3 Ways to Maximize Your Water Heater’s Performance

A water heater that is well maintained is a water heater that will last longer and performs better. Better performance saves YOU money and reduces the chances that you’ll have an unexpected repair bill. While we always suggest that you call for professional maintenance services like the ones we offer at Rooter Hero Plumbing, there are still little things that homeowners can do to make sure their water heater is working its best year-round.

Inspect Your Water Heater for Leaks and Drips

Leaky water heaters not only underperform, but when these leaks go unnoticed they can cause water damage to flooring, foundations, and walls. Water that sits for long periods of time can cause rot, mold, and even lead to structural issues.

Leaks can come from broken valves or damaged pipes. You don’t need to be a plumber to identify a leak. Most leaks are noticeable right away because they have caused puddling on the floor.

Expert tip: Is your water heater located in a utility closet or in a dark corner of your basement? Take a flashlight with you and be methodical when searching for leaks. Leaks can go undetected when heaters are in dark, tight spaces.

Inspect the Pressure Release Valve

Your tank water heater, whether it is gas-powered or electric, has an overflow pipe with a pressure release valve that should be inspected annually. Homeowners can test this valve by pulling on it very gently. A working valve will release water from the overflow pipe. You want this valve to be in good working order because it is designed to relieve pressure when it builds up. Without this valve, a water heater’s pressure could build to a point where the heater could explode.

Drain the Tank Annually

Water heaters are susceptible to sediment build up and will last longer when the tank is drained once a year. Tanks with too much sediment don’t heat as well or stop heating altogether. Sediment can clog heating elements and will reduce the tank’s efficiently, making it work harder for less than ideal results. If you have hard water and do not have a softener or whole-house filtration system, you may benefit draining the tank once a year.

Before you drain the tank, make sure to turn the water supply off. Also, turn off the fuel or electrical supply (depending on the kind of heater you have) before doing any work. Draining a water heater tank isn’t rocket science, but most homeowners feel better letting the pros take care of this maintenance task.

At Rooter Hero Plumbing, we offer a menu of residential plumbing repair and maintenance services that includes water heater draining. Give us a call today to learn more or, if you’re outside of our service area, call your local plumber for assistance.

How Your Hard Water Is Affecting Your Plumbing

The quality of the water at your house has a direct effect on energy costs. Did you know that some estimates suggest that just one-eighth of an inch hard water can lead 33% rise in energy consumption?

Why does hard water have such a drastic effect on your energy bills? Hard water contains calcium and magnesium. When these two elements mix together in your water pipes or plumbing appliances like a water heater, limescale forms. Limescale requires more energy to heat than regular, clear water.

Let’s take a moment to examine exactly how limescale affects the plumbing in your home.

Water Pipes

Hard water restricts water flow. If you have PVC or copper piping, the problem may not be as bad. However, homes with steel piping are highly susceptible to water flow interruption. The result is low water pressure throughout the house. When hard water sits inside the pipes for long periods of time, the pipe can break down and pipe replacement may be necessary.

Replacing water pipes is not a cheap repair. It can cost thousands of dollars depending on the location of the pipe, the amount of pipe to be replaced, the replacement materials, and the labor costs associated with the installation.

Faucets

Water that is trapped in faucets, valves, shower heads, and plugs will cause limescale buildup to occur at a faster rate. Many times fixtures will clog even though the pipes to the fixtures are free of limescale. A slow dripping faucet may be a sign of limescale buildup. Not only is the dripping faucet costing you money in water costs, the hard water can stain the sink’s bowl and the faucet’s rubber washers may deteriorate reducing the faucet’s water tightness.

Valves

Valves are found on all types of appliances from washing machines and dishwashers to ice-makers and even built-in coffee makers. All it takes is a small amount of limescale to form beneath the valves for problems to ensure. Damage to appliances can be costly to repair and, in some cases, replacement may be the only option.

Water Heaters

Hard water is especially brutal on water heaters. It doesn’t take much for mineral deposits to form inside a heater’s tank and damage its heating elements. Limescale forms a barrier making it harder for the elements to heat the water and this adversely affects the unit’s energy efficiency. Hard water also shortens the heater’s lifespan.

