Many homeowners across Northeast Ohio utilize a septic tank rather than a conventional city sewer system to dispose of their grey and black water waste. While it may seem like the two are similar from inside the home, in reality, the maintenance and disposal processes are very different. Especially during the winter season. Homes with septic tanks not only have to worry about in-home pipe freezing, a frozen septic tank can leave a costly mess that begins in the yard and backs up into the home.
Avoiding this begins by understanding the reasons of why septic systems freeze:
Very little snow cover – Snow actually serves as insulation over a septic tank. When there is little snow, deep freezes and frosts can go deeper into the ground, potentially freezing your septic system.
Compacted landscape – The area above your septic tank should be kept clear of use. When driveways or paths occur over a septic tank, cars, animals, ATVs, tractors, even foot traffic can compact the area above the septic tank, allowing a deep freeze to move deeper into the soil.
Lack of plant cover – If your septic system is new, or was replaced in the late summer or early fall seasons, adequate vegetation may not have covered up the land before the cold and snow set in. Vegetation helps attract snow to the area, providing more insulation above ground.
Irregular use – Was your septic system designed for a large family, and now you’re down to one or two? Do you spend months away from your home, enjoying a lifestyle in a warmer climate during the cold winter months? If a system isn’t used as it was intended, it can begin to stress and allow freezing temperatures to infiltrate the system.
Leaking plumbing – You know that small trickle of water you can hear even when your toilet hasn’t been flushed? Those tiny leaks in your pipes can cause a thin film of water into the system. These trickles are more susceptible to freezing, and can build up quickly over time, allowing your system to freeze completely.
Cold air entering the system – When was the last time your septic system was looked at and inspected? If risers are uncapped, inspection pipes or manhole covers not reinstalled correctly, they can allow cold air to enter the system. Freezing isn’t far behind.
While some septic systems never have problems, the only way to avoid them in the future is to be proactive every year. Now is the time to complete the following tasks, before the cold weather truly arrives and the ground begins to freeze:
If you suspect your septic system has frozen, its time to call in a professional plumber. The root of the problem must be determined and fixed to avoid further freezing problems either in what’s left of this winter, or as the temperatures freeze again next winter. If you have any questions, we’d be happy to help.
* A portion of the information in this article was obtained via PlumbingHelpToday.com.
With costs for energy rising all the time, and the word “efficiency” attached to everything we do, its easy to see why people can get sucked into a wide array of beliefs when it comes to improving home efficiency. And while some of the “reported” tips will work, many of them are simply myths and urban legends. How do you know the difference? While it’s difficult to wade through all of the information, we’ve put together some of the most common home energy myths and what you can do instead.
Myth: Energy efficiency increases the initial cost of a home.
If you’ve ever set out to upgrade one appliance in your home – a water heater for instance – when you start comparing prices you’ll find the more energy efficient options move to the middle or upper end of the pricing structure. So its natural to assume that when building a home, adding in all of the top of the line energy efficiency items throughout will increase the price of the home. But its not necessarily true. In some instances, smaller, higher efficiency units may take up less space or work more efficiently from the beginning, meaning the home builder can take this into account with the initial build, and provide you with the savings.
Myth: Showering uses less energy and water than taking a bath
This one is a toss up, depending on your home environment. A typical bath takes anywhere from 30 to 50 gallons of water. If you take a 10 minute shower with a low flow showerhead (which typically uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute), it would only use 25 gallons of water. If you haven’t replaced your showerhead with a low flow unit, or have multiple showerheads or special water features, these numbers can go up accordingly. Its important to understand how much water you are using, and limit consumption as much as possible.
Myth: A slow dripping faucet isn’t that significant
Even the tiniest of drips can add up quickly over time. A single dripping faucet can add up to 300 gallons of water per month … all flowing down the drain. Which means of course that your water bill is being impacted by every drip a faucet leaks. No matter how slow the drip, fix it as soon as possible.
Myth: Its faster to boil hot water, and therefore takes less energy
In order to get hot water into your teakettle or pot, chances are you had to let the water run from the faucet to bring hot water from the water heater to your faucet. That requires energy. So energy you might have saved from trying to boil already warm water (and the savings isn’t significant), you’ll consume by getting the warmed water into your pot.
