Protect Pipes and Tankless Water Heaters From Freezing Temperatures

“Make sure to drip your faucets,” is a piece of advice we often hear from others when the temperatures begin to drop below the freezing mark. You’ll be happy to know these advice givers are right! Leaving your faucet open during cold weather will help prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting – which can lead to very expensive damages to your home. In addition to dripping your faucets, there are more ways to prevent winter from wreaking havoc on your plumbing system. Keep these tips in mind as things begin to cool down.

1. Keep Your Heat On

If you are leaving your home for an extended period of time, especially around the holiday season, or if you are looking to winterize your vacation home, be sure to keep the heat on. You do not have to set the temperature as high as you normally would if you were actually there, but keeping it set above 50° is advised. This should provide enough warmth to keep the water inside your pipes from freezing.

2. Open Cabinet Doors

You may not know this, but pipes are often located in the cabinets. As the temperature begins to reach the freezing point, it is a good idea to keep cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of your house can keep these pipes warm as well.

3. Use Domes on Outside Faucets

To reduce the likelihood of water pipes freezing and causing a costly leak, place an insulating dome or other covering on any outdoor faucet or spigot. You can purchase these inexpensive covers at your local hardware or home improvement store.

4. Insulate Your Pipes

It is important to insulate the pipes in your home’s attic, crawl space or other areas that may not have proper insulation. Fit your pipes with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves to help decrease the chances of freezing.

5. Seal Cracks and Holes

While you are in the basement or attic insulating exposed pipes, take the time to look for any holes or cracks that may exist near pipes. Caulk any holes you see on both interior and exterior walls. By doing this you are helping to keep warm air in and cold air out. Remember that in severe cold, even the slightest hole can let enough cold air in to cause pipes to freeze.

Old Man Winter does not look kindly upon plumbing systems. In addition to protecting your pipes from freezing, you should also take measures to prevent your tankless water heater from freezing as well.

6. Insulate External Pipes

While tankless hot water heating systems contain freeze prevention heaters, the hot and cold water plumbing lines leading to and from the water heater do not. Protect these lines from freezing by insulating them with items such as pipe covers, solenoids or heat tape.

If your pipes or tankless water heater freezes despite taking these preventive measures, don’t panic. Just because your pipes are frozen does not mean they have already burst. If you turn the faucet on and nothing comes out, leave it turned on and contact Eastern Plumbing right away. We’re available 24/7 for any plumbing emergency.

Saving Water Outside – Tips

Outside water use accounts for a large portion of consumption, especially during the summer. To help conserve resources and money, here are a few best practices for this year.

Adjust the height on your lawnmower

By increasing the height of your lawnmower, the grass will be cut at a taller level. Taller grass improves shade on the ground underneath which holds moisture better. This lessens the need to water your lawn as often, therefore saving water.

Aerate your lawn every so often

By inserting holes every couple inches throughout your yard, more water reaches the roots. This also lessens the need to water your lawn as often.

Get rid of weeds every chance you get

Weeds compete with grass and other growth for water and nutrients. This can increase the water needed to ensure desired growth and care.

Go easy on the fertilizer

Using too much fertilizer can increase the amount of water needed for growth. When fertilizer is used, plant growth is promoted, which means the plant needs more water than normal. Allow plants to grow at a normal rate to eliminate the need for excessive water.

Wash your car on the grass

Without the expense of damaging your lawn, park the car on the lawn as you wash it. The runoff water will go into the ground and water your lawn at the same time. Make sure not to use too many chemicals if you use this method. This saves water and also eliminates water running down the driveway and into the street. This same method can apply to washing your pets, but isn’t recommended for humans.

Give your car a “military shower”

When you’re washing the car, turn the water off. Only use the water to wet the car and to rinse at the end. This can save a large amount of water and not at the cost of a less-clean car.

Repair broken or cracked pipes

Water seeping through these pipes can be underneath your house or throughout your yard. This leads to large amounts of water being wasted and used. Eastern Plumbing is ready, 24/7, to help you, contact us today.

