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Plumbing Tips and Advice

Plumbing Tips and Advice (148)

Tank storage water heaters are one of the most energy intensive appliances in the home, second only to heating and cooling systems. By changing some habits and installing a few simple accessories, you can reduce energy consumption from your hot water heater significantly.

1. Reduce hot water usage at the source. One of easiest ways to cut hot water usage is to install water saving shower heads. The minimum flow rate on a shower head should be no more than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm). Many water conserving shower heads can reduce flow to as little as 1.6 gpm while maintaining acceptable water pressure. The water savings for a household of four could be as much as 14,000 gallons a year along with greatly reduced energy required to heat the water.

2. Insulate the hot water distribution system. Even in a small home, as much as 10 percent of the energy used to heat water can be lost in the pipes that supply the hot water. Insulating hot water pipes is an inexpensive way to significantly reduce heat loss.

3. Use a water heater blanket. While many new water heaters have sufficient insulation built into the tank wall, many older tanks will allow heat to escape. The larger the water heater, the more surface area that will allow heat to escape. Prevent heat loss by wrapping your water heater tank in an insulation blanket available from most home supply stores. Some manufacturers recommend against installing insulating blankets on their energy-efficient models, so be sure to read your owner's manual before adding a blanket.

4. Water heater maintenance. Over time, storage tank water heaters can accumulate sediment that reducing heating efficiency. Flushing the tank annually will remove the sediment and make it easer for the burner or heating element to heat the water.

Have questions about your water heater? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning.
The sump pump is one of those plumbing systems that most homeowners don't think about. A sump pump is designed to turn on automatically when the basement begins to flood. If it malfunctions and doesn't turn on, it can cause expensive damage to your home. By following a few simple maintenance steps you can reduce the chances that your sump pump will fail when you need it the most.

IMPORTANT: Before removing the pump always disconnect the unit from the power supply, and reconnect it after cleaning.

Quarterly Sump Pump Maintenance

1. Clean the pump screen or inlet opening. If your sump collects the discharge from an washing machine, cleaning will be required for often.

2. Pour enough water into the sump pit to cycle the pump and ensure proper functioning.

Annual Sump Pump Maintenance

Remove and and clean the pump. Clean the pump pit also. Do not lubricate or perform any other maintenance unless the pump's instruction manual says to do so. Ensure that the float arm is able to smoothly move up and down to active the pump.

Have sump pump questions? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning.
If your frustrated by the lack of water pressure when taking a shower, filling a sink or performing other tasks, there are some things you can check.
  1. Check the water pressure regulator. The pressure regulator is designed to ensure that water pressure doesn't damage plumbing systems in the home. The reading should be between 50 to 80 PSI.
  2. Check the water main main shut-off valve at the water meter. Sometimes when work is performed on the plumbing system the water is not fully turned back on.
  3. Check the faucets. – First, check an outside faucet. If the pressure is strong outside and low on inside faucets, it could be worn faucet washers.
  4. If all of the above do not lead to a solution, it could be the clogged pipes. Sediment or dirt can buildup over the years. Your plumber can inspect the pipes and determine if replacement is necessary.
Have questions about water pressure in your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help.
When it comes time to repair or replace a plumbing fixture in the home, the first thing you will want to do is look for the shutoff valve. Shutoff valves allow for plumbing work to be performed in a specific section of the house without turning of the water supply to the entire home.

Here are the most common types of shutoff valve:

Washer Valves

Most plumbing fixtures like sinks and toilets will use a washer-style shutoff valves. They are usually located under the sink or directly behind the toilet and have either a round or t-shaped handle. The handle should be turned until it feels tight.

Ball Valves

Ball valves are identified by a straight lever handle. The will turn ninety degrees or one quarter turn. Ball valves use a machined ball to stop the flow of water. Because they don't rely on a washer, they are one of the most long lasting and reliable valves.

Globe Valves

Globe valves are used to reduce the flow of water. They have a wheel and stem like gate valves, but the stem is connected to a stopper that seals two half-walls, causing water to flow in an Z-pattern. Globe valves are designed to reduce water pressure, even when fully open.


Outdoor Faucet Valves

Outdoor water shut off valves are modified form of a washer valve. Frost free valves have a extended rod on the handle that closes a washer far inside the wall where freezing to eliminate the risk of freezing.

Gate Valves

Gate valves are rarely found in homes today. They are similar to ball valves in that they have a machined inner mechanism rather than a washer. Instead of a ball there is a 'gate' mechanism that stops the flow of water.
Faucets come in four basic designs. Knowing what kind of faucets you have will help when it comes time to replace a worn out part. The most common faucet types are:

Ball Faucet

The first type of washerless faucet, ball faucets are commonly used in kitchens. They have a single handle attached to a rounded cap directly above the spout. The handle moves a plastic or metal ball inside the faucet body controls the flow of water.

