3 Signs of Water Quality Issues

Ordinary drinking water from your kitchen sink’s tap offers some significant advantages over bottled water for everyday use, from its cheaper cost to the inclusion of fluoride to encourage strong teeth. Unfortunately, even though the city purifies its water supply, household plumbing problems can introduce unwanted additions.

If you worry about the quality of your family’s drinking water, you can benefit from some basic knowledge about common telltale symptoms of water quality issues and their potential origins. Pay attention to the following three warning signs.

1. Unusual Tastes or Odors

Of all the troubles plaguing your drinking water, none will get your attention as swiftly and dramatically as a foul taste or unusual odor. In most cases, the underlying cause does not pose a direct threat to your health, but you may still find your water unpleasant until you eliminate the problem.

Taste and odor problems caused by algae can spoil the enjoyment of drinking water for entire communities. In Phoenix, the most common culprits include geosmin and methylisoborneol algae. An unpleasant smell may linger long after the city has successfully treated the water and removed the actual algae.

Sometimes the chlorine employed as part of this purification process imparts a swimming-pool taste and odor to the water. If you cannot tolerate even faint traces of this chemical, invest in a pitcher or faucet attachment that contains a carbon filter. This simple step can remove most of the substances causing the trouble.

A rotten-egg taste and smell indicates either sulfate minerals or hydrogen sulfide gas. Although this odor should trigger concern if it emerges from your toilet due to flammable, toxic sewer gas, it does not mean that your drinking water poses a safety hazard. However, your water heater might need professional treatment.

2. Floating Debris

Tap water may contain floating debris. The color and general appearance of this debris can provide clues as to what kind of substance has infiltrated your water supply and why. If you use a carbon filter, tiny black particles could simply represent carbon particles that have escaped from the filtration device.

If the black particles in your water look like rubber, you may have found tiny pieces of rubber coming from a deteriorated rubber seal or hose. A plumbing technician can replace the worn component, eliminating the issue.

In well-water systems, brown or earth-colored specks of dirt can enter drinking water. In systems that rely on the city’s plumbing supply, small pieces of iron from deteriorated pipes can appear brown or black. These particles won’t poison you, but they can clog up your plumbing fixtures over time.

3. Discoloration

Tap water that doesn’t look perfectly colorless may startle you. Water that assumes a milky haze may contain excess calcium, a problem known as hard water. Most people can drink hard water without safety concerns, but the accumulated calcium forms lime scale which narrows pipes and reduces water efficiency.

Brown water commonly contains rust or dissolved iron. As unappealing as it may look, the level of iron in the water won’t harm you unless you have a health condition that makes you sensitive to this element. However, it does mean that some part of your plumbing system has started to corrode.

Tap water can also take on a light blue or green coloration. These shades often mean that copper has leached into your water from a corroded pipe or other plumbing appliance. Excessive copper intake over time can cause liver or kidney trouble as well as anemia. Replace the corroded component to avoid long-term problems.

Moon Valley Plumbing and Rooter can check out your home plumbing system, diagnose any issues affecting the quality of your drinking water, and make the recommended fixes to improve the situation. Contact us today to schedule plumbing service.

Slab Leaks 101: A Homeowner’s Guide

A typical Phoenix home sits on top of a concrete slab that serves as its foundation. Unfortunately, this slab can play host to some serious problems, including plumbing leaks that allow water to accumulate in or under them. A slab leak can make your home feel uncomfortably humid and can cause major structural damage.

Since you can’t afford to let a neglected or undiagnosed slab leak wreck your residence, you can benefit tremendously from a basic understanding of this worrying problem and its potential solutions. Check out this introductory homeowner’s guide on the subject.

Why Slab Leaks Occur

A home’s plumbing pipes extend both through the walls and beneath the foundation. Leaks in these pipes can occur at any point in the plumbing system, including this difficult-to-access subterranean area.

Slab leaks may occur for a variety of reasons. In the majority of cases, copper or galvanized steel pipes have simply worn out due to age and corrosion. Underground pipes may face an elevated risk of premature wear due to the extra stresses and pressures they must endure, including the expansion and contraction of surrounding clay.

Corrosion may occur more rapidly if your slab pipes carry unusually alkaline or acidic water. These extremes can cause chemical reactions that damage metal pipes, not only underground but throughout your plumbing system.

