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Plumbing Tips and Advice

Plumbing Tips and Advice (144)


Drain Cleaning Sarasota

Keeping your kitchen drain flowing smoothly is simple if you follow a few simple rules.

1. Keep grease out of drains. Grease and fat are among the worse things you can pour down a drain. You may get away with pouring grease for a while without noticing any problems, but over time grease can accumulate inside the drain and slow the flow of water. grease can also cause food waste to cling to the inside of the drain, making a sticky mess. A safe way to dispose of oil and grease is to pour it into an empty plastic container that can be sealed and thrown into the trash. Thicker grease can be wiped off pans with a paper towel and thrown into the garbage.

2. Don't overload the disposal. While garbage disposals are a great convenience, it's important to to rely too heavily on the disposal to get rid of all your food waste. Scrape food waste into the garbage prior to rinsing dishes into the sink.

3. Starchy foods are bad for drains. Food that become sticky and expand when wet, such as pasta, patatos, rice, etc, can cling to the inside of pipes. and create stubborn clogs. Also avoid putting egg shells and banana peels down the disposal.

4. Maintain your drains. When using your disposal always run plenty of water , and let the water run for 30 seconds after turning off the disposal. You can also keep your drains in good condition by spreading a half a cup of baking soda into the drain followed by a cup of vinegar. After the solution stops fizzing, pour a few cups of boiling water.

If you notice that your drains are emptying slowly, give us a call, we can help clear the toughest clogs.
Thursday, 20 September 2018 19:59

Finding the Cause of Plumbing Noises Around the Home

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Your home's plumbing system will normally make a range of noises as it operates normally. However, you may hear different noises that you have never heard before. By understanding which noises are normal and which could be the sign of a bigger problem you can often prevent expensive plumbing repairs.

Plumbing noises

Whistling Plumbing Sounds

Whistling sounds are often caused by a toilet fill valve that is leaking. You can often stop the sound temporarily by remove the lid of the toilet tank and adjusting the fill valve mechanism until it stops. The fill valve should be replaced to eliminate the leak.

Vibrating sounds

This is another sound often caused by a toilet's fill valve. When the gasket inside the top cap of the fill valve is old and worn, it becomes less flexible. When closed, the poor seal can cause vibrations in wall near the toilet. Check the fill valve by removing the tank lid and activating the fill valve from the arm. If the vibration stops, the fill valve is worn and should be replaced.

Banging Pipe Noises

If you hear banging noises when using faucets in the home it may be caused by improperly secured pipes behind the walls. If the piping is metal the problem may be caused by expansion and contraction when the pipes run through the joists or studs.

Another common cause of banging noises is "water hammer". This occurs when there is high water pressure in your plumbing system. Water flowing in one direction does not want to stop moving. When you turn off a faucet, the water still has considerable force to be absorbed by the pipe. If the pipe is against a stud or joist, it will bang against the wood. Having a water hammer arrestor installed can eliminate the banging noises.

Rumbling Sounds

Rumbling sounds are often heard when a water heater has excessive sediment build up. When water is trapped in this sediment and starts boiling the heat is not transferred out of the flue as efficiently, causing turbulence and noise.

Carefully draining a few gallons of water from the water heater tank using hose attached to the drain valve can remove much of the sediment that has collected at the bottom of the tank.
Over time, pipes inside your home can begin to accumulate limescale, grease and other debris that can gradually slow the flow of waste water, eventually causing drains to empty slowly or backup. While snaking, rodding are effective in many situations, the safest and most effective way to clear out stubborn clogs and thoroughly clean out pipes throughout your home's plumbing system, is to use hydrojetting.

Sarasota Hydrojetting

How Does Hydrojetting Work?

Hydrojetting is a technique that plumbers use to scour the inside surface of pipes with high-pressure water. The process involves inserting a hose to the plumbing system's cleanout, an access point to the inside of a pipe. The hose is connected to a specialized pressure washer that controls the amount of water that is injected into the pipe.

A plumber must know the right water pressure to use depending on the condition of the pipes, so before beginning a small video camera is used to assess the condition of the interior of the pipe and determine the extent of the buildup so the pressure can be adjusted accordingly. The pressure required to do the job may be 5,000 psi or more, or as much as 20 gallons per minute.

