Why a New Water Meter Won’t Save You Money

When you get a high water bill, it’s natural to think that you need to install a new water meter.

This is a common thought among homeowners.

But, the thought might not be accurate because your water meter doesn’t always correlate to your water use or your bill.

Water bills can also include waste water collection, water distribution fees, taxes, and some periodic charges.

For this reason, your water meter won’t correlate exactly to your bill.

Plus, asking for a new water meter is definitely a mistake if you’re looking to save money.

As water meters age, they register less usage, not more. So, the older your meter, the more water you’ll be getting for your money.

The best thing you can do to save money is to keep that old water meter and start learning how to save water. Learn what a billing unit is (one hundred cubic feet or 748 gallons) and monitor your usage. Conserving water will not only help the environment, but also your bank account.

Greg Chick has been a water professional for over 30 years. Be sure to check out his website for more information.

Holiday Plumbing Tips

The Holiday Season is a happy time.

During the Holidays we enjoy visits from our friends, family and even Santa Claus.

Although you love your friendly plumber, we don’t enjoy having emergency plumbing house calls.

Here are a few simple tips to help keep your Holiday parties and pipes running smoothly:

1. Keep drains free of cooking oil and grease. Scrape food and grease from plates into the trash. Pour off cooking grease from pans and bake ware into a can. Let it cool before placing it in the trash. Collect turkey frying oil and take it to the local household collection facility for free. The tallow company picks it up and recycles it.

2. Beware of the “unflushables.” Household cleaning wipes, facial wipes, baby wipes, toilet bowel cleaning pads, diapers, dental floss, feminine hygiene products and condoms should be disposed in the trash. When flushed they can hang up on roots in sewer lines and cause a stroke of disaster.

3. Keep your sewer lines free-flowing and root free. Use a snake to clean out roots. Don’t use copper root killers. They are toxic to the environment and treatment plants where the waste water flows. If trees grow over your sewer lines you may need to schedule regular visits from a qualified plumber to remove them safely.

For more tips on how to stop The Clog, go to ClogBusters.org or visit us on Facebook to become a Clog Busters fan and receive updates.

Tankless Water Heater Maintenance and Specs

The tankless water heater is an ingenious, home water heating innovation that has been on the market for a number of years now and is becoming increasingly popular with consumers due to its long term energy and cost saving potential.

A tankless water heater looks and operates very differently from a traditional storage water heater, so everyday maintenance can sometimes be a challenge for the unfamiliar homeowner.

A tankless water heater heats water directly as it passes through its internal piping; it does not rely on a 20-80 gallon water storage tank like traditional models and is able to eliminate standby heat losses associated with these less energy efficient models.

With a tankless model there is absolutely no threat of diminishing your reserve of hot water to the point where you run out, as there is with traditional storage models. Because tankless heaters heat and deliver hot water almost instantaneously, there is significantly less lag time between when you turn on your faucet and when hot water is delivered.

One unfortunate drawback of the tankless models is their slower rate of flow compared to storage models. Typically, tankless water heaters provide hot water at a rate of 2–5 gallons per minute—gas fired versions provide higher rates of flow than electric powered versions.

To alleviate the problem of insufficient supply, homeowners will sometimes install multiple ‘point-of-use’ heating units to service different regions of their home or even single, high demand appliances.

Many tankless water heaters have a life expectancy of more than 20 years. Storage heaters by contrast, typically last only about 10–15 years.

In order to extend the life of your tankless water heater and keep it running optimally, manufacturers suggest performing certain maintenance steps every six months to two years.

Find a plumbing professional who can perform maintenance and extend your water heater’s life.

The key to proper tankless water heater maintenance is flushing the entire unit regularly to remove any mineral deposits (usually calcium) that may have built up inside the boilers.

Two to three gallons of white vinegar or another low-grade acid is pumped through the system with a sump pump to clear out these deposits.

Plumbing professionals will usually charge anywhere from $150-200 for this kind of service.

Working on a Gas Appliance

Unless you hold a valid Master Plumbers/Gasfitters License I would strongly suggest you don’t even think of installing gas lines or a hot water heater. Do you know the actual BTU input of the H/W heater?

