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Plumbing & Mechanical Association of Georgia

PHCC

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Green Plumbing

What can I do in my own home to do my part and help conserve water?

There are several easy to do, affordable projects that you can do around your home that can save over 20,000 gallons of water per household each year without changing your current lifestyle. Here are a few that we recommend:

Have a high-efficiency toilet that has an EPA WaterSense label installed in your home.
Older inefficient toilets are responsible for most of the wasted water in homes today. These new High-Efficiency toilets flush with 1.28 gallons per minute or less but still have strong flushing power. Installing one of these toilets can save around 4,000 gallons of water per toilet, per year, for an average family. There are a variety of different High-Efficiency toilet styles to choose from, including the dual flush type that gives you two different flush options, a smaller flush for liquids and a stronger flush for solids, depending on your flushing needs at a particular time. Here is a helpful site you can use to check out which toilets have the EPA WaterSense label: www.epa.gov/WaterSense/pp/find_het.htm. Some other recommendations include:

  • Replace standard water faucet aerators with new 1.50 gallon per minute, high efficiency aerators. Just replacing these aerators can reduce your faucet water use by as much as 30% without having to give up water flow or replace good faucets. Reducing water flow also means less water your home has to heat.
  • Have a hot water recirculating pump system installed in your home. There are new easy to install systems that keep the hot water moving towards all of the fixtures in your home. Recirculating systems really cut back on wasted water because you don’t have to run a faucet for as long waiting for the water to turn hot. You can reduce the wait time for hot water to a shower as much as 3 minutes. That could equal a savings of over 5 gallons of water per shower. Hot water recirculating systems are especially helpful if you have a bathroom located at the opposite end of the home from your hot water heater.
  • Replace standard showerheads that use 2.5 gallons per minute with new high-velocity, high performance, and water saving shower heads that are designed to use only 1.75 gallons per minute without sacrificing performance. This could also save over 30% of your water use per shower, again reducing the amount of water your home has to heat.

It would seem that the thing stopping more people from becoming stewards of the environment is the idea that purchasing eco-friendly upgrades for their homes will be costly and mean sacrificing their current lifestyles. That doesn’t have to be the case. Simple things can make a big difference. Remember we can’t live green unless we have water to do it. Make every choice count!

We are thinking about replacing our older hot water heater with something more energy efficient. Should we consider on of these new tankless water heaters?

You should absolutely consider it. A tankless water heater is the new way to go. Tankless water heaters provide a high level of performance that meets the needs of nearly all full-time households today, at a time when fuel costs are soaring and conserving energy is more important than ever. We will be the first to tell you that there is a higher cost upfront for the purchase and the installation of a tankless water heater, but we believe the investment is well worth it. You will recover your upfront cost in energy bill savings with in a few years. You will be investing in a more energy efficient product that saves energy, is more environmentally friendly, offers space savings and endless hot water. Tankless water heaters eliminate the stand-by heat loss of regular hot water heaters by not storing hot water during non-use periods, saving you money to heat your water. This also helps decrease carbon emissions and green house gases. Tankless hot water heaters offer more flexibility within a home, changing as your family changes to offer more or less hot water to meet your household needs. Tankless water heaters also take up a lot less space, last at least twice as long, and offer a higher comfort with a more steady temperature supply than traditional water heaters. Rinnai is one of the leading manufacturers of tankless water heaters and they have a very helpful website with lots of facts. Visit them on the web at: www.foreverhotwater.com

What things should we consider when purchasing a new tankless water heater?

There are a lot of choices when purchasing a tankless water heater with more coming every day. We have installed many different brands for our customers including Rheem, Rinnai and Takagi. Rinnai tankless water heaters require plumbing installers to be certified and we are a certified Rinnai tankless water heater installer. We have installed over 70 tankless water heaters as of August 2008 and comments from our suppliers lead us to believe that we are one of the most experienced Rinnai tankless water heater installers in the Augusta area. We strongly recommend gas tankless models over electric. We do not install electric models as we do not believe in their performance right now.

Every household has unique hot water needs and every tankless installation is a little different depending on the needs of your household, and the location of the installation. Rinnai has a tool on their website to help you find the model of tankless hot water heater that bests fits your needs. Visit them on the web at: www.foreverhotwater.com

We would be happy to come out personally to talk with you about your tankless installation and give you an estimate. We always give free estimates!


About Us

What is the biggest thing that you think sets you apart from your competitors?

Honesty and trust worthiness. We will always give our customers the same advice and suggestions as we would a member of our own family. Our reputation and your repeat business are important to us. If you feel that you’ve been overcharged or talked into buying something you really didn’t need, you won’t call us again. We have heard so many stories from my customers of other plumbers, right here in Augusta, who have quoted a customer three times or more higher than our price to perform the same service, or customers who have been told that an entire water heater needs replacing when it’s just an inexpensive part that has gone bad.

