Monthly Archives: December 2016

How to Hire a Plumber

This is very important and can be very beneficial to you. I know you’re busy so I’ll try to make this short and to the point.Your plumbing and heating systems are “mechanical”. All “mechanical” systems eventually fail. It is just a matter of time. When it fails, you will need help. “Who you gonna call?”

It’s About Education

Most people don’t realize that plumbers know more about the inner workings of a home than any other tradesmen. They are the first group of tradesmen in the building process and the last ones to leave after they set the fixtures, turn on the water and light the heaters. During the building process plumbers must learn the structural layout, electrical and duct work layout and how most everything will be installed. Plumbers must know how the walls are built and what lies within them. They work directly with the building inspectors as well as coordinating their work with all the other tradesmen. Plumbers know an amazing amount of information about your home.

“Who You Gonna Call?”

Who are you going to choose when your mechanical systems fail? Would you rather call a “stranger” or your “local, trusted family plumber”? Wow! Imagine that, a “local, trusted family plumber”. What a concept! Imagine this. You are driving to work or better yet, you’re heading out of town on a “romantic weekend get-away”. Everything is running smoothly and then your cell phone rings. The kids are calling with panic in their voices. Water is gushing! Sewage is oozing!

“It’s All About The “Trust Factor”

Would you feel comfortable calling a stranger? No. Would you feel better calling someone you know? Yes! Having someone you know and trust taking care of your home is definitely better! Most plumbers are honest, hard working citizens, but you still don’t “know” them. It is difficult to trust someone when you’ve never met them. How comforting it would be to have a “local, trusted family plumber” that you already know to call when an emergency arises. It would be great to know that your kids, your home and your valuables are safe and in good hands with someone you know, someone you trust.

Choosing A “Trusted, Family Plumber”

Ok. You’re convinced that I’m right about this. A “local, trusted family plumber” would be a good thing. How do you go about finding one? How do you find the right one for you? You need to have a face to face, heart to heart interview with a plumber in your own home. There are specific steps to take. First, ask your friends, neighbors, and co-workers if they know a plumber they could recommend. Always call your local Chamber of Commerce. They usually have good insight as to the quality of a local plumbing company. Ask the chamber person you are talking to if they have used a plumber lately. It’s the Chamber’s job to be aware of the integrity of the businesses they support. Next, look in the local phone book. You can often tell a lot about a business by the look and professionalism of their add. Decide which adds you like and if the companies they represent were also referred to you by others. That would be a great place to start. It is best to have three plumbing companies to choose from. You will be interviewing all three. I know this can take some time but I believe it will be well worth your effort.

The Free Interview

You will want to do a phone interview first. When you call, you should have a list of questions to ask. Questions like; what are the hours of operation? How are “after hour calls” handled? What licenses does the business hold? Does the business belong to any associations? Is the business a member of the Chamber of Commerce or the Better Business Bureau? Does the business have a web site? Make a list of the items that are important to you.

After you have picked the three companies you would like to choose from, call back and ask to talk to the owner of the company. Tell the owner that you are interviewing three companies to find the one you would be most comfortable calling on an on-going basis or in an emergency situation.

Ask the owner the following question and when you do, listen carefully to his response. Ask if his plumber will come to your home to perform a “FREE HOME INSPECTION” of your plumbing and heating systems. If you sense any hesitation to perform the “free home inspection” this may be the wrong service company for you. A smart “customer oriented” business owner would consider that invitation a great opportunity to impress a new, potential customer.

Communication Is The Key

You want to interview three plumbers because every plumber is different. You want to find the best one for you and your situation. Communication is the key, so choose the plumber you feel you would get along with best.
Again, be prepared to ask a lot of questions. Make a list of questions and give the list to each plumber. If you need a list of the most important questions to ask, I have made a “free” list for you to print out at the end of this letter.

The Comfort Zone

Once you find the companies who are happy to give you the “free home inspection”, set up appointments at times that are convenient for you. Make your appointments in the morning if possible. Schedule the plumbing technicians as close together as possible so that their individual interviews will be fresh in your memory. The plumbing technicians should have a form or checklist of their own to record the location of, condition of, concerns about and solutions for your plumbing and heating systems. Follow the technician on his inspection throughout your home. This will help you to get to know him and he will give you great information about your homes’ mechanical systems.

