Water Heaters – What’s the Difference

You know our saying, “If water runs to it or through it, we do it!’ Here at Economy Plumbing Services LLC, we pride ourselves on having comprehensive knowledge of everything plumbing related – and sharing that with our customers. We want to make sure you have everything you need to make smart decisions for your home and plumbing needs, whether that’s the power of PEX tubing or when to replace your water heater. Speaking of, if you are on the edge of replacing your water heater and wondering, ‘What’s the difference between all these water heaters?’ read on because this blog is for you! 

Diff’rent Water Heaters, Diff’rent Strokes

We talk about it on our water heater page, but there are different kinds of water heaters out there and we have tons of experience with each of them.  There are different fuel sources, different tank options and sizes. Let’s go over a few of them!

Electric Water Heaters

Electric water heaters use electricity as fuel to heat the water inside of the tank.  The unit takes power from your electrical and powers an electric heating element inside of the tank, if you think of a metal coil you basically have it right. These elements are replaceable in case wear and tear does a number on them. Usually, electric water heaters are less expensive than other types of water heaters. They can range in size from mid 20s to 100+ gallons of storage and also have a number of different efficiency models, which is nice because they generally are less efficient than gas water heaters.

Gas Water Heaters

Gas water heaters use your home’s gas lines to heat the water. The unit has a gas line that leads to a burner and chimney system that runs usually right down the center of the unit (to provide uniform and efficient heating). The burner – well, burns, and the exhaust goes up the chimney and through a vent while the heat generated warms the metal chimney walls. Gas water heaters are more energy efficient than electric water heaters but come at other costs. They need air circulating around the unit to properly vent it, you definitely don’t want to store any combustible materials nearby, and the are generally more expensive to purchase than an electric model. They have a similar range of tank sizes from 30 gallons up to 100 gallons.

Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid water heaters work off a heat pump system to heat the water. Using either the heat in the ground or the air, it uses minimal electricity to transfer that heat energy to the water. It can be set up outside or indoors. Hybrid models are more expensive on the front end, being larger than standard water heaters and need more room to install but afterwards they are incredibly energy efficient. They have a smaller range in tank size, from 50 to 80 gallons.

Fuel sources aren’t the only differences in water heaters – there are also tankless models to think about!

Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heaters, also known as ‘on-demand’ water heaters are coils that water passes through being heated in the process. These models are incredibly energy efficient as well as the only energy used is to heat the water as it is needed, no excess energy is spent filling the tank with hot water. Tankless water heaters are more expensive to install however.

All of these water heaters can handle the job you throw at them, but the differences in how they function, what they require to work efficiently, and upfront costs are all things to keep in mind when you are shopping for your next heater. Need help? Give us a call! The experts at Economy Plumbing Services LLC are here to help!

If water runs through it or to it, we do it!

How to Unclog Main Sewer Line Without a Snake

A clogged sink or toilet that is spilling out water into the home is no fun for anybody! It can cause damages and create an unsafe environment in your home.  Here’s how to unclog a main sewer line without a snake, if you’re up for it!

How to Unclog a Main Sewer Line Without a Snake

Step 1 – Run Hot Water

Running hot water for 5 to 10 minutes can help shake loose anything that is partially clogging the drain. The heat can help work free lingering oils, grease, or anything that is coating the sides of the pipe and allowing the clog to hold tight. Rarely will this alone be enough to help clear the clog and it’s only going to work with partially clogged lines anyways. More likely than not, if you’ve realized that you have a problem, it’s not a partial clog. But it can help, so it bears mentioning.

Step 2 – Use a Chemical Drain Cleaner

If you’re looking for some help on how to unclog a main sewer line without a snake, you probably have a serious clog. If your sink or toilet aren’t draining then you are already reaching for a chemical drain cleaner. These can definitely help break down the clog you have. There are several different chemical cleaners out there including caustic drain cleaners, oxidizing drain cleaners, and acids. We could do a whole blog on those (and maybe we will!) but for the most part these all work by altering the chemistry of the clog and reacting inside to break it down and carry it away. Whichever kind of cleaner you decide on make sure you follow the directions provided by the manufacturer to get the best results.

