Call the Plumber and Avoid a Nightmare

Solar Water Heaters: Factors to Consider before Installing One

When you are thinking about replacing your current water heater with a solar model, you need to consider a few factors. In many cases, considering these aspects and gathering additional information can help you determine if a solar water heater is a good option for your home.

Solar Collection

First, you will need to consider which method you prefer for collecting sunlight.  Flat plates are the most common method for collecting sunlight. These plates send the energy they collect to a battery pack that is used to power the water heater. This method is very similar to traditional panels that people use when adding solar power to their home.

The other option you can choose is evacuated tubes that collect sunlight and then uses it to heat the water. What makes this method different is that the water flows from inside your house, through the center of the tubes where it gets hot and then back into your home. Instead of relying on a battery to supply the water heater with energy, the tubes collect and distribute the heat needed to warm up your water.

Backup Energy Source

The next thing you need to consider the type of backup energy source you want for the water heater. It is important to have the system connected to an electrical or natural gas source, so that if something should happen, such as a broken solar panel, you can still have access to hot water.

Another situation that can cause you to need the backup power source is if multiple people use up the hot water during the nighttime. Since the water heater relies on sunlight to heat the water, you would need to wait until the next day to have hot water. Even if this is a rare occasion, it is still a good idea to have the water heater hooked up to an alternative power source for emergencies.


Unlike a traditional water heater, you may require the assistance of two companies to install a solar water heater. For example, if the plumber you want to hire does not have experience with installing the solar portions, then it is best to have a separate company handle this part of the installation process.

As for the rest of the installation process, most plumbers can place the tank and hook up the water line for you. The plumber can also test the system to make sure it is receiving power from the solar panels or tubes, so you can have hot water when you want it.

Solar powered water heaters are a good option when you want a green option for heating your water. However, before choosing this model type, it is best to gather additional information and consult a plumber like Brother’s Plumbing in your area. The plumber can give you the pros and cons of the system and help install it if you choose this option.

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Unclogging Bathroom Drains In Your Home

Your bathroom plumbing is put through a lot of everyday wear and tear. It may also be put through more stress than it should be if you aren’t careful. The wrong things are often flushed and sinks see a lot more hair than they should. If your sink or toilet gets clogged, you want to know how to unclog it yourself. This article will take you through the process of unclogging each one.

Unclogging your bathroom sink

If you have a clog in your bathroom sink, you should start by removing any hair trapped in the drain. To do this, you need to remove the sink stopper. You can usually remove it by turning it to the left. Some other models require you to unscrew the stopper nut on the bottom of the sink by rotating it to the right. Then, you’ll pull out the rod and release the stopper so you can pull it out of the sink.

The stopper is going to have a good collection of disturbing looking gunk on it. Clean the stopper off by scrubbing it with an old toothbrush before you put it back in the drain.

Take a wire coat hanger and cut about 6 to 8 inches of the straight part. Take pliers and create a small hook on one end. Stick the hook end of the coat hanger carefully in the drain and use it to scoop out any hair or other debris in the drain. Remove the debris from the sink and throw it away.

The water should start going down as you remove the debris. If it doesn’t, you can unclog the sink by using a sink plunger, or by pouring a small bucket of extremely hot water slowly down the drain.

Unclogging your toilet

If your toilet gets clogged you should try your plunger first. If this doesn’t work, then you can take a large bucket of extremely hot water (not quite to the boiling point though) and pour it in a fast force down the toilet. Immediately take the plunger and use it again with the hot water in the bowl.

If you continue to have problems with your toilet clogging, you may need to use a plumbing snake. You can purchase one at your local hardware store. You will carefully put the snake down the toilet and wind the handle until you feel pressure. At this point, the snake should force the clog free.

Keeping your drains clean by not allowing hair or whiskers down them will help keep them from clogging. Also, not flushing anything other than human waste and toilet paper will help prevent your toilets from clogging. If you continue to have problems, you should call a plumber, like those at Roto-Rooter, out to investigate.

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5 Common Issues With Water Heaters

While a water heater works behind the scenes most of the time, they can gradually develop problems. If you’ve never been forced to deal with a malfunctioning water heater, you may think that the only solution is to replace the entire unit. However, diagnosing water heater issues can be easy if you know what to look for. Below, you will find a list of the top five water heater problems.

