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Categories plumbing

The Bad News About Cleaning Your Own Drains

If you have a clog in one of your drains or if you just want to keep your drains as clean as possible, you might first reach for a liquid drain cleaner. Plumbers say that you shouldn’t. Most expert plumbers say that the chemicals in these cleaners are actually harmful to your pipes. If you think about it, that makes sense. The back of the bottle says that the chemicals shouldn’t even touch your skin. They work by dissolving hair and other clogs. If they’re dissolving hair and burning skin, they are likely damaging your pipes as well. If you need to clear a clog with a liquid drain cleaner, you should choose an enzymatic one.

 

Enzymatic Drain Cleaners

 An enzymatic drain cleaner is named that because they have enzymes that help to break up clogs. Most clogs are made of natural things like fat, hair, and paper. The enzymes and microbes contained in an enzymatic drain cleaner will eat away at those natural clogs and eventually break them down. Basically, you are creating a tiny composting environment in your pipes. These drain cleaners are slower and not as effective as the chemical solutions, but they are much safer.

 

Natural Cleaner

 If you don’t have an actual clog but want your pipes to stay clean, you can actually make a cleaner of your own. Pour about a half cup of baking soda down your drain. Chase that with a half cup of white vinegar. Put a cap on top of your sink drain and leave it overnight. A heavy bowl will suffice as a cap. In the morning, run some hot water through your pipes. They’ll likely smell fresh and clean as well as working more efficiently.

 

Snaking

 If you have a clog and want to try to fix it before calling a plumber, you shouldn’t use a drain cleaner. Instead, invest in a snake and a plunger. Try the plunger first. You should use a cup plunger; these are the standard plungers with the wooden handle and the red cup. They’re actually for sinks and bathtubs, not for toilets. Run some water and then plunge the sink. That’s often enough to dislodge a clog. If that doesn’t work, use a drain snake.

If neither of those work, you should call a professional plumber. They’ll be able to determine what is clogging your drain and also clear that clog for you.

Categories plumbing

4 Things You Should Never Put Down a Drain

Homeowners are the greatest danger to the pipes in their homes. There are many things that can happen to damage pipes, but the most common is an error from the users. There are things that are supposedly flushable but actually aren’t. There are also things that people say are good for plumbing but aren’t. Here are some things that you should never flush or run down a drain.

 

1 — Flushable Wipes

 Flushable wipes are those wipes that you use in the bathroom that are labeled as safe for the toilet. However, that’s just not true. Toilet paper is designed to dissolve when it gets wet. That means it will completely break down in the pipes. Flushable wipes are obviously damp, which means that they are not designed to break down in water. They tend not to dissolve and will clog up your plumbing eventually.

 

2 — Coffee Grounds

 There are some who say that coffee grounds are good for your plumbing because they are coarse, which is supposedly to help scrub the pipes clean. That’s not true, either. Coffee grounds tend to clump together when they are wet. If they hit some other type of obstruction in your pipes, they can form a serious clog.

 

3 — Solid Fat

 Small amounts of vegetable oil are broken up by soap that runs down your drain, but you should still avoid pouring vegetable oil down the drain. Solid fats absolutely should never go down your drain. It’s easy to forget what might be solid at room temperature when you are cleaning your dishes. For example, if you cook chicken in a pan, there will be a lot of liquid at the bottom. When that liquid returns to room temperature, it will solidify again. If you pour it down your drain as liquid, it will eventually turn back into a solid and clog your drain. Avoid pouring any fat or oil down the drain, but especially anything solid at room temperature.

 

4 — Flour

 When you’re baking and rinsing off your utensils, flour might run down the drain. You should do everything you can to keep flour out of your drains. Flour is used as a thickening agent in sauces because it congeals when it is mixed with warm liquid. So, when it’s in your pipes, it will congeal fat and liquid in your pipes. That will clog your pipes after a while.

Categories plumbing

How Often Do You Need to Pump Your Septic Tank?

Septic tanks are the ultimate case of something important being out of sight and out of mind. If you weren’t there when the septic tank was installed, you might not even know where it is. Many homeowners don’t even know they have one. They tend to find out when sewage starts puddling in the backyard. That happens when the septic tank drainfield is clogged or when the tank itself ruptures. This happens if it’s not pumped adequately.

