Soaking Up the Sun

If we are soaking it up for too long it can burn us, but more often than not the sun is our friend; with its surface burning at10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the sun is a hot commodity. It is enough that this star brings life and growth to our planet, but can it also line our pockets?  Utilizing the sun’s power is not a brand new concept, we have been using it to tan our skin, heat our homes and propel our vehicles for a while, but in the world of plumbing the sun offers another bright idea.

The concept of solar water heaters is one that is not very familiar to the public.  Much more hype has been place on solar home heating systems,but the energy of the sun is vast and so are the possibilities and opportunities to harness its power.  And since the sun’s price is well below the going rate it is also budget- savvy.  Like most green and top-notch technology, installing the initial device can be a little more costly than a traditional system, but over the long run, the solar device will help you save;www.energysavers.gov tells us that, “On average, if you install a solar water heater, your water heating bills should drop 50%–80%. Also, because the sun is free, you’re protected from future fuel shortages and price hikes.”

There are several different types of solar water heaters, the two most common are active and passive.  Active systems include circulating pumps and are more expensive and more intricate to install, but can handle more volume.  Passive require very little maintenance and are among the simplest to install.  When choosing your system, your region and the amount of water you use daily should be taken in to consideration.  Also, remember that switching over to solar doesn’t mean a whole new renovation, as you can read onwww.lower-my-energybill.com,“In most instances, solar hot water heaters are designed to accommodate an existing system. In effect the solar powered system is retro fitted to a secondary fuel powered water heating unit that serves as a backup. Since the sun’s natural radiation isn’t always accessible, a sufficient back up source is required.”

Being independent from the rises and falls in the market place and being able to rely on an entity as reliable as the sun is a good feeling, there are not many choices that can save us money and save our earth at the same time, so it is a good thing to look in to. That is at least until someone figures out how to place a tax on the sun.

The Battle of the Drains

Drains, we never really think about them except when they stop working.  Then those little things can cause complete mayhem.  Many of us have stood there and shouted, “No, no…stop, stop!” at foul liquid spewing from the bowels of our houses or waiting hours and hours for some used and dirty water to finally seep away.

There are many helpful-hints out there when it comes to our drains some included baking powder, some harsh chemicals.  It is easy to think the harsher the better when our drains are torturing us, but we must remember that whatever we pour or wash down our drains doesn’t disappears into a dark, never-to-be-seen again abyss, it all has to go somewhere.  Even in our panic, we should be mindful of what we decide to pour down our drains.  Here are some green and helpful drain tips from www.care2.com

Baking Soda Drain Cleaner
If water hasn’t yet backed up in your drain, pour 1 cup of baking soda followed by 3 cups of boiling water. The boiling water will change the chemical composition of baking soda, making it more alkaline. Repeat a few times until the drain is clear.

Washing Soda Drain Cleaner
If the water isn’t going down the drain, pour a cup of washing soda over the drain area and let it set for a while to work its way down to the clog. Once the clog is loosened, use the baking soda method, above. Washing soda is more alkaline than baking soda, with a pH of 11. You never want to use washing soda if a commercial acid drain cleaner has recently been used in the drain, as they will strongly react with each other. You also shouldn’t overuse washing soda if you have PVC pipes, as the caustic nature of washing soda can slowly damage the plastic.

The Bubbling Method Using Vinegar and Baking Soda
Baking soda and vinegar react with each other to cause bubbles and fizzing. Sometimes the fizzing can unlodge clogs. Follow the baking soda and boiling water formula, above, with 1 cup of vinegar.

Enzyme Drain and Garbage Disposal Maintenance
All natural living enzyme culture drain cleaners will actually eat and break down any organic matter. Using enzyme drain cleaners once a month, such as Bi-O-Kleen’s Bacout, will help not just your drains, but your septic system. They will also significantly reduce odor from garbage disposals. Colonies of enzymes will actually continue to grow and break down organic matter in your drains.

If our poor drains weren’t so neglected, abused and forgotten about perhaps their fury wouldn’t be so seemingly vengeful.  But since we will probably continue to forget about them and they in turn will continue to torture us whenever they get the chance, some of these green quick fix ideas are helpful to have in our pockets.  If you can’t seem to calm down your drain issues, or your drains can’t seem to get over the neglect, plumbers are good mediators; perhaps they can bring some understanding to the situation.

Maintaining Your Water Heater

Maintaining Your Water Heater

What would we do without hot water?  Hot showers, this simple luxury we so often take for granted, would have been the envy of kings in ages past.   Yet another thing to be grateful for this Thanksgiving season.

A couple years ago the Colson family upgraded their hot water heater to an 80-gallon capacity unit in order to accommodate their family and guests who would need simultaneous showers on different levels of the house.  The effect has been wonderful in that they never run out of hot water, but on the other hand, they have found that the larger unit bumped their electric bill up a bit.

