By Rich Duerkop
What should I be aware of about the plumbing in my home, both new and older construction?
You should frequently check all faucets and other valves for leaks.Turn the water on, look under the sink, and run your hand around the shut-off and drain pipes to make sure they are not leaking. Then go down to the basement and check for leaks. A good way to remind yourself is to mark your calendar and check these areas every change of the season.
If you see any water staining in the walls or the ceiling call a licensed plumber right away.
If your water pressure in an older home appears marginal or poor remember your old pipes may be corroded. I have seen pipes so full of corrosion the opening is no bigger than the lead of a pencil. When pipes get like this the only thing you can do is call a licensed plumber and have them removed.
When you check the toilet listen for hissing sounds that may indicate that it is running and wasting water; new parts may need to be added. If the toilet is loose I would recommend you pull the toilet, evaluate the floor, and replace the wax seal.
In older homes, if you have an old toilet I would recommend replacing them. Some of the old toilets would flush on five gallons of water where the new ones flush on about a gallon and a half. This is a real water saver.
To help extend the life of your water heater drain off about three gallons of water out of the faucet at the lower part of the heater. This helps remove sediment that builds upon the bottom of the tank. I would do this about every three months.
Everyone in the house should know where the main water shut off is, in case you have to shut off the water to the whole house if there is an emergency. I recommend tagging the valve so it is easier to find especially for children.
Check all shut-off valves through-out the house for leaks. In older homes many times there are no shuts-offs under the sinks and other water lines. I would recommend installing them; that way you can turn off the water right at the source of the leak instead of having to run down to the basement to close the main shutoff.
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Summer months can bring heavy rainfall, and with heavy rainfall comes the risk of basement flooding. This can happen for a number of reasons, but it’s usually the result of water following the path of least resistance. That path often leads right to the exterior walls of your basement, where it can saturate the ground and eventually make its way inside.
There are several precautionary steps you should take to prepare for flooding, but there are also ways you can prevent it from happening in the first place.
Prepare for the Worst
The only thing worse than standing water in a basement is standing water and sewage. Sometimes, sewer systems can be overwhelmed by rainwater and back up into your basement. A backwater valve prevents this. It automatically closes if sewage starts backing up into your lines.
If you don’t already own a sump pump, it would be a wise investment. The system includes a sump pit, pump, and discharge pipe. The pit is placed in your basement, where it collects water from your weeping tiles. The water is then pumped through the discharge pipe, well away from your home. It should be directed towards the land where it will be easily reabsorbed into the ground, such as a flowerbed or your lawn.
Prevention is Key
Obviously, it would be ideal to never have to deal with a flooded basement, to begin with. Flood restoration is expensive and time-consuming, so it’s incredibly important that you take as many preventative measures as possible. Fortunately, there are numerous things you can do to determine what kind of steps you should be taking to prevent basement flooding, and many of them require little effort and, in some cases, no money.
Refer to Flood Plain Maps
First, you should consult a flood plain map here, which details each community’s risk for flooding. FEMA determines how likely it is for an area to flood by studying rainfall, storm tides, and river flow and then comparing that to its topographical information.
Check Gutters and Downspouts
Next, examine your gutters and downspouts. Keep your gutters free of debris so water can move freely through them, and make sure your downspouts are directing water at least 6 feet away from your foundation. If your downspouts aren’t carrying water far enough away, downspout extensions are inexpensive and easy to install.
Consider Lot Grading
When it rains enough to produce standing water, take a walk around the outside of your house. Does the water pool right next to your home? It’s possible that your land slopes toward the foundation of your house, causing water to flow downwards and settle against the weeping tile of your basement. Over time, this can cause your foundation drainage system to become overwhelmed, resulting in flooding.
This sloping is simply the result of time and land’s tendency to settle. While you can’t prevent it, you can treat it through a lot of grading or shaping the land such that water flows away from your home rather than to it. A good rule of thumb is to grade the land at least 6 feet out from the foundation so water will almost certainly be redirected elsewhere. Just make sure you aren’t sending it over to your neighbor’s property!
Of course, before you do this, you should be aware of any grading guidelines that may be in place by contacting the city. Furthermore, if you don’t have the experience or equipment for this project it may be best to hire professionals to do it for you.
Dig a Swale
Alternatively, you could opt to dig a swale, which is essentially a ditch designed to catch water runoff. A swale should be dug at least 6 feet away from your house, between where your land slopes inward and your foundation.
Preventing a disaster before it occurs is the surest bet to save you a major headache in the future. You won’t regret taking a few minutes out of your day to assess your home to determine the likelihood of basement flooding.
