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22 Apr. 2018

Make Every Day Earth Day With These Plumbing Tips

With the abundance of tips, tactics, products and methods that the average person can implement to help save our planet, it’s amazing that we are even experiencing our current environmental crisis. Within the plumbing category alone there are numerous water and energy saving options available, and when you think about how interwoven plumbing is within the core of your home, it seems like a good place to start your conservation efforts. It should also be noted that, with energy and water conservation comes financial savings as well. Here are our recommended plumbing changes that will help you make the biggest positive impact:

Detect and Fix Leaks: 
It’s estimated that 10% of homes have water leaks, accounting for a trillion gallons of wasted water per year – or 1/6 of the U.S.’s clean water supply. Simple leak detection efforts, like observing your water meter to see if the numbers increase even when there’s no water in use or placing a blue dye tablet in the top of your toilet tank to see if any coloring leaks into the bowl, can easily let you know if you even have a leak before having to call a plumber.

Switch to low-flow fixtures and be mindful of how often those fixtures are put to use:
Did you have any idea that the average American uses 80-100 gallons of water per day?! This number could be significantly reduced by changing out old faucets, shower heads, and toilets to water-conserving, low-flow models. If you’re not ready to invest in upgrades just yet, or even if you have already, simple habits like turning off the water while brushing your teeth and keeping the faucet on low while washing and loading dishes are easy, free ways to reduce water usage.

Upgrade to Energy-Smart Appliances:

Dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters aren’t cheap, but when you think about the financial savings associated with the energy and water savings of these newer models, you might want to upgrade them before their time runs out anyway. The US Department of Energy’s website even has a handy calculator that can determine just how much savings you would accumulate by switching out older appliances for the newest models:

 

 

Conservation efforts are becoming a necessity that will only continue to increase over time. Please let us know if you have any questions about the recommendations we’ve listed above or need help implementing them in any way. Happy Earth Day!

15 Nov. 2016

How to Avoid a Frozen Septic System

FrozenSepticMany 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:

  • Mulch is a good insulator. If you’ve changed your landscaping or added a new septic system late in the year, a solid cover of mulch will help provide insulation in the coming months.
  • Let the grass grow longer in the fall to act as an insulator and allow snow to accumulate better.
  • Use hot water on a regular basis. If temperatures are cold and dip low quickly, running hot water through your pipes will help keep the temperature inside your septic tank well above freezing.
  • Fix any leak in your plumbing as soon as you know it exists. Don’t let small trickles of water create a costlier problem.
  • Double check risers, pipes and manhole covers whenever you access your septic system. Make sure they are sealed tight.

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.

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.

26 Nov. 2014

Thanksgiving Plumbing Tips

imageNeptune Plumbing would like to send a quick reminder to be kind to your plumbing as you prepare those thanksgiving meals. Between the extra guests working your bathrooms overtime and all of the meal prep in the kitchen, your plumbing can take a huge hit during this food-heavy holiday. While this is one of our busiest times of the year here at Neptune, fortunately there are ways you can avoid plumbing emergencies.

First, when it comes to the kitchen, never pour fats or cooking oils down the drain. They will solidify in the pipes as they cool and cause backups. Instead, wipe grease from pots with paper towels and discard in the trash. Larger amounts of grease and oils can be poured into leftover glass jars and then placed in the garbage.

As you’re cooking for the big meal, avoid putting stringy, fibrous or starchy waste in the garbage disposal. Poultry skins, celery, fruit & potato peels, for example, cannot be sufficiently ground up and could cause major backups. When you do use your disposal, make sure it is running as you put food into and don’t wait until it’s full before turning it on.

A house full of guests for the holiday equates to additional toilet flushes, dishwashing, laundry and showers, all of which put a strain on a home’s plumbing system. When hosting guests, it’s a good idea to wait ten minutes between showers so slow drains have time to do their job and water has time to reheat. Also, be sure that the bathrooms are well stocked with toilet paper so guests don’t have to result to using thicker tissues. Garbage cans should be easy to find so things like cotton balls and other waste gets thrown away as opposed to flushed. If you have a finicky toilet, make sure guests are informed.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, emergencies still happen. If you encounter anything that you’re unable to handle by yourself, our plumbing technicians are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help. Just give us a call at 1-800-PLUMBING (758-6246).

31 Jul. 2014

Drain Traps – Exactly What They Do and Why They Should Never Be Left To Dry

Drain traps can be found underneath every drain in your house and serve two main purposes. First, they provide a low-point directly below the drain, trapping heavy objects like jewelry and collecting debris such as hair and dirt. This localized trap limits the amount of debris that will pass through to the rest of the plumbing system, where it would be harder to reach and more difficult (i.e.: costly) to remove.

P-trap-explained

Drain traps also serve a lesser-known, but equally-important purpose. As a result of their shape, drain traps literally trap water within them, creating a necessary seal of protection. Without this seal, sewer gases would enter your home through the piping system that connects your house to your city’s sewer system. These gases not only smell nasty, but can be dangerous to your health.