Step 3 – Apply the Plunger

An additional step to take is using a plunger in conjunction with the hot water or chemical cleaners. Plungers allow you to apply more pressure in the line to the clog and when used with running water can shift the clog – first loose from the sides of the drain and then free entirely.

Another Way – High-Pressure Water

Another way to handle a clog is through the careful application of high pressure water! You’ll want to find your clean out plug and attach a high-pressure nozzle to your garden hose. Then open up your hose and start flushing water through. Start slow! The last thing you want is to immediately cause a back up and flood your home(if that’s where your clean out plugs are located). Start slow and build up the pressure to clear the line.

 

There are many different things that can cause a blockage in your main line, and they’re not all clogs from improper waste management. Tree roots are a common enemy of sewer lines as they grow into the pipes and then cause a blockage. The point of the matter is that there’s a lot to take into account and if you’re just trying to solve the problem alone you might find yourself unable to get it sorted. 

Sewer line clogs happen all the time and it’s an easy job for any plumber to come take care of for you. If your attempts to unclog your main sewer line without a snake are fruitless well, give the professionals a call and we can come take care of it for you. A proper unclogging job can make sure your sewer lines are working like they should for a long time to come, where a simple DIY job might get you some results today, they may not last in the weeks and months to come.

Give us a call at Economy Plumbing Services and let us take care of your clogs!

If Water Goes Through It Or To It, We Do It!

Most Common Reasons Your Electric Water Heater is Not Working

Cold water when you need hot (or worse, when you are expecting it) can be quite the shock. Last time on the Economy Plumbing Services blog we took a look at how to test heat elements in your water heater to help avoid that. In that same vein, this time we are going to look at some of the most common reasons for an electric water heater not working. 

And remember, if you think attempting to diagnose or repair your water heater is outside your abilities: Don’t risk it, give an expert a call. Tinkering with electric water heaters without know-how, confidence, and a bit of experience can lead to more problems down the line or worse!

Most Common Reasons Electric Water Heater Not Working Like it Should

Electric water heaters can have a number of different problems. Overheating due to sediment build up, corrosion inside the tank leading to rust looking water, water too hot, and more – all are possible problems with your water heater. Here’s what’s causing them and how to address the problem.

Temperature Troubles

Too hot, too cold, not hot at all, or anywhere in-between there are a number of different problems that could cause temperature issues.  You may have crossed connections, a faulty thermostat or heating element. The circuit breaker may have a blown fuse. If the water is coming out too hot the thermostat may just be set too high! A simple fix, set it between 110 and 140 (Fahrenheit, of course!) and you should be in business. Otherwise, most of these fixes will need a bit of electrical or plumbing know hot to get sorted.

Leaks

Leaks are one of the most common problems with water heaters. We’ve written up a whole blog on leaking water heaters, so to put it briefly: turn off the power, turn off the water, find the leak. It may just be a loose connection, but it may be a broken temperature or pressure valve.

Internal Problems

There are a number of issues that might be happening inside the tank that can cause less than optimal performance. Rust colored water, hot water running out too fast, stinky water. All of these are caused by something malfunctioning inside the water heater tank. If your water has a rotten eggy smell, a sacrificial anode rod may need repalcing. If the water is rust colored it means the inside of your water heater is corroding.If any of these are happening you will want to call an expert to address it before the whole water heater needs to be replaced

Water heaters, whether electric or not, take some wear and tear on them through years of use. That’s just the facts. And with it come hiccups, malfunctions, and inconveniences but so long as you take precautions and keep an eye out you can keep those small problems from becoming disastrous! If you need help with your electric water heater today, feel free to give us a call and we’ll take care of you.

