Return to the Blog Home Page

Posts Tagged ‘energy efficiency’

What Causes a Rocking Toilet

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

If you have ever experienced a rocking toilet, then you know the feeling is quite unsettling. We’re not talking about a porcelain god jamming to Jimi Hendrix, we’re talking about an unstable fixture that can lead to serious problems. This post will cover the most common reasons that can cause your toilet to become loose or just not sit right. In addition, it will also discuss what can happen should you ignore the problem and just let it be.

Broken Flange Bolts
Two flange bolts secure the toilet to the flange, which is attached to the end of the drainpipe and floor. Over time, the flange bolts or the screws that secure the flange to the subfloor can succumb to corrosion, loosen or even snap off. When this happens, there is nothing securing the toilet to the floor but maybe a thin bead of caulk or grout around its base. To replace the bolts, your plumber must remove the plumbing fixture entirely and install new bolts or flange mounting screws.

Broken Flange
While this problem is most common in older homes utilizing cast iron sewer lines, it also occurs regularly with the newer PVC “Poly Vinyl Chloride” flanges used in today’s construction. Slots on the cast iron flange can also corrode or succumb to the constant strain of toilet use. PVC flanges on the other hand seem to be less durable and can crack or snap from everyday toilet use. Your plumber must remove the toilet fixture entirely to replace the toilet flange.

Deteriorating Wax Ring
Toilets require a thick, wax ring to seal the bottom of the fixture to the toilet flange. This prevents water leakage and seepage from the toilet. As the years go on, the wax ring can flatten or deteriorate causing the toilet to become loose and rock when used. If you notice a discoloration around the base of your toilet, this is a sure sign that seepage and/or leakage has occurred. Contact your plumbing contractor ASAP to prevent damage to your floors and flooring substrate.

Uneven or Sagging Floor
An unlevel floor or poorly installed ceramic tile can prevent a solid installation of your toilet. Since a toilet requires a smooth, flat and level surface to operate and mount correctly, any changes in the floor level can cause it to loosen and rock when in use. In addition, a leaking toilet can cause the subfloor and joists to rot and/or deteriorate. When this happens, the floor level can also change, often appearing to develop a dip and uneven appearance not suitable for toilet mounting and proper function.

Consequences of a Rocking Toilet
Failure to address the problems mentioned above can lead to decreased energy efficiency as well as extensive damage to your floors, subfloors and substrate due to leaking water. These additional repairs can prove to be costly so it is to your benefit to address a rocking toilet as soon as possible.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Sounds in Plumbing: Common noises folks hear in their home’s plumbing system

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

A home’s plumbing system makes many noises when it is in use. Banging, whooshing, knocking and rattling are the sounds in plumbing that many folks hear in their home’s plumbing system. Some sounds in plumbing are normal and some could indicate a pending problem. Differentiating between what is normal and what is abnormal can be difficult. The post below will outline some common noises heard in a home’s plumbing system and the reasons you might be hearing them.

Rattling Pipes
Plumbing pipes run through the walls and ceilings of most homes delivering fresh water when called upon or diverting wastewater away from the home. During installation, the pipes are secured to wall studs, ceiling joists and floor joists with strapping to support them. If the strapping becomes loose, the pipes can rattle about as water travels through them. While this does not present an immediate problem, if ignored for too long, the pipes can develop leaks or burst. A plumber will locate, tighten, replace or install additional straps to correct the problem.

Flowing Water
The sound of water flowing through a drain, P-trap or water supply line as often led folks to the wrong assumption. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear flowing water as it travels through the plumbing system. This is especially true with older homes when it was common to leave drain pipes exposed, such as the ceiling of a basement or garage.

Water Hammer
Water hammer, also referred to as hydraulic shock, is a loud bang or shattering sound within the walls. The sound is caused when water rushing through the pipes is suddenly stopped, or shut off and crashes against the valve. Plumbers usually remedy this problem by installing an additional pipe called an air chamber in close proximity to the applicable fixture or faucet—as so often is the case—that acts as a shock absorber. The rushing water’s blow is softened or absorbed by air inside the air chamber, thus eliminating the noise.

Temperature Change
If you ever hear a clicking or popping sound inside the walls when you turn on the hot water, this is a normal sound in plumbing systems. The noise is a result of pipe expansion as it is heated from the hot water. Most often, this circumstance is related to PVC or “Polyvinylchloride” pipes that are more susceptible to expansion from heat.

