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How Garbage Disposal can harm your Septic Tank

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

A garbage disposal is a convenient appliance used to discard unwanted kitchen scraps and other food items. While the handy appliance seems like a good way to discard those unwanted items, it actually uses energy as well as freshwater to dispose of items that could easily be put into the trashcan. Aside from that, folks who depend on a private septic system to treat their household waste and effluent should think twice before using one. The following post will discuss why a garbage disposal is not a good idea for a septic system and ways you can use the appliance, although sparingly, if you just cannot live without one.

Your Kitchen Sink is not a Trashcan
Many homeowners dispose of kitchen waste—vegetable peelings, grease and leftover food—by grinding it up in the garbage disposal and washing it down the drain without ever giving it a second thought. They have no idea their actions could lead to costly septic tank and drain field repairs.

Septic systems rely on microorganisms within the septic tank to break down and consume waste. What is not consumed will settle and accumulate in the bottom of the tank forming the sludge layer. As the sludge layer grows, your tank’s ability to treat the wastewater diminishes. In addition to more frequent septic tank pumping, the kitchen waste could upset the bacterial balance inside the tank. A diminished population of microorganisms could have an adverse effect on the overall health of your septic system by reducing its ability to treat wastewater efficiently and allow solid waste particles to enter your drain or leach field. If this happens, you could incur costly drainfield repairs or replacement as its ability to absorb the wastewater will decrease.

Garbage Disposal Tips for Septic Tank Owners
Septic tank owners who depend on their garbage disposals can use the following tips to reduce the burden the appliance places on the septic system.

  • Use the appliance sparingly
  • Do not dispose of leftovers that could easily be placed in the trash
  • Do not place egg shells, vegetable peelings or other inert materials in the disposal
  • Never pour used oil or grease down the drain
  • Consider starting a compost pile

By using your garbage disposal responsibly, you lessen the chance of costly septic system and drain field repairs. In addition, you help the environment by using less water and electricity, which reduces your carbon footprint.

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

Top 10 Common Plumbing Problems

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Good plumbing is easy to take for granted, but when something goes wrong, you soon know about it. It could be your drains are clogged, the HVAC has stopped working, or your shower is leaking. And when it needs fixing, it usually needs fixing now. Some plumbing problems are more serious than others, but all are worth your immediate attention for your peace of mind and your budget.

Common Plumbing Problems
Consumer Checkbook gives a breakdown on the most common problems you are likely to encounter with home plumbing.

  1. Water hammer: an annoying banging from your pipes, which is caused by the water flow suddenly stopping and the water crashing into a valve. Other causes of noisy pipes are normal water flow, fixings coming loose, and temperature changes. If you’re worried, a plumber can usually locate the cause.
  2. Clogs and blockages: drainpipes must slope slightly to help rainwater flow quickly and wash away debris. If the slope is too flat, clogs can occur. Blocked sinks, basins, showers, tubs, and toilets usually result when inappropriate material is deposited in them.
  3. Leaks: toilet, sink, and other fixture water traps and pipes may leak due to age or because they were not properly tightened.

Hidden Dangers
You may not notice certain dangerous problems with your plumbing. A professional can check your home to find out if it is at risk.

  1. Poor ventilation: water heaters and furnaces must have adequate ventilation to avoid dangerous gases building up in your home. Your family is at risk if a chimney or vent is clogged or doesn’t have a strong draft, and if the room that contains the heater or furnace has little or no ventilation.
  2. No grounding: replacing steel water pipes with plastic ones removes the electrical grounding a home. If there is an electrical fault or your house is hit by lightning, the electricity has nowhere to go, leaving your family in danger of electrocution.
  3. No fire shield: when a water heater flue has no fire-resistant shield, any nearby combustible material can catch fire.
  4. Poor seals: several pipes leave your house through the outer walls, and if the holes aren’t properly sealed, rain and moisture can leak inside and cause damp and mold.

Avoiding Plumbing Issues
Popular Mechanics explains how to avoid or fix simple plumbing errors.

