Blog

17 Mar. 2010

"Faces In Strange Places" Contest!

Every once in a while, while on a service call, we find a bathroom faucet or a toilet looking back up at us (normally with a surprised look on its face). Over time, we have documented some of these “expressions” and we thought this would be a good platform to share them with you (see the images below). Additionally, we wanted to see what other “faces” are out there, and need your help!

Here’s the contest:
look for your own “Faces in Strange Places”. Take pictures of the “faces” you see in strange places, whether they’re in plumbing fixtures or not. You can post the pictures in the comments of this blog post, on our
, or email them to
(be sure to tag them “Faces in Strange Places” and make sure to leave your name and email address). We’ll allow submissions for the next 3 weeks (deadline is April 9, 2010) and then we’ll post all the submissions for you to vote on. The winner will receive some Neptune Plumbing/1-800-PLUMBING merchandise as well as some valuable coupons. We look forward to seeing your submissions!

Here are a few examples to get you started:

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16 Mar. 2010

Shower Running Out of Hot Water? Here’s What to Do

Showerhead
Hot-water problems can be frustrating. It’s no fun when you turn on your water and get ready for your shower only to find that the water won’t get any hotter than lukewarm. And even worse is when you’re in the middle of your shower and the hot water gives out completely. Over time, what may seem like a minor inconvenience can become a real headache, and you might want to
so we can help you get to the bottom of the issue.
But before you start calling, try to get a clearer sense of what’s causing your hot water shortages. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Water heater or plumbing?
Do your hot water problems affect your entire household, or are they confined to one fixture? Next time your shower hot water runs out, immediately go around your home to other showers and faucets and test whether they work properly. If you can get them to produce a sustained flow of hot water, then the problem is probably confined to your shower, which means that it’s probably in the plumbing, rather than in the water heater. This will be useful information when you start calling Neptune Plumbing. If the other showers and taps have similar hot water issues, then the problem is probably with your water heater.

When does it happen?
If the hot water problems are intermittent, make note of when they occur. Do they happen during a certain time of day? What’s the outdoor temperature when the hot water goes out? How long were you running the water? Were you previously running water elsewhere in the house? These things may mean nothing, but it doesn’t hurt to know this information when the plumber comes.

Check the valve.
Find where your water valves are located, and make sure that the hot water valve is all the way open. Over time, valves can slowly close on their own, so don’t rule this out as a possible solution. You wouldn’t want to have a technician come out to your home only to find that the problem was a half-closed valve all along.

How old is the showerhead?
If your showerhead is older than a year or two, it may be that its inner parts are worn out and causing obstructions. If you can, take apart your showerhead, and make sure everything inside still looks new. If it’s falling apart inside, installing a new one is a fairly easy process that you may be able to do on your own. (Note: Be careful not to injure yourself or break the showerhead when taking it apart. If you are concerned, please
.)

Do you need a professional?
If the source of the problem is more complicated than a worn-out showerhead, and if you don’t have much plumbing experience, you may want to
. Remember that plumbing is complicated, and Neptune Plumbing technicians go through years of training and certification before they’re qualified to work on advanced plumbing projects. So if you’re not sure of yourself, put the project in the hands of someone with the necessary know-how.

Have you had hot water or shower issues in the past? How was it resolved? Share your stories or tips in the comments.

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15 Mar. 2010

Are water leaks costing you money?

Are water leaks costing you money? Periodically you should:
  • Check all faucets for drips. Replace worn and leaking washers, gaskets, pipes or defective fixtures.
  • Check for leaks on outside faucets, and make sure the valve closes properly.
  • Check toilets for leaks – they are the most common cause of high bills! Check the overflow of the tank to make sure no water is running over (float level may be set too high) The flapper valve in the bottom of the tank is also a location of a possible leaking toilet. To check for a flapper valve leak, you can ask your Neptune Plumbing technician to dye test your toilets or ask him for a complimentary dye test kit. You can also put a small amount of food coloring in the toilet tank after it has filled. Do not flush the toilet for at least an hour, or overnight if possible. If the food coloring shows up in the bowl without flushing, you probably have a leaking flapper or plunger ball valve. For further information or assistance you can contact us at 1-800-PLUMBING or
    .
The following chart shows the amount of water that can be lost (and billed to your utilities account) for various size leaks.

