch the handle again after you’ve washed? This isn’t just to promote good hygiene; it’s also a way to conserve water. You could have the very same feature installed in your home to act as a gentle enforcer of conservation.

Control Your Flow
Sometimes it’s tough enough to get your kids to rinse their dishes after dinner. Forget about trying to police the amount of water they use when doing it. But, having a green faucet installed in your kitchen will ensure that you’re not only teaching the kids good housekeeping skills, but you are also saving precious water in the process. Eco-friendly faucets come in a range of different flows, so you can choose what’s right for your needs.

 Source: iStock

Stylish and Hip
What is even cooler about green faucets is that they don’t have to be utilitarian but actually are some of the most stylish looking you’ll find on the market today. There are many modern and contemporary styles to choose from as well as more traditional collections designed and manufactured from brands you know and trust.

Get a Handle on Conservation
Water conservation is an essential component of ensuring the sustainability of our delicate eco system. Green plumbing is an effective way to accomplish that end. 

What’s more, you get to remodel your kitchen or bathroom in the process. If that’s not a sweet deal, what is?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Making a Difference, One Flush at a Time

Pete's Plumbing Incorporated

Alpharetta, Georgia


Water conservation is one of the key elements of eco-friendly reform, but few people are aware that they can create significant change by making modifications to their homes without incurring heavy damage to their pocketbooks.
Diving Into the Source of Water Waste
One of the main contributors to water waste comes from the very toilets that we use every day. Although the Energy Policy Act of 1992 required that newly manufactured toilets could not exceed 1.6 gallons per flush, many older homes still contain outdated equipment. Did you know that some of these older models use up to six gallons of water per flush? At that rate, by placing the daily usage for a family of four at anywhere between 80 and 100 gallons, imagine how much water is consumed in a single year simply from flushing the toilet.

Source: Sylvia Otte/Getty Images

A Low-Flush Solution
So, what’s the solution to the wasted water some of us keep flushing down the toilet? First of all, nobody’s going to suggest that we begin answer nature’s call any less frequently than we have to – not when there’s a far less painful solution in low-flush (also called low-flow) toilets. In some cases, upgrading your home to low-flow toilets could cut your water usage by as much as 65 percent. Apply that amount to your monthly water bill and you begin to see the potential financial implications of upgrading. Although a low-flush toilet can cost approximately $100 plus installation, some calculate a savings of at least $100 per year on your utility bill. So, it doesn’t take long for the savings to add up.

Low Flush is Not a Dirty Word
Although some people cringe at the thought of low-flush toilets and think they may not work as well, think again. Often renamed, “high performance toilets,” these toilets work just as effectively as the “old school” toilets. American Standard's Fontaine and Kohler's Purist Hatbox, with .2 horsepower pump is changing how people look at these eco-friendly devices by adding “potty” power and performance to the new toilets.

Source: Christopher Ermel/Getty Images

Deconstructing the Low-Flush Toilet
Low-flush toilets use one of two methods to operate: gravity or pressure. The gravity method operates pretty much how you would imagine it to; a small amount of water is released when the toilet’s flushed, allowing gravity to take care of the rest. Pressure-assisted toilets are more expensive because they combine air with water flow to produce a more robust flush with minimal water usage.

Thrifty Alternatives
Not everyone can afford to spring for a brand new toilet and installation. If you are having a difficult making ends meet but want to start saving money and helping the environment, here are a few thrifty ideas on how you can retrofit your toilet to make it more water efficient.

1) Install a “displacement device.” This is actually a lot simpler than it sounds. All it requires is the placement of an item in your toilet’s water tank, which takes up some of the space normally filled by water. As such, this makes it so the tank requires less water each time it refills. For example, some people have been known to place a plastic container full of water into their toilet tank to accomplish this effect. Another commonly used method is setting bricks inside the tank. Note: If you’re going to do this, ensure the brick is wrapped in plastic to prevent damage to your flushing mechanism from the natural deterioration of the bric

2) Installing an early-close flapper saves water by cutting off the water flow before the toilet tank is empty. It can be easily adjusted to fit your precise needs

It’s important to stress that alternative methods should only be employed as a last resort and not for long periods of time. These are only temporary fixes to what should be everyone’s shared goal of optimum water conservation through the application of the latest advances.

If you’re interested in learning more about low-flow technology, contact us or post your question below.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Going Tankless: A Win-Win-Win Water Heater Savings

If you’re a property owner, landlord, or commercial property owner, the odds are high that you’ve considered the possibility of upgrading to a tankless water heater system as a means of keeping your family or your tenants satisfied. 
After all, the demand for a steady supply of hot water ranks a close second to the demand for electricity when it comes to basic amenities. But, did you know that installing a tankless water heater could also save you money and space as well as deliver a significant impact in terms of reducing your property’s carbon footprint?

Cost Savings
Traditional water heaters operate all day long. Their purpose is to heat water on a continual basis regardless of whether it’s needed or not. As a result, the energy that’s wasted is called “standby loss,” and it can account for upwards of 20 percent of the annual water heating cost. You could be burning up $50 per month in unnecessary water heating.

Gas and electric tankless water heaters, on the other hand, operate only when hot water is needed. This on-demand service means that you will more effectively manage your utility costs. Depending on the size of the property being served, the savings can range anywhere from 15 to 45 percent and can be realized in three to seven years.

While it’s true that they’re more expensive upfront than the standard technology (approximately 2 to 3 times more expensive), it’s an investment that has the potential to pay for itself within a relatively short amount of time through the considerable savings it delivers.

And, talk about savings. Did you realize that you can qualify for a federal tax credit of up to 30% or a maximum of $1,500 when you install a tankless water heater? This is effective until December 31, 2010.

In addition, many of Georgia’s utility companies have other rebate programs that may also be applicable to your purchase and installation of a tankless water heater.

Space Savings
As technology improves, one thing is for sure: equipment and devices get smaller. While the same can’t be said for standard tank water heaters, it certainly applies to the tankless generation of water heaters. With each new tankless device, their size has been shrinking.

By mounting the tankless water heater on the wall, suddenly you have the potential for increased floor space that can be used for other purposes. And who couldn’t use additional square footage for storage?!

Environmental Savings
In North America, the energy wasted every year on standby loss alone is equivalent to the amount of energy needed to power a small third-world country. If this isn’t enough to convince you that making the switch to tankless could make a significant environmental impact, consider these extra perks:
  • The smaller the unit, the less materials needed to build it. By virtue of the fact that it’s so small, a tankless water heater reduces consumption of metal and lowers the demand for mining.
  • The expanded longevity of tankless heaters, which can outlast traditional water heaters by up to three times or nearly twenty years, will also mean fewer discarded units that make their way to landfills.

In truth, the potential environmental benefits of going tankless are limited only to imagination. Think of any we may have missed? Enter your feedback below.

In the meantime, visit today for a free installation estimate on major brands like Rinnai, Noritz, Bosch, and Takagi. Each tankless water installation comes with a full-service guarantee and our promise to deliver the most effective plumbing solutions for your needs.