If you’ve seen an upsurge in your recent monthly water bill, the most likely culprit is a leak in your main water line. Without expert service and repair, you will literally throw money down the drain—not to mention the bigger problems the leak will create as it just grows into flooding of your home or business or a dreaded pipe burst.
Trench-less Technology – Pipe Bursting
In many cases, we can provide you with breakthrough trench-less technology to replace your waterline. Trench-less water line replacement;
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Equipped to solve your waterline problems, 24/7 in the Kansas City area. Our skilled phone and service technicians can quickly hunt down the source of your problem and detail for you the proper solution. We are expert at solving a variety of waterline problems, such as:
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Waterline bursts and broken pipes won’t search out a perfect time in your schedule. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to be at your side to help when water floods your home or business. Our expert technical representatives can, over the phone, walk you through the troubleshooting and shutting off your water main to stem the flow of water into your structure. Next, we send out our technicians to your home to diagnose and cure the problem. Because we’re there for you 24/7, we can remedy your predicament and get you back to a dry, normal life. We take pains to equip our techs’ trucks with all the latest parts, tools, and supplies to maximize our ability to solve your problem in one visit, if possible.
- Classic video on the potential dangers posed by unprotected water heaters. Demonstrates the explosive power of water heaters and the need for temperature & pressure relief valves. This Video is one of Watts instructional videos. http://youtu.be/5pVQryuKMj8
By Shawn Martin
While the “Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act” was signed in early 2011, the story on it continues to unfold. The law is set and has not changed, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to release guidance detailing their interpretations of the law. Most recently, the EPA has released two documents designed to clarify questions on its applicability and implementation, and to assist contractors, designers and inspectors.
A document, “How to Identify Lead-Free Certification Marks for Drinking Water System and Plumbing Materials,” was released by the EPA in September 2013. It provides a user-friendly flow chart describing the decision-making process that should be used to determine whether a product must comply with the law. It also addresses certification marks that may be used to show compliance with the law.
Many examples of marks used by third-party certification agencies, such as ICC-ES, NSF and CSA, are provided in the document, along with explanations on their use. But, the document also clarifies the fact that third-party certification of product is not required, nor is there a single, uniform mark showing compliance. The document is available on the EPA website as a PDF download.
A second, more technical document, “Summary Of The Reduction Of Lead In Drinking Water Act And Frequently Asked Questions,” was released by the EPA in October 2013. This document followed a draft frequently asked questions (FAQ) document released in May 2013. The EPA sought comments on that draft through June 2013, and many individuals and organizations responded. The final version contains a number of revisions as a result.
Probably most notably, the FAQ document stated that water heaters and dishwashers (FAQ #6) and fire hydrants (FAQ #5) must comply with the new lead free requirements. It also provided updated information on the repair of various types of devices (FAQ# 23-30), including those installed before and after January 4.
Taken together, these documents provide the best available information from the EPA on its interpretation of the law. The FAQ document is a must-read for plumbing inspectors, contractors, distributors, manufacturers, designers and engineers. It should also be noted, though, that the EPA is still requesting feedback on the documents and other revisions are possible. So, it is important for all in the industry to continue to monitor developments.
Many channels are available to keep tabs on this law as it is implemented. For those who are ICC members, they can subscribe to the PMG Membership Council free of charge to receive updates as they become available. ICC also provides links to these key resources on its PMG homepage under the Resources tab, and makes every effort to keep them up to date. ICC is also a member of the Get the Lead Out of Plumbing Consortium, which provides a number of resources on the topic for different audiences. Distributors, such as Lowes and Ferguson, are working actively to push information to local stores, as national member organizations such as ICC, PHCC and ASPE are reaching out to chapters.
On the local level, states are still grappling with the law and working to determine how best to implement and enforce it. While the law requires that states enforce the installation prohibitions (and provides for a penalty if they do not), it does not specify the specific method they must use. Building and plumbing codes are suggested but not required. Without such a requirement in state or local code, however, many states are struggling to determine the appropriate enforcement authority. Efforts are underway in many jurisdictions to update local codes to require compliance with the new no-lead provisions. Model codes, such as the 2015 International Plumbing Code have been updated to comply with the new law and provide important resources for communities seeking to revise their codes.
So, in addition to monitoring the latest from the EPA, it is also important for those in the industry to monitor local plans for enforcement and rollout. States such as California, Maryland, Vermont and Louisiana have already passed state laws consistent with the new federal law, providing a framework for local implementation. Links to key documents from these states can also be found on the ICC PMG web page, under the Resources tab. It remains to be seen if other states will pass laws or move to revise codes seek to comply with the law.
