How Plumbers Clear Backups!

Backups are perhaps the worst experience most folks will encounter when it comes to plumbing problems. When wastewater starts flowing up through the tubs, drains, and out of toilets – well you KNOW something is wrong. When this happens you’re dealing with a backup (the water is back flowing ‘up’ into your home).

 

How Plumbers Clear Backups

 

When you experience a backup the first thing to note is you need to call a plumber right away! Even if the water goes down and seems to ‘clear’ on its own, the next time you run a washing machine or shower it’s liable to flood right back up.  When you call a plumber out here’s how they’ll clear that backup problem.

 

Drain backup problems are caused by a clog down the line, the cause of that clog can be a few different things including a clog from things that shouldn’t have been flushed down the toilet to a problem in the sewer line pipe itself, or even intruding roots (you might be surprised how often that is the case).

Locate the Cleanouts

The first thing the plumber is going to do when they get to your home is to look for the cleanouts. A plumbing cleanout is an easy access point for a plumber to gain further access to your plumbing drain lines to clear clogs and debris. These are often a simple black pipe with a twist-off on top sticking up in the front yard. Plumbers can remove the cap and begin running their snake down the line.

 

If you can, make sure you know where your cleanouts are to save some time, and be a huge help in a tough situation, such as if the call is at night, or if your yard is a bit overgrown.

 

Run the Snake

We have talked about snaking pipes a ton on here. With the cleanout access, the plumber can start running the snake down the drain line to clear whatever the source of the clog is. The snake will be pushed down the line, then the snake, if it’s able, is twisted to spin and push through the blockage, breaking it apart. In some cases, this is all that needs to be done to clear the line!

 

Replace Sewer Lines

Sometimes backups are caused because of a break down in the sewer line. The pipe might be breached, or even collapsed. To diagnose this problem a plumber will find the clean out and run a camera line down the pipe. They’ll be able to find the clog (if its still in the line) and see what might be causing the problem. There might be ovaling in the pipe, suggesting that the material has failed, the ground has shifted around the pipe, or most likely, a tree is growing nearby and the root system has penetrated the pipes. 

 

Whateve the cause, if your sewer lines are damaged they need to be repaired or replaced so that the backup is cleared and doesn’t come right back. It’s often the most expensive option, but it will fix the issue – so long as the issue isn’t caused by flushing things down the drain that shouldn’t be!

 

If the drain line is damaged or old and breaking down, the other good news is you’ll be getting newer, better-made materials installed in their place. Longer-lasting durable pipes that are designed to keep working for years to come!

With the line replaced, your backup troubles should be completely taken care of! Hopefully you weren’t without water for long, that can be a headache all it’s own.

If Water Runs Through it Or To It, We Do It!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Economy Plumbing Service LLC is family-owned and operated, has over 27 years of experience, and is licensed, bonded, and insured. But we wouldn’t be all those things without YOU.

When we started our operation in 90’s it was smaller, much smaller. With just a handful of tools equipment, the right people and the passion to do it right we started to offer Tucson and the surrounding era plumbing services they needed. Now, almost three decades later we’ve grown and we’re doing bigger and better jobs.

We couldn’t do what we do, and live our lives without YOU!

So as we sit down around the table this holiday, to share our thanks with our friends and family we’ll be sharing that we’re thankful for you – our customers, our clients, our community.

Thanks from all of us here at Economy Plumbing Services, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tankless Water Heaters and You

Tankless water heaters, also called instantaneous or demand-type, provide hot water when needed only. Unlike storage water heaters, it only provides hot water when you need it, so it prevents unnecessary energy losses.

A plumbing contractor understands the benefits of using tankless water heaters, such as energy efficiency, water-on-demand ability, longer life expectancy, etc. However, as a regular homeowner, you may not have the same information about this device. So you may not know whether or not the tankless water heater is beneficial and why you should buy one. That’s why we’re writing this article to keep you informed.

How the tankless water heaters work

These water heaters directly heat water without using a storage tank. When a user turns the hot water tap, cold water moves into the unit through a pipe, and the electric element or gas burner in the unit heats the water passing through it consistently. So it can provide hot water constantly without waiting for enough hot water to fill a storage tank. However, the output limit of the tankless water heater may limit the flow rate.