If you hear strange noises in your plumbing and are not sure if they are normal, or concerned about the energy efficiency of your hot water system, play it safe and contact your plumber immediately. For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Plumbing Inspection: Questions to ask Your Plumber About a Water Heater

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Many folks, especially new home buyers, enlist the services of a professional plumber or inspector to perform a thorough plumbing inspection of their property. While sewage lines, water supply lines and plumbing fixtures are of the most concern, you should not overlook the water heater. A water heater is the silent workhorse of the plumbing system that maintains water temperature for your everyday hot water needs. Listed below are common questions you should consider asking regarding a water heater during a plumbing inspection.

How old is the water heater?
Many decades ago, it was not unheard of for a water heater to last twenty years or more. Most folks can remember that big, bulky, square contraption your grandma called a “Hot” water heater. Unfortunately, things today are not made the way they used to be. According to energy.gov, a water heater’s lifespan is about 10 years for a storage tank system and 20 years for tankless systems. While their energy efficiency and the technology used to make them have improved tremendously, it seems their durability has decreased. Ask your plumbing inspector to verify the age of the water heater. The age is often included in the serial number, however this can vary depending on manufacturer and can be hard to decipher. Water heaters approaching the end of their lifespan will soon need replacement.

Is the size of the water heater adequate for this home?
The size of the water heater is crucial in its ability to maintain and deliver an adequate supply of hot water to your family. Recent models provide the FHR “First Hour Rating” on the EnergyGuide label. The rating represents the amount of hot water produced by the appliance during a busy hour. The following example is a common method used by plumbers to determine an appropriate size water heater. First, approximately twelve gallons of hot water is allotted per person in the household. Next, the number of bedrooms plus one determines the home’s maximum occupancy. For example, a three bedroom home would have an expected occupancy of four. Multiplying this number by the twelve-gallon allotment above equals forty-eight, the minimum FHR this home requires for adequate hot water.

What type of water heater is it?
Today, there are many types of water heaters available and it would be beneficial for you to know which type you have. Ask your plumber to verify whether it is gas, solar or electric powered. In addition, you want to know whether it is a storage tank system — stores hot water in a tank — or an on demand/tankless system that produces hot water as you need it.

For answers to your questions and plumbing inspections, contact The Pink Plumber today.

What to do After a Plumbing Emergency

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

A plumbing emergency is an unfortunate circumstance most homeowners face from time to time. Regardless if it is related to a backed up or over flowing toilet, leaking sink drain or busted water supply line, after the repairs are complete, you still have work to do to head off potential damage to your home. Most plumbing emergencies involve water, and since water carries the potential to wreak havoc on your flooring, walls and baseboards, inviting mold and mildew growth, it would be wise to dry out these areas as soon as possible. In addition, there are certain things your plumber should do after repairs are complete to ensure your water is up to standards.

Flush the Lines
During a plumbing repair, especially those related to your water supply lines, rust, scale or sediment that, over time, can build up in the lines, become dislodged or break loose. This is especially true when replacing an old water heater with a new, energy-efficient model. The unhealthy particles linger inside the lines and work their way to your tap, and eventually into your glass. Any plumber worth his or her salt should, as a final step, flush all of your water lines to remove these contaminates from your plumbing system.

Inspect the Repairs
After the repairs are complete, your plumber will inspect said repairs to verify that everything is in working order. However, for your benefit, you should keep an eye on the repairs for several days to ensure the repairs were successful. Even the most experienced plumbers make mistakes from time to time or face a problem, despite their best efforts, that recurs after several days. You should monitor the repaired plumbing for several days or even a week, especially water-related repairs inside your home, to head off additional home damage that could occur if the repairs did not take and go undiscovered.

Prevent Additional Damage
Water from leaking supply lines, sinks, or drains inside of your home is not a good thing. Not only will it lead to expensive home repairs such as damaged flooring, walls and baseboard, but also create an unhealthy environment should mold and mildew develop. If you experience a major plumbing emergency inside of your home, you should take the necessary steps to dry out the area. First, after turning off the main water supply valve, quickly remove as much of the water as you can from the applicable areas. A wet or dry vacuum and sponges work best. Next, direct the flow from a fan onto the wet areas to speed up drying times. If the water has penetrated flooring and seeped into walls, you might consider renting or purchasing a dehumidifier to dry out the areas you cannot reach.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Warning Signs that Point to a Pending Plumbing Issue

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Identifying the warning signs of a pending plumbing issue can help you avoid the inconveniences of lost service. It can also save you from the potential they carry for causing expensive damage to your home. A plumbing system is a vital component of your home and everyday life. It provides you with a steady stream of fresh water, both hot and cold for bathing, cooking and washing your clothes. In addition, your plumbing system is responsible for diverting waste water into the sewer system or septic tank.

