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Archive for August 2015

Blessings Plumbing Maintenance Tips

Blessings Plumbing Maintenance Tips

Spot and resolve small plumbing problems before they become major issues at home.

Learn the Basics of Plumbing

DK – House Works, © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Plumbing. It’s been with us since Roman times, but today’s homes have a lavish supply of hot and cold water on demand, thanks to modern plumbing systems. The principles are simple — pressure and valves — but if they fail, the household may be faced with a soggy mess. When this happens, act quickly to avert major problems.

Smart homeowners know how to spot and resolve small plumbing problems before they become major issues. Help your plumbing stay dry and happy with these tips:

Plumbing Maintenance Tips

Keep an eye out for trouble. When it comes to plumbing, little leaks can lead to big problems. Be alert to signs of impending plumbing failures: Leaking faucets, damp cabinets, rocking toilets or dripping refrigerators all signal problems that need prompt attention.

Repair problems early. A leaking faucet isn’t just annoying; the moisture it releases puts wear on sink fixtures and can encourage the growth of mold and mildew. Stay on top of problems to keep the household clean and dry.

Know where to go when trouble happens. Should plumbing fail, will you know how to stop the flood? Locate the main shut-off valve for the home water supply. If it’s in a dark, hidden, or hard-to-reach place, gather any tools you’ll need for a quick shut-off, and store them nearby. There’s nothing like the frustration of a missing flashlight or a misplaced shut-off key when water’s pouring down the stairs from a broken pipe.

Shutting off appliances. Similarly, know how to shut off water to sinks, toilets, washing machines and water-using appliances like the refrigerator’s icemaker. Should they misbehave, knowing the location of the shut-off valve will save the day and a lot of wet cleanup.

Spot the sewer valve. Finally, hunt down the location of the household’s main sewer valve. It’s there to provide access to correct a clogged sewer line; don’t make the Roto-Rooter man spend pricey labor time looking for it when the toilets overflow.

Learn how to tackle small problems. With a few tools and a little knowledge, most of us can handle small plumbing emergencies. With a plunger, a pipe wrench and a sewer snake in your tool kit, you’ll be able to take care of small problems like clogged drains, blocked toilets, stuck valves and dripping faucets. How-to books, home improvement stores and adult education classes can pay for themselves when it’s time to call the plumber.

Cold snap: Keep plumbing safe in cold weather
In hard-winter climates, freezing pipes can create a sudden household emergency. Frozen water expands, cracking pipes; when the area thaws, the cracks vent a flood. Plumbing help can be hard to find in a weather crisis, so try these tips:

Prevent frozen pipes before they start. Best defense: insulation. Insulate exposed pipes in a crawl space or in the garage with easy-to-install plastic insulation. It’s a peel-and-stick solution. Before winter comes, remove exterior hoses, and apply insulating caps to outdoor fixtures, as a frozen exterior spigot can damage interior pipes. Households with automatic sprinkler systems can clear standing water with compressed air.

When cold weather strikes, go into action. Open the cabinets beneath sinks and bathroom fixtures; warmer household air will help prevent the pipes inside from freezing. Opening taps to a bare trickle keeps water flowing and avoids a frozen blockage.

If pipes do freeze, don’t panic. First, shut off the water supply to the house, then open a faucet near the blocked area to vent vapors from the frozen water. If you suspect that pipes in the hot water system are frozen, turn off the hot water heater. Use a hair dryer to warm the frozen pipe (never use an open flame to thaw a pipe), starting at the end of the pipe nearest to the tap. (Don’t use a hair dryer in areas of standing water.) You’ll know the pipe has begun to thaw when water begins to trickle from the open faucet. When the flow is restored, check the plumbing carefully for cracks or leaks.

Call a licensed plumber if your efforts are unsuccessful.

Maintaining water conditioning systems

In hard-water areas, water softeners condition water to remove unwanted minerals. Softened water uses less soap, prevents mineral buildup in pipes and extends the life of appliances and hot water heaters.

Keep them on the job with proper maintenance. Most models use a salt-exchange method that depends on a supply of salt pellets or nuggets. Use the type of salt recommended by your manufacturer for best results. Check the brine tank regularly to be sure salt levels are adequate. The salt should sit above the water line. “Salt bridging” occurs when a crust of salt forms over the top of the water in the brine tank; break it up by adding hot water to the tank or by poking the crust with a broomstick if it occurs.

