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PLUMBING Articles

   

 
Oakland Plumbing
 
Cost-Saving Plumbing Tips Even Non-Plumbers Can Use

Everyone loves saving money. Did you know you can save money in your own home as well. Follow these simple tips to lower your water bill in Concord CA

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Preventing Costly Water Leaks

Many homeowners worry about water damage from heavy rainstorms, yet few ever think about potential trouble spots in their own plumbing. Unlike the weather, plumbing-related water damage can be avoided with routine maintenance and a little assistance from a professional plumber from Concord CA

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The Price You Pay For Neglecting Washing Machine Hoses

Washing machine hoses - those python-like "creatures" that attach your washer to your water source - are one of the most neglected and potentially damaging maintenance monsters in your home.

Are your furnishings, floor coverings and heirloom keepsakes worth more than $50? The investment of $50 (or less) in new washing machine hoses is well worth avoiding the costly damage, messy inconvenience, and loss of irreplaceable treasures that can happen when your washer's hoses burst or leak.

Washing machine hoses are under constant pressure when being used ... and failures cause about $150 million in damage each year. To reduce the chance that your hoses are going to fail, inspect them regularly. Call Us today We can service your Concord home or business today!

Lower Your Hot Water Bills!

Install aerators in faucets and low-flow shower heads that may reduce your hot water consumption by half. Repair leaky faucets and shower heads. A leak of one drip per second can cost $1 per month. Insulate your hot water storage tank and pipes, but be careful not to cover the tank thermostat(s).

1.    Lower the thermostat(s) on your water heater to 120°F. Electric water heaters often have two thermostats- one each for the upper and lower heating elements. These should be adjusted to the same level to prevent one element from doing all the work and wearing out prematurely.

2.    For electric water heaters, install a timer that can automatically turn the hot water off at night and on in the morning. A simple timer can pay for itself in less than a year. Install a heat trap above the water heater. A heat trap is a simple check valve or piping arrangement that prevents "thermosyphoning"- the tendency of hot water to rise up from the tank into the pipes thereby lowering standby losses.

3.    Drain a quart of water from your hot water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that prevents heat transfer and lowers the unit's efficiency.

Take more showers than baths. Baths use the most hot water in an average household. You use 15 to 25 gallons of hot water for a bath and less than 10 gallons for a 5-minute shower.

Why Buy an Energy Efficient Water Heater?

Water heating is typically the third largest energy expense in your home (after space heating and cooling). It typically accounts for about 14% of your utility bill. If your gas water heater is more than 10 years old, it probably has an efficiency no higher than 50%. An old water heater can operate for years at very low efficiency before it finally fails. One way to reduce water heating costs would be to replace your old water heater with a new, higher-efficiency model.

About Water Heater Efficiency

A water heater's efficiency is measured by its energy factor (EF). EF is based on recovery efficiency, standby losses, and cycling losses. The higher the EF, the more efficient the water heater. Electric resistance water heaters have an EF ranging from 0.7 and 0.95; gas water heaters from 0.5 to 0.6, with a few high-efficiency models ranging around 0.8; oil water heaters from 0.7 and 0.85; and heat pump water heaters from 1.5 to 2.0.

Although many consumers make water heater purchase decisions based only on the size of the storage tank, the first-hour rating (FHR), provided on the Energy Guide label, is actually more important. The FHR is a measure of how much hot water the heater will deliver during a busy hour. The FHR is required by law to appear on the unit's Energy Guide label. Therefore, before you buy a water heater, estimate your household's peak-hour demand and look for a unit with an FHR in that range. And beware that a larger tank doesn't necessarily mean a higher FHR.

Tips for Buying a New Water Heater in Concord CA

Choose a water heater with an appropriate first-hour rating (FHR) by estimating your family's peak-hour demand for hot water. Determine the appropriate fuel type for your water heater. If you are considering electricity, check with your local utility company for off-peak electricity rates for water heating. If available, this may be an attractive option to choose electric water heaters. Natural gas, oil and propane water heaters are less expensive to operate than electric models.

