Oct 4, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on Toilet Clog Fixing 101

Toilet Clog Fixing 101

Toilet Clog Fixing 101

Alright, look: there’s nothing pretty about a toilet clog. It’s actually pretty far down on the list of attractive things in your home. But you’ve dealt with them before, and you’ll deal with them again, so it’s worth knowing the best way to handle it on your own. Here are some tips you might not have heard of before.

Stop the Overflow

There are few moments more terrifying than when you flush a toilet full of things you want to get rid of and see that water level creeping slowly toward you, rather than receding to where it should be. If you’re lucky, it stopped just before overflowing, though you still had to deal with a precarious splashing situation when attempting to fix the problem. If you were unlucky, well… our condolences.

There’s a trick to stop overflows, but you need to think fast. As soon as you see you have a clog, remove the lid off the toilet tank in the back of the unit and manually close the toilet flapper inside the tank. This will prevent any more water from entering the bowl and give you a buffer zone between you and the problem – one we’ll use next.

Hot Water

This is a plumber trick for decades that they have managed to keep from the general public with stunning success: before attempting to remove the clog in earnest, add a few cups of hot water from your sink or bathtub to the toilet bowl. Make it as hot as possible and fit in as much as you reasonably can without risking any overflow or splashback. (If you don’t have a bucket around, the bathroom wastebasket might work in a pinch.)

Let the hot water sit for a few minutes. It will help break down the fats in the, uh, clog, loosening it up and making it more likely to clear up.

Add Soap

If the toilet still won’t flush with the hot water, squirt some dish washing liquid or hand soap into the bowl for a few seconds. (Again, in a pinch, you can use some body wash or shampoo from the shower.) This will generally have to sit longer than the hot water before it has an effect, but like the hot water, it will aid in breaking up the clog.

Give it a Plunging

If any of these tips don’t work in isolation, try using the old plunger before moving on to the next. Anything you can do to loosen the clog might help it come free with the vacuum effect of a plunger even if it didn’t break up on its own. And any time you flush to see if you’re successful, be ready to close the flap in the toilet tank again just in case you aren’t!

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Sep 23, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on American Standard Releases a Self-Cleaning Toilet

American Standard Releases a Self-Cleaning Toilet

American Standard Releases a Self-Cleaning Toilet

It’s absolutely no one’s favorite job, but for homeowners who invest in American Standard’s ActiClean self-cleaning toilet, breaking out the toilet brush may be a thing of the past.

The toilet functions via a system that injects cleaning fluid from an installed cartridge through a special water outlet that ensures it contacts the entire inner surface of the bowl. The soap-infused water churns for one minute for a quick clean, or ten minutes if you want it to be pristine, before flushing down like a normal toilet flush.

Since the water churns with a special cleaning solution rather than relying on high pressure water jets like other in-bowl cleaning solutions, it does not use a substantial amount more water than a normal toilet, nor is it subject to problems with low water pressure.

The toilet is available for only a MSRP of $399. Compared to a bum-standard toilet model of about $199, it’s a relatively small price to pay for never having to clean the toilet again, wouldn’t you agree?

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Sep 12, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on Microorganisms An Oft-Forgotten Plumbing Scourge

Microorganisms An Oft-Forgotten Plumbing Scourge

Microorganisms An Oft-Forgotten Plumbing Scourge

Your plumbing system is having some problems. Water is a little off-color, and there’s an unfortunate, if mild, smell coming from the faucet. You call your plumber and he replaces the anode rod in your storage tank, heavily corroded, with a new one, thinking the problem is taken care of. But only a few months later, the new rod has years worth of corrosion already set in.

The problem isn’t normal plumbing corrosion: it’s microorganisms that have infested the plumbing system. While sacrificial anode rods in hot water storage tanks are designed to corrode, attracting electrons that would otherwise do their work on the rest of the piping, they should still last a good long while before needing replacement. When microorganisms find their way into the tank, they exude protective chemicals around themselves; in large colonies, this combination of bacteria and protective enzymes are called a “biofilm.” This biofilm corrodes pipes far faster than normal plumbing concerns.

Once you’ve got microorganisms in your plumbing system, very little can be done. High-velocity water flushes won’t work because water can’t reach the required speed in normal home plumbing, and modern pipes aren’t able to withstand the high amounts of disinfectant required. Any repairs are very time-consuming and expensive. Your best bet, then, is always preventative at the plumbing design level.

Microorganisms are able to set in and cause damage when water is stagnant too long or when the native levels of disinfectant are too low. The chances are also increased if surface area is unusually high, giving the bacteria places to rest. It’s particularly problematic in homes with large bathtubs or Jacuzzi systems; often these homes feature large hot water tanks to facilitate filling the tubs, giving the microorganisms are greater chance of taking root. Apartment buildings usually have water circulation systems in an attempt to prevent stagnation to go along with oversized hot water storage tanks, but if microorganisms do find their way in, the circulation can quickly spread them to the whole building.

Bacterial infection of plumbing pipes is a rare problem, but one worth being aware if, as the consequences of becoming complacent can be painful.