Tankless water heaters typically provide up to 7.6 – 15.2 liters (2-5 gallons) of hot water per minute. The gas-powered tankless water heaters have a higher flow rate than the electrically-powered ones. However, sometimes, even the most significant gas-fired models may not supply enough hot water for multiple households to use simultaneously. For instance, running the dishwasher and taking a shower simultaneously may stretch the device to its limit.

So if your home uses lots of hot water, you should consider installing more than one tankless water heater to cater to your burning water needs.

Benefits of tankless water heaters

  • Energy efficiency

The cost is the bottom line for many people, and tankless water heaters help reduce monthly electric bills because of their energy efficiency. You can quickly determine the amount of hot water your household needs daily and educate everyone about the energy efficiency of this device.

If you have a small family or use less than 41 gallons daily, these water heaters provide more efficiency by 24% and 34%. So it helps to save hundreds of dollars per year.

  • Extended life

The traditional storage water heater can last up to a decade – which is a very long time. However, the average tankless heaters have twice their life expectancy, so they can last up to two decades – which is a very, very long time. If you’re a homeowner staying put in your house for a long time, then you’ll value the importance of this life expectancy more than those planning to move on to another home.

  • Space-saving

Another aspect of tankless water heaters is that they’re space-saving, which is an extra selling point for many people. Storage water heaters have an average size of 60 x 24 inches and have its closet where it resides. However, a tankless water heater averages the size of some shoe boxes. This gives homeowners more space to store other things instead of storing hot water that they may not need in another 5-6 hours. This feature is a pretty interesting one for homeowners looking to maximize the space in their homes.

  • No waiting for hot water

These heaters are called instantaneous water heaters, too, because they provide hot water instantly. Unlike the storage heaters that take a while to heat the water in the storage tank, tankless water heaters heat the water as it passes through it and provide hot water immediately. This device will continue to heat water passing through it constantly and instantaneously as long as you leave the tap running. So they’re not only energy and space-efficient, but they’re also time-efficient.

  • Safer

A big concern for many families, especially those with young kids, is the safety of the device they’re buying. However, tankless water heaters are very safe, so they don’t have to worry about anything.

The traditional storage water heater may overheat, and in a few instances, may explode. However, tankless water heaters hold little to no water in them, which reduces the threat of explosion or overheating.

Also, if you use a storage heater and have experienced a water heater leak, you know how much damage you can get from a storage heater. However, leaking is unlikely in tankless units because of the minimal amount of water in them. And if the leaking happens, it’s unlikely to cause any significant damage.

Conclusion

Tankless water heaters have many benefits over the traditional storage heater, which makes them considerably better. If you’re considering a water heater, you should think twice before settling for the tankless option.

How Hot Water Heaters Work

Here on the Economy Plumbing Services blog we take a look at and talk about a lot about how hot water heaters can break, why they may be leaking, that sort of thing. But you know what we’ve never done? We’ve never explained how hot water heaters work. So if you’re curious how that big cylinder in your garage takes cold water and produces that relaxing, piping hot water we need!

Just about every home out there has a water heater, though they may take different shapes depending. For the part they all work the same way, at least broadly speaking. And that’s how we’re going to be talking abut it today, to keep it easily understandable. First step? Looking at the parts inside the water heater!

 

diagram of how hot water heaters workParts of a Water Heater

  • The Tank 

Inside that big cylinder is a heavy tank with a water protective liner. This holds between 40 to 60 gallons, usually. It keeps the water under 50-100 psi. The outside of the tank is covered in insulating materials to keep the heat in. Then there’s the outer shell of the heater.

  • The Dip Tube

The dip tube is the pipe that lets fresh water enter the water heater through the top of the tank. 

  • The Shut-Off Valve

The shut-off valve shuts off (no duh, right?) the water flowing into the heater. The shut-off valve is outside of the tank, usually above / along the line that feeds the water into the tank.

  • The Heat-Out Pipe 

This is the pipe that hot water travels out from the heater towards your home’s plumbing system and on to whichever appliance needs it.

  • The Thermostat 

The thermostat in a water heater works just like the one for your home. Whatever you set it to is the temperature your water heater is going to raise the water to. Some models of water heaters will have multiple thermostats.

  • The Heating Element 

There are two ways water heaters heat water. It could be electric or gas. Electric water heaters use a heating element, a bit of metal that gets crazy hot as electricity flows through it. Gas heaters will use a burner, igniting the gas and creating a flame to warm the tank of water.

