by Nicole Stevens
Older houses come with a certain charm, but sometimes that also come with a cold chill. Drafty rooms are a nuisance in older home owning, and it all usually starts upstairs in the attic. Most old homes equip with attics don’t have completely proper installation causing a “stack effect." This is when all the warm air travels to the upper level of the home and finds small cracks or holes or any out of the ceiling and the warm air escapes. Thus creating a vacuum effect and sucking all the chilly outside air in as the warm air leaves. This can happen with older homes that are one story as well, though the stack effect doesn’t apply in the same way, holes or cracks in a home can cause drafts to occur. So, what can be done about a chilly, drafty room beside burning up your heat bill by cranking up the thermostat? Here are a few helpful tips to keep that chilly room much toastier come winter!
- Fill in the cracks! Use a caulking gun to fill up any open cracks or holes found alongside trim on the walls, especially in gaps between plaster and trim.
- Cracks in the door are always tricky, until now. Recycle an old pool noodle from summer by cutting it in half (or quarters) and attaching it to the base of the door. Cover the cut noodle in a fabric and bolt or seal it to the door, covering the cracks.
- Grab that old itchy wool blanket from the closet and use it as a makeshift “thermal curtain” over windows.
- Using a thin plastic sheet (think cling wrap) or even bubble wrap over windows can show a drastic difference in temperature by keeping up to 55% of the warmth in the room.
- For bare, non-carpeted floors, rugs are a good addition to tie a room together and also keep your feet warm! Layering rugs is also a good idea if applicable in the room’s décor.
- A plastic shower curtain can also be used to block drafts from larger/longer windows.
- If you’re mostly trying to keep the draft out of certain rooms, a bedsheet barrier is efficient. Using pushpins, attach the sheet to the ceiling on both upper corners to block draft from entering certain open rooms/areas.
- Styrofoam sheets make good, cheap insulators. Especially good for basements windows or blocking drafts from fireplaces.
- Most of these ideas can be picked up at a dollar store, or even found in spare closets/drawers. It doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg to stay warm in the harsh winter!
The first question to ask yourself is whether or not your home needs better drinking water. A water filtration system is only useful if it takes bad stuff out of your water without putting any bad stuff back in. If it is not doing its job, it could become a bed for bacterial growth or chemical treatments. This could be worse than just drinking the tap water. Don't rush out and buy a water filtration system simply because it is trendy. Research is important.
Let's take a look at water filtration system options for cleaner, softer and tastier water.
If you have concerns related to taste and odor, a carbon filter may be your best solution. Carbon filtration relies on carbon adsorbing contaminants onto its surface. During the manufacturing of activated carbon, the surface area is maximized. Consumer Reports recognizes the Sears Kenmore 38454 Undersink Water Filter with the Best Buy Award this year. [Source]
If you have extremely hard water, softening the water is your best choice. The energy and material costs associated with water softening are offset by longer appliance life. You’ll use less detergent for effective cleaning, and your clothes will no longer be at risk of discoloration from hard water. A cation exchange softener is usually installed at the point of entry to your home. It removes "hard" ions calcium and magnesium from the water. It then replaces them with sodium and potassium.
Risk of Disease
Have your home water tested regularly? Test results could show the presence of harmful levels of bacteria or parasites in your water. These include Cryptosporidium and Giardia. If these are present, you need to take action. Chlorine and other chemical treatments are somewhat effective, but they have side effects. Filtration of these pathogens can be difficult due to their tinysmall size. However, Ultraviolet treatment is effective for killing unwanted bacterial organisms. The NSF has certified the Trojan UV Max and the UV Pure Hallett systems as the only two technologies for Class A Disinfection Performance. This is vital in the battle against disease-causing bugs. UV systems will not remove heavy metals and other contaminants.
If you’re already in love with Boston for our unmistakable accent and “nail biting” baseball team, consider replacing the top of your list with our tap water. This year, Boston made it to the top of the annual tap water competition hosted by the American Water Works Association—a network of more than 50,000 water professionals charged with keeping our water supply healthy.
Daniel Moss wrote the following article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions:
The honor was particularly fitting since the association’s conference was held in Boston this year.
Boston’s secret ingredient? Watershed protection. Between 1985 and 2012, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority—from which Boston buys its water—purchased conservation land in the watersheds that feed the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs to the city’s west, the sources of Boston’s water.
Forests in the protected area clean the water naturally so that by the time it gets to the city it requires only limited filtering. There’s no need for the cocktail of chemicals most cities’ water utilities use.
Not surprisingly, the city’s path to its current water purity was no walk in the park. In the early ’80s, the filthy state of the Boston Harbor made national news and the Conservation Law Foundation sued state agencies for violating the Massachusetts Clean Water Act. One result of the litigation was the formation in 1985 of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.
On top of the billions the authority spent on restoring the Boston Harbor and Charles River—resulting in some of the cleanest urban beaches in the country—it invested $131 million in land preservation around Boston’s drinking water sources. Four hundred square miles of forest makes a protective ring around the city’s two major reservoirs.