After a period of use, water softeners will need to regenerate or recharge: The unit will flush collection areas of accumulated mineral particles pulled from hard water. If your unit offers an automatic regeneration scheduling, use it — you’ll have soft water automatically. If your unit requires manual recharging, stick carefully to the manufacturer’s recommended time intervals.

Reduce household water usage

A more sustainable and cost-efficient household means conserving water, but green living doesn’t have to be dusty and dry. Try these strategies to cut water use at home:

Load up the dishwasher. Hand-washing dishes may feel authentic, but it’s wasteful; automatic dishwashers use less hot water and energy than washing by hand. No need to rinse, either; most modern dishwashers are designed to remove food without need for pre-rinsing.

Go with the (low) flow. Household toilets can be water hogs; replace older models with low-flow alternatives.

Save in the shower. Keep showers short and sweet to stay sustainable. You can also save water — and money — by installing a low-flow showerhead, which use up to 50 percent less water than older models.757

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Drop a brick in your toilet to fight the drought

Drop a brick in your toilet to fight the drought

Dropping a brick isn’t something you normally brag about, but in this instance, it could help you go from water hog to water hero at home.

In California, which is experiencing the very real effects of a record-breaking drought, it’s still hard to get people to take responsibility for water conservation in their own homes and habits, where their actions can have a direct impact on not only the overall amount of residential water used every day, but can also result in a smaller water bill.

There are a number of ways to reduce water use in the home, such as taking shorter showers, installing low-flow faucets and showerheads, and cutting back on landscape and lawn watering, but there’s another place where a small action can make a big difference, and that’s in our toilets. According to the EPA, more water is used by Americans each day to flush toilets than any other activity (at home), so drastically reducing the amount of clean municipal water that gets flushed away each day can add up to a significant amount.

In California alone, an estimated 203 million gallons of treated municipal drinking water are wasted every day due to an average flush volume of about 2.7 gallons, when compared to using modern ultra low flush toilets, which require just 1.6 gallons.

One easy way to reduce that amount, even with older toilets, is to displace some of the water in the tank with a brick, which allows you to get the same flush pressure, but to use up to half a gallon less water per flush. However, keeping an actual clay brick in your toilet tank might not be the best for your plumbing, so this age-old water saving trick for the bathroom is getting a modern makeover, and the creators of the project are using crowdfunding and a bit of humor to help boost home water conservation efforts.

 

The Drop-A-Brick is a rubber brick designed to be lightweight enough to ship anywhere (8 oz), and yet when in place, to be heavy enough to stay put in the tank, displacing half of a gallon of water and saving up to 2 gallons per day per person. The hollow brick can be compressed for shipping, but when filled with a little bit of water, a hydro-gel inside the brick absorbs enough water to expand up to 200 times its size, allowing it to sink to the bottom of the tank.

© Drop-A-BrickTo launch the Drop-A-Brick, the creators have turned to crowdfunding to raise the money for tooling costs and the first production run, and backers of the Indiegogo campaign can pick up one with a pledge of just $15, or donate one to a needy family with a pledge of $12, or do both for $27.

You don’t need a rubber brick to save half a gallon of water per flush, as there are ways to displace that water in the tank without worrying about a disintegrating brick (such as putting the brick into a ziplock bag, using a similarly-sized rock instead of a brick, or filling a half gallon plastic or glass jug with water and putting that in the tank), but if you want to be part of “the bowl movement”, and you’d like to be able to tell your friends and family that you’re saving water by dropping a rubber brick, then by all means support this project.