House Mold 101

The Spring and Summer months bring an increased risk of mold in and out of the home. Mold is a very serious issue that needs to be taken care of before it results in damage to your house and health. There are many different kinds of molds that have different physical appearances, effects on things around them and treatments to eradicate them.

While there are several types of mold that can be found inside the house, there are a couple forms that are more common than others.

Alternaria

While usually found outdoors, this form of mold fosters in damp places and under sinks. Water damage and leaky pipes can be big contributing factors to the development of this type of mold. Because of it’s ability to lodge in the nose and mouth, it can cause a reaction to people who are subjected to it.

Aspergillus

This type of mold is known as the most common one found in homes. Also found in wet environments, Aspergillus can be found in house dust. Exposure and inhalation of this mold can result in disease and lung problems.

Aureobasidium

Usually found outdoors, it can be found on wooden and painted surfaces. It can be black or pink in color (it’s also called “Pink Mold”), and most people will have a bad reaction when exposed to it.

Cladosporium

Known as the most common type of outdoor mold, this nuisance can enter the home through any opening and airway. HVAC is one of the most common and can result in it being spread to areas inside the house. If breathed, it can cause respiratory issues and trigger bigger health issues.

Mucor

This form of mold grows very fast and has a usual origin in soil. It appears as white or grayish in color and it’s physical makeup is like that of cotton. Inside the house, it might be found along ducts and air conditioning vents. This can cause infections of the sinuses called Zygomycosis.

Penicillium

A very mobile form of mold, it grows is areas that have been succumbed to water damage. It appears blue or green in color and can cause severe sinus infections.

Stachybotrys Chartarum

Also known as “Black Mold,” this slimy, toxic mold can cause several health problems. It produces mycotoxins that could potentially result in fatigue, asthma issues, depression and respiratory complications.

Don’t let mold grow out of control in your home. It can cause serious health issues and result in physical damage to your home. Contact a mold remediation specialist today to take care of any mold you may find in your home.

Warnings that You Need a Pipe Repair

As the weather gets warmer, rain in eastern North Carolina will rise. Coming out of the winter season, the temperature elevation combined with this increase in precipitation puts a lot of demand on your pipes. It can bring to light problems that already exist, but it can escalate issues that may be minor. It’s important to diagnose these issues as soon as possible so that immediate action can be taken to save you time, money and headaches. Here are a couple of signs to be on the lookout for this Spring and Summer season.

Low Water Pressure

This warning sign is noticeable in the shower, washing dishes, washings your hands, brushing your teeth, etc. If you notice the water is not coming out of your shower head or faucet as powerful or consistent as it used to, do further inspection – a pipe repair might be in the future for you.

Pipe Leaks

Leaks in pipes can be heard and seen. If there is a dripping sound coming somewhere in your house, this is a clear sign that something needs to be done. Leaky pipes need to be replaced as soon as possible to avoid monetary and time consequences.

Damp Spots in Walls, Floor or Ceiling

When spotted, wet spots in your home are always a sign of a bigger issue. It is highly recommended to get the help of a professional before investing large amounts of money on something that may or may not fix the problem. While most of the time this is a major indicator of a pipe issue, it is best to be sure before going further.

Water Discoloration

If water coming out of your fixtures smells bad, is discolored, or has any unusual properties about it, this is a possible issue. It is best to further investigate before consuming or using any more water in your house.

Inexplicably Rising Water Bills

If your water bills are higher than normal and you are not sure why, your pipes could be behind it all. If you have a leaky pipe or two, water could be wasted daily. By leaking out, you may run more water because of low water pressure. This causes your bills to rise, which will get higher the longer it takes you to discover and fix it.

Weird Noises

It is possible to hear the sound of water running through your pipes in your house. If there is an uncommon noise associated with this, that’s a red flag. This noise could be the result of a blockage, a leak or pipes that are too old and need attention. Be aware of peculiar sounds, especially in the walls of older homes.

Corroded Pipes

Inspecting your pipes up close can also reveal rusty and/or corroded pipes. Even if the pipes that are located outside are rusty, that is an indication that the pipes inside the house are rusty as well. Corroded pipes can cause subsequent problems throughout the house. It can hurt entire plumbing systems, cause foul odors, stain fixtures and produce health problems.

