The summer season brings vacation time for many families. It is a time to leave your work and worries behind. Plumbing is the last thing you should be worried about both while on vacation and upon returning home. Neglecting your plumbing, however, can lead to plenty of concerns – from leaks to floods. You can prevent potential disasters, though. Here are some tips on how to prepare your plumbing, so that your home is safe and sound prior to taking a short-term vacation:
The first thing you want to ensure before you leave is that the water to your whole home is off by shutting off the ‘main shut off valve’. However, many homes in Arizona have sprinkler systems and pool water lines after the ‘main shut off valve’, which will cause them to be shut off along with the water to the rest of the home. If this is the situation at your home, call CNJ Services to change the configuration, so you can shut off the water to your home only, while letting water reach your sprinkler systems and pool.
Secondly, prepare your water heater. On an electric water heater, you should turn your breaker off to avoid unnecessary water pressure. Building up pressure can cause leaking. For a gas water heater, you should turn the knob on the gas control valve to either ‘pilot’ or ‘vacation’, depending on the age and manufacture of your water heater.
Finally, keep in mind that all your toilet tanks and pipes retain the current water in them. After turning off your ‘main shut off valve’, be sure to empty all those tanks by flushing, and drain the current water out of your pipes by turning on the hot and cold water faucets until they drain completely.
For most people, if they have heard the name of a plumber many times over the years, they feel that the company must have an established reputation.
Unfortunately, this is often untrue.
In the plumbing field, in particular, several of the most highly promoted companies have the worst track records.
A problem with the hourly rate is that it is difficult to compare rates because of the many ways plumbers count the hours.
Travel time is a factor that should be considered. Plumbers spend a good part of their day driving from job to job. They must be compensated for this time. This is one reason why it is often best to choose a LOCAL plumber that is reputable and reliable.
If the plumber is not traveling far, their rates should reflect that fact.
The bottom line is that it is very difficult to make objective comparisons between two plumbers’ hourly rates. But there is an even bigger problem with focusing on hourly rates. The issue of quality should always be considered. The best way to select a plumber is on his overall ability to deliver customer satisfaction consistently.
CNJ Services has outstanding success at delivering great service at an affordable price. View our testimonials or feel free to call us for a list of references today! 623-399-8569]]>
There are things you can do to bring green plumbing into your home. Do you worry about the amount of water you use on a daily basis? Do you feel your water bill is too high?
Anybody who is interested in bringing green plumbing into their home can do so by following these conversation tips:
Generally speaking, an aerator breaks down the flow of water into small drops. This allows you to use less water while still maintaining effectiveness in washing your hands, etc.
Are you surprised at how easy it can be to bring green plumbing into your home? You may be shying away from the above options because you don’t want to pay a plumber to install the proper equipment.
But remember, when you add low flow shower heads and toilets, as well as faucet aerators, you are saving a lot of water. And when you save, your monthly water bill is going to be lower than ever before!
CNJ Services can help you with your green plumbing needs. Call us today at 623-399-8569!]]>
In general, the hot water flow rate of a small tankless water heater can support a bathroom and a kitchen with a dishwasher. The key to selecting the proper model is knowing the flow rates of your fixtures, the coldest temperature of incoming water, and your usage patterns (how many faucets do you expect to be able to use at the same time?). Work with your plumber to choose a size that fits your needs.
You can also install more than one heater to heat water by zone. For example, at my current remodel I’ve installed two tankless water heaters—one supports a kitchen, bathroom and half bath; the second supports two additional bathrooms.
Understand your dishwasher and clothes washer.
Your appliances may need hot water from your tankless heater or they may heat water internally. I bought a super-efficient Asko clothes washer/dryer that heats the water itself and requires only a cold water connection. I didn’t realize this until we installed the appliance!
Be prepared for resistance from your contractor.
Because of concerns about time and liability, most contractors don’t want to try something new. If you are convinced that a tankless water heater is for you, insist on it and find a contractor who will work with you (preferably one who has experience installing tankless units). Provide the contractor with the manufacturer’s installation instructions (often available online). You may also want to contact the manufacturer’s technical support department for advice on size and other considerations.
Carefully plan the location of your water heater.
