How to Protect Your Home’s Plumbing from Earthquake Damage

For West Coast residents, earthquake preparedness is a way of life. When an earthquake happens, any number of bad things can happen to your home. Being ready to address these issues can be the difference between inconvenience and disaster. One part of the home that many homeowners overlook is the plumbing system. However, in the event of an earthquake, pipes, fixtures, and other components can be hit hard. Taking a few steps to protect your system before a seismic event occurs can save you money and help your home fare better.

Learn Where Shut-Off Valves Are Located

Structures are compromised after an earthquake, and so are the people in those structures if the proper steps aren’t taken to secure the home. Knowing where the main water shut-off valve is located will prevent flooding and toxic water from entering your home. But, turning off the water isn’t the only thing you must be able to do. To safeguard your residence and its habitats from gas fumes, explosions, and electrical fires, you must be able to shut off power to the fuse box, any fuel oil system at your home (natural or propane). Practice locating and turning off these components as part of your earthquake preparedness plan.

Secure Your Water Heater

Water heaters are not only expensive to replace, but they can cause lots of damage if they come loose and are tossed about during an earthquake. When this happens, gas lines, water lines, and other items in the way can break. In the most serious cases, an unsecured water heater can lead to a natural gas explosion that can level a house and seriously harm, if not kill, the home’s inhabitants. You can stop this from happening by bracing your water heater. Water heater straps keep your heater in place and give you peace of mind. Installing one of these straps isn’t difficult, but if you’re not handy or have the time, call your local plumber hero for assistance.

Install Flexible Connections

Ordinarily, the water heater and furnace in a home comes equipped with rigid piping. While this kind of piping is well and fine during regular operations when an earthquake hits, rigid piping can easily break because it has no give. For this reason, plumbers suggest replacing rigid piping with flexible connections. Appliances like dishwashers and wash machines already have flexible connections, so you don’t need to worry about these plumbing components. Making the switch is not an expensive repair and can be done quickly. Consider hiring a professional to help you make the switch, though. You don’t accidentally want to connect the piping wrong and damage your appliances.

Remember, seismic activity is unpredictable. Many West Coast residents are used to minor shaking from time to time and can easily become indifferent to earthquake preparedness. However, you never know when a major event may occur. Take precautions now to secure your home and protect your family! Call a Rooter Hero Plumbing tech to learn more about earthquake preparedness for your home’s plumbing system.

3 Ways to Save Water

The cost of homeownership is continuously rising. Beyond the typical mortgage and insurance costs, there are repair and utility costs. While you may not be able to reduce all the costs associated with homeownership without jumping through a lot of hoops, there are easy ways to, substantially, lower your utility and repair costs.

Saving water doesn’t just lead to a cheap water bill. Homeowners that take steps towards reducing their household water consumption are contributing to ending severe regional drought conditions.

So, what can you do today to start saving water? Here are three suggestions that not only conserve water but also protect your plumbing system from expensive repairs.

Replace Outdated Fixtures

Replacing old, outdated bathroom and kitchen sink faucets doesn’t just upgrade a space. While the aesthetic benefits are obvious, what’s not so clear is how non-efficient a faucet that is 10 or 20 years old may be. Faucets that do not turn off and drip continuously waste 100 of gallons of water each year. Installing new bathroom or kitchen faucets isn’t a costly repair and can easily be done by a professional within an hour or two.

Inspect Your Home for Leaks

Water leaks have a way of sneaking up on you and causing problems seemingly overnight. As spontaneous as water leaks may appear to be, the truth is that the leaks that cause the most damage have probably been present for quite some time. Household leaks such as slab leaks and sewer leaks cost homeowners thousands of dollars in damage and can threaten the integrity of the home’s foundation as well as the health of its occupants. Some leaks are visible, but the hidden leaks are the ones that can cause the most problems. The presence of mold, cracks in the foundation, or unexplained puddling on the floor are all signs that something isn’t right.

If you suspect you have a leak or just want to do a routine check, take a look at the water meter in your yard or on the side of your home. Note the information on the meter then wait about two hours. Do not use the water during this time. Come back and see if the information has changed. If it has changed, call your local plumber to come out and perform electronic leak detection or other leak detection methods to find out what’s going on.

Upgrade to Water-saving Plumbing Fixtures and Appliances

High-efficiency toilets, faucets, dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters can reduce water usage by as much as 35%. Yes, these appliances and fixtures can cost a bit more upfront, but after just a few years of usage the utility savings usually makes up for the initial investment.