 

How They Work

 A septic tank has a pipe going into it and a pipe coming out. The pipe entering the tank brings waste from the house. That waste sits in the tank and separates into three layers. The bottom layer of the waste is solid waste that sinks. The top layer is oil and fat that rises. The middle is greywater. That graywater drains through another pipe into a drainfield. The drainfield is a field underground of sand or some other filtering material. If the drainfield is overly full, sewage will begin to rise in the yard without being filtered by the sand. If the waste inside the septic tank rises too high, it will plug the pipe and the graywater cannot be drained.

Either one of these will result in sewage in your backyard. A blocked drainpipe could lead to sewage backing up all the way into your house. The simple solution is prevention; have your septic tanks pumped regularly to keep this from happening.

 

How Often?

 As a general rule, you should probably empty your septic tank every three to five years. However, the specific demands depend on the size of your household, the habits of your household, and the size of your septic tank.

A teenager or adult produces about 100 gallons of septic waste every year. So, if you have a 1,000 gallon septic tank and two adults in your home, you would need to empty it about every five years. For a family of four, you would need to empty it about every two and a half years.

If you don’t know how big your tank is or if you’ve never had it pumped before, you should call a professional. They’ll pump it for you and also tell you how big it is so you’ll know when you need to call them again. Make sure to write down the date somewhere.

If you think you’re having any problems with your septic or your plumbing, be sure to call professionals immediately.

Categories plumbing

Why Do You Need a Plumbing Vent?

When you are thinking about your plumbing system, you’re probably mostly thinking about the pipes that move water through your fixtures and then to the sewer. If you’re experiencing a problem with your plumbing, it could be in one of those pipes. However, it could also be with the air in your pipes. Air in your pipes can be a very serious problem, but some amount of air is necessary. This comes from the plumbing vent.

 

Plumbing Vents

 Plumbing vents are fairly simple. They are vents connected to your plumbing pipes that run to the outside of your house. Some people have the vent mounted in the roof. Others have it mounted somewhere at the back of the house. Plumbing vents help to vent foul odors and gases that might be in your pipes. They carry them safely away from your house. They also allow air into the pipes to help the water flow.

If you think about pouring a full bottle of water, they’re easy to understand. When you first pour the bottle, the water will pour in fits and starts. However, once there’s enough space for air to rush in, the water pours smoothly. Air replaces the moving water and allows it to keep flowing. The plumbing vent works the same way.

 

Plumbing Vent Problems

 There are a few similar signs that something might be wrong with your plumbing vent. If you hear chugging and gurgling when your fixtures drain, it could be a problem with the vent. Also, a problem could be signaled by standing water in a sink or tub. You should first attempt to clear any possible clogs in the drain. That’s usually the problem. If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to call a plumber to work on your vents.

If you end up a complete blockage of the vent, a vacuum will form in your pipes. That will lead to sewer gases backing up into your home. You’ll be able to smell sewage in any room where there are affected drains.

 

What You Should Do

 If you have frequently clogged drains, even if you can temporarily unclog them, you’ll need to call a plumber. Slow-flowing or clogged drains can lead to sediment building up on the sides of your pipes. That will eventually result in a total blockage and damage to your pipes. Call a professional who can unclog your drains and your vent to get them flowing again.

Categories plumbing

Is a Tankless Water Heater The Future?

In some households, water heating can account for anywhere from 15% to 20% of a home’s energy costs. For that reason, many homeowners have been attempting to rethink some of their home water heating options. The most popular alternative is a tankless water heater. Put simply, a tankless water heater is one in which the pipes are installed such that the water runs through the water heater. As the water flows past, the water heater heats the water. However, there is no tank of heated water just sitting around. So, a tankless water heater provides on-demand heated water without expending extra energy. Why doesn’t everyone have one? Well, they are not more efficient than tank water heaters in all circumstances. If you want to get on the tankless trend, there are some considerations.

 

Flow Rate

 You need to consider the amount of water that flows through your water heater at your peak time. The peak water usage differs depending on your home. For some families, the most hot water is used in the morning when everyone showers. In other homes, it might be after dinner. Whatever the case may be, you need to estimate how much water you use. So, you’ll then need to have a tankless system that can accommodate that amount of water. You also need to consider the amount of heating that is needed.