15 Simple Plumbing Tips to Help You Save Money

15 Simple Plumbing Tips to Help You Save Money
  1. Check faucets for drips or leaks. Make repairs to save water.
  2. Check toilets for hidden leaks. Add six drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes
  3. Ensure that all drains have strainers to prevent hair, soap and debris from clogging the drain lines.
  4. Inspect toilet tank and bowl for cracks or leaks.
  5. Exercise water supply valves under sinks and toilets to prevent them from sticking.
  6. Make sure toilets flush properly. If the handle must be held down for a thorough flush or jiggled to stop the water from running you may need to replace worn tank parts. They’re inexpensive and you’ll notice a lower water bill.
  7. Check the temperature setting on the water heater. It should be set no higher than 120°F to prevent scalding and reduce energy use.
  8. Carefully drain several gallons from the water heater tank to flush out corrosion causing sediment, which reduces heating efficiency and shortens the life of the heater. A great Spring Plumbing Tip.
  9. Consider replacing a water heater more than 15 years old. (The first four numbers of the serial number represent the month and year it was made.) Newer water heaters are more energy efficient
  10. Pour a gallon of water into infrequently used drains (including floor drains) to fill the trap and prevent odors from entering the house. Slow floor drains should be snaked to ensure they will carry away water quickly in the event of a flood.
  11. Check exposed pipes under sinks and in the basement for signs of leaks.
  12. If your home has a sump pump, make sure it operates properly by pouring a few buckets of water into the sump pit. The pump should quickly turn on, discharge the water then shut off without any problems.
  13. Install a backflow valve in the floor drain if you live in an area where sewers sometimes back up into homes. This device will prevent future backups
  14. Make sure yard drains, gutters and downspouts are cleaned out, open, and free of debris.
  15. Check faucets and hose bibs to make sure water flows freely. If an outdoor faucet drips or if there is leakage inside your home the first time the hose is turned on, you may have had a frozen pipe that cracked and needs to be replaced.

Weird plumbing problem forces some Walmart stores to close

Weird plumbing problem forces some Walmart stores to close

TAMPA, Florida (WFLA) – Walmart customers can’t understand what’s plaguing the “plumbing problems” of Walmart stores from Florida to California.

“Must be a major plumbing problem is all I can say,” would-be customer Dale White said as security guards turned him away from the Supercenter in Florida.

The retail chain announced Monday that five stores are shutting down, one in Florida, two in Texas, one in Oklahoma and one in California due to clogging and drainage problems.

“Deciding to close a store is not a decision we make lightly,” Walmart Spokesperson Amanda Henneberg said in a statement.

Henneberg attributed the 13-year-old Brandon store’s shutdown to chronic troubles during the past two years. She insisted repairs will start immediately.

The shutdown blindsided about 400 Walmart workers in Floriday who must now find another store to transfer to or receive 60-days pay for the loss of their jobs.

According to Hillsborough County, Florida, Walmart didn’t notify the county’s permit department either. No one there has heard a peep from Walmart about any major repairs.

Infrared iPhone camera spots plumbing, heating & electrical problems

Infrared iPhone camera spots plumbing, heating & electrical problems

Flir Blessings Plumbing

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) –Thermal imaging technology – once reserved for military use – is making its way into the consumer market.

New infrared cameras hook right up to your smart phone and they can be pretty handy around the house.

CBS News 8’s Marcella Lee tested out one such device, call the FLIR One. It’s an infrared camera that slides onto your iPhone and uses different filters to illuminate heat sources.

One of things it can do is spot plumbing problems. Simply turn on the hot water the point the camera at the sink trap to view possible clogs in the pipes.

The company says you can also use the FLIR One to check for weather stripping leaks in your doors and windows. It’s also possible to view the location of studs and pipes in the walls.

Point the FLIR at power plugs, outlets and fuses to see which electrical devices are sucking up power.

But probably the #1 thing you can do with the FLIR is just impress your family and friends, explore your house, the world around you, take cool pictures, try different filters and then post them to social media to get lots of likes.

The FLIR One sells for $250 on Amazon and fits iPhone 5 models. The company is about to launch a next-generation thermal imaging camera that will work with the iPhone 6 and Android phones.

Plumber saves little girl from drowning in Colorado lake

Plumber saves little girl from drowning in Colorado lake

The last thing he expected to find on his first trip to Windsor Lake, Colo., was a 4-year-old girl submerged in the water on the verge of death.

But that’s exactly what happened to Angelo Mondragon on Sunday, and the 32-year-old plumber became a life-saver to little Sitlali Hernandez and a hero to her stunned family.

“If I was not in the right spot at the right time, it could have been a search-and-rescue mission,” Mondragon told the Coloradoan. “As I told the little girl’s mom, when I saw the baby’s toes, that became my baby.”

The incredible incident happened at about 2:30 p.m. Mondragon said he was wading through waist-deep water when he felt something strange bump into his leg. As he kicked the object to see what it was, tiny toes floated to the water’s surface.

“I saw the bottom of a baby’s foot float up,” he said.

Instantly, the father of two switched into daddy mode. He screamed for the child’s family and frantically pulled her out of the water.

