Candy Season: What Can’t Go Down Your Drain

It’s that time of the year again: the time where you and your family get a ton of sticky, sweet, and delicious candy. Regardless of how much you get, it’s inevitable that some of it will end up in the trash or in the sink. Most candies are fine going down the sink, but some Halloween treats should always go in the trash — if you’re not planning on eating them, that is! 

Protect your drains and avoid flushing these seasonal food items and candies down the drain and garbage disposal. 

Nuts

Nuts are a common ingredient in a few popular candy bars, including Snickers and Peanut M&M’s. A few nuts won’t be that much of a problem, but consider this: how is peanut butter made? A few nuts were ground down and spun to make a thick and sticky paste. The same thing can happen in your garbage disposal — the nuts, mixed with other components of the candy, and create a large sticky lump that can clog your pipes. 

Peanut Butter, or a thick peanut butter-like mix, can be a pain to clean out and may not be easily flushed out with drain cleaners. Try to limit the amount of peanut candy that goes in your sink and instead, put it to better use. Like eating it! 

Pumpkin and Fibrous Vegetables

It’s October, which means pumpkin season is in full force. Whether you’re carving them, using them as decorations, feeding them to animals, or eating them yourselves, you should avoid putting any of them down the drain. 

Pumpkins are extremely fibrous on the inside. While they may feel slimy to the touch, that doesn’t mean the guts will slide down your drain without any problem. Actually, the opposite is true. The long and slimy strands can easily get caught in your drain and catch more debris as it gets flushed down the sink. 

The slimy gunk is ideal for clogging sink drains. It’s stringy and sticky when wet, and when it dries, it hardens into perfect choke-points for drains. So avoid carving pumpkins in the sink and instead opt to do it outside or in the garage, with newspaper laid down on the ground. 

Pumpkin guts can also get entangled in and damage garbage disposals. The same goes for veggies like celery and rhubarb. Throw long, stringy stalks straight in the trash to keep the fibers from causing a problem, but don’t worry about small pieces. When chopped up, the fibers are small enough to not cause a problem.

Also, don’t try to flush them down the toilet! The same kind of clog will form, but it will be further down the piping system. Instead, put them in the trash or a compost bin. 

Coffee Grounds

We know it’s not a seasonal thing, but sometimes you need an extra boost during the evening to help you keep up with the kids during trick-or-treating. While most nights end early, Halloween is definitely a longer-than-average feeling day. Sometimes you just need a little pick-me-up to help you get through it. 

Even though you’re tired, avoid putting those coffee grounds down the sink when you’re done with them. That’s because they’re hard, which can damage your garbage disposal, and they’re prone to clumping together in the drain. They will likely continue to build up over time and catch more and more food as it gets washed down the sink, thus resulting in a large amount of build up and an eventual clog. 

For a list of more things you should never flush down your drain, see our past blog on the topic. 

Why Is a Clogged Sink Bad?

You may be asking why it’s so bad to clog a sink for a day or two until you can get it fixed. Sure, it stinks and the water isn’t going away, but that’s harmless, right? 

Wrong. A clogged sink results in a slow drain, if any drain at all, which builds pressure in your pipe. This pressure, though not often enough to lead to a burst pipe, can cause cracks and leaks. 

Leaks are always a concern — the water can quickly damage your walls and floors, as well as cause potential hazardous mold. 

Water sitting in your sink could also attract pests and ignite irritations caused by allergies and asthma, especially when the water is contaminated with food particles and gives off an odor. While these types of issues typically only occur with severe clogs, it can become a major health concern if it does happen. 

What Do I Do If My Drain is Clogged?

If your drain is clogged or if you notice something unusual about it, such as loud noises, scrapping or bangs when you run the garbage disposal, it’s time to call a professional, like Economy Plumbing Service. 

Economy Plumbing Services serves all of Tucson and the surrounding areas including Vail, Sahuarita, Green Valley, Marana, 3 Points, Catalina, Saddlebrook, and Oro Valley. The business is family-owned and operated and ready to help you when you need it. If you’re in the area, give them a call

A Breakdown of Water and Sewer Pipe Materials

Not all pipes are made out of the same material. In fact, there are many different kinds, both metal and nonmetal, that are being used today. Some, such as galvanized steel, are slowly being phased out as older homes and businesses begin to re-pipe, while others, like brass and PEX piping, are gaining in popularity. 

Here is a breakdown of each of the more popular sewer pipe materials. 

Brass Sewer Pipes

Brass was one of the more popular piping materials for older homes because of its long lifespan of 80-100 years, and it’s resistance to rust (especially if it’s made of 67-85% copper). They are easier to thread than traditional steel and offer great hot-water distribution. 

