There is no good time to have your plumbing fail, but it does seem to always happen at the most inopportune time. Many people know the horror of waking up to find their entire basement flooded or to have the floor sink in an entire section of the kitchen. These plumbing disasters are awful and expensive. They are, however, preventable. You just need to know how to avoid them.
Many homeowners are rethinking how much water they use in their homes. They’re making considerations based on the environmental impact of using excess water as well as the simple cost of running all that water. To that end, many are turning to low-flow fixtures. These are plumbing fixtures that use less water than traditional fixtures to hopefully achieve the same results. There are a few different kinds of low-flow fixtures, though.
Old toilets used as much as five gallons of water to flush. Except for very old homes, those have pretty much disappeared. The new standard for toilets is 1.6 gallons per flush. Research indicates that each person flushes the toilet about five times per day. So, that’s eight gallons of water used each day per person. That’s a significant amount of water. Some newer low-flow toilets use as little as a half gallon of water to flush the toilet. Many of them have two different settings. There’s a reduced water flush feature and a full water flush feature. That can cut your water consumption by several gallons every day. For a household, it could be as much as a dozen gallons of water saved each day.
Low-flow showerheads work in one of two ways. Some of them use smaller and more numerous openings. They spray thinner jets of water but many more of them to achieve the same amount of water coverage while using less water. More complex showerheads actually inject water into the flow. So, that will space out the drops of water somewhat while providing them with more force. It will feel like more water because the water is less dense.
Standard showerheads use as much as five gallons of water per minute. The average shower is eight minutes long. That’s forty gallons of water for an average shower. Many people shower much longer. A low-flow showerhead will consume between .5 and two gallons of water per minute. That could cut your water consumption by more than half.
Low flow sinks are typically paired with an aerator. An aerator injects air into the flow of water much like the aerated showerheads. That will allow you to get your dishes clean without using as much water. The water pressure and the spread of water is more important to cleaning dishes than the sheer volume of water.
Any of these can reduce your environmental footprint and save you money in the long run.
Homeowners are contacting plumbers to find the most efficient possible plumbing fixtures. These fixtures include things like low-flow toilets and low-flow showerheads. There are also some other very interesting developments that have been growing in popularity. Plumbers have been installing low condensation toilets, insulated pipes, and smart pipes. These efficient fixtures are some of the most high-tech fixtures that plumbers are installing. There are also some fixtures that are not necessarily more water efficient.
Touchless and One-Touch Fixtures
Touchless and one-touch fixtures have been popular with commercial applications for a very long time. Business and public restrooms have used touchless toilets, faucets, and paper towel dispensers for a long time. Homeowners are just now getting in on it. Touchless fixtures use motion detection technology to determine when to turn on and off. You wave your hand under a faucet and the water comes on. You simply walk away from a toilet, and it flushes. These features make it easier to use plumbing fixtures. They also help to reduce the transmission of germs. If you touch fewer fixtures, fewer germs will be transmitted. That’s especially helpful if someone in the house is ill.
One-touch fixtures are common as well. Instead of turning a handle to turn a sink on and off, you simply tap the faucet itself. This makes it easier to operate the fixture when your hands are full.
Raincan Shower Heads
Raincan shower heads are designed to more closely mimic rainfall. That means they offer a wide surface of water that seems to fall as opposed to water that sprays out of the shower head. Since they offer wider heads, they can cover more surface area while using less water. The angle also means that you can cover more surface area, so you might not need to shower as long. They have been shown to save water and can save you hundreds of dollars in water usage each year.
A traditional toilet uses holes around the rim to introduce water into the bowl and flush. A cyclone shower head uses jets inside the toilet bowl to create spinning water. The cyclone action flushes away waste much more efficiently than rim holes. They also use much less water.
Some people are choosing to install hand dryers in their home so that they don’t have to continually buy paper towels or wash hand towels. Some modern, high-tech hand dryers actually dry your hands faster than towels with less waste.
For a long time, the most efficient and most popular way to heat your home was a boiler. As electric and natural gas began to grow in popularity, many homes switched to central heating and air conditioning. Now, many of those homes are switching back to this reliable source. Also, many new homes are having boilers installed instead of HVAC units. The units being installed are not the old, inefficient boilers. Instead, they are new types that are efficient and clean-burning.