Cartridge Faucet (Two Handle)

Cartridge faucets utilize a movable stem cartridge which moves up and down to control the flow of water. You can identify a cartridge faucet by turning the knob and feeling it move with an up and down motion.

Disc Faucet

One of the newest faucet designs, ceramic disk faucets have a single lever on top of a wide cylindrical body. The disc faucet mixes hot and cold water inside a mixing chamber called a pressure balance cartridge. Ceramic disks at the bottom of the chamber will raise and lower to control the flow of water while the temperature is adjusted by a side-to-side rotation of the handle.

Compression Washer Faucet

One of the oldest faucet designs, compression washer faucets are commonly found in older homes, although many newer homes will have then installed along with utility sinks. While inexpensive, they are prone to leaks as the washers wear out and require replacement. You can identify a compression faucet by its two handles and a tight rotating motion that is needed to stop the flow of water.

Have question about your faucets? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call, we can help answer all your plumbing questions.
Low water pressure in the home can have many causes. If pressure is low for the entire house, it could be a supply problem from the well or city's municipal water supply. Your plumber can help you identify the specific cause and offer solutions.

If the municipal water supply can’t deliver enough water pressure, one option is to install a water pressure booster at the water meter. The booster works by taking the water entering from the water main and increases the pressure through an electric pump and pressure tank. A dial on top of the pump is used to adjust the pressure. A safe setting is usually somewhere between 45 to 55 psi. The tank helps to hold a supply of pressurized water so that the pump doesn’t have to work every time water is used. When the demand for water increases, the tank helps to boost flow so even pressure is maintained for all fixtures like showers, faucets and toilets.

Have questions about increasing water pressure in your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can test the water pressure, pinpoint any problems, and offer solutions to improve the performance of your home's plumbing system.
Water jetting is one of the most effective tools a plumber has for cleaning and maintaining home sewer and drain lines. While cable machines (also known as drain snakes) can remove tough clogs and obstructions, they are not as effective at removing residue like grease that can cling to the inside of sewer and drain lines. Cables also can't completely clean out the debris that they break up inside the pipe.

The water jetting process uses advanced pumps and flexible hoses to propel water under pressure into the sewer or drain lines. The key to effective water jetting is a special nozzle that directs water jets both forward and backwards to "scrub" the pipe walls and cut through the toughest residue.

High-pressure water jetting is a safe, environmentally-friendly sewer and drain cleaning method that offers the following advantages:

  • Penetrates and emulsifies grease
  • Breaks up sludge
  • Pulverizes tree roots
  • Clears away hardened scale
  • Thoroughly flushes out a plumbing system

Have questions about water jetting? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call, we're here to help.
Because plumbing systems don't last forever and issues with pipes can arise over time, repiping is often necessary at some point in the life of a plumbing system. A key factor in determining whether repiping is necessary is the age and type of pipe material. For supply lines, these materials include:

  • Brass 80-100 year lifespan
  • Copper 70-80 year lifespan
  • Galvanized Steel 80-100 year lifespan

Drain lines are usually made of one of the following materials:

  • Cast iron 80-100 year lifespan
  • PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) 24-40 year lifespan

The symptoms of damaged or deteriorating pipes include:
  • Low or inconsistent water pressure
  • Rust colored water
  • Leaks (higher than usual water bills can be a sign of a water leak)
  • Water hammer or other plumbing noises

If your home has PEX piping, it can be more prone to failure than other materials, and should be replaced.

To determine if repiping is necessary a qualified plumber should inspect the supply and drain lines to determine what materials are used, the age of the pipes and the presence of any leaks or defects. For drain lines, a video camera is often used to get a more complete look at the condition of the pipes.
While pipe bursting may sound like a catastrophic failure of a plumbing system, it's actually one of the least destructive ways to repair a home sewer line as part of a process called trenchless sewer line repair.

Instead of digging up the yard to repair the sewer line, a very strong cable is pulled through the damaged section of piping and attached to a conical pipe bursting head. Behind this head is a new section of piping. As the pipe bursting head is pulled through the old piping it is broken up and the new piping is being pulled through the old pipe bed.

Pipe bursting is an ideal pipe replacement process for clay, steel and concrete piping that ranges in diameter from 75mm up to 300mm and in lengths up to 100 meters. New MDPE or HDPE piping can be installed in short sections or one continuous length.

Have questions about your sewer line? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call. We're here to help.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law, passed in 1990, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. The term "disability" means a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individuals.

Among the provisions in the law are requirements that have a role in how plumbing products are designed to make bathrooms more accessible. ADA-compliant plumbing, when properly installed, is fully compliant with the current requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), as legislated by the ADA.

If your remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, you have no obligation to follow ADA code. However, there are many benefits to doing so, including potential use by aging family members, added resale value, and the fact that you'll be creating a space that can be used by anyone who visits your home, regardless of their range of abilities.

Have questions about ADA compliant or accessible plumbing design? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help.
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