Brass pipes can easily be used for all of the following: 

  • Water supply lines
  • Water removal drains and lines
  • Some applications for gas lines, depending on local building code

Because brass is an alloy, one of the potential problems with this piping material is lead. Lead is highly toxic if consumed. If you have brass pipes, get them tested regularly to see if any lead is leaking into your water from the pipes. If the lead is in a safe range, you have nothing to worry about. If the levels are too high, you should shut off and replace your pipes immediately. Thankfully, most modern brass piping is lead free, so if you’re in the market for brass, lead should not be a concern. 

Cast Iron Pipes

You’ll likely see cast iron in older homes that were built pre-1950s. Cast iron plumbing pipes are normally manufactured as bell-and-spigot, or threaded joints. They’re quite heavy and are normally only used for water distribution or underground installations for moving water (like a sewer). It is extremely strong, durable, and both sound and heat resistant. 

However, cast iron is highly susceptible to rust overtime. Thankfully, sections can be easily replaced if rust becomes an issue. They’re not commonly used today due to their weight, but are still reliable and safe.

Galvanized Steel 

Galvanized steel was popular several years ago and will be found in many homes that were built post-1950. Its lifespan is relatively long at an average of 80-100 years. 

Galvanized steel pipes are prone to both rust and corrosion, meaning they’re not reliable in the long term. If your pipes are old enough, you may begin to experience discolored water due to rust, buildup or leaks caused from the corrosion. Because of this, they should be phased out of your home and replaced with a modern material when it’s time to get new sewer pipes. 

You can tell if you have galvanized pipes by checking to see if they’re magnetic. Simply grab a flat head screwdriver and a strong magnet. Find your water line and scratch the outside of the pipe with the screwdriver. If the surface looks shiny and silver, and if the magnet sticks to it, then it’s galvanized. 

Copper Piping

Copper is the most popular piping material for homes built after 1970. It is estimated about 98% of homes built after that time have copper pipes. Copper is designed to last up to 80 years, however, if your water is acidic, it can cause heavy corrosion. 

Corrosion of copper pipes will introduce high levels of copper into your tap water, which is a serious health risk. It can also cause leaks, which can damage your home, and let other contaminants in your tap water. Once the dangers of copper pipes became better known, plumbers switched to brass pipes. If your water isn’t acidic, copper pipes hold up well and stand the test of time. 

Copper pipes are recyclable too and you can install them outside without much concern. 

The downside is that copper pipes are expensive and they may make water taste slightly metallic. 

PVC Piping 

PVC piping is popular for short-term sewer pipes and water drainage. It’s only designed to last 24-45 years, so it will need to be replaced relatively often compared to other piping materials. 

PVC pipes offer lightweight options that are safer to install, flexible, and resistant to fracturing. They’re also secure in terms of joint tightness. PVC pipes are available with deep insertion, push-together gasketed or solvent cement joints. 

PVC piping is a non-toxic and safe material that has been used for more than half a century. It is also the world’s most researched and tested plastic.

PEX Piping 

In 1968, German scientist Thomas Engle discovered a way to crosslink common plastic (polyethylene) through radiation to produce a much simpler form of the material, thus creating PEX. Today, it is cross-linked polyethylene tubing that is primarily used for water supply piping systems. 

PEX piping is flexible, easier to install than rigid metal piping, is durable, and offers high heat resistance. It also has a lifespan of about 100 years. 

However, PEW pipes are not suitable for use outdoors as the sun can break down the material, it cannot be recycled, and it does require special connectors and tools to install. 

 

Gas Water Heaters vs. Electric Water Heaters

One of the most important appliances in your home is something you don’t think about is your water heater. While that’s a good thing, once a decade passes, you’re going to want to start thinking about replacing it before your water heater fails. 

Nowadays, there are many choices, but it all boils down to gas water heaters or electric ones. For some, the choice is simple: if your house isn’t hooked up to gas, then you have to choose electric. But for most, you do have the ability to choose between the two. So, what’s the difference?

Both gas water heaters and electric ones are rated by their input, which is the measurement of gas or electricity used per hour to heat the water in the tank. Gas is measured in BTUs and electric heaters are measured in watts. 

The average input ratings for a gas water heater range from around 30,000 to 180,000 BTUs, depending on size. Generally speaking, the more BTUs, the faster the unit will heat water.

For Electric water heaters, the average input ranges 1,440 to 5,500 watts, and the same principle applies—the higher the wattage, the more quickly the unit will heat water.

