Key Facts About Water Heater Repair

Key Facts About Water Heater Repair

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Your water heater is an important part of your home. After all, it’s the only reason you are able to take nice warm showers every day and have plenty of warm water for doing dishes and laundry. Like any other appliance in your home, the water heater is almost certainly going to break down now and again.

When this does happen, you have an important decision to make: do you fix the water heater, or replace it altogether.

If the unit is more than eight years old, having it replaced is probably the safest way to go. Once they start getting up there in years, one problem tends to lead to another. By the time you’ve made all the necessary repairs, it might just cost you as much as buying a new heater altogether.

However, if the heater is still relatively new or still has some time left on the warranty, water heater repair is probably a good way to go. The replacement parts used in the repair may still be under warranty, which means you’ll only have to pay the labor costs.

How to Know if Repair is Even an Option

While many of the working parts on today’s water heaters can be replaced, sometimes this simply will not be an option. For instance, once the storage tank goes, it is time for a new water heater. That’s because a leak in the tank itself is the result of corrosion and once the tank is compromised, there’s no way to repair it.

The best way to prolong the life of your water heater storage tank is by having the tank flushed periodically. The flushing process removes sediment that aids in the corrosion of water heater tanks.

Is Repair the Right Investment?

Another important aspect when it comes to determining whether you should spend money to repair a hot water heater is considering your energy costs. A new hot water heater might be efficient enough to pay for itself eventually, simply by using less energy. Today’s designs are far more efficient than models manufactured even a few years ago.

Modern water heaters are designed to be as efficient as possible. This is especially true when it comes to tankless water heaters. These make a much smaller footprint and conserve energy by heating water on demand. That means no energy is wasted by constantly heating a tank to a particular temperature.

Did You Inspect the Pipes?

Water heaters are connected to both hot and cold water pipes. Before you call someone to replace your whole water heater, take a look at these pipes to ensure they are not the source of the leak.

If your pipes are the culprit, the most common place to find a leak is at the elbow joints, where pipes need to be cut and sealed during installation. You may just need to reseal with a little plumber’s tape.

Conclusion

When you are in doubt about whether to repair or replace your water heater, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional contractor who can help you make the best choice.

About the Author

Mike Donley is the owner of Donley Service Center, a full service air conditioning installation, repair and plumbing contractor in Phoenix, Arizona. He enjoys writing about issues related to the air conditioning and plumbing industries and helping consumers make informed decisions.

Next time you are in search of a great plumber, contact a plumbing professional from Best Plumbers®.

 

July 26, 2016 |

Spring Plumbing Tips

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After a long cold winter, it’s smart to have a home plumbing check in the spring. Below, area list of items that should be be addressed.

1. Look for Broken Hose Bibs and Frozen Pipes.Spring-Plumbing-TIps
Water freezing in plumbing pipes can cause major plumbing damage. Often, plumbing repairs are necessitated by water that’s expanded into ice, bursting pipes and other plumbing components throughout the home. When shifting from liquid to ice, water swells by 9%. This is why homeowners should shut off and drain pipes and hoses prior to hard freezing in winter.

This spring, homeowners should check all parts of the plumbing throughout the home. Check faucets, outside spigots, and all parts of your plumbing inside and outside of the home. Beyond checking to make sure the valves work properly, check for leaking pipes and puddles of water on the ground and floor.

If you discover ice damage, arrange for several quotes from local plumbers.

2. Replace Gaskets on Dripping Faucets.Spring Plumbing
Assuming you’re not a complete plumbing novice, you might be able to fix a leaky faucet. Nine times out of ten, the cause of the leak is a cracked or worn down gasket. This simple part can be found at the local hardware store. If it is too much of a hassle, and you are not 100% certain what you are doing, it is always best to call a plumbing professional.

3. Cleaning Away Mineral Build-Up From Faucets.
White vinegar is a plumbing must-have. Place it in a plastic baggie, hang that bag on the faucet with a rubber band, and let it soak for twenty-four hours. The vinegar naturally breaks down mineral deposits that have built up, and limit your water pressure.

4. Filters Over Your Drains.
As a good plumber can vouch, placing filters over each one of your drains in your home can prevent clogs and costly plumbing repairs.

5. Clean gutters, drains, and downspouts.
Cleaning gutters, drains, and downspouts of debris can prevent leaks as well as mildew and mold growth. Once your roof’s drainage system is clear, examine your property for plumbing vents. Check that each vent is clear of sticks, leaves, dirt and debris. If you don’t have a ladder to check high vents, you can call a plumber for assistance. Good plumbing companies don’t just do plumbing repair, most also offer preventive, maintenance plumbing services.