  • Are you using metalbestos (double wall flue piping)?
  • What is the specific gravity of the gas (fuel) in your area?
  • Can you safely install the T&P (Temperature & Pressure) relief valve to discharge in a code approved place?
  • DO YOU know how to size the T&P?
  • Can you check for spillage?
  • Do you know how to calculate the size of piping for the developed lenth of pipe and fittings for gas distribution?
  • Do you have enough “Free Air” for proper combustion?
  • Do you know how to size the free air opening?
  • Are you familiar with the ASME codes and the AGA as for proper installation?
  • What kind of material are you planning to use for gas distribution?
  • Are you planning on installing Drips legs? If So WHERE?
  • Do you know what working pressure you’re working with?
  • Are you planning on installing a Cold water loop of a min of 27″ to prevent molecules from crossing into the cold water line (heat moves to cold)?
  • What kind of dielectric fittings are you planning to use to prevent electrolic action between the tank and the piping?
  • Is the dip tube compatable with your water supply?
  • What provisions are you going to use for thermo expansion?
  • Where are you going to place your four fitting swing to allow for piping movement

    to prevent undue stress on your system?

  • How large is your existing Flue pipe? Will it be able to carry this appliance exhaust safely?
  • Is the area your planning on putting this possible bomb safe from dangerous vapors as PER AGA codes?

Of course you will use a W/H safety pan/tray to keep this tank elevated and to keep condensate dripping from destroying the surface it is installed on. What is the actual water temperature you plan on maintaining? Do you have a re circulation line also planned for YOUR installation? Will your insurance company pay a claim if this appliance causes a major fire if not installed professionally?
What kind of clevis hangers are you going to use? How far apart are you going to space them? Will you need riser Clamps? Are you going to use left and right nipples and coupling for your final hook up? Which APPROVED gas cock are you going to buy? Do you know what to check for to make sure you have positive combustion? Do you know how to check for Co? Do you know how many parts of Co (PPM)can kill you?

You have heavy insurance on your family and your home I hope. How many pounds of inches of Mercury are you going to test these lines?

WOULD you go to a doctor who was not licensed to operate on YOU?
IF you say NO then WHY would you want to risk your own life and members of your family and possibly burning down your home just to save a few dollars?

Thousands of people are maimed and die each year from faulty hook ups. INSPECTIONS are for your protection. Hiring a Licensed Master Plumber/ Gas Fitter is for your protection also.

Sylvan Tieger

author's pic

7/13/65- 7/18/68 United State Navy Boiler Tender/Rigger (17 -21 years old) 1969 – Joined plumbers local Union # 2 for year apprenticeship (1969-1974) (10,000 hours training).
Received 5 certificates of completion (1 for each of the 5 years) code, theory, welding, blue print drawing/reading gas piping systems, water supply, drainage (all types).
Passed Federal testing for Stationary Engineer to work on Air conditioning plants and high pressure steam 125# Masters in fire suppression piping.

View all articles by Sylvan Tieger

Easy Tips for Troubleshooting your Garbage Disposal

You can avoid costly garbage disposal repair bills by learning some simple troubleshooting tips.  These straightforward tips on how to repair a garbage disposal are designed to address the common issues you may experience, regardless of the brand and type you own.

Warning: Remember, safety first.  Always make sure to turn off the power to the garbage disposal at the breaker.  Also, never put your hand down the drain into the disposal (hopper).

Note: If you remove the splashguard, you will have easier access.

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Garbage Disposal Repair – Will not Start/No Humming Noise

This tip is for a disposal that will not turn on and it is not making a humming noise.  When this happens, it is generally an electrical issue.  Try the first step and if it does not work, go on to the next.

Troubleshooting Steps

  1. Make sure it is plugged in.
  2. Press the Reset button.
  3. Check circuit breaker to make sure it has not been tripped and turned off at the electrical service panel.
  4. If the breaker has not tripped and your reset button will not pop out, it could be a faulty switch or a faulty garbage disposal.  Locate the switch that actually powers the unit.  This will be located either on a wall or possibly under the sink.  Turn off the power at the circuit breaker.  Replace the switch.  Turn the power back on at the service panel and check to see if it starts.