The Cost of Gas vs. Electric

Like with any home appliance, the cost depends on how big, new, efficient, and high-quality the water heater is. The more expensive unit, the more likely it is to have a longer lifespan, be more efficient, and save you more money in the long term.

Gas and electric water heaters differ greatly in cost, though you’ll have to think beyond the initial payment to get a fair comparison. Gas water heaters are more expensive than electric, but they cost less to run (as gas is generally cheaper than electricity), while electric water heaters have a cheaper price tag, but often cost more in monthly electric bills. 

Which One is More Efficient?

This one is not as easy to answer, as some electric water heaters are more efficient than gas, and vice versa. Efficiency is measured by EF ratings — the higher the EF rating, the more efficient the water heater is. 

Many will be comparable, especially models made by the same manufacturer and ones that are similar sizes. However, certain types of electric-powered models—including heat pump and hybrid heat pump units, described below—have the efficiency advantage.

Though if you’re looking at a gas and electric unit of vastly different qualities and age, always go for the newer model that is higher quality.

Which One Heats Up Faster?

If you’re looking for a unit that heats up faster, gas is the way to go. This is because electric heaters often rely on drawing heat from the surrounding air to get going. If you’re in a warmer climate, you may not notice the difference, but if you experience cold winters or mild climates, you may want to consider a gas water heater. 

The pinnacle of efficiency in an electric water heater is the heat pump unit. Before you buy, do some research to see if the unit can withstand what you need it for. 

There are also hybrid options available for heat pumps. Hybrid heat pumps allow the consumer to choose different operating modes for different situations to increase the appliance’s efficiency. For example, most hybrid heat pump units have a vacation mode that reduces operating costs when no one is at home. Depending on the model, you could save up to 80 percent on hot water costs by choosing a hybrid heat pump over a standard water heater. 

There is a downside to hybrid units though. Most of them must be installed in a large area — at least 1,000 square feet — and are not appropriate for small utility closets. 

What About Tankless Water Heaters?

Tankless water heaters come in both gas and electric options. They heat water as you use it, opposed to storing it in a tank, which means they can be up to 35% more energy efficient. These are an entirely different breed and rely on “flow rate” measurements, so be sure to consult with an expert before purchasing one. 

Lifespan

The style of water heater, not what fuels it, determines how long it lasts.

For both gas and electric, tank water heaters last an average of 10 to 13 years, and tankless units last up to 20 years or longer. The average for electric heat pump water heaters is 12 to 15 years.

When in Doubt, Call The Experts

Get peace of mind and great service by hiring trained plumbers and technicians. They are highly knowledgeable on plumbing, building codes and technology innovations.

Need a job done as soon as possible? Economy Plumbing Service will always answer the phone. They provide comprehensive, first-rate service on every call. Their work is done on time, exactly to specifications, no matter the task. If you need a new heater heater, they have your back too. Call them today

What Can Cause a Sink to Clog

Thankfully, a clog sink is relatively easy to deal with, but the cause of it can be triggered by many things. To avoid a clog in the future, here’s a list of what probably caused it in the first place. 

The most common things to a clog a sink are hair, food, soap scum, or grease. 

What Clogs a Bathroom Sink

If your bathroom sink is draining slowly, or not draining at all, the culprit is likely hair. It’s the perfect material to clog drains: it clumps, is stringy, and easily sticks to surfaces. Pipe walls often catch hair clumps as they travel down the drain, so the hair sticks and gathers more and more hair as time goes on. This is also what causes your shower or bath to slowly drain. 

All hair clogs drains: from men’s hair, to women’s hair, from thin hair to thick, and even pat hair — it’s all a culprit. To reduce the number of clogs in the future, try to catch the hair before it goes down the drain using a drain straining device, or pick up the hair manually instead of flushing it away with water. 

Soap Scum

Soap scum can clog any sink, but is particularly common in the bathroom and laundry room. Soap scum occurs when chemicals in the soap react with calcium and magnesium ions in water. It looks like a filmy substance that clings to the bottom of the sink and the walls of pipes. Overtime, it can cause clogs and build ups. Like hair, it catches itself and other falling materials, creating a clog over time.

 Soap scum can create particularly frustrating clogs because it’s sticky. It’s not easy to clean away with a pipe snake or professional tool, or chemical to dissolve it. 

Having a water softener helps tremendously with reducing soap scum build up. The filter cleans out the calcium and magnesium ions, making it harder for the chemical reaction with the soap to occur. Heavier chunks of soap may also catch in the p-trap, so having a drain strainer will help with that too. 

What Clogs a Kitchen Sink?