For example, if you are in a warm area, the water being piped into your home might be 75 degrees fahrenheit. You might want to raise it to 110 degrees fahrenheit for your use. That’s a 35 degree change. If you use 50 gallons during your peak hot water usage, your family will need a tankless water heater with a 50 gallons per hour capacity and a 35 degree capability.

 

Multiple Heaters

 If you have high hot water needs, you might need to actually have multiple tankless water heaters. If you have multiple heaters, you will be able to get away with having lower flow capacities and lower heating capacities. Since those tankless heaters will have lower capacities and lower usage rates, they will consume less energy and suffer less strain.

Essentially, a multiple tankless heater system is an on-demand system. The place that needs hot water gets hot water when you turn the tap but no water is heated unnecessarily. It can save you money and save the environment some stress from depleted resources.

Categories plumbing

Smart Plumbing Is the Future

Internet connectivity and advancing technology have changed just about every industry. The plumbing industry is no different. When it comes to plumbing, more and more features are being included in what is called “the internet of things (IoT).” The internet of things is the world of connected appliances such as refrigerators, microwaves, cable boxes, and so on. These are not computers but items that have computing functions.

Smart Pipes

Smart pipes, also called brain pipes, are a feature that has been growing in popularity. These are pipes or sensors in pipes that detect the amount of water you are using. They detect when there might be a breakage in your pipes or a leak. Some of them can detect when the temperature inside the pipes begins to approach the freezing point. They will then send out some kind of alert to you, probably through your phone, that will tell you something is wrong with your pipes. You can then fix it before the problem damages your home or wastes water.

Smart Appliances

The pipes are not the only things that come with sensors. Now, plumbing fixtures are being outfitted with them. For example, your water heater might have a sensor in it that controls the heating element. So, when the ambient temperature rises, it will turn down the heating element because the water does not need to be heated as much. Some of them are even programmed to heat water more during peak times and to dial back the energy during off times. For example, it might heat up more water first thing in the morning when everyone takes their showers; it might turn down the heat in the middle of the night when not much water is being used.

Smart Irrigation

If you have a garden or just like to keep your lawn looking healthy, you’ll need to water it from time to time. A smart irrigation system will be able to detect the temperature outside and the soil moisture level. It will then only irrigate the lawn as much as necessary without wasting water.

Many smart irrigation systems are also paired with greywater recycling systems. Greywater is water from your sinks, showers, bath tubs, and laundry room. The water isn’t drinkable but it’s not so dirty that it can’t be used. Instead of going into the normal sewage system, a greywater system will divert it for irrigation purposes.

All of these features are designed to conserve water and maximize efficiency.

Categories plumbing

What Are Solar Water Heaters?

Several different trends have emerged in the plumbing industry lately. One of the trends is part of a larger overall trend. The larger trend is a push towards more sustainable and more affordable plumbing options. You’ll see this trend manifest as high-efficiency toilets, gravity-fed water systems, and other options that require less fuel and less water. Solar water heaters are part of this trend. There are a few different kinds o f solar water heater that you could have a plumber install.

Solar Panels

There are several different types of solar water heaters. They break down into a few categories. There are electric water heaters that run on electricity from solar panels, there are water heaters that use the sun to heat the water, and water heaters that simply pre-heat the water with the sun.

In many instances, a water heater run by a solar panel is the simplest conversion. If you already have the electric water heater, you just need to put a solar panel on the roof where it gets the most sunshine and connect your wiring. You might need an electrician instead of a plumber for this; many plumbers also do electrical, though.

Direct and Indirect Systems

When you talk to a local plumber, you should ask about true solar water heaters. They typically work in a similar manner. Water that comes into your home through the water main on its way to your water heater tank is diverted. The water runs up to the roof where it passes through a series of radiators. These radiators are often called solar collectors because they’re made of absorbent materials that gather the sun’s heat. Water passes through them and heats up as it circulates. The water can then go into a tank, a tankless water heater, or be used directly. This is called a direct solar water heater because the water is heated directly by the sunlight.