One of the reasons hydrojetting is so effective is that it employs gravity to scour the pipe from the bottom up. The combination of the natural downstream gravity flow of the waste and the upstream pressurized blast of water scours the pipe wall, dislodging debris and flushing it down the pipe. After the pipe has been hydrojetted, the inside of the pipe is again inspected with a camera to ensure that the process was effective.

Even if your drains seem to be working fine right now, hydrojetting of sewer and drain lines is a good way to inspect and maintain your home's plumbing system to ensure that the small problems don't become major sewer and drain clogs down the road.

Have questions about hydrojetting? Call ABC Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help with all your home sewer and drain maintenance needs.

Is a Tankless Water Heater the Right Choice For My Home?

Tankless Water Heaters SarasotaWhen it comes time to replace your old water heater, you make be considering the advantages of upgrading to a tankless water heater versus buying another new tank-style water heater. Here are some common questions about tankless water heaters.

How does a tankless water heater work?

A tankless water heater works on demand so it isn’t using any gas until the hot water is turned on from the point of use.  The units ABC installs start working at very low pressures to ensure the unit turns on quickly and then will continue to provide hot water heater for as long as you want to use the shower or faucet, etc. Premium tankless water heaters, also called hybrid water heaters, have a buffer tank installed with a pump,  this eliminates the “cold water sandwich” that is common amongst tankless water heaters,  it also allows the hot water to get to the faucet faster. 

What are the advantages of using a tankless water heater?

The first benefit is endless hot water,  you can literally turn the hot water on at 8am and then shut it off at 9pm and it will still be the same temperature.  They also are more efficient than a typical heater usually this means you save on your gas bill.  Next, all parts of the unit are replaceable unlike a tank type water heater,  which means a much longer life expectancy and better warranties.  Because it doesn't have a large tank of water, it will not flood the basement and takes up no floor space. Another advantage to tankless water heater is space. Because they are mounted to the wall, they don't take up floor space like a conventional tank unit will.

What are the disadvantages?

The main disadvantage of tankless water heaters is cost. They will cost more to purchase and install than a standard tank water heater. However, because of the lower energy consumption and longer expected lifespan, the long term cost can be competitive with conventional water heaters.

Because a tankless water heater takes a few seconds to heat up before the heat is transfered to the water, a small amount of cold water can make it through the heat exchanger without warming up. The result is a "cold water sandwich" can occur. One solution is to install a hybrid water heater. A hybrid water heater works just like a tankless water heater, but employs a small tank of continually heated water that's designed to prevent unheated water from leaving the unit.

Can a tankless water heater be installed in the same place as the old water heater?

Yes,  they can be installed almost anywhere because the manufacturing process is completing at the job site it allows greater flexibility for installation location.

How much does it cost to have a tankless water heater installed?

This depends on various things throughout the installation process and what exactly you looking for. That is why ABC Southwest always sends a licensed technician to the home first, to examine and discuss the options available. We provide you with a guaranteed price in writing before any work begins.
If the pilot light pilot light on your gas water heater will not stay lit or the burner that will not ignite, you likely have a defective thermocouple. A thermocouple works by sensing the heat from the pilot flame and, when the temperature is high enough, it sends a signal to the gas valve to supply gas to the pilot light.

Water Heater Thermocouple

A thermocouple is an important safety device that prevents gas from being sent to the pilot and burner if there is no source of ignition. If the gas were to continue flowing to an unlit pilot light, the result would be a hazardous buildup of natural gas. While the part sends an electric signal to the gas valve, it doesn't use any electricity itself, but instead uses heat to generate an electrical impulse.

The first sign that a thermocouple is failing is that the supply of hot water is reduced or stopped altogether as the thermocouple receives false signals and shuts off the gas, thinking the pilot light is out. If the pilot light remains lit but the gas supply is shut off, the thermocouple is the likely culprit. A plumber should inspect the unit to diagnose the problem. If the thermocouple has stopped working, it is not repairable and should be replaced.

Have questions about your water heater? Cll ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning.

