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PLUMBING • DRAINS • COOLING • WATER QUALITY

Thursday, 10 January 2019 01:16

How Do I Tell How Old My Water Heater Is?

How Old Is My Water Heater?

Knowing how old your water heater is can be helpful when planning for replacement and knowing when you're better off replacing the unit instead of putting money towards repairs. In most cases, if a water heater is more than 10 years old you should consider replacement. As water heaters enter their second decade the risk of developing leaks increases, which can potentially cause damage to your home.

You can find the age of your water heater by looking for the serial number on the manufacturer’s sticker near the top of the water heater. The serial number contains the date that the water heater was manufactured. It will not be in a standard date format, but will have a date code such as "G062052658".

G is for the month and G is the seventh letter in the alphabet, so it represents the seventh month, July. Next, the first two digits of the serial number are 06, which represents the year, 2006. So this water heater was made in July 2006. Each manufacturer uses a similar date code, but they may vary – so check the manufacturer’s website to learn more.

Have questions about your home's water heater? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help answer all your plumbing questions.
Tuesday, 08 January 2019 01:09

5 Water Saving Tips

Being surrounded by water in Southwest Florida it's easy to forget that fresh water is our most precious resource. As fresh water supplies become more strained by growth and saltwater intrusion, it's up to all of us to do our part to conserve water in our homes.

Conserving water in Southwest Florida

While installing water saving toilets and low-flow shower heads are important steps to prevent wasting water, there are other steps you can take. Not only will you help preserve our most important natural resource, you'll save on your water bill as well.

1. Laundry - Use the clothes washer for full loads, or adjust water levels to match the size of the load. Avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses about 5 extra gallons of water per load.

2. Upgrade to a dual-flush toilet - Installing a dual flush toilet can save an average family 15,000 gallons of water each year. Extra water is available when needed, but for most flushes you’ll reduce the amount of water by 70%, saving a significant amount of water. Existing toilets can be upgraded with a dual flush converter that turns a standard toilet into a dual flush toilet.

3. Fix Water Leaks - Leaking toilets, faucets, showers and leaking pipes can add up to a lot of waste. To see if your house has hidden water leaks, read your home's water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.

4. Save Cold Water - A lot of water is wasted while waiting for the shower or faucet tap to reach higher temperatures. Instead of letting the water go down the drain, keep a container nearby to collect and save the cold water and use it for watering plants or filling the pet's water bowls.

5. Use the Dishwasher - It turns out that washing dishes by hand uses a lot more water than using the dishwasher. Newer dishwashers are designed to be very efficient. In fact, the EPA estimates an efficient dishwasher uses half as much water, saving close to 5,000 gallons each year!

Bonus tips:

• Clean sidewalks and driveways with a broom instead of a hose
• Cover your swimming pool to reduce evaporation
• Compost food waste instead of using your under sink disposal
Tuesday, 04 December 2018 16:44

The ABCs of Plumbing – What's a Drain Snake?

Drain Snake Sarasota

When a kitchen sink, toilet, bathtub drain or main sewer line becomes clogged one of the most popular tools for clearing blockage from a pipe is a drain snake, also called a plumber's snake or pipe snake. A hand drain snake is a thin, flexible auger with a crank handle or motor at one end and a metal wire with a splayed gap between the coils at the other end. The auger is inserted into the drain and turned to physically remove debris that would typically be too stubborn for a plunger to clear.

Other types of drain snakes used by plumbers include drum augers and roto rooters. These are powered augers should be used carefully to avoid damaging the pipe, especially when cleaning out PVC piping.

Snaking a Toilet

When a plunger is not effective at clearing a toilet clog, a toilet auger should be used instead of a standard drain snake. A regular drain snake can damage the toilet by scraping the porcelain bowl. A toilet auger is designed to pass through the toilet trap and is more rigid, which will prevent it from looping back when it hits an obstruction.

Other drains that can be cleared with a drain snake include:
  • Main drain
  • Sewer main line
  • Bathtub drains (usually through the overflow drain)
  • Shower drains
  • Washing machine drains
  • Kitchen drains
  • Bathroom sink drains
Have questions about clearing drains in your home? Call ABC Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help with all your sewer and drain cleaning needs.
Saturday, 24 November 2018 00:01

4 Ways To Prevent Kitchen Drain Problems


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.
Tuesday, 18 September 2018 19:06

The ABC's of Plumbing - Hydrojetting

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.
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.

If you're noticing changes to the water coming out ouf your tap – such as strange colors, tastes or odors – the cause may be your water heater.

Water heater and water quality problems

To find out if the water heater is the cause, note the following:
  • Does the problem only occur first thing in the morning?
  • Does it happen after the water has not been used for a while?
  • Does the problem clear up after you run the water for a few minutes?
  • Is the problem isolated to the hot rather than cold running faucet?
If any of the above cases is true, it could be caused by your water heater.


Water Heater Odors

Bad smells, such as a sulphur odors, are sometimes caused by bacteria growing in the water heater tank. When the water heater goes unused for long periods of time bacteria, while usually harmless, can cause unpleasant odors. A sulphur, or rotten egg odor, is sometimes caused by a corroded anode rod inside the water heater. The rod should be inspected and replaced if needed.

Hard water can also cause sediment to accumulate at the bottom of the tank, causing odors. Installing a water softener should fix the problem.


Water Discoloration

Brown, red or yellow tinted water can be caused by rust from a corroded water heater tank, or pipes inside the home. The iron present in most water is not a significant health risk, but it can stain clothing and dishes and leave drinking water with a metallic taste. Your plumber can help track down the cause and determine if the water heater is the source of the problem.

White or tan particles in the water are usually a sign of calcium or magnesium. While not generally harmful to ingest, the minerals can clog pipes and drains over time. A water filtration system or water softener can remove the minerals from the water.

Have concerns about water quality in your home? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call. We can help identify the cause of the problem and recommend effective solutions for cleaner, better tasting water.
Tuesday, 14 August 2018 15:02

5 DIY Plumbing Mistakes To Avoid

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.
Tuesday, 07 August 2018 21:57

Protect Your Family From Hot Water Scalding

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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