We don’t give our technicians incentives to try to “up sell” and talk you into services you don’t need, and didn’t call us to do, like so many of our competitors do. If it can be fixed and doesn’t need replacing, we will tell you so. If there is an alternative that will save you money, we will tell you about it. We take pride in our values and honesty. We want to perform the repair or service that you asked us to do, for a fair and reasonable price, and in a timely and professional manner. Our biggest goal is that you will be so pleased with us that you will call us back again and tell all of your friends and family about us.


Water Bill

My last two water bills have been much higher than normal. We don’t see any signs of leaks. What else could be causing this?

“If you are sure you haven’t been using more water than normal and you have had more than one water bill show a large increase in the gallon usage per billing cycle than you may have a leak somewhere that you can’t see. Here are some things you can check for:

  • Check your yard for any soggy wet patches that could indicate a small leak in your main water line.
  • If your water heater is in a basement or someplace where you don’t look at it regularly you should check the temperature and pressure relief valve on the water heater tank to see if you notice any water coming from it or on the ground around the discharge pipe.
  • Another common cause for a high water bill is a leaky toilet. There are several things to look at in a toilet. Check to be sure that the water level is not set so high that water is overflowing into the overflow pipe located in the middle of the tank. The water level should only come up one inch below the top of the overflow tube. The fill valve may need to be adjusted.
  • Also check the ball and flapper mechanisms in the tank to be sure they are working properly. Water could be leaking from the tank into the bowl. The ball or flapper mechanisms may need to be replaced.
  • Finally if you are still concerned or need help resolving any of these problems call our office for the assistance of one of our trained technicians.”

Cold Showers

We have 4 children, including 2 teenage daughters. We suddenly never have enough hot water. The shower turns cold in 5 minutes or less. We haven’t had this problem before. Can you help us?

“It sounds like your water heater needs to be serviced by a trained technician. Your dip tube may have broken. This is the tube that forces incoming water to the bottom of the tank so that the hot water will be pushed to the top. If this happens the cold water in the tank will mix with the hot water and cool it down. For electric water heaters you may also need to have the elements and the thermostat checked. For gas water heaters, the water heater may need to be flushed. Also check the thermostat to be sure it’s turned up high enough. To prevent scalding we do not recommend turning the thermostat above 120 degrees.”


Strange Sounds

I am hearing a whistling sound that comes and goes. It seems to be coming from our pipes. What could this be?

“If a toilet ball cock goes bad it can create a squealing sound like the whistling you are hearing. A slow leaking fill valve can also make a whistling like sound. Remove the tank lids on all of your toilets and check the ball and fill valve mechanisms to see if the are functioning properly. You may even try adjusting the fill valve yourself. If you find the toilet causing the problem, you will most likely need to have the fill valve or ball cock repaired or replaced by a qualified technician.”

I keep hearing a loud noise, like a rumble, coming from my gas hot water heater. Is this normal?

“When a gas water heater gets older it can get a crusty build-up of rust and sand, called sediment, in the bottom of the tank. When the gas tries to heat the water in the tank it creates hydrogen bubbles that can make a very loud rumbling sound as they rise. We have had customers describe this sound as an earthquake inside the water heater. Depending on the age of the water heater you may try having the sediment flushed out or if you have an older water heater and the build up is severe it may be time for a new hot water heater. We do not recommend trying to flush the water heater yourself as it can be dangerous and messy. If you do drain it yourself remember the water can be very hot. Use a floor drain or laundry tub to drain into. Hot water can crack a toilet and kill grass. Use extreme caution. Your best bet is to have a trained technician inspect the water heater and if appropriate flush out the sediment.”


Bad Smells

I keep noticing a bad smell coming from my kitchen sink. We have a garbage disposal in the sink but there is no food down there. What can the smell be and how can I get it to go away?

”Try putting a handful of ice cubes and some small lemon peels into your disposal and run it for a few minutes. The lemon peels will help with the smell and the ice helps to knock off any rotten food debris or residue that may be stuck to the walls of the disposal. We also recommend pouring ½ cup of bleach, diluted with water, down your drain from time to time. The bleach will kill any bacteria that may be growing in your disposal.”

We have a downstairs guest bathroom that is rarely used. On the rare occasions that we do have company, and it is used, we smell a strong sewage odor. What can this be?

“You have to use your drains, from time to time, in between times when you have company. Flush the toilet in that bathroom and run the sinks on a semi-regular basis to keep water in the p-traps. If your p-traps evaporate you will get sewer gas in your home and it is not a pleasant smell.”


Have some other questions, not addressed here? Please feel free to call us at 706.736.8752 or email us.


For more information, you may reach us by phone at:

Office - 24 hrs.: 706.736.8752
Fax: 706.736.8040

Or you may email us at Service Assistance

 

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