Archive for the ‘Bath Plumbing’ Category

Saving Water and Money One Toilet at a Time – Water-Efficient, Low-Flow, & Dual-Flush Toilets

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

You’ve probably heard of them and likely used one too. Water saving toilets MNWater-saving fixtures are all the rage these days in the world of eco-friendly remodeling, and water-efficient toilets are commonplace in both residential and commercial remodeling.

When did water-efficient toilets become a big deal?

In 1994, the government decided that toilets shouldn’t use more than 1.6 gallons per flush, and manufacturers had to comply. Previous versions were using 5-7 gallons of water per flush, which in comparison is a signifiant amount. Though early efforts in creating more efficient toilets weren’t the most effective pieces of equipment, things have come a long way. Today low-flow and dual-flush toilets consistently work well and are saving water and dollars one toilet at a time.

So what are the differences exactly?

  • Low-flow toilets use 1.6 gallons of water per flush or less.
  • High-efficiency toilets use even less water, some a little as 1.1 gallons.
  • Dual-flush toilets save water by offering separate flush modes: one button for solid waste, one for liquid waste.

Why should I switch?

Switching from a standard to a low-flow toilet can save thousands of gallons of water per year. Replacing your old toilet with a more efficient one is a fairly simple and affordable way of both conserving resources and cutting down on your water bill – ultimately saving you big in the long run.

Need more motivation? The EPA’s watersense program website will walk you through why water-saving is important and how it can effect your pocketbook for the better!

Ready to install a new toilet or need help with bathroom remodel plumbing? Contact us here at Nowthen Plumbing today! Quality and affordable residential and commercial plumbing, serving Elk River, Anoka, and surrounding areas in the Twin Cities MN.

A Better Toilet Flapper – Product Review | Universal Flapper Line by Fluidmaster and Microban

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

No one likes the sound of a running toilet.  Worse yet, a leaking toilet.  Problems like these are often caused by an old toilet flapper that’s broken down and not sealing properly.  The toilet flapper is a rubber mechanism in your toilet that opens to let water out of the toilet tank when you flush, and closes to allow it to refill.

Once the plastic of a toilet flapper begins to wear away, it isn’t able to form a tight enough seal to properly stop the water flow.  Flappers naturally deteriorate over time, particularly with the use of toilet bowl cleaners, water chemicals, or due to bacteria.

Thankfully, fixing a toilet flapper is a relatively simple process.  And even better, there’s a new toilet flapper on the market intended to resist the natural wear and breakdown of traditional ones.

The companies Fluidmaster and Microban have partnered to create a Universal Flapper line with Microban antimicrobial technology, to help prevent flapper breakdown due to bacteria.  The antimicrobial coating won’t wash off or wear away, and is engineered to work continuously and for the lifetime of the product. This Universal Toilet Flapper also has a solid frame for sturdiness, so it doesn’t twist and holds a reliable seal.

Think this might be just what your leaky, runny toilet needs?  Check out the Universal Flapper Line with Microban featured on the Fluidmaster website here.

Need assistance with your leaky toilet or a residential or commercial plumbing issue? Contact us at Nowthen plumbing for expert service you can trust!  We happily serve Anoka, Blaine, Elk River, and the surrounding North West Metro / Twin Cities MN areas!

How to Remodel Your Bathroom without Breaking Your Budget – Part 2 of 2

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Interested in remodeling your bathroom, but not sure you can afford it?  Bathroom with white cabinets and trimThis series is for you!  Last time we shared our first round of budget-friendly bathroom remodeling ideas (read part 1 here), and this week we’re ready to leave you with some final money-saving tips:

4. Be Willing to Work
Decide where you’re willing and able to contribute sweat equity and make time to do those things yourself.  Clarify up front with you contractor which projects you’ll handle and then follow through within the project’s timeline.  Don’t be tempted to take on projects that are way beyond your skill level (that’s what professional are for), but know that even little jobs can save you big dough.  Painting the walls could save you around $200 and even screwing in the towel bars yourself may save you $20 or more.

5. Don’t Forget Out-of-Sight Inclusions
Just because you’re looking forward to your contemporary new bathroom design doesn’t mean you should lose focus of things behind-the-scenes.  Bathroom ventilation for example is crucial to get right, and installing a good system will save you money down the line when you avoid mold and mildew growth.  Without good ventilation, excessive humidity can also damage cabinets and paint finishes.

6. Be Creative with Lighting
Installing interesting and practical lighting is a cost-effective way to add punch to your bathroom in comparison with other expensive fixtures or pricey amenities.  Practical and ample lighting will make everyday grooming easier and will give the room a welcoming and spacious feel.  Consider task lighting surrounding mirrors or under-cabinet bathroom lighting to make finding those towels just a tad easier.