Myth: Energy savings isn’t a significant feature in the sale of a home
According to the National Association of Home Builders, study after study shows that homebuyers are willing to pay more for a home if it has Energy Star ratings on heaters, air conditioners and appliances, or meets Green Building Guidelines. If you can show your home has efficiency, and it will be made up in savings on energy bills, people will be more attracted to your home.
Source: Plumbing Help Today
Today (August 26) is National Toilet Paper Day! Here are some interesting facts about toilet paper to help you celebrate this quirky event!
Americans use 50% more toilet paper than other Western societies. On average, Americans use about 50 pounds of toilet paper per-person per year, compared to people in other Western countries, who use about 33 pounds per year each. Americans also prefer multi-ply paper, which increases the per-person usage rate.
Some interesting things have been used in place of toilet paper. Water, hay, corncobs, leaves, sticks, stones, sand moss, hemp, wool, husks, fruit peels, ferns, sponges, seashells, and broken pottery have all been used in the bathroom at one time or another.
Over or under? About two-thirds of Americans prefer their toilet paper to come off the roll over the top.
Toilet paper was introduced in the US in 1857. Joseph Gayetty is credited with bringing toilet paper to the US market in 1857. The paper was dispensed in flat squares embossed with Gayetty’s name. Gayetty’s Medicated Paper exited the market in the 1920’s, a victim of competition from the more compact and more easily dispensed rolled paper commonly used today.
Rolled toilet paper (and toilet paper rollers) hit the US market in 1883. Seth Wheeler patented both rolled toilet paper and toilet paper dispensers.
Colored toilet paper was available in the US for about 40 years. Scott was the last company to remove colored toilet paper from the US market in 2004. Colored toilet paper is still readily available in European countries.
Hold the color! US consumers prefer bright white, multi-ply paper with decorative designs. While the designs give an embossed look, the toilet paper isn’t truly embossed. The designs are created as part of the drying process during production, and according to the manufacturers, they improve the overall strength of the paper.
Toilet paper is specially designed to decompose. Even though they may feel similar, toilet paper and facial tissues aren’t the same. The fibers used to make toilet paper are very short, which allow the paper to begin disintegrating within seconds of becoming wet. This design allows the paper to dissolve in septic systems. Remarkably, after getting wet, toilet paper still retains about 15% of its dry strength.
The first mention of toilet paper in history was from the 6th century AD. Chinese history records the first mention of the use of toilet paper in the 6th century. By the 14th century, toilet paper was mass-produced in China.
Global toilet paper production consumes 10 million trees each year. Each tree produces about 100 pounds of toilet paper. On average, global toilet paper demand consumes nearly 30,000 trees each day.
Standard size? Not always! The industry standard size of a square of toilet paper is 4.5? x 4.5?. Some manufacturers reduce the size of the square in order to offer a lower retail price.
Toilet paper is a bona fide bestseller! Not surprisingly, toilet paper is ranked third in overall sales of non-food items, and accounts for more than $4 billion in US sales annually.
The US Army used toilet paper as camouflage. During Desert Storm, the US Army used toilet paper to camouflage its tanks.
It doesn’t pay to be British. At least when it comes to buying toilet paper. Britons spend on average about twice as much as other European consumers do on toilet paper, and about three times more than US consumers do for the same product.
Here’s the real reason Canada likes us. The US is the largest exporter of toilet paper in the world. On the other side of the coin, Canada imports more toilet paper from the US than any other country.
*Source: Boston Standard Company
If you are a fan of high quality water, you’re going to appreciate the importance of National Water Quality Month celebrated in August. It is a month to remember the importance of good, clean water for all living things. National Water Quality Month is an ideal time to learn important ways you can help do your part in keeping water clean.
Remember whether on a boat, drinking bottled water, taking a shower or watering your garden; water plays a vital part in our lives and it is important to protect it. Almost anything can affect water quality, do your part in protecting our water and encourage others around you to do the same.