If Water Goes Through It Or To It, We Do It!

How to Test Water Heater Elements – Is It Broken or Just Installed Wrong?

Struggling to keep your water hot? Are your breakers constantly getting tripped? These are both sure signs that your hot water heater is on the fritz, specifically the element. Here’s a handy little blog on how to test water heater elements to determine what’s wrong, and what needs to be done to get your showers back on schedule!

How to Test Water Heater Elements

First things first, what even is an ‘element.’ No we aren’t talking about Fire, Wind, Water, or Heart Planeteer (you guys remember Captain Planet?)  we’re talking about is a metal component usually in the shape of a coil that converts electricity into heat using Joule heating. In water heaters they are located inside the tank itself.

Now, to test the element you are first going to need to get access to them in the first place. That means taking the necessary safety precautions and have the right tools.

Tools You’ll Need

  • Phillips head Screwdriver
  • Non-contact voltage detector
  • Multimeter

First, Turn Off the Breakers

Go to your breakers and flip off all the circuits that go to your hot water heater. You absolutely don’t want the heater to have any power when you are looking to test the elements.

Access the Water Heater’s Thermostat and Elements

The water heater’s thermostat is hidden behind a metal plate, usually near the base of the tank. Use a Phillips head screwdriver and remove the metal plate. As always, keep these screws and plate somewhere safe and sturdy where you won’t lose the pieces. Lots of hot water heaters have a layer of insulation under the metal cover so go ahead and remove that. Some also have a plastic cover that sits between the components and the insulation. Remove as necessary

Test the Power

Before you start touching anything willy nilly, make sure that the electricity is turned off to the room and that the water heater is not receiving any voltage. Use a non-contact voltage detector and touch the tip to the wires heading into the thermostat. If the detector lights up you need to go check your breakers! If no electricity is detected then you are good to go!

Locate the Elements and Undo the Wire

The element itself won’t be visible in the panel as they extend into the tank, but you should be able to see the ends of it. You should see the base of the metal element, usually about 1 inch across with a plastic plate screwed into it.

Test the Water Heater Element

Now is time to get to testing! Take your multimeter, set it for the lowest setting for ohm resistance and calibrate it. Now place the multimeter prongs to the two screws of the element. If everything is working as it should, the multimeter should so somewhere between 10-30 ohms of resistance. If nothing changes and the multimeter sits at 0, something in the element is not working correctly. Even if the number is very low, it is evidence that the heating element isn’t generating heat as necessary.

How Do Water Heater Elements Fail?

The heating element can fail for several reasons, none of them great!

Minerals

We’ve talked about this in relation to water heaters before. Water has more in it than you might think, including minerals. As these combine and deposit in the tank they can damage the element. The minerals coat the elements surface, creating another layer that it has to heat through for the water to reach the desired temp. This means the element overworks itself and burns out.

Wire Troubles

The element might not be to blame at all! It’s possible the wiring is loose or otherwise incorrect and not delivering the electricity needed to the element.

Thermostats

The thermostat itself might be the problem. It might be on the fritz, need resetting or replacement itself. If your thermostat isn’t working, the heating element won’t be sent the right signals to heat the water.

Power Surges

Heating elements have a voltage rating, what they are designed to withstand. In the case of power surges, that voltage could cause a sudden increase that surpasses what the element is rated for and harming it.

Air

The heating element in hot water heaters are designed to work when they are completely submerged in water, if your tank ever has air pockets or a lack of water and it still heats up the element won’t have anything to transfer its heat to. This can cause the element to burn out its core, resulting in failure.

Whatever the reason, if your water heater heating element isn’t working, you got to get it looked at! If you’re unsure and all of this seemed like a lot of work, no worries. Economy Plumbing Services is trained to handle it all! Give us a call and one of our trucks will be out in no time to help you get your water warmed up like it should!

 

If Water Goes Through It Or To It, We Do It!

