plumbing maintenance

5 Signs Your Plumbing System is in Need of Maintenance

From noisy pipes to low water pressure, a variety of problems can signal that your plumbing system is in need of repairs. Some of these problems can be easily fixed, while others may require the services of a professional plumber.

In this blog post, we’ll look at five of the most common signs your plumbing system is in need of maintenance or repairs. From dripping to slow draining, discover five signs to watch out for in your commercial plumbing system.

Unusually colored tap water

Is the water coming from your taps slightly brown or yellow? Brown water is a sign of rust in your pipes, which is often the result of aging pipes or damage to your local water main.

Likewise, gray or cloudy water can indicate air trapped inside your pipes. A green or blue tinge to your tap water can indicate corrosion – the closer it is to blue, the more severe the extent of the corrosion.

All of these issues typically require the attention of an expert plumber. If your water is an unusual color or comes out of the tap looking slightly cloudy, consider having a plumber look over your system.

Slow, inefficient draining

Does your sink take too long to drain? Draining issues can be a major annoyance for businesses, particularly those that depend on sinks and water-based appliances. If a sink or tub takes too long to drain, your plumbing system could be the cause.

Slow drainage is occasionally caused by blockages. If cleaning your drain with a tool doesn’t fix the blockage, it could be your plumbing system. Contact a professional to learn more about the best way to clear the drain and fix your plumbing system.

Low water pressure

Does water dribble out of your building’s faucets? When you use a faucet, it should deliver a steady, consistent stream of water that increases in quantity as you adjust the tap further.

Low water pressure is caused by a number of issues. If it only occurs on one faucet, it could be the result of a local blockage. If it occurs across your whole system, you may have a leak or corrosion block in your plumbing.

Finally, low water pressure can occur because of a poor connection to the municipal water system. If your entire building is affected by low water pressure, contact your municipal water supply to see if they’re aware of the problem.

Loud, “knocking” pipes

Are your pipes annoyingly noisy? Older plumbing systems will typically be noisier than new ones, but thumping or knocking noises can indicate a system that’s unfit for use and potentially dangerous.

Thumping sounds can occur because of water pressure that’s too high for the pipes used in your system, weak supports for your pipes and valves that have come loose over time. If you hear knocking from your pipes, speak to a plumber right away.

Dripping faucets

Do your faucets drip even when they’re completely turned off? Your water pressure may be too high for your fixtures. This can cause water to escape from your taps and outlets even when they’re completely closed.

Other causes of dripping faucets include damaged faucet valves. Dripping can result in damage to your bathroom and kitchen over time, making it important to contact a plumber as soon as you notice dripping from a faucet.

5 Must-Have Home Bathroom Tools and Accessories

toilet plungerHave you recently moved into a new home or apartment? Once you’ve moved in all of the essential furniture and appliances, you’ll need to stock your bathroom with a range of tools and accessories for cleaning, basic plumbing and more.

In this blog post, we’ll list five must-have home bathroom accessories for keeping your bathroom spotless and working its best. Read on to learn what you should be stocking in your bathroom cabinet for quick repairs and home maintenance.

Chemicals and cleaning supplies

Every bathroom gets dirty, from dust and dirt on the floor to dirty drains that can become clogged up with hair. Because of this, it’s important to stock your cabinet with at least a few chemicals and cleaning supplies.

Keep at least one surface cleaner for taking care of general wear and tear. Stock up with a drain cleaning product for fixing blocked shower drains with ease. Complete your bathroom cleaning set with sponges, brushes and a pair of rubber gloves.

Shower wiper blade

Does your shower have a glass door? Keeping a shower wiper blade on hand makes cleaning up your bathroom a breeze. Wiping down your shower prevents mold and mildew from developing over time, reducing your total cleaning needs.

Clip your wiper blade to your shower door and use it to wipe down windows, your bathroom mirror and other glass surfaces after a hot shower. Excess moisture can quickly turn into mold, which should never be welcome in your bathroom.

Toilet and sink plungers

Plungers are fantastic bathroom tools, and having a pair on hand makes it easy for you to fix blocked drains and toilets. Keep a sink and toilet plunger in your cabinet to unclog your toilet, sink or shower drain when the need arises.

It’s important to have both plungers on hand, since the typical sink plunger that’s found in many bathrooms is generally ineffective at unclogging toilets. Make sure you clean your plungers using hot water and cleaning solution after using them.

Sealant and sealant gun

From showers to toilets, sealant is vital for repairing the gap separating bathroom fixtures from your bathroom. Damaged seals can lead to leaks, which can lead to a lot of damage to your bathroom’s flooring.