If it does not start after replacing the switch and there is no humming noise, then the disposal is likely not fixable and will need to be replaced.

Garbage Disposal Repair – Will not Start/Humming Noise (Stuck Flywheel)

If your disposal makes a humming noise but will not actually start, then your problem is likely a stuck flywheel.  The humming does not last for long because either the unit itself or the fuse or circuit breaker will trip making it turn off quickly.  Generally, the flywheel will get stuck because of something that is lodged between the flywheel and/or the impellers and the shredder ring.

Troubleshooting Steps

  1. Turn off the power at the electrical service panel.
  2. Insert the offset wrench that came with the disposal into the flywheel turning hole at the bottom of the unit.   If the offset wrench that came with the disposal has been misplaced, you can purchase another one at the hardware store that sells your brand of disposal.
  3. Turn clockwise.  This should dislodge the stuck impeller or flywheel and you will feel it turn freely.  If this does not work, you can try from another angle.  Use a broom handle or similar wooden object to free whatever is lodged from the top through the drain.
  4. Once you have dislodged the object, the flywheel will turn freely.  Turn the power back on, but do NOT turn on the disposal yet.
  5. Press the reset button.  Run water into the disposal.
  6. Flip the switch on and off quickly so that it runs in short bursts.  Do this a few times and this will help the dislodged obstruction wash down the drain.

Garbage Disposal Repair – Leaks

There are a variety of places a disposal can leak.  The most common places are at the sink flange, dishwasher connection, and discharge drainpipe.

Troubleshooting Tips for Sink Flange Leaks

  1. Turn power off at the electrical service panel.
  2. Locate the disposer mount.  Turn the disposal counter clockwise from the bottom.  This will loosen it enough to be removed from the mounting flange.
  3. There are three mounting bolts.  You will need to tighten them.  If they are already tight, you may need to check the putty.  To do this, loosen the bolts.  The sink flange needs to be pushed slightly above the surface of the sink.  Apply plumbers putty between the flange and the sink.  Make sure you apply the putty all the way around the flange.   Tighten the mounting bolts.  It is okay if the putty oozes out.  Just wipe away the excess putty.
  4. Reinstall the disposal.  Turn your power back on and check for leaks.

Troubleshooting Tips for Dishwasher Connection Leaks

Simply tighten the clamp on the dishwasher hose that is connected to your dishwasher’s inlet located on the disposer.  If the hose continues to leak, you will need to purchase a new hose.

Troubleshooting Tips for Discharge Drainpipe Leaks

The bolts securing the discharge pipe to the disposal should be tightened.  If the leak continues, try replacing the gasket by removing the bolts and the pipe.  Reinstall the bolts and then tighten.

Garbage Disposal Repair – Slow Drain

There are a variety of reasons why your disposal would be slow at draining.  The most common issue for slow draining is a clogged drain line.  Your first instinct might be to use a chemical drain cleaner.  Never do this.  It will damage your disposal.

Troubleshooting Tips

The bolts holding the discharge pipe to the disposal need to be removed.  Remove the trap and discharge drain pipe by disconnecting the drain trap.  Look for any obstructions or clogs here.  If you do not find any at this point, the obstruction is likely in the line going into the wall or possibly beyond the vertical pipe that goes into the wall.  Use a sink auger to clear the obstruction here.

Prevention is the best way to avoid clogs and a slow drain.  There are some things you can do to reduce clogs form happening.  Potato peelings should not be put in the disposal.  They create a starchy paste when ground up causing your drain to clog.

Coffee grounds or eggshells should also not be put into the disposal.  They form into tiny granular waste when ground which will stick to sludge in the pipe causing your drain to clog.   Avoid putting corn husks or stringy vegetables, such as celery, down the drain.  Grease is not recommended for your disposal.  Also avoid oil and fats.  They will slowly accumulate and inhibit its ability to grind.