Slab pipes also wear out due to abrasion. Pipes tend to move, especially when hot water courses through them and causes them to expand. When the pipes rub against other underground materials and structures, they can thin out and develop weak spots.

When to Suspect a Slab Leak

Slab leaks can prove hard to notice, but close observation may reveal certain telltale clues of their presence. Moisture in the home should always alert you to a potential plumbing problem, including a slab leak. Wet carpeting, damp floorboards, and unexplained mold growth merit immediate evaluation.

Your ears may also warn you of a slab leak. If you hear a faint sound of running water whose source you can’t identify, you may have discovered an underground plumbing problem. Other changes to watch out for include elevated water bills (without a corresponding increase in water usage) and low water pressure.

How Plumbers Fix Slab Leaks

Experienced plumbers equipped with the right tools can locate even the most elusive slab leaks. In the simplest cases, a specific area of dampness may point directly to the leak’s location. If necessary, plumbers can use sonar, infrared, or helium detection devices to pinpoint invisible leaks.

A leaky pipe underneath a concrete slab might require the plumber to go through the floor (with the aid of a jackhammer) to access the pipe in question. Another alternative would be to cap the leaking line and run a new line through the attic and walls with PEX pipe. It usually makes more sense to replace sections of aging, corroded pipes than to try patching them. The replacements can help ensure many years of trouble-free service.

Your original slab pipe layout may have contributed to your current problem. A slab pipe routed next to abrasive structures or through unstable ground may face continuing vulnerability to leaks. If this is the case, your plumber can put a stop to this issue simply by rerouting the new slab piping.

How to Prevent Future Slab Leaks

You can’t control every possible factor in slab leak development, such as ground shifting that affects your foundation and the pipes underneath it. However, you can take certain steps to reduce the risk of future leaks.

Measure the pH level of your household water periodically, using a home testing kit. If you get a pH reading lower than 7 or higher than 8, you may need to install a water softener or other corrective device. Blue or reddish stains on your plumbing fixtures can also alert you to a pH imbalance.

Have the water pressure tested on your home. If you pressure is over 60 consider having a pressure reducing valve installed on your home. This will help to protect both your appliances and pipes for surges in pressure.

If you believe that you might have a slab leak, act immediately to get the problem evaluated and corrected. Contact Moon Valley Plumbing and Rooter today to get the help you need from our skilled technicians.

4 Reasons to Switch to a Tankless Water Heater

When it’s time to upgrade your home’s water heating solution, you should know that a storage tank water heater is no longer your only option. Tankless water heaters improve on traditional water heater technology in multiple ways, and many homeowners are making the switch to take advantage of these improvements. Here are four reasons you should consider switching to a tankless water heater.

1. On-Demand Hot Water

Imagine if your home could have immediate access to a virtually unlimited supply of hot water, rather than being limited to what was stored in your water heater tank. This is now possible with tankless water heaters, and these heaters are also known as on-demand water heaters for this reason. Tankless water heaters use gas burners to directly heat water as it flows into your home from the water main.

If you have a large home or household, a single water heater may not be able to meet demand in some cases. This is because tankless heaters have a slower flow rate than storage tank models. Fortunately, you can overcome this limitation by installing two or more tankless heaters so that your home has enough hot water for even the heaviest use cases.

2. Energy Savings

While the up-front costs of tankless water heaters is higher than storage tank heaters, the energy efficiency of these units lets them pay for themselves over the years. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, homes that use less than 41 gallons of water per day could see energy savings of 24 to 34 percent.

The cost difference between tankless and storage tank water heaters is further offset by the longer lifespan of tankless heaters. With proper maintenance, you can expect a tankless heater to last more than 20 years. Every year that you use your tankless heater beyond the 10- to 15-year lifespan of a storage tank heater, you’re saving both on energy costs and on the installation cost of a new unit.

3. Low Maintenance Requirements

As with any water heater, the biggest enemy of tankless heaters is hard water. Hard water is water that contains an above-average concentration of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. As water flows through your tankless heater, these minerals will settle on the heating element as scale. Scale buildup inhibits heat transfer, wastes energy, and can damage your heater.