The Big Decision

Now that you have spent all this time and effort, it is time to make the big decision. By now you have probably narrowed your choice to one or two technicians. Before making the final decision you need to consider a few more things. Notice that I have not yet talked about price. Price is important but it should not be your top priority. You are looking for a plumber that you can trust and feel comfortable with in your home. That is your top priority. If the technician you like is with a lower priced company, great! If the technician you like is with a more expensive company, but you feel he is genuinely trustworthy, isn’t he worth the price?

It is always best to use a company that uses a “flat rate” pricing system. “Flat rate” pricing means the technician will come to your home. Look at and diagnose your problem and then quote you a price from a “printed menu” price book. The ‘flat rate” system is fair and equitable to all concerned. Here is a list of a few of the many reasons this system is beneficial to both you and the plumbing company.

  • You know the price before the work begins. It is easy to budget your finances.
  • You don’t have to watch the clock worrying about the time it is taking to finish the job.
  • You don’t have to be concerned about the cost of the material.
  • The price should be fair to allow the plumbing company to make a profit (approximately 15% is the norm). You want your “local, trusted family plumber” to be able to afford to stay in business How to save money on your favorite plumber!

Would you like to save money on your favorite, trusted plumber? The best way to save money on your service work is with a “Service Contract”. A “service contract” usually includes an inspection of your mechanical systems, waives all trip charges, (my service company does and that is a $39.00 savings each trip), gives discounts off the “flat-rate” book price and always gives “top priority” to it’s “contract customers”. Every company has different perks for their “service contracts” so you must consider this when interviewing your plumbing companies. “Service contracts” do cost the customer money, but sometimes you have to “spend money” to “save money”. Most service companies charge a fee for the “service contract” to give it value and in return, you, the customer, receive an even higher value through their quality service and lower prices.

It’s All Very Clear Now!

You have your favorite grocery store, hair salon, doctor. You have your favorite auto mechanic, restaurant, babysitter. We all have our favorite businesses and business people. Having your own favorite plumbing company and “local, trusted family plumber” makes sense! Don’t wait for the “emergency” to catch you “off guard”. Trust your family, home and valuables to someone you know and who will treat you right.

Tips to Maintain Your Electric Water Heater

When it comes to water heaters there are lots of great choices available to homeowners. Some water heaters are electric while others are gas fueled. Keeping up with your water heater is a choice that you’ll need to make for better preservation of the system because we often take maintenance for granted.

Types

Choosing from the correct water heater for the home can be quite confusing especially if you are not aware of what’s out there. Today there are lots of choices as water heaters come in the following varieties:

  • Gas
  • Oil
  • Electric
  • Tankless
  • Gas Water Tanks

These are the most popular type of water heater as they incorporate gas as the fuel source. These water systems are economically efficient to run as the energy savings make it one of the best choices. A great option in a gas water tank system is one that has an electric ignition which automatically lights the burners without having a pilot light.

Oil Water Tanks

An oil-based water tank has as fast a recovery time as the gas system. The only downfall to an oil-based system is that it requires a lot more maintenance. On the plus side there is no need for a pilot light which makes the unit safe to run.

Electric Water Tanks

Another popular option is the electric water heater. These systems are cheap and very easy to install. However, the cost to operate them has gone up over the years and still continues to. The cost is reflected onto your utility bills.

Tankless Water Heaters

A tankless system can be fueled either by gas or electric. They do not require a storage unit or a tan. This is why they are known as “tankless” systems. A tankless water heater benefit is that it provides hot water on-demand when a faucet opens.

Signs A Water Heater Is Going Bad

You might not give too much thought to your water heater, but when it starts giving you trouble you have to be ready to act fact. This means recognizing the warning signs. If you experience any one of the following signs, you’re going to need to replace or have your system repaired:

  • Noise
  • No hot water
  • Slower recovery time
  • Leaks
  • Noise

If you hear your system rumbling, it can be a build-up problem of the sediment inside. The air bubbles that rise through the sediment are what cause the actual rumbling. The sediment can cause the heating element to burn out.