Other ways to reduce water consumption include:

  • Taking short showers
  • Watering the lawn less frequently
  • Running the dishwasher for shorter cycles
  • And, turning the water off when brushing your teeth

For more water-saving ideas or to schedule an evaluation of your plumbing system for additional water savings, call Rooter Hero Plumbing today!

Best Black Friday Appliance Deals

Plumbers have a love/hate relationship with Black Friday. Not only is it the busiest day for retailers, but it’s the busiest day for plumbers too. Sinks, drains, toilets, and dishwashers work overtime on Thanksgiving and when the work overload can cause these plumbing fixtures to break down from the increased stress. In most cases, these problems can be solved with simple drain cleaning solutions and minor repairs. However, if the appliance can’t be repaired and needs to be replaced, there isn’t a better time to buy a new dishwasher, washing machine, or even a new water heater than on Black Friday.

If you need to replace an appliance, you won’t find a shortage of deals. Unfortunately, low prices don’t always equate quality. Here are some tips for getting the best deal when purchasing new appliances for your home.

Energy Factor Rating

Did your antiquated, mammoth water heater die a slow death over the Thanksgiving holiday? You can find some great deals on water heaters, but be careful about what you’re buying. All water heaters manufactured after April 2015 must meet certain Energy Factor requirements. These revised requirements make water heaters much more energy efficient and can save consumers money on energy costs. The bad news is that with the new stock coming in, old water heaters that don’t meet this criterion must be sold to make room. Retailers will be discounting old models, and budget-conscious consumers may accidentally end up spending money on a model that is already outdated.
At Rooter Hero Plumbing, we recommend that you check out the manufacturing date on any water heater before you jump at an ultra-cheap deal. If you have questions, give us a call, and we’ll help you decide if the purchase is financially smart for the long term.

High-efficiency Save You Money

Some of the cheapest deals on Black Friday come in pairs. More specifically, a washer and dryer pair. Before you pull out the credit card and schedule installation, make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for. While the majority of washing machines on the market are Energy-star rated and use less water than models from just a few years ago, not all washing machines are the same. And, many of the cheap washer and dryer pair deals are not HE models.
Also, don’t be fooled into thinking a front-loading, ultra-expensive washing machine is the only HE model worth buying. We hear complaints from consumers all the time that front-loading machines get smelly and don’t work as well as traditional top-loading machines. The good news is that HE washers are available in all styles and at a variety of price ranges. So, there is something for everyone.

The best advice we can give you before you head out the door to replace a broken appliance on Black Friday is to shop smart. If you have questions, give us a call. We’re happy to help you find the right appliance for your budget and your overall needs. Together, we’ll all survive Black Friday!

Are These Plumbing Monsters Keeping You Up at Night?

Are you having trouble falling asleep at night because of frightening sounds coming from inside your home? Most of the times, these sounds are not ghostly hauntings but problems with your plumbing system. Loose pipes, running toilets, and leaky faucets may not be caused by a mischievous ghost or creature, but they sure can leave you in the middle of a plumbing nightmare if these problems aren’t addressed right away.

Loose Pipes

A loose water pipe can create quite a ruckus. The sounds this plumbing problem emits are loud and can be rather disturbing when they pop up expectedly. If you’re awakened from sleep by this sound, pick up the phone and give your local emergency plumber a call. Fixing a loose pipe isn’t a big deal, and it can be taken care of with relatively little out-of-pocket expense. Typically repairs are minor and consist of securing the pipe to its bracket. However, the longer a loose pipe is left alone, the more likely it is that the pipe can weaken and break apart. When this happens, you’ll have a major water event that can quickly cause massive amounts of water damage.

Running Toilets

Toilets that leak water inside their tanks can take longer to fill, run longer than usual, and, sometimes, run nonstop. Because we lead busy lives, it’s easy to overlook a leaky toilet. It isn’t usually until you’re settled in for the night and when the house is quiet that you may even notice this common plumbing problem. Fixing a leaky toilet isn’t a major expense and many homeowners can make simple repairs themselves. Replacing the flush valve system or installing a new flapper may do the trick. If you make these repairs, and you’re still having problems, you may need to call a professional plumber to investigate the situation.

