Plumbing 101 for Back to School

Plumbing 101 For Back to School

It’s hard to not feel the back-to-school energy and excitement during August, as so many students and families prepare to go back to school. With that energy in mind, it’s a good time to learn something new and to feel like you too are doing a little back to school learning.

In keeping with that spirit, today we’re going to talk about some plumbing basics. We’ll talk through your home’s pipe system, your kitchen plumbing, and your drainage system with the goal of making you a little more informed about how these important systems work.

The Basics of Your Pipe System

pipesystemThe pipe system is the center of your home’s plumbing system, but there are actually two different pipe systems in your home. One is used to bring clean water into your home, and the other is used to carry wastewater out of your home.

Clean water is brought into your home under pressure, which enables it to travel around bends and upstairs. In contrast, wastewater is carried out of your home using gravity, as all pipes are pitched to allow dirty water to flow down and out of your home.

Once it leaves your home, the wastewater continues to flow downwards towards the sewer system. Your home’s pipe system is relatively simple, and in most homes, pipes are a combination of copper, PVC or cross-linked polyethylene (PEX).

The Complexities of Kitchen Plumbing

kitchenplumbingWhile the plumbing in your kitchen functions in the same ways that it does in other areas of your home, the additional appliances and features in the kitchen make this part of the system slightly more complex.

For example, while your bathroom sink likely has just a faucet and a drain, the kitchen sink also has hookups for garbage disposal, a dishwasher and maybe even a water filter.

Additionally, in many kitchens, there are additional supply lines to bring water to appliances, for example to the refrigerator or ice maker. Despite the fact that the same basic plumbing principles apply, kitchen plumbing is generally slightly more complex than the plumbing throughout other areas of your home.

Your Drainage System

drainageAs discussed, your home has a pipe system dedicated solely to removing dirty water from your home. While this system primarily relies on gravity, it is also dependent on traps and vents.

Your home has vents in the roof that allow air to enter the drainage pipes. This air allows drainpipes to run smoothly. Another important part of your drainage system are traps, which are the s-shaped portion of pipes right under the drain.

Wastewater is able to travel through this portion of pipes, but the traps form a seal that keeps sewer gases from backing up into your home. Obviously, this is a simple but important feature of your drainage system.

Your drain-waste-vent, or DWV, system, plays an essential role in your home’s plumbing system and all components need to be working correctly to effectively remove wastewater from your home.

Hopefully, this plumbing overview helped you to better understand some key components of your home’s plumbing system. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to contact A & A Plumbing at (210) 566-2665.

fourthofjuly

Avoid Plumbing Disasters on the 4th of July

Avoid Plumbing Disasters on the 4th of July

It’s the 4th of July and you’re hosting a big get-together. Your place is decorated and looks fantastic - you spared no expense this year. The menu is a combination of classic barbecue dishes along with a few new recipes you’ve been wanting to try.

You made shopping list after shopping list to ensure you thought of everything. From extra sunscreen to citronella, bug spray to sunscreen, sparklers to lawn chairs, dishes and desserts beyond belief, red, white, and blue napkins, a badminton set and even bocce - you are ready.

What else could you have possibly done to get ready for this epic fest?

Uh oh. Did you forget about the plumbing system? Yes, there are indeed plumbing preparations that need to be taken care of before your 4th of July bash. However, don’t panic. In this article, there are several helpful suggestions to leave you feeling completely ready for the 4th, plumbing included.

Don’t Destroy the Kitchen Sink

kitchensinkGarbage disposals have a tendency to fail at the worst possible times. Maybe it’s the night before Thanksgiving and you’re peeling potatoes so you can make mashed potatoes for 15 guests.

Or, maybe it’s the morning of July 4th and you’re peeling carrots to make a huge salad and your sink clogs. Whether it’s your garbage disposal, the drain, or both, as you see the vegetable scraps and water level start to rise, you know there’s trouble. Don’t let this happen to you.

Limit the amount of food that you put in your sink so that your garbage disposal doesn’t fail, and the drain doesn’t become completely jammed with waterlogged food. Even more importantly, have a plumber inspect your sink and garbage disposal in advance, to verify that everything is working as it should be.

Worried about someone dumping hot grease down the drain? It’s a legitimate concern. Many people are unaware of the fact that hot grease wreaks havoc on plumbing. Of course, snapping at a well-meaning guest is certainly not an option; he or she simply didn’t realize that hot grease is like kryptonite for plumbing. To avoid the entire situation, buy some grease traps. They are disposable, they are one less thing to clean, and they are affordable.

Avoid Those Toilet Overflows

toiletclogImagine how mortified one of your guests would be if he or she used the bathroom and accidentally caused the toilet to clog.