This method of heat is not trending out of some sense of nostalgia. Boilers are more popular and plumbers are installing more than ever because they work. An HVAC unit blows warm air into a room to heat other air. However, air is not very good at holding heat. That means as soon as the heater turns off, the room begins to cool again. A boiler, however, heats up water. Water holds onto heat much longer than air. So, your boiler will not need to run as often as an HVAC unit would. Once that water is boiling, it is piped around your house. The hot water runs through the walls to heat up the house. That means that instead of heating up just the air, the hot water in the pipes will actually heat up the walls themselves. Your walls will hold heat longer than the air. So, your home will stay warm for longer.
If you think that you might be interested in a boiler or if you think your boiler needs an upgrade, you should call a plumber. Plumbers are often the ones who install and repair boilers because water is an essential element to a boiler. Also, hot water heaters are often integrated into the boiler as well.
When you call a plumber, you should ask them about the different types of boilers. The biggest difference is the fuel that heats the water. There are electric, natural gas, and fuel oil boilers. Fuel oil boilers burn liquid fuel in a system not dissimilar from an internal combustion engine. This is one of the less efficient systems but it is the only system available in some rural areas. If you live outside of a municipal natural gas supply, you would need to have fuel oil delivered to your home. Many new fuel oil boilers are almost as efficient as natural gas.
Most plumbing research says that natural gas boilers are the most efficient. Natural gas delivers the most BTUs for a given volume of fuel. Natural gas boilers also have some of the lowest rates of heat loss.
You should ask your Boise plumber about your options and what they would recommend. Five Star Service Pros will answer this question and more. Just call today to speak with one of our licensed plumbers!
Environmentally-friendly options have grown to dominate just about every industry. Everywhere you look, they are available. The plumbing industry is no different. When it comes to the plumbing industry, the most common environmentally-friendly option is a low-flow option. There are low-flow toilets, sinks, and showers. In the simplest sense, they are fixtures that use less water than their traditional counterparts. They also include some innovations to make that a little less noticeable. Here’s how they work.
Low-flow showerheads are some of the most popular changes. A traditional shower head is limited to 2.5 gallons per minute. A low-flow showerhead is often half that flow rate. To make it not seem like you’re getting half as much water, low-flow heads often have more holes for spraying water. They also inject more air into the stream. So you end up with the same amount of coverage but with half as much water.
There are also low-flow toilets. A typical toilet uses 1.6 gallons per flush. A low-flow toilet can use about 1.2 or 1.3 gallons per flush. That might not seem like a very significant difference, but it can add up to several gallons per day. Oftentimes, the design of a low-flow toilet has to be a little more precise than a traditional toilet. Older toilets used three, five, or even seven gallons per flush. They didn’t need much innovative design to ensure that they flushed completely. A low-flow toilet has to be carefully designed. Early models didn’t work as expected and gave the entire category a bad name. New low-flow toilets work as well as traditional toilets and save you money.
A low-flow sink often involves a sink faucet that sprays a sphere of water. A traditional faucet releases a column of water; however, most of this water is wasted down the drain. A low-flow sink sprays a jet of water that is a higher pressure but contains less water. Since it’s higher pressure, it can clean just as well as a greater volume of water. Many homeowners who have low-flow sinks have reported washing their dishes just as well as they ever did but with less water. A typical kitchen faucet uses about 1.8 gallons per minute. A low-flow kitchen faucet uses about .5 gallons per minute.
If you want these benefits without making a drastic change, you can often have a plumber install a low-flow aerator. This injects air into your fixture without requiring you get an entirely new fixture. Ask a professional about one.
Boiling water taps have become the not new thing for people to get for their homes. They have been popular for years in restaurants and are just catching on for domestic use. They probably won’t replace a simple teapot any time soon, but they’re still growing in market share.
What Is It?
A boiling water tap is exactly what it sounds like. It is a faucet that dispenses boiling water when you turn the nozzle. Typically, they sit right next to your standard tap. Instead of room temperature water or water from the water heater, you get boiling water. They’re incredibly convenient if you want to make tea or need to scour a pan. They also save some water since most people fill up their tea pot with more water than they actually need.
