Plumbing Tips For a Worry-Free Holiday

During the holiday season, our homes often become the hub for family and friends, but all the hustle and bustle of family gatherings and holiday parties can put a strain on your plumbing. There’s nothing worse than running out of hot water mid-shower when all the cousins are in town or a toilet getting stopped up before the ball even drops on New Year’s Eve. To avoid the issues and have a worry-free holiday remember these plumbing tips…

1. Go Easy on Your Sink

Coming together with family and friends to enjoy a holiday meal is one of the staples of the season. With Aunt Abby’s fruit cake, Uncle Tim’s ham, Grandma’s fudge and all the food in-between it’s almost impossible to clear your plate and you are bound to have some scraps. Avoid a clogged drain and an over-worked/ill-performing garbage disposal by throwing your food scraps into the regular trash and NEVER pouring grease, oil or fat down the drain.

2. Don’t Run Out of Hot Water

If you have a lot of holiday guests using your shower, your hot water could run out pretty quickly. To avoid running out of hot water mid-shower, turn up your water heater to increase its capacity to meet holiday house guest demands (we suggest not exceeding 125ºF). Spacing out the times people shower and allowing the hot water tank enough time to heat up between uses will also help ensure that everyone has plenty of hot water.

If the lack of hot water isn’t just a holiday issue, consider switching to a tankless water heater that will heat water as it is used to make things more convenient. Bonus: you won’t have to worry about running out of hot water for countless holiday seasons to come!

3. Prevent Frozen Pipes

Fitting pipes with insulation, either in sleeve form or wrapping, can help prevent them from freezing. Keeping interior cabinet doors open can also help keep your pipes warm. Pipes are often located in cabinets. When the temperatures drop, it is a good idea to keep these cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of the house can keep the pipes warm as well.

If you are afraid a pipe will freeze on a bitter cold night, it is also a good precaution to allow your faucet to drip slightly. Allowing the faucet to drip will relieve pressure in the system. If a pipe does become frozen, it is the pressure that is created between the blockage and the faucet that will cause the pipe to burst. Allowing the faucet to drip will prevent this pressure from building up and thus, keep the pipe from bursting.

4. Prevent Clogged Toilets

If your toilet already seems to have a slow or weak flush, this can indicate that a clog is forming in your toilet drain. Instead of waiting until your home is filled with holiday guests and your toilet won’t flush at all, go ahead and take care of the problem (just call us). It is also a good idea to remind your holiday guests to ONLY put toilet paper in the bowl. Flushing facial tissues, wipes, napkins, paper towels, floss, coffee grounds, hair, feminine hygiene products, grease and other fats or oils, medications, plastic and diapers will only contribute to more clogging.

Remember these plumbing tips to avoid issues and have a worry-free holiday AND if a holiday plumbing emergency does occur, don’t forget that you can always call Eastern Plumbing we’re available 24/7 for any plumbing emergency!

Spring and Summer Plumbing Tips

With the rise in temperatures and rain showers, there are preparations homeowners will need to make. Your pipes are coming off of the cold season, and with the change in weather, comes a new set of things to check for and potential problems.

Check Pipes

Due to increased water usage from outdoor actives and consumption from warmer weather, pipe issues can be amplified. Be sure to check pipes throughout your house in order to avoid any spring or summer plumbing issues. Damaged pipes lead to leaks, standing water, wasted money, wall/ceiling/floor damage and that means time and money.

Check Water Heater

In order to save on utility bills, lower the temperature on your water heater and hot water supply. Don’t lower it too much, just a few degrees can save you money each month. This will also help decrease your electricity usage. It is also suggested that if your water heater is more than 15 years old, you consider replacing it. The older a water heater is, the more likely changes in weather could cause a major plumbing problem.

Be Aware of Mold

The hot season brings an increased risk of mold inside and outside the house. Soak up standing water and be on the lookout for any condensation that develops. Mold is typically found in basements, attics, air conditioning units and outside areas. Standing water mixed with warmer weather can also cause damage to your plumbing and health.

Clear Debris

Check all drains, gutters and spouts outside for items that could be blocking water flow. After a long fall and winter, your gutters and downspouts may be full of pine needles, leaves, twigs and other debris. Clean out your gutters and use a plumber’s auger to clear out your home’s downspouts. This will prevent leaks in your home and prevent water damage during spring showers.

Inspect Washing Machine

Check for leaks, bulges and damages to cords. This is also another opportunity to look for standing water, which is a sign of a leak somewhere in the piping, machine or surrounding area. It really “stinks” to have either your washing machine or dishwasher stop working.

Call Eastern Plumbing, we’d be happy to assist you through any seasonal changes.

Strengthen Your Water Heater

Prolong Your Water Heaters Life with an Inspection

Your water heater is one of the main devices in your homes comfort system. It supplies hot water for use in the dishwasher, washing machine, sinks and showers. Other than your HVAC system, it also uses the most energy. Given its importance, the stakes are high when it comes to keeping your hot water heater running in peak condition. With proper maintenance, you can extend its life and delay the moment when you need to purchase a new model. Read on to learn more.

Getting the Most from Your Household Plumbing

There are several steps you can take yourself to keep the water heater running smoothly:

  • Inspect the Temperature/Pressure Relief Valve. Make sure your pressure valve is working correctly by turning off the power and water to your hot water unit and then tripping the valve. Air, water or vapor should come out – if they don’t, you need to replace the valve. A malfunctioning valve could cause an explosion if the tank becomes over-pressurized.
  • Flush out Your Tank. It’s a good idea to empty the tank once a year or so to remove any sediment that has accumulated inside; and, it’s convenient to take care of this when you’re checking the pressure valve. Turn off the water and power to the water heater, hook a hose up to the drain valve and place the other end somewhere where it’s safe to discharge hot water. Next, with the pressure relief valve already open, flip open the drain valve and let all the water flow out. Close the drain valve and the pressure relief valve. Turn on the water supply for the water heater and turn on your hot water faucets. Wait until water starts coming out before you power up the heater again.
  • Check on Your Anode Rod. The anode rod helps prevent corrosion in your hot water tank and is an essential tool for prolonging its life. You can check on this while the tank is drained by unscrewing the hex head at the top of the tank and pulling out the rod. If there is not much left of the anode rod it is time to replace it. They are typically between three and four feet long. In general, anode rods should last about five years, but it’s a good idea to check on them annually.