6. Spring Toilet Care 101.
The sooner you catch toilet leaks, the better. A toilet leak can seep into the flooring, weaken structural beams and cause a collapse. Check your toilet for damage by looking for exterior cracks. Also look for water on the floor, seeping through the caulk around the bottom. This indicates that the wax seal on the bottom of the toilet is broken and must be fixed and replaced. Also check for a loose handle on the toilet, or one that has to be held down in order for it to flush. Many of these plumbing repairs are inexpensive. These simple fixes can save you a lot of money on water costs over the long haul.

To find out if your toilet is leaking internally, place a few of drops of food coloring into the tank. Wait about a half hour, and then check for food coloring in the bowl. If you find coloring there, you do indeed have an internal leak. This is usually the time to call a home plumbing professional.

To ensure a complete springtime home plumbing examination, check your water heater (around the entire tank), dishwasher, sump pumps (make sure you have a backup sump pump), and clothes washer for leaks and other plumbing problems.

Remember, if you are not certain what you are doing, it is always best to check your local plumbing directory inside Best Plumbers®, and call a licensed plumbing professional.

April 10, 2016 |

Wolves

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Think and Act Like a Pack of Wolveswolves

A pack of wolves: The first 3 are the older or sick and they set the pace of the group. If it was on the contrary, they would be left behind and lost contact with the pack. In ambush case they would be sacrificed. The following are the 5 strongest. In the center follow the remaining members of the pack, and at the end of the group follow the other 5 stronger. Last, alone, follows the alpha wolf. It controls everything from the rear. That position can control the whole group, decide the direction to follow and anticipate the attacks of opponents. The pack follows the rhythm of the elders and the head of the command that imposes the spirit of mutual help not leaving anyone behind.

February 20, 2016 |

Winter Plumbing Tips

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The brutal winter season can wreak havoc on your plumbing system. It is very important to prepare for the temperature drop. Frozen water in pipes can destroy your plumbing from the inside out. As a preventive measure get ready for winter with this Best Plumbers® winter plumbing checklist.

1.  Fix All Plumbing Leaksplumbing leak

The smallest water leak in your plumbing can turn into a huge problem when temperatures fall below freezing. Check all exposed pipes, indoors and out, for plumbing leaks. If you wait, and the water to freezes, the damage to the surrounding pipes is likely to be more significant. If your pipes are insulated, feel for potential in the insulation. This moisture might expose hidden leaks in your plumbing.

Stopping plumbing leaks will not only save your plumbing, but it will also save you money. You can also learn how to find leaks in your plumbing system by following the step by step instructions in this link on stopping high water bills: https://bestplumbers.com/high-water-bills/

2.  Insulate Your Pipesplumbing insulation

One basic preventive measure you can take in protecting your plumbing against a harsh winter is to make sure that all exposed pipes are well insulated. To locate exposed pipes; look in your attic, crawl spaces throughout your house, and in your garage. If you can see the pipe, it needs to be wrapped with plumbing insulation foam. Pipe wrap insulation is inexpensive and easy to install. This can save you on heating costs as well because warm air will escape through the exposed plumbing. The insulation helps keep the warm air in. You will be surprised how effective insulating your plumbing is when it comes to protecting your plumbing.

3.  Evaporative Cooler (Swamp Cooler)swamp_cooler

An evaporative cooler, also known as a swamp cooler, should be drained before winter. Before you winterize your swamp cooler, make certain you turn off the water and power to the unit. After the water and power is turned off, drain the water out of the cooler. Always make sure the water supply line to the unit is drained as well.

While winterizing the swamp cooler for winter, it is always a good time to clean the interior and change the pads and filters. Always make certain to cover the swamp cooler with a cover or tarp during the winter to keep it dry.

4.  Pump HousePump_House_Building

When it comes to plumbing, prevention in keeping things from freezing is the key for a smooth winter season. When your water comes from a well this is especially important. If you have a well, make certain there is proper insulation of the pump house. This will help can keep pipes from freezing. It is very important to insulate any exposed pipes in the pump house. A heat source is also needed to keep the temperature of the pump house above freezing. Make certain your heater is in working order. Check all the heating elements.

