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!

Why do my pipes make banging, hammering, vibrating, or rattling noises when I turn on the water?

Noisy plumbing is a problem that we find mostly in older homes, with older pipes and plumbing. Newer construction obviously has a leg up on this; the new piping, drains, and appliances are designed to be noise- and problem-free, and they generally are, at least up until the 15-year mark or so. There are several possibilities for noisy plumbing, including:

  • Banging or hammering: If it sounds like your pipes or banging, or hammering, then the likely culprit is water pressure that is too high. Banging, or “water hammering,” is a common problem here in Arizona. A water pressure regulator is the recommended fix for this, and a majority of houses have them, as it keeps from wasting water. So – if you have a water pressure regulator, but you still have banging, it may not be set correctly, and the water pressure may still be too high for your system. You need to look at it and perhaps adjust it so it doesn’t go over 50 psi. If you don’t have a water pressure regulator, well – check out our Knowledge Center article on it HERE, because we can handle it for you.
  • Rattling: Rattling pipes are a different thing than banging or hammering pipes; the former is clearly from high water pressure, whereas a rattling pipe generally signals a pipe that isn’t secured very well somewhere, usually in your attic. You can affect a DIY fix yourself by getting a brace to hold it in place, wrapping it with insulation, or even stuffing a towel between the pipe and the wall, if the area is small and you’re really low-tech. If your pipe is rattling inside a wall, it’s the same issue, and – unless you feel like opening up your wall and then closing, plastering, and repainting it – it’s probably fine to leave it alone. If it’s really driving you crazy though, give us a call, because we can find it and make it stop.
  • Vibrating: If you’ve got a pipe that sort of hums because it “shivers” noticeably when the water is turned on – then it’s likely that there’s a small leak in a line somewhere that is drawing air into the pipe, so that air bubbles are bouncing around inside your pipe. Unfortunately, a small leak is also a leak that’s generally not easy to find, so there’s no real DIY solution. But you can give us a call and we’ll find it – and take care of it for you.

Why does my water smell terrible?

My water smells bad ! -Why?

There re several reasons why your water smells bad

Taste and smell are closely linked – without smell we couldn’t taste anything. So chances are that if you’re having problems with the taste of your water – you’re also having problems with the smell of it. It can be confusing, in fact. It may seem like your water tastes bad, but when you really taste it – it tastes fine. The fact is that the smell affects how you “perceive” the taste of your water. Here are the offending parties when it comes to odiferous water:

water smells bad

  • The bad smell may not be in your water – it may be in your drains: When it comes to smells, there is one important caveat: while it can be caused by an outer issue – often, the problem is actually inside the system, that is – inside your drain, your pipes, or your water heater rather than in the water itself. You can test this yourself by running a glass of water, stepping away from the sink or tub – and then smelling it. If you don’t smell anything from the glass when you step away, then what you’re smelling isn’t the water, it’s bacteria, algae, and mold from old food particles, grease, and other unsavory thing growing in your drains. Dealing with the issue in your drain is a fairly simple procedure: a flush with baking soda, vinegar, or a commercial drain cleaning agent should take care of it.
  • Water smells bad but the smell may not be in your water – it may be in your water heater: If you are be dealing with water that smells like rotten eggs, it’s sulfur, and that generally means there’s a problem in your water heater. If it’s in your water heater, then you may need to sanitize your water heater, or replace a magnesium anode rod in it, because it is reacting badly to the minerals in Arizona’s water system. If you’re feeling handy, there are DIY “Water Heater Odor Killer Kits” that you can get at any big box home improvement store that you can use to take care of the problem. This is a many-multi-step procedure, however, which does require some tools and partial drainage of your water heater, so be sure and allow an afternoon to a day to handle it. Or – if you don’t feel like dealing with it yourself, go ahead and give us a call and let us come out and take care of it for you. We’ve got the “stuff” to make it an easy fix, and the cost in time and supplies is comparable – and easier – than trying to go it alone! hydrogen gas sulfide hydrogen sulfide hot hot water odors rotten egg rotten egg hydrogen water sources heater hydrogen gas water heaters hydrogen sulfide water sulfide water