  1. Retained disposal plug: after fitting a garbage disposal, remove the disposal plug if the unit is connected to a dishwasher, or water will leak everywhere.
  2. Construction materials: don’t pour materials left over from your construction project down the sink. The materials can harden and clog the pipes.
  3. Incorrect appliance use: don’t hang heavy racks from your shower fitting or heavily crank faucet handles. Also, don’t turn on a new water heater until it is full.

Plumbing problems are annoying at best, but at worst they can be dangerous. Treat your appliances kindly to get the best use from them and if you are concerned about your plumbing, book a professional inspection.

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

Tips to Lower Your Water Bill

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

Below you will discover valuable tips that not only conserve one of our most valuable resources but can also save you some money by reducing your monthly water bill. Freshwater is one of the many natural resources sometimes taken for granted. You turn on the tap and a seemingly endless supply is at your fingertips. However, the cost of freshwater has risen due to the demands placed on its supply from pollution and an ever-expanding population. Here are some ways we can conserve water in our own homes.

Repair Faulty Plumbing

Don’t drag your feet when it comes to repairing dripping faucets, leaking pipes or running toilets. A single faucet that drips 60 times a minute will waste 5 gallons of freshwater per day or 2,082 gallons per year. A professional plumber will make quick work of these simple repairs and help you to conserve water, reduce your bill and avoid costly home repairs resulting from the potential water damage.

Reduce Bathing Times

Reducing the length of your shower — by just four minutes — can conserve up to 4,000 gallons of fresh water per year. This can reflect an annual savings of $100 dollars per year on your water bill. In addition, shorter showers lead to a reduction in hot water use, which can also lower other utility bills such as gas or electricity.

Go Low-Flow

Replace dated toilets, shower heads and faucets with efficient low-flow fixtures. Inefficient toilets can use as much as six gallons of freshwater per flush. When you compare that to the 1.6 gallons-per-flush of today’s models, you can easily comprehend the potential savings. Do not use your toilet as a garbage can. Aside from the harmful effects cigarette butts, chewing gum and feminine products have on septic tanks and sewer systems, placing them in the trash does not require precious freshwater.

Do not let it Run

Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or shaving. Many gallons of freshwater are wasted each year from this one, bad habit. When shaving, simply fill the basin with hot water to rinse your razor and keep disposable cups in the bathroom for rinsing after brushing your teeth.

No Half Loads

You can save on both your water and electric bill by utilizing the maximum capacity of your dishwasher and washing machine. If you must rinse your dishes before loading the dishwasher, fill the sink or a container with water for rinsing; do not let the faucet run.

At the end of the day, by doing your part to conserve water, you can help the environment by reducing your carbon footprint as well as save a little money on your monthly water bill.

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

Image source: Flickr

Sump Pump Replacement? How to Identify the Signs of a Failing Pump

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Many home include a basement that utilizes a pump system for different reasons. Some use the pump system to remove the accumulation of ground water or for protection in the event of a plumbing failure. Sometimes it is both reasons. The ability to identify the warning signs of a failing sump pump can save you thousands of dollars in repair costs due to water damage if the pump fails. The information below will cover the basics of these systems. In addition, it outlines the warning signs of a failing pump.

What are Sump Pumps?

A sump pump is an electric pump used to evacuate water. Most often, the pump is combined with a sump basin or chamber used to house the unit. As water fills the basin, a pre-set float activates a switch on the motor to pump the accumulated water to the home’s sewer line or exterior drain field. Most sump pumps require 110-volts of electricity with pumps used in larger applications requiring 240-volts. Many of today’s models incorporate a battery backup to maintain operation in the event of a power outage.

Where are Sump Pumps Used?

The most common areas that utilize a sump pump system are residential basements. Since basements are most often below ground, they are subjected to ground water seepage. Without a sump system, water would eventually accumulate, leading to water damage and creating an environment prone to mold and mildew growth or potentially both, which is a major health concern.

Warning Signs of a Failing Pump

Identifying the signs of a failing pump allows you to take action before it fails. Aside from the pump not working properly, there could be signs that point to a future problem.

  • A noisy pump is a sure sign something is wrong with the unit. In severe cases, the pump bearings may be failing, causing the pump to whine, rattle or squeal. It could also indicate a bent or broken impeller, the device used to circulate or pump the water.
  • A pump that fails to activate could be caused by a loose electrical connection, burnt motor or jammed impeller. It could also indicate a problem with the float or the float switch.