No Hot Water

If you’re getting warm but no hot water, this means one of the heating elements may have gone out. In a conventional water tank, there are two heating elements. When one works and the other don’t, hot water cannot be achieved.

Slow Recovery Time

If you’re noticing that your water tank has a slower recovery time after running a load of laundry or after a shower, sediment build-up could be affecting the heating element. When sediment interferes with the heating of the water, the lengthier of time it takes to heat the water.

Leaks

If you observe water around or under your tank, the tank could be rusting out which means that it will need replaced. Sediment can be trapped in a gasket causing the drip from a plumbing connection. A new water tank won’t give you these plumbing problems.

Maintenance For A Water Tank

When a water heater is working its best, you can have hot water anytime that you need it. A water heater can be a very reliable appliance given the proper maintenance. Maintenance will help keep it preserved and run efficiently. The typical lifespan of a water heater is anywhere from 10-15 years as you must concern yourself with the following in order to keep it maintained:

  • Safety
  • Pressure relief valve
  • Flushing the system
  • Safety First

Any tine that you’re servicing your water heater, always remember to turn off the power supply. This is due to some heaters being hard-wired. If you own a gas heater, before the maintenance begins, turn the gas switch to the pilot position.

Pressure Relief Valve

The pressure relief valve is located on the upper-side of the water heater. When and if a tank becomes too over-pressurized, the valve cuts out to relieve the pressure. Testing the operation of the valve will help this problem from occurring and preventing future damages.

Flushing Out The System

Your water heater should be flushed out at least every six months. This helps to keep the sediment from corroding the tank because tank sediment build-up can also help to cut down the water tank’s energy efficiency too.

Following these simple steps and getting the right water heater for your home will prevent you from having to prematurely replace it along with costly repairs. Call in your local plumber for maintenance or electrician for installation.

Water Heater Systems

There are a lot of choices whenever it comes to water heaters. A water heater comes in either gas or electric with each fuel source offering a different way to heat the water inside the home. A gas-powered water heater heats the water inside of the tank more slowly than an electric unit.

The main benefit of a gas heater is that it saves the homeowner more money because of its ability to heat water faster than its counterpart. An electric water heater is the more popular choice amongst units because of its consistency.

An electric water heater heats water very quickly so that there is no gap in-between cold and hot. The homeowner instantly receives hot water for many things in the home that include:

  • Bathing/showering
  • Washing dishes
  • Laundry (washer)

Tankless and solar water heaters are something new on the plumbing market. They provide hot water instantly but are more compact and efficient. A tankless system, for example, uses either gas or electric in order to heat the water up.

One of the main advantages to a tankless system is the money savings. There is no money being spent on heating the tank full of water like traditional units do. It does have some limitations though as it may not be able to heat the entire household.

Solar water heaters are heated by the sun. Panels are installed that help heat up the water. As it is a newer way to heat water in the home, there are some disadvantages such as the main installation cost being on the higher side.

The main advantages of a solar hot water heater is that it provides the homeowner with a less expensive run time and does not cause pollution. Solar also helps cut down on the dependency of electric and gas too.

Maintenance

A water heater is often placed in the crawl space of the basement and forgotten about. It is responsible for heating water in the home and allowing for warm showers to be taken along with using the “Warm” setting on the washer.

A heater that has been maintained will last anywhere from 10-15 years. If and when it goes; the owner will see the following signs as these are indications that it needs to be replaced:

  • Hot water that doesn’t last
  • No hot water at all
  • Noises
  • Leaks
  • Odd taste or smell of water

Little to not how water at all may be a problems stemming from the thermostat. If the water tank starts to show these signs, it’s important that a local plumber is called in immediately to replace the thermostat.

Most electrical appliances make noises. This is normally a low humming sound. But when there is a loud banging sound, it could mean that the unit needs to be repaired or replaced. It all depends on what the problem is.