To combat the problem, the Colson’s ordered a free energy analysis from their electric company.  In the process, the inspector gave them a few good tips–not only for lowering their monthly utility bills, but also for maintaining and safeguarding their hot water heater.

The following are a few noteworthy hints for keeping those water heaters healthy:

  1. Check the pressure relief valve by turning off the electricity to the water heater or turning the gas switch to pilot. Shut off the cold-water inlet to the water heater, and position a bucket to catch the water under the valve. Pull the trip lever on the valve. You should hear a slight rush of air or see some water and vapor exit through the pressure relief valve. If you don’t, drain the tank and replace the valve.
  2. Flush the tank every six months. Sediment buildup in the tank can reduce your water heater’s energy efficiency and also clog your water lines. Increase the life of your unit by flushing the tank each time you check the pressure relief valve. Easy flushing instructions are available at websites like Lowe’s.
  3. Check the Pilot Light.  A newly installed gas water heater will have some air in the gas line, so it may take several attempts to light the pilot. (Also, make sure the gas supply valve has been turned on). In some units, a red LED light blinking once every three seconds indicates the unit is working normally.
  4. Deal with leaks and drips. Most leaks are caused by faulty water supply connections, so check your fittings and pipes. Compression fittings are easier to use for do-it-yourselfers than soldering copper pipes. Drips from the temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve discharge pipe usually mean a thermal expansion tank is needed.

When in doubt, give your plumber a call, and let a pro check things out.  The experts at Moon Valley Plumbing can conduct a quick, 8-point checkup on your system to make sure that you and your family enjoy the warmest – and safest- hot water system this holiday.

Your Potty Invitation

Sure, Toto is a dog from The Wizard of Oz and a rock band from the early ‘80s (remember Rosanna?), but most importantly, it’s a pretty amazing toilet line. And who can’t live without a good toilet?   Undoubtedly the search for such a universal necessity calls for some research.

A simple Google search for consumer write-ups on toilets brings one immediately to the name Toto.  Why?  One reason is their gravity- and pressure-assist toilets, which are increasingly popular options on the market today. Gravity-assist units, the most common type of toilet, use gravity to release water from its tank through a flush valve and into the bowl during flushing. Pressure-assist toilets, on the other hand, hold the water under air pressure inside a plastic tank and flush it out with more force than a gravity toilet.  Toto toilets receive high marks in both categories.

Many customers are most interested in the fact that Toto’s engineering refinements deliver powerful flushing technology while maintaining eco friendly water conservation. Others most value the combination of function and design. A Toto Drake Toilet offers elegant curves with superior non-clog flushing, and for those seeking a bidet seat, a Toto Washlet is one of the most popular styles sold. The most luxurious toilet is a Toto Neorest. The Neorest combines a state of the art toilet with a washlet seat. A Toto Neorest 500 combines a tankless design with the new Cyclone flushing system technology. This model comes with the SanaGloss finish for a super smooth ion barrier for added cleanliness, and the lid open and closes automatically.

So, what’s the “bottom” line?  A recent study found that men spend an hour and 45 minutes every week going to the toilet–whereas women get everything over with in a mere 85 minutes a week.  In either case, toilet purchases are similar to mattress purchases… private, but important.  Why not take the time to do your research and see the latest, hottest options out there?  Even easier, why not call Moon Valley Plumbing and let us help you choose the potty of your dreams?  Ask about our June special on Toto toilets, and get your morning constitutional going in style!

It’s Rebate Time!

Did you know that you may be able to receive a rebate from Southwest Gas if you purchase a new appliance? These rebates are being funded with $300 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Under this program, eligible consumers can receive rebates to purchase new energy-efficient appliances when they replace used appliances.
According to www.energysavers.gov, as of January, a total of 1.4 million consumer rebates, valued at $207 million, were paid to consumers. The annual energy savings resulting from the purchase of the rebated products is estimated at 1.4 trillion Btu. The bar chart below shows the distribution of these rebates by major appliances (89%), HVAC (9%), and Water Heater (2%) categories.

Customers Rick and Liz Holmes were excited–not only to receive a rebate from Southwest Gas–but also to see their electric bill decrease by over 20% with the purchase of an efficient water heater. They didn’t realize that more than 70% of the energy used in our homes is for appliances, refrigeration, space heating, cooling, and in their case, water heating of their large tank.
Replacing old appliances and equipment with those that are Energy Star labeled can help families like the Holmes save significantly on their utility bills. Each state has selected its own set of qualified products to rebate, and here are the fitting categories for Arizona:

  • Boilers
  • Central air conditioners
  • Clothes washers
  • Dishwashers
  • Freezers
  • Furnaces (oil and gas)
  • Heat pumps (air source and geothermal)
  • Refrigerators
  • Room air conditioners
  • Water heaters

Most rebates are $50 to $550, and some states give additional rebates for recycling.  Now’s the time to jump in, purchase a newer, more efficient appliance, and enjoy some “found money” through a timely utility rebate.  For more information, visit http://www.conservationrebates.com, or give us a call at Moon Valley Plumbing.