Tuesday, 04 September 2018 13:46

How to Know When It's Time For a New Water Heater

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Sarasota Water Heaters

Conventional tank-style water heaters have a lifespan of around 10 years. Depending on the amount of use and whether or not it has been properly maintained, it could last significantly longer, or need replacement much sooner. So how do you know when it's time to replace the water heater or whether you should continue making repairs?

Water Heater Leaks

Water heater leaks can be the result of a faulty valve or leaking pipe. If this is the case, it may just need a simple repair to keep it operating. If the water heater is leaking because of corrosion, it may be time to replace the unit. Also, consider the age of the unit before making repairs. If it's more than seven years old, it make make sense to invest in a new water heater rather than repairing an old unit. Upgrading to a newer, energy efficient water heater may make more sense.

The Water Heater Is Slow to Heat Water

First, check that the thermostat on the water heater is set high enough. If demand for hot water has increased in the home, you may just need a larger capacity tank installed. If the tank is nit large enough, you can upgrade to a larger tank, or a install a tankless water heater instead. Slow heating can also be caused by a build-up up rust and sediment. Flush the tank to remove the sediment. If the water heater is still not heating fast enough after flushing the unit, it may be time for a new water heater.

Malfunctioning Water Heater

In some cases the water heater may be have broken parts that need replacement. A plumber can check the heating element (electric water heaters) thermostat, gas burner and thermocoupler to make sure they are functioning correctly. Consider the age of the unit against the cost of repairs when deciding whether to repair the unit.

Have questions about water heaters? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We're here to help.
Sarasota PlumberReducing water usage around the home not only helps to conserve and protect our critical water supply, it also saves energy, reducing your utility bill.

Conserving water saves energy by reducing the cost of water treatment, heating water and running appliances that use water. In fact, according to the EPA, if every U.S. home had efficient plumbing fixtures the U.S. would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water, and an estimated $18 billion dollars per year!

Here are some water saving plumbing upgrades to consider.

Water Conserving Toilets

Toilets typically are responsible for most water wasted in the average home, consuming as much as 30 percent of an average home’s (indoor) water. If your toilets were installed prior to 1994, there is a good chance it uses more than 1.6 gallons of water when flushed. Consider replacing older toilets with a current EPA standard 1.28 gallon model. As an alternative for older larger tank toilets, you can conserve water by placing a small water filled bottle into the toilet tank to reduce the displacement.

Low-Flow Shower Heads

Showering accounts for around 20 percent of an average homes indoor water consumption. Today's low flow shower heads can reduce water consumption by as much as 70% will still providing a strong spray of water.

Efficient Faucets

If you have older, inefficient faucets that use more than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm), consider replacing them with high-efficiency faucets that have a flow rate of less than 1.5 gpm. Alternatively, you can add an aerator or flow restrictor to the faucet to easily reduce its water flow.

Have questions about water conserving plumbing fixtures? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We're here to help.
Performing plumbing projects around the home can be a satisfying way to improve your home and save a little money. However, before tackling those plumbing projects it's important to understand the potential pitfalls to stay safe and avoid damaging your home.

DIY Plumbing Mistakes to Avoid

1. Chemical Drain Cleaners

When a drain becomes clogged the first thing many homeowners think of are the commercials they have seen for chemical drain cleaning products. While they can be very effective at clearing certain kinds of clogs, they come with important safety warnings.

The same chemicals that quickly dissolve organic matter like hair and grease can cause chemical burns to your skin or even blindness if they come in contact with your eyes. They can also damage metal pipes, plumbing fixtures, and other finishes in the kitchen and bathroom if not used correctly.

A far safer way to clear a clogged drain is with a little elbow grease and a plumbing auger. There are also natural drain cleaning products that use enzymes to break down organic material. Baking soda, vinegar and hot water is another natural method to clean out a drain. These natural methods may take a little longer to do the job, but can just as effective as more caustic drain cleaners.

If none of the above options work for those stubborn clogs, your plumber can solve the toughest clogged drain problems safely and quickly.


2. Not Shutting off the Water Supply

Most plumbing projects require turning off the water. Forget this step and you'll be dealing with gushing pipes and a big mess. If you can't locate the local shut-off valve near a fixture, turn it off at the water main.


