Money Saving Plumbing Tips For Homeowners and Renters

Whether you own or rent your home, you can benefit from knowing a few plumbing tips. These helpful hints will help you prevent major expenses and fix minor issues.

Minerals from your water can deposit inside shower heads and faucet aerators. These deposits can reduce water flow and even alter the path of the water. Any easy trick to remove built-up minerals is to soak faucet aerators and shower heads in vinegar. Allow them to soak for several hours to dissolve the mineral build-up. Gently scrub or wipe to help open the holes and then rinse with water.

Preventing Clogged Pipes

Grease build-up inside pipes can cause major clogs. In order to prevent this build-up, pour kitchen grease and oil into an empty can and dispose in the garbage instead of pouring it down your drain. To help remove any existing accumulation, periodically pour a cup of baking soda and then a cup of vinegar into your drain. Chemical drain cleaners should be avoided if possible because they can damage some kinds of metal pipes and parts.

Another way to prevent clogs is to use drain guards or strainers. Drain guards can be used in tubs and sinks to stop hair and other matter from entering the drain pipe. These guards need to be cleaned on a regular basis, but do a good job of keeping your pipes free of materials likely to form clogs. Likewise, installing a lint trap on the discharge hose of your washing machine will also prevent clog causing bits from entering the drain.

Periodically running your garbage disposal full of ice and either rock salt or vinegar will help keep it clean and free of unpleasant odors. Run it for about thirty seconds. To preserve the life of your garbage disposal, avoid using drain cleaners as they can damage the disposal.

Leaks and Drips

Leaking faucets and toilets are like dripping money down your drain in addition to the wasted water. Faucet drips can be checked for visually. Make a point of checking exterior faucets in addition to interior ones. Your toilets can be checked for leaks by removing the lid of the toilet tank and adding food coloring to the tank water. Let it sit and then check back in half an hour to see if the colored water leaked into the toilet bowl.

If you can’t find a leak but still suspect you have one, make a note of your water meter’s reading as you leave home for an extended period, such as for work, when you know that no water will be used in your absence. Read the meter again when you return. If the reading is different when you return, chances are you have a leak and may need assistance from a plumber.

Hot Water Tank

The life expectancy and efficiency of your water heater can both be improved by twice yearly draining sediment out of your water heater. Plan ahead with this project because you will be draining scalding water. Pets and children should be prevented from entering the work area as well as the water discharge area. Because draining instructions differ between gas and electric models, be sure to read the instructions particular to your water heater.

Emergency Shut Off Valve

Because a plumbing emergency can result in a lot of damage occurring very quickly, each member of your household should be instructed in how to locate and operate the water shut-offs in your home. Make sure to provide instruction on operating both the main shut-off and those for toilets, sinks, tubs, showers, and washing machines. Probably the most important thing will be to have a local plumbers Vancouver phone number handy, in a location everyone knows about. The last thing you want to be fumbling around for is contact information of a plumbing service provider you can trust.

If you happen to live in the lower mainland, or Fraser valley area in southern BC, then we recommend this company.

K.C.’s Plumbing and Heating Ltd
1896 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC V5N 2S7
(604) 873-3753

Deciding Between Furnace Repair or Furnace Replacement

When it comes to heating and air conditioning, the gas furnace is in a class of its own. This is because gas furnace repair can be quite tricky. First, you have to remember that there are times newer spare parts will not work with the older unit you have been using for years. In some cases, getting the right replacement part may not be possible.

It follows that when your gas furnace technician tells you to replace any spare part, you have to think again before you rush to replace or repair. Look at all the options because you do not want to waste your money on something that may not work for you.

service the furnace

At this point, it is vital that you understand how gas furnaces work. You have a box in the attic that warms the air and this makes your home warm. The thing here is that the box in question is part of a larger heating and air conditioning system. Now, let us assume that there is a duct leak in the system. The result is that the heating system will no longer work effectively and your house will not be as warm as it is supposed to be.

Now, if your technician discovers the problem, he may recommend a replacement of a particular part of the heating system. The technician may even recommend an upgrade because it is assumed that this move will solve the problem. If the technician does not take time to discover the source of the problem, the replacement or repair will not solve the problem. If you carry out this repair without getting to the root of the problem, you will simply waste your money.

Quality Parts Are Vital

Apart from problems with ductwork, sizing issues can lead to serious complications too. You should ensure that the equipment you are using is the right size and has the right dimensions. There is no point in managing the wrong heater when it is safer to wait until you get the right size. Is this decision is due to a home renovation, then a new unit might be the better choice.

In many cases, the homeowner blames technicians and furnace manufacturers even when they are not culpable. It is better for the homeowner to take time and do a proper load calculation before installing new equipment. This way, everything will be perfectly in harmony and the unit will work properly.