leaks

How to Check for Leaks
Studies show that dripping faucets and leaking toilets account for as much as 14% of all indoor water use, equivalent to 10 gallons per person of water lost per day.
Read Your Water Meter
– Use your water meter to check for leaks in your home. Start by turning off all faucets and water-using appliances and make sure no one uses water during the testing period.
Take a reading on your water meter, wait for about 30 minutes, and then take a second reading. If the dial has moved, you have a leak.
Check for Leaky Toilets
– The most common source of leaks is the toilet. Check toilets for leaks by dye testing (see above). If after an hour or so the dye shows up in the bowl, the toilet has a leak.
Leaky toilets can usually be repaired inexpensively by replacing the flapper.
  • Toilets can account for almost 30% of all indoor water use, more than any other fixture or appliance.
  • Older toilets (installed prior to 1994) use 3.5 to 7 gallons of water per flush and as much as 20 gallons per person per day. Replacing an old toilet with a new model can save the typical household 7,900 to 21,700 gallons of water per year, cutting both your water and wastewater bills.
  • An average of 20% of toilets leak.
Check for Leaky Faucets
– The next place to check for leaks is your sink and bathtub faucets. Replacing the rubber O-ring or washer inside the valve can usually repair dripping faucets.
Water Conservation
You can use
to measure and estimate water wasted due to leaks.
For more information about water conservation contact the
or your local water department.

Do you have any additional tips to check for leaks or any leak-related stories/issues? Share them with us in the comments.

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11 Mar. 2010

Are you ready for the toilet of the future?

HighTechToiletsjpg
An interesting article from
by
:

While most bathrooms in the United States are business as usual, toilets in Japan and in some parts of Europe are high-tech wonders, overflowing with luxurious amenities such as heated seats, sound effects, built-in bidets and lids that raise automatically.

But the toilets lids aren’t the only things going up. Complex commodes are also raising eyebrows, especially with Americans unaccustomed to toilets that require an instruction manual.

“You walk into a bathroom in Tokyo and the toilets are like the captain’s chair on the Starship Enterprise,” says Kim Terca, a 27-year-old public relations consultant from San Francisco. “There’s a control panel with all these buttons. The first time I saw one, I just burst out laughing. Then I started pressing buttons to see what they could do.”

Perplexing potties
Terca says she found Japan’s smart toilets both “hilarious” and somewhat perplexing, since not all toilets offer the same snazzy features — including a special deodorizing feature that she says she never figured out.

And then there are the motion sensors.

“Once, I was in a coffee shop and went back to use the bathroom and when I approached the toilet, the seat suddenly went up,” she says. “It stayed for a second and then went back down. So I kind of reached for it and it opened back up again. It was like a Venus flytrap.”

Mary, a 53-year-old business consultant from Manhattan who asked that her last name not be used, says the special sound effects were what threw her for a loop.

“I went to see my client and had to use the bathroom and as soon as I sat down, there was this sound,” she says. “In retrospect, I realized it was a rainforest or some nature sound to give you your privacy, but at the time it sounded like applause. I thought, ‘Good god, that’s what you do in toilet training!’ ”

Peter Czech, a 31-year-old Web developer from Rutherford, N.J., says the smart toilets at a Japanese resort where he stayed a few months back were a constant topic of conversation among guests.

“People would talk about it breakfast,” he says. “They’d come down to the restaurant in the morning and say, ‘How about that toilet seat?’ ”

Czech says high-tech toilets definitely come with a learning curve, but he loves the innovation, particularly when it comes to heated seats, his-and-her bidets and seats that “self-sanitize.”

“It’s like the ultimate gadget,” he says. “I think it’s the next big thing.”

