Working in the plumbing industry it’s always interesting to see how things are done.
Working in the plumbing industry it’s always interesting to see how things are done.
Heating water accounts for up to 30 percent of the average home’s energy budget. Some makers of gas-fired tankless water heaters claim their products can cut your energy costs up to half over regular storage heaters. So is it time to switch?
Probably not. Gas tankless water heaters, which use high-powered burners to quickly heat water as it runs through a heat exchanger, were 22 percent more energy efficient on average than the gas-fired storage-tank models in our tests. That translates into a savings of around $70 to $80 per year, based on 2008 national energy costs. But because they cost much more than storage water heaters, it can take up to 22 years to break even—longer than the 20-year life of many models. Moreover, our online poll of 1,200 readers revealed wide variations in installation costs, energy savings, and satisfaction.
With the help of an outside lab, we pitted Takagi and Noritz gas-fired tankless water heaters against three storage water heaters. We didn’t test electric tankless heaters because many can’t deliver hot water fast enough to replace a conventional water heater if groundwater is cold. Even in areas with warm groundwater, most homeowners would need to upgrade their electrical service to power a whole-house tankless model.
Our tests simulated daily use of 76 to 78 gallons of hot water. That’s the equivalent of taking three showers, washing one laundry load, running the dishwasher once (six cycles), and turning on the faucet nine times, for a total of 19 draws. While that’s considered heavy use compared with the standard Department of Energy test, we think it more accurately represents an average family’s habits. We also ran more than 45,000 gallons of very hard water through a tanked model and a Rinnai tankless model to simulate about 11 years of regular use.
Here’s what else we found:
Water runs hot and cold Manufacturers of tankless water heaters are fond of touting their products’ ability to provide an endless amount of hot water. But inconsistent water temperatures were a common complaint among our poll respondents. When you turn on the faucet, tankless models feed in some cold water to gauge how big a temperature rise is needed. If there’s cool water lingering in your pipes, you’ll receive a momentary “cold-water sandwich” between the old and new hot water. And a tankless water heater’s burner might not ignite when you try to get just a trickle of hot water for, say, shaving.
Nor do tankless water heaters deliver hot water instantaneously. It takes time to heat the water to the target temperature, and just like storage water heaters, any cold water in the pipes needs to be pushed out. And tankless models’ electric controls mean you’ll also lose hot water during a power outage.
Up-front costs are high The tankless water heaters we tested cost $800 to $1,150, compared with $300 to $480 for the regular storage-tank types. Tankless models need electrical outlets for their fan and electronics, upgraded gas pipes, and a new ventilation system. That can bring average installation costs to $1,200, compared with $300 for storage-tank models.
Tankless units might need more care During our long-term testing, an indicator on the tankless model warned of scale buildup. We paid $334 for special valves and a plumber to flush out the water heater with vinegar. Many industry pros recommend that tankless models be serviced once a year by a qualified technician. Calcium buildup can decrease efficiency, restrict water flow, and damage tankless models. Experts suggest installing a water softener if your water hardness is above 11 grains per gallon. Ignoring this advice can shorten your warranty.
Efficient storage models are priceyWe also tested the $1,400 Vertex, a high-efficiency storage water heater by A.O. Smith. The manufacturer claims its installation costs are similar to a regular storage model. But its high cost offsets much of the roughly $70 per year the Vertex will save you. Instead, we recommend buying a conventional storage water heater with a 9- or 12-year warranty. In previous tests, we found that those models generally had thicker insulation, bigger burners or larger heating elements, and better corrosion-fighting metal rods called anodes.
Kitec is a plumbing system that was manufactured by a Canadian corporation named IPEX sold in the United States until IPEX discontinued the product line in 2007. Kitec became a popular alternative to copper in the mid-1990’s due to its inexpensive cost and simple installation. IPEX marketed Kitec as a rugged, corrosion-resistant alternative to copper that would hold up under aggressive water conditions.
The Kitec plumbing system consists of both pipe and fittings. Kitec water pipe was manufactured as a composite cross-linked polyethylene (“PEX”) and aluminum (“AL”) pipe, whereby a thin, flexible aluminum layer was “sandwiched” between inner and outer layers of PEX plastic. Thus, Kitec water pipe was commonly referred to as “PEX-AL-PEX” pipe. Kitec pipe and fittings were connected together using either a crimped aluminum or copper ring or a compression fitting using a locking nut and split ring.
