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Northwest Ohio & Southeast Michigan

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Tuesday, 20 February 2018 20:44

Reducing Water Waste In the Home

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97 percent of the earth's water is salt water, leaving only 3 percent of the earth's water fit for human consumption. While water is a renewable resource, the best way to ensure there will be enough fresh water in the future is to start conserving water today.

Saving water around the home

The average U.S. family uses 127,000 gallons of water each year. One of the best ways to reduce water waste is to use low-flow plumbing fixtures and appliances. For example:
A normal faucet will use 4,000 gallons a year when run just 4 minutes a day. A low-flow faucet would reduce that amount by a quarter... a savings of 1,000 gallons of water a year.

A washing machine that washes 2 loads a week will use 5,000 gallons a year... while a water saving unit will use 3,000... a savings of 2,000 gallons a year.
A shower head that is used 15 minutes a day will use 19,000 gallons of water a year... a low-flow shower head would use just 9,000 gallons a year... a savings of 12,000 gallons per year.

The largest source of water use in the home is toilets. If a toilet is flushed 15 times per day it will use 33,000 gallons of water per year. By comparison, a water saving or dual-flush toilet would save over 24,000 gallons of water every year.

The total savings for using low-flow, water efficient fixtures and appliances is 40,000 gallons a year, a 30 percent savings on water bill.
If you're planning on replacing your old water heater, one of the most important things to consider is how efficiently it will produce hot water. To make it easier for consumers to compare water heaters and select the most energy efficient model, the US Department of Energy has developed a standard for residential water heaters, call the Energy Factor.

Energy Factor Water Heaters

As with cars and Miles Per Gallon (MPG), the Energy Factor (EF) rates how efficiently a water heater uses its fuel source. When comparing standard products of the same fuel type, a water heater with a higher Energy Factor rating uses less energy, resulting in both energy and cost savings.

The Energy Factor is determined by performing a 24-hour simulated test on residential water heaters. During the test a measured number of gallons of water are drawn from the water heater in six equally spaced draws that begin one hour apart. After the beginning of the last draw a standby period of 18 hours follows.

The result of the test is expressed as a decimal. For example, a gas water heater with an energy factor rating of 0.5 means it's 50% efficient. It will use 50% of the gas to heat the water, while the remaining 50% is heat going out the exhaust flue.

When comparing water heaters it's important to consider the fuel source. While an electric water heater may have a higher EF rating, electricity is typically more expensive than natural gas. Also, be sure to compare the EF for the same type of water heater, the EF rating for tankless and hybrid water heaters is measured differently than it is for conventional tank water heaters.

Have questions about choosing the best water heater for your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning.
Keeping your drains clean will not only help remove the buildup that can lead to clogged drains and sewer line problems, it can also reduce the unpleasant odors caused by food waste in kitchen drains.

Kitchen Drain

If water starts to drain slowly, we recommend trying natural methods rather than store-bought chemical cleaners that can present a safety hazard and risk damaging metal finishes on plumbing fixtures.

First, try quickly pouring about two quarts of boiling hot water down the drain. Wait several minutes, then pour cold water to solidify the remaining grease. Repeat the process again with hot water rinse away the remaining congealed residue.

If odors are a problem, deodorize and clean drains with white vinegar. Heat 4-6 cups of vinegar until just simmering. Wait one minute. Pour 2-3 cups down the drain, rinse with cold water, then pour the remaining hot vinegar down the drain.

For stubborn drain residue, first, run hot water down the drain. Turn the water off. Add a cup of baking soda down the drain. Next, pour 2 cups of hot vinegar down the drain. The vinegar will react with the baking soda and scrub the residue from the drain. After a half hour flush the drain with hot water.

To keep garbage disposals clean and fresh, grind ice cubes occasionally to clean residue off the blades.
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 02:38

What's the Best Kind of Water Heater?

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What's the Best Kind of Water Heater?

When choosing a new water heater for your home there are more choices than ever. Here's a comparison of the most common types of water heater and the advantages and disadvantages of each style.

