Monday, September 26, 2011

Expectations of Hot Water: Make it a Reality with a Water Heater Inspection

You probably don’t give your water heater much thought. You simply turn on the shower and you have nice, hot water. Typically, it’s only when a problem occurs that anyone gives their water heater any notice.

However, to ensure your expectations about hot water are always a reality, there are some good tips to follow in keeping to a regular water heater inspection schedule.  

Before There’s a Problem
Once a year, you should drain a small amount of water from your tank. Sediment builds up on the bottom of your tank and this can decrease the water heater’s efficiency. You can attach a garden hose to the valve and flush the water out into a bucket or out into the yard. Continue draining until the water runs clear.

Be sure to wear gloves to prevent burns or scalds from the tank’s hot water. Your owner’s manual will offer complete instructions on draining your tank. It’s important to follow these instructions to make the job as easy and safe as possible.

Visual Inspection
You should also visually inspect your hot water heater once a year. Look for corrosion. This will indicate a leak from the tank. Be on the lookout for any blackened areas, which could indicate back drafting or improper combustion.

Check to make sure your hot water heater is insulated. Appling an insulating wrap will conserve energy and save you money. The U.S. Department of Energy states that “adding insulation to it can reduce standby heat losses by 25%–45%. That is a significant energy savings.

Also, look to see if your hot water heater is secured to the wall. If not, specially designed brackets can be installed to ensure your hot water heater is properly fastened. 
Check to make sure that the water heater has an Automatic Shut-off Valve.  This valve will can reduce the risk of water or fire damage.
A New Water Heater
If there is no saving your old water heater, don’t despair. Think about these tips that can set you up with energy efficiency and energy savings by upgrading:
  • Consider installing a tankless hot water heater. Tankless hot water heaters deliver hot water on command. You will realize significant energy savings bby only heating water when you need it.
  • There are also hybrid water heaters that provide energy savings and offer additional benefits that help you to get a return on your investment in a short amount of time.
  • If you are not interested in a tankless or a hybrid hot water heater, look for a hot water heater bearing an Energy Star rating. Not only will you save money monthly, but rebate finders are also available via to lower the overall cost of any new equipment.

These tips will help you save money. If you are uncomfortable performing any of these tasks, contact a professional plumber. They will assist you with hot water heater maintenance, repair, and new installation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How to Maintain Your Septic Tank

Your septic tank is an important investment. A properly maintained septic system will service your home or business for years. However, an improperly maintained tank will pollute surrounding groundwater and could cost you thousands of dollars in repair. 

Septic Tank Maintenance Tips
Here are some tips to properly maintain and service your septic system:  
  • Water Conservation: An overflow of water can overload your septic tank and lead to problems. Runoff water from rain gutters and sump pumps should be diverted elsewhere. Leaky faucets and running toilets can add undue pressure on your system. Install low-flow shower heads and shorten your shower times to conserve water.  
  • Filter Cleaning: If your system has a filter, it is important to rinse your filter with clean water twice a year. This will help maintain your system.
  • Covers: Always maintain a cover over your septic tank.    

Septic Tank No No’s
Maintenance is not always about taking an action; it’s also about avoiding certain things, such as the following no no’s:
  • Household and Hazardous Chemicals: Flushing household waste such as grease, oil, coffee grinds or cleaners can damage your system. Paints, paint thinners, medications and pesticides will wreck havoc on your tank. Never allow any of these chemicals to enter your septic system. They interfere with the naturally occurring bacteria in your system that serves to break down waste. 
  • Foreign Objects: Never flush anything down your toilet except toilet paper. Trash will clog your system and cause damage.
  • Additives: These are not necessary for your septic system. Septic systems are naturally green. They are designed to break down waste naturally without the use of chemicals. Save the environment and your wallet. Let the tank do what it was designed to do without artificial assistance.
  • Parking/Driving: Never park or drive over your septic tank. Concrete tanks can crack and leach lines can be damaged from the weight of a vehicle.  
  • Trees and Bush Planting: Never plant a tree or bushes near a septic tank. Their roots can invade the tank and cause considerable damage. Grass is your safest bet.  If you are not sure where your home’s septic tank is, consult a professional. They will come out and show you.
Professional Maintenance
And, speaking of professionals, they can be of great service when keeping your septic tank running at its peak performance. Here’s what they can do:
  • Call a qualified professional to pump and clean your septic tank. Under normal operating conditions, a tank should be pumped every three to five years.
  • An annual inspection is a good idea as well.
  • A trained professional can also spot trouble with your septic system before it begins.
Following these simple tips will ensure your septic system is being properly maintained. You will save money and avoid the headache of system failure. What’s your experience with a septic tank? Do you have more questions about it? Please leave your queries below. Thank you. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Green Plumbing Tips for Fall

Fall is one of those seasons where weather can be quite unpredictable. It can be blazing hot or periodically deliver some record rainfalls. Then, there is the wind and chilly air, blowing and dropping leaves in gutters and clogging pipes. 