Tankless water heaters use an intense flame to heat water on demand.- They require more air for combustion and vent more exhaust than conventional water heaters. This affects how and where you install them in two ways:
Venting: For direct venting (through the wall), the vent termination must be at least three feet from any operable window. If you are venting through the roof, the length of the vent is determined by the size of the heater (the BTU output) and the number of elbows, or turns, in the vent. You may not be able to vent the heater through the roof if the vent run is long—for example, if the heater is in the basement of a three-story building.
Combustion air: A gas-fired water heater (tankless or not) requires a source of oxygen for combustion. To avoid back-drafting that combustion air through another appliance's exhaust pipe, your water heater should be sealed-combustion direct-vent.
Check your gas and water supplies.
Tankless water heaters can produce three to four times the BTUs a conventional heater produces. Your plumber must verify that your current gas line size, length and even gas meter can provide sufficient gas flow to the unit. Tankless heaters also require minimum water flows for activation; again, your plumber should verify that your supply meets the specifications.
Avoid long runs between the heater and the faucet.
Because tankless heaters generate hot water only when you turn on the hot water tap, it takes some time (a small delay) to heat cold water to the optimal temperature. Locating the heater far from the tap can result in a more noticeable "sandwich effect" when hot water is used intermittently. One way to overcome this problem is to use a recirculation pump that brings water from the farthest fixture in the plumbing run back to the tankless heater, but because these pumps use a lot of energy keeping water in the loop hot, it's better to preheat or buffer hot water.
Make sure you meet the building code.
If anyone—you, your plumber or the building inspector—misses a detail during preliminary reviews, you’ll have a messy and costly fix to sort out later.
Make sure the venting material complies with the manufacturer’s specifications and local building codes.
CNJ Services can help you pick the right water heater — call us today at – 623-399-8569]]>
First off, some basics about how tankless hot water heaters work. Standard non-electric storage hot water heaters typically are about 60% efficient, meaning that 60% of the energy in whatever fuel they burn is converted into heat for your water. The other 40% of energy is wasted, some due to inefficient burners and some due to the gradual cooling of water stored in the tank through time. Tankless or on-demand hot water heaters address both of these issues: they eliminate the storage-related losses, and they employ sophisticated burners and controls to improve on the combustion efficiency. Top-of-the-line models can be 80-85% efficient, which results in a 30+% savings on your hot water energy bills and your carbon footprint compared to your tank in the corner. (electric unit savings will be lower, since storage electric HW heaters already have efficient heating mechanisms).
There are some important caveats associated with tankless hot water heaters, though. If you’re considering one, make sure you take into account the following issues when you’re weighing the pros and cons:
CNJ Services can help you make the right choice for your water heating needs. Give us a call today at 623-366-8569 to learn more about how the right water heater can not only provide you with hot water fast but also save you money.]]>
Before you shell out hundreds for a storage-tank heater or thousands for a tankless or solar model, see whether your old water heater can be fixed. A corroded storage-tank model is history. But a leaky drain or pressure-relief valve or a burned-out heating element can often be fixed. Rule of thumb: Consider a repair if the labor cost (which warranties often exclude) averages less than $50 per year over the years left in the warranty. Otherwise, buy a new one, especially if the warranty has run out.
Most storage-tank water heaters look alike on the outside. But sawing open a cross-section of gas and electric storage-tank models in our lab confirmed that paying a little more typically buys a better water heater. Those with longer warranties tended to have larger heating elements, thicker insulation, and thicker or longer corrosion-fighting metal anodes.
Longer warranties were also a good indication of better quality for tankless water heaters. But their added complexity can mean more potential problems. Some tankless heater manufacturers shorten the warranty for units used with hard water and in multifamily homes. And most recommend service once a year by a qualified technician.
Hybrid heaters meld an electric storage-tank heater with a heat pump that captures warmth from the air. Those we tested provided annual savings of about 60 percent over electric-only models. You'll also save by replacing a broken oil-fired heater with a hybrid. But if you're replacing a heater that runs on natural gas, which is relatively inexpensive, it probably won't pay to switch.
Solar heaters supplement an electric heater with heat from the sun's rays. The best in our tests saved us about 80 percent over an electric storage-tank heater alone during the summer months at our Yonkers, N.Y. headquarters. But for us, those savings plummeted to about 30 percent during cold weather. How much a solar system saves you can vary widely based on where you live, your home's sun exposure, and which system you choose.