If you are concerned about the quality of water coming into your home, you may want to consider water filtration or bottled water delivery service. Contact us to discuss what type of water filtration unit might be best for you.
*Source: The Water Guy
Vessel sinks truly couldn’t be any more classic. After all, the bathroom vessel sink is a direct descendant of the earliest sink—the wash basin—which, in the days before indoor plumbing, was never without its trusty sidekick, the pitcher. Showy and perfect for a powder room that’s crying out for a new look. And if yours is made of something extraordinary—think of brushed nickel, natural stone, or hammered copper — there’s no better way to display this material, and to turn it into a work of art than to opt for a vessel sink. When considering whether or not one suits a particular space, these pros and cons are worth taking into account:
Stylish. A conversation piece that can’t be beaten for adding interest and high-end panache to the bathroom.
Versatile. Usually bowl-shaped, they are also available in rectangular shapes—both boxy and with flared edges—as well as in swooping sculptural and nature-inspired shapes. Depending on the material used and the faucet selected, they can skew toward primitive or modern, sleek or substantial. It can be mounted above the counter or partially recessed.
Imaginative. Some designers and homeowners re-purpose vintage basins, pottery, and even galvanized buckets. These basins also afford the opportunity to re-purpose vintage, unique, or much-loved pieces of furniture as vanities. The faucet you select also affects the final design.
Changeable. Easier to swap out than an undermount sink, which is typically wedged and sealed beneath the countertop. This way if you tire of a glass one, your plumber or contractor can more easily swap it out for one made of a different material. Today they come in brushed nickel finishes, copper, concrete, glass, porcelain, natural stone—the options are really endless.
Comfortable. If consideration is given to the height of the person who will be using the sink, this sinks can prove to be more ergonomic. Most traditional bath vanities are between 32 and 34 inches tall. A vessel sink can rise from two to six inches above the countertop, increasing the comfort level of users of various heights. To get the height just right for the sink’s primary users, a professional interior designer, plumber, or contractor can help you with your design and installation options.
Easy to Install. Perhaps the easiest type of sink to install, they don’t require countertop cut-outs. It just needs a 1 3/4″ hole to accommodate the sink drain.
Spacious. Many models—especially those made of clear glass—have an airy look; most models free up some counter space.
Splashing. Though more prone to splashing, they don’t have to be. A professional can assist you with the proper faucet selection, height, reach, and placement of the faucet to minimizing splashing. Also, select a faucet equipped with an aerator, which will naturally create a non-splashing water stream.
Cleaning. With two visible surfaces, it may require extra cleaning and maintenance. This is especially the case with glass and plastic, which can show water spots. To clean between the base of the sink and the countertop, homeowners and housekeepers quickly learn the simple “cleaning rag wedge” trick or use a long, thin brush to access this area.
Price. Many people believe that they are more expensive than undermount sinks since they communicate high style, but as they have become more mainstream, the price options have changed significantly.
Stability. If improperly installed, taller sinks may present stability issues and may not work well with young children, who will be tempted to grab on to the sides to pull themselves up. If you have your trustworthy plumber or contractor in your contacts list, this will be a non-issue. Likewise, a partially recessed installation can bolster a sink’s stability.
Durability. Some sink models may be more prone to chipping or damage as the edge is exposed. This is not of concern with hardier materials such as copper and concrete.
Source: Native Trails
It’s summer, and there’s nothing more satisfying for a parent (and fun for a kid) than watching your child play outside for hours on end. However, the thought of letting them come in and track their well-earned dirt everywhere is enough to send some parents into a small panic. Whether you’ve got a lake house, a pool, or just kids who love to get messy, an outdoor shower might be the perfect solution, allowing the best of both worlds. Outdoor play with no indoor mess.
Creating an outdoor shower really just depends on the ease of connecting to an existing water source. The design aspect can be as minimal or extensive as you prefer – some become quite the outdoor oasis. If you want to go all out, add a hot water hookup to the mix. While doing so would remove the nostalgia of the “I’m cold, I’m cold” screams you used to yell at your mom as she hosed you off, it would make for a truly enjoyable experience for kids and adults alike.