3. Not Getting a Permit

You've just had your brand new hot tub delivered and you're all ready to install it in your new sunroom. Before you begin, do you need a permit? Some municipalities allow homeowners to pull their own permits, while others require a contractor. Always check before you begin any remodeling or installation project that you have all the required permits. This will ensure that the project is up to code and installed safely. You'll also avoid the hassle of potential fines or red flags down the road when you try to sell the home.


4. Bad Pipe Connections

In homes with copper pipes, it's important to understand the proper way to connect copper to galvanized pipes. If the two metals are connected directly, they can quickly corrode, leading to water leaks. This type of connection requires a special fitting called a dielectric union, which prevents the two metals from contacting each other.


Ask the Pros!

If you're not sure you have the skills to tackle your next plumbing project, give us a call. We would be happy to explain what's involved in completing the project. After all, there's no replacement for experience.
LWater Saving Toiletooking for ways to reduce your water bill? Toilets are one of the most water-intensive plumbing devices in the home, using as much as 7 gallons of water with each flush. By comparison a low-flow toilet uses just 1.6 gallons. If you aren't ready to replace all your toilets with low-flow toilets quite yet, but want to reduce the amount of water your toilets are using, there are a few easy to install options available that will make your toilets more eco-friendly.

Install an Adjustable Flapper

An adjustable flapper give you control over the amount of water used to refill the tank. It can save up to three gallons of water with each flush and is simple to install. First, check that the flapper is compatible with your toilet model. Once installed, adjust the flapper to get the right amount of water needed to do the job.

Install a Tank Bag

You may know about the old trick of placing a brick to the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water per flush. Unfortunately, a brick can erode over time, leaving damaging grit inside the tank that can wear out rubber and plastic parts. A better solution is to use a tank bag. You simply fill the bag with water and attach it to the toilet tank. By displacing water it will reduce the amount of water needed to refill the tank after each flush. Of course, the amount of water you save is equal to the amount of water you put in the bag, so experiment to find the right amount to effectively flush the toilet.

Install a Fill Cycle Diverter

Because the toilet bowl fills faster than the tank and the fill valve doesn't shut off until the tank is full, excess water is fed into the bowl. A fill cycle diverter can eliminate this waste, saving a half-gallon or more per fill, by diverting water back to the tank when the bowl is full.

TIP: Many utility companies offer water-saving devices to their customers for free, so be sure to check with your local utility company before purchasing a water saving device.
Hot water scalds account for 20% of all burns and every year more that 2,000 U.S. children are treated for scalding. Scalding can also lead to secondary injuries such as heart attacks, falls, and broken bones, particularly among the elderly. Most scalding accidents occur in the kitchen and bathroom, and the vast majority are avoidable.

Hot Water Safety

Because infants, children, and the elderly are especially vulnerable to burns when exposed to overly hot water in the bath, one of the most important ways of preventing scalding is to ensure your water heater temperature is set to a safe temperature.

In addition, you should always check the water temperature before placing a child in the bathtub and never leave a child alone or with other young children in the bathtub.

Most water heaters come factory set between 120°F to 140°F - this temperature may be too high for many households. The chart below shows how the scalding risk and time it takes to cause a burn.

Water Heater Thermostat Setting Exposure Time Effects of Exposure to Hot Water at High Temperatures
Water at 100 degF or below - Most water heaters are unlikely to scald an adult
Water at 120 degF 5 minutes 2nd & 3rd degree burns on adult skin
Water at 130 degF 30 seconds 2nd & 3rd degree burns on adult skin
Water at 140 degF 5 seconds 2nd & 3rd degree burns on adult skin
Water at 150 degF 1.5 seconds 2nd & 3rd degree burns on adult skin
Water at 160 degF .5 second 2nd & 3rd degree burns on adult skin

Scald Protection Devices

Scald protection devices are a must in homes with young children, the elderly and physically challenged. In many areas they are required to be installed to meet code requirements. While caution is the first line of defense to scald prevention, scald protection devices can help to maintain safer water temperatures.

Have questions about preventing hot water scalding in your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help answer all your questions.
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