Utilities aspiring to win the prize next year might borrow a page from Boston’s playbook and collaborate with state conservation agencies to protect their watersheds. With improved source protection, consumer confidence in tap water is likely to rise—and could spell trouble for the bottled water industry.
Technology advances every day and reaches into every area of our lives, and our bathroom toilets are no different. With so many new innovations, even your toilet can become a more convenient part of technology in your home. Here are just a few of the newest high-tech toilet trends:
- Veil™ one-piece elongated dual-flush wall-hung toilet with Reveal® Quiet-Close™ seat and 2"x6" in-wall tank and carrier system - With its concealed tank and minimal footprint, the innovative Veil wall-hung toilet saves up to 12 inches of precious bathroom space over larger floor-mount models. The mounting hardware is completely concealed, giving Veil a sleek, seamless look that is incredibly easy to clean. And with dual-flush technology, this high-efficiency toilet can save as much as 6,000 gallons of water annually over a traditional 1.6-gallon toilet.
- San Souci™ Touchless Comfort Height® one-piece compact elongated 1.28 GPF Toilet with AquaPiston® flushing technology, concealed tramway - The San Souci one-piece toilet offers a sleek, contemporary design combined with touchless flush. Just hold your hand over the tank sensor to activate the flush. No handle to the touch means fewer germs to pick up or leave behind. This toilet features innovative AquaPiston technology, a patented flush engine that delivers a fast, powerful, and virtually plug-free flush. A 1.28-gallon flush provides significant water savings of up to 16,500 gallons per year, compared to a 3.5-gallon toilet, without sacrificing performance.
- Cimarron® Comfort Height® one-piece elongated 1.28 GPF Toilet with AquaPiston® flush technology and left-hand trip leverWith its versatile, fresh design, this one-piece Cimarron toilet matches a range of contemporary and classic decors. The elongated bowl offers extra room, with seating at the height of a standard chair for ease of use. A 1.28-gallon flush provides significant water savings of up to 16,500 gallons per year, compared to a 3.5-gallon toilet, without sacrificing performance. This toilet features innovative AquaPiston technology, a patented flush engine that delivers a fast, powerful, and virtually plug-free flush.
- Numi® Intelligent Comfort Height® skirted one-piece elongated dual-flush toilet (less remote)The Numi toilet combines unmatched design and technology to bring you the finest in personal comfort and cleansing. KOHLER's most advanced toilet now offers personalized settings that let you fine-tune every option to your exact preferences, from ambient colored lighting to wireless Bluetooth®* music sync capability to the heated seat and foot warmer. Play your favorite music and podcasts - simply stream wirelessly with any device enabled with Bluetooth technology, store MP3 files to the SD card, or plug in your device using the auxiliary cable. Other upgrades include Power-Save mode for energy efficiency, emergency flush for power outages, and an intuitive touch-screen remote (sold separately). From its striking form to its exceptional water efficiency, the Numi toilet marks a new standard of excellence in the bathroom.
With the ushering in of the hot Boston Summer, comes the inevitable heat, humidity and higher energy bills associated with the assumption that the air conditioner is the only solution for staying cool. So, what are some alternative measures for staying comfortable inside while the temperature climbs outdoors?
- Open up windows and doors and point box fans or oscillating fans outward. This old fashioned trick uses a sort of reverse “technology” than an air conditioner by sucking the warm air out of a room and blowing it outward while keeping the warm air from the outside from entering the room through the open doors and windows. With a retractable screen, these opened windows and doors are protected from insects and prying eyes and can immediately be rolled up when not in use.
- Unplug appliances and other electronics when not in use. A surprising number of electronic appliances in your home drain electricity and raise energy costs even when they’re not in use. Taking the time to not only turn the power off - but unplug your coffee maker, television, or computer keeps the appliances safe from power surges and reduces their constant pull on your home’s electrical system.
- Use ceiling fans and be sure they’re rotating in the most beneficial direction. For peak performance in the Summer, your ceiling fans should rotate forward (or counterclockwise) forcing air from the ceiling down and providing the wind chill effect that makes you feel cooler.
- Keep vents, and doors closed in areas of your home not often used. If you and your family spend most of your time in the living room, consider closing the air conditioner vents to guest bathrooms and bedrooms to reduce the unnecessary cooling of these rooms while not in use.
- Add insulation. A lot of cool air escapes from homes by way of space between the walls not protected by insulation. A simple spray foam purchased at a local home improvement store can work wonders when sprayed through drilled holes into the area between the walls.
Recently, a horse coach manufacturer was fined $23,000 after pleading guilty to two cases of dangerous gasfitting. Two customers of Classic Horse Coaches complained they had problems with their refrigerators overheating. When they were checked by licensed gas fitters and electricians the work was found to be unsafe and posed a danger to life from gas leaks.
The cases were described as “ticking time bombs, " and officials hope the sentence will serve as a deterrent to others.
