Blog

05 Feb. 2016

In-Home Water Filtration Systems

In-home-water-filtrationWater is the single most important thing to sustain life here on earth. So when the quality of a community’s water system is poor, the impact can be catastrophic. Worldwide, close to 2.5 billion people don’t have access to adequate sanitation, close to three quarters of a billion people don’t have access to clean water, and six to eight million people die each year from the consequences of water-related diseases.

But that’s the rest of the world. That’s not right here in the United States, right? Think again. As recent news stories indicate, even water in well-established American communities isn’t always guaranteed to be safe.

Before water reaches your home, it goes through an intense water treatment process designed to remove the bad and leave the good. Chemicals such as chlorine or chloramine are added to neutralize bacteria, viruses, parasites and other contaminants that can be harmful to our health. It also goes through a filtration process that eliminates sediment and dirt.

But while our national water filtration system does remove many of the things that have been known to be harmful in the past, there is only so much a nationwide water filtration system can do. Not only that, but sometimes problems can occur farther down the line, beyond the point of filtration. This is why many homeowners are taking it upon themselves to go the next step in making sure their drinking water is as safe as it can be.

First, if you’re worried that there are contaminants like lead in your water, you can call your municipal water supplier and see if they test for free. If not, lead testing kits are available at most hardware stores for about $30. You can test the water yourself and find out the results in about ten minutes. If the tests come back indicating high levels of lead, experts recommend that you stop drinking it immediately and call your local water supplier.

Next, many are choosing to install in-home water filtration systems to remove water pollutants that have made it past, or back into the water supply. There are filters designed to remove everything from a bad taste to harmful pollutants such as lead, iron, mercury, hydrogen sulphide, and bacteria. The options are seemingly endless and it’s important to pick the one that most suits your home and water supply.

The best place to start is with a home water audit. This will give you a good idea of the makeup of your current water supply, highlighting the harmful pollutants that should be removed. Give us a call today, we’ll be happy to show you how you can make improvements to your current water supply, creating water that tastes better and is safer for you and your family.

29 Jan. 2016

3D Printed Plumbing Fixtures

untitled3D Printing, also known as additive manufacturing, refers to the process of creating a three-dimensional object by successive layering of material through a computer controlled robot. This technology was first introduced in the early 1980’s, but has really taken off in the last decade or so, and has really found a place in the aerospace, architecture, automotive, defense, and medical industries. The latest industry to experience the benefits of 3D printing is within plumbing. Since the technology is able to create products with unparalleled detail, such fixtures are highly desired by homeowners who are looking for creative, unique fixtures to accent their home. DXV_Vibrato-Faucet_ee5e8302

 

DXV by American Standard seems to be at the forefront of the plumbing industry’s use of this technology, recently unveiling the first collection of commercially-available residential faucets created with 3D printing. Their Vibrato Faucet under this new 3D product line even earned them a “BEST of KBIS Gold Award” in the Bath Category at the 2016 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show this month in Las Vegas. The use of such detailed technology provides the designs the ability look as if the water is appearing out of nowhere, since the trunk of the faucet is see through.

DXV_Shadowbrook-Bathroom-3D-Faucet_f1a3b333

DXV has an entire line of 3D printed fixtures. While this initial launch brings a hefty cost of $19,500, as time goes on and the technology becomes more wide-spread, pricing for 3D printed fixtures will hopefully decrease to a much more attainable price tag. For now, one can dream…

20 Jan. 2016

Bathroom Safety Tips

home-safety-bathroomJanuary is National Bath Safety Month, and when 70% of home accidents occur in the bathroom, it’s definitely not a topic to be overlooked.

While the bathroom can be a dangerous place for anybody, seniors and children tend to be most susceptible to bathroom-related accidents. Fortunately, many of these accidents can be avoided through awareness and prevention methods.