It is possible to remodel your bathroom without breaking the bank!  Now that you know a bathroom remodel is in reach, get the ideas flowing today!  For more inspiration, check out these affordable bathroom makeovers featured on hgtv.

Ready to get started?  Let Nowthen plumbing help!  Quality and affordable residential and commercial plumbing, serving the surrounding areas of Elk River, Anoka, and the south & east suburbs of the Twin Cities.  Contact us today!

How to Remodel Your Bathroom without Breaking Your Budget – Part 1 of 2

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Your bathroom may be desperate for an update, but a major remodel is simply not in the budget.  bathroom remodelWhat to do?  Here are some great tips for taking on a bathroom remodel without breaking the bank.

1. Use the Same Floor Plan
If you’re not desperate to add square footage, keeping the same footprint of the bathroom you already have will save you money in demolition and reconstruction dollars.  You’ll eliminate excess dust and debris while you’re at it, not a bad bonus.  Making the most of your space means plumbing fixtures are easier to locate near already existing pipes and the basics can all go in the same place, easing the timing and the process.  Click here for some inspiration on smaller bathrooms with organization and style.

2. Make a Plan and Stick with It
Before ripping, tearing, or gutting, you need a plan, and a strong one.  Evaluate things like:

  • How much you want to spend
  • Where will all of the fixtures go
  • How much storage you will need

If planning isn’t your strength, this is a good place to dish out the dough and hire a designer  —  a decision which will add style and efficiency to your bathroom remodel project.  Get your design nailed down from the beginning and resist the temptation to change your mind, which can stall the project and cost you extra money in the long run.

3. Choose Affordable Design Features and Add Big Impact on Your Own
You may think you need that expensive Italian tile, but maybe all you really want is a touch of the color blue it comes in.  Using lower cost, neutral tiles is long-term-friendly and allows you to add zest to the room with non-permanent touches, such as luxury towels, a designer shower curtain, and wall paint, in any color your heart craves.  Peak at some ideas for keeping it classy while using neturals in your decorating here.

Getting excited about the possibility of remodeling your bathroom for a price you can afford?  Follow us next month for part 2 as we share three more ways to save big on your bathroom remodel.
Need some plumbing assistance as you remodel your bathroom?  Contact us at Nowthen Plumbing today!  Serving the surrounding areas of Elk River, Anoka, and the south & east suburbs of the Twin Cities.

Product Feature: The Washlet S400 Automated Toilet System

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

If you’re into gadgets, then you’re not alone.  From the iphone to the remote control, our society has a thing for automating.  We want to streamline life and make the most of technology.

If that sounds like you, then the Washlet S400 might be just what you’ve been waiting for.

The Washlet S400 by TOTO

The Washlet S400 by TOTO

Bringing technology to the bathroom, the Washlet S400 is an automated toilet system (yes, we mean system) made by TOTO.  It is automatic, hands-free, and sensor-driven.

So what can this baby do?

  • Its automatic lid opens and closes as you approach and step away
  • It contains a front and rear washing system, using gentle aerated warm water
  • A warm air dryer (with three temperature options) is built-in to leave you fresh and dry
  • The heated seat features temp control so you can stay warm while seated
  • Automatic flushing is activated by sensors or the simple touch of a button
  • A self-cleaning wand makes cleaning a breeze

TOTO boasts that the Washlet S400 will “introduce you to an unprecedented level of comfort, while delivering maximum cleanliness.”  All at your command.

Sound like the gadget you’ve been missing?  Check out more on the Washlet S400 and then contact us at Nowthen Plumbing to bring your toilet up to technological speed.

Toilet Basics: Understanding Sizes, Installation, and More! (Part 2 of 2)

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Following up our last article, Toilet Basics Part 1, we want to continue by helping you understand the differences in toilet construction, styles, and installation options.  Our five additional points below will give you a better grasp of how toilets are made and what to consider when looking at the different sizes and shapes.

One Piece or Two: Typical toilets have either one- or two-piece construction.  One Piece and Two Piece ToiletsWhat’s the difference?  The two-piece models are traditionally what go into homes, a separate bowl and tank bolted together. One-piece models have a single, integrated tank and bowl for a sleek and seamless look, but the cost tends to be higher than the two-piece option.

Shapes and Styles: Toilets generally feature either a smaller, round bowl or larger, elongated (oval-like) bowl. The round bowl is understandably ideal for compact spaces, though the larger, elongated bowls with an extended rim are more comfortable for adult use.  Curious about unique shapes and trends in toilets?  Check out this toilet styles and trends video from HGTV.