Knocking or Rattling Sounds within the Walls

If you experience knocking or rattling sounds within the walls when you flush the toilet, take a shower or use a faucet, you potentially have a problem. Several circumstances can cause your pipes to rattle including loose strapping, loose valves and water hammer, which is caused by a pressure surge within the plumbing system. Ignoring these warning signs can lead to leaking, cracked or burst pipes that will spill gallons of water into your home.

Low Water Pressure

Often, low water pressure is an easy fix by simply cleaning a clogged shower head or faucet aerator. However, it can also point to a more severe plumbing issue. For example, deteriorated, corroded or blocked water supply lines can burst and cause causing water loss or damage to your home.

Dripping Fixtures

According to the USGS, a single faucet that drips one drip per minute will waste 104 gallons of freshwater per year. Not only does this waste one of the earth’s most precious resources, it can also drive up your monthly water usage and bill. In addition, as time passes, and the cause of the drip — deteriorating washers or seals — worsens, you can expect the volume of dripping water to increase.

Slow Drainage

A slow draining tub, toilet or sink is a sure sign something is wrong within your home’s sewer lines. This problem could be caused by something as simple as a wad of hair stuck in the drain or a more serious problem such as tree roots invading your sewer line. Avoiding this problem will not make it magically disappear. It is recommended that you call a professional plumber to get to the root of the problem before the problem worsens and eventually causes a sewage backup.

Hot Water Issues

If you are always cutting your showers short due to a lack of hot water, you most likely have a water heater problem. While a leaking or burst hot water supply line could be the cause, most often the problem can lie within the water heater itself. Most water heaters rely on dual heating elements to maintain water temperatures and energy efficiency. When one fails, the remaining element cannot keep up with the demand. If you are experiencing inadequate hot water supplies, or any of the problems mentioned above, it may be time to call in the professionals.

Ignoring the signs that point to a potential plumbing issue could be costly. For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Plumbing Inspection: What to look for when buying a home

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Homebuyers should schedule a plumbing inspection before purchasing a home. Often, the lender requires a home inspection before closing to protect their investment. However, these home inspections can often fall short when it comes to the plumbing system. Since major plumbing repairs can be costly, you should protect your interests by hiring a licensed plumber to perform a complete inspection of the plumbing system. Uncovering potential plumbing problems before you close could save you thousands of dollars in repair costs down the road.

Septic Tank System

Problems in a home’s sewage system can lead to costly repairs, especially when septic tanks are involved. It would be very beneficial to know where the tank and all applicable sewage lines are located. Ask when the last cleaning and inspection occurred. Also, ask for records to back it up. Your plumber will look for seepage or standing water around the drain. He or she can also look for leach field or foul-smelling odors that could indicate a septic problem. Since septic repairs and replacement are costly, it is imperative that you receive a complete analysis of its condition before closing.

Water Supply

Municipal water supply meters should be tested for accuracy and working condition. If the home is on a private well, it is extremely important to have your plumber inspect and determine the condition of its water pump. Also, the plumber should look for related equipment such as pressure tanks and water softeners. In addition, it would be wise to have the well water tested to determine its quality and to ensure it is safe for human consumption before you are locked into the purchase.

Water Supply Lines

Your plumber should check water pressures throughout the home. In addition, they should check the condition of all water supply shut-offs, including the main to verify working condition. A faulty shut off valve could allow hundreds of gallons of water to damage your home in the event of a plumbing problem. Your plumber should also inspect water supply lines and determine their composition. Lead and galvanized plumbing, although acceptable in years past, have been linked to serious health problems and should be replaced.

Plumbing Fixtures

The plumbing inspection should include testing of fixtures — sinks, faucets, hose bibs and toilets — to verify working condition. A dripping faucet or running toilet will waste precious freshwater and increase your utility bills. Even the smallest leak under your sink can ruin cabinetry, flooring and invite mold and mildew growth, which could lead to serious health problems.