  • A lack of heat: This issue’s causes differ depending on whether your heater runs on gas or electricity. With a gas water heater, your first step should be to check its pilot light. If there’s no flame, there may be an issue with your gas supply—and you’ll need to call the utility company. If the pilot light won’t stay lit, there may be an issue with the control valve or the thermocouple. For electric heaters, check the breaker box first. If the breaker has tripped, reset it by turning it off and then back on. Persistent issues may signal a problem with the heating element or thermostat. Working around gas and electricity is dangerous and you shouldn’t try to fix it yourself; call a plumber.
  • Insufficient heating: If you’re going through hot water faster than normal, there may be several reasons. In some cases, sediment can build up in the bottom of the heater tank, displacing water. The thermostat could be broken, or the dip tube could be damaged. The tube pushes cold water to the tank’s bottom; if it breaks, cold water can seep into the top of the tank as heated water flows out. Your plumber will flush the sediment out of the heater during regular maintenance.
  • A foul odor: All heater tanks corrode eventually, and rust in the water is a reliable indicator. Corrosion can build up on the anode rods that protect the tank walls, or it can affect the tank. Decaying anodes can create hydrogen, which feeds the bacteria living in the sediment at the bottom of the tank. As bacteria multiply, your water may take on a foul odor. If the corrosion isn’t too bad, a plumber can replace the anode rods and extend the life of your water heater for a few more years.
  • Noisy operation: Popping or rumbling coming from the heater tank is an indication of sediment buildup, which can cause the water within to overheat. An electric water heater can make a whining noise as lime builds up on the heating elements. A plumber can solve the problem by flushing the tank and soaking the heating element in a de-liming product.
  • Leaks: A leak can occur for several reasons: it could come from the TPR (temperature pressure relief) valve, a worn gasket or fitting, or from the tank. If the TPR valve leaks, call a plumber right away.

Even a well-maintained water heater will eventually reach the end of its life. By being on the lookout for these issues, and by calling a plumber when needed, you can keep your water heater working properly for years.

For professional plumbing services, contact a company such as Two Men And A Snake.

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3 Tips For Preparing A Concrete Pad For Your HVAC System

Before the installation of your HVAC system, there is some prep work that needs to take place to ensure that your system is properly installed. One of those projects you might need to take on before the installation is preparing a concrete pad outside for the system. Here are some tips to help ensure your pad is laid perfectly. 

Clear the Area

Clearing the area for your concrete pad is more than just getting rid of the grass and leaves. One of the possible problems you could face with a concrete pad is that it can start to crack months later. A reason for this is that the ground beneath it is not properly settled. As part of clearing the area for the pad, you have to remove the topsoil and ensure the remaining soil is tightly compacted. Once you have the area clear, build a wooden frame for the concrete pad. Nail wooden pegs into the ground to help outline the framework and to support the frame’s boards. The pegs need to extend a few inches into the ground to ensure they are stable. Nail the boards for the frame into the pegs using nails to create your square or rectangular frame. Which shape you choose is up to you. 

Use Gravel to Support the Pad

Once you have built your frame on top of the prepared area, you need to cover that area with gravel. The gravel works with the frame that you built to support the concrete pad. It also helps to prevent the growth of weeds beneath the pad that could eventually cause cracks to appear. It is important that you also use a compactor to compact the gravel into place. A compactor is a machine that helps to compact, or push down, the soil so that the surface is smooth and tightly compacted. You can rent one at a local home improvement store. Ask the sales rep for step-by-step instructions on how to use the particular compactor you rent.  

Remember to Bull-Float the Concrete

Once you screed, or spread out, the concrete, it is important to bull-float it. A bull-float is a hand tool that looks like a rake, but is used to smooth the concrete. You can find it at your local home improvement store. To bull-float, simply slide the hand tool, or bull-float, you bought over the surface of the concrete just like you would a rake when picking up leaves. Focus on removing marks that were left from the spreading process. It is important to move slowly while doing this because if you move too fast, you could push excess water from the concrete to one side, which could result in an uneven surface. 

Talk to your HVAC technician like one from Bishop Plumbing, Heating and Cooling to determine if there are any other tasks that you need to complete prior to the installation of your system. If there are, it is important to have them completed before the tech shows up. 

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Things To Consider Before Choosing Portable Toilets

Are you in the process of planning an outdoor event, such as a wedding or a carnival? Is there a distinct lack of restroom facilities at your chosen venue? If you’re trying to choose the best portable toilets for your guests, here are some things you should consider:

Will there be children or just adults at the event? Small children and babies will need accommodations that are different from just adults. For example, babies will need to have a changing area set aside. If there are potentially going to be many babies, you will want to have several large trash cans in this area, in order to handle diaper and baby wipe disposal. Young children who no longer wear diapers should, with the assistance of their parents, be able to use the same portable toilets as everyone else. However, you should also consider having low-profile portable sinks and hand sanitizer available for them as well. This will help to ensure that they’re able to clean their hands, making the children less likely to make other people sick.

Is this a formal or informal event? Modern portable toilets can be very far from the toilets you may remember using as a child. If the event is a formal one with a limited guest list, you may want to opt for facilities that are air conditioned, lit with electricity and may even have hot and cold running water. If it is a public event where many people will need to be able to use the facilities at once, you may want to opt for just the most basic models. If a rambunctious member of the public damages these basic toilets, you will likely have fewer additional fees to pay.

