What Tub Is Right For You?

November 13th, 2015

If you’re remodeling your bathroom, you have an enviable advantage compared to many homeowners. You can select the tub that is right for you in every way.

Be honest about why you want a tub. Many people don’t give this choice much thought and just rush out to their local plumbing supply store, expecting to select a color. When they walk through the door, they can be overwhelmed by the choices. It’s much easier to face a big selection if you know what you need first.

Do you want a place to relax, float, and soak? Soaking tubs do just that for you, because they provide a deep basin in which you can submerge your entire body and indulge in a good, long rest.

If you want to get more than relaxation from your time in the tub, then perhaps a whirlpool tub is what you need. Many people know these tubs by the brand name, Jacuzzi. Strategically placed jets push water around the body, providing a soothing experience that can be like a good massage, maximizing the heat of the water with the motion provided by the jets.

Of course, the first step in any good bath is, literally, the first step. If your body will have trouble negotiating the high sides of a tub, you will be less likely to use and enjoy this expensive piece of equipment. Walk in tubs allow you to get in and out easily, while still enjoying a bath. Some even provide a bench seat so you don’t need to bend down so far.

Finally, if you never want a bath, you can consider creating a shower enclosure that skips a tub entirely.

Putting your wish list aside, give some practical thought to these options. For example, a whirlpool tub requires access to both water and electricity and you will need to ensure there is a way to reach the mechanical components if they need servicing or repair in the future.

Additional options include chromatherapy, which place colored lights below the water line to create different emotional effects.

As always, if you have any plumbing questions, call Classic Plumbing by Reno at 860-748-7305. I’d be happy to talk about tubs and give you specific answers!

Fixing Common Faucet Issues

October 10th, 2015

faucetThere are some plumbing problems that don’t give you warning. Then, there are kinder, gentler plumbing issues that will give you a heads up so you’re not calling for service in the middle of the night, on a weekend, when you have guests.

A good example of a plumbing problem that is easy to fix is a dripping faucet. Heck, this one is so straight forward, you can take care of it yourself with just a bit of know-how.

First step is to know that there are four types of faucets: compression, cartridge, ball, and ceramic disk.

If your faucet has two handles, one for hot water and one for cold water, then you have a compression valve system. These faucets have washers and they can corrode over time. Sometimes, they won’t work properly if they weren’t installed correctly. So, the first step in addressing a drip here is to replace the washer.

These faucets and those that use cartridges also have an O-ring inside the handle to create a waterproof seal. Replacing this part if it’s worn out or damaged will stop a leak, but only if it’s the right size. The wrong size plumbing part just won’t do the job.

A new cartridge is easy to install if your faucet needs one. It’s a matter of disassembling the handle and removing the old cartridge to switch it out with the new cartridge.

One of the best tools in your toolbox will be the paperwork that came with your faucet. Don’t worry if you tossed it years ago. Look on the faucet for a manufacturer’s name and model number. Then, hit the Internet for an electronic copy of your user manual. That will give you the exact specifications for the parts you will need, whether washer, O-ring, or cartridge.

When you buy something like a cartridge, buy an extra one and keep it on hand rather than hunt for one while the dripping goes on.

It’s also a good idea, while the faucet is apart, to do a little cleaning. That will help parts seat better and you’ll feel like you got a new faucet when it works and shines. Stubborn water stains will budget with a little white vinegar and a soft cloth will buff things out nicely.

Good luck and, if you have any questions, call Classic Plumbing by Reno at 860-748-7305. I’m here as your backup!

The Proof is in the Plumbing

September 16th, 2015

toiler paperRecently, social media was full of “proof” that ended the question of how to install a roll of toilet paper — over the top of the roll or out from under. The posts used definitive language and even an image of the original patent for rolled toilet paper, which shows the right way to use the product near the humble toilet.

Before anyone gets on a high horse about being “right” in a choice of how to hang a roll of toilet paper, a quick search on the same Internet that pushed this news to you will show patent images illustrating both over and under installations. Seems even the inventor couldn’t decide which way would serve the bathroom and its users better.