Safety Tips for Seniors – The main focus of prevention for seniors should be bathroom falls. While they’re unfortunately common and often times catastrophic, they can be easily prevented if you take the right precautions:

  • Install non-slip strips or mats in the bottom of your bathtub
  • Have reachable safety handles for climbing in and out of the tub or shower, and by the toilet as well
  • For those that have a particularly hard time getting in and out of the shower and standing for long periods of time, transfer benches and shower chairs make this process both easier and safer
  • Keep a non-slip rug or mat on the floor at the entry/exit of the shower and tub
  • Make sure your bathroom floor stays clean, dry and free of spills
  • Keep a portable phone in your bathroom, but away from water, in case of emergencies

1421883064Safety Tips for Children – Accidents can happen in an instant. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children 4 and under always have a parent or caregiver present when they are near water. In addition to constant vigilance, the following tips are recommended for a safe bathing environment:

  • Prevent slips – young children don’t have the coordination or strength to hold steady if they loose their balance. Placing a slip-resistant plastic mat that suctions to the bottom of the tub/shower and a non-slip throw rug outside the tub/shower will help prevent falls.
  • Test the temperature – Children are more sensitive to extreme temperatures than adults, so make sure your home’s water heater is set to no hotter than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have control over the heater, you can buy an anti-scald device that attaches to the faucet. Lastly, always wait until the tub is finished filling before placing your child in the water since the temperature can unknowingly change.
  • Beware of sharp edges – Use a rubber cover for the faucet head and drape a towel over metal rails of shower doors when your child is in the bath. Make sure any glass shower doors are made of shatterproof glass. Lastly, avoid bath toys with hard edges or points that could be hazardous if your child falls onto them.
  • Constant Vigilance – We can’t repeat this one enough. Even if you think your toddler is fairly advanced in their swimming capabilities, assume they are not. Never leave the bathroom for anything, as the forgetfulness of “out of sight, out of mind” can lead to devastating consequences. If you do have to leave, grab a towel and take them with you. Again, accidents can happen in an instant.

Putting the above precautions into place will help create a safe bathing environment for those most susceptible to the dangers that lie in the most used room of the house. National Bath Safety Month exists for a reason.

15 Jan. 2016

Portland Utilizes Turbines in City Water Pipes to Generate Electricity

Portland2Portland residents are able to generate green electricity simply by turning on their water taps and flushing their toilets. Fast Company reports that the Oregon city is using a state-of-the art system to capture energy from water flowing through the city’s pipelines. Small turbines installed inside the pipelines are turned by the flowing water, sending energy into a generator and off into the power grid.

“It’s pretty rare to find a new source of energy where there’s no environmental impact,” Gregg Semler told Fast Company. Semler is the chief executive officer of Lucid Energy, the Portland start-up behind the new system. “But this is inside a pipe, so no fish or endangered species are impacted. That’s what’s exciting.”

Portland1According to Semler, water utilities tend to use large amounts of electricity, so the new power generation system can help cut the cost of providing drinking water to cities. Utilities can decide whether to use the power for their own purposes, or sell the energy as a source of revenue.

“We have a project in Riverside, California, where they’re using it to power streetlights at night,” Semler notes. “During the day, when electricity prices are high, they can use it to offset some of their operating costs.”

As for Portland, one of its main water pipelines uses Lucid’s system to generate power, and though the system can’t make enough power for the whole city, the pipes can produce enough to run an individual building like a school or a library.

Portland3Unlike other forms of green power, like solar or wind, the Lucid system can produce power at any time of the day because the water is always flowing. The only hitch is that the turbines can only produce power where water is naturally flowing downward with gravity. Lucid’s pipes contain sensors that can monitor the quality of the water flowing through the pipes, making them more than just a power generating technology, which can be valuable just about anywhere.

The company hopes to work with cities to install new systems as old pipes wear out. They’re also hoping to expand to the developing world. “It’s a great source of remote power,” says Semler. “So in places outside the city that don’t have an electrical grid, you’re able to use the system to generate energy.”

“There’s a lot of energy in going into making sure we have safe clean drinking water,” Semler says. “Our focus is really on helping water become more sustainable.”