Keep a sealant gun on hand – either in your bathroom or inside your garage – with some waterproof sealant, and you’ll be completely prepared to fix broken bathtub, shower and toilet seals should the need arise.

Hand auger

Have you ever cleaned a blocked drain? A hand auger is a hand-cranked tool used to reach into bathtubs, showers and sink drains and clear debris. Most hand augers can extend as far as 25 feet into the drain to remove hair and other debris.

As well as a hand auger, consider buying a closet auger (short for “water closet,” it’s an auger for your toilet) to repair blockages and clogs in your toilet. It’s a great tool to have on hand if your plunger fails to remove blockages from your toilet.

lo water pressure

What Causes Low Water Pressure?

Has your shower head or bathroom faucet’s flow of water been reduced to a mere trickle? Low water pressure is a common annoyance for homeowners, and finding out the cause of a water pressure problem can be challenging.

In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the most common causes of low pressure in your home’s plumbing system. Read on to learn how to discover the source of your pressure problem and return your plumbing system to normal.

Leaking pipes

Is your home several decades old? Many older homes use plumbing systems that haven’t been updated for decades. Over time, pipes and couplings can deteriorate and leaks can develop.

Leaks can cause serious damage to your property over time, since the water from your plumbing system can wear away at materials used to build your home. They can also cause your system’s water pressure to drop significantly.

The best way to detect a leak is by checking your home’s water meter. Turn off all faucets and appliances in your home and record the water meter’s value. Wait for several hours and return to see if the water meter’s reading has increased.

If it has, your plumbing system may have a leak. Contact a plumber to repair your pipes and return your system to normal performance, preventing damage to your home and fixing your water pressure issues.

Corrosion

Over time, corrosion can build up in your pipes and block the flow of water. Steel and galvanized plumbing components are designed to last for decades, but many will become corroded towards the end of their lifespan.

Corrosion blocks the flow of water throughout your home’s plumbing system and can lead to low water pressure. Pipes that have become corroded generally need to be replaced by a professional plumber.

Debris buildup

Much like corrosion, debris can build up in your pipes over time and prevent water from flowing freely. Most home plumbing blockages are due to dirt and sand – both of which can build up over time and block your pipes and couplings.

The first step in fixing pipes affected by debris is locating the debris itself. Run all of your home’s faucets and observe which ones have low water pressure. If only one or two faucets have low pressure, their pipes are most likely affected by debris.

Debris can be removed using common plumbing chemicals. If you’re unable to find the source of the blockage within your system, contact a professional plumber and let them clear the pipe and return your water pressure to normal again.

Poor water supply

Sometimes low water pressure isn’t caused by your home’s plumbing system, but by the municipal water supply. Local water systems can be affected by leaks, sediment, mechanical failure and many other issues which can affect system water pressure.

If your water pressure suddenly declines after months of normal operation, contact your municipal water supplier and ask about the source of the problem. They might be able to provide information on when your water pressure will return to normal.

shower drains

How to Fix Most Blocked Shower Drains in 5 Minutes

Is your shower or bathtub drain clogged up? Blocked bathroom drains are one of the most common plumbing issues homeowners face. Thankfully,, they’re pretty easy to fix using only basic plumbing tools and chemicals.

In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of unblocking your shower or bathtub drain and getting the water flowing again. There are a few different ways to unclog a shower or bathtub drain, each of which fixes a specific type of blockage.

Identifying the cause of the blockage

Is your shower drain completely blocked, or does it just drain slowly? Switch on the water and run a small amount into your shower. If it drains out slowly, the drain is only partially blocked and is probably filled with hair.

Fixing a shower drain that’s blocked by hair is fairly simple. Put on some protective rubber gloves, since it might be dirty. Using a screwdriver or small tool, gently pull up the drain cover and place it beside the drain itself.

Removing hair from a drain catch

If your shower drain has a catch, lift it up and remove any hair. Dispose of the hair in your garbage can – don’t flush it down the toilet, or you could end up having to fix an entirely different drain.

Once you’ve cleaned out the catch, run some water through it and place it inside the drain. Gently reinsert the drain cover and set it back into place, then run some water from the shower to check that the drain is clear.

Removing hair from the drain

If your shower or bathtub drain doesn’t have a hair catch, or removing hair from the catch doesn’t unblock the drain, the source of the blockage is probably further down the drain itself.

