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Plumbing Tips and Advice

Plumbing Tips and Advice (133)

If you're hearing gurgling sounds after using your sink, shower or toilet, there are several possible causes. The most common cause of slow clearing drains is an obstruction caused by a build-up of grease or waste on the inside of the pipe. A thorough drain cleaning using a drain snake or water jetting can clear the residue from inside the pipe and get the water flowing again.

Vent Stack Obstructions

In order for wastewater to flow out of the home air must be able to fill the vacuum left behind by the escaping water. A vent pipe serves this purpose by extending from drainpipes out through the roof of the house. All plumbing fixtures must be connected to the main vent pipe through a re-vent pipe which that spans across to the main vent stack that exits through the roof. In some cases, usually with basement plumbing, the vent may exit out of a side wall if allowed by local building codes.

If you hear gurgling sounds when you flush a toilet or turn on a faucet the vent pipe may be obstructed and in need of clearing. For example, there could be a birds next obstructing the pipe, or it may have been damaged by a storm. It could also be a sign that the plumbing system is faulty needs a new vent line. Another symptom of an obstructed or insufficient venting is plumbing odors, as vent pipes also allow fumes to exit through the airway behind the draining water. In either case, ABC Southwest can inspect the vent pipes to ensure they are working properly.
Keeping your drains clean will not only help remove the buildup that can lead to clogged drains and sewer line problems, it can also reduce the unpleasant odors caused by food waste in kitchen drains.

Southwest Florida Drain Cleaning

If water starts to drain slowly, we recommend trying natural methods rather than store-bought chemical cleaners that can present a safety hazard and risk damaging metal finishes on plumbing fixtures.

First, try quickly pouring about two quarts of boiling hot water down the drain. Wait several minutes, then pour cold water to solidify the remaining grease. Repeat the process again with hot water rinse away the remaining congealed residue.

If odors are a problem, deodorize and clean drains with white vinegar. Heat 4-6 cups of vinegar until just simmering. Wait one minute. Pour 2-3 cups down the drain, rinse with cold water, then pour the remaining hot vinegar down the drain.

For stubborn drain residue, first, run hot water down the drain. Turn the water off. Add a cup of baking soda down the drain. Next, pour 2 cups of hot vinegar down the drain. The vinegar will react with the baking soda and scrub the residue from the drain. After a half hour flush the drain with hot water.

To keep garbage disposals clean and fresh, grind ice cubes occasionally to clean residue off the blades.
While municipal water treatment is able to meet water quality standards, many homeowners are looking for safer, more effective solutions to guard against chlorine-resistant microorganisms like Giardia and Cryptosporidium which can cause serious health problems.

Southwest Florida UV Water Purification

One of the best solutions for removing biological contaminants from drinking water is UV water purification. A UV water purifier exposes water to ultraviolet rays, effectively deactivating harmful viruses, bacteria, molds and pathogenic disease-causing microorganisms.

Here are some of the advantages of UV water treatment.

Highly Effective & Reliable – Kills 99.99% of microorganisms.

Fast and Efficient – Provides instant purification without reducing water flow.

Environmentally Friendly – UV purification requires no chemicals and produces waste byproducts.

Low Maintenance - Only the UV lamp & sleeve need to be replaced annually.

Low Energy Use – UV bulbs use approximately 60 watts of power, roughly equivalent to the average light bulb.

No Wasted Water – Unlike other water treatment methods such as reverse osmosis, which require that the filtering membrane be occasionally flushed with water to maintain effective filtration, UV water filtration doesn't waste a drop of water.

FDA Approved – UV purification is one of only a few methods approved for disinfection by US Food & Drug Administration.

Have questions about UV water purification for your Southwest Florida home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help.

The ABC's of Plumbing – Energy Factor

If you're planning on replacing your old water heater, one of the most important things to consider is how efficiently it will produce hot water. To make it easier for consumers to compare water heaters and select the most energy efficient model, the US Department of Energy has developed a standard for residential water heaters, call the Energy Factor.

As with cars and Miles Per Gallon (MPG), the Energy Factor (EF) rates how efficiently a water heater uses its fuel source. When comparing standard products of the same fuel type, a water heater with a higher Energy Factor rating uses less energy, resulting in both energy and cost savings.

Water Heater Energy Factor

The Energy Factor is determined by performing a 24-hour simulated test on residential water heaters. During the test a measured number of gallons of water are drawn from the water heater in six equally spaced draws that begin one hour apart. After the beginning of the last draw a standby period of 18 hours follows.

