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Plumbing Tips

Plumbing Tips (51)


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.
If you notice a smelly sewer odor in your home, there are several possible causes. Here are some things to check:

1. Check the floor drain trap. Without water to block the sewer gas from escaping, odors will enter the room. Pour water down the drain to refill the trap.

2. Check the cleanout plug inside the floor drain. Remove the grate that covers the drain and make sure there's a plug inside the drain bowl. If the plug is missing, sewer gas will be able to bypass the water trap. A replacement plug can be bought at most hardware stores.

3. Check the toilets. When toilets are unused for a long period of time the water in the trap can evaporate. Simply flushing the toilet will refill the trap.

4. Worn toilet wax ring. The wax ring seals the toilet flange to the toilet base. If the wax ring leaks, sewer gas will escape from under the toilet. If the ring is broken, the toilet will need to be removed and and the wax ring replaced. If the toilet is loose on the base, shims can be used to ensure that a rocking toilet doesn't break the new wax ring.

5. Other possible causes of sewer odors include a broken or cracked sewer line or, less often, a loose connection joint in an interior wall. If you've checked the other possibilities above, it may be time to contact your plumber to hunt down the cause.

Have sewer and drain line questions? Call Grand Lake Plumbing, we can help.

WaterSense is a partnership program sponsored by US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which helps to promote water efficiency and enhance the market for water-efficient products, programs, and practices. Similar to the EnergyStar program that helps consumers choose energy-efficient appliances, WaterSense helps consumers to choose water-efficient products by specifying the maximum flow rates and minimum performance levels. Products certified as meeting current WaterSense product specifications are eligible to carry the WaterSense label.

WaterSense makes it easy to find and select water–efficient products that can help your wallet and the environment. Just look for products bearing the WaterSense label at your local retailer.

WaterSense labeled products are backed by independent, third–party testing and certification, and meet EPA’s specifications for water efficiency and performance. When you use these water–saving products in your home or business, you can expect exceptional performance, savings on your water bills, and assurance that you are saving water for future generations.

For a list of products like shower heads, toilets and more that meet Watersense certification, visit the Watersense Products page.

The first step in choosing a water treatment system for your home is to understand what's in the water by having your home's water tested. You may be experiencing high mineral content, strange odors or have other concerns. A water test will diagnose the cause of the problem and help you select the right water treatment solution for your needs.

Because not all water filters are going to be effective for the same group of contaminants, once you have identified the specific contaminants in your water check the NSF's water filter certification page. The NSF certifies different water treatment systems by the types of contaminants they remove from the water.

There are two basic types of home water filtration systems. Whole house/point-of-entry (POE) systems typically treat all or most of the water entering a residence. They are usually installed after the water meter (municipal) or pressurized storage tank (well water). A water softener is an example of a POE system.

Point-of-use (POU) systems typically treat water at the point of consumption, such as at the kitchen sink, refrigerator or shower head. Some may install inline while others will dispense filtered water through a separate faucet.

Need help choosing a water filtration system? Call Grand Lake Heating and Plumbing. We can test your home's water and help you choose the right water filtration system for your needs.
Keeping your sewer and drain lines working smoothly doesn't have to involve dangerous chemicals. Natural drain cleaners like BioOne offer a safe, effective way to remove buildup in drain lines that can eventually lead to an obstruction. BioOne is made of naturally occurring cultures that can be introduced directly into plumbing and septic systems. The patented BioOne Hungry Bacteria get to work immediately on degradation of fat, oil, grease and organic waste build-up through natural biological digestion. BioOne has earned the EPA's Safer Choice Program certification. Only products that are made of the safest possible ingredients are eligible for the program.

Keeping your home's sewer and drain lines working smoothly doesn't have to involve harsh chemicals. Natural drain cleaners like Bio-Clean and BioOne offer a safe, effective way to remove buildup in drain lines that can eventually lead to an obstruction. Both use naturally occurring cultures that can be added directly into drain and septic systems. Bacteria get to work immediately on degradation of fat, oil, grease and organic waste build-up through natural biological digestion. Both have earned the EPA's Safer Choice Program certification. Only products that are made of the safest possible ingredients are eligible for the program.