Choosing the right capacity
Most water heaters are sold on the basis of how many gallons they hold. For example, two to four people might use 80 to 85 gallons per day–enough for about three showers, one laundry load, running the dishwasher once, and turning on the faucet nine times. But the first-hour rating (FHR) for storage-tank water heaters and the gallons-per-minute rating (GPM) on tankless water heaters are more important, because they tell you how much hot water the heater can deliver during a set period. A pro can calculate how much you'll need.
Heating water accounts for up to 20 percent of the average home's energy budget. Some gas-fired tankless water heaters are claimed to cut energy costs by up to half over regular storage heaters. But their added up-front costs mean it pays to look before you leap. Compare the types of water heaters.
Most of these are essentially steel cylinders fed by a cold-water inlet pipe (the dip tube) that protrudes into the tank (this line includes the shutoff valve). Water is heated in the tank, and hot water exits through a hot-water pipe atop the tank. Another pipe that emerges from the tank includes the temperature and pressure-relief valve, which opens if either exceeds a preset level. You'll also find a drain valve near the tank bottom and a control unit outside for setting temperatures and, on gas models, controlling the pilot-light valve.
Gas is the fuel of choice if you already have natural-gas service or can run a gas line to your home economically. Gas models cost more than electrics. But on the basis of national-average fuel costs, a gas water heater will cost you about half as much to run as a comparable electric model. Thus, a gas heater might amortize the up-front difference in cost in as little as a year. While you'll also find oil-fired storage heaters, they're relatively expensive, because they include the tank and an oil burner. That's why homes with oil heat typically use an electric water heater.
Tankless models (a.k.a. instantaneous water heaters) are suitcase-sized units that heat water only when needed by using an electric coil (typically for low demand) or natural gas (for high demand) to heat water passing through a heat exchanger inside. They eliminate the risk of tank failure and the energy lost by constantly reheating water, though their heat exchanger can clog or fail. What's more, they're expensive to buy and install, and include limitations on hot-water flow rates, a possible issue in large households. And cooler incoming water in winter typically means your hot water may not be as hot as you like.
Hybrid electric heaters
These have a conventional electric storage heater paired with a heat pump that extracts heat from the surrounding air and uses it to help heat the water. Models we tested used about 60 percent less energy than standard electric heaters, which account for about half of all water heaters sold. And while hybrids cost more than electric-only models, installation is similar and payback time is short.
But hybrids also have their downsides. Because the heat pump is usually on top, they need as much as 7 feet from floor to ceiling. You'll also need up to 1,000 cubic feet of uncooled space to capture enough heat from the air, along with a condensate pump (about $150) if there's no drain nearby. Hybrid heaters are noisier than conventional storage-tank heaters, exhaust cool air, and can rob some heated air in winter.
Solar water heaters
All solar heaters supplement an electric heater in basically the same way: A roof-mounted collector absorbs the sun's heat and transfers it to an antifreeze-like fluid in a closed-loop system that runs to the water tank. The collector is typically a flat panel or an array of glass cylinders called evacuated tubes. The best delivered stellar savings in summer, making them an attractive option for warm, sunny areas. But savings suffered on cold and cloudy days. And even with federal and local rebates, the thousands you'll typically spend to buy and install one can mean you'll wait anywhere from 10 to 30 years before their savings pay for their costs.
Our tests simulated daily use of hot water by a family of two to four. That includes water usage for taking showers, washing the laundry, running the dishwasher and turning the faucet off and on. Here are the water-heater features to consider.
The water-heater market is split about 50-50 between electric and natural gas. Oil-fired heaters account for only a small percentage of sales, most likely because of their relatively high price and the small market for oil-burning equipment.
Coverage for most heaters typically runs 3 to 12 years. While you'll usually pay a bit more for longer-warranty models, we've found that they tend to have larger elements or burners that can speed up water heating, essentially increasing the hot water available, along with thicker insulation for less heat loss. We suggest choosing models with the longest warranty available.
Some brands–notably, Kenmore, State Industries, and Rheem–advertise features that are supposed to reduce buildup of mineral scale at the bottom of the tank by swirling the water. While scale can shorten the life of the heating element inside an electric water heater, you don‘t need to invest in fancy features to get a long-lived model. Simply look for a heater with a 12-year warranty, which typically includes a longer or thicker element.
Brass vs. plastic drain valves
These valves are situated near the base of the unit to accept a garden hose for draining the heater. Look for brass drain valves, which tend to be more durable than plastic.