5.  Hose Bibs

Protecting the hose bibs and pipes from freezing is very important. Remove any garden hoses that are connected to outdoor faucets. Removing garden hoses ensures that water doesn’t stay trapped in the hose bib where it can freeze and damage your plumbing. Drain any water the hoses may have in them before storing. Protect garden hoses by storing them in a warm dry space throughout the winter. Often, perfectly good hoses in the fall, are stored in places that freeze during the winter. When these same hoses are brought out to be used in spring they are broken with holes. Freezing temperatures make garden hoses brittle. This couples with water being left in the hose make the hoses obsolete in the spring.Hose bib

To protect hose bibs from the cold, drain the collected water and insulate them. In many places where temperatures drop significantly during the winter months, homes have dedicated shut off valves for outdoor hose bibs or faucets. If you have a shut off valve, simply turn the water to the hose bibs off. Make sure you then drain any water that is already in the pipes. This can be done by opening the hose bibs and letting the water drain completely. If you don’t have a shut off valve, you can protect hose bibs and outdoor faucets by insulating them with hose bib covers. Hose bib covers are very inexpensive and extremely easy to install. The insulation that these foam covers provide should keep the hose bibs from freezing during the winter.

6.  Sprinklers Systemwinterize-lawn sprinkler system

The pipes of your irrigation system are a likely place for water to collect and then freeze in cold weather. To winterize your sprinkler system turn off the water and flush out any collected water by turning on each individual valve connected to the sprinkler system.

7.  Locate Your Water Main (Extremely Important)

Always make certain you locate your water main in case of an emergency. This is absolutely imperative. Following this 1 tip could save you tens of thousands of dollars in water damage restoration and flood cleanup. If you are ever faced with a burst pipe due to freezing you’ll want to be able to shut off the water quickly to minimize damage to your water supply main pipeline with meter against a Purple concreteproperty. You can take every preventative measure to ensure your plumbing from freezing and still get broken water pipes in the winter. Know where the water shutoff valve to your home is. Make sure you have unencumbered access to this valve for quick easy access.

We hope these winter plumbing tips help you throughout the coming winter season. Always remember, when it comes to plumbing you do not have to do it alone. You can always call on the professionals at Best Plumbers®.

November 3, 2015 |

The Importance Of Hiring A Licensed Plumber

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Hiring the Right Professional is Critical to the Success of a Project

Do it-yourself assignments are a good way to cut costs at home, reducing the need to employ an expert. Although some plumbing jobs are probably effectively inside your expertise, there are several plumbing jobs which should be left to licensed plumber. Examine a number of the many benefits of selecting a licensed plumber before you make an effort to solve some of these difficult plumbing problems on your own.

The Role of a Professional PlumberBestPlumber-Logo

Professional plumbers are qualified to deal with broken pipes awful clogged toilets and dripping pipes, which may have the capability of destroying surfaces and walls in your home. When there is a plumbing emergency, many homeowners choose to employ the solutions of the plumber. Nevertheless, contacting a plumber before there occurs a genuine crisis makes an excellent distinction in terms of repair costs and the house destruction.

Consequently, although it is recommended to call a plumbing specialist when the issue is not large or major, it would be great to hire them for a routine plumbing checkup. Selecting a skilled, professional plumber is essential because they possess the vital plumbing knowledge and talent to address any plumbing issue. Along with getting the necessary experience, they generally come with the proper resources to correct the plumbing problem.

Knowledge and Expertise – Finding The Right Plumber

A licensed plumber must first become an apprentice, to become accredited. After apprenticeship that meets a certain quantity of hours, an exam must be passed by the person. All plumbers are made aware of safety precautions, laws, and the business specifications they must meet. A qualified plumber should stay upto-day on recent strategies and equipment, which improves safety and performance. A licensed plumber must also comply with education demands that are continuous to be aware of new products and methods.

Since they generally charge low prices, some homeowners employ the solutions of unlicensed plumbers. All homeowners should understand the plumbing process is vital and should not be given to anyone. It can help a great deal when you consider the option of employing the solutions of the reputable and qualified plumber. A license and work knowledge supplies an assurance the plumber is educated in handling the plumbing issue. Qualified plumbers are certified, insured and bonded. Thus, just in case something strange occurs throughout the span of undertaking the plumbing repairs, qualified, licensed plumbers can be held accountable.

To eliminate issues around the residence in regards to plumbing, it is important to hire a professional plumber. Declining to hire the best plumber is likely to end up in troubles that are bigger. Consequently, it is vital that you consider selecting the providers of the skilled plumber simply because they have the opportunity to getting the task done swiftly. The right plumbers can often consider your budget and work within limits so that you may not find yourself wasting significantly more than you are able to afford.

