Grand Lake Plumbing & Heating Blog
Plumbing Tips

Plumbing Tips (27)


Conventional tank-style water heaters have a lifespan of around 10 years. Depending on the amount of use and whether or not it has been properly maintained, it could last significantly longer, or need replacement much sooner. How do you know when it's time to replace the water heater versus repairing it?

The Water Heater Is Leaking

Some water heater leaks may are the result of a faulty valve or leaking pipe. If this is the case, it may just need a simple repair to keep it operating. If the water heater is leaking because of corrosion, it may be time to replace the unit.

The Water Heater Is Slow to Heat Water

First, check that the thermostat on the water heater is set high enough. If demand for hot water has increased in the home, you may just need a larger capacity tank installed, or a tankless water heater. Slow heating can also be caused by a build-up up rust and sediment. Flush the tank to remove the sediment. If the water heater is still not heating fast enough after flushing the unit, it may be time for a new water heater.

Malfunctioning Water Heater

In some cases the water heater may be have broken parts that need replacement. A plumber can check the heating element (electric water heaters) thermostat, gas burner and thermocoupler to make sure they are functioning. Consider the age of the unit against the cost of repairs when deciding whether to repair the unit.

Have questions about water heaters? Call Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating, we're here to help.


Reducing water usage around the home not only helps to conserve and protect our critical water supply, it also saves energy, reducing your utility bill.  Conserving water also saves energy by reducing the cost of water treatment, heating water and running appliances that use water.

In fact, according to the EPA, if every U.S. home had efficient plumbing fixtures the U.S. would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water, and an estimated $18 billion dollars per year!

Here are some water saving plumbing upgrades to consider.

Water Conserving Toilets

Toilets typically are responsible for most water wasted in the average home, consuming as much as 30 percent of an average home’s (indoor) water. If your toilets were installed prior to 1994, there is a good chance it uses more than 1.6 gallons of water when flushed. Consider replacing older toilets with a current EPA standard 1.28 gallon model. As an alternative for older larger tank toilets, you can conserve water by placing a small water filled bottle into the toilet tank to reduce the displacement.

Low-Flow Shower Heads

Showering accounts for around 20 percent of an average homes indoor water consumption. Today's low flow shower heads can reduce water consumption by as much as 70% will still providing a strong spray of water.

Efficient Faucets

If you have older, inefficient faucets that use more than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm), consider replacing them with high-efficiency faucets that have a flow rate of less than 1.5 gpm. Alternatively, you can add an aerator or flow restrictor to the faucet to easily reduce its water flow.

Have questions about water conserving plumbing fixtures? Call Grand Lake Plumbing. We're here to help.


The U.S. Department of Energy has put into effect new regulations that require all manufacturers of water heaters to meet a higher energy factor (EF) rating. Based on the new requirements, there will be significant changes to water heaters manufactured after April 15, 2015. This includes gas, oil, electric water heaters. Tankless water heaters already meet the new requirements.

How do these changes affect you?

Some of the changes that may affect you as a consumer are:
  • Higher priced units – up to 35% more expensive.
  • Larger units – 2” tall and 2” wider, and in some cases units may be even larger.
  • More complex installation requirements
  • Possible significant home remodeling costs if your water heater is located in a small space like a closet or attic.
These new regulations are being made to improve the efficiency of water heaters, which will result in lower energy costs for homeowners.

Should I Wait, Or Upgrade Now?

According to manufacturer’s suggested service life, the average lifespan of a water heater is about 8-12 years. Homeowners with water heaters 10 years old or older need to seriously consider replacing it now, before the regulations go into effect and costs go up.

Grand Lake Plumbing will answer any questions you may have about the new regulations, evaluate your current water heater and provide you with options on the next steps. Then, if you decide you want to install before the new regulations take affect we’ll reserve your water heater from our inventory.

For more information, visit:
U.S. Department of Energy
AO Smith
American Water Heaters
State Water Heaters

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 02:03

5 Ways to Conserve Water Around the Home

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During the summer month's water use around the home increases with lawn watering, car washing and other water intensive activities. By using water more wisely and ensuring that your home's plumbing system is in good shape, you can help conserve water, while also saving on your water bill.