Source: Fast Company

08 Jan. 2016

Celebrate National Bubble Bath Day

Free-standing-soaking-tub-bubble-bath-1024x682Today is National Bubble Bath Day. Yep, it’s a thing, and obviously you need to celebrate it, right? Just in case today is the first you’re hearing of it, we have an easy-to-make honey bubble bath recipe AND a honey and brown sugar body scrub, both consisting of ingredients you should already have in your pantry. Now you have no excuses. Top your hour of “me time” off by running two green tea bags under hot water and placing them over your eyes while you bathe for a DIY eye treatment that reduces inflammation. Enjoy!

Homemade Honey Bubble Bath Recipe:
1 cup baby oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup hand soap or shampoo (preferably unscented, but if not, pick something that will compliment the honey scent)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
plastic squeeze bottles

In a bowl, add the oil and stir in the remaining ingredients until well blended.  Pour mixture into plastic squeezable bottle.  Be sure to shake before us, as ingredients will separate and settle a bit in the bottle. Yields two 8 oz. bottles.

Recipe courtesy of Live Laugh Rowe


Honey Brown Sugar Scrub Recipe:
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
In a bowl combine all ingredients until fully mixed; store in an airtight container.

Recipe courtesy of A Pumpkin and a Princess

 

 

01 Jan. 2016

Plumbing Resolutions for the New Year

newyearWhile most of us are still in shock that 2015 is over (what?!), some of us have already begun planning for 2016 and looking for ways to improve. New Years resolutions typically entail staying fit or saving money. While we can’t help you with the former, we can make saving money easier. Here is a list of plumbing resolutions to convert your home to a more eco-friendly plumbing system, help prevent plumbing emergencies, and basically save you money in 2016.

 

  • Consider having a plumbing inspection, or even better, an ongoing plumbing service agreement. Having a plumber complete a whole home plumbing inspection makes sure everything is running correctly and there are no leaks or possible emergencies down the line.
  • Pay attention to possible problems. Hammering noises, slow drains, water that isn’t as hot as it used to be can all signal potential problems that can end up as expensive emergency calls. This year, make your resolution to contact a plumber as soon as you notice something is wrong instead of waiting until it is too late. Plumbing issues only get worse (and more expensive) as time goes on.
  • Have your water heater checked. Water heaters need regular maintenance. Contact a plumber to inspect and, if needed, flush it to make sure it is functioning at its peak operating efficiency and performance levels. You don’t want to get caught without hot water.
  • Wise up to your plumbing system. Know where all of the important points are located, including your sewer access points, the primary water shut-off valve, and the valves for your various water-using appliances like the dish washer and washing machine. When an emergency occurs you will be able to quickly shut off water to the damaged area without unnecessarily interrupting water flow to the rest of the house.
  • Watch what you put down your drains. The best way to avoid drain clogs is to be careful of what you put down your pipes. Make sure to clear your plates into the garbage before you rinse them in your kitchen sink and use drain traps to catch problematic items in your sinks and tubs. In addition, never pour grease or oils down your drains because they can easily lead to clogs.
  • Don’t use your toilet as a wastebasket. Your toilet should only be used for toilet paper and human waste. Everything else (such as paper towels, cotton balls, floss and personal hygiene products) should be tossed in the trash. By following these rules, you can greatly reduce the chance of clogging your toilets.
  • When buying new appliances, including water heaters, look for Energy Star.
  • If you are replacing toilets, install low-flush toilets to help control water usage.
  • Upgrade your kitchen and bathroom faucets. Not only will new faucets brighten up your room, changing to faucets that use less water can save you money on your water bill.
  • Stay on your toes during extreme weather. Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on your plumbing and excess rainfall can overwhelm a testy sump pump, so pay attention to the forecast.
  • Finally, teach your family how to save money and the planet with simple changes to their routines. Tell the kids not to let the water run when brushing their teeth, and encourage them to take shorter showers. Load up your washing machine and dishwasher so that you aren’t running them on half-full loads. Lastly, don’t water the lawn when rain is in the forecast. You’ll see lower water bills before you know it.

28 Dec. 2015

How to Maintain Your Sump Pump

sump-pumpIf your home has a wet basement, you’re not alone. The American Society of Home Inspectors estimates that more than 60 percent of homes have issues with water in the basement.

