Learn current information and the best commercial and residential plumbing tips in Phoenix, AZ from The Trusted Plumber blog. The Trusted Plumber provide residential and commercial plumbing, water heaters, drain & sewer and water treatment system services.
Waiting for hot water is a pain. And it seems that no matter what kind of water heater you have installed—even if it’s an “on-demand” tankless system—you’ll still have to wait for hot water.
Like many homeowners, you may have simply accepted this as fact. But what you might not be considering is just how wasteful it can be to wait for the water to warm up.
Regardless of whether you’re waiting for the kitchen sink or for the shower to warm up, you can bet that you’ll be draining several gallons of cold water before you can start using the warm water. Multiply that cost every day, and for every person in the home who uses hot water, and you’ll see that this is no longer just an inconvenience.
Why Don’t Tankless Water Heaters Provide Instant Heating Already?
You may be wondering why your tankless water heater doesn’t heat your water instantly in the first place. After all, isn’t that what these devices promise?
We understand where the message can get mixed up when discussing tankless water heaters. These heaters are often referred to as “on-demand systems,” which gives the impression that they provide hot water immediately.
What it actually means, however, is that the system will start heating the water immediately. There’s no need to heat a large batch of water before dispensing it, such as in the case of a storage tank heater. Tankless water heaters will only use energy when prompted, and they can provide hot water endlessly.
So, What Is a Recirculating Pump and How Does It Help?
Technically, a tankless water heater could heat water much faster than they do, but the sudden increase in temperature would damage the device. That’s why you first must let the water run before it can start safely raising the temperature. However, as mentioned above, this process wastes plenty of cold water.
A recirculating pump takes that cold water and pumps it back into the system. This allows you to avoid wasting water, and it even helps heat the water significantly faster.
However, your recirculating pump must fulfill a few characteristics:
It needs a high-speed pump to return cold water back into the water heater instead of sending it down the drain.
It shouldn’t operate continuously. Continuous operation puts a lot of stress on the water heater and will void or reduce your warranty.
It does not keep your water lines hot unless there’s a demand. Otherwise, it would waste energy and increase the chances of pinhole leaks developing.
In other words, you can’t just have any recirculation pump installed. These devices exist for both tank and tankless water heaters, but due to the unique construction of a tankless system, they require a specific type of recirculation pump. That’s where you’ll need a professional to help install the right system.
Reverse osmosis systems are praised for their ability to filter just about any harmful contaminants out of your drinking water. They use a thin membrane to block anything bigger than water molecules from entering your drinking water. This makes them great systems for your entire house, or simply as point-of-use systems to be installed directly in conjunction with your kitchen sink.
But for all of its positive qualities, there’s one major drawback that all homeowners should be aware of:
Reverse osmosis systems are the number one cause of flooding in your home.
When you think about it, water is the biggest enemy to all plumbing products. Plumbing technology is constantly changing to account for the damage that water can create. After all, water is known as the universal solvent—capable of dissolving everything given enough time.
A reverse osmosis system is no different, as it’s constantly in contact with water. Your other plumbing products and devices are no different.
For example, storage tank water heaters are equipped with several defense measures against the corroding abilities of water. Even after the help of a water softener, an anode rod, and a glass lining, water can still manage to get past all of those defenses and corrode the actual tank itself. That leads to a leak and a ruined water heater.
Where Reverse Osmosis Systems Fail
Reverse osmosis systems try to get around water’s corrosive properties by opting for plastic instead of metal. The tubes and connections in the system that would normally be made of metal, copper, or other hard materials are all at risk of corroding over time. Instead, reverse osmosis systems use connections made out of plastic.
Even so, plastic connections are still not impervious to water. These tubes and connections are known to burst or become disconnected, thus flooding the home until the water is shut off manually. In fact, reverse osmosis systems are one of the number one causes of flooding inside the home!
What to Do When the System Floods?
If you have an RO system and it happens to flood, you can save hundreds or thousands of dollars in damage thanks to an automatic shutoff valve. These can be a real lifesaver here, but if you don’t have one, you’ll have to know where your shutoff valve is and turn it off manually. The RO system will keep flooding until you turn off the water since it’s directly connected to the plumbing system.
After that, you’ll need to clean up all the water damage. This is something that a professional plumber can help with by using an assortment of tools.
What Are the Alternatives?
Of course, we wouldn’t just tell you “don’t use an RO system” without providing some solutions.
Your best alternative is going with either a whole home salt-free water filtration or conditioning system. These systems are designed differently, with a much lower risk of flooding. There are many types of systems to choose from, so don’t hesitate to call up a professional to go over your options.