A glass-lined tank is another feature designed to reduce corrosion. During manufacturing, a coating is applied to the inside of the steel tank and heated to form a protective, porcelain glass-like layer.
Found mostly on hybrid and solar heaters, these help you monitor levels and customize operation. Some electric/heat-pump hybrid models let you digitally set a "vacation mode" that uses just the heat pump for added efficiency when you're away. Displays on solar heaters often show tank and collector temperatures, along with pressure readings and other helpful data.
A top-mounted heat pump on hybrid water heaters typically makes them taller than conventional models. Tougher federal standards have also spurred companies to beef up the insulation on regular storage-tank heaters, adding about four inches of width over earlier versions–a potential problem in tight spots. (Hint: Adding insulation to hot-water pipes that exit the heater can add efficiency to any water heater.)
Residential tank-type gas heaters typically include flammable-vapor ignition resistance (FVIR) to prevent flashback fires when vapors from a flammable liquid such as gasoline contact the burner or pilot light. Also be sure your home has carbon-monoxide alarms if you have a fuel-fired water heater or any fuel-burning device, including a fireplace. And because heaters are generally vented through the same chimney as a furnace or boiler, if you change venting for one appliance, you might need to change it for the other. Considering a tankless water heater? If you run a vent pipe to the outside of your house, you'll need to use Category 3 stainless-steel venting to resist corrosion from any condensation that forms in the pipe.
For more information about your water heater choices, contact CNJ Services today at 623-399-8569]]>
In the last several decades, little in the plumbing industry has changed. But with a more eco-conscious approach to every industry, plumbers are now looking at new practices and technologies that drive water conservation and energy efficiency.
Although plumbing products’ design and performance didn’t change much in the last 100 years, it is now changing very rapidly.
The green building boom isn’t only for builders. Plumbers, too, can take advantage of the growing demand for green products and services, and CNJ Services is doing just that.
CNJ Services offers bold solutions to water and energy scarcity concerns about water scarcity and the growing population as major driving forces in the future of the plumbing and water management technologies.
Because there’s increased pressure on saving water, manufacturers have to be very innovative and clever to make sure products are performing up to consumer expectations while also using less water. Modern plumbing products are highly engineered, and as areas experience more drought and an increased population, our engineers will continue to be challenged to create a new generation of water-efficient plumbing products.
To discuss options for improving the efficiency of your homes plumbing, contact CNJ Services at 623-399-8569]]>
Slab Leaks are also known as foundation leaks. This article includes a backgrounder, symptoms, causes of these leaks, repair options, cost estimates and risks.
Slab leaks issues started in the Southwestern United States in the 1980s. At that time home builders and contractors were building houses on large concrete slabs. The builders would pour a giant cement slab foundation and then lay in soft copper pipe while the cement was still wet. The piping would run the length and width of the slab as necessary to reach wherever they wanted to get water within the house and according to the floor plan. The pipe would stick up out of the cement in whatever room the floor plan said would need water. For example, a pipe would stick up from the foundation at every bathroom, the kitchen and laundry room, to name a few.
The problem with the idea of burying soft copper piping into a cement foundation was that the copper was weak. Any kinking, folding, bending, or nicking would weaken the pipe and over time and cause a pin hole leak. The pipes were often damaged during the installation and or cementing process. Builders were unable to use hard copper because it was not acceptable to the building codes at the time.
How do you know if you have a slab leak? Common symptoms include seeing or feeling wet spots on the flooring. Especially warm spots. These can be detected by walking around the house in bare feet. Another common symptom is that the water bill is significantly higher. This is caused by the fact that water is leaking under pressure from an inbound water line. This means that the water leaks all day and all night ever day. That drives your water bill way up. Another symptom that is fairly common is that is sounds like water is running when all of the faucets in your house are off.
As we mentioned earlier, the core cause of these leaks is damaged soft copper tubing. The damaged pipes begin springing leaks and become known as slab leaks. What is unique about these slab leaks is that they are in the concrete foundation. A foundation leak, by its very nature is not an easy leak to fix.
Leak detection is a very important part of the process and is often separate from the repair process. The first step is always to have a reputable leak detection company, such as CNJ Services come out and find the leak or leaks. This is done by using high tech non invasive detection equipment to find the leak.
You have three options to repair foundation leaks. You can jackhammer, epoxy or repipe.