Odd tasting or smelling water means that the water is tainted. Most complaints are that the water has a metallic taste or smell. This could means that the unit has aged or not being taken care of properly as maintenance is required for most plumbing appliances.

Replacement

If the water heater has finally gone out for good, upgrading to a new system is beneficial. New and efficient models can serve well into the future without needing any maintenance. Before buying a new water heater, there are some things to consider:

  • What size is needed
  • Where to be installed
  • Type of power source

Size matters when it comes to water heaters. Many make the mistake of assuming they all come in one size and upon getting it home, it needs to be returned for either a bigger or smaller- sized unit. Oversized units waste a lot more energy.

An area where the hot water tank is to be installed is important. Many feel that it’s safe to assume that the tank needs to be installed in the same spot as the old one. A water tank put into a smaller space risks extensive damages to the home such as leaks.

The main options for power are gas, electric and solar. Electric needs a dedicated line where as gas needs its own natural gas or propane line. Sticking with what is already there helps save homeowners money and time.

How to Catch Basin Cleaning

The duty of a catch basin is to collect trash and debris from entering a drainage system. Different examples of this type of system include storm drains or a car wash catch basin. The reason taking care of this type of cleaning is so important is that it helps to prevent or limit the amount of pollutants that enter a storm sewer which can eventually make its way to local waterways like streams and rivers.

Another important function of this type of drainage system is to relieve surface area of a heavy influx of water. Heavy rain or water from places like a car wash need a runoff spot. If the grates are blocked by leaves, trash, sediment buildup or other materials there is a good chance this will cause blockage and eventually lead to flooding.

The elimination of sediments, debris or other materials from a storm water catch helps ensure proper function of the drainage system. This in turn can help to alleviate the likelihood of flooding in areas like parking lots or eventually, city streets. Regular maintenance of a catch basin can also reduce the risk of contaminating or polluting the local water ways.

How Often Should You Clean A Catch Basin

The common mistake organizations make is waiting until there is a visible need for catch basin cleaning. If the grate is already blocked or water has been backing up the cleaning should already have occurred. The idea behind setting up storm drain cleaning is to prevent any problem altogether.

Setting up a scheduled regular maintenance program is your best approach to preventing future problems. In other words, get your catch basin cleaned before it is blocked. This will make it possible for water flow to continue through the drain as needed.

One think to take into consideration is the amount of use your catch basin goes through. If you own a busy car wash you will need cleaning on a much more regular basis. Also keep in mind that in some areas it may be part of your codes and guidelines to operate this type of business to have these drains cleaned and inspected. Make sure you set up service so that you comply with the restrictions in your area.

If you live in an area that is known for having heavier rainfall then it is also your responsibility to take care of this task more frequently. For example, if you own a parking lot in Seattle you may need more recurrentcatch basin service than one that is located in Phoenix. The important thing is not to wait until the system is blocked or flooded to resolve the issue; use a preventative approach.

Benefits Of Preventative Maintenance

For one thing, if you are running a business, it is more cost effective to have regular cleaning than wait for something to go wrong. If you neglect to have cleaning done then eventually a problem will arise. Your catch basin will back up and the area will flood. This could even lead to a temporary halt to your business.

Hiring a professional crew to clean up the mess and fix any resulting damages is already going to be an unwanted expense. Add to that the potential financial losses there could be as a result of your business being temporarily shut down. Be a smart business owner and take care of this service.

Cleaning storm drains also helps the area to be prepared for any severe weather events. One of the main functions of these types of drains is to keep runoff water flowing in the event of a storm. So it is important to enable them to be able to do their job when severe weather occurs.

Of course one of the other main advantages of having your system cleaned is for customer satisfaction. Your customers are what drives your business. But if you own a commercial property that has a catch basin system you could be threatening to inconvenience them. A backed up car wash system or flooded parking lot is not going to make your clients willing to return.

The bottom line is that part of being a responsible business owner is taking care of catch basin cleaning. Help keep your company running smoothly and your customers happy by taking care of this. Get on a regular maintenance schedule and you should be set for success.