Sizes and Installation: Standard toilet height from bowl rim to floor is about 15 to 17 inches, though manufactures are becoming more and more adept to customizing, such as American Standard’s RightHeight innovation.  Juvenile models are even available, like those found in preschools, as well as chair-height models for adults with special needs.  Most residential toilets are installed on the floor, but wall-mount styles are available for bathrooms short on floor space.

Colors and Materials: Almost all toilets are constructed of vitreous china, or porcelain, for home and public use.  In less common instances, stainless-steel models may be used in industrial and institutional locations.  Though pink and avocado green toilets had their day (and their outdated day) white is the most popular contemporary color, followed by light beige, both meant to stand the test of time and decor.  With that said, toilets are still manufactured in an array of colors to suit trends and personal taste.

Measurements and Drain Outlets: Rough-in dimensions are important for choosing the correct toilet for your space.  Most standard floor-mount toilets have a “rough-in” dimension of 10, 12 or 14 inches. To figure out the rough-in distance your bathroom needs, measure from the wall to the center of the drain (the bolts that attach the fixture to the drain).  Drains for toilets are either on the floor, or in the wall. Wall outlets can be either 4 inches off the floor, or the fixture is “hung” on the wall over the outlet.  Since these are important installation details, make sure to contact your professional, licensed plumber before purchasing if you’re not sure exactly what you need.

Need more assistance on selecting or installing your toilet?  Working on a bathroom remodel?   Contact us at Now Then plumbing for expert service you can trust!  We happily serve Anoka, Blaine, and Elk River, as well as the North West Metro / Twin Cities MN areas!

Toilet Basics: Understanding Toilet Styles, Water Usage, and How they Work! (part 1 of 2)

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Whether you’re in the beginning stages of a bathroom remodel or you just need to replace your outdated or inefficient toilet, you may be wandering the aisles of a home store or browsing your computer wondering things like:

  • Which toilet is right for my bathroom?
  • What does gpf mean?
  • Do I need a one or two piece toilet?
  • Can I save money on my water bill?
  • And what’s the difference between all these toilets anyway?

American Standard ToiletNever fear!  We’re here to give you a two part easy-to-understand series in toilet basics, including types, sizes, and flushing systems, so that you leave with a clearer understanding of what you really want and need in a toilet!

Types of Toilets and How they Work:

  • Gravity Fed: The most common type of toilet is the gravity-fed model, which uses, well, gravity.  It relies on the weight of the water and the head pressure (how high the water is in the tank) to flush.  A gravity fed toilet has free-standing water sitting in the tank.
  • Pressure-Assist : The lesser used pressure-assist toilet depends on air pressure within a cylindrical vessel, inside the toilet tank.  Air inside the vessel forces a vigorous, rapid flush.
  • Dual Flush: A dual flush toilet is a type of gravity fed toilet.  Dual-flush toilets give users two flush options: tilt the handle up for liquid waste to save water, or push the handle down for a standard flush.  Dual-flush toilets often meet the HET (high efficiency toilet) criteria of averaging 1.28 gallons per flush or less (an average based on one high flush and two low flushes).

Toilet Technology and Water Use:  Recent toilet technology has allowed toilets to use less water than ever.  That term that keeps popping up in toilet descriptions, gpf, stands for gallons of water per flush, and is a measure to help identify water usage.  Toilets manufactured before 1980, not uncommon in many homes that haven’t gone through a bathroom remodel, usually need 5 to 7 gallons of water per flush (gpf), and toilets from the 1980s to 90s typically use 3.5 gpf.  In 1992, the U.S. government mandated that toilets use no more than 1.6 gpf, changing modern design and manufacturing.

It’s easy to see why replacing older toilets with the newer models can result in significant water and sewer savings.  Replacing a 3.5- or 5-gpf toilet with a 1.6-gpf toilet can save about 9,740 to 17,300 gallons of water per year.  Meaning today’s high-efficiency toilets use less water than ever, yet outperform many of the older, water-guzzling ones.

*Next month look for more details on toilet trends, installation, and more!*

Need assistance with your Anoka, Blaine, Elk River, or North West Metro / Twin Cities, MN toilet installation or bathroom remodel?  Connect with us at Nowthen Plumbing today!

Understanding High Efficiency Hot Water Heaters

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Brrr!  It’s cold out there!  Nothing compares to a hot shower on a cold day.  But how do you maintain consistent water temps in your home?  And what’s the best way to save money on your hot water bill?

The answers may be found in a high efficiency water heater.  This month we’re here to help you understand high efficiency water heaters and the difference they can make in your home.                                         

Did you know that heating water accounts for approximately 15 percent of a home’s energy use?  And since high efficiency water heaters use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard models, they can save home owners money on their utility bills, depending on family size, heater location, and the size and placement of water pipes.