The jackhammer route is the most common. It's a highly disruptive process in which a crew comes in and removes the floor and then jackhammers through the cement to find the pipe. A section of the pipe around the leak is removed and replaced with new pipe. The new section of pipe is soldered in place by a plumber who knows how to weld. Once the new section of pipe is in place the water pressure is restored to make sure it does not leak. If it does not leak, then the cement is replaced and the floor re assembled.
Expoxy lining is a process where the insides of the pipes are cleaned and then coated with epoxy. This seals up the hole and stops the leaking. It has the added benefit of perhaps heading off any future leaks because the coating is applied to all of the pipes in the slab foundation.
The third and final option is called repiping. Repiping is when you basically rebuild all of the water pipes in the house separate from the soft copper tubing that is buried in the foundation. An entirely new network of pipes is installed in the house in the walls and ceilings that completely bypasses the old slab piping.
If you suspect you have a slab leak, contact CNJ Services to discuss your first steps – 623-399-8569]]>
High efficiency water heaters have features such as heat traps and advanced insulation that help you conserve energy. Most of the direct heat loss that occurs in water heater tanks is caused by warmth escaping through the sides and base of the appliance, or by convection that occurs when heated water is sent into your home's piping system. Energy saving water heaters use less power to make water hotter and minimize standby losses, which occur when heated water is left to cool in the tank. You can also use water heater blankets as an additional layer of insulation to minimize heat loss.
Water heaters are classified by their energy sources, and energy efficient options are available no matter which type you prefer. As with energy efficient refrigerators and dishwashers, efficient units qualify for the Energy Star rating. Energy Star water heaters must meet or exceed strict government standards for power conservation.
Types of Water Heaters
Electric water heaters have the advantage of easy installation. They are also flexible, in that they can be placed in many different areas of the home and come in a full range of sizes. While they do take a relatively long time to heat water, they also generally have larger tanks, creating superior storage capacity. Using water heater blankets is recommended to avoid standby losses.
Natural gas is another option. These appliances heat water quite quickly, but your home has to be set up with a natural gas pipeline to house one; you're also limited in terms of placement, as the natural gas water heater will have to be put wherever the gas lines allow. Propane water heaters operate similarly, but you'll need to arrange regular fuel delivery and purchase a sizeable liquid propane tank. Oil-fired water heaters work very quickly and therefore usually have more compact tanks, but the range of options available is relatively limited.
Tankless water heaters are yet another option. These units work by heating water on demand with heat exchanger coils. They are usually installed at the point of use (of which there can be one or many) and are very efficient, but installation is complex and can be quite expensive.]]>
If you understand how a toilet works, it will eliminate the confusion about which part needs replacing. When you flush a toilet the rod connecting to the handle lifts the tank ball. On some toilets, it’s a flapper rather than a ball. Either way, this action opens the drain at the bottom of the tank and the water drains out of the tank into the toilet bowl.
The force of the water flowing out of the tank directs the tank ball, or flapper, back into place. Inside the tank, there is a float that rises and falls with the water level in the tank. When the float lowers as the water goes down, it opens the water supply inlet valve. As water enters through the inlet valve, and the tank begins to refill, some water is directed through a tube into the overflow pipe and down into the bowl. When the tank fills with water, the float rises until it trips off the water supply inlet valve, completing the flush.
Many times it will be a matter of making a simple adjustment inside the tank in order for it to work properly. If the water never completely shuts off, check to see if the water level inside the tank is higher than the overflow pipe. If it is, adjusting the water level should fix it. Some tanks have a set screw on top of the water inlet valve where the arm of the float is connected. Turn it to adjust the water level.
Many people, however, find that bending the float rod down is simpler and just as effective a way of reducing the level of the water in the tank.
If you have a tank ball, try adjusting the vertical rod that connects the tank ball to the flush handle rod. This rod is normally held upright by a plastic holder fastened around the overflow pipe. The rod must be perfectly perpendicular to the drain (also called the valve seat) of the tank in order for the tank ball to seal properly in the drain opening. If it’s not seated properly, water is escaping through the drain all the time. Adjust the rod if this seems to be the problem.
For toilets with flappers, the water may be running all the time because the flapper chain is so taut that there is not sufficient slack to allow the flapper to completely seat. Solve this problem by moving the “S” hook slightly higher on the chain.]]>