Preventing Garbage Disposal Repairs/Maintaining

Aside from avoiding specific foods and other pieces of hard trash, you will also need to take steps for maintaining your garbage disposal.  This will definitely go a long way at preventing garbage disposal repairs.  Grind up pieces of lemon peel and ice cubes on a regular basis.  The ice will help to sharpen the blades that could become dull over time.

To prevent odors, put a combination of baking soda and vinegar down the disposal hopper.  Make sure the unit is turned off.  It will foam up.  Once it is done foaming, rinse it down the drain with water.  This should be done once a month.

After the waste matter has cleared your drain, you will want to keep the disposer and water running for approximately 30 to 60 seconds.  The cold water keeps the motor, bearings, and shredder assembly from overheating.   Never use hot water because it can melt fat, which will allow it to re-solidify and cause your drain to clog.

Prevention is the best way to prevent garbage disposal repairs; however, learning how to repair a garbage disposal will also help to prevent those costly bills.

The Top 5 Most (In)Famous Plumbers in History

infamous plumbers Empires rise and fall on good plumbing.

A proper plumber can get any job done.

A bad plumber can get you dead.

Make sure to thoroughly research the next Pipe Fitter you invite into your home and, at all costs, you should avoid these top five infamous plumbers:

Infamous Plumber #5 – John Gotti

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john gotti

Plumbing supply salesman John Gotti was convicted on multiple counts of murder, extortion, tax evasion and racketeering. At his 1992 trial, Gotti was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences and stood revealed as the boss of the Gambino Crime Family.

This marked the end of Gotti’s plumbing career. He would have to trade his overalls and tool belt for an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs.

He spent the rest of his life in a maximum security prison at the mercy of a low flow toilet.

Infamous Plumber #4 – Super Mario

super mario

Most people remember Super Mario as a brave plumber on a quest to save the sewer princess from a land of sentient fungus…or something.

In reality, Mario is subtle, communist style propaganda. Notice his passion for the color red, uncanny resemblance to Joseph Stalin and the red star flag he raises at every castle he conquers?

Super Mario, and his less politically minded brother Luigi, are Marxist puppets sent to depose our leaders and replace them with heroes of the proletariat.

Infamous Plumber #3 – Joe the Plumber

joe the plumber

During the 2008 campaign for President, Joe the Plumber became a media sensation. He accused then Senator Barrack Obama of taxing his business into bankruptcy.

In reality; Joe didn’t pay taxes, wasn’t a plumber and never voted. That didn’t stop Senator John McCain from turning Joe into the central talking point of his failed run for the White House.

Joe the Plumber is considering a career in congress as Joe the Politician. His experience shoveling crap should come in handy.

Infamous Plumber #2 – Thomas Crapper

thomas crapper

Speaking of crap…Thomas Crapper is the guy who invented the toilet. Except that he didn’t.

He actually manufactured them in Europe around WWI. Soldiers coming back from the front brought together Crapper’s name and the toilet. They saw the words “T. Crapper” printed on the tanks and coined the slang “crapper” meaning toilet.

He served as the royal sanitary engineer for England’s King but was never knighted. Crapper continues to get dumped on today as some historians doubt his very existence.

Infamous Plumber #1 – The Roman Plumberi

lead pipe

I’m cheating but there wasn’t just one bad plumber in ancient Rome. They were all criminally negligent.

Early plumbers used lead pipes in the homes of their affluent clients. Lead poisoning is a commonly accepted explanation for the dementia of Roman emperors like Caligula and Nero.

Illness spread to the populace as indoor plumbing became common practice. Citizens migrated away, the capital moved and the empire splintered. The fall of Rome brought a thousand years of medieval squalor and sickness to the world.

Never underestimate the importance of a good plumber!

Key Benefits of Residential Video Pipe Inspection

by Greg Smith, Roto-Rooter of Mobile

Perhaps one of the greatest fears most homeowners have is the idea of having to dig up huge areas of their yards to find a plumbing blockage or broken pipe. Fortunately, thanks to video pipe inspection technology, that’s not something that homeowners are likely to have to do anymore.