Remove the drain cover again and, if your drain has a tub stopper, gently unscrew and remove the stopper. Look into the drain and see if you can spot anything stuck inside – common causes of blockages include hair, bandages and product labels.

You’ll need a drain tool to pull any materials out of the drain. You can purchase one from your local hardware store, or – if you’d like to save money – bend a hanger into a hook shape to scoop hair out of the drain.

Reach into the drain with your drain tool and twist it around inside the pipe. You’ll want to dig as deeply into the drain as possible to scoop up hair. Once you’ve fished around in the drain, pull your drain tool out and dispose of it in the garbage can.

Fit the drain cover again and run some water from the faucet or shower to see if it drains quickly. If it doesn’t drain, you may need to apply more pressure to the drain to dislodge the source of the blockage.

Using a plunger to unlock the drain

If the above two methods don’t fix your blocked drain, you can try applying pressure using a plunger. Place the plunger over the drain and pump it up and down – lots of blockages will be dislodged and cleared simply by the pressure of the plunger.

If the plunger alone isn’t effective, try pouring some hot water (not quite boiling hot, as this level of heat can damage your plumbing system) down the drain before using the plunger. The heat of the water will often wear away at hair and other blockages.

Can’t unblock the drain? Call a plumber.

Some blockages are impossible to remove using basic home tools, often because the source of the blockage is deep inside the drain. Try the above methods first and call an expert plumber to fix the drain if they fail to produce results.

Plumbing Glossary: Understanding Basic Plumbing Terms and Phrases

Is your drain blocked? Is your water pressure a little light for your liking? Plenty of plumbing problems can be solved using basic tools and a little know how, provided you’re familiar with the jargon used in many plumbing tutorials.

In this glossary, we’ll cover the most frequently used terms, phrases and jargon in home plumbing. Read on to learn the basic technical terms you’ll no doubt read in manuals, tutorials and even our own online plumbing guides.

Air Gap

A vertical gap between the bottom of a drain of waste line and the place it empties into. Prevents waste or dirty water from flowing back up the pipe and resulting in contamination.

Backflow

Water that travels backwards from one part of the plumbing system into the main plumbing system is referred to as backflow. Backflow is unwanted and is typically blocked with a backflow preventer.

Bleed

When air is trapped inside a pipe it can cause sputtering noises to occur when a tap is used. It can also result in inconsistent pressure and splashing faucets. ‘Bleeding’ a pipe refers to removing excess air from it by opening a valve.

Boiler

A hot water tank that heats water to turn into steam. Boilers are typically used as a power source for hot water systems and radiators. Also known as a ‘furnace’ in the United States.

Burst Pressure

The amount of pressure that will cause a pipe or tube to burst. Plumbers should be aware of the burst pressure of tubing they’re using and ensure the system they are working on will not damage the tubing.

Coupling

A fitting used to connect two pipes together. Many types of coupling are available for different plumbing systems. Couplings are typically made of steel, copper, brass and other materials.

Elbow

A fitting that changes the direction of a pipe. Elbows are typically 45° or 90° and can be referred to as “ells.” Elbows are also available in a 22.5° angle, although this angle is uncommon.

Fixture

A source of discharged water or drain. Fixtures can include bathtubs and showers, kitchen and bathroom faucets, outdoor water systems, toilets and bidets and more.

Galvanized

Metal treated with a light coating of zinc is galvanized. Galvanizing metal prevents it from becoming corroded and increases its functional lifespan, preventing breakages and other common plumbing issues.

Hard Water

Tap water that contains minerals and other impurities. Hard water is measured by the amount of calcium and dissolved materials inside the water, in addition to the presence of minerals.

O-Ring

A circular ring (technically, in the shape of a torus) that acts as a seal between two parts of a plumbing system. O-rings are made from elastomer polymers and are an essential component of plumbing systems.

Potable

Safe to consume. Water that is potable is safe to drink or use in cooking. Most city water supplies are potable, although natural disasters such as flooding can cause a normally potable water supply to become contaminated and unsafe.

Septic Tank

A tank that contains waste from a home or building. Septic tanks allow solid matter to settle before being pumped and removed. Typically used in remote locations that are not connected to a sewer system.

Tee

A three-point fitting shaped like an upper case T. Tees are used to link connect three pipes together. Tee fittings, which are smaller, also allow three sections of pipe to be connected within a plumbing system.

Valve

A mechanical device that controls the flow of water throughout a pipe. Many types of valve are available to suit different sizes of pipe and system pressure. One of the most important components of any plumbing system.