  • The Drain and Pressure Relief Valves 

These two valves are responsible for the maintenance and safety of the water heater. The drain valve at the bottom of the heater allows for easy access to empty the tank, as well as replace heating elements, or flush the tank of sediment. The Pressure Relief valve helps keep the pressure at safe levels.

  • The Sacrificial Anode Rod 

This unique piece of the puzzle is suspended in the tank to help slow corrosion. It’s made of a steel core covered in either aluminum or magnesium. Basically, the corrosion will attack this rod before it does anything else – hence ‘sacrificial’.

 

Alright with those listed out you might already be getting a clearer idea of how it all works, but let’s lay it out here!

How it Heats the Water

Before anything else, the water heater’s thermostat is going to be set between 120 – 140° Fahrenheit. This makes it hot enough for most household uses and not too hot so as to avoid scalding etc. If you hover around the lower side of the dial, you can also save yourself some energy so be open to moving the dial if you like! With the thermostat set it’s the tank is ready to do its job.

First, the dip tube will take cold water from your freshwater lines to the bottom of the tank. At the bottom of the tank the water is warmed up via the heating element or burner until the water reaches the set temperature.

Hot water rises, so as the water heats, it moves to the top of the tank, and reaches the heat-out pipe. When an appliance draws from the water heater it will pull the hottest water first from the heat-out pipe, while the fresh cold water sinks to the bottom of the tank. When the hot water is used up, the tank will fill with cold water which will somewhat heat but instead the appliances, shower or washers, will draw warm or even cold water.

Simple thermodynamics… or something. It’s the principles of plumbing and it all works out! 

So – how does your hot water heater work? Does it deliver the hot water you need to get a good shower, run a load of dishes, or laundry? If not, you know who to call!

If Water Runs Through it Or To It, We Do It!

Summertime Sadness– er, Plumbing Problems!

OK, maybe we don’t need to have a Lana Del Rey song in our title, but it just stuck out! Anyways! Most folks might not realize it but the change of the seasons from Spring to Summer bring just as many potential complications as the freezing temperatures of winter. This time on the Economy Plumbing Services blog we’re going over some of the unexpected summertime plumbing problems that you can keep an eye out, for now, to save yourself a world of hurt later!

Garbage Disposal Abuse

The summer typically comes with a few more things: flexible schedules, more parties, get-togethers, barbecues, or just more people. Because of all of that there’s bound to be an uptick in food, both preparing and enjoying! Make sure that your garbage disposal is being treated right, and that you or any of your quests aren’t putting anything down the drain that could clog it, or harm the disposal unit.

Remember, the only things that should be going into your disposal are biodegradable – and even then remember to avoid:

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Egg Shells
  • Bones
  • Celery
  • Pumkpin
  • Squash
  • Fruit Pits
  • Peels and Skins

But sinks aren’t the only things in danger of clogging…

Clogged Toilets

Summer break and vacations means people are home a lot more during the day, and with the potential for pool parties, barbecues, and a get togethers, your toilets are going to be used much more frequently than normal. With all that extra use comes more wear and tear and risk for disaster. If you are a family with children the first thing to do is be sure to teach your children proper bathroom etiquette. What belongs down the toilet (toilet paper) what doesn’t (everything else!) and how much is ok to use. When it comes to guests it’s not nearly as simple as teaching them the right way to do things, could you imagine? “Hey Bob, let me show you something about the bathroom!” No, it’s decidedly better to follow best practices for your toilet ahead of time and after to ensure no clogs are developing. Clear your drains, perform any needed maintenance promptly, replace faulty parts as needed, and your toilet drains should be able to stay functioning this summer.

But always keep a plunger nearby!

Heat Makes Stink

This problem could crop up throughout your house wherever the plumbing fixtures are, including the bathroom and kitchen. The summer heat can really turn up the stench factor of drains if they’re not clear and draining properly. Avoid that by making sure nothing goes down the drains that shouldn’t and that your seals are all replaced as needed!

Sprinkler Sadness

No matter the time of year, our sprinklers get a lot of work in – if your yard isn’t xeriscaped or using local low water usage plants. During the summer you may find you need to mow more frequently as the grass shoots up, and the potential for kids to play in the yards more often may increase the risk of damage to the sprinkler heads. If your sprinklers are damaged, make sure to replace them quick before the heat has the chance to kill off your yard or you accidentally flood one spot when the sprinklers are set to run.