11 No-Nos – What Not To Pour Down the Drain

Last time on the blog we talked about what some of the things you can do to help keep your plumbing system operating smoothly between professional check ups. One of those points was to ‘Know What You Pour,’ specifically talking about what you are putting down your drains. Well, you might not know what’s bad and what’s ok. So, this time on the blog we wanted to talk about eleven different things that should never go down your drain!

11 Things That Never Go Down the Drain

Eggshells

Eggshells are fine right? After all they’re so delicate, they should break down and drain easy. Wrong! The shells can cause blockages, with their edges catching on the uneven sides of the pipes and making for perfect spots for other things to cling to on their way down the pipe. Even one eggshell can be enough to cause the whole dang pipe to clog, when enough other debris build on it.

Coffee Grounds

Perhaps one of the most common causes of clogged drains, coffee grounds build up along the pipe and eventually cause blockages. Always put your coffee grounds in the garbage, or use them for composting if you are so inclined! Just make sure you’re not throwing them down the drain!

Grease

Grease is probably the thing most folks know not to put down their drains. The leftover fat or oil from cooking causes tons of trouble.  You ever leave grease in a pan overnight? How it cools and sticks to the surface? Now imagine that in your pipes! Any grease that gets poured into drains coats the sides of the pipe, narrowing the area for flow and eventually clogging entirely. Instead, allow the grease to cool, and dispose of it in the trash.

Flour

Flour might surprise you but it’s quite simple. When flour interacts with water it mixes into a sticky substance, which is why you use it in baking but for drains that’s a big no no. That sticky mixture will cling to anything else going down the drain with it and make for a fast clog.

Medication

This one isn’t so much a problem for clogging potential, thankfully, but it is harmful for the environment! Old, leftover, or expired medicine is technically medical waste and can be thrown away at facilities with those capabilities. If it goes down the drain it can leach into surrounding environment, messing with the ground and your drinking water.

Produce Stickers

By now you probably have an idea why this is no good. Stickers from produce are, well, sticky, so they can easily grab ahold of the side of the pipe and make for an obstruction just waiting for more friends to grab on to.

Condoms

Condoms are made of latex which will never dissolve in water. If they get flushed they’ll simply grab purchase somewhere on the way down along a pipe and get stuck. If they don’t well they might just end up in the ocean where sea life will mistake them for food and choke on them. In short, throw them in the trash! 

Anything ‘Flushable’

Despite the descriptions on these products, flushable wipes, or clothes, or even cat litter, are most definitely not safe for flushing. Many of things don’t break down correctly in the waste water and instead half fall apart, half clog the pipes. Just put them in the trash like you would any other version of the product and don’t be fooled by the marketing in the future!

Paint

Now paint is a liquid, so it shouldn’t cause a clog (though it is possible,) but it is a hazardous chemical and pouring it in a drain can lead to seriously bad effects on the environment. Take it to a hazardous waste facility instead, or speak with a local hardware store – they’ll know where to throw away your excess paint.

Feminine Hygiene Products

Just like latex condoms, feminine hygiene products don’t dissolve in water. They’re also designed to be absorbent. These two things together mean they are a surefire way to clog a pipe. Don’t risk the bill, just toss these in the trash.

Cleaners or Fluids

Like paint, these chemicals may not ever cause a clog, but they will certainly do a number on the environment. And we just don’t want that. Many cleaners have chemicals that can’t be removed in a water treatment plant and those chemicals will go on, harming the environment wherever they end up. Just don’t do it!

With this list in mind, you should be able to keep your drains flowing smooth! If you have a problem now, or a clog that just won’t quit. You give us a call and our expert plumbers will be out in no time to take care of you, whether it’s a clogged drain or a total repiping we do it all.

As always, remember, if water runs through it or to it, we do it!

7 Plumbing Maintenance Tips for 2020

Few things are as absolutely devastating  to have happen as a plumbing catastrophe. Luckily for everyone involved, there are things you can do at home right now  to keep your plumbing operating smoothly! So, why not add some house maintenance to your New Year, New You creed?