Three Benefits of Video Pipe Inspection for Homeowners

There are a number of benefits associated with video pipe inspection. Here are three of the greatest advantages.

1. Pinpoint Exact Location of Problem

With residential video pipe inspection, a qualified plumber can identify the exact area where a pipe is blocked or damaged without having to resort to digging as part of the diagnosis process. This plumbing problem identification technique involves using a camera – one that is especially designed for sewer pipes  and storm drains – to find the exact location of plumbing problems. With video pipe inspection technology, there is no need to do any digging at all to get the information needed to determine what types of repairs need to be made and exactly where they are located.

2. Minimal Damage to Landscaping

Because video pipe inspection removes the need to dig from the process of identifying the source of plumbing problems, it’s possible to get your sewer issues taken care of with minimal disruption to the landscaping work you have done to your yard. While the plumber still may need to dig up a specific area of your yard in order to make the necessary repair, the affected area will be limited to the precise location needed to access the affected pipe rather than the widespread digging that would be required to search out a problem without a camera.

3.  Save Time and Money

While high tech solutions to common homeowner problems are often quite expensive, this is not the case with video pipe inspection. Finding a pipe problem using video pipe inspection technology takes much less time and labor than trenching and searching for problems, a fact that results in lower costs for homeowners and a reduction in the amount of time before the affected pipe can be restored to proper working order.

While exact costs may vary by area and amount of work required, the average cost of a video pipe inspection is about $250, plus the cost of whatever repairs are deemed necessary as a result of the inspection. Many times, pricing for video work can be negotiated down if there was drain cleaning work involved or if the video work leads to additional plumbing work. Since video pipe inspection allows pipe problems to be identified quickly and without digging, the time and expense involved in getting plumbing problems taken care of can be minimized.

Greg Smith

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Greg Smith is President of Roto-Rooter of Mobile, Alabama http://rotorootermobile.com. The company provides industrial, commercial and residential plumbing repair services, including video pipe inspection, throughout Mobile, Baldwin and Washington counties in Alabama.

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How to Install a Toilet Flange

Written by Mike C.   

Learning how to install a toilet flange is simple.  You may need to know how to install a toilet flange, which is the piece of metal or plastic pipe that connects your toilet to the waste pipe, when it is broken or damaged, or if you are installing a new toilet.  This project should only take you a couple of hours to do, pending you have all the tools and materials necessary to complete the job. Also see How to Install a Toilet. Toilet Repairs

Purpose of Properly Installing a Toilet Flange

If you do not install the toilet flange correctly, your toilet will leak.  It is important it is fitted properly to prevent damage.  If you install a toilet without a flange or it is not installed correctly, water damage can be caused after a long period of time.  A leaking toilet can cause odor and bacteria.

Tools and Materials

  • Toilet flange
  • Wax bowl
  • Hacksaw
  • Screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench

Preparation Steps

  1. Remove the existing toilet.  Do this by removing the 2 bolts holding the toilet to the floor.  You can use your adjustable wrench to loosen and remove the bolts.
  2. Move the toilet out of the way.  It will likely not come off easily, as the wax seal is supposed to stop gasses from seeping out of the waste pipe, so it will be tight.  Simply keep rocking until it comes off.
  3. Scrape the floor to get rid of the wax to ensure a smooth surface when you put on the new wax seal.
  4. Figure rough-in measurements.  Do this by making sure the toilet flange is 12” from the finished wall for a standard 12” center toilet.  You many need to figure the center of the toilet flange to the side wall if you are installing a toilet in a location where there will be walls on each side of the toilet bowl.  These measurements will help to ensure everything is ready when you install the flange.
  5. Determine the type of flange you will need.  If your plumbing is cast iron, you will need a lead bend and a brass toilet flange.  If you have PVC plumbing pipes, you will need to use a PVC toilet bowl flange.  This flange will attach to the drainage pipe located below the floor, as well as inside the toilet flange.