Water Heater

Ask you plumber to determine the size, age and working condition of the water heater. Determining the size of the water heater is important to ensure it will supply your family with enough hot water, especially during the winter months when water heaters fail more frequently. In addition, since most water heaters begin to under perform and lose energy efficiency after about ten years, it would be good to know before you move into or close on your new home if it needs replacing.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Summertime Plumbing Problems

Monday, May 9th, 2016

Most homeowners associate the summer months with cookouts and family vacations. However, few contemplate the potential plumbing problems that arise during this extremely active time of the year. Unfortunately, while the summer months are a time of increased outdoor activity, they also represent an increased workload on your plumbing system, which can lead to plumbing issues and costly repairs. Listed below are the most common summer time plumbing problems and some tips on how you can avoid them.

Summertime Septic Tank Problems

With the arrival of summer, you can expect increased rainfall and afternoon thunderstorms. The increased precipitation, while necessary, can have a negative impact on your septic system, especially with older or neglected systems. Septic systems rely on a drain or leach field to absorb household wastewater. When the ground becomes saturated with heavy amounts of rainwater, the leach field has a hard time absorbing it. Combined with the increased workload on the septic system during the summer from household guests, extra laundry and bathing, your system could experience a failure. By having your septic system serviced, inspected and pumped before summer or winter arrives, you can help to avoid unexpected failures and sewer backups, which can lead to costly home repairs throughout the year.

Summertime Water Heater Problems

While most water heater problems are most frequent during the winter, your system can experience problems during the summer months as well. Increased water use from extra laundry, showers and entertaining can affect the performance of your water heater. Rust, scale and sediment buildup in your water heater tank can become dislodged and find its way into your plumbing system due to the increased activity. Potential problems could include blocked or obstructed faucet aerators, decreased water heater performance and energy efficiency as well as discolored or odor emitting water. An annual water heater flush and tune up in spring will help your water heater maintain clean and ample hot water at your desired temperature levels throughout the year.

Summertime Plumbing Leaks

A myriad of plumbing leaks can develop during the summer months resulting from a hard freeze during the previous winter. They could be as simple as a hose bib leak or a more complicated issue related to a compromised water supply line, fitting or slab leak. If you discover a leaking water supply line or fixture or higher than normal monthly water bills, you should contact your plumber immediately to schedule repairs. A simple drip from an outdoor hose bib or plumbing fixture wastes hundreds of gallons of freshwater, one of earth’s most precious resources.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Tankless Water Heaters: How Do They Work?

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Tankless water heaters also referred to as instantaneous or on-demand water heaters, produce hot water only when called for. This feature provides the system with improved energy efficiency, which can save you money in energy costs. To help determine if it is right for your home, you should take the time to understand the basic functions of the system.

How They Work
A tankless system does not require a storage tank; they heat water directly when you turn on the faucet. When a flow switch affixed to the unit detects water flow, it activates the system to heat the water. An electric element or gas burner is responsible for heating the water before it reaches your tap. When you turn off the faucet or outlet, the water flow stops and the sensor deactivates the water heating system. Since tankless systems heat water only on demand, you can expect to save a few dollars on your energy bills.

Energy Consumption
The amount of energy tankless water heaters consume depends on the amount of hot water used. According to Energy Star, a typical home that uses 41 gallons or less of hot water daily can expect to achieve between 24%-34% more energy efficiency versus a conventional storage tank system. You can realize significant savings on your utility bill. Homes that use more water — 86 gallons per day — will only achieve between 8%-14% more energy efficiency. You can increase energy efficiency further by installing tankless systems at each water outlet; however, you incur more upfront costs as you will need additional units.

Cost Factor
You will experience a higher out-of-pocket cost when installing a tankless system. These systems cost more than most conventional storage tank water heaters. However, a tankless system’s expected lifespan is more than 20 years, which is far greater than its traditional counterpart of between 10 to 15 years. When you consider its increased lifespan with its lower operating costs, it could offset the higher purchase price.

