Plumbing Tip: Don’t Forget to Flush Your Water Heater

Plumbing Tip: Don’t Forget to Flush Your Water Heater

Don’t Forget to Flush Your Water Heater

Water heaters enable the luxury of warm water and hot showers with only the turn of a handle. These typically cylinder-shaped systems are often tucked in the basement corner, made of steel and insulated to retain heat. While water heaters are generally low-maintenance, it is crucial to flush your them regularly.

Flush Your Water

Flushing Your Water Heater: Why It’s Important

Water heaters hold a large volume of water inside its tank. Overtime, iron sediment settles to the bottom and can stir up whenever the bathtub or washing machine is used, causing an unappealing discoloration of the water. In order to control the buildup of mineral deposits and to optimize the operating efficiency and life of the heater, it is important to to flush this system regularly (source).

When You Should Flush Your Water Heater

Generally, it is recommended that you flush your water heater annually (source); however, the recurrence of your maintenance will depend on your water heater model and your home’s water source. If your water heater is getting older or if you just moved into your home, it’s a good idea to flush your water heater right away to assess its quality. Additionally, if you have a water softener that uses salt, it is necessary to flush your water heater at least once a year or once every six months.

How to Flush Your Water Heater

If you wish to flush your water heater yourself, there are quite a few steps to follow:

  1. Locate the and disable the main power source of your water heater

An electrical heater will be powered by a breaker or fuse box, whereas a gas heater will use a thermostat.

For a breaker box: disable the circuit that powers your electrical water heater. If you are unsure which branch circuit breaker this is, you may turn off the main circuit breaker. Remember, if you do this, the power in your home will be off throughout this procedure.

For a fuse box: remove the fuse box powering the water heater. This fuse box will have a handle that may be hot, so be careful when pulling it closed.

For a thermostat: turn the setting to “pilot” on the gas heater.

  1. Turn off the cold water inlet into the water heater

The shut off valve will be located at the top of the tank. If you have a ball valve, this will simply close with a quarter-turn, whereas a gate valve will take more rotations to shut completely.

  1. Turn on the hot water spigot in your sink
  1. Attach a garden hose to the tank’s valve

This valve will be located at the bottom of your heater.

  1. Place the draining end of the hose in a safe location

Because the water dispensed from the hose will be extremely hot, make sure to place the end of your garden hose in a safe location, such as a sink, outdoor drain or driveway.

  1. With the pressure relief valve open, open the water heater’s drain valve
  1. Let the water run

After a several minutes, if the water appears clear and has cooled, use a drinking glass to collect the running water. Once the water settles in the glass, look for any remaining sediment.

If the water is still clouded, continue flushing until it is clear. If for some reason the tank empties before the water appears clear, turn your cold water supply on and partially fill the tank to continue flushing.

  1. Close the drain valve

Disconnect the garden hose, turn off the hot water spigot and turn on the cold water inlet to the tank.

  1. Power-up

Finally, turn on your water supply to let the tank refill. Reopen the pressure relief valve slowly, closing it once any compressed air has vacated. Close the water heater drain, only turning on the water supply once the hot water starts running; at this point it is safe to turn on the power source again.

Need Some Guidance?

Many opt for professional service when it comes time to flush a water heater. If your schedule is too busy, the process seems overwhelming or if you stumbled upon problems, Moon Valley Plumbing is here to help. Contact us today for assistance!

Plumbing Tip: Always Check Your Water Pressure

Feb Blog Image

Much like the human body, a home is composed of individual parts with specific jobs, working together for optimum efficiency. In this context, water pressure acts similarly to blood pressure within a body; if a home’s water pressure is too high, the rest of the house is put under stress and unable to function efficiently. Because of this, it is imperative to always check your water pressure.

Checking Your Water pressure: Why It’s Important

Low water pressure can be agitating for showers and dishwashing; however, high water pressure can cause a multitude of serious household problems. Water pressure over 75 PSI (pounds per square inch) can lead to:

  • Pipe damage
  • Water waste
  • Leaks
  • Costly damages

Fixtures such as water heaters, faucets and toilets may break down due to the ongoing stress of high pressure. What’s more, your water bill is bound to skyrocket if the pressure is not reduced to a safer level.

