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Plumbing Tips

Plumbing Tips (32)


You've probably heard that a new Colorado law takes effect in September 2016 that will require all new toilet installations in Colorado be certified water efficient and meet federal WaterSense standards. WaterSense certification provides that plumbing fixtures use at least 20 percent less water. For toilets, that means using 1.28 gallons of water or less per flush, as opposed to the federally mandated maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush.

While low-flow toilets will save up to 13 billion gallons a year in Colorado alone, they can also present a few problems. With less water to flush with, you may find yourself flushing more than once because of the low flushing power. This of course defeats the purpose of having a low flow toilet and should be avoided.

Sometimes the problem is caused by an under filled toilet tank. Check the manufacturer's instructions for setting the fill valve to ensure the water in the tank is at the right level. Many tanks will have a fill line to help, if there is no line, a good rule of thumb is to keep the water level about a half inch below the top of the overflow tube inside the tank.

Second, open the tank and adjust the tension on the flapper chain. The chain should only have a little slack, if it's too loose the flapper won't open all the way when the toilet is flushed and water in the tank won't empty completely.

Have plumbing questions? Give Grand Lake Plumbing & Heating a call, we're here to help.



Noisy pipes in the home are annoying, and in some cases they can be a symptom of a plumbing problem. If you hear banging while running hot water, the cause is likely copper pipes that are expanding as the hot water runs through the pipe causing it to rub against a stud or joist as it contracts. It is unlikely to cause a leak in all but the most extreme cases.

Unless you are in the process of remodeling or have access to the pipes from a basement or crawlspace, there isn't much that can be done. If you are fortunate enough to have access to the inside of the wall or ceiling, adding foam rubber to the holes where the pipes pass through can solve the problem. Replacing metal pipe brackets with quieter plastic ones can also help.

Banging Pipes

If the pipes make a banging noise when running both cold and hot water, you are probably hearing what is called "water hammer". Water hammer happens when the water is turned off at a faucet or other valve. Lowering water pressure the the pipes to 60 psi or lower with a pressure-reducing valve will usually reduce the noise. Another option is to have your plumber install air chambers, or water hammer arresters to absorb the energy inside the plumbing system.

Have questions about noisy pipes or other plumbing problems? Call Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating, we're here to help.
When buying a home it's a good idea to perform a thorough check of the plumbing systems to ensure there are no hidden surprises. Here are some items to check:

1. Water Heater

Ask the current owner for the age of the water heater. A conventional tank style water heater will last around 8-10 years. Check for signs of corrosion around the tank fittings and bottom of the tank. Excessive corrosion could mean the tank is in need of replacement. Turn on a tap close to the water heater, hot water should begin to flow almost immediately. If not, the tank may have excess sediment that needs to be flushed out, or the burner may be worn out.

2. Check for water leaks

Some leaks will be obvious, such as a dripping faucet or shower head. These are easy to fix. Of greater concern are hidden water leaks. To check for hidden leaks turn off all water using appliances and fixtures and check the water meter after a few hours. If the meter shows significant use, there is likely a hidden water leak somewhere. Also check outside faucets and the sprinkler system for leaks.

3. Check the Sump Pump

Sump pumps are one of the out-of-sight, out-of-mind systems that are rarely checked by homeowners. To check that the sump pump is working, slowly pour a bucket of water into the sump pit. The pump should turn on after a few seconds and remove the water.

4. Check Appliances

Washer supply line hoses should be checked for bulges and cracks. If the lines need to be replaced, use braided stainless hoses for added strength.

5. Inspect Sewer and Drain Lines

If the house is more than 8 years old it's a good idea to have a video sewer line inspection to check for tree root intrusion or cracks that could cause sewer line failure down the road.

Need a professional plumbing and heating system inspection? Call Grand Lake Plumbing, we're here to help.
Late winter and early spring are a prime time for basement flooding in the Colorado mountains. A sump pump removes water that may be enter your home through the foundation. Just a small amount of water can cause thousands of dollars or damage, from water soaked flooring to mold that can be difficult to remove.

Testing your sump pump is simple, watch the video below for the steps to follow.



Hard water can cause problems for homeowners in both increased energy usage and a shortened lifespan of appliances. The two minerals most commonly found in hard water, calcium and magnesium, make heating water less efficient. It requires more energy to heat mineral heavy water compared to clear, purified water.

Hard water can also cause limescale build-up, drastically restricting the water flow in your pipes. Steel pipes are the most prone to this problem, copper and PVC are not as susceptible to limescale build up. Over time this scale build up can lower water pressure in your home's plumbing, eventually leading to costly damage to pipes and plumbing fixtures. As the flow in pipes becomes more restricted, the limescale buildup will happen at a faster rate.

The areas that you may first notice mineral build up are in areas around shower heads, plugs, faucets and valves. Slowly dripping faucets can cause scale build up on sink surfaces and could damage the rubber washers that are required to keep the mechanism water tight. If this occurs, the washers can sometimes be difficult to replace.

Valves that are found in various appliances, such as ice-makers, washing machines and dishwashers can also end up with scale build-up. If small amounts of limescale build up around the valves, they may not be able to completely close, which can allow water to leak.

Hard Water and Water Heaters
Heating elements in water heaters can also quickly form mineral deposits. When there is limescale between the heating element and the water it will act as a barrier, preventing the water from heating up efficiently and causing the burners to work overtime. Mineral deposits from hard water can also dramatically reduce the lifespan of a water heater by clogging pipes, valves and drains.

Have hard water problems in your home? Call Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating. We can do an in home water analysis and recommend solutions that are right for your needs.

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

Written by
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

Written by
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.


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