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Plumbing Tips (37)

Wednesday, 23 September 2015 23:15

Should Your Water Be Tested?

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For many Colorado homeowners with wells living near old mines knowing the safety and quality of drinking water is important.

But there are other reasons you may want to test your home's water, even if you don't have a well. These include:
  • Your home has lead pipes, or lead soldered joints
  • The water in your home has a strange taste or smell
  • You have soap soap scum on bathroom fixtures.
  • You're buying a home with a water treatment system and want to ensure it is working properly
  • You're installing a water treatment system and want to measure it's effectiveness
  • There are recurring gastrointestinal problems with occupants drinking water in the home
  • You are pregnant, or there is a child under six months old living in the home
  • You have a well that is near a septic tank or agricultural land
If problems are found with your drinking water, there are a number of water treatment solutions available to treat hard water and contamination. Have questions about water quality in your home? Give Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating a call, we can help test your water and offer solutions for most water quality problems.
Universal Design is a concept that aims to make living spaces accessible for the elderly, people with disabilities and everyone else. The goal is to create an environment that is accessible and does not create barriers to persons with physical limitations.

Universal design features isn't just for older individuals or the disabled — it's a sensible approach that makes living spaces better and safer for everyone. If you’re remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, adding Universal Design features will ensure that your home can adapt to your families needs down the road.

Accessible Kitchens and Bathrooms

The goal of designing an accessible kitchen or bathroom is to make it serve the broad needs and activities of families as they grow and change. These features include: curbless showers, space for seating under sinks, hand-held showers, comfort height toilets, wider doors, slip resistant surface and more. In addition, many plumbing fixtures are ADA compliant and offer features like motion detectors or wider handles for easier operation.

Have questions about making your kitchen and bathroom more accessible? Give Grand Lake Plumbing & Heating call, we're here to help.

If your old disposal is no longer working, or your updating your kitchen and want to have a more effective disposal, here are a few features to consider.

Disposal Power and Size

It's important to consider the size of the unit when replacing an existing disposal under your sink. While it makes some sense to look for a unit that fits the same space, a larger capacity unit will be able to handle a larger amount of waste more quickly. For best results we recommend at least 1/3 horsepower. For busy kitchens, some models are available with up to 1 horsepower.

Disposal Feeds and Grinders

There are two main types of feed designed to improve efficiency: batch or continuous. With a batch feed you just fill the machine, then turn it on. With a continuous feed you turn the unit on, run the water and put waste in. The main advantage of batch disposals is safety; it's difficult to break the blades by accidentally dropping cutlery into the unit. We recommend continuous feed models for their flexibility and greater convenience.

Features and Functions

Other features to look for include a cover, auto-reverse (for clearing jams) and a standard electrical cable so it can be plugged into an outlet rather than hard wired.

Need a new disposal for your kitchen. Give Grand Lake Plumbing & Heating a call, we're here to help.

Sewer line problems used to be hard to diagnose and fix. The first sign of trouble was often a slow drain or a backed up sewer line. Locating obstructions in the lateral line (the pipe that runs from the house to the main sewer line) used to involve having a specialist dig holes to locate the source of the problem and perform repairs.

Thankfully, diagnosing sewer and drain problems is a lot easier today with the help of video camera sewer line inspections. The process involves having a technician run a video cable through the branch lines that lead from from drains into the home's sewer line. A camera can also be snaked directly down the home's sewer line.

When Should You Have Video Sewer Line Inspection?

The best time to have a sewer line inspection is before there's a problem. If your home is more than 10 years old a sewer and drain line inspection can locate problems like tree root intrusion, fractures and misaligned joints that could cause problems down the road.

If you're planning on remodeling or adding a new bathroom a video inspection will help determine if your current sewer and drain lines will be able to handle the additional volume of waste. When buying a new home it's a good idea to have a video camera inspection performed to check the condition of the drain and sewer lines.

Have questions about sewer and drain line inspections? Call Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating. We're here to help.

Hot water that's lost through leaks or inefficiency doesn't just waste hundreds of gallons of water, it can also run up your utility bill. Here are some ways you can conserve hot water.

Fix Those Water Leaks

Even minor leaks from faucets, shower heads and pipes can waste large amounts of hot water over time. Even a small leak of one drip per second could cost $12 a year. Replacing worn washers and seals on plumbing fixtures will pay for itself in a short period of time. If your water heater's tank is leaking it should be replaced.

Install Low-Flow Plumbing Fixtures

Low-flow shower heads and faucets can be purchased for $10-20. For the best efficiency, select a shower head with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute). The EPA mandates that new shower heads cannot exceed 2.5 gpm at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi).

Upgrade to Energy Efficient Appliances

One of the biggest expenses of cleaning dishes and clothes comes from the energy used to heat the water. Before purchasing a new appliance check the EnergyGuide label to see how much energy it will use annually.

Use Cold Water Whenever Possible

When doing laundry choose the cold water clean cycle when possible. Many soaps and detergents will work fine with cold water.

Have questions about conserving water around the home. Give Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating a call. We're here to help.
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.

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12208 US Highway 34
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