It is critical that those in the plumbing industry continue to closely monitor federal, state and local developments related to the reduction of lead in plumbing products. Organizations such as ICC and the other members of the Get the Lead Out of Plumbing Coalition will continue to work to serve the industry with the best possible information, in a timely way as it is received.
Shawn Martin is the director of Plumbing, Mechanical and Fuel Gas (PMG) Activities with ICC.
– See more at: http://www.plumbingengineer.com/jan_14/leadfree_feature.php#sthash.TkUEwCFr.dpuf
WHY DO THIS?
A running toilet can waste two gallons of water per minute. That will do a number on your water bill this month. Plus, if you don’t repair it, your toilet can spring a major leak which can cost thousands of dollars to fix. And, of course, it makes a really annoying noise!
First, take off the toilet lid.
Flush the toilet. Pay attention to your chain and flapper. If your chain is tangled, that’s your problem! A tangled chain prevents the flapper from completely setting on top of the hole at the bottom of the toilet bowl. Untangle your chain, and flush your toilet again. If the flapper sits flush, your problem should be solved.
If your flapper doesn’t sit flush on the bottom of the toilet tank, you need to tighten your flapper. Do this by reconnecting the flapper to the bracket by tightening the pegs holding the flapper down. You can tighten the pegs with your hands.
If your flapper is secured, make sure it isn’t soft and spongy. If it is, it’s time to replace it. You can purchase a new flapper at your local hardware store for less than $10.
To replace your flapper, first turn off the shutoff valve. It’s located on the wall behind the toilet. Flush the toilet to remove the water in the bowl and then remove the old flapper by pulling it off the pegs on the bottom of the tank. Remove the chain from the old flapper with your needle nose pliers. To install your new flapper, simply reverse the steps to remove the flapper.
Turn your water back on by turning the shutoff valve back on. Let your toilet’s tank fill with water, and then replace your tank lid. Voila!
Baby boomers, multigenerational housing, health conditions, and awareness are driving this remodeling trend.By Kelly Faloon | March 17, 2014
With the sheer numbers of baby boomers that are now heading into retirement age, they are definitely driving the trend toward aging in place — remodeling their homes so they can live in them longer as they age. But other drivers are influencing this movement, such as multigenerational housing, acute or chronic health conditions, and awareness of aging-in-place or universal design products available on the market today.
“For boomers that we define as leading boomers — those who will be 60 to 68 years old in 2014 — it’s about ‘living in the place,’ not aging in place,” says Jack Suvak, senior director of market research and insights at Moen. “Living in place could mean in the same home or living in the same community in another, smaller dwelling. What do they have to do to make sure they have a safe, comfortable, and stylishly looking home?”
He adds that boomers have redefined most everything at every life stage and they are redefining what aging means in this country. They will continue to drive remodeling in kitchens and bathrooms, demanding customized components to make their living spaces easily accessible and comfortable for everyone living in the home.
Boomers are looking for the best products that don’t call attention to the fact they need assistance, says Judd Lord, director of industrial design at Delta Faucet Co. But while boomers are leading the way, industry manufacturers are looking to expose younger people to these products.
“Trying to make bath and kitchen spaces easier to use, easier to get around — that’s just good design,” he notes. “Many ‘aging-assist’ products today include technology that may attract younger consumers. If these products look great while providing assistance that will be needed later in life, consumers will want to put them into their homes at an earlier age.”
Remodeling in kitchens and baths is on a five- to seven-year cycle, he adds, so manufacturers have the opportunity to gravitate consumers toward these products with stylish design. Grab bars are the most obvious aging-in-place accessory in the bathroom. The grab bars of old were clunky and institutional-looking. Today, consumers can install dual-purpose grab bars that are built into toilet-tissue holders, towel bars, and corner shelves in the bath/shower. Although not ADA-compliant, they are rated to handle more weight while looking like fixtures already found in the home.
“No matter what the application, we find that design is one of the key criteria in the decision-making process,” says Kalpesh Nanji, director of product marketing — bathing and independent living at American Standard. “As design has improved, the stigma associated with having accessible products in the home has decreased. Our customers want all these solutions to blend into the design aesthetic of their home or project.”
Kids and grandkids, too
A Pew Research Center analysis of the latest census data finds that about 51 million Americans (16.7% of the population), live in a house that has at least two adult generations under one roof. The study notes a 10.5% increase in multigenerational households from 2007 to 2009.
“Multigenerational homes are definitely on the rise; more than 3 million grandparents are the primary caregivers for children,” says Diana Schrage, senior staff interior designer at Kohler Co. “That’s something not seen in this country until recently. Today’s aging-in-place products look like just one more amenity one would have in the bathroom, more holistic. I definitely see it becoming part of our design.”