The result of the test is expressed as a decimal. For example, a gas water heater with an energy factor rating of 0.5 means it's 50% efficient. It will use 50% of the gas to heat the water, while the remaining 50% is heat going out the exhaust flue.

When comparing water heaters it's important to consider the fuel source. While an electric water heater may have a higher EF rating, electricity is typically more expensive than natural gas. Also, be sure to compare the EF for the same type of water heater, the EF rating for tankless and hybrid water heaters is measured differently than it is for conventional tank water heaters.

Have questions about choosing the best water heater for your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning.

What's the Best Garbage Disposal For My Kitchen?

Sarasota Garbage Disposal Installation

When it comes time to replace your old under sink garbage disposal there are a number of things to consider. Not all disposals work the same way and its important to choose the right amount of horsepower for your needs. You'll also want to consider factors like durability, noise levels, price, and brand reputation.

The first factor to consider is horsepower. 1/3 Horsepower is the starting point and typically the units with the lowest power. While they may seem like a bargin, we recommend avoiding low powered disposals. They are more prone to jamming and are often made from cheaper components that rust out more quickly.

1/2 horsepower garbage disposals are the minimum recommended power for a home disposal. They are affordable and small enough to fit in tighter spaces. If you don't use a disposal very often and don't mind the higher noise levels of a smaller disposal, a 1/2 horsepower unit may be a good option. If possible, choose a disposal with stainless steel grinding components to increase the life of the unit.

For most kitchens, a 3/4 horsepower disposal will work best. It will have plenty of power to handle all those holiday leftovers and can safely grind potato peels, celery and more with no problems. While they will require more space under the sink than lower power units, they will usually operate with much less noise.

If you do a lot of cooking and entertaining, consider a 1 horsepower disposal. It can handle just about anything you can put down it. With a larger chamber, most will have premium stainless steel components that make quick work of everything from chicken and fish bones to fruit rinds. While 1 horsepower units are top-of-the-line, they can be very large, so make sure you have the room under your sink.

Whatever size unit you decide to purchase, it's important to always run a lot of water when grinding waste to ensure the waste does not build up inside the drain.

Have questions about selecting the right garbage disposal for your kitchen? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help you choose the right disposal for your needs.

What's the Best Kind of Water Heater?

Best Water HeatersWhen choosing a new water heater for your home there are more choices than ever. Here's a comparison of the most common types of water heater and the advantages and disadvantages of each style.

Electric Tank Water Heater

Heats and stores water using electricity
  • Purchase Cost (less installation): $300 - $1,200
  • Advantages: Lowest upfront cost, Good for small or large households
  • Disadvantages: More expensive to operate

Gas Tank Water Heater

Heats and stores water using natural gas or propane
  • Purchase cost (less installation): $380 to $1,500
  • Advantages: Lowest upfront cost, Good for small or large households
  • Disadvantages: More expensive to operate

Tankless Gas Water Heater

Heats water on demand when its needed.
  • Purchase cost (less installation): $1000+
  • Advantages: Good for smaller households, lower operating cost, small footprint
  • Disadvantages: More expensive to operate

Electric Heat Pump Water Heater

Uses electricity to move heat from one place to another
  • Purchase cost (less installation): $1,000+
  • Advantages: Great for warm climates like Florida
  • Disadvantages: More expensive than a conventional water heater

Condensing Gas Water Heaters

Heats and stores the water using gas, then uses the combustion gas to further heat the water.
  • Purchase cost (less installation): $1,000+
  • Advantages: Lowest operating cost. Can save a household $100+ a year
  • Disadvantages: Higher up-front cost

Hybrid Tankless Water Heater

Combines the advantages of a small storage tank with a tankless water heater.
  • Purchase cost (less installation): $1,000+
  • Advantages: Lower operating cost. Less standby heat loss than a conventional tank water heater, and no "cold water sandwich" that can occur with tankless water heaters.
  • Disadvantages: Higher up-front cost
Need help choosing the best water heater for your needs? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help answer all your questions.

Hi-Tech Bathroom Features That Add Luxury and Convenience

Hi-Tech Bathroom Ideas

As technology makes its way further into our everyday lives, our homes are becoming more connected and hi-tech than ever. The bathroom is just the latest room in the home the take the leap into the future. Here are some of the tech features you can add to your bathroom.

Hi-Tech Showers

Set the perfect mood with LED lighting that changes color with the temperature of the water while rocking out with bluetooth shower heads and sleek, powerful speakers with high-fidelity sound. For a more entertaining shower, include a waterproof TV that's integrated into a mirror a sleek, futuristic look. Forget knobs and levers, today it’s digital LED controls that accurately control temperature, lights and music.