1. Fix leaking faucets and pipes
That small drip from a leaking faucet washer can waste as much as 20 gallons of water per day. Leaking outdoor faucets and pipes can waste hundreds of gallons.

2. Don't use the toilet as garbage disposal
Flushing paper waste like facial tissue and other items that could go into a wastebasket can save up to 7 gallons per flush.

3. Repair leaking toilets
To see if your toilets are leaking, put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes without flushing, have the toilet fixed.

4. Install low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators
These inexpensive devices are simple to install and will result in significant water savings with hardly any noticable difference in water pressure.

5. Check for hidden leaks
After you have repaired all detectible water leaks in faucets, toilets, show heads, etc., it's a good idea to check for hidden water leaks. Simply read your water meter then wait for a two-hour period during which no water is being used. If the water meter has changed, you have a leak.


Wednesday, 07 May 2014 01:10

Spring Home Plumbing Maintenance Tips

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Spring is a good time to check your home's plumbing system inside and outside to ensure you are not wasting water from leaks or missing potentially larger problems in your home's sewer line. Here are a few plumbing maintenance tips:

1. Fix Leaks - Inspect shower heads and faucets for leaks. A single dripping faucet can waste hundreds of gallons of water in a year. Check toilets for leaks by adding several drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. If the tank is leaking, colored water will appear in the toilet bowl.

2. Test Your Sump Pump - Test the sump pump by pouring a bucket of water into the sump pump pit. The pump should turn on right away, remove the water, then turn off.

3. Sewer & Drain Maintenance - Check that all drains have strainers to prevent debris clogging the drain lines. Schedule a sewer line inspection. A video sewer line inspection will help to find the small issues before they become a major problem.

4. Ensure Plumbing Systems Are Regularly Used - Exercising faucets and water valves under sinks and toilets will prevent them from sticking from under use.

5. Maintain Your Water Heater - Drain a few gallons from the water heater tank to remove sediment, which reduces heating efficiency and can shorten the life of the water heater. Check with your water heater manufacturer's instructions for your specific make/model.


Monday, 28 April 2014 23:52

Top 5 Garbage Disposal Tips

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Keeping your disposal working properly is simple if you keep the following tips in mind.

1. Only put the proper kinds of waste into the disposal

These include:
  • Soft foods
  • Ice cubes
  • Some softer bones
  • Softer fruit pits
  • Citrus peels
  • Coffee grounds

2. Avoid putting these types of waste down your disposal

Fibrous material like:
  • corn husks
  • artichokes
  • celery stalks
  • onion peels
  • Seafood with shells, like shrimp

3. Always run a full stream of cold water

Let the water run for another 30 seconds after you turn off the disposer. Don't use hot water while you're grinding waste, although it's fine to use hot water when the disposer is off.

4. Let the disposal run only as long as it takes to grind the waste

This is usually less than 30 seconds.

5. Avoid using chemical drain cleaners in a disposer

The chemicals in most store bought drain cleaning products can damage your home's plumbing, and can be dangerous to use. If your disposal is jammed or backed up, call a professional plumber to clear the drain line.
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 23:47

Leaking Water Heater? Here's What To Do.

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A leaking water heater can range from a small, barely noticeable drip to a full-blown flood. Either way, the damage to your home and property can be expensive; ranging from damage to walls and floors, to unhealthy mold and mildew.

If you see water accumulating near your water heater, it may not actually be coming from the water heater. Nearby appliances and condensation on pipes near the water heater can cause moisture to accumulate nearby. Closely inspect the base of the water heater and valves for signs of leaks.

If you determine the water heater is the cause of the leak, the first step is to turn off power to the water heater. If you have an electric water heater, turn the power off from the circuit breaker. A gas water heater can be shut of from the power supply attached to the unit, usually be turning a knob to the off position. Next, turn off the water from the cold water shut-off valve located near the top of the water heater.