That might be the most useful piece of information to come out of this “bombshell.” In plumbing, as in life, you do what works for the particular situation. A system of pipes that works in one home may not be right for another and bathroom fixtures that look great in one bathroom might be too big or too small for another. There is rarely one right answer when it comes to good plumbing (with the exception of “no leaks.”)

Of course, there are best practices in plumbing and those are good guidelines which help save money, time, and frustration. One such guideline might be to buy a good faucet and spend a few extra bucks up front to avoid repairing a cheap fixture over and over again. It’s not easy to distinguish a cheap fixture because some of these are beautifully designed; it’s the inner components that would fail on you before the esthetic beauty of the piece.

A good plumber like Classic Plumbing by Reno can answer questions at no charge to help you make the right decisions so that your bathroom is a place that is always ready to serve you with running hot and cold water and that you can go straight to preparing food in your kitchen. Keep reading this blog for tips because I want your biggest worry to be… should the toilet paper roll be installed over or under?

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Save Water and Money this Summer

August 17th, 2015

save waterWhether you get your water from a well or the city water system, you pay for every drop that comes into your home. Summer is usually a time when we use more water, to clean our sweaty bodies and then the towels, not to mention the sweaty clothes or the gallons of iced tea we make. So, now is a good time to use some really easy water saving tips.

First, don’t waste water. That seems pretty obvious but we tend to create waste simply by not paying attention. Take a moment to spend a little quality time with your washing machine. If you’ve never used the water level dial before, then you may be wasting water by putting a few clothes in, say for a delicate cycle, at an extra large load water setting. Also, turn off the tap when you’re not actually using the water coming out of it. This includes brushing your teeth. You are likely to spend more time brushing, and get more benefit from this exercise, if you take the time to shut off the water and focus on the scrubbing action.

Buying the right fixtures is a big help. If you don’t have a low flow toilet, check out the price of a good fixture. The water you save will help pay for the new toilet and you can enjoy new advances such as a seat elevated higher from the floor. It’s the little things in life that bring us a great deal of happiness and you no longer have to live with the harvest gold bathroom fixture that came with the house. If the budget won’t allow for a new toilet, start saving your pennies immediately by putting a water bottle in the toilet tank to change the amount of water you use with every flush.

Opt for showers instead of baths. Again, with the water you save, you can put a few extra cents every day toward a new, fancy showerhead. There are some very attractive options on the market now, in terms of style, the way they disperse water over your body, and the low amount of water you use without sacrificing the pressure of a good shower.

Classic Plumbing by Reno knows it’s important to save money and is only a phone call away when you want to learn more about saving water in the summer. (By the way, the tips in this blog work in winter, too!)

Should you put Drano in a toilet?

July 14th, 2015

I’ve heard a lot of myths in my years as a professional plumber. One of my favorites is how you can use Drano to predict the sex of an unborn baby. The idea is to add the mother’s urine to a cup of Drano and the color that results will indicate if she’s having a boy or girl.

Don’t try this at home.

In fact, never mix anything with Drano. Ever. There are some strong chemicals in that product and you can get results that will seriously harm you, if not your plumbing system. You’re probably aware that a mixture of ammonia and bleach creates a toxic gas that can cause you to lose consciousness or harm your lungs. There’s ammonia in Drano and many toilet cleaners contain bleach.

So, don’t pour Drano down the toilet. Or use it to find out if you’re having a girl or boy.

In fact, best to avoid strong products like that all together, especially in the toilet. Drano or other chemicals are not likely to dissolve what’s stuck in there, which is most likely a combination of poo and too much toilet paper. If the problem is a child’s toy or something the child thinks should be toy, like mommy’s cell phone or daddy’s remote, then you really want to pull the object out, not dissolve it away.

For an average clog, time is your best friend. So long as the water level decreases, even slowly, you can flush every so often and let water soften what’s there. It will move eventually.

For things that are really stuck, it might be best to call in a professional plumber. You may be able to move the object farther down and temporarily fix the problem but if you need to unblock the line father down, then things get expensive. Nobody wants to remove walls to access pipes.

I’ve found that a natural product like Bio Clean is great for avoiding problems. This will use bacteria to eat away at the material that might be stuck to the walls of your pipes. Over time, buildup can literally shrink the useful diameter of your pipes, reducing the amount of material carried away. Bio Clean can free up the space and reduce the frequency of clogs not just in the toilet but in sinks, too.