The biggest thing that stops up a kitchen sink is food. It seems obvious, but certain foods aren’t meant to go down the drain, especially if it’s larger chunks. Any food that’s washed down the drain can get trapped in the P- or J-trap in the pipe system. Overtime, anything that’s caught in the pipes will catch other things, thus causing the build up to grow. 

To remove them you’ll need to use a drain cleaner or plumbing snake, or a drain friendly cleaner. 

To avoid getting food stuck in the drain, avoid putting it down there in the first place or installing a garbage disposal. 

Grease 

Grease kills pipes and drains because it is notorious for causing clogs. Grease creates sticky sediment that acts as glue in your pipes. It catches and traps other things and they get stuck for a very long time. A garbage disposal can’t dissolve grease either, so there is little you can do without chemical cleaners, professional tools, or new pipes all together. 

To avoid these clogs, don’t pour grease, fat, or oils down the sink. They should always go in the garbage. If you do put fat down the drain, run the garbage disposal and use cold water to help chop the fat up and move it through your piping system. 

Damaged Pipes

All kinds of pipe damage can cause clogs. When pipes corrode, the rust built up on the inner pipe walls can constrict water flow. Dented pipes will constrict or completely block off water flow if they’re damaged significantly enough. Even pipe joints can wear out or come apart, which could cause pipes to sag and block water flow. If pipes aren’t securely fastened, they could shift over time until they become displaced or disconnected.

Pipe damage is difficult to avoid because all pipes get worn down over time. 

Need a Plumber? 

Some clogs are just too stubborn to get out on your own, or you may need new pipes. If that’s the case, call a reliable plumbing service. If you’re in Tucson, give Economy Plumbing Service a call. Their plumbers are experienced and can get into any space to repair your pipes or unclog a sink. 

Economy Plumbing Service trucks are fully stocked and ready to repair all kinds of plumbing leaks and issues. Water heaters, toilets, faucets, stems, or cartridges, and all makes and materials of piping and fittings.

They will always answer the phone to help. Contact them today

When to Replace a Toilet or a Sink

When it comes to a sink or a toilet, it’s not always obvious they need to be replaced. At Economy Plumbing Service, we often get calls to repair sinks and toilets. In many cases, a replacement would better suit the homeowners needs than a repair, but it is often hard to spot the difference between a need for a repair and a replacement. So we compiled a helpful guide to explain just that: when you should replace a toilet or a sink. 

When to Replace a Toilet

There are a few obvious signs that should get you thinking about a replacement toilet, such as cracked porcelain that leads to a leak, or deep scratches that you just can’t clean out. If you notice a pool of water, you should replace your toilet right away instead of trying to repair it. Call a plumber to get their advice on what is causing the leak and get their advice to take appropriate action before mold or water damage forms. 

Besides cracked porcelain, scratches that are becoming increasingly difficult to clean, a leak, or a broken exterior, there are a couple of obvious signs for when you should replace a toilet. 

It Frequently Clogs

Does your toilet require plunging more than once a week? Or does it need more than one flush most of the time? This indicates that your toilet is probably old, or there is something not working right within it. Both are signs that you should be looking for a replacement. 

While frequent clogging isn’t necessarily a sign of a broken toilet, it can be cumbersome to have to use a plunger on a regular basis. The problem may be solved by replacing the inner workings of the toilet, but this can be a challenging task for someone who isn’t trained. 

It Needs Too Many Repairs

As mentioned above, repairing a toilet isn’t the most straightforward — it can require replacing quite a few things in the tank, such as its handle, flapper, and fill valve. Some repairs are simple, like replacing the flushing mechanism or untangling the chain that connects the handle to the flapper. Others can be as complicated as sealing a crack, replacing piping underneath the toilet, or resealing it all together. 

If you find yourself repairing your toilet often, it’s probably time to replace the entire unit.  

To Save Water and Money

Older toilet models often use too much water and are not as efficient as newer models. If you do not have a low-flush toilet, it may be beneficial to replace your toilet to save money on your water bill. An efficient toilet uses less than 2 gallons of water per flush, while older models can use between 3-5 gallons. 

Think of it this way: you can use 15 gallons of water per day for 3 toilet flushes, or you can use 6 gallons for the same amount of flushes. This will not only save you money on your utility bill each month, but is better for the planet. 

When to Replace a Sink

Like toilets, sinks have quite a few working parts that shouldn’t need constant repair or replacement. It’s not always easy to notice when a replacement is needed, save for a leak, a broken faucet, or a large crack. 

The first thing you should be looking for in older sinks are leaks. If you hear dripping water, investigate immediately. It could be the sound of a broken sink. Leaks can cause extensive damage to your home if not found and repaired quickly. If you’re not sure where to look, start by searching for any visible wear and tear on the sink itself, the faucet, and the pipes underneath. 

