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.