If you need a pipe repair or are unsure, contact Eastern Plumbing today.

Saving Water Indoors – 6 Tips

The United States Environmental Protection Agency reports that the average American family of four uses about 400 gallons of water per day, and 70 percent of that is used indoors. The fact is that a lot of this water is wasted through overuse or leaks. This can lead to a lot of money thrown “down the drain.” Here are a few ways to save water and subsequently; money.

Check all pipes and faucets for leaks

Leaky pipes and faucets are one of the biggest contributors to water waste every year. Make sure to check all around your house for wet spots and puddles to avoid paying more for your water bill each month.

FACT: According to National Geographic, leaks contribute to about 14% of your average water use each day.

Take shorter showers

Showers can be a very comforting oasis, especially in the early morning. But, several gallons of water are used each moment you spend in there.

TIP: Use a kitchen timer to make sure you are only taking 3-5 minute showers. Your wallet will thank you.

Install a low-flow shower head

Switching to a more modern and efficient shower head can save you water and money. Look into investing in a water-wasting solution and start saving today.

FACT: Energy.gov reports that installing low-flow showerheads can save you up to 60% each year.

Don’t leave water running while brushing teeth, washing hands etc.

Several gallons of water go down the drain each time you brush your teeth and/or wash your hands. Instead of letting it run, turn off the water while you are brushing and washing.

TIP: Use a cup to moderate the amount of water you use while you brush your teeth. Instead of letting it run, dab you toothbrush out and use a small cup to rinse your mouth.

Wash full loads of clothes and dishes

Your dishwasher and washing machine are two of the biggest users of water in the house. To avoid having to use them too often, make sure to do full loads to not waste water. Good news is there are many washers that have a light wash option. Also, most modern washing machines (clothes and dishes) have an eco option when it comes to cycles. Another option is to clean food and dishes in sitting water instead of running it. Before you put dishes into the dishwasher, do not pre-rinse dishes. This uses more water than needed, and most dishwashers don’t require pre-rinsing.

TIP: Stay away from the permanent press cycle. This cycle uses more water than any other option.

Store cold water in the refrigerator

Keeping cool drinking water in the refrigerator instead of waiting for tap water to get cold can save lots of time, money and water.

TIP: You can also use this water for watering plants so your hose is not constantly running while in use.

Minimize garbage disposal use

The garbage disposal uses a large amount of water to be able to run. It can be easy to just put waste down the drain, but it requires more water to break down.

TIP: Go with throwing things away in the garbage can or compost heap instead of relying too heavily on the garbage disposal.

Check toilet for malfunctions

Make sure to check your toilets all over the house to avoid costly water bills. If there is any liquid on the floor or running alongside the outer rim of the toilet, you may have a leak. Also check and see if your toilet handle is sticking. This can be another warning sign of a leak.

TIP: To check your toilet for leaks, drop about 10 drops of food coloring in the tank. Come back later to check up on the toilet. What you find may tell you something. If when you come back the water in the bowl is tinted with color, then you have a leak.

Don’t throw things away in the toilet

Each time you flush the toilet, it uses water. Some toilets are not modern, so they are using a lot more than others. While flushing in itself uses a lot of water, flushing non-compatible things can result in damaged pipes and plumbing.

TIP: Invest in a low-flush toilet and pair with this practice to achieve maximum water conservation.

Thaw in the microwave

Thawing food with warm/hot water can use a large amount of water, especially if it is running continuously. Go with the microwave for a much more eco-friendly option.

TIP: Another great water saving tip is to pour some vinegar on whatever you need to thaw. This lowers the freezing temperature and aids in breaking down the food.

Install aerators on faucets

Using a faucet aerator can help you save water and money without having to do anything. An aerator puts tiny air bubbles into the flow, resulting in less water use overall.

TIP: Faucet aerators come in different types. For rooms that need more water output, such as the kitchen, installing higher GPM (gallons per minute) aerators would be best.

Installation instructional video