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Plumbing Tips and Advice

Plumbing Tips and Advice (144)

Even in the warm climate of Southwest Florida, heating water takes up a big part of the average home's utility bill. One inexpensive way to conserve hot water is to install a water heater blanket. Available at most home improvement stores for $15-$20, water heater blankets are simple to install and can pay for itself in less than a year.

You may be asking, can a blanket help when the tank feels cool to the touch? Yes. Because it takes more energy to heat water than air, so insulation will help. Still not convinced? Once the blanket is installed for a day or so, put your hand under the blanket and you'll notice that it's nice and warm. That's heat that will keep the tank warmer for a longer period of time rather than radiating out.

A word of caution on water heater blankets – some manufacturers advise against them because if they are not installed properly they can block controls and valves. So be sure to cut away around controls and the pressure relief valve.
In Southwest Florida, tropical storms and hurricanes are always a threat during the late summer months. By taking a few simple precautions, and having a plan in place before severe storm season, you will be able to better protect your plumbing system and home from damage.

Before Hurricane Season

  • To prevent water damage to your foundation make sure gutters are clean and firmly attached.
  • Ensure downspouts are properly installed to direct water away from the house.
  • Make sure everyone in home knows the location of the main water shut-off valve.
  • If the home has a sump pump, test it regularly to ensure it is working. Because hurricanes bring power outages, we recommend installing a battery backup sump pump.
  • Have your sewer lines and drains inspected and repaired if needed to reduce the risk of sewer line backups during heavy rains.

During a Hurricane

  • Turn off the main water valve before the storm arrives. This will prevent potential contamination of your plumbing system.
  • Only if it is safe to do so, check the storm drains around your property and clear away any debris or other obstructions to ensure the drains can handle a high volume of water.

After a Hurricane

If you experience problems such as low water pressure, drains that are slow to empty, strange noises or other concerns, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we are here to help.
If your plumbing system suddenly makes a loud banging sound, you likely have have a plumbing problem known as "water hammer". When water suddenly changes momentum under pressure, such as when a faucet valve is closed suddenly, a hydraulic shockwave is sent through the pipe, resulting in bang as the energy is released. If the pressure change is severe enough it can lead to damaged fittings or even burst pipes.

Water Hammer

Preventing Water Hammer

A properly installed plumbing system has air compartments that compress to absorb sudden changes in water pressure. In some cases these compartments can fail to work if the water has gradually absorbed air or the compartments have become filled with water.

If you are experiencing water hammer you can restore the plumbing system's air chambers by opening the faucet that caused the noise and allowing the water to completely drain out. Air will then replace the water and restore the shock absorbing capability inside the pipes. If the air compartment is below the fixture, you may have to drain the main supply lines to restore the air in the lines.

If the above steps do not cure the problem, the plumbing system may not have the necessary air chambers installed, or they may have become clogged over time. Your plumber can inspect the system to identify any problems and recommend solutions.

Have questions about water hammer or other plumbing problems? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We are here to help.
If you're planning on remodeling your bathroom this year, there are a few bathroom trends that Houzz found in a survey of homeowners that you may find interesting.

Technology in the Master Bathroom

One in five new toilets and one in ten new showers in renovated master bathrooms are equipped with at least one high-tech feature, such as a self-cleaning system or mood lighting.

More than half of renovating homeowners use their mobile devices in their bathrooms for checking email and social media to listening to music and reading.

Why Are Homeowners Remodeling Their Bathroom?

Small size and outdated finishes are the most cited old-bathroom gripes. For nearly a third of homeowners the bathroom plumbing is malfunctioning or not working well enough anymore.

Less DIY and More Professional Remodeling

In 2016 90% of homeowners will hire a professional to help with their bathroom projects, compared to 78% in 2015.

Backflow is hazardous condition that can exist when there is a drop in pressure in a plumbing system that causes contaminated, non-potable water to be syphoned back into the fresh water supply.

One example of backflow contamination is a hose left in a pool or submerged in a garden. If the pressure changes, the dirty water can be drawn back up into the home's plumbing system. Without an anti-siphon hose bib, dirty water could enter the fresh water supply.

Backflow Prevention

To prevent backflow in a home's plumbing system it's important that outdoor faucets have working hose bibs to prevent contamination. In addition the plumbing system should be checked to ensure that sump pumps, toilets, faucets and other systems are properly installed to prevent crossflow contamination.

If you're concerned about backflow in your home's plumbing system, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help answer all your questions.

 

RPZ , or Reduced Pressure Zone, is a plumbing safety device that is designed to protect your drinking water from contamination. RPZ valves are needed when a house has an irrigation system, fire suppression system, or other systems where there is an likelihood of contaminants entering the fresh water supply. In the event of a water leak in the house, city water main break, hydrant flushing, or hydrant use due to a fire, the water pressure in the house can drop lower than the water pressure in the supply. This can cause backflow into the drinking water supply.