Most critically, they save a lot of time. Many of them bring you boiling water instantly. Some of them might take a few seconds to heat up. That just depends on how your particular tap works.
How They Work
A boiling water tap is installed on your counter over your sink like a standard faucet. It’s then connected to a tank underneath the sink. The tank is typically very well-insulated. The tank is basically an electric or a gas kettle that holds water and heats it. Some models will heat water to boiling and then hold it in the insulated tank until you need it. These often will turn the heating element back on when you turn the tap. The water won’t stay boiling hot in the tank perpetually, but it will be closer to boiling when the heating element comes back on. That means it will be easier to heat and save you some energy.
Other boiling water taps work more like a tankless water heater. They are connected to a water line and have a heating element built into them. When you turn the tap and water flows, the heating element comes on. The heating element is intense enough that the water is almost instantly brought to boiling temperature. They’re nearly instantaneous.
The benefits of a boiling water tap are mostly that you can save a lot of time. You don’t have to wait for a pot of water to boil; that can drastically reduce cooking times. You can also see some reduction in your energy usage if you use a lot of boiled water.
A professional plumber will need to install a boiling water tap if you would like one.
Hydrojetting has been around for a while but it has been growing in popularity for use by plumbers in recent years. It’s been growing as the tools and equipment required for effective hydro jetting have become more affordable for independent contractors and easier to load on the truck. When you call a professional plumber about a clog in your pipes, they might recommend hydro jetting. So, what is it?
What Is Hydro Jetting?
Hydro Jetting is the process of spraying highly pressurized water into your pipes to scour them. The pressure will hopefully wash away buildup on the pipes and break up clogs. To do it effectively, a plumber will likely access a cleanout somewhere on your property. That is an opening in the plumbing system that allows a plumber to easily access the pipes. They’ll then connect the hose to the cleanout. They’ll pump water through the pipes at as much as 5,000 psi.
It’s very important that the plumber choose the right pressure for the situation and the type of pipes. For example, clay pipes are more susceptible to cracking or breaking under high pressure; you wouldn’t use as much pressure for those old underground pipes. Also, a tree root will likely be unaffected by hydro jetting. So, if the plumber were to jet pipes blocked by a thick tree root, it could just create uncontrollable pressure and burst a pipe.
That’s why plumbers will often use a drain camera before they jet the pipes. They’ll work the camera through the pipes to find the source of the clog. Then they’ll blow it out with the hydrojets.
Who Needs It?
Hydro Jetting is best used when there is a clog far along in your pipes. It’s also most effective when the clog needs to be broken up. For example, a clog of fat and paper towels somewhere in your sewer main could be broken up with a concentrated blast of high pressure water. If you have a clog of hair in one of your sink drains, you wouldn’t go through the trouble of jetting it. In that case, you’d use a chemical to dissolve the hair or just fish it out with a drain snake.
Hydro Jetting can often eliminate the need to trench a yard. If a clog is far along in the plumbing, it could be under the backyard and not easily accessible. If you can’t access it, it will either have to be blown out or the pipe would have to be uprooted.
Of the many obvious dangers to your pipes, most of them come from inside the pipes. If you flush hard objects, fat, paper towels, or anything else that can clog a pipe, you could have a problem. A major danger comes from outside of the pipes, though; that danger is tree roots.
Tree Root Dangers
Tree roots are very slow-moving but they are very persistent. Pipes and septic tanks that are underground are in danger of a tree’s roots. The roots will grow over the course of years. They’ll slowly wrap around the pipes or septic tank. As the tree grows, the roots will throw thicker and thicker, creating a tighter and tighter squeeze on the pipes. Eventually, they’ll grow thick enough that they damage the pipes. In some cases, they’ll compress the metal of the pipe until water no longer flows freely. In other cases, they’ll actually just break the pipes. Oftentimes, you won’t even notice that you have a problem until sewage starts flooding your backyard.
Recognizing The Dangers
A general rule of thumb is that roots will grow as wide as the branches of the tree. So, if the branches of a tree hang over a septic tank or pipes, the roots might be burrowing into them underground.
So, what can you do about it? First, you should call a plumber to inspect your pipes. It could be that the pipes are deep enough that they’ll be unaffected by tree roots. It’s also possible that the tree is a type that doesn’t have a wide root spread.