Trickling into the U.S.
Dr. Michael Sykes, a San Diego molecular biologist who runs the
says he’s surprised at how long it’s taken for high-tech toilets to hit the U.S.

“Bidets and dual-flushing systems have been popular in Europe and Asia for a long time,” he says. “It’s interesting how people are encountering this on their home soil now.”

Tina Kurfurst, a 46-year-old data coordinator from Seattle, says her company recently moved to a new building where the bathrooms now have a fancy new flushing system.

“They’ve installed these multiple-choice potties complete with instructions,” she says. “You pull up on the handle for number one and pull the handle down for number two. I guess it’s even more efficient than a low-flow auto-flush. But I’m a foot flusher. So ‘up for #1’ and ‘down for #2’ requires a bit more forethought and dexterity — especially in heels.”

Jamie Hysell, a 28-year-old interior designer who specializes in hotels and casinos, says most of her clients opt for “run-of-the-mill” features such as motion sensor flushers or self-cleaning seats, but she’s ordered a few deluxe models – complete with built-in bidets, motion sensor lids- and heated seats – for presidential suites.

Not surprisingly, the extra bells and whistles have elicited some interesting responses.

“The funniest responses were from the construction workers,” she says. “I found them playing with the remote control seat and shooting each other with the bidet. They would crank up the water pressure and send a stream of water eight feet across the room.”

Going paper-free
Some features — like the heated seat — are popular (“When I came home from Japan, the first thing I told my husband was we need a heated toilet seat,” says Mary), but others — like the bidet — often receive a more tepid response.

“There’s a lot of fear surrounding a bidet,” says molecular biologist Sykes. “Obviously, there’s nothing sinister about it, people have been using them successfully for years, but there’s a fear of the unknown. It’s a new thing.”

Or is it? According to Lenora Campos, public relations manager for plumbing manufacturer TOTO USA, many cultures have traditionally used water to cleanse “post-toileting” but for various reasons, the practice hasn’t really caught on in the U.S.

“My own private opinion is that when our forebears started up new settlements, there wasn’t the plumbing infrastructure to support a bidet culture,” she says. “So something important dropped away.”

TOTO is attempting to bring that “something” back with both its high-tech “Neorest” toilet, which can costs thousands of dollars, depending on the model, and the retrofitted toilet seat, “Washlet,” which starts at around $500 and comes in several different versions.

The “hands-free” units — which can be found everywhere from Hollywood bathrooms to hotels in the Heartland — come with heated seats, built-in deodorizers, motion sensor lids, remote control seats that go automatically lower after use (“We call it the marriage saver,” says Campos), automatic flushing, dual flushing, self-cleaning capabilities and antibacterial coating.          

They also feature built-in bidets (with both oscillating and pulsating features) and a warm air dryer.

“The idea is to remove paper from the equation,” says Campos. “If we can use water to cleanse, it benefits both the individual and the environment.”

Terca says she liked the built-in bidets she encountered in Japan (once she got the hang of them), but is dubious about the U.S. becoming T.P.-free.

“I don’t really see Americans going for that,” she says. “People have their favorite brand and there are huge campaigns about which way to put the roll on” the toilet paper dispenser. That might be kind of a tough sell.”

Toilet of the future
Paper-free bathrooms are just the start, though, says Campos. The humble commode may soon become a virtual seat of knowledge.

“Traditionally, we’ve thought of a toilet as a waste-removal receptacle, but we’re working on technology that will re-conceive it as an in-home health testing unit,” she says.

Already, smart toilets in Japan can perform urinalysis — testing for diabetes, for instance — then wirelessly transmit the findings

to either a home computer or health care
provider. In the future, Campos says toilets in the U.S. will be able to act as both an early warning system for disease and provide the user with insights into their day-to-day health.

“We’re always thinking about how to improve the individual’s life,” she says. “Soon, your toilet will be able to give you advice about diet and exercise.”

Read more:
What features would you like to see in your “toilet of the future”? Post your ideas in the comments below.