Hiring a technician to service your tankless water heater yearly is the best way to get the longest possible life out of the heater. The technician will flush the water heater with a descaling and deliming chemical to remove set-in mineral deposits from the heat exchanger. If your area is notorious for hard water, you may want to schedule maintenance more frequently, such as every six months.

Other than hard water removal, tankless heaters don’t usually require other frequent maintenance tasks. If you have that scheduled on your calendar, you don’t have to worry about your tank.

4. Reduced Risk of Water Damage

Storage tank water heaters keep tens of gallons of water inside your home at all times. A storage tank heater is a trusted design that meets building code standards, but a leak that results in hundreds of dollars of water damage and mold growth is not impossible. As the tank ages, there is even a possibility that it could rupture. Tankless water heaters reduce the risk of expensive water damage repairs in the future.

When it’s time to upgrade your water heater, a tankless heater could provide the performance improvements and energy savings that you’re looking for. Contact us at Moon Valley Plumbing and Rooter for top-tier plumbing service, installations, and repairs, and we’ll help you find a water heating solution that you’ll be happy with for years to come.

Avoid Habits That Could Waste Money on Water Heating

With regular hot water heater use, you use up water, energy (in the form of electricity or gas), and even water heater parts, albeit more slowly. All of these things cost money, and careless use of your hot water heater could mean that you spend more than necessary.

If you’re interested in saving money on your hot water heater operation and upkeep, you’ll want to streamline your use of both the heater itself and any appliances and fixtures that use hot water. Start by checking for these potentially wasteful hot water habits in your life.

1. Using Hot Water Unnecessarily

Using more hot water than you really need can cost extra money on your electric or gas bill. If you habitually use warm or hot water for your laundry, the water heating process will increase the cost of your laundry washing. In many cases, washing clothing with just cold water could be a workable alternative.

Some other ways to cut back on hot water use include:

  • Maximize dishwasher and clothes washer cycles by only running washers when they’re full.
  • Take quicker showers or even slightly cooler showers.
  • Don’t leave the faucet running while you wash dishes.

Look at your own daily routine, and see if you can find any other places where you might be able to cut back on hot water.

2. Ignoring Potential Efficiency Upgrades

If your water heater is old, you may want to consider an upgrade. You may be able to either switch the heater out for a more efficient heater (such as a tankless model of water heater) or simply upgrade its efficiency with more insulation. Similarly, insulate your hot water pipes to avoid heat loss so you don’t pay for heat you don’t use.

Another type of efficiency upgrade regarding your water use is to install low-flow fixtures and more efficient appliances. For example, an Energy Star dishwasher could save several gallons of hot water with each cycle. Check all your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room fixtures and appliances to see which ones may need an upgrade.

Not all of these upgrades will be cost-effective for everyone. For instance, replacing the water heater with a slightly more efficient one may not make financial sense if your current heater is still new. Talk to your plumber about which upgrades would be the best for your situation.

3. Avoiding Water Heater Maintenance

Many home systems may suffer from reduced efficiency or increased wear and tear if you avoid maintenance, but with a water heater, the results can be far worse. One regular maintenance step for water heaters is replacing the anode rod. If the anode rod fails due to neglect, you may not know about it until your water heater has rusted through, causing a flood.

Total water heater replacement plus water damage remediation can be quite expensive, especially when compared to the low costs of regular maintenance.

4. Leaving Heater Turned On and Turned Up

Do you use your hot water heater while you sleep? What about while you’re away at work? If the answer is no, you may waste money keeping your water hot all day and all night. This is especially the case if you have the heater on a higher setting, since keeping the water at 140 degrees takes more energy than keeping it at 120.

Keeping the water heater set to 120 degrees, and having your plumber install a timer to regulate when the water heater turns on, can help you save quite a bit of energy.

The habits described here aren’t necessarily negative (for instance, people with a respiratory condition or a suppressed immune system may need their heater set at 140 degrees). However, if you do discover any of these habits in your life, you may be able to consciously change them in order to save money on water heating.

For more information on the plumbing services we provide, give Moon Valley Plumbing and Rooter Valleywide a call.

Key Information About Tree Root Intrusion and Your Pipes

Sewage and water pipes run under the soil of your yard, as do tree roots. When roots and pipes collide, the pipes are usually the ones to give way. Indeed, tree root intrusion can cause major plumbing issues, which include a sewer line clog and sewage backup into your home. Find out everything you need to know about tree root intrusion.