Saving Time and Money

Plumbing crises are well known for returning at the worst possible instances. It’s unavoidable that the drains will cause troubles or the toilet may clog whenever your family visits from out of town. In place of battling all on your own to eliminate these troubles, you are able to retain a specialist to work swiftly and successfully at home. Thus saving your valuable time for your family.  Moreover the skilled plumbers have understanding and all of the resources essential to create the fixes in the least amount of time.

When you try to perform your own plumbing repairs, you’re often trying to save money in time and labor fees. Nevertheless, do it yourself plumbing work often ends up costing you more in the long run. Your time is money. The time you spend working on these issues is time you won’t be spending doing other important tasks. Secondly, it is quite possible that once you begin performing the repairs, you will make errors that are costly. You could break other things, which will necessitate buying more items as replacements. On the other hand, a plumber understands precisely how to perform these projects, which will minimize errors and additional expenses from purchases that are unexpected.

The next time you have a plumbing problem, contact the plumbing professionals at Best Plumbers®.

September 29, 2015 |

A 9-11 Story

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From a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15, written following 9-11:

The second tower of the World Trade Center explodes into flames after being hit by a airplane, New York September 11, 2001 with the Brooklyn bridge in the foreground. Both towers of the complex collapsed after being hit by hijacked planes. REUTERS/Sara K. Schwittek     PP03080044 GMH/ME  BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE - RTRPTGT

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic.

All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain.

As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.”

No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, Newfoundland.

He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately — no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request.

While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings.

We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander, Newfoundland, to have it checked out.

We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM …. that’s 11:00 AM EST.

There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the US.

After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another reason.”

Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the US. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put.

The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane.

In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were US commercial jets.

Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC.

People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada . Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.

Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm.

We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.

We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning.

Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.

Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing.

And they were true to their word.

Fortunately we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.

About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.

After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel.

We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander!

We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the US airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.

We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.

Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time.

Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days.

What we found out was incredible…..

Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers.

Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.

ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take care of the “guests.”

Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged.

Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.

Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.

Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day.

During the day, passengers were offered “Excursion” trips.

Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests.

Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.

Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft.

In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.

Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully.

It was absolutely incredible.

When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time.

Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling.

Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.

And then a very unusual thing happened.

One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days.

He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers.

He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.

“He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte.

He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!

“The gentleman, a MD from Virginia , promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well.

As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.

“I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a faraway place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them.

It reminds me how much good there is in the world.”

“In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.

*This is one of those stories that need to be shared. Please do so…*

September 15, 2015 |

Mr. Rooter Plumbing Has a New President

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James Doyle is the new president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing.James Doyle - Mr Rooter

In 1989 James Doyle was a Mr. Rooter franchisee. James was one of the first franchisees after Mr. Rooter was acquired by what would become The Dwyer Group.

James joined the Dwyer Group in March of 1997. When he began 17 years ago he was serving in franchise support. He quickly moved into vice president of operations for Aire Serv before accepting the position of chief operations officer in June 2003. In 2004 James was appointed president of Aire Serv Heating & Air Conditioning. While Jim was the president of Aire Serv Heating & Air Conditioning it has grown to more than 190 locations throughout the United States.

Since February of 2006 James has served as president for Dwyer Group’s vendor relations department – ProTradeNet. He has grown ProTradeNet to become one of the top buying groups in the vendor relations industry and has spoken on buying group strategies at the International Franchise Association’s annual conference. James is a certified franchise executive under the International Franchise Association’s training program and has held master licenses in four trades prior to joining the Dwyer Group.

Mr. Rooter“I am very excited to be stepping into such a well-known and respected company,” said James. “Mary has capably led this company as president, allowing Mr. Rooter Plumbing to be an industry leader. I look forward to continuing this trend, with the assistance of our dedicated associates and successful franchisees.”

James Doyle is succeeding Mary Kennedy Thompson, who will become the chief operating officer of Dwyer Group.

“With Mary being promoted, it was very important that we choose the right person to lead Mr. Rooter Plumbing, our largest brand” said Mike Bidwell, president and CEO of Dwyer Group. “Doyle has been with Dwyer Group for many years and is familiar with our concepts and brand standards. We know he is an excellent leader and that he will do great things in his new role.”

“We considered several candidates to fill this position,” said Thompson. “It will be hard to leave Mr. Rooter Plumbing, but I know the company will do great things under Doyle’s leadership.”