Damage could range from a chipped basin to a crack forming up the side. No matter how big or small the damage could be, it’s important to assess it as quickly as possible.

You Are Constantly Repairing Your Sink

A general rule is that anything that consistently needs to be repaired should be replaced. If your sink isn’t able to retain any water or it’s clogged continuously, those are a telltale sign that your sink or the pipes underneath it will need to be replaced. 

If the repair isn’t a simple fix, call a plumber. They may be able to help patch the problem, or can install your new sink for you. 

Your Sink Is Outdated

There was an era where pink, blue, and yellow bathrooms were all the rage. If you’re not into that, or are looking to sell your home, you should probably modernize your bathroom, including the sink. The sink may still be functional, but if it’s not aesthetically pleasing, then you should swap it out with something you like. 

An outdated sink and faucet can also waste water and not be as efficient as newer models. 

If any of this sounds familiar, consider getting a replacement and calling a plumber to help install it for you. 

Why is PEX Plumbing Bad?

PEX tubing has become one of the most popular building materials out there, widely used in plumbing, we particular like PEX tubing use it to great effect. But as with anything that becomes popular there is going to be some hubbub about the potential negatives, and to be clear, that’s totally reasonable! Every material out there has pros and likely some cons. It’s why we know there’s an argument to be made about when to use PEX or when to go for copper. You may have heard that you should avoid PEX but without must behind it, leaving you wondering ‘Why is PEX plumbing bad?’ Let’s clear the air, address where those concerns are likely coming from and help you understand what the situation really is.

PEX Tubing

PEX has been around for decades as a cost-effective alternative to traditional copper piping, it’s resistant to acids, it’s easy to use and install, and it’s flexible by nature making it incredibly simple to run through a home without potentially leaky fittings. So what’s the problem?

Some folks worry there might be a safety issue. To be clear, there isn’t but read on to understand where that’s coming from.

PEX Safety Concerns

The concern over PEX safety is rooted in two things: plastics and a taste. 

The Plastic Issue

BPA is a chemical compound found in many plastics that we are more and more understanding has the potential to leak into water. There is a worry that perhaps PEX being some sort of plastic has the same problem. Here is the thing: PEX is free of BPA. Period. That particular chemical compound is not in PEX. Past that there is a bit more to discuss. Plastic as a material is more permeable than copper for instance, and if used improperly could fail, that’s totally possible.  But when it comes to the BPA safety issue as being the reason why PEX plumbing is bad, the argument just isn’t there.

The Taste Issue

Some homeowners with PEX tubing have said that their water seemed to taste funny. This is possible with certain kinds of PEX tubing (not what we use mind you) and if the water sits too long in the pipe. That potentially off-taste is not a safety hazard though, and will dissipate after a few uses or if you let the water run for a bit before filling your glass.

Understand PEX

We spent a whole blog on the stuff and we talked about it a ton elsewhere. Put briefly we find it to be an amazingly flexible, durable, adaptable, an all-around great pipe to work with. But there are pros for using copper in certain instances too! Where you’d rather have a rigid pipe connection for instance.

But as for those concerns, they’re mostly unfounded. PEX does not contain BPA, and there is no conclusive evidence that PEX leaches any sort of harmful chemicals into the water. Any concerns about the taste of the water can usually be rectified by simply letting the water run for a bit. But if you’re still concerned the best way to ease your mind is through communication and education. You can find out more about PEX piping safety from this Norwegian study performed in 2011, and if you want to speak with an expert give your local plumber a call.

Here at Economy Plumbing Services, we stand by our PEX as a quality and safe material for installations and repiping jobs. If you want to know more about our process and materials, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help ease any concerns. And if you decided that you’d rather go with traditional copper pipes, we got you covered.

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

What is the Downside to a Tankless Water Heater? What About Positives?

Tankless water heaters are a hot new option for creating an energy-efficient home. Unlike traditional water heaters that continuously heat and reheat water as they store them in their tanks, keeping them always hot, tankless water heaters instead focus on warming just the water that’s being used. Sounds great right? It is if that’s all you’re after. But when it comes to installing a water heater system, it’s important to understand all facets of it. This time on the Economy Plumbing Services blog, we’re asking what is the downside to a tankless water heater, what are the benefits?