Hard Water Prevention

Hard water problems should be dealt with swiftly. While you may not be able to control the hard water coming into your home’s water pipes, there are ways to stop the flow of hard water through your home. Installing a whole-house filtration system or purchasing a water softener are two ways to treat hard water and stop limescale from ruining your plumbing system.

Filtration and softening systems vary in price and efficiency. While some water softeners may only cost $400, whole-house filtration systems can cost as much as a couple of thousand dollars to install. While this may seem like a large expense, keep in mind that you’ll be saving money in the long run. You’ll have fewer plumbing repairs for damaged fixtures. You’ll minimize the threat of premature water heater failure and pipe replacement.

The first step toward improving your water quality is calling for water testing. Give Rooter Hero Plumbing a call and we’ll work with you to bring softer water into your home for a better experience.

Diagnosing Common Residential Water Heater Issues

An improperly working water heater can make it difficult for you to live comfortably in your home. It makes it harder bathe, wash dishes, and even do laundry. When you’re faced with a broken water heater, you have no other option than to face the situation head on. The first step toward fixing the heater is pinpointing the problem so repairs can be made quicker.

Some water heater problems are easier to identify than others. This quick guide will go through the most common reasons water heaters stop working. At Rooter Hero Plumbing, we always advocate for professional help, but if you want to troubleshoot before calling a plumber, it’s important that you are safe. Before troubleshooting, make sure you do the following:

  • Electric water heaters – cut power by turning off the electricity at the circuit breaker box.
  • Gas water heaters – Adjust the gas pilot control valve so that it is at the pilot setting.
  • Turn off the water supply.

Not Enough Hot Water

Are you getting hot water, but not enough of it? This may be a thermostat problem. Sometimes thermostats are set too low and the water doesn’t heat to a comfortable temperature.

The heater may have a buildup of sediment. When was the last time you flushed or drained the heater’s tank? Sediment can block the burners and make it difficult for the water to heat properly.

If your tank has been recently flushed, check the dip tube. When a dip tube is damaged, it can cause the hot and cold water to mix. The result is lukewarm water.

No Hot Water at All

If you have a gas heater, the pilot light may have burned out and may need to be relit. Be careful performing this task and make sure you read the instructions in the owner manual that came with the unit. You can find owner manuals online for most major brands if you’ve misplaced yours.

Other problems that gas heaters are known for developing include the following:

  • Poor gas pressure
  • Damaged thermocouple
  • Bad gas pilot
  • Broken gas pilot control valve

Popping Sounds

When you’re taking a shower, do you hear a popping or slapping sound coming from your water heater? This sound can be puzzling and disconcerting. Usually, it is the direct result of too much sediment in the water heater’s tank. Tanks should be flushed every 12 months for optimal performance. If you have hard water, you may need to flush your tank at smaller intervals. You can find instructions online to flush your tank, but we recommend having a licensed plumber do the job to make sure it is done correctly.

Leaky Tanks

Water around the base of the water heater means that water is seeping from the tank. There are a few reasons this may be happening such as a leaky pipe or relief valve. Don’t ignore water leaking from your tank.  If you can see the water leaking from the valve, you can try to tighten it. The best course of action is to call a plumber. There may be a faulty heating element of the tank may be damaged. Rusted tanks can lead to corrosion, which can lead to holes. You need to call a professional right away to access the damage.

Rooter Hero Plumbing is the leading 24-hour plumbing service throughout metropolitan areas in Arizona, Texas, and Southern California. If you suspect there is a problem with your heater, call us right away and we’ll send a highly-trained plumber to your home today!

Save Money with these Water Heating Tips

You can lower your energy costs without compromising comfort. Water heating accounts for nearly 18% of your energy bill making it the second biggest utility expensive in your home.

Homeowners that want to save money on monthly water heating costs have four options:

  1. Adjust the unit’s thermostat
  2. Insulate the heater
  3. Use less hot water
  4. Purchase an energy-efficient model

Let’s take a moment to go over each of these choices.