It will be interesting to see how Mr. Rooter Plumbing performs under the new leadership of James Doyle.

August 5, 2015 |

8 Things to Consider Before Hiring a Plumbing Contractor

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Plumber_3 (1)Plumbing problems are more common than you think, especially when it comes to older homes. Whether the issue is as simple as a leaky faucet or a clogged drain, or something more complex like installing a sink or changing a pipe, they’re all capable of throwing normal life out of gear. While the small problems can be rectified by the homeowners themselves, the complex ones will need the attention of a skilled plumber.

Before you hire a plumber or a plumbing contractor, however, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. They are as under –

1. License

The plumber you hire should be licensed, bonded and insured (more on this one later). The license number should be conspicuously displayed on his vehicle and also mentioned in his advertisements. The license helps confirm that he is a qualified and a genuine plumber. Also, with a licensed plumber you can rest assured that your interests are protected, should something go wrong with the plumbing job. Remember to always hire a plumber from a reputed plumbing contractor, as he would be more likely to provide service during emergencies.

2. ExperienceBestPlumberLogo1021

Several homeowners make the mistake of hiring a plumber only on the basis of his license, without realizing that the kind of experience he possesses matters a great deal too. It is crucial that you consider the plumber’s experience as well before you hire him as there is no point in hiring an inexperienced one lacking the necessary skills. And although an experienced plumber may come with a hefty price tag, he will likely get the work done much faster and do a thorough job of it.

3. Total Cost

Most professional plumbers will come to your home to take a look at the job at hand, provide you with a free estimate of the cost, and then begin to fix the problem. At the time of availing the cost estimate, ask the plumber if the amount quoted by him is inclusive of the cost of the materials, labor, and a contingency of subsequent problems.

Apart from that, inquire if the total estimate is a flat rate (one that won’t increase later due to labor costs) or an hourly rate (excluding the cost of materials). The latter can prove to be expensive if the job runs for a longer period of time.

Further, it is better to confirm with your plumber beforehand as to when he expects to be paid. Some plumbers prefer to receive payment upon the completion of a certain amount work, while others expect to be remunerated depending on the time taken to finish a task.

Some plumbing companies do not clean up after finishing the job, or charge extra for it. Always ask if cleanup is included in the quote, and if not, ask for the reason. Depending on whether or not the cost is worth it, you can take a final call.

4. Guarantee/Warranty

Ensure to clarify about the kind of guarantee that comes with the plumber’s work. Does he offer a written agreement that guarantees his work within a specific period of time? What if you’re not satisfied or something goes wrong with the work done? Without such a guarantee, you may be responsible for paying for another round of repairs, should further problems or complications arise.

5. Insurance

Ensure that the plumbing contractor you hire provides his employees with worker’s compensation and liability insurance as these cover the plumber in case of an injury. In the absence of such an insurance, the homeowner would be held responsible for medical bills and related costs.

Liability insurance pays for repairs and damages to your home arising through the actions of the plumber. Without liability insurance, the homeowner would be liable to pay for the damages.

6. Response Time

When calling for emergency plumbing services, inquire about how soon they can fix the problem. While emergency plumbers can be reached at all times, the response time can be delayed considerably if they’re required to travel long distances to get to your place.

7. Permits and Parts

Before you decide on a plumber or a contractor, ask if they stock most plumbing parts in their truck/van. If not, then that could imply visits to the hardware store. If the plumber must go to the store to buy the parts, confirm as to who will pay for that time.

Apart from that, also inquire whether the plumber will be able to get certain permits that may be needed.

8. Referrals

This is probably the most important parameter to consider when deciding on a plumbing service in Downers Grove . Everyone prefers to get work done through people they know and can trust. However, if you don’t know a good plumber, you’ll do well to hear firsthand from people who have engaged the services of the one you’re considering. Hence, it makes sense to ask him for referrals. If he cannot provide you with a few, you’ll probably be better off considering someone else.

Conclusion

Finding a skilled and dependable plumber can be quite overwhelming. God forbid you should hire someone inexperienced as that could lead to the collapse of your entire plumbing system. Going wrong with this can cost you a great deal in terms of money and peace of mind. It is better to put in some time and thought into this decision. The above considerations should go a long way in helping you pick a talented and reliable plumber/plumbing contractor.