THE PROBLEM WITH KITEC
In 2005, Kitec fittings became the subject of a state class action lawsuit filed against IPEX in Clark County, Nevada. Kitec fittings were for the most part made of brass, which is mainly composed of copper and zinc. The Clark County lawsuit alleged that Kitec fittings failed because of a chemical reaction called dezincification. As alleged in the Clark County lawsuit, when hot and/or “aggressive” water flowed through the brass fittings, the zinc leached out of the fittings, thereby weakening the structural integrity of the brass and, ultimately, causing failure in the fittings.
The Clark County lawsuit only concerned Kitec fitting failures occurring in that jurisdiction, and did not concern Kitec piping product, or Kitec fitting failures occurring outside of Clark County, Nevada. However, failures of Kitec hot water pipe and fittings have been reported across the United States, prompting the filing of multiple federal nationwide class action lawsuits and investigations concerning the manufacturing process and composition of Kitec hot water pipe. During the Kitec hot water pipe manufacturing process, IPEX added an “antioxidant” to the PEX, which is a product intended to prevent the PEX from quickly corroding under the effects of light, oxygen, heat, and water exposure. In the case of Kitec hot water pipe, it appears that the antioxidant is rapidly depleting from the PEX, resulting in separation of the PEX-AL-PEX layers, corrosion of the PEX and the aluminum core and, ultimately, premature failure of the pipe.
WILL KITEC REALLY FAIL
A flood is one of the most disastrous events that can occur to a home, given the damage that invasive water can do to a home’s structure, appliances and furniture. There have been numerous failures of Kitec fittings and piping components reported across the United States, often resulting in severe damages to homeowners (see map of affected states, below). Given the available failure data, it is perhaps not a matter of if your Kitec Plumbing System will fail, but when.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY HOME HAS KITEC
Identification of Kitec plumbing should be performed by a qualified plumber.
IPEX manufactured Kitec pipe in two primary colors for the interior of a home: blue for the cold water side and orange for the hot water side. A typical sample length of Kitec pipe prominently displays that it was manufactured by IPEX in Canada, along with its pressure rating and other information (see sample photographs of Kitec hot water pipe, below). Kitec fittings are likewise prominently stamped with “Kitec” and the place of manufacture on the obverse side of the fitting, (often Taiwan, as shown in the sample photographs, below) and rating agency information on the inverse side.
Contractors who plumbed homes with nonmetallic plumbing systems often affixed yellow stickers to warn electricians not to ground the electricity near the nonmetallic plumbing system. Homes that were plumbed with Kitec may have a yellow sticker inside the electrical panel box or on their boiler (see sample photograph, below). If you find this sticker in your electrical panel box or on your boiler, it is likely that your home is plumbed with Kitec or another nonmetallic plumbing system. You should only open your electrical panel box if you have experience with its safe use.
The proper way to determine whether your home has a Kitec plumbing system is to have a qualified plumber inspect your home. In many cases it may be necessary to make drywall penetrations to determine what type of plumbing is installed.
By Natalia on April 2, 2010 |
Everybody knows it: it’s ‘conventional wisdom,’ passed down generation to generation. It applies to anything and everything and unfortunately, in many cases, it’s oversimplified or just plain wrong. The conventional wisdom in plumbing is no different; there are many myths. Freshen your drain with lemon? Run water with the garbage disposal? Good ideas? Find out as we explore the top 10 plumbing myths that cost you money!
Myth #1: Putting Lemons in Your Disposal to Make It Smell Fresh Is a Good Idea When life gives you lemons, don’t put them down your disposal! You might succeed in briefly creating a fresher aroma, but the citric acid from lemons corrodes the metal inside your disposal. The Better Alternative: Use ice to polish your disposal up inside, which works just like a rock tumbler polishing rocks; it’s noisy, but it works. Power wash the scum causing the odor from the drain without ruining your disposal.
Myth #2: “In Tank” Cleaners Will Keep Your Toilet Sparkling and Smelling Like Roses Spending money on “in tank” cleaners marketed to make your chores easier and decrease the time you spend scrubbing your toilet is one cost you can cut. These products bleach smelly build-up white, but don’t get rid of it. Eventually, the build-up can ruin your toilet. The Better Alternative: Use vinegar down the overflow tube. Vinegar removes smelly build-up that can damage the flow of your toilet for a fraction of the cost.