    1. Cut the pipe coming through the floor to the correct height with a pipe cutter.
    2. Glue the toilet bowl flange to the PVC pipe for PVC plumbing.  For a cast iron flange, it will have to be bolted or tightened onto the cast iron pipe.
    3. Once it is glued or tightened into place, you can now screw the flange to the floor to secure it.
    4. Fit the toilet into place and install the wax ring.
    5. Place the toilet flange bolts onto the flange so you can install the toilet bowl.

Installation Steps

These simple steps on how to install a toilet flange will help to ensure you have a leak-free and successful installation.

A Small Leak Can Mean Big Problems

leaking pipeIn the plumbing world a small leak is a serious problem. Unfortunately, many homeowners do not feel the same way.

They are under the impression that a small problem like this will take care of itself; this is not usually the case.

How can such a small leak turn into such a big problem? Well, here are three ways:

1. Over time a small leak will eat away at the floor, walls, and pretty much anything else it comes in contact with.

This will not happen overnight, but over the course of several months standing water which is constantly added to will cause damage. This is even more so the case if you cannot see the leak and clean it up from time to time.

2. Mold is a major problem, and the main culprit is moisture.

A small leak can lead to mold and related issues in no time at all. Mold is a health hazard for those living in the house. To go along with this, it will also make your home nearly impossible to sell if the time ever comes.

Nobody wants to buy a home that has been affected by mold. It is expensive to repair, and if left alone, harmful to your health.

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3. A leaking pipe can lead to poor performance.

This may not be a huge problem, but when you turn the water on it will feel like something is a bit “off.” This may be the least of your concerns, but one that should tip you off that something is going on.

Don’t let anybody tell you that a small leak is no big deal.

Instead, hire a professional plumber to come to your home, identify the problem, and implement the proper solution. This will cost you some money, but will put your mind at ease sooner rather than later.

How to Clear a Blocked Sink Drain

Blocked drains are undoubtedly inconvenient and though they can often be prevented, they remain a part of modern day plumbing. The day may come when there is a quiet, solitary burble, and the dirty grey dishwater settles. The water stagnates. Staring and waiting for the water to swoosh nicely down the drain will do little to help a blocked drain clear.

Chemical products in stagnant water are dangerous and hazardous, and often aren’t the best solution. Such products should only be used for sluggish or slow-moving drains and not on completed blocked drains. There are a few ways you can attempt to clear a blocked drain yourself without calling a professional plumber and soon have water running freely through the pipes again.

Clear the blockage

The workings involved in plumbing and pipes are both simple and rather complex at the same time. Complex in that there is more inside the pipes of your home than first meets the eye; simple in that with a little knowledge, clearing a blocked drain is relatively easy for homeowners to accomplish.

The first step is eliminating any blockage near the drain itself. Blocked bathroom drains are generally caused by hair and soap scum that collects just inside the drain. With a length of wire, a screwdriver, or a long, thin implement, clear the blocked drain by trying to pull the mass out, bit by bit. Sinks may have blockage near the drain as well. If possible, remove the cleanout plug

and loosen the clog to clear the blockage.

Use a plunger and some elbow power

A plunger is the next resort. Cover the drain with the plunger, making sure that there is enough water in the sink or bathtub to cover the plunger cup. Coating the rim of the plunger cup with petroleum jelly can help create a tighter seal for more suction. Press the plunger cup over the drain, and pump the plunger 15 to 20 strokes. In many cases this will clear parts of the blockage and water may begin to flow.

Snaking down with a drain auger

A drain auger – sold at most hardware and home supply stores – may be required the if the water is still stagnant. Remove filters or stops on the sink or tub, and guide a drain auger down into the pipes, working the auger carefully in the bends of the pipe. The auger should eventually catch on the blockage, and gentle pulling may loosen and clear the blocked drain.

Should the blockage in a sink be too far down the pipe for a drain auger to reach, removing the sink trap, catching the draining water in a bucket and working the auger through the opening of the sink trap may allow further reach.

Once the blocked drain is clear, run scalding hot water through the pipes for a good ten minutes to remove as much residue as possible and reduce the chances of the blockage reoccurring again in a following weeks. Though it takes a little perseverance and some patience, the homeowner can often unblock a blocked drain without needing to call professional plumber and pay an expensive service call.