Adjusting the Thermostat

You may not realize that your water heater has an adjustable thermostat that allows you to control the level of heating. Most models have 2-3 temperature settings. If you’re running your heater at the highest setting, consider lowering the thermostat to reduce energy usage.  The only downside with this option is that your water may not reach temperatures you desire or stay at that temperature for a decent period of time. A comfortable setting that achieves energy efficiency is around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Insulate the Heater

Is your water heater installed near an exterior wall or in the middle of a room that is cold and drafty? Water heaters are typically installed in garages, basements, or utility rooms. Garages and basements tend to be cold and could be making your unit work harder than necessary. To overcome this obstacle, consider insulating the heater. Both natural gas and oil hot-water storage tanks can be insulated, but it’s important that you follow manufacturer recommendations for insulation.

We recommend calling a professional plumber to help you insulate your water heater. You don’t want to cover the thermostat, burner compartment of the top and bottom of the heater.  Professional insulation services are affordable and will protect your heater.

Use Less Hot Water

One of the easiest ways to reduce your utility costs is to use less hot water. Although this is an easy, free method, it can be inconvenient. Homeowners like the convenience of hot water and limiting it may not be as easy to adjust to. However, if you’re committed to this change consider the following ways to limit hot water usage:

  • Wash clothing in cold water
  • Turn off the shower when lathering or shaving
  • Put a time limit on showers

Install an Energy-Efficient Water Heater

Older water heaters use a lot more energy to heat water than today’s models. If you’re ready to upgrade your heater, consider an Energy Star-rated model or install a tankless water heater. While tankless water heaters save the most energy because they heat on-demand, these units aren’t everyone’s budget.

You don’t have to spend extra on a tankless water heater to reduce your energy usage. Choosing an Energy Star-rated tank water heater can still save you money. A little research and working with professionals that can provide you with expert guidance will help you choose an energy-saving water heater with a price you can feel comfortable paying.

When you’re ready to discuss replacing your water heater, give Rooter Hero Plumbing a call. We’ll connect you with a plumber who will be happy to help you find the best replacement for your needs.

Common Plumbing Problems for Arizona Residents

Don’t let mild desert winters fool you into thinking you don’t need to winterize your plumbing system. Arizona homes and businesses are just as much at risk of developing problems with their systems when temperatures dip as structures in other parts of the country. If you live in an area of the state where temperatures fall below freezing, follow these suggestions to protect your building’s plumbing system.

Hot Water Problems

When the air cools, you may find a longer, hotter shower quite inviting. Hotter and longer showers put additional stress on your water heater, requiring more energy to maintain the heat. Before cooler temperatures arrive, we recommend that you have your water heater inspected. At Rooter Hero Plumbing, our technicians check the following during a routine inspection:
• Pilot light (gas models)
• Temperature sensor
• Pressure relief valve
• Wiring and connections

We can also flush your water heater to get rid of built-up sediment and clean the tank for optimal performance.

Frozen Pipes

A hard freeze in the Phoenix or Tucson area is not a common occurrence, but temperatures can fall enough for this to happen from time to time and it can take homeowners by surprise. Outside water lines that are not turned off can freeze when this happens and burst. Indoor piping may be better protected, but if it is not insulated well freezing can occur.

We recommend that Arizona residents have a plumber take a look at their pipes before the weather has a chance to turn cold. If you have an older property, your piping may not be insulated well enough to handle this sudden change in temperature. Also, protect your plumbing system by draining and disconnecting outdoor hoses when not in use.

If a pipe does burst, locate the main water shut-off valve and turn off the water before you call a plumber. This one small action can prevent flooding and extensive damage to your home.

Clogged Drains

The winter months seem to coincide with an increase in clogged drains. We attribute this rise in service calls to the increased amount of entertaining during the holidays and staying indoors more. To protect your drains, we urge our customers to use common “drain” sense when using toilets, sinks, bathtubs or showers.

Many clogs can be prevented with regular drain cleaning services like hydro-jetting. You can also protect your drains and sewer by doing the following:
• Only use septic-safe toilet paper
• Do not treat your toilet like a trash can
• Avoid flushing non-organic material down the toilet such as cleansing wipes, feminine hygiene products, and paper products other than toilet paper
• Dispose of grease, cooking oils, and fat in a mason jar or in the trash can. Do not put these substances in kitchen sinks or grind them up in the garbage disposal.

A little bit of drain sense goes a long way toward preventing drain and sewer problems.

