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Plumbing Tips and Advice

Plumbing Tips and Advice (148)

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.
Spring is a good time to check your home's plumbing system and perform a few simple maintenance tasks to ensure system continue to work smoothly. Here are some items to check.

Sewer & Drains

  1. If you have slow or drains that regularly back up. Have your plumber clean out the drain before there is a backup.
  2. Ensure that sink drains have strainers to prevent debris from building up inside the drain.
  3. If there are drains that are unused for long periods of time, such as floor drains, pour a bucket of water to keep the trap filled. This will prevent sewer gases and odors from entering the home.
  4. If your home is more than ten years old, have a video camera sewer line inspection to check for tree root intrusion or other damage.

Sump Pump

Test your sump pump to ensure it is working. Pour several gallons of water into the sump pump pit. Pour slowly until the sump pump turns on and removed the water. Do not pour in more water than the basin can hold. The sump pump should begin pumping out water when the water level reaches about 8 to 12 inches from the bottom of the pit. If it doesn't, contact your plumber to repair or replace the pump.

Washing Machines

Check hoses for signs of wear or damage. If the hoses are older than 10 years, consider using braided stainless steel hoses rather than rubber hoses. If the washing machine is on an upper level of the home, a drain pan should be used to prevent water damage in the event of a leak.

Toilets

  1. Check the base of the toilet for water leaks. If there are stains or standing water it could need a new wax ring seal.
  2. Add several drops of food coloring to the tank. If color appears in the bowl after 30 minutes, it has a leak that should be repaired.
  3. If the toilet handle has to be held down in order to flush properly, or jiggled to stop from running, you may need to replace the tank parts.

Tank Water Heaters

  1. Check the temperature setting on the water heater. It should be set no higher than 120°F to prevent scalding and reduce energy waste.
  2. Drain several gallons from the water heater tank to flush out sediment that can cause corrosion and reduce heating efficiency.
  3. Inspect the anode tube for excessive corrosion. Replace the tube if needed.

Tankless Water Heaters

  1. Tankless water heaters should be flushed to remove mineral deposits. 
  2. Clean or replace the line filter.
  3. If it is making excessive nose, have your plumber inspect the unit.
Always check with your water heater manufacturer for specific instructions regarding maintenance of your specific make and model.

Have questions about maintaining your home's plumbing system? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We're here to help.
As we age we often discover that spaces in our home, such as the kitchen, can no longer not meet our needs as well as they once did. Thankfully, there are steps we can take to adapt these spaces to better meet our abilities as we age. The following are some ideas that can help make your kitchen more comfortable and user friendly.

1. Accessible Cabinet Design - Install drawers in cupboards that slide out to provide easy access to items in the back. Along the same idea, drawer-based dishwashers make loading and uploading dishes easier.

2. Flooring - Choose comfortable, non-slip materials such as cork, carpet or vinyl to reduce fatigue and increase safely. If you have a hard tile or hardwood floor, rubber mats can be used near sinks and other work areas.

3. Easy to use Plumbing Fixtures - Faucets with levers or motion detecting sensors instead of knobs can be more comfortable to use.

4. Task Lighting - Having good light in the kitchen is essential to safety and ease of use. Consider LED task lighting for a bright, unobtrusive light source that can be aimed right where it's needed.

With a little planning you can make your kitchen adapt to your needs so you can enjoy living in your home as you age.
Because most water leaks around the home are minor and happen slowly over time, we often don't consider fixing leaking plumbing fixtures a big priority. However, putting off plumbing repairs can come at a price. Consider these facts from the EPA.
  • 10 percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more each day
  • A leaky faucet dripping at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year
  • Minor water leaks account for more than 1 trillion gallons of wasted water each year and is equal to annual water use in 11 million homes.
  • A shower leaking at 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year
So what can you do to prevent water waste in the home?
  • First, check faucet washers and gaskets for wear and replace them as needed.
  • If toilets are leaking, have them repaired.
  • If you're replacing an old toilet, water heater or other plumbing appliance or fixture, choose a model with a WaterSense rating.
Need help repairing leaks around your home? Give ABC Southwest a call, we can help with all your home plumbing needs.
Putting a lemon in your garbage disposal is a well-known way to quickly freshen your garbage disposal. While citric acid is a great deodorizer, it also corrosive and can corrode the metal inside the disposal. Lemon peel can also be tough enough to damage the grinding parts inside the disposal.

A safe way to clean your disposal is to run cold water and drop a dozen ice cubes into the chamber. While this will create a lot racket, it will also clean the food reside off the walls and the impellers. To deodorize, pour a little vinegar into the disposal.
By default, many water heater manufacturers set the temperature on the thermostat at 140 Fahrenheit. For most households, this is simply too high. One rule of thumb: if you can't hold your hand under the tap with the water on it's hottest setting, the water heater is turned up too high, and your wasting energy. In addition, setting the temperature too high increasing the risk of scalding, of particular concern if there are young children or elderly residents in the home.

Setting the water heater to 120 Fahrenheit work well in most cases. Turning the temperature down 20 degrees saves 6 to 10 percent on energy costs. If you're finding that 120 F is leaving you wishing the water was hotter, gradually adjust the setting upward until a comfortable setting is achieved.

Have questions abut your water heater? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help.
In response to water conservation concerns in the 1990's, low-flush (or high efficiency) toilets were introduced to significantly reduce the number of gallons used per flush (GPF). Low flush toilets use 1.3 gallons per flush, while a regular toilet 1.6 or more gallons per flush. The average US home will save US$90 per year, and $2,000 over the lifetime of the toilet, according to the EPA. To be eligible to the EPA's Water Sense label, a toilet cannot be more than 20 percent less than the maximum allowed.

As the name suggest, a dual-flush toilet is uses two buttons or handles to flush different amounts of water. Depending on the design, the amount of water can be cut in half. While they can save a significant amount of water, the downside to dual-flush design is added complexity with more parts, as well as higher initial cost.

Have questions about low-flush toilets or other high-efficiency plumbing fixtures? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can can help with all your home plumbing installation, repair and maintenance needs.
If the supply of hot water heater in your home is not sufficient, even after turning up the thermostat, there are a number of possible causes.

1. The Dip Tube Is Damaged

Cold water enters the water heater through the dip tube where it is forced to the bottom of the tank for quick heating. When the tube is broken the water remains at the top of the tank, where the hot water outlet is, causing it to return cold water with the heated water.

2. Sediment Has Built Up at the Bottom of the Tank

Over time, minerals in the water can build up at the bottom of the water heater tank where the burner is located. This causes a gradual reduction in heating efficiency that will make the water heater work harder and eventually resulting in less hot water. Flushing the tank annually will prevent sediment build up.

3. The Heating System Is Malfunctioning

Most water heater problems occur with these systems:
  • Thermal switch
  • Thermostat
  • Heating element
A licensed plumber should inspect the water heater and repair the part as needed.

4. Hot Water Heater Is Too Far From Where It's Needed

If the water eventually heats up, the problem is sometime a hot water tank that is too far from where it's needed. In the cold months in particular, pipes will cool the hot water before it reaches the faucet where it's needed. Insulating the pipes can help reduce heat loss.

5. The Water Heater Tank Is Undersized

If you have recently noticed that your water heater suddenly seems to supply less hot water, or runs out suddenly, it could be that your water heater tank is too small to keep up with demand. Installing a larger tank or tankless water heater will ensure that you have all the water your household needs.
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