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Sep 7, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on California Law Exposing Names of Excessive Water Users

California Law Exposing Names of Excessive Water Users

California Law Exposing Names of Excessive Water Users


California’s ongoing drought has left many counties and cities imposing water restrictions and launching continuing campaigns advocating water conservation. Now, a new state law could see the names of those guzzling excessive amounts of water publicized for the first time.

The law does not explicitly force the publication of names of those using excessive water, but rather achieves its goal in a roundabout way. Specifically, it requires retail urban water providers of all sizes and serving all types of residential area to create rules defining “excessive water use” and enforcing those rules during times of drought. Any water service company with more than 3,000 clients is included in the provision.

One particular zone, the East Bay Municipal City District, established its own rules about excessive water use last year: any amount more than 984 gallons per day, or four times the average household use in their area. For anyone breaking that limit, a fine of $2 per 748 gallons above the limit is imposed on the customer.

As you might expect, this does not result in excessively high fines for the perpetrators. But the legal trappings around imposing such a fine for a public utility, specifically the Public Records Act, means that the names of those fined have to be made public. Newspapers and individuals are thus able to figure out which of their neighbors are cheating on water restrictions imposed on all of them.

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Aug 29, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on California City Forces Settlement For Uncertified Water Heaters

California City Forces Settlement For Uncertified Water Heaters

California City Forces Settlement For Uncertified Water Heaters

California, long the biggest legislator and regulator for all sorts of issues, is forcing an Oakley plumbing firm to pay a settlement of over three hundred thousand dollars after hundreds of uncertified water heaters were installed in homes throughout the Bay Area.

Value Plumbing Company, Inc. installed heaters that did not meet the county’s nitrous oxide limits, some of the most stringent in the nation. The emissions are limited due to the nitrous oxide converting to smog when present in high amounts and combined with high levels of sun and heat. All water heaters installed in the area must be low nitrous oxide variants.

The company’s fee is composed of $100,000 in civil penalties, $100,000 to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, and $110,000 to pay for clean air projects in the county. The laws violated include both air quality and unfair competition regulations.

The water heaters installed pose no risk whatsoever to the customers who received them, and similar water heaters are installed in other homes throughout the nation where regulations are not as strict. Value Plumbing sold the heaters from 2008 to 2013.

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Aug 25, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on As Water Prices Rise, Businesses Look For Ways To Save

As Water Prices Rise, Businesses Look For Ways To Save

As Water Prices Rise, Businesses Look For Ways To Save

For the past two decades, water price increases have outpaced the basic consumer price index, meaning that relative to most other things, it is getting progressively more expensive. While traditionally facilities have given little thought to their water bill, its steady creeping upward, as well as a greater focus on conservation and environmentally sound business practices, have made it a greater focus.

The first step most businesses take when getting serious about cutting their water usage is identifying where it gets used the most. For a business like a restaurant, over 80% of their water use is in the kitchen and bathrooms alone; for a grocery store, roughly 25% is used in kitchens and bathrooms. Understanding usage gives business owners an idea where to focus their conservation efforts.

Some plumbing manufacturers such as T&S Brass have integrated water auditing into their list of commercial services. This is a useful service for the business owner and an excellent additional source of revenue for the plumber. For the business owner, changes can cost as little as $15 and save thousands over time.

Aerators are one common method to reducing water usage. These are additions to sinks that restrict water flow to reduce waste, as most sinks do not require a full flow of water for common uses such as hand washing. An aerator can reduce sink water usage by as much as 66% with no impact on performance, saving tens of thousands of gallons per year in facilities with frequent hand washing.

Spray vales on dish sprayers are similar. Standard sprayers can use up to 4 gallons per minute, while new models can use 1/8 the water for identical performance. As dish sprayers can be used nearly constantly through the work day, changing a single nozzle can save up to $5000 a year in a busy kitchen.

Knoxville plumbers, and those from other cities, would do well to keep in mind water-consuming businesses as a potentially lucrative option for expanding their business.

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Aug 19, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on Fresno, California Bans Galvanized Pipes

Fresno, California Bans Galvanized Pipes

Fresno, California Bans Galvanized Pipes

Joining several other cities in California who have already done the same, the Fresno City Council decided on Thursday to ban galvanized metal pipes from newly constructed buildings in the city.

The primary motivation for the ban is the increasing number of homes in the Fresno area reporting water discolored by and, occasionally, containing dangerous amounts of lead. Galvanized pipes can leech lead if the water passing through them is sufficiently corrosive.

While most builders in the area – and in much of the country – are already switching to PVC and PEX piping for new constructions, the ban takes the zinc-coated pipes completely off the table as an option. While there is not a major problem in Fresno, the move is largely preventative.

Most of Fresno has gotten its water for decades from extensive groundwater supplies, but sections of the city have recently swapped to canal water. One water experts says that the discoloration reported by some residents is normal in most of the country, safe, and typical of surface water sources – Fresno, and some other California cities experiencing similar problems, has simply gotten used to especially pristine and non-corrosive groundwater.

Ironically, the mixture of water running through the pipes – some groundwater and some surface water processed at a treatment plant – could be exacerbating the problem. Protective mineral scales build up from the groundwater that are then corroded more easily by the treated surface water’s differing qualities.

Whether the problem in Fresno is severe enough to justify an outright ban, most experts agree that there are few reasons to continue to use galvanized steel pipe in most building construction.

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