July 27, 2015 |

Plumbing, Organic Gardening and the Culture of Permaculture

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There are a number of reasons why permaculture is a growing trend among home owners. Whether you live in your own private suburban residence, on a farm or in a high density urban environment, the practice of permaculture offers beneficial returns for the gardener as well as the surrounding community.

The rising cost of food and concerns over pesticides and other contaminants in our food supply have people taking a second look at growing some or all of their own produce. In addition, reports of soil erosion and pressure on the environment with water restrictions in drought inflicted areas like California have led many to consider the value of watering a lawn versus cultivating a natural and more harmonious existence with the local ecosystem.

The Culture of Permaculture

While the term may seem new, the concept has been around for a long time. In the 1970’s an Australian ecologist named Bill Mollison from the University of Tasmania began using the term in his studies. As a biologist he became concerned with what he noted as patterns of destruction and the impact of habitat loss and human impact on otherwise healthy ecosystems.

Bill Mollison became one of the first outspoken supporters of sustainability, and wrote about different aspects of the interactive environment, drawing correlations to the health of lakes and the importance of functioning wetlands, to the role that birds play in the elimination of insects and pests.  By the 1980’s Mollison (along with his co-author and student David Homgren) had written books that provided instruction for residential home owners with regards to designing outdoor spaces for ecological sustainability.

For additional information about permaculture practice by Mollison and Homgren, read “Permaculture: A Designers Manual” or “Permaculture Two: Practical Design for Town and Country in Permanent Agriculture” for tips on building your own sustainable home ecosystem.  The books provide instruction on design and planning for your regional environment, and how to create a home that is harmonious with its natural surroundings.

Part of the backlash against permaculture is related to the way our lawn and property appears. Lawns are the norm for most neighborhoods, but a permaculturalist would install raised plant boxes instead and opt to grow vegetables, herbs and other plants.

Imagine for a second that the entire street is lined with perfect, well-manicured lawns and then a lawn that looks a little more like a jungle or wildlife preserve. The esthetic of a lawn versus the environmental and social benefit of permaculture are constantly opposed with municipal governments enforcing uniformity (lawns) in many cities and states.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States, more than 50% of water by volume used to water lawns is wasted which makes little practical sense for the preference.

Walking the Talk: The Nowicki Family

Ron and Vicki Nowicki are residents of Downers Grove, Illinois a suburb of Chicago. The couple started applying their environmental awareness and ecological principles over thirty years ago before anyone was using terms like “eco-friendly” or “permaculture”. With degrees in Horticulture, Environmental Studies and Environmental Education and Landscape Architecture shared between the two innovators, they set out to design a healthy new life by creating a minimal carbon footprint with a maximum beneficial impact on the local environment.

The Nowicki family began their journey with the construction of their own house.  Ron was inspired by the traditional New England “salt box” home design featuring a wood stove, passive solar and energy efficient features, a root cellar for cold storage and a rain barrel for water reclamation.

Rather than cultivate their home with the traditional front and backyard manicured lawn, Ron and Vicki opted to fill the surrounding landscape with native plants, an herb and large vegetable garden and other perennial edible plants.   In addition to planting for their own food supply, the Nowicki family developed a permaculture plan to plant flowers, shrubs and different types of grasses that would attract insects, bats and wild birds.

By nurturing the natural wildlife around their home, they have been able to skillfully balance predators with food sources, and provide beneficial insects (such as bees) ample opportunities to feed and pollinate.  The successful maintenance of the immediate ecosystem supports the production of the family’s organic fruit and vegetables, which are sold through their business “Circle GardenFarm” nearly all year round.

Vicki Nowicki turned her research into a Master’s Degree and focused on the North American cultural concepts of lawns and gardens.  Her goal was to change perceptions and attitudes about permaculture and she has since created a secondary business called “The Land Office” which provides consulting on herbaceous garden design and installation. Vicki also co-founded a number of environmental groups including “The Wild Ones” in Wisconsin and the Downers Grove Organic Gardening Club, which emphasizes the benefit of replacing lawns with ecologically balanced food or wildlife sustaining alternatives. A third business was founded by Vicki Norwicki called “Let’s Grow” which provides consulting and labor teams to assist with the development of new urban and suburban organic food producing gardens.

Incorporating Permaculture in a Home Garden

While building a home garden may seem perfectly doable, it can be extremely difficult for residents of areas like Downers Grove to grow foliage in the monsoons as the vicinity experiences tremendous waterlogging. Although the collection of water can be taken of by installing flood control systems by engaging a licensed plumber who provide services in Downers Grove, for example, you will do well by planning ahead and planting plants which can survive waterlogging and flooding.