A sump pump can be an effective option for preventing water damage. Installed in a pit in the basement, these units sense when the water from rain or snowmelt is rising in the pit and approaching the floor level. The incoming water is then pumped outside before it can damage the home or its furnishings.

Sump pumps are relatively low-maintenance devices, but you can help keep your unit operational by inspecting it regularly. Steps in a regular maintenance program can include:

  • Checking the discharge line to make sure it is not stopped up or frozen. If necessary, unclog the air vent hole in the line.
  • Checking the inlet screen to ensure that it’s not clogged with residue and debris. Do this three or four times per year.
  • Making sure the float component is unobstructed and can move smoothly.
  • Scanning the pit and removing any visible debris, mud, or stones.
  • Testing the pump by slowly pouring a bucket of water into the pit. The float should rise with the water level, triggering the unit to start pumping. If pumping doesn’t begin, check to see that the unit is plugged in. Your float switch or check valve might also be at fault.
  • Going outside to see that water is discharging and flowing where it’s supposed to go – well away from your home.

Once a year, disconnect the pump from the power source and remove the unit. Flush it thoroughly with water to remove impurities and debris. While you have the pump out, also clean debris from the sump pit.  Reinstall the pump and reconnect the power source.  Test the unit by pouring a bucket of water into the pit and making sure the pump starts.

If your unit has backup battery power, replace the battery every two to three years, or as directed by the manufacturer.

Always refer to your pump’s instruction manual for specific information about maintenance and operation. More information about sump pumps is available from the Sump and Sewage Pump Manufacturers Association.

*The information in this article was obtained via State Farm Insurance.

17 Dec. 2015

Protect Your Home This Winter

insulatepipesAs temperatures begin to drop, it is a good time to review a few simple steps to keep your water lines from freezing.  Frozen pipes can cause damage to your property and cause a major inconvenience.  They can also be expensive to repair.

Most frozen lines occur on private property and are the responsibility of the homeowner.

Winterization Water Tips

Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses.

Detaching the hose allows water to drain from the pipe. Otherwise, a single hard, overnight freeze can burst either the faucet or the pipe it’s connected to.

Insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas.

If you have pipes in an unheated garage or a cold crawl space under the house, wrap the water pipes before temperatures decline.  Hardware or building supply stores will have good wrapping materials available.

Seal off access doors, air vents and cracks.

Repair broken basement windows. Winter winds whistling through overlooked openings can quickly freeze exposed water pipes.  Don’t plug air vents that your furnace or water heater need for good combustion.

Find the master shut-off valve.

Most likely it’s where the water line comes into the basement or crawl space from the street. If a pipe bursts anywhere in the house, this valve can turn off the water.

Leave a pencil-lead-thin stream of water flowing.

A small flow of water running from a bathroom or kitchen faucet during the worst of the cold spell can help prevent faucets or water service lines from freezing. The water should be left running through the pipe susceptible of freezing.  You can also leave your cabinet doors open to allow the heat of the house to help keep your pipes from freezing. When away from home for several days, turn the water off and drain the outside faucets or leave the heating system inside your home on to keep the pipes warm.

If freezing weather temperatures do cause a frozen water line on your property, you can contact a plumber or a private contractor to thaw your lines.  If you choose to thaw them yourself, here are some tips to help:

Thawing Frozen Pipes
  • Apply heat in the general area by increasing the room temperature where the pipes are exposed (basement, crawlspace, recreation room).
  • Place a portable heater in the room(s).
  • Use a heating blanket/pad – available at most hardware or plumbing stores.
  • Do not stand in water while using electric appliances.

*This post originally appeared on the City of Cleveland’s Water Department Website, www.clevelandwater.com.

17 Nov. 2015

5 Surprising Facts About Aircraft Lavatories

AirplaneAshtrays

1.  The FAA requires ashtrays in aircraft toilets – Although smoking on aircraft has been banned on all U.S. domestic flights since 2000, the FAA requires that ashtrays continue to be fitted to lavatory doors due to the fire risk of someone illegally smoking and disposing the smoking materials.