Most industry professionals recommend that the inspection, maintenance and cleaning of your sump system is performed twice a year.

What to do if Your Sump Pump Fails

If you are experiencing a problem with your pump system, let the professionals handle it. Water and electricity are a very, dangerous combination that can lead to severe injury or even death. A licensed plumber carries the knowledge and training to maintain and repair your sump system safely.

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

Image source: Flickr

Does the “Eco” Setting On Your Appliances Actually Save Money?

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Over the past few years, you may have noticed the “Eco setting” button on new appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines. Many trustworthy homeowners often wonder if the economy setting really saves them money. Actually, the eco setting will reduce energy and water consumption but may end up costing you in the end.

Most of today’s appliances that include eco settings are energy star approved. Once activated, and depending on the type of appliance, most economy modes are designed to conserve both the amount of water and electricity or gas used to power the appliance. Common types of appliances with eco settings are listed below.

  • Washing machines
  • Clothes dryers
  • Microwaves
  • Dishwashers
  • Televisions
  • Ranges
  • HVAC systems

The downside to this well-intended idea is that the savings come at the expense of the appliance’s performance to the point where it falls short of minimum standards. For example, if a dishwasher’s performance is reduced to a point where it fails to clean your dishes, the likely result is that you will run them through another cycle, using more energy to complete the task than if the appliance has been in normal mode.

Often, appliance models that include friendly eco settings cost more than standard models of the same variety. If at the end of the day you wind up paying more for the appliance at checkout and run it twice as much to meet your standards, are you really saving any money? When purchasing these energy saving appliances, you must do your homework and compare energy star ratings with the overall price to make a solid determination. Read customer reviews to find out first hand if the appliance performance standards stand up when in economy mode.

Using common sense when using your standard appliances can reduce energy consumption and save you money. For instance:

  • Operate your washing machine and clothes dryer with full loads.
  • Reducing your thermostat setting by one degree can save you as much as ten percent of your heating cost average.
  • Do not run the dishwasher with anything less than a full load.
  • Hire a professional plumber to perform annual service and flushing on your water heater to maintain maximum efficiency.

Follow the tips listed above can save you as much if not more energy consumption than the eco function on higher end appliances.

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

Image source

What Is a Septic Ejector Pump?

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

A septic ejector pump, sump pump or grinder pump is a system designed to remove effluent and solid waste from a home when plumbing fixtures, such as a toilet or sink drain, are below the grade of the septic tank or sewer line. Households with one or more bathrooms below septic or sewer line grade, require a septic ejector pump to remove unwanted waste from the structure.

Septic Ejector Pump Basics

The sump basin, a holding tank that is buried below ground, is designed to catch the waste and house the sump pump. The applicable drain lines are then graded and connected to an inlet on the side of the sump pump basin. An outlet line — usually around two inches — attached to the septic ejector pump connects to the main sewer or septic line. As wastewater fills the sump basin, a pre-set float attached to the septic injector pump activates the septic ejector pump, which pumps the wastewater out of the sump basin and into the main sewer line or septic tank. As the wastewater is pumped out, the level drops and lowers the float, which deactivates the septic ejector pump.

A vent attached to the pump connects to an existing vent stack or stubs up through the roof of the building to provide adequate ventilation. A tight-fitting lid seals the sump basin preventing waste or smell from escaping. A check valve is added to the outlet line that prevents waste and effluent from draining back into the sump basin after it is evacuated.

There are various sizes, horsepower and types of sump pumps to meet the demands of most applications. Common residential models are designed to handle up to 30 gallons of effluent and waste material. The pumps are designed to transport solids up to a certain size, or to grind the solids into smaller pieces. Pumps that grind the solids before pumping are referred to as grinder pumps. Most septic ejector pumps designed for residential use require 110-120 to 220-240 volts of electricity to operate. Some models incorporate an alarm system, such as a siren or flashing light, that activates if something goes wrong. This convenient safety feature helps to prevent overflows and additional pump damage in the event of a malfunction.

Due to the varying building codes throughout the country and the degree of difficulty — both plumbing and electrical — required for the installation, an experienced and licensed plumbing contractor is recommended for this project.