The Home Show

Join Moon Valley Plumbing at The Maricopa County Home Show, August 5th-7th.

The Maricopa County Home Show.

Support Local Companies

One of the values of Moon Valley Plumbing is to buy American whenever possible, and to do business with reputable local companies. These practices help the economy and establish lasting relationships in the industry.

This month’s “wonderful vendor” is B&R Industries, manufacturers of water softeners.  In one of our recent blogs, we talked about the fact that many households in Arizona require water softening, as the minerals that cause hardness in water have a wide impact on households. If you live in the area, you know that hard water affects almost every cleaning task–from laundry to dishes to showers. Clothes laundered in hard water may look dingy and feel harsh and scratchy. Dishes and glasses washed in hard water may be spotted on drying. Hard water may cause a film on glass shower doors, shower walls and bathtubs, and hair washed in hard water may feel sticky and look dull. More importantly, hard water also affects the performance of household appliances.

Fortunately, B&R Industries is always available with water softening supplies.  The company always has the parts we need in stock–and an attitude of quick and helpful service.  Plus, they only focus on sales and service to contractors, leaving us to take care of our residential customers directly.  Their technical support department has helped us solve several plumbing mysteries, and their employees’ 100 years of combined field experience has lent credibility to our team efforts in the state.

As Moon Valley Plumbing continues to serve Arizona, we’re grateful that top local vendors like B&R Industries continue to serve us so faithfully.  For more information about softening your water with B&R components, please visit us at www.moonvalleyplumbing.com.

The Truth about Hard Water

The Truth about Hard Water

Some reasons about the Hard Water

Hard WaterOur cousins, the Bailey’s, live on the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma, on some of the most beautiful land in the country. Although we love enjoying the beauty of the area with them, we always remind ourselves to bring plenty of bottled water with us.  Why?  Because their water tastes different… a bit salty, perhaps.

What’s happening with the Bailey’s water, we found out, is that it’s “hard water.” Hard water is water that has a high mineral content (in contrast with soft water – e.g., rainwater and distilled water) and elevated concentrations of minerals like calcium and magnesium. Typically hard water is not harmful to human health, but it can pose serious problems in industrial settings, where water hardness is monitored to avoid costly breakdowns in boilers, cooling towers, and other equipment that handles water.

So, how can you tell if we have hard water in the home? Besides the salty or overly-mineral taste of the water, you can conduct a simple experiment. Try putting liquid soap into a sink of water, and then agitate it. If suds do not form–or form well–there’s a possibility your water could be hard.

The problem with hard water is that it forms calcium and magnesium deposits that can clog your plumbing. These deposits, called “scale,” tend to be deposited as off-white solids on the surfaces of pipes and heat exchangers, and scale restricts the flow of water in pipes. In boilers, the deposits impair the flow of heat into water, reducing the heating efficiency and allowing the metal boiler components to overheat. Hard water can also eventually lead to pipe corrosion.

For these reasons, it is often desirable to soften hard water.  The professionals at Moon Valley Plumbing can conduct a simple, free sampling of your water to test its hardness and create a plan to soften your water system. Here’s to your health, and the health of your pipes!

Reference:
Info on Wikipedia

Stave off Pool Problems this Spring

Stave off Pool Problems this Spring

Stave off Plumbing and Pool Problems this Spring

One of the highlights of Glen Hawkins’ life of retirement is his backyard pool. He loves entertaining friends by its crystal blue waters, hosting a game of pool volleyball, and catching some rays by the pool during his lunch break. He even enjoys skimming leaves off the pool during his morning chore routine. But what he doesn’t like are the plumbing problems that have recently cast a dark shadow on a favorite hobby.

Stave off Pool Problems this Spring
In recent months Glen has noticed some issues with water circulation and filtration, and he’s received some crazy high water bills he suspects are related to the pool. Fortunately, he knows his limitations on playing Amateur Fix-It Man, and he’s called the experts at Moon Valley Plumbing. As Spring unfolds, the plumbing team at Moon Valley Plumbing offers some helpful educating and advising of frustrated pool-lovers like Glen.

First, swimming pool plumbing seeks to meet two objectives–circulation and filtration of the water in the pool. Pools are typically self-contained systems needing little connection with external sources of drawing or disposing water. Rather, water from the pool is drawn up into the pump from drains and skimmers by pumping. It then passes through the main filter and through the heater before being finally transferred to the pool via the “returns,” or the piping used for returning water. 

PVC pipes circulate water into and out of the pool, but sometimes pools have old, faulty, inadequate, or leaking pipes or fittings. A knowledgeable plumber can check to see that there are several working drains and water skimmers to facilitate water flow, circulation and filtration; they can check for and fix clogs, and they can ensure that the pool adheres to important plumbing codes.

There’s no better time than Spring to get your pool questions answered and your pool up to speed for fun and entertainment.  So call Moon Valley Plumbing now for your complimentary pool consultation, and free yourself to focus on that tan!