You need the services of a licensed gas fitter if you are using any form of gas in your home or office. For the protection and safety of homeowners across America, every state and territory require a licensed contractor to carry out all gas related work. It is illegal and highly dangerous for any gas work to be performed by an individual without a license.
The responsibility of a gas fitter is to ensure that connections and appliances are completely safe to use and that they do not pose any threat to you or your home. They are also responsible for the safe and effective maintenance and repair of any gas-powered appliance.
The specific definition of a gasfitter is a licensed contractor who installs, services and repairs all natural gas fixtures or appliances in commercial, industrial or residential areas. In addition to installing fixtures and appliances, Gasfitters install regulators, meters, burners and valves.
When making the decision to hire a gasfitter, it is vital to verify that the gasfitter is appropriately licensed and qualified. Because there are several different types of licenses and certifications, it is imperative that your gas fitter has the appropriate certification and license for your situation and needs.
Your gas fitter should provide a 24/7 response service in the case of an emergency such as gas leaks, splitting pipes, or any other unexpected issue that could arise. What’s most important is that you are confident and comfortable with your choice of a gas fitter.
Dishwashers are low-maintenance appliances. Below are some basic tips for keeping yours in tip-top shape. (Note: Before doing any work on your dishwasher, always turn off the power at the circuit-breaker box.)
Don’t Get Zapped. Dishwashers are equipped with water heaters and motors that consume a lot of electricity; coupled with all the water, the risk of electrocution, power outages or fire is increased. Always be sure your dishwasher is plugged into a grounded outlet or wired directly. Also, your main socket must be adequately rated to handle the large electrical load most dishwashers require.
Check Gaskets for Cracks and Deterioration. Water around your dishwasher may be from faulty gaskets. If a gasket is damaged, use a screwdriver to remove it, then pick up a new one from a hardware store or order it directly from the manufacturer. Soaking the new gasket in hot water before installing it makes it more flexible.
Check Sprayer Arm for Clogs. Debris including food particles and mineral deposits can clog holes in the sprayer arm over time. Periodically remove the sprayer arm and soak it in warm vinegar for a few hours to loosen obstructions. Then, using an awl or pipe cleaner, clean out each spray hole for maximum efficiency.
Check and Clean Screens and Filters. Most dishwashers are equipped with a screen or filter located near the bottom of the food drain to catch large food or debris. Clean these screens and filters regularly to avoid clogs. Your owner’s manual has specific instructions for removing and cleaning your filter. If there are holes in the filter replace it to prevent harm to other parts of your dishwasher. Inspect and clear out food or debris in the food drain.
Invest in a Repair Kit. Nicks, corrosion or exposed metal on your dish racks cause dishes and dishwasher walls to stain and rust. Simple repair kits are sold at most hardware stores to mend worn or chipped plastic quickly.
Watch Your Water Temperature. Hot water is the most important factor in getting good results from your dishwasher. Improve the energy efficiency of your dishwasher by reducing the amount of hot water used to clean your dishes. Approximately 80% of the total energy used by your dishwasher goes towards heating the water. Most dishwasher manufacturers and detergent companies recommend water temperatures of 130 degrees Fahrenheit to remove food particles and residue without wasting energy efficiently. A thermometer placed in the dishwasher determines if the temperature is appropriate. If your temperature reading is above or below 130 degrees, adjust your water heater.
Run Hot Water in the Kitchen Sink Before you Run the Dishwasher. This simple tip gets hot water flowing through your pipes to start the wash cycle off with hot water.
Run Full Loads Only. Running a smaller portion of a load uses the same amount of energy and water as a full one. Save energy and time by running only full loads of dishes.
Wi-Fi thermostats are an exciting evolution of heating and cooling control for your home or office. This state of the art technology builds upon the basic options of temperature control, scheduling, and digital interfaces that existing programmable thermostats include, but with a much wider variety of added features. The new features include increased savings through energy efficiency and feedback, remote access to programming and adjusting, geofencing, and alerts. Once your Smart Thermostat is synced up with your Wi-Fi router, you have remote access from using your phone, tablet or computer from across the room or the world! The future of heating and cooling comfort is now - no matter where you are, your Wi-Fi thermostat keeps you connected to your home’s environment with control right in the palm of your hand.
Check out what this exciting new technology offers as outlined from our friends at SmartHome.
First and foremost, your thermostat should excel at controlling the temperature in your home.
- Heating & Cooling Stages - Most homes only have a furnace and an AC unit. Some installations may have a more sophisticated setup that involves multiple heating or cooling stages based on the level of heat needed. Not all thermostats can control 2, 3 or more heating and cool stages. Check your current thermostat and make sure you purchase one that is compatible with your heating and cooling system.