Put Your Household Plumbing in Expert Hands

Now is the time to be thinking about your water heater maintenance. With the colder weather your water heater must work harder, so the more vigilant you are about maintenance, the less likely you’ll need an emergency repair or replacement. In addition to your own interventions, a yearly visit from a qualified plumber can catch any problems you missed or weren’t able to resolve and extend the lifespan of your water heater even more.

If you need your hot water heater inspected, or have any other problems with your household plumbing, contact Eastern Plumbing today.

Is It Time to Go Tankless?

Most homes have conventional tank water heaters, which store dozens of gallons of hot water and maintain a steady temperature so the water is ready when you need it. But there is another type of water heater — tankless – which heats water directly and on demand as it flows through your pipes.

Tankless water heaters offer several benefits, but it’s not the perfect fit for every home or situation. Read more to learn whether upgrading to a tankless water heater makes sense for you and your family.

The Pros of a Tankless Water Heater

The primary advantage of tankless over traditional water heaters is that they’re generally more energy efficient. If you compare Energy Guide stickers of the two types when shopping, or if you browse the data for models that have been certified by Energy Star, you’ll see the difference in estimated energy consumption.

Various models of tankless heaters have their own energy-saving features, but all of them save energy by not storing hot water. With a conventional water heater, stored hot water is constantly cooling which requires frequent re-heating. A tankless heater uses virtually no energy when hot water isn’t being used. And those energy savings could make a big difference in your monthly utility bills.

Tankless heaters also offer these benefits:

  • Their compact size. Tankless heaters are about the size of a briefcase, expanding your range of installation locations and freeing up storage space.
  • Longer lifespan. With the proper maintenance, many tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years.
  • Home value. If you sell your home, the savings potential of a tankless water heater can boost your asking price.

When is Tankless a Bad Fit?

Tankless water heaters will save you money over the long haul, but the upfront cost is quite a bit higher than most conventional water heaters. Not only is the heater itself more expensive, the installation process is typically more as well. And, installing a tankless water heater is not a Do-It-Yourself project. If you’re considering upgrading to a tankless water heater, get an accurate quote so you can calculate whether the long-term savings justify the higher upfront costs.

Just like conventional water heaters, tankless heaters should be sized to the water needs of the household. Each tankless installation should be sized based on the number of fixtures in the house (which use hot water) and the number of occupants can sometimes be a factor. Incoming water temperature should also be considered when choosing the type and number of tankless units which may be required. Each tankless has a specific amount of hot water which it can supply. In the winter the incoming water is colder, which means the tankless will have to raise the temperature more than it would in the summer. Therefore the amount of hot water it can provide will be decreased. Make sure that the tankless water heater or heaters have been properly sized.

Another similarity between the two water heaters is that it always takes at least a few seconds for hot water to reach the faucet. However, with tankless heaters, this delay can be a little longer, resulting in more water waste. This will depend on how close the heater is to the hot water faucet — if your kitchen and master bath are located close together, you’ll ideally install the tankless heater in that area. Some tankless models also offer circulating systems which will decrease wait time.

To get a custom quote and consultation for a tankless water heater upgrade, or for any other plumbing service, call Eastern Plumbing today.

How to Winterize the Plumbing in Your Home

In the coming weeks temperatures will continue to drop, so now is the best time for homeowners in eastern North Carolina to begin preparing their homes for plumbing problems associated with cold weather. To prepare your home for the harsh winter months ahead and to ensure you avoid any unwanted plumbing nightmares, our experts at Eastern Plumbing have compiled a list of fall maintenance tips.

Disconnect Water Hoses.

If your water hoses are left connected, the water in the hoses can freeze and expand, causing faucets and pipes inside your home to break. Make sure to disconnect all outside water houses to prevent a potential flood.

Check Faucets.

Inspect your outside faucets to make sure they are not dripping or leaking. If they are, make the necessary repairs or call a plumber before the freezing temperatures arrive. When pipes freeze, water pressure builds up causing cracks. A tiny crack can unleash enough water to cause serious damaging or flooding. If you have an underground sprinkler system this will also need to be turned off by a professional.

Clear Gutter Debris.

Remove fall leaves and other debris from exterior gutters and downspouts. Throughout fall, winter and spring, temperatures will drop and rise and water will freeze and melt. Clearing your gutters and downspouts will ensure easy draining throughout the ever-changing seasons.

Flush Water Heater.

Your water heater works its hardest during winter months. Be sure to flush your water heater during this time of the year. When left untouched, sediment can buildup and cause corrosion, which shortens the life span of the water heater and reduces heating efficiency. To flush, drain several gallons of water from the faucet near the bottom of the tank. Connect a hose to the faucet and direct water into a nearby drain. As an added tip, test your pressure relief valve yearly. If the valves are dripping, have them replaced. Over pressurized tanks are dangerous if not addressed. For information regarding your specific make and model of water heater, visit your manufacturer’s website.

Insulate Pipes and Seal Leaks.

Insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as crawl spaces and garages, especially if your water heater is in the garage. Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around pipes that are exposed and prone to freezing. Seal leaks around doors and windows to reduce cold air penetration.