Luxury Toilets

Stylish toilets like the TOTO offer features like motion detection opening and closing lid, auto flush, heated seat, a self-cleaning the bowl, lighting, and more.

Bathroom Privacy Glass

Have a great view from your bathroom that you don't want to block with blinds or drapes when you need privacy? Consider privacy film can be cut to fit any window, and when plugged in it turns the glass transparent or opaque, using an app as the remote control.

Towel Warming Drawer

Keeping towels in a heated drawer not only makes the bathroom neater and more organized, it provides a toasty warm towel for those cool winter days.

How Much Water Could You Be Saving In Your Home?

Water Savings

97 percent of the earth's water is salt water, leaving only 3 percent of the earth's water fit for human consumption. While water is a renewable resource, the best way to ensure there will be enough fresh water in the future is to start conserving water today.

The average U.S. family uses 127,000 gallons of water each year. One of the best ways to reduce water waste is to use low-flow plumbing fixtures and appliances. For example:
  • A normal faucet will use 4,000 gallons a year when run just 4 minutes a day. A low-flow faucet would reduce that amount by a quarter... a savings of 1,000 gallons of water a year.
  • A washing machine that washes 2 loads a week will use 5,000 gallons a year... while a water saving unit will use 3,000... a savings of 2,000 gallons a year.
  • A shower head that is used 15 minutes a day will use 19,000 gallons of water a year... a low-flow shower head would use just 9,000 gallons a year... a savings of 12,000 gallons per year.
  • The largest source of water use in the home is toilets. If a toilet is flushed 15 times per day it will use 33,000 gallons of water per year. By comparison, a water saving or dual-flush toilet would save over 24,000 gallons of water every year.
The total savings for using low-flow, water efficient fixtures and appliances is 40,000 gallons a year, a 30 percent savings on water bill.

5 Plumbing Systems To Check When Buying a Home

Plumbing ChecklistBuying a home is a big investment. Older homes in particular can present risks when it comes to plumbing systems.  By doing your research and ensuring that the plumbing system is functioning correctly, you can avoid making costly mistakes. Here's what to check.

1. Hot Water System

Ask the realtor or homeowner the age of the water heater. A water heater will typically last 10-15 years. Inspect the water heater for leaks, excessive rust and other signs of age and deterioration.

2. Water Leaks

Check taps, pipes, appliances (including dishwashers, clothes washers, ice makers) for signs of leaks. Check for stains or signs of mildew that could indicate a hidden water leak. Because many leaks go undetected and can get worse over time, have a plumer check the system and repair any leaks prior to closing.

3. Check the Sump Pump

A inoperable sump pump can lead to serios water damage. Slowly fill the sump pump pit with water. It should turn on and remove the water.

4. Water Saving Toilets

Check toilets to see if they are newer, low-flow models. Toilets manufactured since the last 90's are mandated to use less than 1.6 gallons per flush.

5. Sewer and Drain Lines

Ask about the current age of the sewer line and whether it has been inspected within the last two years. Ensure that all drains empty quickly. A video sewer line inspection is .cheap insurance that will help find potential trouble like tree root intrusion, cracks, blockages and other problems

Need a plumbing inspection before your next home purchase? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help ensure everything is working as it should be.

6 Signs You Should Call a Plumber

Hidden water leak

Some plumbing problems are easy to spot – a dripping faucet, an overflowing toilet, while others can be more subtle. Here are some signs to look for that could indicate a serious plumbing, sewer or drain problem.

1. Water is draining slowly out all sinks, tubs, toilets, dishwasher etc.
This usually indicates a blockage in the main line rather than a localized blockage. A plumber should inspect the main line for blockage.

2. You hear water running but nothing is on.
While a running toilet is a fairly common plumbing noise, if you hear dripping or running water and you can't determine the source, call a plumber to have the cause identified and to ensure there isn't a damaging water leak.

3. You see signs of a leak.
If you see mildew or mold, dark surfaces or puddles of water it could be a sign of a water leak behind the wall.

4.Your water bill has unexpectedly jumped.
This could indicate a hidden water leak. Check your water meter to see that amount of water used.

5. Your Toilet is gurgling or bubbling after flushing.
This could be a sign of a backed up sewer line. A video inspection can find the cause of sewer line stoppages.

6. Water pressure has dropped.
If the water pressure has only dropped for a single source, such as a faucet or shower head. Try cleaning the aerator with vinegar to remove mineral deposits. Ensure that all supply valves are completely open. If the water pressure has dropped throughout the entire home, have a plumber inspect the plumbing.

Have plumbing problems? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help.
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