There are no harsh chemicals and therefore no fumes to hurt you or the PVC pipes in your home.

So, avoid the tough stuff because stronger doesn’t necessarily equate to more effective when you’re talking about the plumbing in your home. Avoid using too much toilet paper. Really avoid the kids using the toilet as a hiding place.

When you get stuck, literally, call Classic Plumbing by Reno for help 860-748-7305.

Save Money with a New Hot Water Heater

April 9th, 2015

water heaterThere’s nothing new to the idea of energy efficiency. If you remember the gas crisis of the 70s, then you may be tired of the idea. However, you will never tire of the results, which translate to lower costs.

Let’s spend this month talking about hot water heaters. Did you know that you spend over 20% of your overall energy bill on hot water? If you remember a blog comparing the methods of heating water for home use (To Tank or Not To Tank?) then you know that you may be heating the same gallons of water over and over again while you’re out of the home.

So, when am I going to get to the painless tips to save money? Right now.

Make sure the thermostat on your hot water heater is set to 120° Fahrenheit. Some manufacturers push the units out the door with a higher setting. You don’t need water hotter than 120° F for home use and you’ll save yourself from some nasty burns as you also save almost 5 percent of the cost of heating water to the higher temp.

Use cold water to wash your clothes. Everyone has plenty of dirty laundry to do some easy testing. Wash the clothes in cold and wash them in warm. You won’t see a difference and you will save money in energy (and perhaps save some sweaters from shrinking.)

Insulate the water tank. You wouldn’t sleep without a blanket in winter, would you? If your hot water tank is located in the basement, then you’re trying to keep water at 120° F when the temperature surrounding the tank is about 56° F. Do the math. Spend a few dollars on insulation for the tank and pipes. The energy you save will also be in the form of peaceful sleep as you know those pipes are protected from freezing in winter.

Fix leaks. If you have a leaky faucet, put a cup under the spout when you go to bed. You’ll soon realize how a drop every few seconds will add up to gallons of water you heat just to slide down the drain.

Call Classic Plumbing by Reno for a free consultation at any time. I can help you stop leaks, recommend the right insulation for your water tank, or show you where the thermostat on your water tank is located. You’ll enjoy seeing the lower numbers on your next energy bill.

How Can You Keep Your Septic System Healthy?

March 11th, 2015

When you have a healthy septic system, your waste disappears from the house with just a push of a button.  Toilets, showers, washing machines, dish washers all drain into the same box buried somewhere on your property.

Of course, anything in a house needs to be maintained.  So, every one to three years, you should have your septic system pumped out.  That’s a big range and exactly how often you should do it depends on how much material and liquids you are putting into that system.  If you live with three kids and bathe two dogs on a regular basis, then you’re looking at an annual pump out.  (Don’t forget all the towels you’re washing!)  However, if you live alone and spend the winter in Florida, then you can get away with pumping your septic tank every 2 or 3 years.

A reliable septic contractor will tell you the condition of your system when he pumps for you.  He can determine if you’re on a good schedule or should be calling him more often.

If you’re unable to remember the last time you had the septic system pumped out, call now for an appointment.

There are things you can do to help the system operate properly between pump outs.

The system needs to drain off excess water and allow bacteria to reduce the solids left.  So, avoid putting lots of grease or harsh chemicals down there (might kill your good bacteria).  Also, keep up with the laundry; a dozen loads will add too much water all at once and the system will not operate properly.

Also, keep an eye out.  If you notice leaks inside the house, address them right away.  Or, if there is a funny smell when you’re outside, best to get help as soon as possible.

Call Classic Plumbing by Reno for a free consultation at any time.  I’m here to answer your questions and keep your plumbing in good shape! 860-748-7305

Extreme Weather and Your Sump Pump

February 11th, 2015

You may think that you can forget about water in your basement when the temperatures outside are below freezing.  After all, frozen water is solid water and solid water won’t move.

That’s true but don’t forget what Mark Twain said about weather in Connecticut.  If you don’t like it, wait a minute and it will change.

That switch between freezing and thawing in winter can translate to some tricky flooding problems and you’ll find water in your basement faster than you can say, “Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”  The water will have different paths to travel when the ground is frozen, which usually results in new flooding patterns.  This may be a different level of water or even a new flooding area in the home.