Tankless Water Heaters

As we started to discuss, tankless water heaters heat just the water that’s being used, rather than keeping an entire 55gallon tank warm and at the ready. It does this by using electric coils or high-powered gas burners to superheat the water instantly as it’s needed. At that moment the unit sure uses more power but because it’s only doing it once that used power isn’t lost while the water sits and cools waiting for reheating, meaning the tankless water heater will use less energy overall, making it more energy-efficient…in the right situation. Some units might in fact use more energy, it depends. So with that laid out let’s dive into the pros and cons of these systems.

The Upsides of Tankless Water Heaters

Instant Hot Water

On the most basic level, tankless water heaters deliver what you want – instant hot water. After the initial cold water is flushed of course, all without a storage tank filling up your basement, closet, or laundry room.

Longer Lifespan

A huge benefit to going with a tankless unit is that it’ll still be there for you years down the road! While a standard water heater can last a decade or more, a tankless one can live double that! Just stay on top of your regular maintenance and this investment will be paying off for a long time to come.

Lower Month-to-Month Costs and No Standby Loss

While these systems are expensive to install initially (more on that later) they are also leagues more energy efficient. Some consumer reports put them at being 22% more efficient than standard units. This means every month your bill will be lower and you’ll save potentially hundreds of dollars a year. The key way that tankless water heaters keep usage low is by eliminating standby loss. Traditional units reheat water repeatedly, using energy (and raising your bill) every time it does so. More often than not that water isn’t being warmed because it’s new and needs to be, but because the tank has sat for a bit and cooled down. Tankless systems don’t have to reheat anything.

Save Space

Tankless water heaters are much smaller than their traditional cousins and can be installed in inconspicuous places. If your home is smaller, that saved space will be huge!

Speaking of Smaller Homes…

In addition to the space-saving wonder, tankless water heaters are great if you don’t have a huge demand for hot water. If your household is made up of just two or even three people, these more efficient units will put out enough hot water without the need for a tank (and the standby loss that comes with it). 

Never Run Out of Hot Water

Perhaps the biggest pro of them all, you’ll never run out of hot water! Some people experience a loss of hot water, say after two or three really long showers in a row. This is because the tank is drained empty and needs time to refill and reheat.  Not so when it comes to tankless heaters! Since they don’t rely on a storage unit of reserved hot water, the tankless heater will keep pumping out equally hot water as it’s needed so those three showers are no issue (so long as they are taken one at a time of course).

Options Available

Tankless water heaters are often powered by natural gas, but electric models are also available. Depending on what your home is set up with in regards to electricity and gas, there’s a tankless water heater option for you. 

The Downsides of Tankless Water Heaters

Inconsistent Temperatures, Limited Water

One of the more common complaints about tankless water heaters is inconsistent heating. Some heaters don’t turn on when a faucet is only slightly opened meaning the hot water that comes out is never actually heated, making for seemingly ‘spotty’ heating performance. Another reason for it is that and it has to do with the ability for a heater to instantly heat and send water to multiple different fixtures or outlets at the same time.

That brings up their limited supply. Tankless water heaters can supply a steady stream of hot water as needed, but it won’t last forever. If one person is taking a shower, or doing the dishes it’ll do just fine. But if another person in the home jumps into the shower while another runs a load of laundry the tankless water heater will struggle to keep up.

These are downsides of usage really, so long as everything is done in a certain manner, for example, the faucet all the way opened when in use, only one person showering at a time, etc. you should be able to avoid this downside.

Higher Installation Cost and Potential Extra Equipment

No getting around this one, tankless water heaters cost more to install than traditional heaters. Just the way of it. For the time being. In addition to the higher cost of just the water heater, there is often more equipment needed to make sure the heater works as it should. A water softener is usually necessary for instance. Of course, all this extra equipment adds to the initial installation price tag.

One of the hidden costs that many don’t realize is the need to reroute gas lines (if it’s a gas water heater). Tankless water heaters require a non-traditional setup and a contractor might have to reroute lines or add venting to make sure it works safely.

Recouping That Price Tage Takes Time

While month-to-month water heating costs are cheaper with a tankless unit, it takes time for that savings to make up the cost of the initial installation. Depending on usage of course. Over time you’ll end up ahead but it can take a few years to get there. 

There are Other Options Out There

Tankless water heaters are not the only efficient option; solar water heating is a huge potential area, especially here in Arizona (thanks 350+ days of sunshine!) 

New Energy Star certified traditional storage water heaters are also available and these are energy efficient as well. If your goal is to be as energy-efficient as possible, it might make more sense to go with one of those for the time being. Chances are your home is already set up with the right gas lines and or electrical needed for it operate making it an easy purchase.