- Temperature Swing - change in degrees that will turn the HVAC back on, the smaller the number, the more frequently it will come on, the larger the number, the more energy you will save
- Programmable Fan - if you use a whole house fan to cool your home this will be an important feature to consider
- Keypad Lock - a great feature if you want to prevent others from tampering with your settings
- Auto Changeover - allows the thermostat to automatically determine when to switch back and forth between heating and cooling.
If you are looking to decrease your carbon footprint - or simply your gas and electricity bills - some Wi-Fi thermostats are better than others. Various features help you conserve energy by only running your system when you are home or by learning your habits to automatically create a schedule.
- Scheduling - classification of set points for: 7 (same for each day), 5-2 (Monday-Friday & Saturday/Sunday), 5-1-1 (Monday-Friday & Saturday & Sunday), 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1 (different each day)
- Vacation Mode - the ability to quickly turn off all schedules when you are away from home or on vacation
- Automatic - if the thermostat learns andor adapts to your use and automatically and turns on and off based on your use
- Feedback - ideal for monitoring energy usage and savings, some may even send you a text or email to let you know how you are doing
- Geofencing - will trigger your thermostat to turn your HVAC system on based on your GPS location (using your smartphone
- Target Temperature Time - a number regarofding minutes of how long it will take your system to reach its target temperature
A thermostat in a dark and deserted hallway can only monitor the temperature in that hallway. Some Wi-Fi thermostats can use additional sensors spread throughout your home to more accurately heat or cool your home.
- Zones - relatively new to Wi-FI thermostat, temperature sensors can be placed throughout your home to determine if the system should be on or off
- Weather - because a Wi-Fi thermostat does not to the Internet, it can use local weather conditions to determine operation automatically
- Humidity - for those wanting to maintain a specific humidity, a built-in or communicating humidity sensor can be used determine if the system should be on or off
- Motion - limits the use of your HVAC system to periods when motion has been detected (ideally to detect when someone is home)
- Status Indicators - a built-in diagnostic tool to let you know if your system is running efficiently; often a new filter can make a big difference
Design, Aesthetics, and Support
The overall look and feel of the device, ease of use and on the device, and the remote control functionality from smartphone, tablet or PC should also weigh heavily. HVAC systems can be complex - even if their end goal is simple - so you should also consider the support that a manufacturer provides as well ithatf your initial setup doesn't go exactly as planned.
- Looks - this product will sit on a wall, likely in clear view - do you want it to blend in or stand out?
- Installation - can you install it yourself or does the product recommend a professional HVAC technician perform the installation?
- Integration - does the product have a standalone app, does it work with other devices, or is it a part of a total home automation system?
- Local Control - can you control everything you want directly on the thermostat and how easy obvious are the controls?
- Mobile Application - do you want to be able to program everything from your app, or simply turn it on or off?
- Support - What is the warranty, are there any online forums, email support, phone support, live chat?
There are both pros and cons to going with a tankless water heater in your home. Benefits include increased energy efficiency and lowered operating costs while some might consider limited output and higher upfront costs a deterrent. Here are arguments on both sides about whether or not a tankless water heater is right for your home:
Energy Savings / Operating Costs
The first question about tankless water heaters is generally: how much money will I save? The answer is that up front, it costs more money to get your tankless water heater and all of its plumbing set up. However, while a tankless water heater costs more initially, your operating expenses over time will make up for it. The savings come from eliminating the need for standby heat - meaning you're not wasting money heating water that's just sitting until someone uses it. Tankless systems provide hot water on demand, so you don't have to waste energy heating unused water.
Typical tank water heaters are supposed to last 10 to 13 years, while tankless water heaters last up to 20 years. If you're planning to keep your current home for a while, that's saving you a significant replacement fee.
One of the best advantages of tankless water heaters is the space savings. Traditional water heaters have 40 to 60-gallon capacity and are around 60" tall and 24" wide. That large metal tank takes up precious real estate in homes where space is at a premium. Tankless water heaters, by comparison, are the size of a large computer, averaging 20" wide by 28" tall and just 10" deep.
While the case for owning a tankless water heater may sound like a no-brainer, there are a few reasons why going this route might not be for you.
While conventional tank water heaters are as cheap as $300-$400, a tankless water heater probably starts closer to $1,000, so there’s a pretty significant upfront cost difference. Of course, the idea is to make up for that extra cost by less energy use along the way, but having to put up that money up front isn't always an option for everyone.
Instantaneous Energy Requirement
Traditional gas water heaters use 30,000 to 50,000 BTU of natural gas or propane while heating up your water. Tankless water heaters require around 150,000 to 200,000 BTU to do the same on demand. Sometimes this high BTU requirement isn't possible, where there's a low-pressure main that limits you to a relatively small total BTU spread among all of your gas appliances. If you consider switching to electric instead of gas, be sure that your home's electrical system can handle the task. The cost of electricity is usually higher than the price of natural gas in many areas, so consider the cost of energy as well.
While your water bill may not be the highest bill you pay each month, reducing it still saves you money. So, what can you do to keep from pouring extra money "down the drain?"