Installation Considerations
Proper installation and periodic maintenance will ensure maximum energy efficiency for a tankless water heater. Many factors are involved when purchasing and installing a tankless system including fuel types, building codes, climate, and safety concerns especially involving gas-fired heaters. To ensure proper and safe installation as well as full energy efficiency, it would be wise to hire a professional plumbing contractor to install the system.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Water Heater Care and Maintenance

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Imagine your life without the steady stream of hot water your water heater provides. Life’s daily household chores grind to a halt—and surprise cold showers become all too common. Many homeowners have faced the realities of a failed heater. While water heaters are tireless appliances, they do require regular maintenance and care. When correctly maintained your water heater will run more efficiently, produce cleaner hot water and reach its expected lifespan. Here are a few things you can do to protect one of your home’s most important components—your water heater:

1. Flushing

As the years go by calcium, lime and sediment can build up in the bottom of a heater tank. When this occurs, efficiency decreases. In addition, the sediment can work its way to the rest of your plumbing fixtures. The sediment can then cause blockages and even permanent damage. This is true for both gas and electric heaters. By scheduling an annual flush, you can help maintain energy efficiency within your home, while reducing the chance of contaminating your water supply lines and plumbing fixtures.

2. Insulating the Water Heater

Insulating your water heater is an inexpensive way to improve energy efficiency. Insulating also reduces energy consumption and saves you money on your utility bills. This is because insulating your water heater reduces heat loss by 25%-45% (saving you roughly 4%-9% percent in energy consumption). You can reduce energy loss and increase energy efficiency even further by insulating the water supply pipes that connect to the heater.

3. Getting an Anode Rod Inspection

An anode rod is an aluminum or magnesium rod about 3/4-inches in diameter. Its main function is to attract the electrolytes in the water (and thus prevent them from corroding the tank). Without the rod, the tank could fail prematurely— and reduce the lifespan of the appliance. A tank failure such as a rupture or even a small leak could cause significant damage to flooring, walls, baseboards and trim.

4. Temperature Adjustment

Manufacturers preset heater temperatures up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Most households do just fine when the temperature is set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, higher temperatures can waste anywhere from $35 to $60 annually in heat loss (and up to $400 in demand losses).

5. Water Heater Pilot Orifice

A gas heater relies on the pilot orifice to control the flow of gas to the pilot. The smallest amount of debris can interfere with the operation of the pilot light, causing your appliance to fail. Annual cleaning of the pilot light, thermocouple and burner/manifold eliminates failures due to debris restrictions.

As you can see, it is beneficial to care and maintain your water heater. Not only does it maintain maximum efficiency, but it can also save you a few dollars.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Image Source: BigStock

Water Pipe Insulation: Is It Worth It in Your Home?

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Today’s green movement has many homeowners asking, “Is water pipe insulation worth the trouble?” The short answer is yes. Insulated water pipes increase energy efficiency, lowering your energy use and reducing energy bills. Reducing your carbon footprint by using less energy is a step in the right direction for green living. In fact, according to the folks over at energy.gov, insulated water pipes delivers water to your fixtures between 2 and 4 degrees hotter than uninsulated pipes.

The obvious benefits are hotter water and reduced energy use and costs. Benefits that are less obvious include shorter periods waiting for the hot water to reach your shower, which results in less water being washed down the drain. Therefore, not only does water pipe insulation conserve energy but also helps to conserve one of our most precious natural resources: water.

Another hidden benefit of water pipe insulation involves the cold water supply lines. People living in regions subjected to freezing temperatures can probably figure this one out on their own. Insulating both your hot and cold water pipes is paramount to avoid burst pipes during the winter months, especially pipes that are exposed to the freezing temperatures. A burst water pipe can cause untold water damage to your home — damage that will have you kicking yourself if you could have avoided it by simply protecting your pipes from the freezing temperatures.

The cost of water pipe insulation materials is, for the most part, inexpensive. Neoprene and polyethylene foam pipe sleeves are the easiest and most common material used for water pipe insulation. The materials are sold at most home improvement centers as well as local hardware stores and plumbing supply houses. While the materials may be inexpensive, installing them can be quite labor intensive, so it’s recommended that you call a professional plumber. Accessing your water pipes usually requires entering confined areas of your home such as crawl spaces, basements and attics. Unless you are building a new house, you will not have access to all of the applicable water supply lines as some of them are sure to be enclosed in walls. For these, a good rule of thumb to follow is that whenever you open up a wall and have access to your water supply lines such as during a bathroom or kitchen renovation, you insist that your plumbing contractor insulate the water supply pipes, both hot and cold, while they are exposed.

For answers to your questions, contact The Pink Plumber today.