Myth #3: Lifetime Warranties on Bad Products Are Really Useful When you buy something cheap and it breaks, don’t expect to get it replaced with the latest and greatest product on the market. What you buy is what you’re stuck with. Plus, you’ll be spending time and money to keep reinstalling it. The Better Alternative: Buy good quality products the first time around and avoid trading in junk for junk.
Myth #4: Running Water While Using the Garbage Disposal Helps the Waste Travel Smoothly Sure, it seems like the perfect combo: letting the faucet run while using the garbage disposal to help wash waste down the drain. It’s something we’ve all done. And inevitably, we’ve all had to reach our hands down the drain to unblock whatever leftovers got jammed in the pipes. Following waste with water doesn’t help if the blockage has already happened before the water shows up. The Better Alternative: Fill the sink basin with a 4:1 ratio of water to waste so that the waste is separated and flows with ease down the drain.
Myth #5: As Long as Stuff Is Going Down the Drain, Everything Is Working Correctly Out of sight, out of mind doesn’t really apply to the plumbing world. Even if you can’t see it, food like pasta and rice will bloat in pipes causing clogs, blocking the passage for other waste to peacefully pass through the pipes. Without the proper amount of water to rinse it down, waste builds up in the pipes and makes drainage inefficient. The Better Alternative: Prevent blockage and clogging problems by using sinks, toilets, and showers correctly. Make sure to fill basins with water before draining. For showers, place a hair screen in the drain to reduce the human hairballs that rival anything your cat coughs up.
Myth #6: Water Pressure Regulators Are Always Dependable Water pressure regulators do give important information about water pressure, but don’t place all of your trust in the readings they provide. The Better Alternative: Personally check your water pressure! Doing so can save you a ton of hassle and money. How? Well, high water pressure is a major cause of floods, leaks, and that annoying sound your toilet makes as it continuously runs to relieve pressure.
Myth #7: Water and Soap on Bathroom Fixtures Makes Them Just as Sparkly and Clean as Your Hands You wash your hands at the sink and when you turn off the faucet, you leave a bit of soapy water on it. No big deal, right? Wrong! Water and soap cause faucets and fixtures to corrode, making them peel and bubble. The Better Alternative: Wipe the fixtures off after use. This takes an extra second, but it will help prevent your fixtures from corroding. This will also protect your lifetime warranties on products, which are void when soap has rotted the finish.
Myth #8: Users Manuals Are Only For People Who Don’t Know What They Are Doing User manuals aren’t just full of fancy labeled pictures and lists of parts. They actually contain some useful information as well. While they may not be the most entertaining read in the world, they can save you money and time in the long run. The Better Alternative: Read the manual. Twice. User manuals contain information on warranties and proper usage that will increase the lifespan of the product.
Myth #9: Plumbing Fixtures Are Low Maintenance Ignoring plumbing fixtures because they are hard as stone and cold as steel is not only mean, it’s detrimental to their performance. Lack of use allows a p-trap to evaporate, allowing dangerous sewer gas to smell up the house. If an electric water heater sits unused, it can create highly explosive hydrogen gas. In this case, you definitely want less bang for your buck. The Better Alternative: Don’t let your plumbing fixtures and equipment sit for long periods of time. Use them periodically to ensure health risks aren’t created. The time it takes to turn them on every once in awhile could save you a fortune if you prevent your home from exploding.
Myth #10: Every Plumber Knows Exactly What to Do and How to Do It Just because a plumber holds that title doesn’t mean that they are educated in their field and licensed. Every plumber has opportunities to get continued plumbing education, certificates, and special cards to install some products. If a plumber installs something poorly or chooses the wrong fixture, you’ll just have to spend more calling another plumber. The Better Alternative: Use state boards and the BBB to ensure the plumber you are hiring is well qualified and well educated in the field.
by Greg Chick
He has been a water professional for over 30 years.
Starbucks $10 gift card drawing How to enter to win:
1) Follow the link to our Google profile page. http://bit.ly/AyNbWi
2) Write a review for our company.
3) February 1st we will draw from the people who have written a review and will announce the winner here on facebook. Good Luck!
A Senator in the USA was once asked about his attitude toward whisky.
‘If you mean the demon drink that poisons the mind, pollutes the body, desecrates family life, and inflames sinners, then I’m against it. But if you mean the elixir of a New Year toast, the shield against winter chill, the taxable potion that puts needed funds into public coffers to comfort little crippled children, then I’m for it. This is my position, and I will not compromise.’