A homeowner may be perplexed about when to water, when to conserve, and when to prepare plumbing for a change in temperature. Here are some top eco-friendly plumbing tips for the fast-approaching fall season.

  • Water grass, flowers, shrubbery and plants on an as-needed basis rather than assuming it must be done every day. There may be many days with rain or lower temperatures where your outdoor space will not dry out as much as you think. You might want to consider rain sensors for your sprinkler systems, or switch your sprinklers to an every other day cycle.
  • Turn off all outdoor water sources and prepare outdoor pipes for the coming cold weather by insulating them. This is a good time to check and repair any cracks, which could waste more water over time.  
  • Now that the weather is a bit more pleasant outdoors, you might want to think about ways to change your landscaping by adding more drought-tolerant plants. This will lead to less watering down the line, which saves water, time, and money.

  • Make the switch to green cleaning products for laundry, house cleaning, and drain cleaning. These work just as well without containing harmful chemicals.
  • Consider investing in a steam washer and dryer set, which will save a considerable amount of water and deliver highly effective laundry cleaning.
  • Try a hot water circulating system, which works with your existing water heater. You get instant hot water, which means you conserve more water. Of course, you can also think about a tankless water heater or a hybrid water heater.
  • This is the time of year to check all plumbing fixtures and pipes for drips and leaks. This includes the bathtub, shower, and faucets.
Rebates, Rebates, Rebates
Local, state, and national rebate programs are still in effect on certain energy and water-saving appliances at least until the end of 2011. Be sure to take advantage of these before the holiday season gets underway.

As the season changes, many plumbers also begin to offer more specials and incentives to make these types of changes, including discounted parts, service, and labor. With the rebates, your best bet is to combine these savings into one large incentive to go green with your plumbing and be eco-friendly when it comes to your energy and water consumption.
Your Ideas
What do you do to prepare your plumbing for the change in seasons? Have you added any green plumbing features that you feel has made a substantial difference on your water and energy consumption as well as on your budget? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Why and How of Water Line Upgrades

Over time, homes and businesses may have to consider replacing their water lines – sometimes, sooner than expected. A burst exterior pipe can cause significant damage by undermining your concrete driveway and causing damage underneath your house not to mention the water it wastes and the exorbitant water bill it creates. 

This blog provides information on the traditional water lines and why they should be replaced even sooner than on a need-to basis as well as why upgrading the water lines to a green plumbing water line makes a lot of sense.

Old School Water Lines—Why Replace?
Traditionally, homes and businesses have a blue poly water line. Polybutylene, or “blue poly” as its better known, was used in millions of homes from the late 1970s and through the 1980s and into the mid-1990s. It is a form of plastic resin that was used because of its low material cost and ease of installation compared to the more expensive traditional copper piping. 

However, over time, this pipe has shown to be vulnerable to corrosion caused by the chlorine in drinking water, and it is notorious for leaking. Hence, this leads to significant problems and costs.

What’s Involved?
Replacing water lines has to be done very carefully. Usually, all utility lines are marked off with flags or spray paint. The replacement work is carried out with the goal of disturbing a yard and concrete as little as possible. Many plumbers are now using trenchless pipe replacement. This is done by pulling the new pipe through the old pipe so as not to ruin lawns and landscaping. However, as every situation is different, this may not be possible in some cases.
 Many plumbers now use cross-linked polyethylene or, PEX, to replace these old blue poly lines. Also known as black poly, PEX has been shown to be flexible, able to expand and contract with temperature changes, and strong as well as resistant to chlorine, and, therefore, to rust and corrosion. 

It has a high performance rating with indoor and underground plumbing systems of up to twenty-five years. PEX is also ideal for use with potable water. Another advantage is that it is quick and easy to install, and it has the additional benefit of being a green plumbing solution. 

Affordable Solutions
Replacing a water line can seem like a daunting prospect, but it doesn’t need to be so intimidating. Prices do vary based on a number of factors, including the distance, slope, number of driveways and sidewalks where the pipe is located, presence and type of irrigation and the type of landscaping.
 For a time, many consumers could be reimbursed by the pipe’s manufacturer for replacement costs due to a class action suit, but, unfortunately, the time has passed on this opportunity. But, there is still an affordable solution. 

During September, Pete’s Plumbing is offering a $50 discount off of water line repair and replacement for all customers.This provides an ideal way to be proactive with your water line upgrade, or you can use the special discount to help cover the costs of an unexpected water line break.