Scary Plumbing Fact: Did you know that a leaky toilet that continuously runs can waste as much as 200 gallons of water a day? That’s more than twice what a typical household uses in one day.  

Leaky Faucets

Is there a faucet in your home that has a slow, steady drip? Maybe it’s an old faucet in your hall bathroom or your kitchen sink faucet. These plumbing fixtures have a tendency to develop leaks because of excessive wear and tear. Also, hard water and improper installation can also cause this annoying situation. These leaks may be keeping you up at night, but they can also lead to higher than average water bills and end up costing you more than you realize.

Say Goodbye to Plumbing Monsters

You can take control of your home’s plumbing quickly when you call Rooter Hero Plumbing or a plumber in your area. Professional plumbers will analyze the situation and make suggestions for repair or replacement of the affected fixtures. Don’t let these little plumbing monsters take over your home and prevent a good night’s sleep. Call for service today!

Why Kitec Plumbing Is Bad for Your Home

For prospective and current homeowners, the word “Kitec” spells trouble. This brand of plumbing components, manufactured by Canadian company IPEX, was used in many residential construction projects starting in 1995.

After roughly 12 years of widespread use, the manufacturer recalled and discontinued the product due to serious design flaws. Kitec products haven’t been installed in new buildings for years, but some houses and condos in both the United States and Canada are still equipped with them.

How is Kitec different from conventional products?

When it was first introduced to the market, the Kitec system was described as more resistant to corrosion than copper pipes. The components were made from a polyethylene composite and aluminum, with brass fittings holding parts together. The products gained popularity thanks to low cost and ease of installation.

What went wrong?

While the products displayed some design innovations, they could not handle the load reliably. As an alloy composed of zinc and copper, brass has unique strengths and weaknesses compared to either element alone. Exposure to pressurized hot water forced the zinc out of the brass, which destroyed the integrity of the fittings.

For some of the affected homes, pipe leaks were just the beginning. These components can fail spectacularly, leading to interior flooding from a burst line.  Homeowners throughout the US and Canada have reported damage stemming from faults in Kitec products.

How do I know if I’m at risk?

It’s sometimes possible to identify Kitec pipes due to their brightly color-coded water lines,  orange for hot and blue for cold. This is not universal, though, so homeowners should seek the help of a professional plumber to examine their system and assess the risks. Residential building inspectors may also note the presence of Kitec and inform prospective buyers.

I have Kitec in my home, what are my options?

Homeowners are advised to replace immediately and completely Kitec components, even if there hasn’t been a problem yet. A class action lawsuit was filed against the company, resulting in a settlement to compensate those who need to pay for repairs, replacements and other costs associated with the faulty products. The deadline for filing a claim under the class action is January 9, 2020.

Are you concerned you may have Kitec plumbing in your home or place of business? Contact a plumber to have your pipes inspected as soon as possible.

Living Off the Grid: Water and Waste Solutions

Whether you want to get off the grid due to personal conviction or simple curiosity, you’ll find that it’s not as challenging as it seems with the proper planning and research. Establishing unconventional plumbing solutions is a daunting task, but it’s certainly not an impossible one.

While creativity is a big part of moving yourself “off the grid,” it’s also critical to familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations. Drinking unfiltered water can have serious repercussions on your health and disposing of waste in an unsanitary manner can impact your neighbors. When in doubt, consult a local legal expert before finalizing your design.

Establishing Your Water Supply

Water is essential for a functional plumbing system as well as a variety of domestic uses, including cleaning and cooking. Establishing access to a consistent supply of fresh water is one of the major steps you must take to establish independence from public utilities.

Fortunately, there is already plenty of precedents when it comes to off the grid water solutions. Millions of families in the United States already rely on wells to supply their home with water. However, the viability of this option depends on your local water table. It may not be an option at all in some areas.

Wells also require drilling, which should be conducted by a licensed contractor who is familiar with applicable regulations. Attempting to excavate your own well can have serious financial and legal repercussions for the inexperienced.

Installing cisterns to collect rainwater is another viable option for providing a water supply, although many jurisdictions restrict the amount that an individual household can gather. Some cistern setups are designed to provide water pressure to the system as well as gather and store rainwater.

Waste Disposal Options

Septic systems are a convenient and affordable off-the-grid solution to your waste management problems. The tanks house a collection of bacteria that break down waste into a safer form. Waste material is released into the soil through a series of perforated pipes, which buries pathogens and diffuses them to avoid impacting underground water supplies.