On New Year’s Eve, Daniel was in no shape to drive, so he sensibly left his van in the car park and walked home. As he was wobbling along, he was stopped by a policeman. ‘What are you doing out here at four o’clock in the morning?’ asked the police officer.
‘I’m on my way to a lecture,’ answered Roger.
‘And who on earth, in their right mind, is going to give a lecture at this time on New Year’s Eve?’ enquired the constable sarcastically.
‘My wife,’ slurred Daniel grimly.
New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.
‘Twas the night before Christmas when just north of town
Santa’s sleigh dropped a runner. Santa’s sleigh broke down.
St. Nick landed safely and walked all round his sleigh.
“Why now,” he thought, “On the night before Christmas Day?”
Claus dialed up the Elfnet where calls are never dropped.
“Get some mechanics here fast. Christmas can’t be stopped.”
“Don’t worry we’ll be there in a second or two,”
Said the Chief Elf Mechanic. “We know what to do.”
A dozen elves arrived and swarmed over the sleigh.
“Well,” said Santa. “Tell me. Tell me. What do you say?”
“Uh boss, I don’t want to put you in a panic,”
“But we’re done tonight,” said the Chief Elf Mechanic.
“But,” said Claus, “If this isn’t fixed on the double,”
“There will be no Christmas presents. This is trouble!”
“You think I can just snap my fingers more or less?”
Asked the Chief Elf Mechanic and Santa said, “Yes!”
“Repairs like this aren’t easy, even with magic,”
Said the elf. And Claus said, “No gifts would be tragic.”
“Think of children with no presents under the tree.”
“Wait-a-sec,” said the elf, “You can’t blame this on me!”
“Then come up with an answer to get us on task,”
“And hurry,” pleaded Santa, “That’s all that I ask.”
“We need a service truck with studded tires and such,”
“With room for lots of stuff. That’s not asking too much.”
“A plumbing contractor would have these by the fleet.”
“We could load the truck and hook up the deer quite neat.”
“I don’t know,” said Santa. “It doesn’t seem quite right.”
“But then, I can’t be choosy. It’s Christmas Eve night.”
“Yes, do it,” said Santa. “Go find someone on call,”
“With a truck that’s got room for the gifts we must haul.”
They called and they called, but no one answered the phone,
Except for me. I answered. I answered alone.
They’re crazy, I thought, if you really want to know.
Still, I left to find them, north of town in the snow.
This is a practical joke, I thought to myself.
A call from a sleigh phone by Kris Kringle’s chief elf?
But I was curious and I wanted to see
If the story was true. If it really could be.
So I drove the back roads, following GPS
As the snow started to fall; the roads were a mess.
I couldn’t believe it when I saw Santa’s sleigh.
It really is true and I thought there was no way.
There was Santa and reindeer and elves I suppose,
And one of the reindeer had a bright red shiny nose.
When Saint Nicholas saw me emerge from the snow,
He grabbed his stomach, leaned back, and laughed, “Ho, ho, ho!”
“Your truck will do. I think it will do quite nice.”
“It’s even bigger than my sleigh, bigger by twice.”
When I opened the door, I was swarmed by the elves.
They emptied my inventory, emptied my shelves.
And stuffed them with games, dolls, and every sort of toy.
They really had something for every girl and boy.
Now my truck holds a lot of parts, this much is true,
And it’s clean and well maintained. It’s practically new.
Yet there are limits to how much stuff it can hold,
But the chief elf said the elves use a space time fold.
“You humans think of dimensions X, Y and Z,”
“But we add a fourth. We aren’t limited to three.”
“We load it full for an instant of time, and then,”
“We advance an instant and we do it again.”
Next, they hooked up the deer to the front of my truck.
“It works,” said the Chief Elf Mechanic, “Finally some luck!”
“Your truck’s quite toasty,” claimed Claus, as he climbed inside.
“So much warmer than a supersonic sleigh ride.”
“I want you to know,” said Saint Nicholas to me,
“That you will find something special under your tree.”
“But now its time for you to sleep until the dawn.”
And Despite myself, I found I started to yawn.
“The elves will see to it that you’re safe in your bed,”
“Though I know you would rather ride along instead.”
“And when you wake up this will all seem like a dream.”
My eyelids felt heavy as Santa called his team.
And the next morning my truck was covered with snow.
I doubt it had moved and there were no tracks to show.