 

 

 

AirplaneToilet

2.  Aircraft are not required to have lavatories – Airlines are not legally obligated to provide a lavatory on an aircraft. Something to think about when airlines are cutting costs…

 

 

 

 

unlock-lavatory3.  You can unlock a lavatory from the outside – Aircraft bathrooms are designed to be opened from the outside by sliding the knob under the “Lavatory” sign.

 

 

 

VacuumFlush

4.  The vacuum flush – Patented in 1975, most aircraft lavatories are equipped with the ‘vacuum flush’ opposed to the ‘chemical toilet blue water recirculate electric flush’ to mitigate the risk of corrosive waste spill over and be less odor-inducing. (The ‘vacuum flush’ system is also substantially lighter.) Photo Credit: Getty Images

 

 

AirlineWasteRemoval5.  The myth that aircraft toilets dump waste overboard when flushed is simply NOT true. Lavatory waste is contained in a holding tank until the aircraft lands. Manufacturers take great care to ensure this holding tank is secure. The apparatus to access the tank is located on the exterior of the plane and cannot be opened mid-flight. So many people believed that airplanes were dumping the bathroom waste inflight that the FAA had to release a fact sheet in 2005 titled, “It Came from the Sky: Human Waste, Blue Ice and Aviation” to dispel public perception that waste was falling from the sky.

 

And for a quick history lesson on airplane toilets leading up to the invention and installation of the modern day vacuum flush…

• Pre-1930s: Empty buckets at the back of the planes used as toilets, or no toilet facilities were available at all.

• 1930s: First separate plane lavatory installed with removable toilet bowls.

• 1945: First fixed toilet bowl appears on a long-haul passenger plane.

• 1958: Inflight lavatories adopt flush toilets.

• 1975: James Kemper patents the vacuum toilet.

• 1982: First vacuum toilet is installed by Boeing.

 

*Information for this post was obtained via aviationweek.com and news.com.au.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Surprising Facts About Aircraft Lavatories

05 Oct. 2015

Getting to the Root of Plumbing Backups – Tree Planting Basics

PipeTreeRoutesFall is the best time of year in Northeast Ohio to plant most types of trees. As a rule of thumb, trees should be planted when they have enough time to establish roots before they’re exposed to stressors like high heat, low temperatures, or not enough water. Plus, it is important to give the tree time to acclimatize itself to the soil before spring when it needs strength to blossom.

So, if you’re like many Northeast Ohioans looking to add some new trees to your landscaping this fall, we wanted to make sure you considered an often overlooked aspect of tree planting; plumbing. While trees are beautiful and serve many purposes (shade, visual barriers, food supply, etc.), they can wreak havoc on a home’s plumbing system. Some being peskier than others, such as the notorious weeping willow.

The reason for this is simple, tree roots grow towards moisture. Plumbing systems produce condensation from the mixing of hot water and cool soil, attracting tree roots. Once a tree root bridges the outer barrier of a pipe it can easily set up shop and expand within the plumbing system. This can affect your sanitary waste line, causing nasty backups.

There are two key factors in avoiding a plumbing/tree root nightmare. Location and tree type selection. As far as location, we recommend having a plumber come out to your property to locate the underground pipe lines. This will give you a good idea of spots to avoid. As a reminder, when digging it is required to have the Ohio Utility Protection Services (OUPS) come out and mark off any and all underground piping to avoid hitting gas or electric lines. Most landscapers will require this step before digging any holes. The same should be done for your plumbing. Feel free to give us a call if you have any question about the location of your underground plumbing.

In addition to selecting the right location within your yard, careful selection of tree types is very important in preventing pipe damage. Faster growing trees are far more aggressive when it comes to root growth. If you have a smaller yard with less ability to avoid nearby pipes, then slow growing trees like Redwoods, a variety of Maples, and Dogwoods can be great options. It is best to talk with a landscaper or a knowledgeable tree nursery employee to determine the right variety for your yard.

The bottom line? Prevention, in this case, is best. Without some forethought, your planting choices can be the “root” of some very expensive problems in the years to come.