P-trap-with-no-water

Unfortunately, when a drain isn’t used for a while, the trapped water will eventually evaporate allowing these gases and – yikes, sewer bugs! – to pass into your home. Therefore, if you have a sink, shower, toilet or floor drain that is rarely used, it is recommended that you run water through it for a minute or so once a month to replenish that water seal. An easy solution to avoid a potentially smelly problem!

Fall Plumbing Tips

15 Oct. 2013

Fall Plumbing Tips

Fall Plumbing Tips

Chilly fall temperatures serve as a polite reminder that when winter arrives it can be sudden, often leaving homeowners unprepared for the troubles associated with extreme cold. A few simple preparations now will help prevent headaches and costly repairs throughout the winter months.

  • Disconnect outside water hoses. If left connected, water in the hoses can freeze and expand causing faucets and connecting pipes inside your home to freeze and break.
  • Make sure outside faucets aren’t dripping or leaking. Make the necessary repairs or call a plumber before freezing temperatures arrive. Be aware that when pipes freeze, water pressure builds causing cracks – no matter if the pipe is made of plastic, copper or steel. Even a tiny crack can cause more than 250 gallons of water to leak in a single day.
  • If your home is equipped with interior shut-off valves leading to outside faucets, close them and drain water from lines.
  • Cover outside faucets using a faucet insulation kit.
  • Insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as garages or crawl spaces. Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around pipes that are exposed and prone to freezing.
  • Seal leaks around doors and windows to reduce cold air penetration.
  • Your water heater works harder during winter months. Flush it out and remove sediment buildup, which causes corrosion, shortens life span and reduces heating efficiency. Drain several gallons from the faucet near the bottom of the tank. Connect a hose to the faucet and direct water into a nearby drain.
  • Carefully test the water heater’s pressure relief valve (Danger: water is very hot) by lifting up on the lever and letting it snap back. The valve should allow a burst of hot water into the drainpipe. If not, call a professional to have a new valve installed.
  • Check the temperature setting on your water heater’s thermostat. Set at 120°F (or medium on older tanks) for optimum performance.
  • Clear leaves and debris from outside downspouts to ensure easy drainage when water freezes and thaws throughout the winter season.
  • Inspect and clean sump pump and pit. Pumps exposed to extreme cold can freeze, preventing the pump from operating.
  • When leaving home for extended periods, shut off the main water valve and drain the system by opening faucets at the highest and lowest points of the house. Make sure the heat is left on and set no lower than 55°F.

Caution! These tips are intended for homes that will be inhabited throughout the winter months. Many additional steps should be taken to winterize vacation properties that will be abandoned or left unattended for weeks or months at a time. Seek professional help for winterizing such properties.

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
Source: eLocal.com

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11 Feb. 2011

Plumbing Pipe Candlesticks

In anticipation of Valentine’s Day on Monday, we though we’d share this relevant “how-to” guide. Stephen Antonson teaches how to turn spare plumbing parts into an array of industrial candlesticks that are guaranteed to set the mood for any occasion, especially Valentine’s Day.

How-Tuesday: Plumbing Pipe Candlesticks from Etsy on Vimeo.

Materials

Plumbing parts can be found at most hardware stores or plumbing supply stores. Here’s a breakdown of all the plumbing parts you can use in this project:

  • Bushings — a threaded exterior on one side, and a threaded interior on the other
  • Couplings — each end of a coupling connects to other parts
  • Unions — two identical interior threadings on either side, unions “unite” two other parts together
  • Nipples — a short length of pipe that has two identical threaded ends on either side.

Plumbing parts come in either black or galvanized silver, both of which are quite striking. You have the option of leaving them bare or painting them (See Step 3).  ??You’ll also need:

  • Candles
  • Mineral spirits
  • Spray paint (optional)

Directions

  1. Thoroughly wipe down the plumbing parts with mineral spirits and a clean rag. The parts come with grease and oils on them to prevent corrosion, so you want to make sure to give them a good once over. If you’re planning on painting your candlesticks, wait for the parts to fully dry before you break out the spray paint.
  2. Now it’s time to assemble your candlesticks. There are endless combinations of parts you can try, so let your creative candlestick vision guide you. If your union-bushing-coupling combination isn’t looking quite right, try a union and four bushings. Or maybe add a nipple. There’s no wrong way to make a candlestick, so have fun!
  3. As we mentioned, if you prefer the original galvanized or black finish your plumbing parts, skip this step. If you do want to customize your candlesticks with paint, pick a color and start spraying. After ensuring that your candlesticks are completely dry and free of residue, apply your paint in short, even bursts until your surface area is fully covered.
  4. Pick a candle that complements your creation and you’re ready to go. Now you’ve got a great piece to spruce up your kitchen table or a romantic evening you’ve been planning.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

For more information on this and other great DIY projects, check out Stephen’s book, Home From the Hardware Store, available on Amazon or from an independent bookseller near you.?? About the filmmakers: ??Soo Kim and Marcus Ricci are founding members of Brazen Angler Films. They live and work in Brooklyn, NY.


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