Cause of Tree Root Intrusion

Obviously tree roots cause intrusion, and they do so because the natural instinct for any living thing is to survive. They’re usually seeking out water and nutrients. Your plumbing supplies both the water and the nutrients of the wastewater coming from your sinks and toilets.

Tree roots can crush plumbing pipes. However, you’re more likely to have a problem with the roots sending offshoots into the pipes themselves. They worm their way into cracks or loose joints in damaged plumbing. As they grow, they create an obstruction in your pipes.

Older homes are more susceptible to tree root intrusion. One reason is that they’re more likely to have plumbing made of clay tile, cast iron, or asphalt composite, none of which are as airtight as modern plumbing materials. The roots are also more likely to intrude on pipes installed within the top 24 inches of soil.

Most Aggressive Trees for Root Intrusion

While all tree roots have the ability to damage pipes and sewer lines, some species are more aggressive than others. These species include the following:

  • Ash
  • Sweetgum
  • Poplar and cottonwood
  • Oak
  • Locus
  • Willow
  • Basswood
  • Tulip tree
  • Sycamore
  • Some maples and boxelders

Your best bet is to avoid planting these trees near your sewer system. However, if they already exist in your yard, watch for signs that they’re invading your pipes.

Detection of Tree Root Intrusion

Your first step in detecting tree root intrusion is to pay attention to your plumbing. A common sign that roots have invaded your pipes is a gurgling noise, which is the water trying to flow past the roots. Another sign is slow-moving drains.

If you suspect you have tree root intrusion, consider calling professional plumbers for help. They’ll likely perform a camera inspection. They’ll thread a camera lens attached to optic cables through the sewer cleanout. As the camera moves through the pipe, they’ll watch the monitor for signs of tree roots or other obstructions.

Home Treatment of Tree Root Intrusion

If the problem of your tree root intrusion is in the beginning stages, you might try to treat it yourself. Generally, the home remedy is to send a chemical root killer down your toilet on a timed basis. The chemical kills the roots that come into contact with your pipelines. Be aware that some products can be corrosive to your pipes.

You could also try flushing rock salt down the toilet to kill the roots. Use the road salt. Flush it down the toilet once every month or two. That method works best in the initial stages of intrusion. Note that the rock salt will only kill the roots. It does not remove them from the pipe. If you think you already have some obstruction, call Moon Valley Plumbing to have the pipe hydro jetted.

Professional Treatment of Root Intrusion

Chemicals and even salt can be harmful to your existing landscape. So, if you suspect you have tree root intrusion, a good idea is to call for a camera inspection.

Once the plumbers have verified you have root intrusion in your pipes, they might make different suggestions. One recommendation is to use an auger to bore through the roots. If your root ball is too large for an auger, Moon Valley Plumbing can use the hydro jetter to cut out the roots with high-pressure water. This process also flushes the roots out of your pipe into the city mainline. If the pipe is crushed or damaged, though, they may recommend replacement of the existing pipe.

Watch for the signs of tree root intrusion, and have the issue solved before it becomes too costly. Moon Valley Plumbing and Rooter can help you with any of your plumbing issues.

4 Types Of Plumbing Smells You May Encounter

As you may know, plumbing work often involves solving clogs, smelly drains, and similar nuisance issues for homeowners. Keeping your drains clear and fresh isn’t always as simple as you’d like. Here are some types of plumbing smells that could arise from a variety of sources in your home plumbing system.

1. Strange-Smelling Water

A fishy, musty, sulfuric, or rotten-egg flavor or smell to your water can be very alarming. Water smells can come from elements in your water, such as contaminants, naturally occurring minerals, metals from your pipes, or (if you live in the city) chemical treatments.

If you notice your water has a flavor or smell that’s not normal, you should get it tested right way before you drink any more of it. Other signs that your previously clean water could be contaminated include:

  • More cloudiness than usual
  • Sediments such as black specks in the water
  • A different coloration, such as greenish or yellowish water

Some water contaminants are more dangerous than others, so be sure not to drink any water that could potentially include unknown contaminants. Moon Valley Plumbing can come out and do a test on your water’s hardness and suggest different filtration systems to help with this problem.