Will you need handicap facilities? If your event has a relatively small guest list and you know everyone who will be attending, you may not need to make accommodations for wheelchair users. If your event allows guests to bring an unknown friend, or if it is open to the public, you should consider having one or more handicap-accessible portable toilets available. Unlike the tiny units you’re probably used to, a wheelchair-friendly portable toilet has significantly more floor space, allowing a wheelchair user to easily roll in. They will also have handrails and may offer other amenities to make them easier to use.

Although you may have only ever seen one type of portable toilet, there are many different types to choose from. Picking the right one for your venue will depend on both your budget and your expected guest list. If you need help deciding, sanitation experts like Walters Portable Toilets can help you weigh the various costs and benefits of each available choice.

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Simple Furnace Maintenance You Can Do Yourself

If you own your own home and you use a furnace to heat it in cooler months, taking the time to do maintenance during the summer will allow you time to make repairs if they are necessary. Many people opt to have a furnace maintenance service come to their home to check out their furnace before it is needed for the cold season. If you are handy with mechanical items and you limited with the funds you can pay out, you may be able to do some maintenance steps on your own in an attempt to prepare your furnace for use. Here are some maintenance steps to do to your own furnace.

Take Safety Precautions

Before you start evaluating your furnace, turn it off so it does not turn on while you are doing your maintenance. Most furnaces will have a red-colored switch plate located on the wall behind it. Simply switch it to the off position. If you cannot find this switch plate, turn your furnace off by shutting off the power at your breaker box.

Clean Out Last Season’s Ashes

The combustion chamber is located behind a small door in the front of your furnace. It is the area where fuel and flame ignite to heat the air that is forced through the ducts to your heating vents. Clean this out completely to help keep the burners unobstructed from debris. Open the door and use a small wire brush to scrape any charred remains from the interior walls and ceiling of the combustion chamber. Remove this debris with a vacuum cleaner attachment. Take a look at the burners to make sure there are no pieces of soot embedded within. If you notice any, use an air compressor to help blow debris away.

Change Out Filters

Replace the air filter in your furnace each season so air can flow through without restriction. Having a clogged air filter will compromise the efficiency of your heating, making your furnace stay on longer to heat up your home. This will add extra wear and tear to your furnace as a result. An air filter can be replaced by sliding it out of the groove it sits within and sliding a new one in its place. Look for an air filter that helps remove allergens from the air for the best air quality possible. If you use oil for your heating source, switching out the oil filter should be done at this time as well. Turn off the oil valve, loosen the filter and place a new one in its place.

Check for Wearing

Take a look at your heating belt to see if it appears to be smooth instead of with cracks or rips within the rubber. If you notice any decaying portions, replace the belt with a new one. This is an inexpensive part that you can pick up from your furnace repair supplier or in a home goods store. Check the vent pipe for any cracks where air is escaping. If you see spots where heat is escaping before it makes its way to heating vents, they can be repaired by using foil tape to cover the gaps.

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Choosing The Right Vanity And Sink For Your Bathroom

If you are going to be remodeling your bathroom, you want to make sure you choose the right bathtub, toilet, paint, flooring and vanity and sink. Everything should bring the entire look of your bathroom together while offering you the functionality you want. You can take the advice in this article into consideration when you are choosing the best vanity and sink for your bathroom. 

Consider the material

You should choose a vanity that is made out of solid wood. Stay away from anything that has parts made out of particle board. A vanity with particle board will be a bad combination in your bathroom. Your bathroom vanity will be at a fairly high risk of getting wet. Your plumbing may leak, your toilet can overflow or your sink can overflow. All these things can cause a vanity made of particle board to swell and become permanently damaged.  

For the countertop, you want to go with a strong material that’s easy to clean. If you are going for an elegant, sleek look in the bathroom, granite may be the right choice. However, tile is the most common choice for bathroom counters that offers durability and easy maintenance. Quartzite is another good option. It’s also durable and easy to maintain. Although it is a bit easier to scratch, the scratches can be easily buffed out.

Choose the right sink

If you are going to have a long vanity, it may be a good idea for you to go with one that features both a “his” and “hers” sink. Going with two sinks can be very convenient in the morning when you and your spouse are trying to get ready for your day. Not only will it make your morning easier, but having dual sinks will also be an added selling point if you ever put your house on the market.

Choose a sink (or sinks) that are a good size. Small sinks can become an irritation when you decide to use them to wash your hair in. The faucets should complement the faucet you have in your shower. They should be made of porcelain or metal, rather than plastic which will break easily.

Having your vanity and sink installed

You should consider having a professional plumber (such as one from Bob’s Plumbing & Heating) install your vanity and sink. While it may be a job you can do yourself in a few days, a plumber will be able to install everything quickly so you can get your bathroom up and running right away.

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