Store cold water in the refrigerator. Don't run your tap and wait for the water to reach an entirely cool temperature, instead, invest in a filtered water pitcher that goes in the fridge. You'll not only have cold water whenever you want it, but it's healthier for you than tap water too!
Reduce shower time. Did you know that you can reduce your water usage by as many as 4,000 gallons per year by cutting your shower down by four minutes? This small change can result in a savings of as much as $100 annually, according to US News and World Report.
Use the dishwasher. Contrary to popular belief, hand washing in the sink uses more water than running a fully loaded dishwasher. A full 1/6th more! While preparing your dishes for the dishwasher, don't continuously run the tap to rinse them. Instead, use one container of water to remove all of the excess food.
Only wash full loads of dishes or clothes. By waiting to wash clothes or dishes until you are ready with a full load, you will reduce the number of times you'll run the machine, saving you both water and electricity.
Watch for unexpected hikes in your water bill. You have every right to contact your utility come should you notice a spike in your bill without having made any changes to your daily usage. Your utility company will have an employee come out and reread your meter to determine the cause of the spike.
For more plumbing & heating tips and services contact the experts at Pilgram Plumbing & Heating.
While it may be hard to believe, winter is just around the corner, and Boston winters can be particularly harsh on your home's plumbing. Here are some ways to start preparing now and avoid damage when winter arrives:
- Wrap your outdoor pipes
Using heat tape to wrap your outdoor pipes can help prevent them from freezing and bursting. While you're there, take a look at your entire outdoor system. Clean out your gutters before falling leaves and snow become trapped and cause water damage or leaks.
- Get Your Sump Pump Ready
Your sump pump removes excess water from your basement and crawlspaces and pipes it through your home's wastewater system. It's important to maintain this appliance by regularly inspecting and cleaning it out before winter arrives. Like other plumbing fixtures, sump pumps can quickly freeze up. This can cause it to stop working and can mean significant damage in the event of a sudden thaw.
- Keep your drains flowing freely
It's always recommended to give your drains a checkup regularly before increased use during the colder months. Be sure you have essential drain tools on hand for use in the months ahead including drain snakes, the right wrenches, and a water meter key.
- Remember your outdoor faucets
Remove and store any outdoor hoses. Summertime water left behind in these hoses can freeze and expand, causing the attached faucets to burst. Also, like your indoor faucets, a leaky outdoor faucet, big or spigot, can wreak havoc on your entire plumbing system in the event of a freeze. These faucets are usually directly exposed to the elements, so take an extra hard look for any leaks or damage before, during, and after the winter months.
- Keep your indoor pipes insulated
The pipes inside your home should be kept well-insulated regardless of the weather outside. Pipes located in colder areas of your home, like your basement, should be kept at a temperature above freezing. If not, they could freeze and burst or leak after a thaw. Insulating your pipes also helps you conserve hot water and reduce your power bill each month.
For more plumbing tips and to get your home ready for winter contact the professionals at Pilgrim Plumbing & Heating.
One of the hardest things about winter is going from our warm, cozy bed to icy floors. Even if you crank up the heat, your floors will still be freezing since heat rises. Hardwood, tile, and vinyl floors are beautiful, but they’re not the most desirable beneath our feet when the weather is cold. Radiant floor heating is the solution. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t just to keep the floors warm.
“Radiant floor heating is arguably the ideal home heating system. It’s comfortable, efficient, unobtrusive, quiet, and does not blow dust and allergens around the way forced hot air systems do,” says Bob Villa.
Keeping your floors warm and toasty in the winter isn’t a new idea. It dates back to Roman times with the invention of the hypocaust floor heating system and is popular in many other countries. However, it’s not yet widespread in America, so here are answers to some common questions.
- "Is it expensive?" Not really. The price range of an installation is between $1800 – 480 depending on your floor, the size of your HVAC system, climate conditions, builder flexibility/experience and system complexity. Whatever you spend, you should be able to get some of that back in what you save on your utility bill.
- “Isn’t radiant floor heating only for tile and concrete?” No. Like everything, systems evolve and radiant heating is now available for every type of floor, including hardwood and carpet.
- “Will the floor get hot?” No. According to The Radiant Panel Association, radiant floor heating produces room temperatures very close to ideal: about 75 F at floor level, declining to 68 F at eye level, then to 61 F at the ceiling.
- “How does it work?” Very efficiently. As warm water circulates through the tubing (or as electricity warms the heating elements), the concrete flooring turns into an inconspicuous radiator. Typically, radiant heating systems warm floors to temperatures of 75 to 80 degrees F. The warm surface then slowly radiates heat upward into the living space, rather than blowing the heated air. This natural heat transfer is both more comfortable and energy efficient.
- “Is it possible to zone different parts of the house?” Yes. Radiant floor heating is a highly efficient way to heat a house, increasing comfort as it reduces energy costs. It’s also quiet, invisible and delivers an even blanket of heat, right where you want it.
Contact Pilgrim Plumbing & Heating today to find out more about radiant heating floors and other ways to get your home ready for winter.