Nanji adds: “In many cases, remodeling a home over moving and buying new has considerable economic advantages and consumers are taking advantage of this. Multigenerational living also is on the rise not only from economic necessity but from increasing cultural diversity where multiple generations living in one household is more common.”
Because of the different age groups under one roof, industry manufacturers have pushed awareness of these products and they are increasingly more visible and accepted across all life stages, Suvak explains. “Think about kids or pregnant women trying to get in and out of the bathtub or a bath/shower. Why not have a healthy, universally accessible room?” he says.
Health conditions, and not just those of aging consumers, also are an issue. People with broken limbs or people with weight issues may need assistance to get in and out of bathtubs or on and off toilets. Aging-in-place products can help individuals with special needs live better today, says Darryl Jones, regional sales manager at KWC America .
“A universally-designed home would already have grab bars and a hand shower installed in place to assist with this restricted movement loss,” he explains. “Taller people may complain of their legs falling asleep when sitting on a traditional water closet. A comfort height or a wall-hung water closet and a heated seat provide the extra height to keep the nerve from being pinched and heat to keep the blood moving.
“And have you ever had to shave your legs in a bathtub? Why wait to add the bench?”
More people are being diagnosed with arthritis, Alzheimer’s, obesity, and other physically challenging conditions that require home modifications, Nanji notes. “Consumers seem to be more aware of the solutions and services available to them, leading to increasing focus on products and services that can help people live safer and more comfortably in their homes,” he says.
For people with deteriorating eyesight, task lighting in the bathroom, as well as the kitchen, is important as a safety issue. Soothing light under bath cabinets, in drawers, and even in the toilet seat can help people see where they are are going without turning on bright lights and disturbing sleep, Schrage says.
Touchless faucets have moved from the kitchen into the bathroom and now can include color so people can easily see if the water is cold, warm, or hot, Lord explains. “Some people lose feeling in fingers and hands as they get older. Colors are easily seen through the steam in a shower,” he says.”
More bathroom remodels are including zero-threshold showers with hidden drains, walk-in tubs, wall-hung lavatories and toilets, chair-height toilets, and shower and hand-shower systems that are easy to install. Open floor plans that allow greater accessibility for wheelchairs or people with crutches or braces are becoming more popular.
The critical nature of medical supplies such as oxygen or refrigerated medications means generators are becoming more important to consumers as they age, Schrage states. Being without electricity for a long period of time can be a severe health issue; a generator can give consumers peace of mind.
“The industry will continue to see an integration of technology into the bathroom, kitchen and entire home including wearable technology that will add another level of convenience and monitoring for those who need it,” Nanji adds. “This type of connectivity will address many unmet needs and promises further integration of the benefits into our daily lifestyles.”
Adding aging-in-place services
For plumbing contractors who want to add aging-in-place services to their business, one option is to get certified as an Aging-In-Place Specialist through the National Association of Home Builders.
“Every homeowner will have different needs associated with aging in place,” Jones says. “The Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist program was created by AARP and NAHB to train plumbers and homebuilders on all the changes that will need to be made for aging in place.” CAPS professionals can be found at www.BuildResponsibleInstitute.com.
Contractors need to understand what they are recommending a product for, whether its limited mobility or other health conditions, Schrage adds. They may want to partner with an occupational therapist and an interior designer to make an assessment and determine what sort of limitation the customer may have.
“Fortunately, the industry has been changing with consumers’ needs and now many remodelers are focusing on aging in place and other home modifications,” Nanji says. “These remodelers are getting certifications such as CAPS and marketing themselves to this specific demographic. Credibility and trust are a big factor in building sales around these services. Contractors definitely need to get certifications or pursue other educational efforts to get a good grounding in designing, installing, and marketing to this segment.”
Many baby boomers did DIY remodeling and repairs in their younger years but some are willing to pay someone else to make these living-in-place changes for them, Suvak explains, which bodes well for contractors and Certified Aging-In-Place Specialists.
“How do consumers transfer from one activity to another? How do you enable people to move in different spaces? AIP specialists will look at these things,” he says. “They’ll consider people with physical limitations. Maybe they have a limited range of motion or flexibility. As diagnoses of dementia increases, aging-in-place professionals will study cognitive limitations as well.”
This will include clearly communicating with the homeowner or the caregiver, Suvak adds — sometimes both. Ask questions to get a better feel of the living environment and who the users are. Boomers are sensitive about their age and reliance on these products, so contractors need to communicate that aging-in-place or universal design products will enable them to live a better quality of life in the home they live in or will move to.