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    Plumbing Q&A

    Why is my water bill so high?

    Do you feel like you’re throwing money down the drain? Well, if you’ve noticed your water bill is higher than usual, you might be! Here are some of the most common water wasting culprits to watch out for in your home.

    1. Leaking, running, or outdated fixtures
      A dripping sink or constantly running toilet can give a home some quirky charm, or drive you insane, but they can also cause high water bills. Even small, slow drips can add up over time. If you’re in need of a new faucet or toilet, here are some of the best products we recommend.
    2. Irrigation leaks
      A sprinkler system can be one of those things you set and forget, so be sure to keep an eye on it, especially after work has been done around your home. Vehicles can run over sprinkler heads and digging in your yard can burst irrigation pipes, sending more water into your yard than needed. If you notice a pool of water gathering where it shouldn’t be, remember that standing water can be hazardous to your health so address the issue right away.
    3. Wasteful habits
      While it does rain almost every day in the summer, SWFL occasionally experiences water use restrictions. If you water your lawn more than twice per week or wash multiple cars frequently, you may be wasting water. Adopting good habits like shorter showers, using the dishwasher instead of washing by hand, and a using front-loading washing machine instead of a top-loader can significantly lower your bill. To make sure you’re following your District’s water restrictions, check out the Southwest Florida Water Management website.
    4. Pipe leaks
      Sometimes the most difficult leaks are the ones you can’t see. If you’ve checked all of the issues above and your water bill is still through the roof, you may have a leak in the lateral lines under your home. Thankfully, the use of high tech camera equipment can easily help detect the issue and Plumbing Nerds can recommend the best solution for your home, including repiping.

    The faucet 'clunks' when we turn it on? What’s happening?

    This is common and it is called ‘Water Hammer’. It generally happens when the water is suddenly turned off, but can occur upon turning the water on as well.

    It is caused by a pressure or shock wave that travels through your home’s pipes. When water flow starts or stops suddenly it actually travels faster than the speed of sound which causes the water in the pipes to suddenly change flow speed or direction.

    Some of the things that cause this are:

        • • Poor or inadequate strapping of pipes to the building’s frame
        • • Pipe size is not matched to the water flow speed
        • • Pressure-reducing valve was not installed
        • • Pipe was installed with straight sections that are too long without enough elbows
        • • A dampening system was not used to reduce or absorb the shockwaves

    Since the pressures involved can reach 1000 psi or more, this condition is more than just an audible nuisance, and can cause damage to the system over time. It can weaken joints and valves, which can cause leaks or ruptures in the pipes.

    If you think your faucet may have a water hammer, the Plumbing Nerds can come out and take a look. We’ll assess the situation and help provide you with a solution to fix this bothersome issue. Give us a call at 239.288.0210 or schedule an appointment online for a consultation.

    What can and can’t I put down my garbage disposal?

    While food is the intended material to be put in a disposal, there are several food items (as well as non-food items) that should NOT be placed in it. Just because the item can fit inside the disposal does not mean it should. Many items can easily damage, clog or jam the disposal so be mindful of the following lists.

    What you CAN put in a disposal:

    • Small, cooked meat scraps/leftovers

    • Fruit peels (except banana peels and others mentioned below)

    • Fruit pieces like apples, oranges, bananas, berries, and grapes

    • Vegetable scraps

    • Small amount of coffee grounds

    • Egg shells

     

    What you should NOT put in a disposal:

    • Banana peels

    • Corn husks

    • Onion skins

    • Artichokes

    • Potato peels

    • Asparagus

    • Fruit pits

    • Large bones (generally,if they need to be pushed in vs. dropped, they’re too big)

    • Shrimp shells

    • Pasta and rice

    • Nuts

    • Grease

    • Uncooked meat scraps/fat

     

    What you should NEVER put in a disposal:

    • Shells (nuts, or seafood)

    • Broken glass

    • Cigarette butts

    If you are second guessing putting something down the drain, a general rule of thumb is if a baby can eat it then it is safe to run through the garage disposal. Finally, always make sure to run plenty of water before, during and after using the disposal to ensure the items properly travel down the drain. If your home or business is in need of a new garbage disposal call us at 239.471.7557 or request to schedule an appointment.

    Are adult wipes safe to flush?

    While manufacturers promote these products as ‘flushable’, that seems to only be accurate to the point that these products make it past the toilet flange on your bathroom floor.

    The issue is not ‘will they flush’ as much as it is ‘will they break down’ once in a septic system or sewer system. Several reports and field observations reports cite that these products actually fortify clogs caused by other materials as they ‘cling’ to these materials, ultimately causing septic and sewer issues. Things like other paper products for instance.

    There have been a lot of reports and talk about this over the past few years. In New York City the cost of workers having to remove the wipes from the sewage system cost tax payers $3 million a year to clean out. Another striking example came from London in 2013, where a 15-ton clog, nicknamed a ‘Fatberg’ was freed from their sewer system. It was described as “caked in grease and fortified with wet wipes.”