Design ideas can range from incredibly simple, to high-end extravagant. There are also many different levels of privacy, from just hosing off, to being able to shower as if you were in your own bathroom. It is all up to you. Take a look at the inspirations below and don’t wait for muddy footprints on your floors before calling us for an estimate on this low-budget, luxury item.
On the heels of shows like “Fixer Upper” and “Rehab Addict”, home renovation is huge right now; more specifically, repurposing old items is pretty much the hottest trend in the current home design movement. Recycling old material, specifically material with an industrial feel, is extremely popular and makes for unique, conversation centerpieces. If you’re a fan of all this, you may have noticed that plumbing material is a hot commodity on these shows, and most often gets re-used to create home shelving units.
Since we love all things plumbing, we thought it would be fun to compile a list of our favorite examples of these popular shelving units. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to create something like this for your home. Or, if you have an even better idea, feel free to post it in the comments section below.
Of course, there’s the obvious use of shelving for books and desks…
Closets are another perfect shelving use for pipes, as seen in the following ideas…
Furniture isn’t out of the question either…
And we couldn’t leave out bathroom applications…
Lastly, for the animal lovers of the group…
What items have you repurposed lately, (plumbing related or not)?
Welding plays a key roll in the safety and success of the plumbing industry and requires hundreds of hours of learning and practice to master. Inadequate skills in this area could yield disastrous results. Fortunately, our plumbers and all members of the Cleveland plumbing industry’s Journeymen Plumbers Union Local 55 receive extensive training in this area before entering the workforce. A large portion of this is done on a state-of-the-art, Virtual Welder. Made by Lincoln Electric, the VRTEX line of virtual welders takes this training to a new level of sophistication. Realistic welding visuals and audio feedback allow students to practice their welding technique in a safe, simulated environment that can be used to augment time in the welding booth.
The job of the Union is to ensure only the most skilled pipe tradesmen enter the construction industry, and to protect its members and jurisdiction at every level. Top-notch training tools are just one of the ways the Union achieves these goals. The use of VRTEX has proven to significantly reduce both training costs and time and increase certification rates. Benefits which are realized by the Union, all of it’s members, and, eventually, the end customer.
Unbeknownst to most of our customers, there are many aspects of the plumbing industry that have been positively affected by technological advancements in recent years, welding being a prime example.
Buying a home is one of the most exciting, yet nerve-wracking purchases you will ever make. Not only do you want something that fits perfectly for your family’s specific needs, but you also need something that functions well and fits within your budget. Hence, the home inspection. Included in this thorough examination is basically a professional review of the overall structure; the exterior of the house, roofing and yard; and the interior including electrical, heating and air conditioning, fireplaces, ventilation and insulation, and the home’s plumbing. These inspections help uncover existing damage and minimize financial risk for the buyer. While the inspection should be done by a licensed professional, there are also questions you as the prospective home buyer can ask to uncover possible problems.
Start by checking your main sewer line.
A home’s sanitary sewer plumbing operates in one of two ways: by a municipal sewer system or a septic tank. To find out the condition of the municipal sewer system, a plumbing contractor can come in and set up a camera line inspection to quickly tell you the overall condition of the plumbing. If the house runs on a septic tank, find out where its located, the capacity of the tank, and the location of the drain field. Consider having it inspected as well by a plumber or septic company.
Inspect the water heater.
Find out where the water heater is in the home, its capacity and how old it is. Water heaters typically last anywhere from 8 to 12 years. If you see visible signs of corrosion, you can ask for a new one to be installed before closing. Websites like BuildingCenter.org help you verify the age a water heater by entering the make, model, and serial number into their database.
Find leaks in the system
Part of the inspection process should be to spend time in the home and locate smaller potential problems. As you make your way from room to room, do you notice any drips of water coming from the fixtures? Do you see small wet spots where they shouldn’t be? What you may have missed in the few minutes you spent in the home while deciding whether to put in an offer, can easily come to light when you spend more time in a room.
Flush every toilet
Flush every toilet in the home and make sure it works properly, filling back up with water in a timely manner. Do you hear small leaks? Also check around the base for evidence of prior leaks.
