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Plumbing Tips and Advice

Plumbing Tips and Advice (144)

Thursday, 25 June 2015 02:43

Tips For Reducing Hot Water Usage In the Home

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By identifying areas in the home where hot water is being wasted you can often lower your water heating costs significantly. Here are some things check.

Fix Water Leaks

Leaking faucets, shower heads and pipes can waster a lot of hot water over time. Even a seemingly insignificant leak of one drip per second can cost $12 a year. If your water heater tank is leaking, the unit should be replaced.

Install Low-Flow Plumbing Fixtures

Quality low-flow shower heads and faucets can be purchased for between $10-20. For optimum water efficiency, choose a shower head with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute). New EPA regulations mandate that new showerhead flow rates cannot exceed 2.5 gpm at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi).

Upgrade to Energy Efficient Appliances

One of the biggest expenses of cleaning dishes and clothes comes from the energy needed to heat the water. Before buying a new dishwasher or clothes washer Check the EnergyGuide label to see how much energy it will consume annually. Choosing a dishwasher with a booster heater will also save energy by increasing the temperature of the water entering the dishwasher to the 140ºF recommended for cleaning.

Use Cold Water When Possible

When washing clothes choose the cold water clean cycle when possible. Some special laundry detergents are designed to clean more effectively with cold water.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015 02:29

Preventing Root Damage To Your Sewer Line

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One of the most common causes of sewer line damage is from tree root intrusion. It's not difficult to understand why tree roots find sewer lines so attractive, as a leaking sewer line can provide a great source of water, nutrients and oxygen. Once a tree root finds its way into the pipe it's only a matter of time before it grows inside and inhibits the flow of waste causing blockages, broken pipes and a major damage. You can avoid costly tree root damage by taking a few preventative measures.

Remember, before doing any digging in your yard always call your local public works department or the national 811 "Call Before You Dig" number to find the location of underground utilities.
Sewer Line Barriers

Barriers are available that can prevent root growth into sewer lines. Chemicals like copper sulfate and potassium hydroxide are commonly used for this purpose. Spread these chemicals near the sewer line to prevent root growth. Metal or thick wood barriers buried vertically and deeper than the sewer pipe can also prevent tree roots from reaching pipes.

Sewer Line Safe Landscaping

The best way to prevent problems down the road is to be smart about what you plant near sewer lines. If you are planting near sewer lines, select slow-growing trees with a small root area. Larger trees should be kept well away from the sewer line.
Warning Signs

Signs of root damage to sewer lines leads include frequent unexplained clogs, overflowing and slow drains, and gurgling sounds coming from toilets.

Sewer Line Video Camera Inspections

The best way to ensure that your sewer line is free of tree root intrusion and other obstructions is to have regular video camera inspections of your sewer line. A small camera is run through the lateral and helps your plumber find any potential problems. If tree roots or clogs are found, a cable can be run through the sewer pipe to clear clogs and cut through tree roots while cleaning the inner walls of the pipe.

Have questions about your home's sewer line? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can answer all your questions.

New toilets sold in Florida must meet federal WaterSense standards. WaterSense certification provides that plumbing fixtures use at least 20 percent less water. For toilets, that means using 1.28 gallons of water or less per flush, as opposed to the federally mandated maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush.

While low-flow toilets will save up to billions of gallons a year in Florida alone, they can present a few problems. With less water to work with, you may find yourself flushing the toilet more than once because of their lower flushing power. This of course defeats the purpose of having a low flow toilet and should be avoided.

Often the problem is caused by an under-filled toilet tank. Check the manufacturer's instructions for setting the fill valve to ensure the water is at the correct level. Some tanks will have a fill line, but if there is no line a good rule of thumb is to keep the water level about a half inch below the top of the overflow tube inside the tank.

Second, open the tank and adjust the tension on the flapper chain. The chain should only have a little slack, if it's too loose the flapper won't open all the way when the toilet is flushed and water in the tank won't empty completely.

Have plumbing questions? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call, we're here to help.

Thursday, 04 June 2015 12:03

Water Heater Technology For The Home

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Water heater technology has advanced the last 10 years with several options to consider besides the conventional electric or gas tank water heater. Tank water heaters store 20-80 gallons of hot water and are relatively inexpensive to purchase and install. However, because they must maintain a large volume of heated water, they can be more costly to operate. Newer technology is designed to address some of the shortcomings of the traditional water heater.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless or demand-type water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. A gas burner or electric element heats the cold water as it passes through the water heater. Households that require a lot of hot water can benefit the from a virtually endless supply of hot water. One downside to tankless water heaters is they typically cost more to purchase and install, although they can last longer than conventional tank water heaters if properly maintained. Another disadvantage of tankless water heaters is they can take longer to heat the water initially when the tap is first turned on.

Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid water heaters are designed to combine the benefits of a conventional tank water heater and a tankless water heater. They have a small storage tank that provides an initial supply of hot water, then heats cold water on demand with a heating element similar to a tankless water heater.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Heat pump water heaters distribute heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly to providing hot water.

Solar Water Heaters

Solar water heaters use the sun's heat to heat water. A roof-mounted solar collector absorbs the sun's heat and stores it in a special fluid that circulates in a closed-loop system that heats water in a tank.

Have questions about which water heater is right for your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We're here to help.