Even homes that are off the grid should still be serviced by licensed plumbers and other professional technicians to keep the property safe. Hiring a licensed, experienced contractor ensures that you won’t make any little mistakes that have big consequences later. If you have questions about off-the-grid water and waste solutions, contact your friendly Rooter Hero Plumbing professional today.

How to Purchase a Tankless Water Heater

Selecting the best tankless water heater for your home requires thorough research and planning. It’s not a decision you should make hastily, even if you are in a rush to replace your current appliance. There are several factors to consider if you want to select a unit that provides convenient service for your home without sacrificing efficiency.

Tankless vs. Conventional Heaters

There are many reasons for homeowners to choose a tankless system over a conventional one, but that doesn’t mean they are always the best option. Before you start looking through appliances from various manufacturers, you should carefully evaluate your situation to make sure a tankless heater is the right choice for you.

Tankless systems offer several important benefits to homeowners, including:

  • Running off electricity and gas, which are widely available
  • On-demand heating prevents energy waste
  • Smaller size makes placement easier, can install above the ground

Common drawbacks of tankless heaters include:

  • Difficulty keeping up with high demand, especially in large households
  • Relatively high initial cost
  • Requires nearby ventilation

Tankless water heaters may have trouble keeping up with the demand of several appliances and showers simultaneously. If your household regularly runs dishwashers and laundry machines at the same time, you may find yourself suddenly shivering in the shower. This obstacle can be managed by coordinating the use of appliances to avoid overlapping with bathing.

Considerations When Choosing a Tankless Water Heater

To accurately gauge your expected water use, you can estimate daily consumption in gallons based on how often you use appliances, sinks, and showers. Look up the typical flow rate for your appliances and fixtures, and compare them to the output of your tankless heater options. You can also contact a local professional plumber to help evaluate your expected needs.

  1. Installation and Fuel Costs

For some customers, the high initial cost can cause hesitation when choosing between a tankless and conventional system. However, many homeowners see a significant reduction in annual energy use by making this switch. Fuel costs are also a variable factor that largely depends on your location. The cost of gas and electricity differ between states, so be sure to research your anticipated fuel costs.

  1. Capacity

Costs aren’t the only big consideration for customers. After all, being bombarded by frigid water during your morning shower is not a pleasant experience for most people. When selecting a tankless system, it’s critical to honestly and carefully evaluate your daily water usage to make sure the unit can keep up with the demand.

  1. Efficiency and Convenience

Tankless water heaters can be installed in your plumbing system to support a conventional system. This is particularly useful if you regularly have guests over for extended stays. These heaters are also good choices for seasonal residences since there is no need to activate and shut off the appliance between visits.

For more information about repairing or replacing a tankless water heater in your home, call us today!

How to Buy a Faucet

Whether you are cooking, washing your hands or brushing your teeth, you want to have the right faucet for your sink. While a faucet may seem like a simple device, things can get pretty complicated when it comes time to choose a new one.

There are four key factors to consider before you select a faucet:

  • Functionality
  • Design
  • Compatibility
  • Quality

Functionality: Assessing Your Needs

Before you start browsing the options, create a list of features that you know you need in a new sink.

If you plan to wash your baby in the basin, then a tall faucet that leaves lots of room might be best. Hot chocolate fanatics may be interested in adding a beverage water dispenser while cooking enthusiasts could benefit from a pot filler arm.

There are also several features that you can select depending on your personal taste. For example, you may opt to install an extendable main faucet to make it easier to spray down pans.

You will also need to choose between a simple single handle fixture and double-handle varieties.

Compatibility: Integrating New Faucets

While many mounts can be adapted to most faucets, making modifications may increase the cost in materials and labor. Each mounting has between one and four holes in it, which determines the number of handles and add-ons you can use. The number of holes can be effectively reduced by installing a plate to cover unused openings.

Quality: Finding the Right Value

Going with the cheapest option isn’t always the best value when you factor in replacements and repairs. Faucets made of ceramic, stainless steel or solid brass tend to last longer than those with plastic components. In many cases, you can quickly assess quality material by weighing it in your hands. Quality fixtures usually weigh more than comparable plastic ones.

Design: Aesthetic Options

Of course, it’s important that your faucet compliments the look of the room. Many manufacturers offer a variety of color and material texture choices for their fixtures. There are also stylized options to help the sink blend with any theme, from rustic country to sleek modern.