If you’ve never heard of a water heater expansion tank before, it might sound like nothing more than an accessory for your water heater. Or, maybe it’s some kind of device that expands the capacity of your water heater, so that you can use more hot water.
These are fine guesses, but in actuality, an expansion tank is a safety device that prevents your water heater from being damaged by water pressure. Not just anyone should have one installed, however. Whether you need one depends on how the city has configured your plumbing system.
Don’t worry—we’ll explain what expansion tanks are and if you need one.
Why Do We Need Water Heater Expansion Tanks?
First things first: if you don’t use a storage tank water heater, this post does not apply to you. Expansion tanks were created purely to help with an issue specific to storage tank water heaters.
That specific issue is the fact that the water inside your water heater will expand when heated. This is referred to as thermal expansion.
For example, a tank that holds 50 gallons of cold water will expand to 52 gallons when heated. Since this kind of tank is only rated to hold 50 gallons, you can see where this becomes a problem. Those two extra gallons will put strain on your plumbing system. With enough time, that strain can wear down your water heater, causing it to leak and—in extreme cases—burst!
A water heater expansion tank provides just enough extra volume to alleviate this pressure.
Isn’t My Water Heater Equipped to Deal With This Already?
You may be wondering: If the phenomena of thermal expansion is so easily understood, then why aren’t water heaters in Glendale, AZ already designed to deal with this issue?
Actually, they are! Many water heaters use check valves and temperature-regulator valves to combat this issue. However, the real problem lies in how the plumbing systems are configured between the city and your home. They can either be open or closed water supply systems.
An open water supply system allows the excess water to be pushed back into the city water supply. This alleviates the issue entirely, so you can use your water heater without an expansion tank. In these systems, check and temperature-regulator valves work as intended.
The more likely scenario, however, is that you have a closed water supply system. This is a one-way valve that does not permit water to flow back into the city. Even with the above-mentioned valves in place, it’s not enough to alleviate the pressure created by thermal expansion.
Does My Water Heater Need an Expansion Tank?
The simple answer is to check which kind of plumbing system you have. If your home is integrated with a closed water supply system, then we highly suggest opting for the expansion tank. Don’t underestimate the damage that can be done without one—some cities in the nation have made expansion tanks a legal requirement!
When you think of plumbing, you probably think of leaks and clogs. At least, these are two of the most common issues you’ll encounter with your bathroom plumbing in Glendale, AZ.
When it comes to clogged drains specifically, we can confirm that they’re never convenient or desired. However, they’re nearly inevitable if you don’t have your drains cleaned regularly.
People sometimes confuse “drain unclogging” with “drain cleaning” and think of them as the same service. In this post, we’ll explain some of the best and worst methods for drain cleaning, as well as which ones actually qualify as “cleaning.”
Negativity catches people’s attention more than positivity, so we’ll start with some of the worst drain cleaning methods.
Chemical Drain Cleaners
We know that chemical drain cleaners are often advertised as a jug full of drain-cleaning magic. And sure, we can admit that these drain cleaners are capable of doing as advertised.
Of course, what they don’t tell you is that many of these drain cleaners use caustic chemicals that will damage your drains. The chemicals are strong enough that they can corrode your pipes and cause leaks to develop prematurely. Plus, just think of all the unknown chemicals you’re pouring into the sewer system.
If a plumber ever does decide to use a drain cleaner, they’ll only use a brand that is 100% safe for your plumbing and for the environment.
A DIY Method Found on an Internet Search
We can’t stop you from leaving this page and searching up DIY methods for unclogging your drain. You might even find one that works.
However, unclogging is much different than cleaning. Cleaning a drain takes professional tools and methods. Any DIY attempt at drain cleaning will most likely require the use of chemicals or substances, and that can be dangerous to you or your plumbing. Unless you’re a chemist or a plumber, we can’t condone any DIY methods.
Now, for the better methods of drain cleaning.
A drain snake can help you unclog some stubborn blockages, and it’s readily available at hardware stores. However, we’ll say it again: this is not the same as drain cleaning.
Drain snakes are useful for clearing up a clog, but they can come with some risks when used by amateurs:
The metal snake can leave unsightly scratches and marks on your porcelain sink or toilet.
Forcing a drain snake down the toilet can cause it to get stuck, possibly damaging the toilet itself.
Improper usage can scratch the pipes or possibly even create breakage.
Most of all, drain snakes prevent you from solving the root of the problem: the dirty drain itself!
We’ve saved the best for last!