Pool Problems

While pools might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we’re talking plumbing troubles, it bears mentioning here! Pools are going to use up a lot of water this summer and get a lot of good use! Make sure you’re performing all the proper maintenance on your pool so you don’t have any clogs in your skimmer lines, or bust a pump. Any of that and you’ll have a problem with 

We’ll leave it there for now. Summers are a very … particular time here in Arizona, you either love ‘em or hate ‘em, having to deal with any plumbing issues won’t put you in any better mood with the heat.

Notice any problems that need attention right now? Call Economy Plumbing Services today!

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

How Often Should You Replace Your Pipes

Pipes aren’t something you should think about replacing, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need it after some time. Every type of pipe has a different lifespan and here are a few signs for when you should call an expert plumber to replace them. 

Obvious Signs Your Pipes Need Replacing

There are a few obvious signs you should look for if your house is old and has older piping. One of the most obvious things are cracks and leaks. A cracked pipe should be pretty easy to spot — look for a crack in the pipe itself or leaks. If you notice a leak, follow it as much as you can (or call a plumber to check out the pipe from the inside), and you’ll likely find a crack. 

If you do notice a leak, call a professional immediately. It doesn’t take long for water to damage your floor or walls! A plumber might be able to repair a plumbing leak without replacing pipes. But they might also suggest pipe replacement if the pipes are in especially bad shape.

Corrosion

Corrosion is a natural process that destroys the material it affects. It usually occurs in refined metals. Corrosion isn’t that common with modern piping materials, but is possible in older homes. This is why the answer to “how often should you replace your pipes” isn’t as straightforward as saying “once every X years.”

Galvanized steel pipes, which aren’t as common nowadays, are known to corrode. Once corrosion sets in, it’s only a matter of time before you’re going to need to replace your plumbing pipes to allow water to flow through them freely again.

Less Obvious Signs that Your Pipes Need Replacing

There are times when your pipes won’t be clogged due to corrosion, where they will be as dry as the Arizona desert, and where no cracks are visible. But that doesn’t necessarily mean your pipes don’t need replacing. Be on the lookout for these less obvious signs. 

Water Discoloration

Discolored water is not always a sign that you need new pipes, especially if you live in an area with a “boil order” in place, if you have well water, or live in a rural area. But if you filter your water and none of the above is true, it’s possible the discoloration is due to corrosion. This puts rust in your water, thus resulting in the brownish tint. Though rusty water may look and taste unpleasant, it is not a health concern. 

It is a concern to your pipes, though. The rust can cause minerals to build up, which in turn either clogs your pipe or slowly builds pressure in it. The pressure, if left unchecked, can cause the pipe to burst. A burst pipe can cause catastrophic damage to your wiring and insulation, and may even lead to a house fire.

If you suspect rust or corrosion, call a professional plumber immediately. 

Lifespan

Just like how technology goes in and out of style as new and better models are released, so does plumbing. Pipes have drastically changed in the past century to become more reliable and safe. Depending on when your home was built, you may want to consider replacing your pipes to modernize your home before any problems arise. 

Most modern systems use brass, copper, or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipes. However, older buildings used cast iron, lead, and galvanized steel. Brass, cast iron, and galvanized steel have a lifespan of 80-00 years, copper lasts 70-80 years, and PVC piping only survives for 24-45 years.

Lead pipes are a huge concern if they’re in your home. Lead is highly toxic and should not be consumed in any quantity, no matter how small. It can be found in brass pipes too, as it is an alloy. Tests can reveal how much lead is in each pipe, and if it’s above the federally suggested level, you should cease water usage immediately.

Pex pipes are the newest thing in piping. Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) tubing is a plastic material that has several advantages over previous materials like copper and PVC. It’s flexible, much easier to install, and has an estimated 100 year lifespan. It is also highly durable and heat resistant. 

So, Do You Need to Replace Your Pipes?

If you haven’t noticed anything unusual with your pipes, you probably don’t need to replace them. Be sure to keep an eye out for any of the signs mentioned above. If you’re looking to buy a house, ensure that the pipes are good to go by having them inspected (especially if the home is older). 

If you need prompt and reliable service to either replace a pipe or just check them out to be sure, contact Economy Plumbing. Their business is family owned and operated and is a member of the Registrar of Contractors (ROC) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Give them a call today!