- Someone in the house has long hair
If your shower drain is has slowed down or completely stopped draining, hair is the usual suspect. It builds up and mixes with soap and shampoo or conditioner residue and will turn into a pretty good sized blockage. You can prevent this problem from happening in the first place by picking up a hair guard that fits right over the drain hole from a hardware or dollar store.
- You are using your toilet as a second garbage can
Unlike a garbage disposal or trash can your toilet should only be used to flush down human waste and toilet paper. Even supposedly “flushable” products like tampons, pads and wipes can clog up your toilet and pollute the waterways. Also never flush dental floss, cotton balls, cotton swabs, Band-Aids, or condoms.
- You use Drano
Liquid-Plumr and Drano contain caustic ingredients that eat away at your pipes and irritate your lungs. They’re also terrible for the environment. The chemical smell drifting from your drain is a dead giveaway that tells your plumber you’ve been using them. The most effective and long term solution for unclogging drains and pipes is snaking. This physically breaks up the clog and gets the water to properly flow through.
- Your showers are long and very steamy
The appearance of mold in your shower is an indication that your bathroom should be kept drier. If running your bathroom’s exhaust fan during a shower doesn’t remove excess humidity, you could have water behind your tub or tiles or even a leak within the wall.
- You probably have to use more detergent than usual to clean your clothes
If you have signs of hard water on your shower head or plumbing fixtures, it is an indication that hard water is also affecting your washing machine. Hard water can damage your plumbing fixtures and appliances throughout your home, while soft water means you use less detergent to clean your clothes.
For any of your plumbing needs contact the experts at Pilgrim Plumbing & Heating.
Mineral buildup on faucets, stains in your bathtub, or dull clothing and itchy skin from hard water can be fixed. But first, you’ll need to determine the cause. Here are 5 signs that hard water is your culprit.
- Mineral build up on and around water fixtures
Not only is it unpleasant to look at, mineral build-up around water fixtures and faucets ugly, restricts the flow of water. Where do this mineral build up come from? Actually, the water flowing through your fixtures contains more than just water. There are minerals in the water that deposit on the fixtures as the water flows through. Over time, these minerals begin to build up The result? Those ugly marks and faucets and fixtures that become increasingly difficult to use.
- Water heater elements fail and short heater life
There are few things worse than looking forward to a shower, only to get in and discover there’s no hot water. Could your water heater have failed due to the build up of hard water? Yes! Exactly like the faucets and fixtures in your sink, shower or tub, the heating elements in your water heater can fail due to hard water buildup. Over time, the buildup of minerals will cause your hot water heater to completely fail to function.
- Dry itchy skin
So, you paid a little extra to buy “extra moisturizing” soap and you’re still left with dry itchy skin? The problem could be hard water. Also, the minerals in hard water in your washer actually can leave a laundry detergent and mineral residue on your clothes that will really irritate your skin! A water softener can improve the condition of your water and as a result, improve your skin.
- Dull scratchy clothing
Are you noticing that your clothes are aging a little more quickly than usual? Hard water could be ruining your clothes! With a water softener, you can prolong the life of your clothes and improve your washing machine’s performance. Clothes will remain more colorful for longer and will feel soft and cozy.
- Spots on dishes, glasses and silverware
If you’re finding spots on your drinking glasses, dishes and silverware, hard water is most likely the problem. Similar to the soap scum spots in your shower, the white spots on your dishes are caused by hard water mixing with your dish detergent. The minerals from hard water stick to items inside your dishwasher and leave you feeling frustrated by dishes that don’t ever seem to be fully clean!
While your water bill may not be the highest bill you pay each month, it’s still a bill that can save you money by lowering it. So, what are some simple ways to keep from pouring extra money “down the drain?”
Start storing cold water in the refrigerator. Instead of running your tap waiting on the water to reach a perfectly cool temperature, consider investing in a filtered water pitcher that can be stored in the fridge. You’ll not only have cold water whenever you want it, but it’s healthier for you than the tap water too!
Reduce shower time. Did you know that you can reduce your water usage by as many as 4,000 gallons per year by cutting your shower down by four minutes? This small change can result in a savings of as much as $100 annually, according to US News and World Report.
Use the dishwasher. Contrary to popular belief, hand washing your dishes in the sink actually uses 1/6th more than a fully loaded dishwasher. Also, while preparing your dishes to go into the dishwasher, don’t run the tap to rinse them. Instead, use one container of water to rinse all of the excess food off with.
Only wash full loads of dishes or clothes. By waiting to wash clothes or dishes until you are ready with a full load, you will reduce the number of times you’ll run the machine, saving you both water and electricity.
Finally, watch for unexpected hikes in your water bill. You have every right to contact your utility come should you notice a spike in your bill without having made any changes to your daily usage. Your utility company will have an employee come out and reread your meter to determine the cause of the spike.