Look for adequate protection on risky pipes
If you’ve ever dealt with a frozen pipe, you know how devastating it can be. As you are making your way through your home inspection, look for visible signs of previous pipe problems, and also look for potential problems in the future. Pipes on outside walls without adequate insulation are signs you may have a future problem if nothing is done to fix it now.
Basically, if something needs updating, or looks like it will soon, negotiate it into your contract. Sellers usually aren’t willing to let a serious buyer walk over small to medium inspection concerns.
Dual flush toilets are the latest in water-conservation efforts, and have made the crossover from commercial to residential applications. Now, most well-known residential brands sell at least one dual flush model, including Kohler, American Standard, and Toto. Not only are there options, but the options are reasonably, and competitively priced. Unfortunately, due to the vast differences in design, dual flush retrofit kits are not an effective option for homeowners who want the water savings, but don’t want to invest in a brand new toilet. So, if you’re looking for the vast water savings a dual flush toilet has to offer, you’re going to have to invest in the real deal this time.
Dual flush toilets handle solid and liquid waste differently from standard American style toilets, giving the user a choice of flushes. It’s an interactive toilet design that helps conserve water and has quickly caught on in countries where water is in short supply, like Australia, and in areas where water supply and treatment facilities are older or overtaxed. Interest in low flow and dual flush toilets is on the rise in the United States, due in part to increased government regulation and the rising cost of water.
The Australians are credited with leading the way in the development of dual flush technology. In 1980, Bruce Thompson of Caroma Industries created the first two-button flushing system, a convenient method of manually selecting the water volume of each flush — a half flush for liquid waste and a full flush for solid waste — with the push of a button. Necessity was the driving force for the change. Traditional toilets used lots of water, a commodity that was in short supply on a continent that has erratic rainfall and experiences frequent and prolonged droughts.
Most modern dual flush toilets use less than a gallon of water to flush liquid waste and around 1.6 gallons to flush solid waste. This is a big savings over old toilet styles that used five gallons or more for each and every flush. Today, dual flush toilets are used widely in Australia, Europe and Asia, and they’re catching on in other areas as well. Increased environmental awareness, government regulation, the availability of monetary incentives and the rising cost of water are making the changeover to dual flush and low flow toilet designs more attractive to U.S. consumers.
The way water is used to remove waste from the bowl has a lot to do with how much water is needed to get the job done. Standard toilets use siphoning action, a method that employs a siphoning tube, to evacuate waste. A high volume of water entering the toilet bowl when the toilet’s flushed fills the siphon tube and pulls the waste and water down the drain. When air enters the tube, the siphoning action stops. Dual flush toilets employ a larger trapway (the hole at the bottom of the bowl) and a wash-down flushing design that pushes waste down the drain. Because there’s no siphoning action involved, the system needs less water per flush, and the larger diameter trapway makes it easy for waste to exit the bowl. Combined with the savings from using only half-flushes for liquid waste, the dual flush toilet design can save up to 68% more water than a conventional low flow toilet.
In 1994, the National Energy Policy Act was signed into law, requiring toilets sold in the United States use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. This mandate to conserve has given rise to a new generation of high efficiency toilets (HETs) that use technologies like pressure-assist, gravity flush and dual flush to whisk away waste using as little water as possible. Of the new technologies, the dual flush method has the advantage of intuitive flushing, where the operator can decide electively that less water is needed and use one gallon or less per flush instead of the 1.6 gallon maximum.
Although toilets purchased for new construction and retrofits must meet the new standards, millions of older water-guzzling toilets are still out there. As water and sewer costs keep rising, low flow toilets are becoming more attractive to the American consumer, and local and state governments are using rebates and tax incentives to encourage households to convert to these new technologies.
The advantages of low flow toilets in conserving water and reducing the demand on local water treatment facilities is pretty obvious. According to USA Today, the average person flushes the toilet five to eight times a day, and at a greedy five gallons a flush, the numbers start to add up quickly. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, completely eliminating old style, water guzzling toilets would save about 2 billion gallons of water each day in the United States. With a growing population, an aging water treatment infrastructure and the looming threat of global warming contributing to uncertain weather, water conservation will continue to be a big issue.