Maintaining Your Water Heater

Water heaters are a crucial part of the home plumbing system that many folks might not think about.  Water heaters, as you may have guessed, are the appliance responsible for heating up your water for your baths, showers, fixtures, and other appliances. That’s right, the water heater is tied into so many other critical systems in your home that you rely on it every day. And everyday use is bound to build up some heavy wear and tear. That’s why giving your water heater the proper maintenance it needs is crucial! This time on the Economy Plumbing Service blog, tuning up your water heater!

Water Heater Maintenance and You

Real quick, let’s go over the four main types of water heaters. They can roughly be broken down into four categories: tank, tankless, hybrid, and point-of-use water heaters. The most common are tank and tankless, while hybrid heaters are build for energy efficiency. Point-of-use heaters are a perfect solution for fixtures or appliances that are a distance away from the main heater itself, supplying hot water, faster. Regardless of which of the four kinds of water heaters you have, good maintenance is essential

Why Regular Water Heater Maintenance is Important 

Regular maintenance is important for just about everything, from cars to computers so it should come as no surprise that even plumbing systems need regular looking after. Maintenance will increase the lifespan of your water heater, ensuring its long use and efficient performance for as long as possible. Not only that, but regular maintenance will also save you money on your utility bills! Nice!

Here’s what to look out for!

Increased Sediment Reduces Efficiency

Sediment is any natural material that ends up sitting at the bottom of a liquid. That’s the dictionary definition at least, for us that means any of the dirt or material that ends up building at the bottom of your tank. Sediment can be anything from dust, dirt, calcium, and other metals found in the water. This the worst enemy of your hot water heater tank. Sediment can cause all of the following: 

  • Corrosion
  • Decreased efficiency
  • Decreased water volume
  • Shorter life

Sediment shortens the lifespan of your water heater, making it work harder for less and burning itself out. Sediment builds up naturally, that part is totally normal but over time it will get to a point where it will severely damage your system. 

In a gas water heater, sediment can create hot spots that will cause damage. In an electric water heater, these minerals can cause the heating element to fail. Flushing and maintaining your water heater regularly will help.

Regularly flushing your hot water heater will get rid of any sediments that built up over time. The flush will empty out the tank of the current sediment build up, putting it in the perfect place to keep working as it should for another year or so. Flushing your water heater will save you money and help your system heat the water faster! It also allows your hot water heater to maintain full volume. 

Tips for Flushing Out Your Water Heater

You can flush out your water heater without the help of a professional, if you know where all the water valves are and have access to a drain. Once you know how it’s surprisingly simple and this is a job you should look at doing every six months to a year, depending on the quality of your local water lines.

Corrosion Causes Catastrophic Failure

Check for signs of corrosion at least once a year Corrosion is the gradual destruction of metal due to a chemical reaction to the environment. We’ve talked about it before, it’s the low level electrical current running through the soil and dirt that changes the chemical composition  of the lines, depending on their make. More simply, it’s rust. 

If you find rust on the outside of your tank or on your waterline, it’s definitely a cause for concern. Contact a professional immediately, we can decide if repairs can fix the problem or if you need a replacement. 

Ignoring the damage won’t make it go away! In fact, it could lead to the line or heater failing, leaking, pipes bursting, or flooding your home causing catastrophic damage. One way to know if there’s any rust in your plumbing is to look at your water. Rust can have a number of effects on the quality of your water,  including a metallic flavor and discoloration. Watch out! This can stain your sink, appliances, and skin. 

Check the Temperature Relief Valve 

The temperature relief valve protects your water heater from problems if the temperature or pressure inside your tank gets too high. It is basically the unit’s failsafe switch. If you notice that it seems damaged, or are worried that it’s not working properly, a professional can check it out to ensure it’s letting out pressure and keeping everything in check. Test the valve at least once a year to make sure it’s working as it should.

And of course…

Schedule Regular Inspections and Tune Ups

The best thing you can do to keep your water heater in order is to have regular inspections and repair work handled by professionals on a yearly basis. A qualified plumber like Economy Plumbing Service will check all wiring, plumbing connections, fixtures, and appliances for signs of corrosion to ensure everything is working like it should. If somethings wrong, we’re already on the scene to get it repaired or replaced in no time.

Worried your electric water heater isn’t working like it should? Unsure if you have a clog that needs help? Give Economy Plumbing Service a call and we can get you sorted in no time!

If water goes through it or to 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.