Archive for September, 2010
Okay, so maybe our title for this blog is a little grandiose, but fortunately for all of us that doesn’t make it any less true. Since the Green movement started catching on a couple years ago it’s become easier than ever to change your habits and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Green plumbing practices are simple, widely available, and generally affordable. Even if the environment isn’t your main concern, green plumbing can save you green cash in the long run, and that’s something we can all agree on.
Here are a few things you can do that are two kinds of eco-friendly—ecosystem and economic:
Install low-flow showers, faucets, and toilets
We’ve done a couple blog posts on these topics before, but it never hurts to remind you of all the benefits of low-flow systems. If you’re concerned about not getting enough water pressure when showering, don’t be. Many modern low-flow showerheads are specifically designed with this in mind and will give you the pressure you need while still saving much more water than a regular showerhead. You don’t have to trade power for green with toilets either. Check out our previous post on low-flow toilets to see some of the best water saving brands currently on the market.
Repair leaks immediately
We know it may seem like that slow drip-drip in your bathroom isn’t that big of a deal, but trust us, it’s a whale of a problem when it comes to wasting water. One leaky faucet can waste up to 20 gallons of water per day. Compare the cost of 20 gallons per day for two weeks to the cost of one 30 minute visit from the plumber and we have a feeling you’ll be calling us pretty quick next time that drip-drip rolls around.
Insulate, insulate, insulate
We all know that a drop in temperature means a hike in heating bills. Most people go to great trouble to insulate their windows and doors to try and save money on heating costs during winter, but if the same amount of people also remember to insulate their pipes as well a whole lot more energy could be saved. Water that runs through pipes in exterior walls takes more time and more energy to heat up during the winter. By insulating the area around exterior wall pipes you’ll save energy, make your water warmer sooner, and keep more money in your pockets.
We’ve all heard the terms “hard water” and “water softener,” but many of us have never actually understood what it means or what they do. In this week’s blog we’re going to give you a breakdown of the basics behind water softeners so you never have to wonder again.
Water is referred to as hard if it contains a high amount of calcium or magnesium. Hard water can cause “scale” (a hard film) to form on the inside of pipes, water heaters, kitchen appliances, etc. The scale reduces the flow of liquids through pipes and does not conduct heat very well, frequently resulting in clogged pipes. When mixed with soap, hard water forms a sticky scum rather than the foamy lather we’re all used to. Because most of us use soap to cleanse every day, this can be an inconvenient and unpleasant experience.
Though some people choose to redo the entire filtration system of their house in order to fix a hard water problem, most people opt for the simpler and less expensive option of using a water softener. Water softeners work by replacing the calcium or magnesium ions in hard water with sodium ions. Sodium ions do not cause scale to build up and react normally with soap, solving both of the most common hard water problems.
Water softeners replace the ions by running the water through a small bed of plastic beads. The beads catch the magnesium or calcium ions and replace them with sodium ions as they pass through until the beads contain nothing but magnesium and calcium. The water softener is then loaded with salt (sodium chloride) and the water is once again flushed with sodium ions to replace any existing magnesium or calcium ions that were not caught in the first round.
The idea behind water softeners is easy, but purchasing one and putting it into action is even easier. If you’re having hard water problems, give us a call, we’ll help you explore your options and fix that stubborn hard water problem for good.
Though we’ve already stressed the importance and benefits of maintaining your home sump pump in our previous posts, Sump Pumps Part One and Sump Pumps Part Two, it can never hurt to learn a little bit more about this hardworking appliance. Amazing as home sump pumps are, like everything else in life (and especially in houses), they can fail. Most sump pumps run off of your home’s electricity, which is convenient most of the time but in a really nasty storm can be the exact opposite. If your home’s power gets knocked out for any reason, so will your sump pump’s power, which is exactly why having a separate battery powered back-up sump pump that doesn’t rely on your home electricity is so crucial.