Different high efficiency water heater technologies include:

•  Storage (Tank) Water Heaters – These keep water hot and  ready for use at all times in insulated storage tanks, ranging from 20 to 80 gallons. They can be used with electricity, natural gas, oil, and propane. One drawback of these units is that they can create “standby losses” — extra energy that is being used to keep the water hot at all times.

•  Demand (Tankless) Water Heaters – These circulate water through a large coil, heating water only on as needed, using gas or electricity.  There is no storage tank continuously maintaining hot water.  A possible concern with this is the limitation on the number of fixtures that can simultaneously use hot water. There is, however, an endless supply of hot water, and standby losses are eliminated.

•  Heat Pump Water Heaters – In this case, heat pumps transfer energy from the surrounding air to water in a storage tank. These water heaters are much more efficient than electric resistance water heaters and most effective in warm climates with long cooling seasons.

•  Solar Water Heating – Initially expensive compared to standard models, solar water heaters can be cost effective. That is because the sun’s energy is harnessed to reduce operating costs up to 90 percent. Solar water heating systems do require a conventional water heater as a backup water heating source to ensure hot water is available when solar energy is not.

Deciding which type of water heater is the best fit for your home is something you should research on your own and discuss with your respected plumbing professional.  A helpful resource for learning more about energy efficient home products, including hot water heaters is Energy Star at www.energystar.gov, the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency.

And of course, reasons other than energy efficiency may prompt you to consider a new water heater for your home, such as age or effectiveness.  A checklist for evaluating your current hot water heater can be found HERE.

When the time is right, we at Nowthen Plumbing would be happy to help you select and install a more efficient hot water heater, making sure those “brr!” moments stay outside, and not in the shower!

Preventative Holiday Plumbing

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

With the holidays just around the corner, house guests are likely not far behind!  Few things can screw up your holidays more than plumbing problems.  With that in mind, now is a great time of year to run through your plumbing preventative maintenance list:

  • Garbage Disposal: Your kitchen is sure to see plenty of action this holiday season.  Gear up by sharpening your garbage disposal blades.  Pour a handful of solid ice cubes and one cup of rock salt into the disposal to simultaneously clean and sharpen.  A small orange or lemon peel can also be run through for easy and natural deodorization.
  • Check Sinks: Fill your sink and drain it.  Watch for slow drainage which can indicate a clog or blocked vent pipe or bubbles appearing while the water is draining.
  •  Toilets: Check to see if your toilets rock when pushed or pull.  If so, inspect their bases for loose bolts.  Next, make sure each toilet is flushing properly and that the water stops running upon flush completion.  Check your tank for any broken, missing or corroded parts in need of repair.
  • Showers:  Your showers should be inspected at the top and bottom.  First check your shower head for water pressure.  Low pressure may mean that the shower head has sediment buildup and is in need of cleaning.  Also check the shower’s drain to ensure that the tub is emptying normally. If you find yourself left with a couple of inches of standing water, try using a plunger, placed over the drain hole.  A few pumps should help to dislodge any minor blockage and open the passage way.

Did any of your plumbing appliances not pass the test?  If so, contact us today to remedy any plumbing problems before the first guests hit your door!

Advantages Of PEX Plumbing

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

A plumbing project is only as good as the materials that go into it!  With that in mind, we love sharing what makes our list of favorite supplies.  First and foremost on that list is the piping material that we prefer – PEX plumbing piping, or cross-linked polyethylene pipe.  Why is this at the top of our must-haves?  PEX plumbing is superior to the alternatives, including copper and CPVC for several reasons, some of which include:

Low Maintenance: PEX plumbing systems are immune to corrosion and mineral buildup, unlike metal alternatives.  PEX is also resistant to freeze damage, because it expands and contracts as water freezes and thaws inside the tubing, avoiding costly ruptures.

Easy To Install: PEX plumbing installations require fewer fittings to install and does not require soldering.  In addition, because PEX plumbing is flexible, the tubing can turn 90 degree corners without the need for elbow fittings.   PEX doesn’t require glue, which means you don’t have to work in well-ventilated spaces or wear a respirator.  Easy installation typically results in lower costs for the homeowner as well!

Efficient and Quiet: Because PEX plumbing does not transfer heat as much as copper, this plumbing material retains more heat in hot-water lines and resists condensation on cold-water lines.  As an added bonus, water flows more quietly through PEX tubing than it does through copper, eliminating the characteristic “water hammer” noise of metal pipe systems.

Affordable: PEX is cheaper than copper. Half-inch PEX tubing costs about a third of the price of copper!  Plus, because PEX is flexible, it can be shipped and stored on spools, where rigid plastic or metal piping must be cut to some practical length for shipping and storage. This leads to lower shipping and handling costs.

While PEX piping does have a few disadvantages – for example, it cannot be used outside – they are, in our opinion, outweighed by the piping’s many perks!