Need a little help evaluating why your water bill is a little high? Contact Pilgrim Plumbing and we can perform a thorough plumbing inspection and get to the root of the matter!
Depending on your level of familiarity with DIY repairs, with the right tools, there are several minor plumbing jobs you can complete yourself. A good plumber will even walk you through the steps, without a service call, especially if you’re an existing customer.
For basic plumbing tasks, you’ll want to have the following plumbing supplies on hand:
- 2 plungers (one for your toilet and one for your sink)
- An adjustable wrench
- A screwdriver
- A pair of pliers
- A utility knife
- A roll of plumbing tape
- A caulking gun
The following simple tasks should be manageable without a plumber:
- Repairing a Leaky Faucet - Depending on the type of faucet you own, repairing a leaky faucet should be relatively easy. Become familiar with various types of faucets and learn how to take them apart. A slow drip usually implies that all that’s needed is a new washer, but be sure you know exactly which size you need before buying and installing a new one.YouTube videos can walk you through the steps.
- Unclogging a Drain - Keep in mind that a slow or clogged drain could be a plumbing vent issue, which regulates the air pressure in the pipes. Plumbing vent issues should be addressed by a plumber, but using a sink plunger or plumbing snake with a cable auger, you should be able to clear any debris caught in your drain pipes. These can easily be found at a hardware store.
- Repairing your Garbage Disposal - Repairing a garbage disposal that has become clogged or jammed is one of the easiest repairs to make. Because every new garbage disposal usually includes a hex wrench attached to the disposal itself, you won’t even need additional tools. Your garbage disposal should have also included instructions on how to properly repair it if it gets jammed, but in a pinch, these manuals can be found online. Always make sure you’ve turned off the power supply to the disposal before attempting any repairs. Make sure you know what types of foods are acceptable for your garbage disposal, and run it often to prevent clogs or jams.
Copper piping is by far the most widely used material in plumbing systems however, despite what you might believe, copper piping doesn’t last forever. In the original design of copper piping, the pipes were expected to last up to 25 years, but often fail in as little as two years due to changing water chemistry.
Unrelated to water quality, changes in water chemistry have caused the water to actually become aggressive toward the copper piping resulting in subsequent problems like internal pitting corrosion - leading to what’s known as “pinhole leaks”.
So, why are pinhole leaks dangerous?
Pinhole leaks are a big issue for a number of reasons. First, they are rarely discovered until they have inflicted significant damage to your home. Pinhole leaks may occur in the ceilings and walls, surrounded by insulation and support beams.
Because they are so small, they don’t cause the tell tale signs of lowered water pressure or water damage - giving them plenty of time to rot out the insulation and support beams one small drop at a time. Pair that with the fact that many homeowners believe their copper pipes are indestructible, and you end up with a mess on your hands.
Given that pinhole leaks are so small and nearly impossible to detect, the only fail-proof way to catch them before they cause extensive damage is to have the plumbing system in your home checked at least once a year by a professional plumber like us, Pilgrim Plumbing, the South Shore’s trusted plumber!
You should be able to trust the plumbing in your Boston home to provide you with ample water you need for routine tasks and uninterrupted comfort. Constant use and sometimes accidental misuse, though, can lead to various plumbing issues over time, especially if your Boston home is an older building. Older buildings are usually more susceptible to pipe and fixture issues, but even newly constructed homes face problems with overuse, water hardness and drain issues that interrupt daily life.
One of the most common plumbing issues in Boston homes is poor water pressure. Water pressure is determined by the amount of force that exists to push water through your pipes and when the water is not easily flowing, water pressure is significantly reduced, causing you to suffer and resulting in substandard performance of appliances and fixtures.
In older Boston homes, poor water pressure may be caused by a buildup of minerals within the pipes - reducing the available space within the pipe and causing corrosion that leads to leaking and water loss between the water main and the tap. This issue can sometimes be solved by having a plumber clean out the pipes with pressurized water or patching, repairing or replacing the damaged pipe. Other solutions include re-piping or whole home hard water treatment to combat the issue most effectively.
With the frigid winters in Boston causing temperatures to fall well below freezing for extended periods of time, plumbing pipes are always susceptible to freezing, especially if they are not constantly being used. Most commonly, frozen pipes in Boston homes occur overnight or while families are away. If you suspect one of your home’s pipes have frozen, turn off the water supply from the main and contact Pilgrim Plumbing & Heating for assistance. If the pipe has not burst yet, your plumber can heat up a pipe that is frozen and locate any cracks that have occurred in order to repair them.
PEX Piping vs Copper, unless you’re in the plumbing business, you may not have a clue of the difference or which piping is better for your home. So, let’s expand your knowledge of plumbing in order to know what you’re getting and if it’s something you truly want in your home. Once you’ve got the basics down, you’ll know what to request from your plumber and why.