Most battery back-up sump pumps are designed to be extremely convenient. The general idea behind them is pretty simple: the power goes out and your main sump pump stops working; the battery back-up sump pump senses that the main sump pump has shut off and it starts working in its place. Different types of battery sump pumps come with different useful features as well. Some types will turn on whenever your main sump pump fails, even if the power hasn’t gone out. Some will set off an alarm when the main sump pump shuts off and (if you’re worried about battery life) some will set off an alarm when their battery power is low and needs to be replaced soon.
After learning how battery back-up sump pumps work, many people wonder why they can’t just use a battery powered sump pump as their main pump. Though it may seem the most logical to have a sump pump that doesn’t rely on your home electricity, unfortunately it isn’t the most feasible. Not only are battery powered sump pumps less powerful than electric sump pumps, the batteries are also extremely expensive. Battery back-up sump pumps are designed to be just that, back-ups. They have neither the short term power or the long term energy necessary to function as a regular home sump pump, so don’t forget to keep your main sump pump as happy and well maintained as possible no matter what.
Keeping your garbage disposal clean is easier than you think. If you use your disposal often you probably notice an unpleasant odor coming from it every once an awhile. This often means that some of the food remains may be built up or that there may be left over bacteria from previous uses.
Here are three simple ways to keep your garbage disposal clean and free of odor. The first way is to pour a half cup of baking soda down the disposal followed by one to one and a half cups of white vinegar. Let this work together for a few minutes, and then pour a half gallon of hot or boiling water down the drain.
The second way to clean the garbage disposal is with bleach and water. Mix in a large container or bowl one gallon of water and one tablespoon of bleach. Pour this down your drain, and then thoroughly rinse your drain with cold water for a few minutes.
The third suggestion is to process lemons or limes through the garbage disposal. The acid in the fruits will help remove any odor you may be experiencing.
These are just a few of the many cleaning methods you can use yourself at home. If you need professional help to remove odor or fix your garbage disposal please give us a call here at Nowthen Plumbing.
The beginning of September brings a lot of good things to Minnesota—State Fair corn dogs and cheese curds, cooler temperatures (if we’re lucky!), breezy nighttime walks—but it also forces us to grudgingly accept that fall is here again, and winter will be coming not soon after. As most homeowners know, with every shift in season comes a bundle of home maintenance and repair work. If the last few weeks are any indication it’s probably going to be balmy out for a while to come yet, but don’t let the warm weather stop you from preparing for autumn’s approach right now.
In order to help you prepare for the dropping temperatures and changing weather patterns we’ve made up a handy checklist to remind you of all the plumbing and home maintenance tasks you’d probably like to forget. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, we promise you’ll thank us later.
-To prevent pipes from freezing and bursting, make sure all areas around pipes are well insulated. Check out our previous blog about this topic. Preventing Frozen Pipes
-Make sure you know how to shut off your main water valve in case of a pipe emergency. Again, check out our previous post on this topic (we are just a wealth of information, aren’t we?) Water Shut-Off Valve
-Prepare for the possibility of extra rainfall and increased chance of flooding that comes with any change in season by making sure your home sump pump is running smoothly, and knowing what to do if it isn’t. Hmm, I wonder if we’ve written about this before…(last time, we swear)…Things to Know About Your Sump Pump
-Autumn is the most important time to keep up with gutter cleaning and repair. Those falling leaves are pretty; but the wood rot, pest infestations, and ruined gutters they can lead to sure aren’t. Take advantage of the warmer weather and get your gutter maintenance taken care of now in case any lengthy repairs are needed.
-Check the drainage systems in your home to make sure no water is pooling up or leaking. Common problem areas include basements, attics, and (since you’re already up there) gutters.
-This one will come a little later in the fall, but make sure you remember to shut off the water supply to any outdoor spigots and call a professional company to shut off your underground sprinkler system if necessary.
Stick around and keep checking the Nowthen site for additional tips. Chances are we’ll probably write another post (or three…) related to this topic in the near future.