Seven Tips to Keep Your Plumbing Flowing

Look for Leaks

Do a routine inspection of all exposed pipes, appliances, and fixtures in your home for leaks. Look for water pooling under them or accumulating on the pipes. Your refrigerator, your washing machines, anything that connects to your plumbing. Look for visible signs of leaks in pipes that aren’t exposed such as spots on the ceiling, or water along walls. The sooner you see these leaks the faster you can get someone (like Economy Plumbing) out to take care of it.

Fix Leaky Fixtures

Ok, you have spotted some leaks, maybe your kitchen faucet is dribbling water whenever you open it. Take care of that asap! Faucets, showerheads, toilets, whatever the case may be, the slow drip of water, even if silent can waste a ton of water, raise your water bill, and any leak left unchecked can get worse!

Unclog Slow Drains

When your drains don’t drain at all, that’s a huge problem, when they drain slow it’s only a matter of time! Often a clog in the line will develop slowly over time. To prevent it, unclog your slow drains and use a homemade drain cleaner mixture of vinegar and hot water to break up and flush any clogs developing. Do this routinely, to ensure a good drain.

Know What You Pour

This is a preventative step through and through. Knowing what you are pouring down your drains (and whether you even should) will save you so much headache. Only toilet paper and human waste should go down the toilet drain while sink drains shouldn’t have coffee grounds, large pieces of food waste, and greases poured down them. A garbage disposal is helpful’ but if you’re not careful that grease will grab on to any tiny pieces of debris, binding them all together and create clogs.

Clean Your Shower Heads

Speaking of water pressure, if your shower isn’t packing quite the punch it used to, it is probably time to clean up your shower head. These accumulate sediment through use and it will eventually cause problems with your flow. Remove your shower head and give it a good cleaning, removing the built up sediment, freeing your flow, and getting your morning showers back on track.

Know Your Lines!

Knowing how your home and plumbing system connect with the sewer system can prevent you from making any accidents when it comes to home improvement projects, and help you see potential problems on the horizon. Are your lines close to a tree? Those roots might be getting into the pipes and causing troubles. We talked more about sewer lines here

Maintain your Water Heater

The hot water heater might be one of the most critical components to your home plumbing system, whether or not you realize it. So, maintaining your water heater is huge for preventing problems. We’ve talked about it at length elsewhere so here’s some good reading on leaky water heaters and what you can do to prevent them.

Use these 7 tips to make 2020 your best year yet when it comes to plumbing health! Regular maintenance performed by you and routine checkups and repairs handled by us and you’ll never worry about plumbing catastrophes again. Already having some plumbing problems? Give us a call today and we’ll help you out in no time!

Remember, if water runs to it, or through it, we do it!

When To Replace Water Heaters – An Economy Plumbing Guide

Water heaters are an absolute comfort in the home, giving us relaxing showers and baths, helping in cooking and cleaning – they just flat out make life easier. But what happens when that ease, when that comfort goes away? You ever jump in a shower just to have the heat disappear on you? It’s awful! Keeping an eye on your water heater’s ‘health’ as it were is critical to avoiding catastrophe down the line. This time on the Economy Plumbing Service blog we are answering the question, ‘How to know when to replace water heater?’

When To Replace Water Heater – 4 Signs

Age of Water Heater

The biggest determining factor of whether or not you need to replace your water heater is the age of the unit itself. Most water heaters are built to last about eight to ten years, some can reach up to 15 or 20 with proper maintenance. If everything works in perfect order they might even last longer. But nothing ever works perfectly. It’s very likely you’ll need to replace your water heater before then to avoid a total unit failure.

Bills Skyrocketing

Water heaters are made to work efficiently. They convert energy into heat to warm water, and so long as everything works as it should, that is an easily tracked cost. If it starts to rise you can be sure something isn’t working up to snuff. 