When buying a home there are many things to consider. Performing a plumbing system inspection is one of the most important tasks. Here are some items to check:

1. Water Heater

Ask the current owner for the age of the water heater. A conventional tank style water heater will last between 8-10 years. Check for signs of corrosion around the tank fittings and bottom of the tank. Excessive corrosion could mean the tank is in need of replacement. Turn on a tap close to the water heater, hot water should begin to flow almost immediately. If not, the tank may have excess sediment that needs to be flushed out, or the burner may be worn out.

2. Check for water leaks

Some leaks will be obvious, such as a dripping faucet or shower head. These are easy to fix. Of greater concern are hidden water leaks. To check for hidden leaks turn off all water using appliances and fixtures and check the water meter after a few hours. If the meter shows significant use, there is likely a hidden water leak somewhere. Also check outside faucets and the sprinkler system for leaks.

3. Check the Sump Pump

Sump pumps are one of the out-of-sight, out-of-mind systems that are rarely checked by homeowners. To check that the sump pump is working, slowly pour a bucket of water into the sump pit. The pump should turn on after a few seconds and remove the water.

4. Check Appliances

Washer supply line hoses should be checked for bulges and cracks. If the lines need to be replaced, use braided stainless hoses for added strength.

5. Inspect Sewer and Drain Lines

If the house is more than 8 years old it's a good idea to have a video sewer line inspection to check for tree root intrusion or cracks that could cause sewer line failure down the road.

Need a professional plumbing inspection? Call ABC Plumbing and Air Conditioning we're here to help.
For most homeowners energy efficiency and lower utility bills are at the top of the list when deciding on a new furnace or air conditioner.

When researching heating and cooling systems you're likely to run across a lot of industry alphabet soup. While this alphabet soup can be bit confusing at first, they're meant to provide a simple scale to compare which systems that offer the highest efficiency and lowest energy costs.

Here are two of the most common measurements of energy efficiency.

SEER

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is a measure of efficiency for air conditioners. A high SEER number means more energy efficiency, and lower cost to operate. All new air conditioners have a 13.0 SEER rating or better. The most efficient systems can achieve SEER ratings over 20.

AFUE

For gas furnaces, the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating is a common measure of energy use and efficiency. The AFUE rating tells you how much of the fuel used by your furnace is used to actually heat your home and how much is wasted. The higher the AFUE rating, the greater the efficiency. For example, a 90% furnace creates heat, 90% of which is used directly by the home with 10% lost, generally as a result of venting. Some newer gas furnaces have an AFUE rating that exceeds 98%.

Have questions about energy efficiency ratings? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.

The EPA has put together a chart that showing the average amount of water in gallons used by US households by number of people in the household. The average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. On average, approximately 70 percent of that water is used indoors, with the bathroom being the largest consumer. So how much water is your family using?

Here's How to Estimate Your Household Water Usage
1. Take water meter reading at the same time every day.
2. Subtract the previous day’s reading from the current day’s reading. The difference is your daily usage.
3. For the most accurate results you should measure your water meter daily for at least two weeks.

In our next article we'll talk about ways you can cut back on your water usage to conserve our most important natural resource.

When we think of water use in the home, the washing machine is usually thought of as one of the main sources of water use. However, it's not used nearly as often in most homes as showers and sink faucets, which actually account for the most water use during a typical month.

What wastes the most water around the home? One of the top causes of water waste is not even intentional, it's water leaks. Even a small water leak can waste more that 170 gallons per day, that equal to more than three showers! But by far the biggest water waste happens outside the home. Lawn watering uses an average of 600 gallons of water an hour.

Here are the water usage rates in a typical home

  • Toilet Flush: 2 to 6 gallons per flush
  • Dishwasher: 20 gallons per run
  • Small Leak: 170 gallons per day
  • Shower: 30 to 50 gallons per shower
  • Washing Machine: 40 gallons per load
  • Large Leak: 1000 gallons per day
  • Sink Faucet: 3 gallons per minute
  • Lawn Sprinkling: 600 gallons per hour
Need help fixing those water wasting leaks around the home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We'll put an end to those water wasting leaks.

Tankless water heaters heat water in a similar way as conventional water heaters, except they don't store the heated water. Instead, they heat the water only when it's needed. This eliminates the energy required to keep a supply of heated water fully heated.

When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water is drawn into the water heater. A sensor detects the flow and activates a gas burner, which warms a heat exchanger. The flow of cold water circulated around the heat exchanger and exits the water heater at its set-point temperature.

By heating water only when needed, rather than maintaining a full tank of hot water at all times, tankless water heaters operate with greater efficiency than standard tank-type water heaters.

In addition to greater efficiency, tankless water heaters will last about five to 10 years longer than a conventional tank heater. They also take up much less space and provide you with an unlimited amount of hot water.

On the downside, a tankless system can cost up to three times as much as a tank-style heater and are more complicated to install than traditional water heaters.

Have questions about tankless water heaters? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We're here to help.

Have you ever wondered how much water those little drips and slow leaks around your home are wasting? Here are some eye-opening statistics about household water leaks in the U.S.
  • Leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year in the average household, or the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry.
  • Household water leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons annually nationwide. That's equal to the annual household water use of more than 11 million homes.
  • Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.
  • Fortunately, most leaks are simple to fix and are mostly caused by worn washers and seals.
So how much are those water leaks around your home wasting? Find out be using our water drip calculator.

Enter number of drips per minute into the box below and then click Calculate.
 
 

 
Gallons per Day
Gallons in a 30 day Month
Gallons lost in a Year


Need help repairing those water drips and leaks around the home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can fix and plumbing problems, big or small.
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