Water heater leaks can occur in several locations, including: the cold water inlet and hot water outlet, the pressure relief valve, the drain valve, and the bottom of the tank. Fixing a water heater is not a do-it-yourself project. A qualified plumber should make the repair. Depending on the location and severity of the leak, your plumber will either have to repair the water heater, or recommend replacing it.

Preventing damage from water heater leaks

For an extra measure of protection from unexpected water heater leaks, specially designed pans can be installed under the water heater to divert water leaks to a nearby floor drain. There are also special water leak alarms that can turn off the water when a leak is detected from the water heater or another source.

Thursday, 20 March 2014 01:46

Do You Need A Water Heater Expansion Tank?

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Because water will expand when heated, the excess pressure inside the water heater tank needs to be released. In the past, the expanding water in the tank would simply drain back out into the municipal water supply where it came from. Today, the water main is designed to prevent the backwards release of pressure, known as backflow, by employing a check valve. The check valve prevents waste water from inside the house returning to the water supply where it can contaminate the supply of fresh water.

A water heater expansion tank is another small tank that is attached to the water supply pipe of the water heater. The expansion tank is designed to handle the thermal expansion of water as it heats up in the water heater, preventing excessive water pressure. If water pressure gets to high it can damage valves in plumbing fixtures, joints in supply pipes and the water heater itself. Expanding water from the water heater flows into the expansion tank, relieving water pressure in the system.

What if my water heater doesn't have an expansion tank?

Most homes that have a check valve on the water main do not have an expansion tank, since it wasn't required until recently. This may or may not cause excessive pressure buildup, depending on the specific design of the plumbing in the house.

If you are noticing that washers in plumbing fixtures are deteriorating rapidly, or water is dripping from the relief valve on the water heater, it may be wise to add an expansion tank. It can be low cost insurance against more costly damage to your home's plumbing system.

Many people purchase a conventional tank water heater and simply forget about it until it stops working and it's time to replace it.

However, with a few simple water heater maintenance steps you can increase the lifespan of the unit while also making it work more efficiently.

1. Flush the water heater tank annually

Almost all water heater manufacturers will recommend flushing the water heater tank annually. Draining the tank will remove the sediment that has collected at the bottom of the tank which will allow the burner to work more efficiently.

Check the manufacturer's instructions for the correct procedure for draining your model of water heater.

2. Check the anode rod and replace it if needed

The anode rod hangs in the tank to help prevent its inside from rusting out. It should be checked annually when the tank is drained. Replacing a badly corroded rod is far cheaper than replacing the water heater.
Without a good anode rod, hot water will rapidly corrode the inside of the tank, shortening its life.

3. Insulate the water heater tank

This is a step you only have to do once. Wrapping your water heater in a blanket of insulation can improve it's efficiency up to 40 percent.

Is Your Sump Pump Ready For Winter Thaw and Spring Rains?

Many homes in the Colorado mountains experience some amount of below ground water seepage. Even a small amount of water entering the home can cause damage if left unchecked. Excessive moisture can also create an environment for mold and mildew to grow, causing health concerns.

A sump pump is an electric pump that is installed in the basement or crawlspace of a home to keep water from accumulating. A sump pump is typically placed in a sump pump pit designed to allow water to drain below the floor and allow the pump to remove the water.  As the pit fills with water, the pump turns on automatically, moving the water out of the pit through a drain pipe that exits the home and releases the water awy from the house. The pipe also has a check valve near the pump to keep the water from flowing backwards.


Testing Your Sump Pump

With the winter snowpack thawing and the spring rains just around the corner, spring is a good time to ensure your sump pump is working properly. Because sump pumps are usually hidden out of sight, we often don't think about them until a problem arises. To test your sump pump slowly pour a bucket of water into the sump pump pit. The pump should turn on a begin removing the water. If it does not turn on, ensure power is reaching the pump. If the pump still doesn't work, call Grand Lake Plumbing to have the unit tested and repaired if necessary.
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12208 US Highway 34
Grand lake, CO 80447

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