It could also be your repair bills that are running higher than normal. If you are having to call out an expert (*ahem* like Economy Plumbing Services) twice a year or more, it might be worth the investment to replace the unit entirely.

Low Volume

Ever take a nice warm shower only to have the heat die out on you three minutes in? You’re not crazy! Water heaters work by heating up a set volume of water to be on hand and ready for use. As they wear out, they fill with sediment, which lowers the amount of open space for water. If cold showers are becoming an all too common occurrence, well you’ll know when to replace water heater.

Rusty Water

Red coloration in your water is a sign that the pipes the water travels through is rusted up. If the red water only comes out of the hot water tap, well then you know where it’s coming from! It means the water heater itself is rusting out and it’s probably time to get a new heater in.

Can My Water Heater Keep Going?

Not all problems need immediate replacement, though they need to be looked at! Here are some of the less dire water heater problems that your unit can likely survive (with proper attention of course!)

Leaky Water Heater

Leaky water heaters are a dime a dozen I tell ya. There are a few likely spots where that water leakage can occur: the water supply pipes or the pressure-relief valve. If it’s either of these parts, you are in luck! Replace the pressure-relief valve or tighten (or replace) the water supply fittings as needed.

plumber repairing leaking water heater

Strange Noises

Strange noises and water heaters go together like peanut butter and jelly it seems. These noises are usually caused by sediment gather in the water heater tank. To handle this you’ll want to drain the tank until the water and sediment clears out. Clean the elements inside, following all safety instructions first of course, and scrub the collected scale and the noises should slow down.

Whether you need to replace the whole unit or just make some minor repairs, we hope this blog has helped you get your water heater woes settled. If you need help or want to see what a new unit could cost, don’t hesitate to give us a call! We are happy to help you in any way you need.

Sewer Lines and You

Whether you’re moving in to a new place, repiping your home, or experiencing some troubles with your plumbing, knowing what you are dealing with is perhaps the best thing you can do. Part of knowing what you’re dealing with is understanding the sewer lines connecting your home to the rest of the sewer system. This time on the Economy Plumbing Services blog we are going to give a decent (we hope) beginner’s primer on sewer lines.

Private and Public Sewer Lines

Sewer lines are the connections from your homes interior plumbing system to the public sewer system (or if you’re living outside of city limits a septic system). They are the lines that take the waste water off to treatment plants for their next big thing.  There are two parts to the line the public and private portion of the line. The private line is what you are responsible for as a home owner, once it connects to the public system then it is up to the city to maintain.

diagram of public and private sewer lines
Sewer Lines, Private and Public. Image from Pima County

The Kinds of Sewer Lines

There are a few different kinds of sewer lines out there, they all typically fall within these three categories: Sanitary, Storm, and Combined. Typically they all run about 6-10” in diameter. 

Sanitary Sewer Lines

As you have no doubt guess, the sanitary line is what handles the flow of waste water from your home. Toilets, sinks, showers, all of those are connected to sanitary sewer lines.

Storm Sewer Lines

Storm sewer lines are specifically made to handle excess storm water. The big reason for storm and sanitary lines to be separate is in case of flooding, the extra water might cause the sewer system to fail. It also helps ease the load on treatment plants as rain water doesn’t need treating.

Combined Sewer Lines

Bet you figured this one out already, you’re so smart! Combined lines handle both waste and storm water. They used to be much more common but now they see less use generally to prevent undue strain on water treatment plants.

How can I find info on my connection?

If you are Tucson locals like us, then look to the Pima County online database to find more info on your specific connection.

Common Sewer Line Problems

There are about four main cause of most sewer line problems. Let’s go over them briefly to help round out the basic sewer line 101 we’re providing here.

Roots

If you have trees in your yard you might experience this awful surprise. The root system of trees will grow through just about anything if given time and the right motivation, the sewer lines under your house are no deterrent to them! You likely won’t notice the first intrusion of roots but as your sink sand tubs begin draining slower (due to the constricted flow of the line) you’ll start wondering what’s wrong.