When it comes to cleaning out a drain, there’s no option better than a hydro-jet. These tools consist of a line that’s several hundred feet in length, at the end of which is a nozzle that sprays high-pressurized water. Not only is it completely natural, but it’s powerful enough to blast away the grime and sludge that starts clogs in the first place.
Back in the day, plumbing was performed with a lot of listening, intuition, and even guesswork. The tools we have today simply didn’t exist back then, forcing plumbers to work with what they had. While they certainly did a great job of it and helped make the industry what it is today, there’s no turning back from today’s plumbing technology. In particular, we’re thinking of the video pipe inspection camera. Thanks to this tool, plumbers have been able to use this technology to save you from various plumbing issues.
What Is It?
Video pipe inspection is loved by both plumber and customer alike. It’s non-invasive, cost-effective, and accurate. Best of all, it’s simple: it’s a camera at the end of a fiber optic cable that is fed into your pipes and drains. The image from the camera is then displayed on a screen. Being able to see inside of the pipes is crucial for pinpointing and resolving various emergency plumbing issues in Glendale, AZ.
Solve Plumbing Mysteries
Got a leak? Or a clog? Or, you’re just not sure? Video pipe inspection can give you a high-definition view of the inside of your pipes so you can find out exactly what’s going on. Some things it might turn up include:
An infiltration of roots.
Build up of grime and other substances that contribute to clogs.
Cracks in your drain or sewer line.
Finding Lost Objects
Another convenient use for this technology is for that classic scenario: dropping a ring or other valuable object down the drain. Instead of having to fish around for it—and possibly push it down further—the location can easily be pinpointed with the camera.
Inspect Before You Buy
If you’re buying an older home, you know that you need to inspect the property—inside and out—for any signs of damage. The same is true for the sewer lines. Sewer lines will need to be cleaned out and replaced at some point, and if it hasn’t already been done, it could fall on you after moving into the house. Even if there are no obvious signs of damage, video pipe inspection can help you find potential problems before you move in.
Save Your Yard From Abuse
If there’s a leak in your sewer line, the easiest way to find it is by looking for the part of your yard that is saturated with sewage water. But some leaks aren’t so obvious as to reveal themselves like that. Plus, if what you have is a clog instead of a leak, then you won’t have any kind of sign on the surface. The usual solution? Digging around your yard trying to find the source of the issue.
But, as you probably guessed, video pipe inspection makes pinpointing these issues much easier. As the camera is fed into the pipe, the monitor can display just how many feet of line has been inserted. Using that measurement, it’s incredibly simple to find the source of the issue.
Natural gas is a favorite across the nation: it’s one of the least expensive fuel sources, and it can power several different appliances in our homes. Even electricity, which can actually be more efficient than using gas, is usually more expensive. Plus, natural gas is distributed from our own soil, reducing our dependence on global supplies of oil.
But for all the benefits of natural gas, we could never ignore the inherent safety risks of using it. A properly maintained gas line is nothing to fear, but that’s only possible with the help of a professional. We’ll recap some of the dangers of gas lines and why gas line repair and installation require a certified expert.
Dangers of Gas Leaks
Most of us should be aware that leaking gas has a distinct smell of rotten eggs. What you may not know, however, is that odor is artificially added to the gas lines in order to alert you of the presence of a gas leak.
Physical symptoms of a gas leak include:
Eye and throat irritation
Natural gas can ignite when concentrated in contained areas. Gas leaks in the outdoors are immediately vented into the atmosphere and may not present such a drastic threat. However, it’s a completely different story indoors.
A gas leak in your home will quickly buildup and create the risk of explosion. Even operating a light switch in the vicinity can be enough to ignite the gas, so evacuate everyone out of the home first before calling the fire department or an emergency plumber in Phoenix.
Gas Line Repair Requires a Knowledgeable Expert
A leak is the most common result of a damaged gas line, but it requires an expert to be able to inspect your entire line. There are several methods for tracking down leaks and to ensure that they don’t happen again.
Common causes of gas leaks include:
The pipe itself has become damaged, either through corrosion or from physical force.
A fitting has become loose, allowing gas to escape.
Old piping made of less-durable materials, like cast iron, can corrode sooner than expected and form hairline cracks.
Lines that become unseated from appliances.
Gas Line Installation is Not for Amateurs
What’s great about natural gas is that it can be used by many appliances in your home. Whether it’s for powering the kitchen stove or the dryer, natural gas is convenient and versatile.
Now, here’s where the temptation lies: it may seem like an easy task to connect some gas lines to your new appliances. However, simply choosing the wrong kind of fitting can be enough to create a leak.