Apart from that, whether you live in the country, on a farm, an apartment or a house, there are affordable easy steps to begin incorporating permaculture design into your home environment. No matter how much space you have or where you live, you can have a positive impact on the environment by changing the way you think about gardening.

  • Stop using pesticides. Do some research online and discover non-harmful methods of deterring and controlling insects. Remember also that not all insects are dangerous or bothersome and all of them serve a purpose in the environment. Look for natural ways to control them such as placing a bird feeder away from your home or patio, or planting native plants that deter insects such as citronella. Install a bat box to help with flying insect control.

 

  • Start composting. If you can set up your own composting bin, follow the directions to create the most potent and valuable topsoil for your garden or potted plants. Everything from plant and vegetable cuttings to egg shelves and leaves can be placed in your composter, with the exception of meat or bones and pet refuse.

 

  • Look for ways to preserve soil fertility. Some methods can include composting and spreading leaves on the lawn before winter to allow for a repatriation of nutrients to the soil. Avoid over watering and choose native plants wherever possible with robust root systems.

Having a beautiful garden is one thing, but having a thriving, balanced ecosystem that sustains bees, birds, trees and wildlife offers a deeper satisfaction is something worth bragging about. Not only will your home or patio look fabulous, you will know it is actually doing something tangible and beneficial for the environment.

July 7, 2015 |

Thank a Plumber

1

Plumbing Has Eradicated Disease and Saved Lives

Before Modern PlumbingRoman Plumbing

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europeans despised all things connected to the Roman Empire. This included bathing. In most Europe, there was a widespread belief that getting wet caused illness. This contempt and fear of bathing persisted through most of the Dark Ages.

Some Europeans actually defied customs by bathing, and it was usually done over great protest. When Queen Elizabeth bathed, her servants panicked, fearing she would become ill and die.

The European’s resistance to bathing was brought to America, influencing habits all the way into the 19th century. Philadelphia, in 1835, almost passed a law forbidding wintertime bathing. In 1845, ten years later, the city of Boston actually outlawed bathing, except by medical directive. This Boston law was not widely enforced, but it does illustrate the American resistance to bathing as late as the middle part of the 19th century.

Plumbing Eradicated Diseasedisease

Before plumbing, indoor facilities consisted of a washstand, a washbowl, a pitcher, and a chamber pot or commode. Human waste was thrown into the street or anywhere convenient.

The lack of sanitation in urban areas filled with rats and vermin. This provided the perfect environment to spread disease. The Black Plague killed between 75 million to 200 million people. This was 1/3 of Europe’s entire population. Today, this disease is still not entirely eradicated, but human infection has become a rare occurrence. Between 1918  – 1919, it is estimated that 21.5 million people died because of the influenza pandemic. In the United States alone, 675,000 Americans died.

Plumbing and Polio

Polio is easily transmitted in human waste. It thrives in fecal matter. Plumbing infrastructure and water sanitation in India is way behind the rest of the industrialized world. In areas throughout the world where sanitation and hygiene are good, polio is extremely rare. Still to this day, in areas throughout the world where sanitation primative and hygiene are poor, the disease of Polio can spread rapidly.

Recently, immunization has received a lot of publicity and have garnered most of the credit for India being declared “polio free” by the World Health Organization. As recently as 2009, India has reported well over 700 cases of polio. and at that time, this made India the polio capital of the world. Although, in 2014, there has been no documented cases of polio. But without proper sanitation there is no way this will last. Vaccines alone will not stop polio. Modern plumbing and sanitation is mandatory.

A Breeding Ground for Polio

India is the second most populous nation in the world, with a population of 1.2 billion people. Currently, over half of the country of India, 780 million Indians, do not have a toilet. Over 96 million Indians do not have access to clean drinking water. In the rural areas of India, open defecation is still more common than attempting to dispose of human waste in a more sanitary fashion, like burying it.

There are efforts to improve sanitation and the plumbing infrastracture, but they pale in comparison to the extensive efforts to vaccinate Indians. Over 9 billion dollars have been spent on vaccinations to the people of India. In some parts of India, children have received as many as 30 doses of the oral polio vaccine before their fifth birthday. Bill Gates, the World Health Organization, and GAVI have ardently been pushing vaccines on people who still don’t have access to clean drinking water or the sanitary means to dispose of their human waste. Both plumbing, and educating the people of India is needed.