Furnace Vent Checkup

Here is a photo of a vent on a Furnace that has not been serviced in a long while.

photo
Vent failure will allow carbon monoxide to leak into the structure.

If you have a furnace that is more than 10 years old, the firebox should be inspected annually.

All of these failures can be noted on an annual service of your equipment. Often, if no service is done, this can be dangerous.

Part 2: WaiWela Tankless Water Heater Units: Ideal Fit for Snack Food Plant

Last week, we talked about Snak King Corporation, the largest snack food manufacturer that has been remodeling, reorganizing and upgrading its 177,000-square­ foot Kosher & Organic certified manufacturing plant. Here’s the 2nd part of their story about WaiWela Tankless Water Heater Units that they used for their snack food plant.

After many hours of compiling information relative to the application and evaluating Snak  King’s goals for their rebuilding project, as well as considering future capacity increase goals. Ponce proposed a new hot water system.  He took into account the following criteria:

  • Snak King’s manufacturing plant’s hot water demand load requirement is 120 gpm with long-term plant capacity increases to 165 gpm for up to 4-hour intervals: 7,200 to 9,900 gph
  • Snak King Corp’s  hot water system design operating  temperature  is  120°F; temperature rise of 6S°p’
  • Endless hot water supply
  • Limited available space
  • Energy efficiency required
  • Redundancy needed
  • Service ability without any downtime
  • Capacity expandability of the hot water system
  • Cost-effective solution

WaiWela Tankless Water Heater Based on the above criteria, Ponce proposed specifying for this application the WaiWela by Paloma Industries model PH28co commercial outdoor tankless water heater (WaiWela is  pronounced Vi Vela, which means hot water in Hawaiian). The PH28co model is a 199,900 Btuh rated system. One of these models is capable of producing 5.2 gpm at a 65°F rise. Twenty eight of them plumbed in parallel will produce 145.6 gpm or 8,736 gallons per hour endlessly.

Due to space limitations inside the Soak King manufacturing plant, Ponce proposed mounting 28 Wai Wela tankless water heaters on two skids in different locations on the roof of the plant. For the Snak King application, two galvanized steel skids were fabricated at grade by Coast Aerospace in Huntington Beach. Calif. One skid has 16 PH28co units plumbed in parallel with a 1/8-hp circulator pump to deliver immediate hot water to one area. The second skid has 12 of the units plumbed in parallel with 1/8-hp circulator pump to deliver immediate hot water to another area at the plant. Both skids arc mounted on the roof of the Snak King manufacturing facility. The lightweight size of this system allowed for installation   without increasing the load bearing of the roof.

The WaiWela by Paloma tankless water heater has an energy factor of 0.82. It is an energy-efficient tankless concept that uses only the amount of gas necessary to fill that demand. These high-efficiency units also qualified for rebates from the local gas company and federal tax property credits.

Each WaiWela tankless water heater bank is controlled by a MIC-180 multi­unit system controller. The controller will modulate the bank of WaiWela tankless water heaters per the demand and will sequence the water heaters to allow for equal shared usage. Multiple WaiWela water heaters were plumbed in parallel to provide redundancy and each was installed with an isolation valve kit to allow for individual servicing. The isolation valve kit by Webstone will allow for servicing each unit while not disrupting hot  water service to Snak King’s manufacturing plant below. Tru­Flex Metal Hose Corporation’s Home-Flex   high-volume gas connectors were installed to allow for the high Btu/h volume required for a tankles water heater. This allows the installing mechanical engineer to eliminate having 10 use rigid gas pipe to each tankless unit. Falcon Stainless Steel water connectors were also installed to eliminate plumbing rigid copper pipe from the 4-inch manifolds to each WaiWela unit.

Another advantage of this system was to allow for future expandability. The skid with 12 WaiWela tankless water heaters is set-up 10 be expanded to 16 units for increased future manufacturing capacity at the Snak King.

Finally, the cost of each commercial WaiWela tankless system was significantly less than a comparable boiler system. Each unit is less than 200,000 Btu/h, eliminating the need for ASME approval allowing for more affordable pricing.

The Snak King Corporation has an industry reputation for being an innovative manufacturer and marketer of unique and creative snack food products. Over the years, they have received many industry awards, including the 2006 Snack Manufacturer of the Year. Their line of products includes tortilla Chips, extruded   snacks, corn snacks, popcorn, caramel corn, nuts and pork rinds. Brands include EI Sabroso, Granny Goose, Jensen’s Orchard and private label.

For more information, call 800/605-6542 or visit www.waiwela.com.