It must have been a dream, was my sad little thought,
Until I looked under the tree. Guess what I got!
It was the tool of my dreams, the tool of my life!
It was an Elvish space time folding pocket knife!
Don’t believe me? Think I’m just having a yuck?
Wait until you see all of the stuff in my truck.
For all of your plumbing, we can take care of you,
What’s more, we’ll even take calls on Christmas Eve too!
by Heidi Isaza, WV communications
How many times have you used the toilet today? Judging by the fact that you are awake enough to be reading this blog, I’m assuming the answer is at least once, and probably more. (Maybe you are even reading this while on the toilet, which means you probably have the luxury of using a loo that is clean, private, and relatively comfortable).
For all of you who are fortunate enough to have a toilet in your life, I would like to wish you a happy World Toilet Day.
No, I’m not kidding — Saturday is World Toilet Day. You mean you didn’t get the memo?
Granted, for those of us who are lucky enough to have an abundance of bathrooms in which to “do our business,” it might seem a bit silly to celebrate the toilet. Aren’t there bigger development problems to tackle? Bigger accomplishments to celebrate?
But I want you to think back to the last time you didn’t have a decent toilet when you needed one (maybe your last camping trip, that port-a-potty at the stadium, or that long stretch of road between rest stops). Toilets, or lack thereof, are no laughing matter. Are they?
For those of us who are fortunate enough to live in developed societies, it is easy for us to chuckle at the important role that toilets and proper hygiene play in our lives.
But for those 2.6 billion people — more than a third of the world’s population — who don’t have access to toilets, their absence can lead to sickness and death. Did you know?
- Children living in households with no toilet are twice as likely to get diarrhea as those with a toilet, causing more deaths every year than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.
World Vision takes toilets and hygiene seriously. Last year, we installed more than 30,000 toilets around the world in homes, schools, and health centers, and trained more than 165,000 in proper hygiene practices — keeping kids and communities safer and healthier.
The following are just a sampling of photos of the toilets built by World Vision around the world. Enjoy.
Next time you visit the toilet, remember you are one of the lucky ones and that there are billions of people around the world who don’t have such a luxury. (Photos by Sopheak Kong, World Vision Cambodia; Ester Luis, World Vision Peru; and Olwetu Gwanya, World Vision South Africa)
As December draws near, many of us are busy determining what holiday gifts can be easily purchased and conveniently wrapped up and decorated with some ribbon.
This season, try to avoid making hasty purchasing decisions and buying a large quantity of merchandise that has been mass produced overseas. Instead, take the time to look at what products and services are available in your local community and show concern for the well-being of your hardworking business neighbors.
Following are some ideas for Out of the Box Giving:
Does your intended have a favorite eatery? This holiday season focus on locally-owned restaurants. Owners of these establishments rely on the success of their business to provide for their families. Gift your intended a certificate or two to the restaurant or take her or him there for a holiday meal. Don’t forget the servers; tip generously.
Follow the meal with an evening of entertainment. Find a community theater in your town, or a venue that regularly hosts local music or talent. This is a great way to support up and coming artists. Support your local community theater with a pair of season passes.
Instead of forking over a ton of cash for cheap plastic lights and other decorations, consider a more impactful use for your money. Attend a local craft fair to purchase ornaments and other decorations. This will give your gifts a more personal touch. Holiday craft fairs are often run by religious organizations or nonprofits who provide local charitable services.
Tip a hardworking service provider, such as a package delivery man or garbage man, or leave a house cleaner or baby sitter a large tip. Do you have gardeners, doormen, personal trainers, or others who regularly serve you? You may want to consider tipping them as well.
Most people get their hair cut frequently. Does your intended have a favorite local beautician, barber, or hair stylist? Ask them for gift certificates. Also, consider tipping your barber or stylist extra for the holidays.
Has your intended expressed an interest in car detail or repair? Would he or she like vehicle modifications? Any locally owned shop would be happy to supply certificates for these services. And don’t forget about oil changes. Most people need them every few months. Also, consider a book of coupons for a local car wash. Everyone’s car gets dirty from time to time.
Are you trying to figure out how big your next flat screen should be? Is a replacement really necessary? Maybe your family would spend less time in front of the TV with a gym membership. There are plans available for all ages and discounts for families.
Does mom need a break? Hire a local cleaning person to come before or after a large get-together at your home. Perhaps a local carpet cleaning service would also be appropriate after a family event.