2. Sulfuric-Smelling Drains

Does the drain smell like sulfur or sewage? In that case, you could have a problem with a P-trap or a plumbing vent. If it just smells like the pipes haven’t been cleaned recently, sending some baking soda and vinegar down the drain might help.  If that does not clear up your problem, have one of our friendly plumbers come out and show you how to treat your drains with Total C.

If your drains start to smell and to back up, you may have a sewer line or septic issue behind it. Or, if the problem is limited to one drain, it could be a more localized drain clog.

3. Sewage Smells Outside

If you have a septic system, this can be an especially expensive problem. Sewage smells outside your home may mean that something is wrong with the wastewater system. As a homeowner, you are responsible for the sewer line from your house to where it ties into the city line. Call Moon Valley Plumbing to help determine if there is a problem on your side or the city side of the line. We can help walk you through the process.

With a septic system, the smell could come from the septic tank or the leach field or anywhere in between and could indicate a simple pipe leak or a complete leach field failure. In other words, if you smell something like sewage outside your house, you need to call a septic or sewer line expert right away.

4. Smelly Hot Water Heater

If you notice an odd sulfur-like smell during water heater maintenance, you’ll likely realize that the issue is localized to the heater and doesn’t come from the water supply. But if you notice the odd smell while running your water faucet, this may not be as obvious.

If you do call Moon Valley Plumbing to assess water that smells like rotten eggs when you run your faucet, he or she may discover that the water heater is the source of the smell. This can be due to a reaction that takes place when a specific type of water with odor-causing bacteria sits in the tank with a specific type of metal (typically the type found in the anode rod) nearby.

Your plumber can also replace the anode rod with a different type of anode rod that contains different metals and won’t react with the bacteria.

Plumbing smells can be discouraging, alarming, and sometimes even a sign of hazardous conditions. So if you notice any odd smells in the air around your plumbing, don’t wait. Call a friendly local plumber such as Moon Valley Plumbing and Rooter. We provide a full range of plumbing services, and we can help you get to the bottom of the odd smells in your pipes or drains.

How to Prevent Holiday-Time Plumbing Problems

How can you avoid plumbing problems over the holidays? Between the houseful of guests you’re about to host and the long list of gifts you have to buy, you have enough to do. Take a look at the easiest ways to prevent holiday-time plumbing issues before they start.

Schedule a Drain Cleaning Service

Are your drains slow or sluggish? What may seem like a minor backup right now can turn into a major problem when you have a full house for the holidays.

Don’t wait until the kitchen sink, bathtub, or other plumbing fixture is completely clogged before you call a plumber. Like everyone else, plumbers get busy during the holidays — especially if the plumbing company gives employees time off for Christmas or New Year’s. Before the holidays get into full swing (and before overnight guests arrive), schedule a drain cleaning.

Unlike chemical cleaners and manual DIY methods, a professional drain cleaning clears the backup efficiently, effectively, and without a risk to your safety. The plumber may need to inspect the drain to find the source of the clog or slowdown. After they determine the problem, the professional can use a water jetter (water under high pressure) or other equipment to break up the clog and clean the pipes.

Not only will this service provide you with peace of mind, but it will also prevent serious problems from starting over the busy holiday period.

Remove Non-Flushable Items

Do you keep baby wipes, makeup wipes, thick napkins, or paper towels in your bathroom? While you know that these items can’t go into the toilet, your holiday guests may not. Remove the temptation to flush a toilet-clogging wipe and put these items away.

Instead of rolls of paper towels or disposable napkins, replace these clog causers with reusable hand towels or holiday-themed washcloths.

Watch Younger Guests

If your holiday guest list includes younger family members, make sure an adult supervises appropriate plumbing use. If needed, remind children of the bathroom and kitchen rules. These should include what not to flush (cloths, paper towels, cotton balls, and other similar items) and what not to put down the sink’s drain (whole foods, anything sticky, candy, toys, or anything else that could cause a clog).

Ask your guests with young children to watch their tots around the plumbing. Proper supervision is a serious safety issue — for both the children and your plumbing. With an adult nearby, children are less likely to put toys down the drain, overflow the toilet with an entire roll of paper, or cause other unnecessary or accidental issues.