Electric Tank Water Heater

Heats and stores water using electricity
  • Purchase Cost (less installation): $300 - $1,200
  • Advantages: Lowest upfront cost, Good for small or large households
  • Disadvantages: More expensive to operate

Gas Tank Water Heater

Heats and stores water using natural gas or propane
  • Purchase cost (less installation): $380 to $1,500
  • Advantages: Lowest upfront cost, Good for small or large households
  • Disadvantages: More expensive to operate

Tankless Gas Water Heater

Heats water on demand when its needed.
  • Purchase cost (less installation): $1000+
  • Advantages: Good for smaller households, lower operating cost, small footprint
  • Disadvantages: More expensive to operate

Electric Heat Pump Water Heater

Uses electricity to move heat from one place to another
  • Purchase cost (less installation): $1,000+
  • Advantages: 2-3 times more efficient than conventional tank water heater.
  • Disadvantages: Not a good option for colder climates

Condensing Gas Water Heaters

Heats and stores the water using gas, then uses the combustion gas to further heat the water.
  • Purchase cost (less installation): $1,000+
  • Advantages: Lowest operating cost. Can save a household $100+ a year
  • Disadvantages: Higher up-front cost

Hybrid Tankless Water Heater

Combines the advantages of a small storage tank with a tankless water heater.
  • Purchase cost (less installation): $1,000+
  • Advantages: Lower operating cost. Less standby heat loss than a conventional tank water heater, and no "cold water sandwich" that can occur with tankless water heaters.
  • Disadvantages: Higher up-front cost
Need help choosing the best water heater for your needs? Call Gibson's Heating and Plumbing. We can help.
Wednesday, 17 January 2018 01:38

Choosing the Best Garbage Disposal

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Choosing the Best Garbage Disposal

When it comes time to replace your old under sink garbage disposal there are a number of things to consider. Not all disposals work the same way and its important to choose the right amount of horsepower for your needs. You'll also want to consider factors like durability, noise levels, price, and brand reputation.

Best Garbage Disposal

The first factor to consider is horsepower. 1/3 Horsepower is the starting point and typically the units with the lowest power. While they may seem like a bargin, we recommend avoiding low powered disposals. They are more prone to jamming and are often made from cheaper components that rust out more quickly.

1/2 horsepower garbage disposals are the minimum recommended power for a home disposal. They are affordable and small enough to fit in tighter spaces. If you don't use a disposal very often and don't mind the higher noise levels of a smaller disposal, a 1/2 horsepower unit may be a good option. If possible, choose a disposal with stainless steel grinding components to increase the life of the unit.

For most kitchens, a 3/4 horsepower disposal will work best. It will have plenty of power to handle all those holiday leftovers and can safely grind potato peels, celery and more with no problems. While they will require more space under the sink than lower power units, they will usually operate with much less noise.

If you do a lot of cooking and entertaining, consider a 1 horsepower disposal. It can handle just about anything you can put down it. With a larger chamber, most will have premium stainless steel components that make quick work of everything from chicken and fish bones to fruit rinds. While 1 horsepower units are top-of-the-line, they can be very large, so make sure you have the room under your sink.

Whatever size unit you decide to purchase, it's important to always run a lot of water when grinding waste to ensure the waste does not build up inside the drain.

Have questions about selecting the right garbage disposal for your kitchen? Call Gibson's Plumbing & Heating. We can help you choose the right disposal for your needs.

Buying a Home? Be sure to Check These Plumbing Systems

Buying a home is a big investment, and on of the most important parts of any home is the plumbing system. From hot water to sewer and drain lines, many problems can go undetected until a major failure occurs. By doing your research and ensuring that the plumbing system is working correctly, you can avoid making costly mistakes. Here's what to check:

1. Hot Water System. Ask the realtor or homeowner the age of the water heater. A water heater will typically last 10-15 years. Inspect the tank for leaks, excessive rust and other signs of age and deterioration.

2. Water Leaks. Check taps, pipes, appliances (including dishwashers, clothes washers, ice makers) for signs of leaks. Check for stains or signs of mildew that could indicate a hidden water leak. Because many leaks go undetected and can get worse over time, have a plumber check the system and repair any leaks prior to closing.

3. Test the Sump Pump. A inoperable sump pump can lead to serious water damage. Slowly fill the sump pump pit with water. It should turn on and remove the water.