With some delicate plumbing systems, such as those found in older houses or attached to septic tanks, it takes very little to clog a toilet - even a small amount of toilet paper is enough to do it.

Now, normally, when dealing with a clogged toilet, the first step is to shut off the water, grab a plunger and dislodge the obstruction. Once the clog has been cleared, the water can be turned back on and the toilet can be safely flushed. However, if there’s no plunger in the bathroom, imagine how embarrassed your guest would feel trying to explain the situation to you.

Not only do you have a potentially messy bathroom to clean up, but you also have a mortified guest who undoubtedly no longer wants to be at the party. A simple solution? Wherever there’s a toilet, there should be a plunger right next to it, ready to spring into action if necessary.

Be Sure to Find the Shutoff Valve

shutoffvalveDo you know where the shutoff valve is that controls the water supply to your entire house? If not, find out as soon as possible, and familiarize yourself with how it works.

If you have some sort of flooding emergency, you don’t want to be stuck Googling how to locate and operate the shutoff valve. You need to be able to find the valve and turn it off ASAP until an emergency plumbing service (or, if the situation is severe enough, the fire department).

Flooding occurs quickly, is difficult to control and is even harder to mitigate. You certainly don’t need to deal with testing for black mold after you’ve finished drying out your home, fighting a lengthy battle with your insurance company.

Now that you’ve read through the tips outlined above, you should feel even more confident about your 4th of July party. When it comes to plumbing, the general rule of thumb is not to put it off until it’s too late and there’s a serious problem to contend with. Don’t wait; schedule an appointment with a plumbing contractor today from A & A Plumbing. And most importantly, have a wonderful Independence Day!

moneywaterbill

Save Water and Money This World Environment Day

Save Water and Money This World Environment Day

Did you know that June 5 is World Environment Day? World Environment Day is a United Nation’s celebration to spread awareness and encourage action to protect the environment.

There are many environmental issues right now that need our attention. While this can feel overwhelming, it’s encouraging to remember that any changes we make can help to protect the environment.

One easy way to help is by decreasing your water usage. Plus, not only does saving water help the environment, but it also helps you save some money by decreasing your water bill. With those two goals in mind, here are some tips to help you save water.

Install Low-Flushing Toilets

lowflushingtoiletsIf you don’t have them already, it’s worth installing low-flush toilets. If your bathroom plumbing was installed before 1994, you likely have a full-flush toilet.

Low-flush or high-efficiency toilets use significantly less water than full flush - 1.6 gallons or less instead of 3.5 to 7 gallons. Initially, there were some issues with these toilets, but technology has improved and now they’re very effective.

Low-flush toilets use either gravity or pressure-assisted technology to effectively remove waste while using significantly less water. Using these high-efficiency toilets can significantly decrease the water that your bathroom plumbing uses and can save as much as $90 a year on water bills. As a result, it’s worth ensuring that you have a low-flush toilet and installing one if you don’t.

Repair Faucet Leaks

showerfaucetsHave you ever noticed that your shower faucet has a slow drip or leak and then done nothing about it?

Surprisingly, this happens more often than you’d think because many people believe this small amount of water doesn’t really make any difference.

However, even the smallest drip or leak can take a big toll on your water usage and wastes more water than you’d think. As a result, it’s important to check your bathroom plumbing as well as all other faucets throughout your house for any drips or leaks. If you find any, go ahead and repair them as soon as possible so that you can stop wasting water and money.

Repair Pipe Leaks

pipeleaksIt’s always nice when doing something good for the environment also has positive benefits for you. This is the case when it comes to inspecting and repairing your pipes.

Identifying and repairing any leaks in your home’s plumbing system can help you to save water and money while also potentially avoiding a bigger problem in the future.

So, it’s a good idea to have all of your pipes inspected by a professional to ensure that there are no leaks and that everything is working correctly. This is one easy way to help protect the environment and your home. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for signs of any plumbing problems and for ways to save water.

As you do this, remember that even small changes can make a big difference. If you have any concerns about your plumbing or water usage, call us today at (210) 566-2665 to schedule a service call, inspection or any necessary maintenance.

loveatree

Who Knew About Love a Tree Day?

Who Knew About Love a Tree Day?

With all the excitement of the coming holidays such as Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, it’s no wonder many people don’t know about National Love a Tree Day! As we just happened to learn about this great day too, we wanted to share it with you!

Love a Tree Day is right in the middle of Garden for Wildlife month. It’s a day to honor trees, and all they do for us! As beautiful and majestic as trees can be, they also provide us with many benefits. It is so important that we preserve as much tree life as possible! The best way to do this is by making sure trees have good water to drink!