Changing Water Usage Habits

A tankless water heater is not the only way to make your home water use more efficient.  home’s water system more efficient. By changing your showering habits your family could lower your water use (and bill) drastically. Installing low-flow plumbing fixtures will save you more every day. And in Arizona, we know about water conservation – we rely on it!

So, What’ll It Be?

You know the positive and the negatives of this new energy-efficient appliance, which way you going to go with it? Need to talk to a professional? Give us a call and we’ll talk you through the models and options we have available and what will be the best option for you! 

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

“Plumbing Herpetology” – The Study of the Plumbing Snake

Alright so we might have made up the term “plumbing herpetology” but it was too good to pass up. The plumbing snake is one of our key tools here at Economy Plumbing Services and it’s often the first thing people go to when they’re having clogged line troubles. “Can you snake it?” Might just be one of your most common questions. This time on the blog we want to tell you all about the plumbing snake, when we use it and when we’re best off going with something else. Knowing is, after all, half the battle!

The Plumber’s Snake, or Plumbing Snake

It has a few names, the plumber’s snake, plumbing snake, or drain snake, but they all refer to the same thing: a long, flexible drill-like device called an auger. The long and short of it is this, the snake is inserted into a drain line to handle serious clogs that just won’t budge with a plunger.

There are a few different varieties of snakes including hand augers, closet augers, or the suped-up drum auger. 

Hand auger

The hand auger style of plumbing snake is mostly useful when it comes to clearing sink and bathtub drains. It isn’t suitable for toilets because of it’s narrow size and the potential for damaging the porcelain. For those, you’d want a toilet auger.

hand auger or plumbing snakeToilet auger

The toilet auger (also known as a closet auger ((as in water closet))) feeds a relatively shorter auger through a hook-shaped length of metal tubing. It has a hook shape that makes it easier to maneuver into a toilet and has a plastic boot to it that will protect the porcelain. Since most toilet clogs occur in the trap built into the toilet itself, the short cable is usually enough to break up and remove the clog.

Drum augers

This heavy duty option is motorized and outfitted with blades, designed for all sorts of pipes. These are powerful enough to clear through tree roots that may have grown into the line and blocked off the flow. They can also just as easily damage or destroy plastic pipework like nobodies business, they are best left to professionals.

plumber using a drum augerAll of these work on the same principle so let’s get to that.

How the Snake Works

Every snake is made up of a length of wire that has a helix shaped component at the end. This helix has varying space in the coil, so that it can grab ahold and firmly lodge itself into whatever obstruction it finds. Essentially, a plumber will insert the snake (or auger) into the pipe or drain pushing it until the end of the snake comes into contact with the blockage. The snake is then manipulated and pressure applied to either break or clear the obstruction. Here’s the process step by step.

  1. Push the end of the snake into the drain opening and turn the handle on the drum that contains the coiled-up snake, pushing until you feel resistance.
  2. You may have to apply pressure, when cranking the handle to get it to bend around the tight curve in the trap under the sink for instance. After turning the curve, the snake usually slides through easily until you hit the clog.
  3. Rotate the snake against the blockage until you feel it feed freely into the pipe.
  4. The rotating action enables the tip of the snake to attach to the clog and spin it away or chop it up. If the clog is a solid object, the auger head entangles the object. If you don’t feel the auger breaking through and twisting getting easier, pull the auger out of the drain — you’ll likely pull the clog out with it.
  5. Run water full force for a few minutes to be sure that the drain is unclogged and clear of obstructions.

Sometimes, the clog flushes right down the drain no fuss at all. Others we’ll bring the snake out and with it the prize.

There you have it! Everything you need to know about a plumbing snake and when we use it. Want to know how you can clear a clog without having to call in an expert and their snake? We got you covered with this blog on just that. If you’re having any sort of plumbing problem, any at all, don’t hesitate to reach out! After all…

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

Galvanized Plumbing & You

Welcome back to the Economy Plumbing Service blog where we dish all the tips, info, and know-how you might need to handle your own plumbing problems and to better understand what it is plumbers like us can help with. The more you understand, the better we all can diagnose potential problems and get it sorted. So, without further ado, let’s talk about galvanized plumbing!

What is Galvanized Plumbing

Galvanized plumbing or piping means that the pipes used in your plumbing system are galvanized. Galvanizing is a process in which a protective zinc coating is added to steel or iron (for plumbing it’s typically iron) to prevent rusting. The most common method is hot-dip galvanizing, in which the parts are submerged in a bath of molten hot zinc.

Galvanized pipes became popular in the early 20th century, before that all plumbing pipes were lead or a cast iron. 

Why Should I Be Concerned About Galvanized Plumbing?