Depending on the nature of the problem, the professionals will respond in different ways. If the roots are worming their way into the pipes themselves, a problem common to clay pipes, then they’ll likely bore out the pipes to clear the roots. If the pipes are crushed or cracked by the roots, they’ll likely cut the roots and replace the pipes. They might also coat the pipes in something that kills roots. It won’t kill the entire tree, but the roots will die when they come into contact with the pipes.
The pipes can also be coated in cement to prevent the roots from breaking through. This has been popular for years with commercial lines and has just begun to be used for residential lines.
These are a few of the options you have to remedy pipes endangered by tree roots. The first step is calling a professional.
Home water purification systems have been growing in popularity for homes as well as businesses. There are dozens of different kind s systems. There are systems that are just filters attached to your faucets to run your water through some activated charcoal. These filter out whatever solids might remained in your treated water. There are systems that use electrolysis, activated charcoal, and UV light to filter solids, remove chemicals, and kill microbes. A plumber can walk you through the different types of systems. However, the basic question remains concerning who needs which systems.
Municipal Water Supply
If you are on a trustworthy municipal water supply, you likely don’t need a complex water purification system. The water coming into your home should be free of toxins, microbes, and dangerous solids. There are some cases in which the pipes leading into your home might be old enough to have lead and might be leaching lead into your water. In that case, you’ll need fixtures that filter out lead. In some cases, the water coming into your home might be safe but just taste funny. If you want something a little more permanent than the filters that attach to faucets, you could have a system installed by a plumber.
In those cases, the plumber will install a system that is basically a charcoal filter but on a larger scale. All of the water coming into your house will run through the system. It will remove solids that might make water taste or smell funny.
If you live in a rural area, you might get your water from a local well. In that case, you’ll need to have a full water filtration system. That system will basically have three functions. When water is piped from your well, it will need to have solids removed. It will need to have chemicals removed. Lastly, it will need to have microbes killed. To remove solids, the water will likely be run through a multi-step filter. The filter might begin with clean sand, then work down to activated charcoal. That will remove most solids. Then, it might undergo electrolysis which passes the water through charged particles. The charged particles will be designed to react to chemicals suspended in the water but not to water itself.
Finally, the water will be treated with UV light. The UV light will kill any virus or bacteria in the water. That will leave you with pure, filtered water.
A plumber will be able to install that type of system for you.
Plumbing emergencies are some of the most unfortunate events that can occur for a homeowners. A plumbing emergency can be disgusting, disruptive, and expensive. It can even force you out of your home for a few days while a professional addresses the root problem. Fortunately, plumbing emergencies are often signalled before they become full-blown emergencies. There are signs that you are nearing an emergency.
1 — Odd Bubbling
Your plumbing exits your house via several different pipes. The pipes then converge into a main sewer drain. When there are blockages, leaks, or air bubbles in those converging pipes, it can cause some odd consequences. For example, you might run your bathroom sink and see water bubbling in your toilet bowl. That would be a case of odd bubbling that indicates something has gone wrong. It likely indicates that something has gone amiss in your main sewer drain. You should call a professional immediately. The alternative could be sewage running into your backyard.
2 – Weak Water Pressure
If you have weak water pressure in one fixture in your house, it could indicate a leaky pipe or a blocked pipe. It could also mean the fixture itself needs some work. If that’s the case, you need to have it addressed but it’s not an emergency. However, if you have several fixtures with weak water pressure, it could indicate a problem from the water main or something else systemic. In that case, you’ll need to call a plumber before the problem escalates into something drastic.
3 — Multiple Clogged Drains
As stated earlier, your pipes drain in individual pipes and then converge onto the same sewer main. If you have several drains clogged, it means that something has gone wrong at or near the sewer main. That could mean that you will have sewage backing up into your house or your yard soon.
4 — Noisy Pipes
Some old houses have pipes that clang and clank when you run the water. That could indicate that some clamps have rusted or corroded and need to be reaffixed. It could also indicate that your pipes are hitting one another and could eventually work loose. If a pipe fractures, it could lead to flooding that grows tragic very quickly.
5 — Wet Spots
From time to time, you should look under your sinks and around your fixtures where you might not normally look. You should look for signs of wetness. Those could be indications of persistent leaks that have been building for some time.