    The other issue is that many of these products look the same—some and are touted flushable and others (in fine print) indicate they must be put in the trash. The driving issue is that there is no clear legal definition of ‘flushable’ so claims can be made that are left unchecked.

    The bottom line is, you should avoid flushing these wipes—regardless of whether or not they claim to be ‘flushable’- and throw them in the trash instead.

    What is the gunk that gets built up on my shower head?

    Rest assured, it’s most likely just a mineral deposit build up! This is usually caused from steamy water evaporation that has built up over time or with use of the shower. While it may not be very visually appealing, it most likely isn’t causing any harm to your health or body. If the mineral deposit builds up too much it may cause damage to your fixtures or cause it to spray sideways.

    The permanent solution is a water conditioning system if on city water and an add on filter or well water. If it is something that really does bother you, a simple 30 minute soak in vinegar followed by some good ole’ elbow grease will do the trick. If your shower head is difficult to take down, you can carefully tie a plastic bag to it and secure with a rubber band. Also, if you are short on time, heating up the vinegar and wiping off your fixture will cut the time in about half.

    After the vinegar rinse is completed you may notice the shower head still isn’t spraying in the right direction although it looks much better. Carefully use a small pin to poke through the shower head holes to help clear any remaining build up. This will also potentially help increase the water pressure and flow.

    This trick can also be used on sink facts that have a similar problem. Remember the use of vinegar can not be applied to iron fixtures so always do a test spot to make sure it won’t deface them.

    Since this issue does stem from mineral deposit, a more permanent solution would be to get a water softener installed. Contact us to see what type of water treatment system would be most beneficial for your home.

    Why does my hot water take so long to reach my shower?

    We’ve all experienced it. We stand outside the shower—or even a faucet—waiting out the cold water in the shower, usually in the cold air outside the shower. So what is it that makes the hot water take so long? Here’s what:

    Pipe Length – The length of the piping between the hot water tank and the shower (or faucet) you are using will be a big factor in the amount of time needed to get hot water. The longer the pipes, the longer it will take for the hot water to travel to your location—it’s that simple.

    Existing Water in Pipes – Hand in hand with the above is the water currently in the pipes. Your hot water tank keeps a reservoir of hot water ready and waiting, but before you can enjoy this hot water, the system needs to expel the water in the pipes that is not heated.

    Pipe Diameter – The wider the pipe diameter, the longer it will take for hot water to get to you. Wider diameter pipes need a greater volume per linear length of pipe and, in turn slow its delivery.

    Pipe Material – Galvanized pipes are thicker than copper pipes. Because there is more metal there to ‘leech’ heat from the water, this is a factor.

    Weather/Outside Temp – Yes, even the weather can affect how quickly you get hot water. The ambient temperature of the air around your pipes affects the temperature of the pipes themselves. The colder the weather, the longer it takes for the water to equalize the temperature of the pipes and for it to feel warm to you.

    What size water heater is best for me?

    Selecting an appropriate water heater is a function of two things:

    • Quantity and type of water fixtures in the home — which may or may not be related to the square footage of the home.
    • Peak usage — determined by family size and personal demand.

    A number of factors influence water usage in a home including the number and age of family members and quantity and types of water fixtures. In a home with many points of use (multiple baths, dishwasher, washer, separate apartment, etc.) a larger capacity water heater may be necessary.

    Consumption rates give the homeowner an indication of the number of gallons required for various functions. In most households these tasks won’t be necessarily done at the same time.

    Water usage by activity type:

    This is only a guideline to assist in the tank selection process; the final decision is up to the individual homeowner.

    Showers (Energy Efficient Shower Head)2.5-3 US Gallons/minute
    Standard Bath20-25 US Gallons
    Whirlpool Bath50-70 US Gallons
    Dishwasher9-13 US Gallons
    Hand Dishwashing1.5-3.5 US Gallons
    Personal Use/Person/Day5 US Gallons
    Laundry UsageHot Wash/Warm Rinse30 US Gallons
    Hot Wash/Cold Rinse19 US Gallons
    Warm Wash/Cold Rinse9-12 US Gallons

    How do I determine what type of water heater is best for me?

    Three factors are most important: Space, upfront savings and number of people in the home.
    If space is a concern or you are serving a lot of people in the home, tankless is the hands down choice. If up-front cost is a major concern, a traditional tank or hybrid design is probably best.
    For a more complete assessment, call our office. We’ll be glad to go into more detail.

    What are the less obvious warning signs that I might need my drains cleaned?

    Hearing gurgling or bubbling is a clear sign, as is slow drain time. Obviously if a foul smell is coming out of your drain, there is a clog. If over the counter remedies don’t work, call us and we’ll put our aqua jetter on it.

    How long do copper water pipes typically last?

    Water treatment chemicals in this area include chlorine and other pungent additives. This ages pipes prematurely in some cases. A whole home water treatment system can help.