Grand Lake Plumbing & Heating Blog
Plumbing Tips

Plumbing Tips (57)


Tuesday, 07 March 2017 17:04

How To Quiet Noisy Pipes

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Rattling, banging and squeaking pipes can not only drive you crazy, they can also lead to major problem problems. If left unchecked, loose pipes can disconnect from mounting brackets, stressing the pipe and causing a leak.

If a banging noise is heard when turning the water on and off, water hammer is the likely cause. Water hammer occurs when the water chamber that normally cushions the water pressure becomes filled with water. The condition can usually be fixed by draining the pipes in the home to restore the chambers with air.

Rattling Sounds

If you hear rattling noises from your plumbing system, check that the pipes are securely anchored to wood joists. Loose anchoring brackets should be tightened.

Vibration Noises

As pipes pass through holes in joists they can come in contact with the wood framing. Teh pipes can be cushioned with pieces of foam insulation to dampen the movement.

Squeaking Pipes

As metal hot water pipes expand and contract they can rub against the metal mounting straps as the water runs through. Adding foam of rubber cushioning to the mounting anchors will quiet the noise.

Have questions about plumbing noises in your home? Call Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating. We can help with all your plumbing needs.
In response to water conservation concerns in the 1990's, low-flush (or high efficiency) toilets were introduced to significantly reduce the number of gallons used per flush (GPF). Low flush toilets use 1.3 gallons per flush, while a regular toilet 1.6 or more gallons per flush. The average US home will save US$90 per year, and $2,000 over the lifetime of the toilet, according to the EPA. To be eligible to the EPA's Water Sense label, a toilet cannot be more than 20 percent less than the maximum allowed.

As the name suggest, a dual-flush toilet is uses two buttons or handles to flush different amounts of water. Depending on the design, the amount of water can be cut in half. While they can save a significant amount of water, the downside to dual-flush design is added complexity with more parts, as well as higher initial cost.

Have questions about low-flush toilets or other high-efficiency plumbing fixtures? Call Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating. We can can help with all your home plumbing installation, repair and maintenance needs.
In the Colorado mountain environment water quality can vary widely. Depending on whether you have city water or well water and your location, you may have hard water an other problems. One water quality issue that is common with well water is odors.  If your tap water smells like rotten eggs, or sulphur, it's often a sign that there is hydrogen sulfide gas present. Because heat will allow the gas escape into the air more easily, the odor will usually be strongest when running hot water in the shower.

In high concentrations, hydrogen sulfide can corrode metals and cause yellowing or black stains (metallic sulfides) on metal plumbing fixtures. It can also affect the look and taste of drinking water and food cooked in water. Fortunately, the levels of hydrogen sulfide found in drinking water are small enough that they are not harmful to humans.

What Causes Hydrogen Sulfide In Water?

There are a couple of reasons your home's water may smell like rotten eggs from hydrogen sulfide, they include:
  • Well water with decaying organic material or soil that causes chemical reactions of sulphur-containing minerals
  • Water heaters that generate hydrogen sulfide gas through the magnesium anode rod, which supplies electrons that sustain the reaction of sulfate to hydrogen sulfide gas

Solving Hydrogen Sulfide Problems in the Water Supply

When the problem is occurring with the water supply itself, such as a well, installing a whole-house water treatment system is usually the most effective long-term solution. If the odor is a result of the hot water system, modifying the hot water heater may reduce the odor. The process involves replacing the water heater’s magnesium anode rod with one made of aluminum or other metal may improve the situation.

For all your plumbing and water quality needs, Grand Lake Plumbing is just a call away.
Having chemical drain cleaners in the home can be helpful for some types of clogs, but there are also some risk that you should be aware of to protect your family's safety and to prevent damage to your home.

Liquid drain cleaners commonly contain corrosive chemicals such as alkaline, bleach and lye in high concentrations. They work by dissolving organic matter such as food waste, hair, grease and more. The effectiveness of chemical drain cleaners will depend on how far the clog is from the drain opening. Generally, the further away it is the less effective the liquid cleaners will be. This is why liquid drain cleaners are rarely effective for clogged toilets.