If you own a sump pump, then you are already addressing an existing water problem.  And the pump may not have run in a few months because the transition from fall into winter can be a break from basement flooding problems.

If you haven’t tested your sump pump, it may be a good idea to put a little water into a bucket and give the equipment a little bit of a run.  You don’t want to find a problem when the water is rushing into your basement because the snow has melted and is pushing against your foundation rather than seeping into the ground.  Waterfalls are pretty but not when they are against the interior walls of your basement.

The other trick that helps homeowners avoid problems is a simple task.  We tend to avoid basements in the winter because they’re cold.  Make sure you do a quick walk around down there to look for new damp areas or even standing water.  The dead of winter is a great time for indoor projects so perhaps clear out some of that stuff you haven’t used in years and make it easier to keep an eye on every corner of your basement.

If you have any questions, call Classic Plumbing by Reno for a quick evaluation of your existing sump pump or, if water has recently entered your home, some expert plumbing advice on how to deal with the problem easily and effectively, before mold and other issues create health problems for you and your family.

How Can You Recognize a Sewer Clog?

January 12th, 2015

ToiletIt’s more common to have a clog in your own toilet rather than a clog in the sewer line but it’s good to be able to recognize the difference.  If you catch any problem early, you can save time and money.

If you have more than one toilet in your home and they’re all having problems, then you can be pretty sure your sewer line is clogged.  The odds of every toilet in the house having a problem are slim, unless someone has deliberately sabotaged the units.  (Kids have been known to occupy themselves by seeing how much of anything they can get down a toilet.)

If you want to do a quick test, run water in the sink nearest the toilet and watch the water in the toilet bowl.  If you see bubbles, then you’ve got air in the plumbing system and probably a serious blockage.

Your nose will also tell you if the sewer line is clogged.  We can all recognize the odor of sewer gasses.  It’s not pleasant but it is a positive indicator that you need to take some action immediately.  If you wait, not only will that smell collect in your home, the clog could get worse and, if you think the faint odor of sewer gas is bad when it first starts… you won’t like the smell in your house if that clog pushes material back from the street and into your home!

Sound is another indicator.  You might hear a gurgling noise as the water and solids try to make their way through the system.  A rushing water sound is preferred because it means the path through the pipes is clear.

If you’re feeling very handy, you can open the main line clean out.  Standing water or water pushing back from the street indicates a sewer line clog.

Unlike a simple clogged toilet, clogs in sewer lines are not do-it-yourself projects.  Call a professional plumber like Classic Plumbing by Reno as soon as you suspect a problem.  The money you invest in addressing the problem early will save you a lot of frustration and expense in the long run.

Winter Plumbing Tips

December 9th, 2014

winter-homeThe cold weather is definitely here and it’s time to remind you about a few plumbing tips that are applicable when the temperature is low enough to turn water into ice.

On very cold nights, let a very small amount of water trickle through your pipes to prevent freezing.  Moving water won’t freeze as quickly as standing water will do.  This is especially important if your pipes are exposed to the cold, such as in an non-insulated crawl space beneath your home or close to an outside wall, again, unprotected with insulation.

Of course, if you’re prepared to do a little work and spend what is really very little money, you can protect the pipes with insulation.

If you’re worried about wasting water, you can close the sink and catch the water for use, such as giving your plants a drink.  Just be sure that there is an overflow hole so that you don’t overfill your sink while you sleep.

In fact, check these holes to make sure they’re not clogged.  When you need them, you really need them to work well.

If pipes freeze, the most important thing to remember is, “Don’t panic.”  Shut off the water first.  If the leak is localized, you may be able to shut off a valve very close to the leak and keep water running in the rest of the house.

If you are unsure of the leak location or it appears to be overwhelming, then shut off the main valve.  This is located near where city water comes into the house from the street or near a well tank if you have a well.

Then, assess the damage and get some mops and buckets going.  A local hardware store will sell kits and tools to help fix a broken pipe.  Or, if you want professional help, call Classic Plumbing by Reno at 860-748-7305.  I’ll be happy to get that pipe back together and your plumbing system up and running well!

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