Plus, knowing what kind of piping to use, and when, is something that you should leave up to someone with experience. Copper, steel, and flexible piping can all be used, but only when it’s most appropriate.
Installation can be even more complex if you’re attempting to run gas lines into a new addition, as part of a new construction job.
When it comes to replacing a water heater, there’s naturally going to be some hesitance. For one, you may not want to invest in a brand-new appliance. And two, you may think that your current water heater is running just fine.
However, when that time does come, replacing the water heater is a huge favor to yourself. Neglecting to replace at the right time can end up costing far more in repairs and operational costs. That’s why it’s important to recognize the signs you need replacement:
It’s No Longer Right for Your Needs
Regardless of whether your water heater has a tank or not, every water heater is installed according to its power and capacity. For example, a particularly large family may need one of the bigger storage tank heaters. On the other hand, a small family of three might only need a tankless water heater. A good plumber will have installed that water heater based on these factors.
So, if you suddenly change your water-use habits, or if the size of your family changes, you might need to make an upgrade or downgrade. Having the right size water heater will keep your heating bill low while maintaining comfort and convenience.
Loss of Efficiency
When we talk “efficiency,” we mean how much you must spend on average. Efficiency and utility bills are one of the first indicators that your water heater needs service. As long as your water heater usage hasn’t suddenly doubled or tripled, there should be no reason for your water heater costs to rise.
Common reasons for a loss of efficiency stem from an aging system or from a buildup of water heater sediment in storage tank heaters.
More and More Repairs
Have you found yourself calling in for water heater services in Phoenix more than once in the same year? That’s definitely not a good sign. The needs for repairs should be far and few between. Anything as frequent as twice, or even once per consecutive year, could be a sign that your water heater is in need of replacement.
If your water heater is still under 8 years old and having these issues, we suggest getting a second opinion. It may be faulty and eligible for replacement under the manufacturer’s warranty. Worst-case scenario, you may be receiving subpar repair service.
Age is commonly the deciding factor for whether you need water heater replacement. While the water heater is still young, most problems it develops can be solved with a maintenance check or a repair. But if your water heater struggles with repairs and efficiency and is shown to be older than 10, you may be fighting a losing battle.
The life expectancy of water heaters varies between each type.
Tank water heaters: 10 to 15 years.
Tankless water heaters: Over 20 years.
Hybrid water heaters: 13 to 15 years.
Where your water heater lands on the scale depends on how well it has been taken care of during its life.
Repiping is simply the act of replacing pipes in your plumbing system. When and how you should repipe a home are often the parts that most confuse people, however. In today’s post, we’ll go over three of the most common questions regarding repiping.
Does Age Factor Into Repiping?
Yes, and that can be for two reasons:
The first is that older pipes will most likely corrode and leak sooner simply due to age. If multiple leaks occur in the home, there’s a good chance that the entire plumbing system is at the end of its lifespan.
The second is when the pipes in your home are made of materials no longer deemed safe for the home. Those types of piping include:
Lead: Lead pipes were used in the 1900s before lead poisoning was realized. If you did have lead pipes in your home, it would most likely be due to living in a historical home.
Polybutylene: While initially thought to be low-cost and easy to install, these pipes are prone to breakage and should be replaced immediately.
Galvanized steel: Not only can these pipes contain traces of lead, but age causes them to rust and corrode from the inside. That can lead to leaks and eventual water damage.
How Much of the Home Needs to be Repiped?
Whole-house repiping may be necessary at times, or, you’ll simply need a section of pipe replaced instead. It depends on the situation.
If your home was made with lead piping, or if all the pipes in your home have aged at about the same rate and are now deteriorating, those would be good cases for repiping the entire home. However, it could be the case that you have just one faulty section.
If leaks seem to be happening frequently, you’ll want to take note. Chronic leaks from different areas of the home could indicate the need for whole-house replacement. Without that happening, however, there’s no guarantee that you need the entire plumbing system repiped.
Which Are the Best Types of Pipe to Replace With?
There’s no single pipe that should be used in every plumbing situation. Choosing the right pipe depends on factors like the material, the pipe’s ability to handle extreme temperatures, and its flexibility. An expert of plumbing services in Phoenix will be able to choose the right pipes for each situation.
CPVP: Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride is a popular plastic pipe that’s used today. That’s thanks to its low cost and for its ability to withstand high temperatures. They’re usually used for drain pipes and hot water piping.
Copper: Copper piping is a plumbing favorite. It’s capable of lasting 70 to 80 years and can be used in most plumbing applications without issue. However, it can become susceptible to leaks if the mineral content in the water and in the surrounding soil creates pitted corrosion.