Signs Your Water Pressure May Be High

Perhaps your toilet runs late at night or you wake up in the morning to a pool of water around the faucet; these are both common signs that your water pressure may be too high. Additional signs include:

  • Banging pipes
  • A failing water heater
  • Spitting from your faucet aerator when it is turned on
  • Trouble with your washing machine and/or dishwasher

These signs are all indications that it is time to check your water pressure.

How to Check Your Water Pressure

Luckily, checking your water pressure is easy and affordable. All you need to do is:

  1. Buy a residential water pressure gauge from a hardware store. These affordable gauges should fit into any household hose bib. Some more expensive gauges, around $25, have a resettable needle to record water pressure overnight.
  1. Turn off any appliances that use water, such as faucets, washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerators with ice makers. If you do not turn off these appliances, you may receive a false low reading due to water moving elsewhere throughout the house.
  1. Attach your water pressure gauge to a hose bib. The water outlet should be close to your home’s main water supply source. Therefore, if your water supply comes from a well, use an outlet that is close to the well’s pressure tank; alternatively, if your water is supplied by the city, choose a faucet near the water meter. Once the gauge is attached, open the water supply valve slowly (source).
  1. Once the water supply valve is open, wait for the needle on the gauge to stop moving before reading the pressure.
  1. Once you get a reading, test the pressure again to ensure accuracy.

What Causes High Water Pressure?

High water pressure may be the result of multiple causes (source). Sometimes, municipal water suppliers set the local water pressure to a setting as high as over 100 PSI for fire hydrants or tall buildings, which can impact your own water pressure. Your water pressure may also increase due to expansion from your water heater, or in some cases, be the result of a home with a downhill slope.

How to Solve the Problem

If your water pressure reads above 75 PSI, contact Moon Valley Plumbing for assistance. We will happily install a pressure regulator, which ensures the pressure inside your home is maintained to a safe pressure.

Travis Mingle and his team of professionals at MVP are equipped with over two decades of experience known throughout the valley for their honesty and professionalism. Don’t put stress on your home. If you’re concerned about your water pressure, contact Moon Valley Plumbing today at (480) 588-1926.

Why Is a Water Softener a Good Idea?

Why Is a Water Softener a Good Idea?

To understand why installing a water softener is a good idea, it helps to understand why hard water is a problem. First, “hard water” is considered “hard” because it contains minerals, generally all or some combination of the following:
Water Softener
 

  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • iron
  • copper
  • manganese

 

Calcium and magnesium are the biggest culprits, with iron being a close third. These minerals bind or react with soap and detergents to cause an insoluble material called “curd.” Hard water makes cleaning difficult because:

 

  • it wastes soap and/or synthetic detergents; more needs to be used but it still doesn’t clean as well
  • it leaves scum and rings in tubs, toilets, and sinks that are difficult or impossible to remove
  • it creates spots and streaks on dishes in the dishwasher
  • it can stain clothing
  • it makes bathing difficult because soap doesn’t clean or rinse out well; skin conditions may also be aggravated
  • it causes scale build-up in appliances – water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, etc. this generally means higher costs in repair and the need to replace more often

Will Installing a Water Softener Increase My Water Bill?

Will Installing a Water Softener Increase My Water Bill?

The answer to this question is – “yes, yes it will,” but if you want to know how much Water Softene will actually increase your bill – we can’t give you a definite answer on that.

It depends on what kind of system you install, how big it is, the degree of hardness in the water, the size of your pipes, number of bathrooms, types of showerheads, how many people are in your household, how much water they use in a day, and what your water rates are (yes, we know – it isn’t fair, but water rates are different in Scottsdale than they are in Glendale). That said – it isn’t going to be an exorbitant amount, particularly when you consider that it’s generally offset by saving you money on the problems that having hard water would create for you.

Water Softener

The reason why water softeners raise your water bill is because they use additional water to “backwash” or “recharge” the water softening filtration system after a certain number of gallons have been run through and treated. This additional water might be anywhere from 15 gallons to 100 gallons per “recharge;” how often it recharges depends on the usage. The usage depends on how big your family is, how they use water, how many appliances you have, etc.

 

The reason why water softeners save money is that the minerals in hard water are tough on appliances; dishwashers, water heaters, and washing machines will all wear out and need to be replaced sooner. Also – it takes more detergent – and often more water – to get things “clean,” because hard water reduces the cleaning efficiency of any kind of soap.