4. Water Saving Toilets. Check toilets to see if they are newer, low-flow models. Toilets manufactured since the last 90's are mandated to use less than 1.6 gallons per flush. A low flow toilet will save thousands of gallons of water each year.

5. Sewer and Drain Lines. Ask about the current age of the sewer line and whether it has been inspected within the last two years. Ensure that all drains empty quickly. A video sewer line inspection is cheap insurance that will help find potential problems like tree root intrusion, cracks, blockages and other problems

Need a plumbing inspection before your next home purchase? Call Gibson's Heating and Plumbing, we can help ensure your plumbing system is in top shape.
Tuesday, 21 November 2017 00:35

Solving Sewer and Drain Odor Problems

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Solving Sewer Drain Odor Problems

If you notice a smelly sewer odor in your home, there are several possible causes. Here are some things to check:
  1. Check the floor drain trap. Without water to block the sewer gas from escaping, odors will enter the room. Pour water down the drain to refill the trap.
  2. Check the clean-out plug inside the floor drain. Remove the grate that covers the drain and make sure there's a plug inside the drain bowl. If the plug is missing, sewer gas will be able to bypass the water trap. A replacement plug can be bought at most hardware stores.
  3. Check the toilets. When toilets are unused for a long period of time the water in the trap can evaporate. Simply flushing the toilet will refill the trap.
  4. Worn toilet wax ring. The wax ring seals the toilet flange to the toilet base. If the wax ring leaks, sewer gas will escape from under the toilet. If the ring is broken, the toilet will need to be removed and and the wax ring replaced. If the toilet is loose on the base, shims can be used to ensure that a rocking toilet doesn't break the new wax ring.
  5. Other possible causes of sewer odors include a broken or cracked sewer line or, less often, a loose connection joint in an interior wall. If you've checked the other possibilities above, it may be time to contact your plumber to hunt down the cause.
Have sewer and drain line questions? Call Gibson's Heating and Plumbing, we can help.
Tuesday, 14 November 2017 23:04

What Causes a Toilet To Fill Slowly?

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What Causes a Toilet To Fill Slowly?

Toilet Filling Too SlowlyOne of the more common plumbing problems we see is a slow filling toilet. Depending on your home's water pressure and the size of the tank, a toilet should refill in under 3 minutes in most cases. If it takes longer than three minutes there are a couple of things you can check.

1. The first thing to check is the shut-off valve located behind the toilet. Make sure it is fully open for maximum flow.

2. Next, try cleaning the pump and valve inside the toilet tank. Mineral buildup can cause the parts to stick. If the toilet has an older-style ball cock assembly, we recommend replacing it with a new fill valve and float cup design.

If none of the above fixes work, call Gibson's Heating and Plumbing. We can can find the cause of your slow filling toilet and recommend effective solutions.

Tips To Prevent Winter Plumbing Problems

Winter Plumbing TipsDuring the winter months frozen pipes and backed up sewer lines can be a real concern. One of the most common causes of home damage, and expensive insurance claims, is water. While some insurance policies cover catastrophic damage from frozen pipes, basement flooding, and more, gradual water damage from leaks is usually not covered. Here are some tips to protect your home from water damage during the winter.

1. Test your sump pump and water backup valve regularly. Slowly pour a few gallons of water into the sump pit. It should start up and begin removing the water. If it fails to start, have Gibson's inspect the sump pump.

2. Notice changes in your plumbing. If you're experiencing low water pressure, have Gibson's inspect the plumbing system for undetected leaks.

3. Have your sewer and drain lines inspected. A video camera inspection is cheap insurance against a sewer line failure and backups.

4. Check your water heater. A tank storage water heater will last around 10 years. You can extend the life with regular maintenance, including flushing the tank and inspecting the anode rod. For extra peace of mind, consider installing a drain pan under the water heater to drain potential leaks to the floor drain.

5. Clean out your gutters and downspouts and ensure that there is adequate drainage away from the foundation of the home.

6. Seal cracks and ensure there is sufficient insulation on exterior walls near pipes. This will help reduce the risk of frozen pipes.

Need help maintaining your home's plumbing? Call Gibson's Heating and Plumbing. We are here to help.
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