Chemical Drain Cleaner Safety

Drain cleaners and are among the most hazardous household available. To reduce the risk of injury follow the instructions on the label carefully and always store the container in a safe location where it cannot be reached by children.

Because liquid drain cleaners are highly corrosive, you should avoid contact with materials such as wood, paint, fiberglass and aluminum. Always wear rubber gloves and protect your eyes when handling drain cleaners.

Safe and Effective Drain Cleaning

The safest and most effective alternative to chemical drain cleaners is to have your drains professionally cleaned. Physically removing obstructions using a drain snake or water jetting is highly effective at removing the toughest clogs from sewer and drain lines. Best of all, you will rest easy knowing the job will be done right and there are no dangerous chemicals stored in your home.
Tuesday, 06 December 2016 21:51

Water Heat Inspection Checklist

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Whether your buying a home, or just trying to keep your existing water heating in top condition, keeping an eye out for potential plumbing problems before they become expensive repairs is a good idea. Water heaters have a life expectancy of around 10-15 years. The following checklist can help you ensure that it is in good working order.
  1. Is the hot water heater consistently producing hot water? Sudden drops in hot water supply could signal a problem with the burner, or a build up of sediment in the tank.
  2. Is it making unusual sounds? Gurgling sounds coming from a hot water heater are often a sign that sediment has built up at the bottom of the tank. Flushing the tank regularly can prevent sediment build up.
  3. Are there burn marks at the base of the water heater? This is often a symptom of back drafting. Because this is a safety issue, have the water heater inspected by a professional plumber.
  4. Check for proper ventilation. Ensure the draft hood is securely connected. The flu should be properly connected using a minimum of three screws per joint. Flues that are run into a chimney should be properly lined and connected to prevent carbon monoxide from re-entering the home.
  5. Is there a drain pan under the water heater? If the tank is on an upper level of the home, a drain pan will ensure that water leaks do not cause damage to the floor and ceiling below.
  6. Ensure a drip pipe is in place and is not leaking. The T&P or pressure relief valve should have a pipe that extends 6 inches from the floor.
  7. Is the anode rod is good condition? Anode rods are designed to attract corrosive elements in the water, thereby reducing corrosion to the steel liner. Replacing a worn anode rod can extend the life of the water heater.
Need help with your water heater? Call Grand Lake Plumbing, we can help.
Tuesday, 08 November 2016 17:58

How To Drain Your Water Heater Tank

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Annual water heater maintenance can extend the life of your water heater and ensure it operates efficiently.  Flushing the tank to remove sediment buildup is a straightforward proces, here are the steps:

1. Shut off the water supply - Locate the cold water supply valve at the top of the water heater and turn it to the off position.

2. Turn off the water heater - If you have a gas water heater, simply turn the thermostat knob to the “pilot” setting. If the water heater is electric, turn off the power at the breaker panel.

3. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve located near the bottom of the tank. Place the other end of the hose near a floor drain, in a bucket (have several large buckets to empty into and rotate them if needed) or outside the home.

CAUTION: Even though a water heater may be off for hours, the water in the tank may still be hot enough to scald.

4. Open a hot water tap - Open a hot water tap on a floor above that is nearest the water heater. This will relieve pressure in the system, helping the water drain from the tank.

5. Open the drain valve - After all the water has drained from the tank, turn the cold water supply at the top of the tank back on for a moment. This will clear out any remaining sediment. Repeat this step until the water runs clear.

When you're finished draining the tank, return it to operating condition by following these steps:

1. Close the drain valve.
2. Remove the hose.
3. Turn on the cold water supply to refill the tank.
4. Return to the hot water tap you opened earlier. Once cold water begins to flow from the tap, turn it off.
5. Turn the gas valve back on from the pilot position or turn electricity back on to the tank.
6. Check the valve opening to ensure it's not leaking.

IMPORTANT: Always read and follow all manufacturer’s directions and warnings for your particular water heater. Some water heater tanks must be completely full to avoid damage to the gas burner or heating elements.

Need help maintaining your water heater? Call Grand Lake Plumbing, we can help.
Tank-style water heaters are one of the most energy hungry appliances in the home, often second only to heating and cooling. By changing some habits and installing a few simple accessories, you can reduce energy consumption from your hot water heater significantly.