Don’t Let Colder Weather Take You by Surprise

Arizona is a climate that boasts beautiful weather year-round, but sometimes Mother Nature likes to throw a curve ball. Be prepared during the winter months to protect your plumbing system from failure and expensive repairs. A quick call to Rooter Hero Plumbing can help you prepare for falling temperatures.

Rooter Hero Plumbing operates in major metropolitan locations such as Phoenix and Tucson, service communities like Buckeye, Gilbert, and Oro Valley. Call us today to see if we service your area.

Do I Need a Permit when Changing My Plumbing?

No matter what kind of home improvement project you’re undertaking, safety should always be the main priority. Plumbing repairs are no exception. Depending on the kind of repair or installation, you may need permission from your local municipality before proceeding.

Why Do I Need a Permit?

Permits are required for all types of construction, repair, and renovation projects as a way to make sure all work is completed safely and accurately by trained, licensed professionals. If you proceed with a project that requires a permit and you fail to obtain one, you could face fines or other penalties. It could even put your entire project in jeopardy of completion or affect the future sale of your home.

For example, if you renovated an attic space and added plumbing without the correct permits, you may not be able to claim that space as usable square footage. That’s the best case scenario. The worst case scenario would be that you would have to redo the entire project with the correct permits in place before listing the house. No one wants to buy a house with spaces that are not up to code or that lower the value of the property.

Where Do I Obtain Permits?

City hall typically issues all permits. Luckily, you won’t have to worry about this part of the project because your plumbing contractor will usually secure these permits for you. It’s part of the professional service.

What Projects Require Permits?

It depends on the particular municipality where your home is located. Here a few circumstances may be required:

• Alterations or installation of concealed piping
• Relocation of plumbing during a renovation
• Sewer installation
• Rain drains

A permit may also be required for water heater installation. Check with your local plumber to find out if this applies to you.

Permits are not required for minor repairs or adjustments such as faucet repair, toilet installation, water or drain attachments.

For more information about the permit process for your particular project, contact your local Rooter Hero Plumbing tech for more assistance.

Preventive Maintenance Plans Save $$$ Down the Road

When it comes to your plumbing system, it’s a lot simpler to maintain it than it is to fix it. You’ve probably noticed this trend in other areas of your life as well, whether it’s health, finances, or your car. Subscribing to a routine maintenance plan may seem like an unnecessary expense if you haven’t had an issue in years, but it can really pay off in the long run.

Many professional plumbers recommend that you have your pipes, appliances, and fixtures checked once every year or two. With hundreds of different components under constant pressure, it should come as no surprise that there are many ways for your system to become faulty or deteriorate over years of use.

How Can Plumbing Maintenance Plans Save You Money?

While some plumbing issues are the result of a sudden or unpredictable cause, many common problems can be anticipated. Routine maintenance isn’t free, but it’s much cheaper than the potential damage caused by a burst water main or blocked sewer line. Fixing these major problems can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, making maintenance plans seem very affordable by comparison.

Aside from the financial concern, there is also the issue of time and convenience. Maintenance is scheduled in advance and causes little disruption to your daily routine. On the other hand, a disastrous flooding of your basement may force you to take action in the middle of the night and wreak havoc on your plans for the day.

How Maintenance Prevents Plumbing Issues

There are dozens of things that can go wrong with your plumbing system. The web of pipes, appliances, fixtures and other components that run throughout your home are one of the most complex and delicate parts of the entire structure.

Video camera inspections of your pipes’ interiors reveal tiny cracks or faults that you would not have noticed otherwise as well as trapped debris that could turn into a serious blockage in the months ahead. Physical examination of the pipes may also show tiny leaks or other ongoing issues that are slowly inflating your water and energy bills.

Maintenance is especially important for water heaters and other appliances. Small specks of dirt often build up in appliances as water passes through. If they aren’t cleaned regularly, the device will become less efficient and run a higher chance of breaking down altogether.

Your plumber will also check the integrity of emergency shut-off valves, which are crucial for managing water damage in the event of a pipe burst. You don’t want to learn that the valve is stuck or dysfunctional when water is pouring across your floors.

Don’t wait for disaster to strike. Call your local plumbing hero today to schedule your maintenance appointment.

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.

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!

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!