Well, there’s a few reasons actually. For one, if you’re trying to sell your home you’re bound to find that the presence of galvanized piping detracts from the appraised value of the house. If you’re looking to purchase it will drive the cost of the home down and for good reason. 

Galvanized Plumbing Will Fail

The galvanization process was meant to make a better pipe, preventing rust but it doesn’t work quite like that. The pipes will rust from the inside out, first building up a layer of plaque on the inside of the pipe which will cut off water supply and mess with the water pressure. The plaque also will flake off into the water leading to rusty color or other visible impurities in the water.

The presence of an electrical current in the ground, nearby grids, or the natural electrical charge that exists (though imperceptible to us) also can cause chemical corrosion in the pipe. More importantly than any visible impurities is that these pipes can fail catastrophically and flood your home or cause hundreds of thousands of dollars of water damage.

That’s the big problem with these pipes for most Americans right now. In ideal conditions, galvanized pipes have a lifespan of about 70 years at the max. And around the country we have passed that or are fast approaching the end of the line. Thousands of homes, commercial properties, are sitting on piping that might as well be a ticking bomb.

What do I do about my galvanized plumbing?

That’s easy. You replace it. Since the end of WWII plumbers all around the world have been using newer materials for plumbing, replacing galvanized piping with copper or pex piping

Repiping a whole home is by no means an easy task for most homeowners, but for us in the bizz we’ve been doing it day in day out for years! That’s why Economy Plumbing Service can guarantee a 2 Day repiping for any house. We know what we’re doing, we know how to get it done right, and we know how to get it done fast! If you’re worried your home has galvanized pipes, or know it does and are ready to make the change before disaster strikes, give us a call!

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

How Does Plumbing Work?

Last time on the blog we dialed it back and talked about the basic plumber services available here at Economy Plumbing Service LLC. This time we’re going to stick in that angle of bigger picture discussion and answer a question many might have but feel a bit silly to ask: just how does plumbing work? Curious? Read more, we’ll give you a basic rundown of this wonderful system.

How Does Plumbing Work

Plumbing works on a few different laws of nature. Gravity, pressure, the natural movement of water. It leverages those forces to direct the water where we want it to go. Let’s simplify it even further.

Think of a giant hose. This is your city’s utility lines. The hose is turned on and water flows out the end. But lets say the end of it is blocked, like a spray nozzle is added to the hose. The water stops flowing but the hose stays full right? That’s because of water pressure. Now imagine a hundred small hoses all with faucets, all running from that giant hose. These are the plumbing systems in your neighborhood. With the water to the giant hose still turned on, those small hoses all fill up and are ready to be used! You open the faucet of the smaller hose and water comes out, pushed out from the small hose which is pushed out from the giant hose.

That’s all because of pressure. That pressure is built sometimes by gravity, by having water towers higher up, the water wants to shoot down, creating that pressure down the pipes and lines. Of course, pumps can also be used to move water where gravity and pressure alone don’t do that job.

 

The Two Plumbing Subsystems

Plumbing is made up of two different water systems. One to bring freshwater in, the other to take away wastewater.  The pressure we talked about is only present in the freshwater system. That’s what allows clean water to go up through walls, around corners, move upstairs and get wherever else you need it to. When the freshwater is used it then enters the drainage systems.

Drainage systems do not depend on the pressure as the freshwater (or supply) system does. Instead, wastewater leaves your home through drainage pipes that are angled downward, allowing gravity to get to work and pull the water (and waste) down with it! There are a few more pieces involved in drain lines to make sure everything works like it out to including traps, vents, and cleanouts. They help the wastewater flow correctly, as well as create seals with water to prevent gas or smells from developing.

 

Let’s lay it all out in a sort of step by step process.

  1. Water comes through the city utility supply lines via pressure.
  2. The water moves through the supply lines into your home pipes and fixtures.
  3. The water is used, flowing from the fixtures to fill sinks, basins, water heaters, etc.
  4. The used water drains down the sinks and drains into drain lines, running away from your home (thanks gravity!)
  5. The wastewater runs to treatment plants where it is processed and made somewhat usable again.

Where Does Our Clean Water Come From? 

The end of that step by step process might have made you a little scared. ‘The wastewater does what now?’ Don’t worry! Here in Tucson our clean water comes from groundwater, specifically two sources: local precipitation and the Colorado River. That water moves from the Colorado River through the Central Arizona Project canal, some 335 miles from Lake Havasu to just past Tuscon.

Alright, let’s wrap it up here. We hope this little bit has helped you understand how plumbing works.  Luckily for you, if you’re not a plumber you can say ‘Ah forget it!’ and give us experts a call whenever you need the help!

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