1. Reduce hot water usage at the source. One of easiest ways to cut hot water usage is to install water saving shower heads. The minimum flow rate on a shower head should be no more than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm). Many water conserving shower heads can reduce flow to as little as 1.6 gpm while maintaining acceptable water pressure. The water savings for a household of four could be as much as 14,000 gallons a year along with greatly reduced energy required to heat the water.

2. Insulate the hot water distribution system. Even in a small home, as much as 10 percent of the energy used to heat water can be lost in the pipes that supply the hot water. Insulating hot water pipes is an inexpensive way to significantly reduce heat loss.

3. Use a water heater blanket. While many new water heaters have sufficient insulation built into the tank wall, many older tanks will allow heat to escape. The larger the water heater, the more surface area that will allow heat to escape. Prevent heat loss by wrapping your water heater tank in an insulation blanket available from most home supply stores. Some manufacturers recommend against installing insulating blankets on their energy-efficient models, so be sure to read your owner's manual before adding a blanket.

4. Water heater maintenance. Over time, storage tank water heaters can accumulate sediment that reducing heating efficiency. Flushing the tank annually will remove the sediment and make it easer for the burner or heating element to heat the water.

Have water heater questions? Give Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating a Call we can help.
One of the questions homeowners often have when deciding between a conventional tank-style water heater of a tankless, or on-demand water heater, is whether or not it can get the water as hot. The short answer is yes. Most tankless water heaters have a thermostat that can be adjusted between 100° to 140°, depending on the brand and model. By comparison, a typical tank water heater has the temperature set around 120°.

The key to ensuring the water heater can supply a consistent 120° or higher is the climate and number of sources the tankless water heater will need to supply. It is critical that a tankless water heater is sized based on a household's needs. If the unit is too small for the amount of flow it’s being asked to produce it may work fine for a shower, but not work as needed when a washing machine and a shower are in use at the same time.

Tankless water heater ratings are based on the rise in water temperature they produce. The colder the temperature of the incoming water supply, the lower the maximum temperature of the heater. This means in a colder climate like the Colorado mountains, you’ll need a larger tankless water heater than someone living in a warmer climate, like Arizona.

Have questions about tankless water heaters? Call Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating. We've been providing Colorado with hot water for over 100 years.



Water jetting is one of the most effective tools a plumber has for cleaning and maintaining home sewer and drain lines. While cable machines (also known as drain snakes) can remove tough clogs and obstructions, they are not as effective at removing residue like grease that can cling to the inside of sewer and drain lines. Cables also can't completely clean out the debris that they break up inside the pipe.

The water jetting process uses advanced pumps and flexible hoses to propel water under pressure into the sewer or drain lines. The key to effective water jetting is a special nozzle that directs water jets both forward and backwards to "scrub" the pipe walls and cut through the toughest residue.
  • Clears away hardened scale
  • Breaks up sludge
  • High-pressure water jetting is a safe, environmentally-friendly sewer and drain cleaning method that offers the following advantages:
  • Penetrates and emulsifies grease
  • Pulverizes tree roots
  • Thoroughly flushes out a plumbing system
Have questions about water jetting? Give Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating a call, we're here to help.
As with most part of the home, plumbings systems will eventually deteriorate and need replacement at some point. A key factor in determining whether repiping is necessary is the age and type of pipe material. For supply lines, these materials include:
  • Copper 70-80 year lifespan
  • Brass 80-100 year lifespan
  • Galvanized Steel 80-100 year lifespan
Drain lines are usually made of one of the following materials:
  • Cast iron 80-100 year lifespan
  • PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) 24-40 year lifespan
The symptoms of damaged or deteriorating pipes include:
  • Leaks (higher than usual water bills can be a sign of a water leak)
  • Low or inconsistent water pressure
  • Rust colored water
  • Water hammer or other plumbing noises
If your home has PEX piping, it can be more prone to failure than other materials, and should be replaced.

To determine if repiping is necessary a qualified plumber should inspect the supply and drain lines to determine what materials are used, the age of the pipes and the presence of any leaks or defects. For drain lines, a video camera is often used to get a more complete look at the condition of the pipes.

Have plumbing questions? Give Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating a call, we can help.
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