 

A very broad, very generalized estimate for additional costs to run a water softener for a family of three per year is approximately $200 – in both salt and additional water bill cost.

TIP # 2 – ALL NATURAL DIY SOLUTION TO PREVENT SLOW RUNNING DRAINS

All Natural Diy Solution to prevent slow running drains

Here are our best DIY drain-clearing, pre-emptive Solution

How Do I Stop Plumbing Problems Before They’re Problems?

As we’ve previously noted, FOG – fats, oils, and grease are anathema to drains. They will clog up even the highest of high-end, gourmet kitchens with state-of-the-art plumbing. While we’ve previewed what caustic drain cleaners can do to clear your drains, the truth is that the best solution to a clogged up kitchen drain is really to do preventative maintenance. And the first thing to start with is also the simplest – just quit pouring FOG’s down the drain.

DIY SOLUTION

The next best solution is what we like to call a “pre-emptive strike.” You periodically “clean out” the drain every month or so, just as a precautionary measure, whether it’s running slowly or not. That way, you never actually have to arrive at the “Oh, no, oh darn it –“ stage.

 

While slow-running drains are a concern, so is the environment – and saving money. We want to save both for you, so here are our best “DIY” drain-clearing, pre-emptive solutions:

 

  • Homemade Grease-cutting Solution Recipe # 1: Pour half a cup of baking soda into your garbage disposal, and then add a half to a whole cup of white vinegar. Let it stand for 20 minutes, then run cold water and turn the disposal on for about a minute or so. Baking soda fizzes and helps the vinegar dissolve grease. That should take care of a lot of stuff that might be gumming up your garbage disposal drain.

 

  • Homemade Grease-cutting Solution Recipe #2: Mix one cup white vinegar with one cup boiling water and pour down your drain. Let it stand for the time it takes to boil another pot or teakettle of water. Pour the boiling water down the drain to rinse it through. The vinegar dissolves grease, the boiling water pushes it through.

 

  • Homemade Grease-cutting Solution Recipe # 3: This one isn’t quite as environmentally friendly, but it is helpful if you’re dealing with odor coming from your drain or garbage disposal. Mix a cup of bleach with a cup of hot water and pour it down the drain; let stand for a few minutes. Follow this with at lease a couple of quarts of warm, soapy water – mix it with biodegradable, grease cutting, dish soap. The bleach is an anti-bacterial, and the grease cutting dish soap will rinse it through.

 

  • Home-made Grease-cutting Solution Recipe # 4: This is a great weekly measure for all drains: mix 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup salt, and 1 cup cream of tartar together (if you want to mix up a bigger batch, this powder will store forever, btw). Every week pour about half to ¾ of a cup down your drain, then follow it with 2 cups of boiling water. The cream of tartar is a natural pipe cleaner (especially for metal pipes), and the boiling water will fizz the baking soda, causing the salts to scour away the buildup.

TIP #1: STOP THE FOG!

How Do I Stop Plumbing Problems Before They’re Problems?

What’s “FOG” you may ask? FOG is a your plumbing system pipe’s worst nightmare – fats, oils, and grease! Hot grease is liquid when it’s hot, but when you pour it down your drain, it hardens, turning into the kind of sludge you see in a cooled pan after you’ve cooked a pound of bacon. The same is true of butter, lard, and shortening. They all harden, and they all turn into sludge. And that sludge sticks to the inside of your pipes, and narrows them considerably.

 

What about oils and fats? They’re liquid aren’t they? Well, yes, they may look liquid, but they’re thick and tacky, and they coat the inside of your pipes, and that will narrow them as well. All of these substances will stick, clump, cling, glob, and/or lodge inside your pipes, and collect food particles and all the other debris that goes down your drain, no matter how careful you try to be.

 

What to do?

We’ve previewed caustic chemical drain cleaners and what they can do after you’ve got a big problem, but there’s plenty you can do before you have a partial or completely clogged drain problem to keep it from happening. The first is really the most simple, and though we feel like a broken record, the fact is that the #1 best solution to a clogged drain is not to clog it up in the first place. And our expert advice on this is simply to stop pouring any kind of slick substance down your drain (we know, that can be kind of an irritating answer, but we need to cover all the bases for you). Whatever it is – a plate or a bowl or a pan – take a paper towel and wipe up the scraps/grease/oil and put it into the garbage.