To remove minor drain clogs, try this homemade drain cleaner: Boil 3 to 4 cups of water. Pour one cup each of baking soda and white vinegar into the drain, followed by the water.

Natural Sewer Line Treatment Products

One of the most common reasons sewer lines fail is tree root intrusion. When a small crack forms in the sewer line tree roots are drawn to the moisture and nutrients inside the pipe. Eventually, tree roots will obstruct the sewer line.

One of the most effective biological sewer line cleaners is RootX. RootX kills roots in residential sewer lines, storm pipes and septic systems. A root intrusion left untreated can restrict flow, cause complete blockage and can eventually destroy a sewer or septic system, costing you thousands of dollars to repair or replace.

Need help clearing your sewer or drain lines? Call Grand Lake Plumbing. We can help clear the toughest clogs.
Universal design is design is a design system that works to make home's accessible to the widest range of occupants, whether young, old, big, small or physically disabled. Creating an accessible bathroom involves more that just making entry and exit as safe and easy as possible. There are other considerations as well, including:

1. Space - If the shower must be large or accommodate a wheelchair, it should be big enough to safely maneuver around with room to spare. If the bathroom is too small for a large shower, consider creating an open bathroom without walls between the shower, sink and toilet. Instead the bathroom can have a central floor drain and use waterproof materials.

2. Curb-less Stalls - To allow ease of entry and prevent tripping, compressible plastic strips can be installed on the floor to contain water. The strips can be stepped on but won't create a tripping hazard.

3. Non-Slip Surfaces - Tile with a matte finish and wider grout can provide a better gripping surface. Consider adding contrasting accents to tile floors and shower walls, which can help visually impaired occupants.

4. Lighting - Waterproof, compact LED light fixtures are perfect for providing bright light inside shower enclosures.

5. Seating - Consider adding built-in or a fold down seating inside the shower.

6. Storage - Wall niches provide a safe, convenient place to store shower accessories. Having niches at different heights will make them accessible to children and adults.

7. Shower Heads - When it comes to shower heads there is no one-size-fits-all installation height. For the most flexibility consider a rail mounted shower head that can be moved up and down to accommodate everyone from children to tall adults.

8. Grab Bars - Installing grab bars at an angle will make them easier to use at a range of heights.

Need help making your shower more accessible? Call Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating. We can help.

Many of the plumbing problems we see could have been avoided if homeowners had followed some simple maintenance tasks. Here are some maintenance procedures that are best performed at least once a year to keep your plumbing system working smoothly.

1. Repair leaks. That leaking shower head or faucet is more than just an annoyance. It could be costing you lots of money every year on your water bill. Replacing worn out washers is simple and inexpensive.

2. Clear out slow drains. Eventually that slow sink, shower or tub drain is going to clog, leading to a major clog that will require professional help to clear.

3. Clean faucet aerators and shower heads. If you're experiencing low water pressure the culprit may be mineral deposits that have built up in the fixture, reducing water flow. Remove aerators and soak them overnight in vinegar to remove mineral build up.

4. Have your sewer line inspected. One of the most costly and disruptive plumbing problems a homeowner can experience is a backed up sewer main. A video sewer line inspection will find any potential problems, including breaks, misalign pipes, and tree root intrusion that can lead to sewer line failure.

5. Flush your water heater tank. Flushing your water heater tank will prevent rust and sediment from building up at the bottom of the tank where it can reduce heating efficiency and shorten the life of the water heater.

6. Fix that flapper. A running toilet can waste a lot of water. Replacing the flapper is inexpensive and simple to do.

Have a tankless water heater? Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning the line filter.

Have questions about maintaining your home's plumbing system? Call Grand Lake Plumbing & Heating, we're here to help.
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12208 US Highway 34
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