The toddler was not wearing a life vest.

He carried her limp body to shore while others called 911.

Mondragon said that Sitlali was unconscious, turning blue and barely breathing. Two nearby off-duty nurses resuscitated her before the paramedics arrived.

The ambulance transported her to the Medical Center of the Rockies, then moved her to the Children’s Hospital in Aurora.

The child was in good condition and talking on Monday, hospital officials told 9 News.

That same day, Sitlali’s hero surprised her with a visit.

“I’m coming to let her know that I love her and she’s a part of my family now,” Mondragon said.

During the emotional reunion, Sitlali’s mother, Emma, gratefully thanked Mondragon, the tears streaming down her face.

“You saved her,” she said. “You saved my baby.”

The near drowning inspired Mondragon to start collecting life vests and flotation devices for families who can’t afford them.

Interesting Plumbing Facts from a Plumber in Virginia Beach

Interesting Plumbing Facts from a Plumber in Virginia Beach

Plumbing is the system in our homes consisting of “pipes and fixtures for the distribution of water or gas in a building and for the disposal of sewage.” Sounds straightforward enough, however, you might be surprised by how much you don’t know about your plumbing.

Below are some interesting facts about household plumbing.

Did you know?

  • Indoor plumbing dates back to at least 2500 B.C.
  • Sir John Harington is credited with inventing the flushable toilet in 1596, hence the American nickname for it, “the john.”
  • Copper piping, which is the #1 material used for plumbing work in today’s world, is the same material that the Egyptians used to lay their own pipe – some 3000 years ago!
  • Since 1963 (the year CDA [Copper Development Assoc] was established), more than 28 billion feet or about 5.3 million miles of copper plumbing tube has been installed in U.S. buildings. That’s equivalent to a coil wrapping around the Earth more than 200 times. The current installation rate now exceeds a billion feet per year.
  • In a typical household, toilet flushing constitutes up to 38% of all water-use in the home.
  • A low flush toilet can save you up to 18,000 gallons of water per year.
  • An invisible leak in the toilet will waste up to 15 gallons of water a day or 5,475 gallons a year.
  • In a typical home, more than 9,000 gallons of water are wasted while running the faucet waiting for hot water. As much as 15% of your annual water heating costs can be wasted heating this extra 9,000 gallons.
  • At 140 degrees, it takes five seconds for water to burn skin. At 160 degrees, it takes only half of a second. Your water heater should be set to no hotter than 120 degrees.
  • Approximately 1 in every 318 homes or buildings has a leak.
  • If a drip from your faucet fills an eight-ounce glass in 15 minutes, it will waste 180 gallons per month and 2,160 gallons per year.
  • A slight trickling faucet or showerhead can waste up to 100 gallons of water or more in a week (depending on the size of the drip).
  • A dripping faucet/hose bib can lose up to 180 gallons a month or 2,160 gallons per year.
  • A 1/8 inch hole in a metal pipe, at 40 psi, leaks 2,500 gallons of water in 24 hours.
  • A leak the size of a pinhead can waste 360,000 gallons per year, enough to fill 12,000 bathtubs to the overflow mark.
  • Consider this, a failure at 70 pounds of pressure can expel up to 650 gallons of water per hour. That’s what you could be faced with if your washing machine hose fails. Washing machine hoses are usually made of reinforced rubber, which can lose resiliency and burst as it gets older.  It’s important to replace this hose every 3-5 years.

Don’t Drink The Water: Study Warns Drinking From Garden Hose

Don’t Drink The Water: Study Warns Drinking From Garden Hose
 Don’t Drink The Water: Study Warns Drinking From Garden Hose

 

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Beware of drinking from the garden hose as temperatures soar toward 100 degrees.

A new study conducted by Healthy Stuff finds drinking water from a garden hose can be dangerous to your health.

Of the 90 water hoses used in the study, all contained lead and phthalates that exceeded levels set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Thirty-three percent of those hoses contained lead levels higher than the guidelines set in the federal Safe Drinking Water Standard.

The four phthalates found in the water are currently banned from being used in children’s products.

The tests also showed that the drinking water from a hose contained PVC plastic additives, which can cause birth defects, liver toxicity, and cancer.

The study suggests that you should always stay away from drinking from a hose to beat the heat, but if you need to, to always let it run for a few seconds.

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