If you are in a moderate climate (i.e., with relatively low heating loads), consider a Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH), which is more efficient than a conventional electric water heater. Though a HPWH may have a high initial cost, it can save up to 50% of your water heating bill.

For safety as well as energy-efficiency reasons, when buying gas- and oil-fired water heaters, look for units with sealed combustion or power venting to avoid back-drafting of combustion gases into the home.

Everything else being equal, select a water heater with the highest energy factor (EF). However, you should note that the EF of one type of heater is not comparable to another type. For example, an electric water heater with an EF of 0.9 may cost more to operate than a gas water heater with an EF of 0.7.

Whenever possible, do not install the water heater in an unheated basement. Also try to minimize the length of piping runs to your bathroom and kitchen.

Top Tips to Ensure Optimal Water Heater Function

These tips will only extend the life of your water heater but it will also cause a reduction in your water bill. They are simple and straightforward.

1.    Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period.

2.    Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank and pipes, but be careful not to cover the thermostat.

3.    Insulate your gas or oil hot-water storage tank and pipes, but be careful not to cover the water heater's top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment; when in doubt, get professional help.

4.    Install non-aerating low-flow faucets and showerheads.

5.    Buy a new water heater. While it may cost more initially than a standard water heater, the energy savings will continue during the lifetime of the appliance. Although most water heaters last 10-15 years, it's best to start shopping for a new one if yours is more than 7 years old. Doing some research before your heater fails will enable you to select one that most appropriately meets your needs.

6.    Lower the thermostat on your water heater; water heaters sometimes come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 115°F provides comfortable hot water for most uses.

7.    Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. The type of water tank you have determines the steps to take, so follow the manufacturer's advice.

8.    If you heat with electricity and live in a warm and sunny climate, consider installing a solar water heater. The solar units are environmentally friendly and can now be installed on your roof to blend with the architecture of your house.

9.    Take more showers than baths. Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household. You use 15-25 gallons of hot water for a bath, but less than 10 gallons during a 5-minute shower. 

What's New In Water Heaters?

Water heaters evolve with technology. They become more energy efficient and also helps the environment by using less water. Learn what’s new to make a better decision on determine which type is right for you.

 Point-of-use water heaters: Point-of-use water heaters are also known as "tankless" heaters because they have no (or only a tiny) storage tank. They are relatively small units that provide hot water on demand. They use gas or electricity for fuel, and can be installed near demand points, such as under kitchen sinks. They are often more expensive than a conventional water heater, but can cost less to operate since they don't maintain a tankfull of hot water when not in use. A tankless heater typically provides 1-2 gallons of hot water per minute. Before installing a tankless water heater in your home, make sure its reduced capacity will be adequate for your needs.

Solar water heaters: A solar water heater typically includes collectors mounted on the roof or in a clear area of the yard, a separate storage tank near the conventional heater in the home, connecting pipe, and a controller. Solar water heaters can reduce the annual fuel cost of supplying hot water to your home by more than half. Throughout the year, the solar system preheats the water before it reaches the conventional water heater. During the summer, it may provide all the required heat.

Desuperheaters: A desuperheater is an attachment to your air conditioner or heat pump that allows waste heat from that device to help heat domestic water. In hot climates, a desuperheater can provide most of a home's hot water needs during the summer.
Funny Tasting Water: Does Your Water Taste Like Dirty Socks?

Even though Americans enjoy one of the best drinking water supplies in the world, water that meets all EPA standards can still have problems you and your family find objectionable. Such as water that tastes or smells like dirty socks.

 

Water quality may differ from city to city, well to well, even home to home. It’s possible your water quality may not be the same as your next door neighbor’s. Finding the causes and solutions for drinking water problems, and the ideal water quality "fit" for your personal needs are simple with the proper information.

If your drinking water doesn’t meet your family’s quality standards, the problem usually can be solved either at the point-of-use or point-of-entry.

Common drinking water problems:

Iron - It takes just a trace of iron in water to cause trouble. Iron, in amounts of only 0.2 to 0.3 parts per million, can stain plumbing fixtures and laundry. In larger amounts, the water itself may appear rust colored and taste extremely unpleasant ... some might even say it takes like dirty socks.

