27 Jul. 2016

The Pros and Cons of Vessel Sinks

Showy and Versitile Vessel Sinks

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:

PROS of Vessel Sinks

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.

Kohani brushed nickel vessel sinks

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.

Maestro Bajo Vessel Sinks

Mediterranean Powder Room by Santa Ana Interior Designers & DecoratorsCindy Smetana Interiors

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.

CONS of Vessel Sinks

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.

Maestro Sonata Petite Vessel Sinks

Beach Style Bathroom by Pensacola Interior Designers & Decorators In Detail Interiors

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

25 May. 2016

Plumbing Pipes Repurposed for Home Decor

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…

pipe shelving

If you’re not the DIY type, this shelving unit from Restoration Hardware is a great option.


pipe shelving 2

This brick wall unique really plays in the industrial appeal, and can be found on Pinterest.


pipe shelving 8 under stairs desk

An under-stair desk like this one serves a double purpose in design and space maximization. Read more on (Hint, you’ll find even more pipe shelving design ideas here.)


pipe shelving 4

And, of course, the less-is-more approach, courtesy of Home Decoration World.

Closets are another perfect shelving use for pipes, as seen in the following ideas…

pipe shelving 3

Not only is this useful, but it’s a retro way to display your favorite articles of clothing if your closet has no doors or you need to hang coats in an open hallway.


pipe shelving 11 clothing racks

The chrome finish of these pipes would be perfect for a locker room feel. Check out the Luxury Lifestyle, Design & Architecture blog for more info.


pipe shelving 5

This closet is just waiting for clothing to display. DIY For Life shows you how.

Furniture isn’t out of the question either…

pipe shelving 9 console table

Console tables can have a rustic, yet industrial vibe. Originally found on Reclaim By Design’s Etsy page.

And we couldn’t leave out bathroom applications…

pipe shelving 7 toilet paper roll

Toilet paper/cell phone holder combo, sold by Edna Fay Creations on Etsy.


pipe shelving 6 magazine rack

Bathroom magazine racks have never been more design appropriate. Made by Mac and Lexie through Etsy.


Lastly, for the animal lovers of the group…

pipe shelving 10 plumbing-shelves-with-cat

A cats playground, out of the way, yet on display.


What items have you repurposed lately, (plumbing related or not)?



29 Mar. 2016

Dual Flush Toilets

Dual dualflushflush 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.


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 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…

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.

22 Apr. 2015

Earth Day Plumbing Tips

EarthDayEarth Day began in 1970, with an aim to raise awareness about the environmental health of the planet. On this 45th Earth Day, people all across the globe will be engaging in eco-friendly activities to help the environment.  We have a few plumbing-related home improvement ideas you can institute today to help you become more energy-efficient year-round. The focus for Earth Day in our industry is all about improving energy efficiency, saving water, and reducing waste and pollution. Not a small task, but one that is immensely important for the future of our planet.


Here’s a short, but effective list to get started with:

1. Find And Repair Leaks

Having your pipes inspected for leaks by a local plumber should be first and foremost. If there are any, they will increase your water bills. Though small drips may not look serious, they will add to your water bill and if neglected for a longer period of time, the may grow and cause even greater problems. Then you will have to spend money on water damage and serious plumbing repairs.

Don’t neglect your toilets when inspecting for leaks. A simple way to do this is to carefully remove the tank lid and lay it flat on the floor to prevent it from falling over and breaking. Drop a dye tablet (available from Neptune) or several drops of food dye into the upper tank. Wait approximately 15 minutes. Check the water in the bowl for color. If you see color in the toilet bowl, then you know you have a leak in your toilet that could be wasting water and costing you money.

2. Upgrade Your Water Heater

The majority of the water used in your home first passes through your water heater. Installing a top-of-the-line, energy efficient water heater will help you save overall, when you think about how old your current water heater is and how much water your family uses in a day.

If you’re not ready to spring for a new water heater, simply adjust its temperature. This is quick and easy to do and will help you save money. You can also turn off your water heater all together if you are away on an extended vacation to conserve energy.

3. Install Low-Flow Fixtures
Installing low-flow faucets in your bathroom and kitchen will help you consume less water during your daily routines. These fixtures aerate or vibrate the water to make less water seem like more. With the help of a pressure or gravity-assisted mechanism, low-flow toilets work just as well as older models, but reduce your water consumption by hundreds or even thousands of gallons every year.
These three tasks are relatively simple, yet effective ways to reduce your environmental impact and utility bills. The more you do now, the more Earth friendly we’ll all be in the long run. Happy Earth Day!


16 Dec. 2014

Stop Overlooking Your Most Used Appliance: When To Replace Your Toilets

toiletsIt’s probably the one appliance in your home that gets used multiple times a day, yet is typically overlooked when you talk about remodeling or upgrading. Your toilet.

The life expectancy of a toilet can vary greatly, but like everything in our homes, there comes a point in time when replacing it is the better solution. How do you know if you’ve reached that point? Here are four key indicators:


Cracks can occur either in the tank or in the bowl. In many cases they are hard to spot. If a crack goes unnoticed, it can quickly grow and build, releasing a flood of water in a short period of time. A simple way to determine if you have a crack is to drop a few drops of food coloring in to the tank. Wait a few minutes. If the food coloring seeps into the bowl, you have a leak and it may be caused by a crack.


If your home was built in the 80s or before, and the toilet has never been upgraded, you are still operating with a full flush toilet. Toilets from this era used 3.5 gallons of water or more with every flush. In 1992, the Energy Policy Act was signed into law, making 1.6 gallons per flush a maximum for all new toilets produced. With today’s technology, you can find low flow toilets at this water level and below – ever considered a dual flush toilet in your home? You may be surprised by all the options available to you.


When a toilet reaches a certain point, you may be spending more on replacement parts then you would by replacing the entire toilet. If you’ve replaced a part more than once per year, its time to look at replacing the entire unit rather than working your way through part by part.


If you have a toilet that constantly clogs, it may be time for an upgrade. Especially with an older low flow toilet, if you find yourself consistently plunging, or flushing more than once on a regular basis, it’s a wise decision to upgrade.

If you have any questions about the toilets in your home, one of our plumbing technicians can assess their condition and give you the best options for replacement if need be.

15 Feb. 2011

2011 Home Improvement Trends

50 experts were interviewed about home improvement trends in 2011 and their results were packaged nicely into this infographic.  Use this as inspiration for your 2011 home improvement projects. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding a plumbing project or green plumbing fixtures. Do you have projects planned yet for this upcoming year? Share them below in the comments.

Home Improvement Trends 2011