PEX: Cross-linked polyethylene is another common choice, only second to copper. PEX is easy to install, durable, and even less expensive than copper. Again, the application of this pipe is what makes all the difference, so it should be used depending on the situation rather than for your entire plumbing system.
In the world of plumbing, there are two realms: commercial and residential.
Between the two, many of the same services may be performed. The way those services are performed, however, is going to be drastically different. Commercial properties may have hundreds of people using a plumbing system on a daily basis—you wouldn’t want to perform services on that plumbing system with the same standards you’d use on a house with four people living in it.
Water treatment systems are designed to filter all the bad things out of your main water supply. Just the same as you’d want to protect your family against excessive chlorine, bacteria, or other contaminants, it can be even more important to have the same done for your commercial property.
After all, there may be dozens of more people consuming this water throughout the day. Keeping them healthy and free from contaminated water is all the more important since their livelihood is in your hands. Bad drinking water can make life tough for your employees (and bad for overall productivity). For your customers, it could be what stops them from returning.
Straightening out your water all starts with a water test. That will determine if there are any high levels of contaminants to begin with, and with that, the plumber can then prescribe the right treatment system.
For a restaurant, bar, cafeteria, or other commercial kitchen, waste disposal is incredibly important. A backed-up sink is not something you can afford to deal with during a lunch or dinner rush. Plus, backed-up drains can become unsanitary and may attract flies, produce sewer gasses, or even create bacteria.
The best solution is a garbage disposal. Of course, you’ll also need to make sure it stays in good operation during the entire span of the day. Proper care for the disposal can go a long way, but after constant use for several years, you may need to have repairs or replacement performed. Having a dependable emergency plumber in your contacts list is a good idea in the rare event that your garbage disposal has had enough.
Backflow prevention and testing is one of the responsibilities a commercial property must sometimes take on.
This is because any water connected to the city’s water line must be verified as clean and free from toxins or contamination. If that water were to end up going back into the supply—a phenomenon known as backflow—it could contaminate the public water and become a huge risk for the city.
Backflow prevention ensures that the plumbing system is configured in such a way that the drains will not cause backflow. If they are, they’ll need to be fixed and have that instance recorded. It’s a sensitive job that requires the help of no one except a certified backflow prevention expert.
If you do an internet search for this topic, what you will find is a slew of articles accusing saltless filters as being some kind of “fake” water softener. They’ll make sure to clarify that saltless filters should be called conditioners rather than softeners… as if that were a bad thing.
For the expert plumber in Phoenix, AZ, it makes sense why you would never want to mix up a softener with a conditioner. Softeners remove minerals from the water, and conditioners simply remove the mineral’s abilities to stick to your plumbing. It would be a lie to say they’re the same.
But for the average consumer, who wants nothing more than for their water to feel better and to avoid scaling on their plumbing system, saltless filtration is still an excellent choice.
Actually, we’d argue that salt-less filtration systems are the better choice. We’ll explain more down below.
Efficiency and Costs
Salt-based filters use electricity and need to be resupplied regularly with 50-pound bags of salt. That cost can really add up.
It may sound hard to believe, but saltless filters use a process that doesn’t require electricity at all. The technology has been proven several times to effectively reduce the buildup of scale and the effects of hard water without using electricity (and you can forget about the salt bags).
Excess Water Consumption
As salt-based water filters remove minerals from the hard water, the minerals get trapped to a resin. This is how the water is softened. But when that resin becomes too full of minerals, it needs to be washed out in a process called “regenerating” or “recharging.” However, this can use dozens of gallons of water.
The amount of water it actually uses depends on your area and the hardness of the water, but the fact remains that a saltless filtration system will not demand these extra gallons from your system.
Friendlier for the Environment
The water that is discharged from salt-based systems has to go somewhere! That’s through a drain leading to your sewage system, and ultimately back into the environment. This discharge is full of sodium chloride, however, and that can cause trouble:
Salt Is a Pollutant: The chlorides that get discharged into the environment, along with the treated wastewater can have a detrimental effect on aquatic life and agricultural crops.
Higher Wastewater-Treatment Costs: In order to properly put all that water back into the environment, several expensive measures must be made by the sanitation district. That includes extra filtration efforts like microfiltration and reverse osmosis, as well as dumping the extra salt farther out into the ocean so that it does not affect local marine life.
Increase in Total Dissolved Solids: All the dissolved minerals and sodium will contribute to the amount of total dissolved solids that the treatment plant must deal with. These plants need to have their equipment upgraded to deal with this problem, so that can mean a higher cost of the cities and towns that pay for the water treatment through their taxes.