Cloudy Water - When dissolved in water, some materials create an unappealing cloudiness that is far from the clear liquid most people prefer. Besides being unpleasant to look at and drink, cloudy water may contain minerals or particles which may erode pipes and stain sinks, plumbing fixtures, and clothing.

Naturally Occuring Contaminants - Some contaminating elements may occur naturally in water. These elements include radium, barium, and cadmium.

Man-Made Contaminants - Health-related contaminants from sources such as pesticides, industrial waste, landfills, underground storage tanks, and human and animal waste have been found in some private and public water supplies. When man-made contaminants are found, a local water utility usually brings in the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help deal with the problem.

Preventing Clogged Drains

A clogged drain can be so frustrating; and, of course, it happens more often than we care to think about! Usually, kitchen sink drains clog because of a build-up of grease. The grease traps food particles, which eventually clogs the drain. Now, the bathroom drains are a different story. They are usually clogged by hair and soap. So, take some simple precautions to avoid this situation.

 

1.    Don't pour grease down the kitchen sink.

2.    Don't wash coffee grounds down the sink.

3.    Use chemical cleaners only when necessary. Some chemicals can corrode metal pipes.

4.    Clean tub and shower drain strainers that are removable.

5.    Clean pop-up stoppers in the bathroom sink and the tub regularly. Lift out sink pop-ups once a week and rinse them off.

6.    Every few months, remove the overflow plate on a tub and pull up the pop-up assembly to reach the spring or rocker arm. Remove accumulated hair and rinse thoroughly.

7.    Keep sewer pipes from the house free of tree roots.

Flush the drain-waste and vent systems when you’re on the roof cleaning out your gutters. Use your hose to run water into all of the vents.

Big Roots, Big Problems: Preventing Pipe Damage

Tree roots will travel long distances to find water, especially when drought conditions persist. When trees and shrubs get thirsty, they follow the trail of moisture vapors escaping from small cracks, holes or poorly sealed joints in water and sewer lines. Roots penetrate the opening to reach the nutrients and moisture inside the pipes. If not stopped, roots can completely fill a pipe with multiple hair-like root masses at each point of entry. The root wads quickly become clogged with grease and other debris flowing from homes to the main sewer line, resulting in reduced flow and slowed drains.

A complete blockage may occur if the roots are not removed. Roots can also exert considerable pressure at the crack or joint. The increased pressure often breaks the pipe and may require costly repair or replacement. Clay pipe, which is most common in older water and sewer lines, is easily penetrated and damaged by tree roots. Concrete pipe and PVC pipe may also allow root intrusion, but to a lesser extent than clay. PVC pipe usually has fewer joints and the tightly fitted joints are less likely to leak as a result of settlement around the pipe.

If incoming water or outgoing sewer lines are slow and you suspect a clog, the problem will likely not go away, meaning it’s time to investigate the problem. If roots have entered your pipes, your Oakland Plumber can remove them using powerful cutting blades. The process could require digging or new trenchless technology to reach the affected pipe(s), usually several feet down.

Once the trench is dug, the plumber can repair or replace the pipes and cut away any threatening roots. Just like that cold fountain drink you enjoy on a hot afternoon, the tank portion of some toilets can be prone to sweating, especially during warmer months of the year. Condensation is created by cold water in contact with the warmer walls of the porcelain tank. The moisture can form into beads and, if large enough, will drip onto the floor, making bathroom carpet wet or potentially accumulating in puddles on a hard surface.  

Oakland Plumbing Experts Knowledgebase

 
  • New Alternatives to Septic Systems and Their Benefits
    Publish Date:  15th of february 2012 01:13:21 PM
    Nowadays numerous septic systems are available for home owners. However, finding the one which suits your needs can be quite a gruesome process. It is essential for home-owners to become accustomed to the varying systems, before buying one for the home use.
  • Home Plumbing Problems Solved
    Publish Date:  15th of February 2012 09:57:51 AM
    Home plumbing problems can happen to anyone, regardless of their age or how well they care for their water system. Here we look at some of the issues surrounding water that can sneak up on you and what to do about them.
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Concord Plumbing

Concord, CA 94518