 

Then second best #1 solution is never use hot water to rinse the dishes and pans off in the sink either. After you’ve scraped everything off all the dishes, but before you wash or put them in the dishwasher, soak them first in a tub of hot, hot water mixed with one of the new, biodegradable, anti-grease/grease-cutting dish soaps now on the market. These dish soaps won’t remove the grease build-up inside your drains, but they do a fine job of keeping grease from building up, because they break down the fat particles and dissolve them.

2 Powerful Ways to Make Commercial Drain Cleaners Work For You?

2 Powerful Ways to Make Commercial Drain Cleaners Work For You?

The most widely used “over-the-counter,” of the Commercial Drain Cleaners are “caustic” and “oxidizing.” They work on different kinds of clogs:

Commercial Drain Cleaners

  • Oxidizing drain cleaner: These drain cleaners come in a liquid form that’s heavier than water so it moves down through any standing water in the drain to the source of the clog. These drain cleaners are made of things like bleach, peroxides, and nitrates, and they work by sucking electrons out of the clog and oxidizing it, essentially causing it to break up and dissolve by converting the solids to liquids. These are best for bathroom clogs, where the culprit tends to be soap scum and hair.
  • Caustic drain cleaners: These cleaners can come in either solid or liquid form; in liquid form, they are also heavier than standing water, so they move through the standing water to settle on the clog to go to work. If they are in solid form, they also move through standing water to reach the clog. These cleaners are made up of caustic substances like potash and/or lye. These chemicals they release create heat, which melts the clog. They’re best for kitchen clogs, which are generally made up of grease and food particles.

There is a third category of drain cleaner which homeowners sometimes use, and this is an acid drain cleaner. This kind of drain cleaner is generally sold only to professionals, however, because they’re even more toxic than the others are. Still, we find that some of our clients do find a way to get it, and do use it.

More toxicity also means that these are more powerful, of course, but keep in mind that this makes them more dangerous as well. Made of sulfuric acid or sodium hydroxide – an acid drain cleaner will also heat up, but the chemical reaction is more intense. This means that an acid drain cleaner can cut through just about anything, from grease to hair to food to paper products like sanitary napkins, etc. When we use it, we use it very, very carefully – and you should too.

The bottom line, however, is that if you’ve used a couple of kinds of these over-the-counter drain cleaners and they didn’t work, it’s time to give us a call or contact us. We’ll have you up and running – safely – in no time!

My Drain is Clogged – Will a Commercial Drain Cleaner Work?

My Drain is Clogged – Will a Commercial Drain Cleaner Work?

Many of our customers want to know if those commercial drain cleaners you can buy in a store will really work, and I can truthfully answer – yes and no, and it depends. And we’re not trying to get you to call us out either – this is our expert opinion and proven by a lot of people who do tests on things like this for a living.

commercial Drain Cleaner

Drain cleaners work by creating a chemical reaction that moves electrons around, and they clear a drain by either taking electrons away from a clog, or adding electrons to the clog. This is a scientific way to say, basically – one dissolves it, and one melts it.

This means that whether an over-the-counter drain cleaner will work really does depend on what kind of clog you have, as well as what kind of pipes you have, and sometimes that’s not as straightforward as you would think. They often work just fine. However – sometimes they don’t. There is one thing we know for sure, though, and that is – if you even suspect that a clog is a result of some object going down a drain that shouldn’t be anywhere near a drain – like a piece of jewelry, or a stuffed animal – then you do need to call us. No chemical Commercial Drain Cleaner made will clear this kind of clog, but we’ll be happy to!

That said, the first thing you need to know is that using any chemical Commercial drain cleaner safely is critical. These cleaners are extremely toxic, both in terms of fumes and/or because they will corrode anything they may come in contact with. In addition, they can damage your pipes if not used carefully and according to directions. That includes older metal pipes, in addition to PVC pipes that are made of plastic and can soften or melt (many people believe that metal pipes are indestructible; they aren’t). In other words – use with extreme caution, and if you’re not sure what the clog is, or what kind of pipes you have, or whether the clog might be a diaper or not – try giving us a call first.

Why Does One Bathroom Shower Have Great Water Pressure – But The Other One Doesn’t?