Damaged Pipes

Earthquakes, fallen trees, (or those dastardly roots we mentioned) there are plenty of ways you might end up with a crushed, broken or dislodged pipe.  A damaged pipe won’t flow the way it’s meant to and you could end up with flooding in your hard or shifting in your ground. 

Back Pitch

Sewer lines work because of gravity. The angle of the pipe from your home to the greater sewer system has a slight slope that helps nudge the water along on its journey. If the pipe doesn’t have that pitch you could end up with some serious drain issues. A back pitched pipe is usually a problem with the installation, though it is possible for the ground to settle and for the pipe to pitch weirdly.

Clogs

Perhaps the most common thing people think of when they think of sewer line troubles: the dreaded clog. When a clog hits, it hits fast, water begins to back up and soon you’re left with something awful flooding your home. The biggest cloggers of drains? Fat, grease, and oil. 

Ok, that may have been a lot to take in, but don’t worry if you are struggling. The beauty of having a plumber as experienced, as knowledgeable, as down-right handy as Economy Plumbing Services LLC means you don’t need to know or worry about any of that stuff! If you are having plumbing problems and need work done on your sewer lines, simply give us a call and we will be out in a jiff to handle whatever life has thrown your way. After all…

If water goes through it or to it, we do it!

Winterize Your Plumbing!

Welcome back to another entry here on the Economy Plumbing Services blog! Earlier this month we talked a lot about insulating pipes, doing your best to get them in shape so they don’t freeze over or cause any energy inefficiency in the home. This time around, we want to talk about a larger scale project that you should undertake whenever you’re going to be leaving your home vacant. If the title didn’t give it away, we’re going to tell you how to winterize your plumbing!

Why Winterize?

Freezing temperatures and pipes mix about as well as oil and water. When things freeze, they expand. When water that is sitting in a pipe freezes, it expands past the size of the pipes, often breaking through the material entirely which can cause leaks, and flooding. If you are in your home for the winter, using the water regularly as normal, then you don’t have to worry about the possible bursts as much, that water isn’t being allowed to sit and freeze. If you have a cabin, or are away for the winter, you need to winterize! It’s more than just about preventing water from cracking pipes and flooding, it also prevents your home’s water fixtures from being damaged.

How To Winterize Your Plumbing

First you got to start with a plan! Figure out and make an inventory of all your homes plumbing. The valves, the taps, fixtures. You want to make sure that as you go through the rest of these steps for winterizing that you are hitting each possible place water might be sitting. Once you have a full accounting of all the taps, faucets, etc., you are ready to get started in earnest.

First, shut off the main water valve to your home. Then, go to your water heater and water pumps and turn those off as well. If you leave your water heater on while there is no water flowing into it can cause damage to the heating elements and leave you with a bigger repair come spring!

With the water off, it’s time to go around and open up all the drain valves and taps throughout your home. Check each off your list as you go through emptying the remaining water left in the pipes. You’ll want to leave all the valves and taps open for the duration you’re going to be gone. Check to see if the sinks or tubs have drain traps. If so, adding antifreeze can prevent the water from freezing and cracking the traps.

Flush your toilets, removing as much water from the tanks and bowls as possible. If for whatever reason you can’t get al the water out, add a little bit of antifreeze to prevent the water from freezing and breaking the toilet.

Head back to your water heater and get ready to drain it. If your unit doesn’t have a floor drain with it, you may need to get a hose to drain the water out of the heater and your home without making a mess.

Proper Pipe Precautions

While you are working around your home, make sure to take the time to examine pipes that might be especially at risk. Any pipes on the exterior of your home, outside of walls or where they enter the walls.