If you need help choosing a kitchen or bathroom faucet, call the knowledgeable plumbers at Rooter Hero Plumbing. We’re always happy to help!

Is My Landlord Responsible for Plumbing Repairs?

Whether you are a tenant or a property owner, it is important to understand your rights when it comes to repairs and maintenance to your plumbing system. While details regarding the responsibilities of each party are defined in the lease, California law requires the landlord to maintain a basic livable environment for the tenant.

While many jurisdictions, including the state of California, enforce landlord maintenance of rental properties, the exact laws and requirements may change between cities, counties, and states. When in doubt, contact a local legal expert to examine the laws that apply to you.

When Does My Landlord Need to Fix the Plumbing?

When it comes to landlord plumbing responsibilities, the key word is “habitable.” According to California law, a habitable living or work space must have basic plumbing facilities in working order, including:

• Hot and cold running water
• Connection to sewage system
• Functioning toilet, sink and bath fixtures
• Privacy and ventilation in the bathroom

The owner is also responsible for keeping the property safe and up to date with all legal codes and regulations. In the event that the space becomes uninhabitable, the landlord may also need to compensate the tenant for temporary lodging.

When Is the Tenant Responsible for Repairs?

While the bulk of the plumbing burden falls on the shoulders of the property owner, there are some cases where the tenant is liable for the costs. The person or business renting the space must keep the premises reasonably clean and operate the plumbing system appropriately.

If a toilet becomes clogged because the tenant flushed garbage instead of throwing it away, then they will likely have to foot the bill. The cost of plumbing repairs and maintenance resulting from misuse, even if it is accidental, are usually the responsibility of the renters.

Tenants should contact the landlord as soon as possible in the event of a plumbing issue. Neglecting to inform the property owner within a reasonable time frame could make you liable for repairs and cleanup.

Use a Detailed Lease to Protect Yourself

Both the tenant and landlord will benefit from a detailed and comprehensive lease agreement. Plumbing responsibilities should be clearly outlined for both parties so that there is no reason for a dispute at a later date.
Renters should ask about plumbing repair costs and carefully read the entire agreement before signing. The lease may require the tenant to take care of minor repairs or maintain certain standards beyond the minimum.

Occupants should take precautions to ensure the health of their plumbing system. Use catchers to stop hair and other objects from clogging the drains and keep an eye out for leaks so you can report them immediately.

Have an immediate need and can’t get a hold of your landlord? Give Rooter Hero Plumbing for emergency service 24/7.

How to Pay less for Plumbing Repairs

Have you been putting off having a leaky faucet fixed because you fear a pricey repair bill? We know that the plumbing industry has a reputation for being expensive, but the truth is that there are ways that you can keep plumbing repairs to a minimum and keep more money in your bank account. Here are some residential plumbing tips for finding the best deals and avoiding big-ticket repairs.

Invest In a Routine Maintenance Package

All plumbing companies have routine maintenance packages available for their customers. These packages include preventive services such as the following:

  • Flushing the water heater to remove sediment
  • Checking household faucets (interior and exterior) for leaks
  • Drain cleaning to remove build up that can cause clogs and cracks in the water pipes

These packages are budget-friendly and can extend the efficiency of a residential plumbing system substantially.

Stay on Top of Problems

Slab leaks and sewer line repair are two of the most costly plumbing repairs that homeowners can face. Fortunately, avoiding sewer line replacement and water damage from slab leaks is preventable. Addressing problems right away instead of waiting for them to correct themselves is the number one way to circumvent expensive repairs. If you observe mold growth or notice leaks beneath your kitchen or bathroom sinks, don’t wait to call a plumber. The sooner you make the call, the more likely it is that repairs will be minor and cost less.

Look for Discounts and Specials

Do you have a toilet in your home that frequently backs up? Is your kitchen sink clogging so often that doing dishes has become nearly impossible? You can clear up the problem (pun intended) with hydro-jetting and other drain cleaning solutions. And, you can do it for less, my taking advantage of drain cleaning discounts offered by your local Rooter Hero Plumbing plumber. In addition to discounts, keep an eye out for new customer specials. These are great to take advantage of if you’re in the market for a plumber to assist you with routine maintenance services.

For more information on inexpensive plumbing solutions for the most common residential and commercial problems, call Rooter Hero Plumbing today!