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10 Mar. 2010

Tips for Hiring a Plumber – 6 Questions to Ask

                                               
shares tips on hiring a plumber:
ourplumber
If you are like the majority of homeowners, chances are, you may not know too much about plumbing, let alone, how to go about finding a qualified plumber. This can be a daunting and an intimidating task. Not sure where to turn, some homeowners just thumb through the yellow pages and pick a plumber at random. Finding a plumber in the yellow pages is fine, however assuming a plumber is qualified because he or she is listed in the yellow pages can be a grave mistake. Always ask the following questions of any potential plumber.
1) Are you insured?
The only acceptable answer to this question is yes. The potential plumber needs to have both workers’ compensation and liability insurance. He or she should also be able to provide you with a copy of his or her insurance policy. This is mandatory and cannot be emphasized enough. Should damage occur to your home during the process of having your plumbing fixed, the last position you need to be in, is one in which you are footing the bill for this damage.
This is a very good tip. It is definitely important to make sure your plumber carries the necessary insurance to work at your home. At Neptune Plumbing, we are licensed, bonded, and insured. You can always ask a technician to provide you with a copy of our insurance.
2) Are you licensed?
Many states require that a plumber be licensed for their company to be considered legitimate. If so, you can to call (or check online) the appropriate agency for your state, to make sure the license is current. At the same time, you can also check to see if there are any complaints against the license.
Another important tip. To guarantee quality workmanship at your home it is imperative that your contractor is licensed. At Neptune we are licensed, bonded, and insured. You can always ask a technician to provide you with a copy of our current plumbing license.
3) How long have you been in business and do you have references?
This will let you know just how experienced the plumber is. A list of references is a great source for finding out how content previous clients have been with the plumber and his or her business. If a plumber acts reluctant to give you this information, it is always best to trust your intuition. A legitimate, qualified plumber will be more than happy to provide this information for you.
Neptune Plumbing has been in business since 1957. We are proud of our tradition of excellence and are enjoying continued growth due to our quality workmanship and our ability to complete projects in a timely manner. A list of references can be found on
4) How much will this cost?
You will need a detailed quote which includes a written estimate. This will include payment terms as well as a materials list. It will also include any additional information you have spoken about together.
At Neptune Plumbing, there are no hidden costs because we charge our clients a flat rate for our services instead of the hourly fee most of our competitors charge. We believe our clients should know what their costs are up front before we perform any plumbing services on their home. Therefore, we have devised pricing to reflect the quality of our services.

5) Does he or she provide clean up themselves?
If so, have this included in the contract.
Every job we perform isn’t complete until the work area is cleaned up 100%. We feel that this is so important that “cleanliness” is one of the ranked factors on our surveys each customer completes after a job.
6) Is your work guaranteed?
Will you come back to fix the problem if it returns again? It is always best to pick a plumber who guarantees his or her work.
Different types of jobs are guaranteed differently, but at Neptune Plumbing, the job is not complete until the customer is satisfied.
Let’s face it, needing plumbing repairs for your home can be an extremely stressful time for yourself and your loved ones. Put yourself in a position of power by asking all of the right questions and receiving all of the correct answers. Your peace of mind will be well worth the time and energy you spent, to find a decent, qualified plumber.
To schedule a plumbing service call, you can either call us at 1-800-PLUMBING or
What other tips can you suggest in finding a professional, reliable plumber? Leave your ideas/suggestions in the comments below.
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08 Mar. 2010

Introducing Our New Blog!

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Welcome to our new blog for Neptune Plumbing & our service division,
1-800-PLUMBING.

Here you can stay informed on what we’re up to, get industry news, and find other useful plumbing-related information. Make sure to subscribe to our feed to keep up to date and to see the specials and promotions we are running throughout the year.

Here’s a brief list of what you can expect from our blog:

  • Plumbing Tips & Tricks
  • Important/Topical Plumbing Information
  • Local Plumbing-Related News/Updates
  • Coupons & Promotions
  • Answers to all of your plumbing questions by licensed plumbers
We welcome you to share your comments with us and create an open dialog.

Is there anything you’d like to see in future blog posts? Let us know in the comments.