PEX Piping is short for cross linked polyethylene pipe. What this means is that after the material goes through several processes, it becomes durable enough to handle extreme hot or cold temperatures and what’s called “creep deformation” (that occurs from extended exposure to stress). It also resists chemical attacks from alkalines, acids and other toxins. This makes PEX piping an excellent piping solution for cold and hot water plumbing systems. PEX piping is also very flexible and adapts effortlessly to temperatures from below freezing all the way up to 200 degrees!
PEX Piping is great for your budget as well. It’s an easy material for your plumber to install and is crack resistant and has fewer joints, so it brings your overall plumbing costs down. It has fewer fittings, less chance of leaks, can be used along with metal or PVC Piping, and can have a pressure balancing system.
On the beneficial side, Copper resists corrosion and is not affected by ultraviolet rays, which means it can be useful for outdoor plumbing needs. This differs from PEX pipes, which can be affected by ultraviolet rays and therefore should usually not be used outside of your home. However, copper will corrode from the pH of the water if the water becomes too acidic for the copper pipes.
Copper piping can freeze and break during winter weather, it has become more expensive and more difficult to install, raising your plumbing costs and with corrosion, the higher levels of copper seeping into your water will give your water a metallic taste.
It’s our hope that these comparisons have given you a better basic understanding and knowledge of the differences between PEX and copper piping, giving you the opportunity to make the best decision for yourself.
Contact the professionals at Pilgrim Plumbing & Heating for more information and expert answers to all of your plumbing questions.
In many homes today, garbage disposals are a convenience and take some of the extra demanding work out of housekeeping; but if not used properly, a broken garbage disposal can be a costly repair and a huge headache in the kitchen.
The best rule of thumb to remember when it comes to your garbage disposal is to never put anything in the disposal that is not a biodegradable food. If you’re in doubt, it’s best to throw it out.
Here are some other common mistakes that are made when using a garbage disposal, and it’s important to remember to avoid them in order to keep your garbage disposal in proper working order:
- Never grind metal, plastic, glass, cigarette butts or even a piece of paper. It’s not food and therefore should not go in the disposal.
- Never grind anything flammable or combustible.
- Never pour oil, fat, or grease into the garbage disposal, especially if followed by hot water. The hot water causes the grease to liquefy, then cool and accumulate or build up in the disposal causing a clogged drain or pipe.
- Never grind materials (even food materials) that are extremely fibrous. Examples include celery stalks, artichokes, corn husks or onion skins. Fibers from these materials can tangle into the mechanics of the disposal causing the motor to jam and the drain to be blocked.
- Never grind animal bones
- Avoid using harsh chemicals like bleach or drain cleaners that can damage the disposal’s blades or pipes.
- Never grind expandable food like pasta or rice. As they do in the pot with water, foods like rice and pasta expand in your kitchen’s pipes or garbage disposal and can cause the disposal to jam or become clogged.
Use these and other tips through your own research or contact the professionals at Pilgrim Plumbing & Heating, the South Shore’s #1 plumber, for more helpful plumbing tips. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out. You may consider printing this list and posting it near your home’s disposal for your entire family to use as a list of “garbage disposal rules”.
Blog by Tennille Shelley
When you are shopping for a new home in the South Shore, it is smart to have everything inspected. You can also inspect any plumbing issues yourself before you close the deal and move in if you know what to look for.
If you are planning on doing your own plumbing inspection, make an appointment with the owner or agent that is showing the home and show up prepared. Be sure you are dressed for the occasion - clothes that you don’t mind getting wet or dirty - and don’t forget to bring a flashlight.
A good seller will not mind you taking a look around to be sure you are verifying the accuracy of the home’s state of repair (or disrepair). So once, you have set up the appointment and are prepared to do your inspection look for the following issues:
Locate the home’s water meter and be sure the shut off valve to the water supply to the home is in good working order. If the home is supplied with well water, the shut off valve should be located inside the home, probably under the kitchen sink, but could be found elsewhere.
If the home was built prior to 1986, find out if there are any lead or galvanized plumbing. Lead, no matter how useful it may seem is an environmental toxin. If you have children, you may want to avoid living in a home with lead pipes.
Determine the size of the water pipes, which will determine the water pressure you will have. For adequate water pressure, the lines should be ¾” to one inch from the main water source. The actual pipes should be at least a half inch in diameter for adequate water flow.
Always inspect the home’s hot water heater. Be sure to determine if it is large enough to accommodate the needs of your family. For a family of four, you should be looking for at least a 40 gallon tank. Look at where it is located and determine it’s age. Look closely to determine if there is any mineral buildup if possible. Corrosion of the elements of the tank can cause shorter life. If the water heater is old or obvious signs of corrosion or buildup are noticed, request a new one be installed before purchasing the home.
Determine if the home is on a septic system or municipal water system. For a septic system, find out where the septic system is located and ask the owner when the septic tank was last serviced or emptied. Look for signs of seepage or standing water and odor.
Check for drips and turn on all faucets to be sure they are working properly. For these and other plumbing inspection tips or for a professional and thorough plumbing inspection contact Pilgrim Plumbing & Heating today.