Clean Up Carefully

You can easily forget what goes down the kitchen sink drain and what doesn’t. If you’re in the midst of a holiday food prep rush, take time, slow down, and think about what you put down the drain as you cook.

Anything large, sticky, or sharp should go in the trash — not in your drain or down the garbage disposal. Along with these types of drain-clogging items, oils, fats, and greases need to go into the garbage can as well. If the oil or grease is too hot to throw away, place it in a heat-safe glass jar until it cools completely.

If you do forget to clean up your meal prep carefully, or an unintended item slips down the drain, don’t attempt to repair the resulting clog yourself. A professional plumber can remove the clog and get you cooking again in less time than it would take you to google the answer, buy the necessary equipment, and try to figure out your home’s plumbing system.

Do you need preventative or other plumbing services? Contact Moon Valley Plumbing and Rooter for more information.

What You Need To Know About Low Water Pressure

Low water pressure can be a major annoyance. Often, the drop in pressure goes unnoticed at first because it lessens gradually. One day, you can take a satisfying but short 10-minute shower, and a month later, it takes twice as much time to rinse away the soap. Fortunately, most water pressure issues are quick to fix once you determine the cause.

Tap Specifics

A drop in water pressure can affect the entire house, or you may only have issues with a single appliance or room.

Whole House

When you experience a loss of pressure in the whole home the issue is either going to be with the main water supply or it will be located where the water actually enters the home. If you are on municipal water, check with the water company to see if there are any known issues that could affect pressure in your area. If the problem is with the water company, you can install a pressure booster to mitigate the problem.

Sometimes the cause is at the point of entry for the water. A failed regulator, a leak, or an obstruction in the water main may result in lower pressure from every tap.

Galvanized Pipes or Fittings

Old galvanized pipes or fitting can also be the cause of a whole house low pressure. If you see a bit of red in your water when you first turn it on, you most likely have rust somewhere in your system.

Single Room or Appliance

When a single tap or appliance is affected, the problem is often caused by hard water. For example, if only your hot water comes out with low pressure, sediment in the hot water heater could be affecting the pressure. This could also be the case if only the bathroom sink tap is affected.

If low pressure is only affecting a single room or zone, such as only the second floor taps or the master bathroom taps, the issue is likely to be a faulty valve.

Valve Issues

Often, a pressure issue can be fixed quickly simply by verifying that the valves that control the water supply are open and operating properly.

Main Valve

A broken valve or a valve that isn’t fully open can affect pressure. The main valve into the home affects the pressure in all of the taps. You can typically find the valve on the street side of your home where the water main enters. It may be in the basement, behind a toilet, or in a utility room. Turn on a nearby tap and then shut off the valve to verify that the water flow stops and the valve is working correctly.

Emergency Shut-Off Valves

Zone or room valves are typically located beneath a sink or behind the toilet. Simply verify that the valve is opening and closing correctly by first opening a tap in the room and then monitoring the water flow as you open and close the zone valve.

If the valve has an issue, a simple replacement is all you need.

Pressure Testing

The only way to verify that there really has been a drop in water pressure is to test the pressure as water comes out of your pipes.

Methods

You need a pressure testing gauge, available from hardware stores, to test water pressure. The method is simple — turn off all the water in the home and attach the gauge to a single tap. Turn on the tap and note the pressure reading on the gauge. If the pressure is between 50 and 75 PSI, then your water pressure is well within the normal range.

If the problem is a whole house issue, test a few different taps so you can rule out tap-specific problems.

If you are experiencing low water pressure in your home, it can often be the sign of larger problems beginning to develop. Call Moon Valley Plumbing, and we will get an experienced plumbing expert to help you resolve your problem.

Quick Bathroom Plumbing Upgrades to Add Efficiency and Luxury

Whether you want to create a luxury bathroom, increase eco-friendliness, or simply protect your plumbing system from common ailments, here are some quick and easy upgrades you or your plumber can perform to give your bathroom an edge. Most are quick and easy jobs for a plumber, but one or two are DIY-friendly as well.

Read more

4 Symptoms of Trouble With Your Water Heater

Your family depends on the water heater to provide everything from hot showers to clean dishes. So your best defense against any failure of the water heater is to be vigilant for symptoms of an ailment.

What are the most common water heater ailments? Here are four to keep an eye out for without even looking at the unit itself. Read more