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

image Source: Flickr

Purchasing a Water Heater? Choose Wisely

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Do you want to squeeze as many savings as possible out of the 18 percent of the energy your household consumes for heating water? When purchasing a water heater, evaluate whether a gas or electric water heater will better serve your home’s needs. Here’s a breakdown of how each type of water heater measures up.

Gas-Powered Heaters

Gas water heaters offer a few select benefits over an electric system. Namely, the source of power is cheaper (since it’s natural gas) than electricity in most areas, they will continue to function even in a power outage and they recover faster when household usage depletes the hot water. They also cost less to purchase and operate.

Electric-Powered Water Heaters

However, if you’re considering an electric water heater, you’re not going to miss out on benefits either. They include:

  • Safety. Gas water heaters are subject to significant hazards due to the use of natural gas. The chance of an explosion is higher than faulty wiring in an electric system causing electrocution.
  • Timing. You can install a timer on an electric system to ensure savings if your home runs on peak and off-peak billing. Just set the timer to shut the water heater off during peak hours, and save money while having access to a heated tank of water.
  • Installation. When installing an electric system, you can simply run electricity to power the electric water heater. To install a gas-powered system, you’ll need to run the natural gas lines to supply power to the unit, but it will also need an exhaust vent installed to ensure safe venting of hazardous gasses.
  • Space. Because gas systems need proper ventilation, the system itself takes up more square footage. Electric systems don’t need ventilation, so you can install them in nearly any location, like a closet or crawl space.
  • Lifespan. Electric water heaters don’t employ as many parts to function and these parts aren’t exposed to as much direct heat, so they tend to have a longer lifespan.

No matter what type of water heater you purchase, it’s important to consider these factors:

  • Choose a tank with brass valves, which allow for easy drainage during routine service checkups. The valve also lasts much longer than the standard plastic valves.
  • Invest in a tank system that’s lined with glass, which holds up better under the corrosion that occurs inside water heater tanks.
  • Get a water heater with digital display controls for easy monitoring of water heater settings and securing energy savings.
  • Make sure the system’s warranty is competitive. In general, the longer the warranty, the more durable the system.

Need help in deciding which water heater you should purchase? For answers to your questions, contact the Pink Plumber today.

Image Source: Flickr

Hybrid Water Heaters Explained

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

When you hear the term “hybrid water heater,” you might think of a dual-powered appliance similar to a hybrid car. However, hybrid water heaters do not run on a combination of electricity and gasoline — they are powered by the latest advancement in water heating technology.

Hot water is a luxury most of us overlook until it stops working. We use it to bathe, shower, wash clothes and clean up the dirty dishes after a meal. However, hot water comes at a cost. Did you know that your hot water heater uses about 18 percent of your home’s energy usage? When you think about it, that’s a significant chunk of your energy bill. On average, hybrid water heater systems use less than half the energy consumed by traditional storage water heaters. Not only will it provide you with more hot water, but also save you money on your energy bill. It is estimated that a hybrid water heating system will pay for itself in about three years. After that, you are left with just the monthly (and yearly) savings.

Hybrid Heat Pump Water Heater

While several manufacturers produce hybrid water heaters, one of the most common types integrates heat pump technology similar to that found in your home’s air conditioning and heating system. The heat pump water heater utilizes a heat pump to heat the water to the preset temperature with electricity. It works by extracting the heat from the surrounding atmosphere and using it to heat the stored water. Because of its extreme efficiency, you get plenty of hot water at less than half the cost of traditional systems.

Hybrid Tank Tankless Water Heater

Another type of hybrid water heater gaining popularity combines old technology with the new to provide an endless amount of hot water. These are referred to as a hybrid tank tankless water heater. By integrating point of use or on demand water heating technology with traditional water heater tank systems, these systems produce hot water more than twice as fast as tanked systems alone.

If you are considering converting your traditional hot water system to a more efficient hybrid system, do your homework and investigate the different models and systems available on the market today. The technology used to heat water efficiently varies between manufacturers. You should also hire only licensed plumbing professionals with the experience and knowledge to do the job correctly.

For answers to any of your water heater questions, contact the Pink Plumber today.

Image source: Flickr