If your walls have any cracks, repair them. The less cold air that gets into your home the less you have to worry about. If you there are gaps in the wall where the pipes enter, fill it with caulk or another insulating material. Make sure to follow our tips on insulating your pipes and you should be in great shape this winter!

Need help? Give us a call! Our plumbing experts are happy to help, we have the experience, know-how, and attitude to get the job done right the first time!

Remember, if water flows to it or through it, we do it!

Pipe Insulation and You

It might surprise you to talk about now, but this month on the Economy Plumbing Services blog we are talking about pipe insulation and winter prep for your plumbing. “It’s September! Fall isn’t even here yet!” We hear you, but when it comes to pipe insulation and other winter prep, getting it done before winter is the whole point, it’s a proactive measure you need to take to make sure your plumbing doesn’t breakdown come the colder months. Let’s start with pipe insulation!

Pipe Insulation – What is It Good For?

You might be surprised to hear it, pipe insulation is good for keeping your pipes, more specifically what is flowing through them, the temperature they need to be for them to work like they are supposed to!

You might think ‘Hey, the pipes are in the walls, that’s insulated! Nothing to worry about here,’ and while in most cases, sure, the pipes might not need that extra help to keep their temp. Those interior walls keep the temperature regulated, but in unheated portions of your home there can be there can be unseen problems caused by the lack of insulation. For instance, cold water pipes might sweat, increasing the humidity in your home. Hot water pipes leaving the heater might lose some of their heat as they flow, making you crank the hot water handle to get it where you want and causing the cost to rise in turn!

For those pipes that are on the exterior of your home, or in the outer walls, they may be exposed to more extreme temperatures such as freezing cold putting them at risk to freeze, burst, and flood your home!

So, you want to prevent freezing pipes, you want to prevent loss of heat and energy inefficiency. That means its time to insulate!

Ways to Insulate Pipesman installing pipe insulation

There are a few different methods for installing pipe insulation. You can:

  • Use foam pipe sleeves
  • Add wall insulation
  • Use pipe wrap

Installing Foam Pipe Sleeves

These work best when long, straight stretches of pipe need insulating. Installing them is surprisingly easy, all you’ll need are the sleeves, maybe some duct tape, and something to cut the foam with! Simply lay the sleeve along the pipe, pry up the slit in the side of the sleeve and slide over the pipe. The slit may have a self-adhesive strip attached, may not, but either way it wouldn’t hurt to double dip and seal using duct tape after the fact. When you get to a point where the pipe bends or ends, simply cut the remaining length of foam and use it elsewhere. You may end up with some bends or places that aren’t as well insulated. If you’re handy enough, you can cut and wrangle the foam sleeves to cover the exposed  areas decently enough.

Adding Wall Insulation

If you’re in a place that gets freezing temps (and believe it or not, that includes us desert dwellers in Tucson!) you know that the exterior walls get cold. If you have any pipes in the exterior walls, you’ll need to make sure they are adequately insulated. This requires a bit more work than the pipe sleeves, including opening up your walls and placing new, better insulating materials into the space. If you have another remodeling project on the docket, now is the time to double dip and get a plan made for insulation.

Using Pipe Wrap

Pipe wrap is available in a bunch of different materials – flexible foam, bubble-film, foam-and-foil, foil-backed cotton, or rubber pipe tape. It’s easy to install and works well for small stretches pipe, or where there are so many bends it isn’t feasible to use something bigger. Whichever wrap material you go with, installation is dead simple. Tape one end on the pipe and get wrapping, spiraling the strip around the pipe overlapping each loop by about a half an inch. Tape the other end of the insulating strip into place and bing-bang-boom you’re in business!

If you combine both the pipe wrap and sleeve methods you can cover your exposed pipes with the necessary insulation fairly painlessly! Not up to snuff when it comes to handy stuff? Worried you might make the problem worse, or just want to have the peace of mind that comes with professional installation? You know who to call!

Next time, on the blog we’ll take a look at winter prep for all your plumbing including winterizing your pipes!