Start With Clean Water

cleanwaterHaving clean water to drink is essential for trees to grow and be healthy. Unfortunately, when the water is polluted, it can cause an immense amount of damage to our leafy friends.

In basic terms, polluted water will make the tree’s ability to undergo photosynthesis decrease. Photosynthesis is how plants eat.

In general, they turn sunlight and water into energy. A side effect of this is the production of oxygen-which everything needs to live.

If a tree is absorbing water that is polluted; they will have a harder time deriving energy from the water, and less oxygen will be produced. Besides oxygen, trees are good for numerous activities and benefits. From climbing and swinging to using them for shade, trees give us so much! Without clean water, however, tree life as we know it could wither and die.

Fight Pollution With Water Filtration Systems

waterfilterHaving clean water is not only essential for trees, but for us as well. Unlike trees, though, most of us have a water filtration system in our home. The water that comes out of our faucets is generally safe to drink; and we have the option of bottled water.

Unfortunately, not everyone, or everything, has this option. Without a water filtration system, you are putting your health at risk. Drinking, and even bathing in, polluted water can cause serious health problems. Polluted water can contain some harmful things ranging from algal bloom to germs and bacteria.

Diseases associated with polluted water can range from less serious concerns like rashes to serious illnesses like typhoid, cholera, and hepatitis. Having a water filtration system at your disposal is something you can take for granted. Plants, such as trees, do not have this luxury; and they are at the mercy of their environment and us!

Take the First Step and Celebrate Love a Tree Day

plantatreeThe best way to celebrate Love a Tree Day is to get out there and give our green friends a clean drink of water! Water the trees and plants around your home, or go out and find a tree that could use a little love. Just make sure the water is clean!

A great way to water trees (and other plants) is to collect rainwater. Levels of pollution in rain water is very low; it actually sustains much of the world’s population. You can also use water right from your tap or garden hose. Either way, giving a tree a clean drink of water on Love a Tree Day will not only benefit them, but also our environment!

How is Your Water?

While we are excited to celebrate Love a Tree Day, we also want to make sure that each person has a good water filtration system in place. If you do not have a system in place please reach out to us for further information. At A & A Plumbing we are committed to helping each of our clients have the best drinking water available! Please call us at (210) 566-2665.

Have a Happy Love a Tree Day!

daylightsavings

Longer Days - Less Water

Longer Days - Less Water

The best time of the year is finally here! That's right- it's almost Daylight Savings time! That means longer days, which translates to more time to get errands done, spend time with family, or enjoy your favorite TV shows! You may even take the extra time to enjoy a nice warm bubble bath, or maybe wash the car, but did you know that these things actually contribute to more water use, which can affect your piping system?

Daylight Savings

onehourTo begin with, what exactly is Daylight Savings? It is the practice of setting clocks ahead or behind at certain times throughout the year (usually one hour ahead in the spring, and one hour behind in the fall) in an attempt to make better use of the daytime hours.

The idea was originally thought of by a scientist named George Vernon Hudson from New Zealand. Hudson published a paper in 1895, presenting the idea of setting clocks ahead 2 hours in October and behind 2 hours in March.

While there was some interest back in 1895, the practice wasn’t popularized until Germany implemented it during WWI in an attempt to save fuel to be used in the war.

Save Water

savewaterNaturally, when the day is longer we find things to do to fill the time. Like we said before, some of those things may demand the use of more water, which is why you may notice an increase in your water bill this month.

Want to change that? We’ve gathered some tips on how you can use less water on your longer days:

Turn the water off when you’re brushing your teeth. Only turn it on to rinse the sink and rinse out your mouth.

If you let the water run to heat up before you step into your shower or tub, place a bucket under the tap to collect the water, instead of letting it wash down your drain system. You can use the water later to flush your toilet or water plants, saving even more water!

Turn water off when washing your hands. Only use water to wet, and then rinse your hands.
Install a low flow toilet. Some toilets are specifically designed to use less water, and there are even some that use no water at all (though those are not necessarily for everyone).

Going Green

goinggreenNow that you know how to conserve water, why should you? To put it simply, because water is the most important resource we have on this planet, and we're the only planet (that we know of so far) that has it.

IF we run out of clean, fresh water, entire ecosystems would collapse, and human life would cease to exist. It's true. To put it simply, saving water can save the world.

Are you an environmental hero? Do you do your best to conserve water, especially during this time of the year, when the days are longer? If you’ve never been intentional about water conservation before, today is a great day to start!

If you’ve got any more questions about how your water use affects your pipes, or what you can do to make your home more water efficient, call A & A Plumbing at (210) 566-2665 to speak with one of our expert plumbing technicians.