Currently, the polio vaccine campaign in India is highly controversial because of the high rate of vaccine injury and death. There were 53,000 cases of NPAFP, a non-polio acute flaccid paralysis, among those vaccinated. NPAFP is a disease that is clinically indistinguishable from polio and twice as deadly that is caused by the live, weakened, polio viruses in the vaccine. Incidences of the disease rose and fell with the number of doses of the vaccine administered. To call this disease anything other than polio is semantic subterfuge, a whitewash for Big Pharma’s image.

More lives would be saved, and it would be far more effective if India’s water infrastructure and plumbing was improved.

London and CholeraLondon

The European infant mortality rate was very high in the 18oo’s. It was from 25% to 70%. In the early-to-mid 1800s, London had little in the way of plumbing. The majority of people used town pumps and communal wells to get their drinking water. Waste disposal was far from adequate. Most of the people is London dumped raw sewage and animal wastes into open pits known as “cesspools” or directly into the Thames River. Unfortunately, the Thames River was also the source of drinking water.

Cholera spreads quickly and easily through contaminated water. It kills very quickly. Often, it proves fatal within hours of the first symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea.

In 1854, an outbreak of cholera struck London, claiming the lives of tens of thousands of people in England. In Soho, a suburb of London, there were more than 500 fatal cases of cholera in just more than a week.

Dr. John Snow, who lived near Soho, was able to investigate what was causing the outbreak of cholera in London. Just 5 years earlier, Dr. Snow had written an article on what he thought was the cause of cholera. It was in the water, and that is how it was spreading he argued. This idea was completely counter to the conventional wisdom of his time. In the 1850s, doctors believed that bad vapors, or a “miasma in the atmosphere” caused the cholera disease. Dr. Snow challenged this belief.

Tracing Cholera To the Source

Dr. Snow traced the cholera outbreak to the Broad Street pump. He convinced the town officials to remove the pump handle. The cholera outbreak abruptly ended. Some time later, the cholera outbreak was actually traced to a woman cleaning a dirty diaper in the well on Broad Street.

Dr. Snow convinced the people of London that fecal matter was contaminating the water supply. Today Dr. John Snow is widely regarded as the father of epidemiology.

The Dysentery Epidemic, and Poor Sanitation

In 1994 Rwandan refugee camps in Zaire had outbreaks of dysentery. Plumbing did not exist and sanitation was poor. The Rwandan refugees defecated openly in common areas. Human waste built up in the same areas where the refugees drew water that was used for cooking and drinking. Heavy rain flooded the area and dysentery became epidemic, at its peak it was killing as many as 2,000 people a day.

Refugee camps are a haven for disease. This is directly related to poor sanitation and the lack of plumbing. Once United States and UN officials brought in purified water to Zaire for the Rwandan refugees, and encouraged people to use outhouses and latrines for defecation, the incidences of dysentery plummeted.

Population Overloadchicago

In America, the industrial revolution caused rapid population growth. Chicago’s population grew from 350 in 1835 to more than 60,000 by 1850. Chicago’s water infrastructure and plumbing wasn’t designed to handle such a fast rise in population. During that time, Chicago was dealing with many different diseases. It had an especially high rate of typhoid fever. The source of the rapid increase in typhoid fever was traced directly to the city’s water and sanitation.

Most of the city’s sewage was going into the Chicago River, which flowed into Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan provided the Chicago’s drinking water. This contaminated the drinking water and created a cycle of disease and the wide spread of typhoid fever.

It took many years to solve Chicago’s disease problem, but in the early 1900’s Chicago modernized their plumbing and water infrastructure. Chicago reversed the flow of several rivers and streams. As a result, typhoid fever and all other infectious diseases decreased tremendously.

Plumbing is the Answer

Modern plumbing and sanitation prevents the spread of disease. None of this is new information. Moses taught the people of Israel about sanitation. Moses made many rules for encampments. The Greeks and the Romans created elaborate plumbing systems of aqueducts, baths, and drainage. When the Roman Empire fell, plumbing and sanitation became a lost art. Civilization paid the price. Millions of people in the world died because of it.

Smallpox continued to infect Europe’s population until plumbing infrastructure became commonplace.

 

Most people in developed countries have access to modern plumbing. This is because of plumbers.

While the medical professionals and the pharmaceutical companies are quick to take credit for our increased life expectancy, in truth, they are not the only heroes. The work that plumbers do every day saves lives, and stops the spread of disease.

Have you thanked a plumber?

June 28, 2015 |
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