If you’ve got good water pressure in one place even with a water restrictor, then you’ve got good water pressure in general, so this means it may be a different problem.

The first culprit to check, of course – is still to see if your second shower has a water restrictor. It may be a different brand of showerhead, one of the kinds that have two water restrictors rather than one, so that’s a possibility.

If you’ve checked this, and it either wasn’t there or you removed it and the problem is still there, then you’ve got a different problem (yes, there are a lot of problems here). Something else is affecting the water pressure in your second shower, and here are some possible reasons, and possible fixes:

  • Start with your showerhead; check it to see if it has a great deal of lime or mineral deposits clogging the showerhead holes. While you’re at it, check the little screen and washer inside the showerhead fitting for the same thing. If either contain minerals, soak them in vinegar overnight, and scrub them out with a stiff brush.
  • Check all the supply water valves to that shower, see that they’re fully opened.
  • If all else fails, it could be a blockage in the pipes downstairs, and it may be time to call us in to diagnose and fix the problem.

If you’ve checked all of the above and none have fixed the problem, it may be time to change the way you’re taking a shower. You can do this by:

  • Installing a high flow (2.5+pm) hand-held showerhead that comes with a flexible hose; you can do this and still keep your regular showerhead; the hand-held can be used for the rinsing issues.
  • Change the showerhead to one designed to push the water out faster by pressurizing it; they’re often called “amplifying” or “pressurized” showerheads. Unfortunately, if you have one of the popular large “rain-shower” type showerheads, they have a great many holes that are generally larger as well. While they look wonderful and – with enough water pressure – are great, they also disperse so much water so quickly that they actually lower water pressure. You will be happier with one of the amplifying showerheads designed to capture water first, and build up pressure by funneling it through smaller holes so that the water comes out at a good steady pressure. These work well.

Why Is the Water Pressure in My Shower So Low?

Low Water Pressure

Why Is the Water Pressure in My Shower So Low?

While water conservation is an important topic these days, when it comes to showers – water conservation can become a catch-22. Most people don’t want to waste water, but most people don’t like shampoo in their hair either. If it’s taking upwards of 10 minutes to rinse it out, then you’re not saving anything.

Water Pressure

What many people don’t realize is that all showerhead manufacturers are now required by the National Energy Act to produce showerheads with water restrictors (also called flow restrictors). Not only this, but these restrictors have been required for a number of years, so the chances that you’ve got a water restrictor or two in your home is almost a given, so just assume that you do.

Water restrictors are designed to limit the water flow in a showerhead to 2.5 gallons a minute, which is supposed to conserve water and save money on your energy bills. In most areas, it does accomplish those goals, because the water pressure is good to begin with. However, if you happen to live in an area where the water pressure was already low, a water restrictor is going to be problematic. If the water flow is so low that you have to spend twice the time in the shower to get the job done, it doesn’t pencil out to a savings – of your time, your money, or our water supply. You can, however, remove the water restrictor from a showerhead, and that will take care of the problem.

How to remove a water restrictor from your showerhead, one method:

If you’re handy and you have the tools, removing a water restrictor is a straightforward and pretty easy job. You’ll need an adjustable wrench, a flat-head screwdriver, and some needle nosed pliers, or maybe just something that will “pry” something out of the showerhead – like a steak knife, etc. (not very technical, but if it’s good enough fro MacGyver…)

Different brands of showerheads put their flow restrictors in different places, generally where the pipe arm connects into the wall, or between the showerhead and the pipe arm. Sometimes you’ll find them in both places, so you’ll want to check both junctures. Here are the steps:

  • Take the entire shower apparatus off – not just the head – but where it connects to the wall.
  • Look inside; you’ll see a washer and a screen, take these out carefully, you need to put them back.
  • Under the washer and screen – if you see a plastic restrictor, take it out. They’re often white, but they also come in green, pink, red, etc. It may take some prying, but it will come out.
  • Replace the screen and washer.
  • Unscrew the showerhead from the pipe – do the same thing, the same way.
  • Wherever the restrictors are, you want to take them out, replace the washer and the screens, and put your showerhead and arm back together.

How to remove a water restrictor from a showerhead, a second method:

Give us a call; we’ll be happy to come out and take care of whatever you need us to do!