An indirect system operates similarly to the direct system but instead of circulating water through the radiators exposed to the sunlight, an indirect system will circulate a non freezing liquid. Essentially, they circulate a coolant similar to what might be in your car’s radiator. That liquid heats up in the sunlight and holds heat better than water. The hot liquid is circulated through a tank full of water to heat up the water.

These systems can be powered or passive. If you want the ultimate energy savings, a passive system will use the heat of the water to move it through the pipes. Ask a local plumber about what might work for you.

Categories plumbing

Plumbers Are Installing Luxury Plumbing

When you think of luxury items in a home, you probably don’t think about your plumbing. However, plumbing is often at the heart of a spa experience. Steam rooms, hot tubs, and other spa items are all based around plumbing. If you hire the right plumber, you can actually recreate that spa experience in your own home.

Luxury Showers

 During the week, your showering might be quick showers before you go to work; however, after a long day of work or on the weekends, it is great to be able to take a long shower. Some luxury shower installations can make that long shower even better. Rainfall showers are popular with many homeowners. Also, some showers have even been adapted to feature steaming components.

To turn your shower into a steam room, you need two basic components. The shower needs to seal pretty well to keep the steam in and not inundate the rest of the house. Also, the shower needs to have a steam generator that is separate from the shower head itself. That will pump steam into the shower. Ask a plumber about installing these luxury items and what you’ll need to do with the rest of your bathroom to make it work. For example, you’ll need something that resists mold because the bathroom will be incredibly humid.

Luxury Tubs

 There are three components of luxury tubs that are more popular than any others; they are massagers, jets, and soakers. Massagers are a type of jet that is designed to mimic the rhythmic pressure of a massage. A jet is obviously a forceful spray of water. Soaker tubs are deeper tubs that are designed to mimic the hot tub experience.

These might require some remodeling and a a little bit of work but they can be installed in most bathrooms. You just need a good plumber to make it work for you.

Luxury Faucets

 Luxury faucets are not just faucets that are compelling designs, though those are popular. Luxury faucets often feature touch technology; you can turn them on and off simply by tapping them. It’s a great feature if you’re worried about germs or if you frequently cook with your hands full. Also, boiling water taps are popular. They are taps that have a separate water boiler underneath them; you can dispense boiling water at a moment’s notice. It greatly reduces many cooking times.

All of these plumbing options are available and growing in popularity. Ask a plumber about them.

Categories plumbing

Green Energy Trends in Plumbing

There is not a single industry that has not been influenced by the green movement of the 21st century. In a general sense, the green movement involves being more responsible about the resources one is consuming and the waste one is producing. For example, older shower heads can spray between seven and 10 gallons of water per minute. Newer shower heads produced after 1992 generally produce a maximum of 2.5 gallons per minute. Less water is being consumed and less waste water is being pumped into treatment facilities; this is a move towards greener showering. The entire plumbing industry has seen innovations of this sort.

 

High-Efficiency Toilets

 A high-efficiency toilet (HET) is one that flushes away waste while using less water than an older toilet. A pre-1980 toilet can use as much as six or seven gallons of water per flush. A new high-efficiency toilet must by law use no more than 1.28 gallons per flush. If you switch from a pre-1980 toilet to a HET in your house, you can save as much as 40,000 gallons of water a year.

 

High-efficiency toilets suffered a setback a few years ago because early models were very inefficient. To put it mildly, they did not flush completely with only one flush. That negated a lot of the benefits of the higher efficiency. New models often use pressurized water to flush, and they are much more efficient.

 

Efficient Water Heaters

 More efficient water heaters are popular as well. Water heaters are, by their very nature, fairly inefficient. They’re giant tanks of water that are kept heated constantly even if you aren’t using hot water. The more efficient heaters are usually solar water heaters and tankless water heaters.

Solar water heaters either produce electricity using solar power, heat the water by exposing it to the sun, or both. A tankless water heater attaches to your plumbing and allows water to flow through. When you turn on the hot water, the tankless heaters heats up the water as it passes through. This does not produce as much hot water as fast as a tank heater typically, but it saves a lot of energy.

 

Rainwater Collection

 A rainwater system is one very significant change that some people are making. Typically, they work by collecting rainwater and then introducing that rainwater into the house’s plumbing. Rainwater can be used to flush toilets, water gardens, and other non-potable uses. You need to have that installed by a professional.

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