When a drop in water pressure occurs, an RPZ valve will open up, diverting the waste water out instead of allowing to return to the fresh water supply. In most cases a RPZ or backflow prevention device is required by law to prevent contamination.

Have questions about backflow or RPZ backflow testing? Call ABC Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help.

 

Having a dedicated laundry room in your home is a great convenience. Whether your redesigning your current laundry room or designing a new space, here are some tips to ensure everything goes smoothly and that the room fully meets your needs.

Where Should a Laundry Room Be Located?

Traditionally, laundry rooms were located in the basement of a home. A basement offers a number of advantages. There will be a floor drain to handle overflow if a hose breaks. Noise and vibration will also be better isolated on a basement floor. However, it's not always convenient on a multi-level home to have the laundry room located far from the upstairs bedrooms.

The main level of the home off a garage or back door is a popular location. Combining a laundry room with a mud room you have the advantage of utility sinks and a washer where it they are most convenient.

If the laundry room is going to be added to an upper level of the home, it's important to ensure that the washer is placed on a drain pan to prevent water damage. In addition, strong, stainless steel braided hoses should also be used for extra protection against leaks.

If the laundry room is near bedrooms look for a washer and dryer that is insulated and has lower decibal rating.

Gas and Electric Hookups

In addition to hot and cold water supply and drains, you will need 120-volt circuits for the washer and, if you have a gas dryer, a gas supply line and ventilation line. These hookups should be left to a licensed plumber and electrician.

Lighting and Ventilation

Laundry rooms will generate a significant amount of heat and humidity. If the washer and dryer are in a large space, such as a basement, a ventilation duct that vents the dryer outside may be sufficient. On upper levels or smaller spaces, an exhaust fan should be installed to prevent mildew growth and unhealthy air.

Having good lighting is also important. Consider recessed LED lighting directly over the washer and dryer and sinks.

Need help installing or upgrading your laundry room? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We'll make the process simple and worry free.

 

Backflow is hazardous condition that can exist when there is a drop in pressure in a plumbing system that causes contaminated, non-potable water to be syphoned back into the fresh water supply.

One example of backflow contamination is a hose left in a pool or submerged in a garden. If the pressure changes, the dirty water can be drawn back up into the home's plumbing system. Without an anti-siphon hose bib, dirty water could enter the fresh water supply.

Backflow Prevention

To prevent backflow in a home's plumbing system it's important that outdoor faucets have working hose bibs to prevent contamination. In addition the plumbing system should be checked to ensure that sump pumps, toilets, faucets and other systems are properly installed to prevent crossflow contamination.

 

When most people think of heat pumps in the home, it's usually as a source of central heating or cooling. But a heat pump also can be used to heat water. Heat pump water heaters work by transferring heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. As a result, they can be up to three times more energy efficient as a conventional water heater.

To move the heat, heat pumps works sort of like a refrigerator in reverse. While a refrigerator draws heat from inside the appliance and exhausts it to the room, an air-source heat pump water heater draws heat from air in the room and transfers it – at a higher temperature – into the water heater.

Hybrid heat pump water heaters are available as stand-alone, integrated unit with a built-in water storage tank and back-up resistance heating elements. Or, an existing tank storage water heater can be retrofitted with a heat pump.

Heat Pump Water Heater Requirements
To operate efficiently heat pump water heaters need at least 1,000 cubic feet of air space around the water heater with a temperature that is in the 40-90 degree fahrenheit range.To optimize performance they can be installed in a space with excess heat, near a furnace for example.

Have questions about choosing the right water heater for your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help.
Are your pipes, rattling, banging, squeaking or otherwise driving you crazy? Noisy pipes are not just annoying, they can be a sign of a plumbing problem. If severe enough, loose pipes can disconnect from mounting brackets stressing the pipe and causing a leak.

If a banging noise is heard when turning the water on and off, water hammer is the likely cause. Water hammer occurs when the water chamber that normally cushions the water pressure becomes filled with water. The condition can usually be fixed by draining the pipes in the home to restore the chambers with air.

Rattling Sounds

If you hear rattling noises from your plumbing system, check that the pipes are securely anchored to wood joists. Loose anchoring brackets should be tightened or replaced.

Vibration Noises

As pipes pass through holes in joists they can come in contact with the wood framing. Teh pipes can be cushioned with pieces of foam insulation to dampen the movement.

Squeaking Pipes

As metal hot water pipes expand and contract they can rub against the metal mounting straps as the water runs through. Adding foam of rubber cushioning to the mounting anchors will quiet the noise.

Have questions about solving plumbing noises in your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning any time.
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