To Repair or Not To Repair

At the end of the day, you have to face this vital fact, that furnace repair is a gamble sometimes. If you are shelling out good money to take this risk, you may end up losing your money. There is no point in trying out a Band-Aid when it is clear that the situation calls for a major surgery.

If you go ahead and take the gamble with furnace repair, you may get just six months or five more years out of the heating system. On the other hand, it pays to take the time and make the effort so that a good job will be done for you. Before carrying out furnace repair, talk to a competent and experienced HVAC expert. Have a proper diagnosis done and take all the relevant factors into consideration. This is the only way to ensure that you protect your heating system and get the best out of it.

Plumbing Fixtures and Designs

Custom clean-out covers from Creative Cleanout Covers are designed for homeowners and businesses looking to add a decorative touch to the traditional chrome clean-out.

The 5 1/2- (Hermosa Dome, Laguna Dome, Square) and 6-inch (Hermosa Flat, Laguna Flat, custom Seashell) UV-resistant covers are available in six designs and five finishes, including unpainted. Custom designs are available. Colors include Beachnut Bronze, Seaside Silver, Glamour Gold, Newport Copper and Paint Grade White (paintable).

The concept for the cover came from company founder Duane Heaton, a master plumber with 30 years experience.

“For so many years, we’ve only had this chrome plate that we’ve been putting on these very unique custom homes and some nice commercial products that we do down here in Orange County (California),” he says.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people tell me, ‘This isn’t acceptable on my house. Is there anything you can do about it? Is there anything better out there?’ And the answer is always, no. So I got the idea to come up with my own line of designer cleanout covers.”

Made from injection-molded ABS plastic, the covers snap into place using a rare earth magnet.

“We still have a screw behind the plate that screws into the clean-out plug in the wall,” Heaton says. “We adjust that screw to the correct depth and click on the magnetic cover. It has 22 pounds of pull strength.”

A notch on the side of the cover enables it to be removed using a screwdriver.

Designed for indoor and outdoor use, applications include residential and commercial retrofits, new construction, hotels and restaurants.

General Maintenance and Upkeep

Maintenance is something that never ends in a hotel and just when one thinks it is under control either something expensive breaks or it is time to remodel or upgrade!

Maintenance seems to fall into four categories:

  1. Preventive room maintenance
  2. Preventive equipment maintenance
  3. Routine repairs based on work-orders
  4. Emergencies. Each has its distinct time element, relative priority and level of interest from management and the maintenance staff.

Clearly everything stops for emergencies. A burst hot water pipe on an upper floor or a dead washer when occupancy is high will get everyone’s attention. No one but a neighboring guest seems to care about squeaky hinges on guest room doors. How to keep all this balanced is a challenge to managers and owners alike.

Maintenance Saves Effort

The first thing that should be obvious is that routine repairs and, to a lesser degree, emergencies will be reduced significantly if preventive room and equipment maintenance is taking place. The problem for many managers and maintenance people is how to get out from under the ongoing repairs and emergencies in order to conceive and implement preventive maintenance programs.

The answer I always suggest is that they should look at preventive maintenance as a tax which is payable weekly in hours. No matter what, the tax must be paid. Even three hours, three days a week in an 80 to 100 room hotel is a significant start. In a smaller property its more than enough, in the long run. In a larger hotel one is dealing with a different scale, sometimes one or more persons spend full time on it, but the principal is the same. Two of those three days can be spent in guest rooms while the other can be spent on equipment and public spaces.

Guest room preventive maintenance is very straight forward and there are a multitude of check lists available. The place to start is not by being delayed coming up with the ideal checklist, but rather by coming up with a work cart for the maintenance staff. The cart can be an old maid’s cart cleaned up and painted or something developed from a two wheel dolly with tool kits bolted to it and some shelves built for common spare parts. Just start with something inexpensive; one can replace it or improve it next month.

Maintenance: Just Do It

The key thing: get started. Go to the lowest numbered room in the hotel and start anywhere. Maybe the maintenance person likes to fix lamps and light fixtures so s/he starts there and checks all the fixtures in the room by tightening switches, adjusting harps, checking the security of the plugs and outlets (while down there) and making notes of any that need new shades. Next the maintenance person might cheek for dripping in the bathroom and replace or clean faucet aerators, and tighten knobs. While in the bathroom, tighten the toilet seat and shower rod. Look for grouting that needs repair and make a note so that several rooms can have their grouting and tile worked on at once.

Continue this process for an hour, then go to the next room and repeat exactly the same checks. In a small hotel, three or four rooms is a great start for the first day. Out of the effort several work orders will have been written for subsequent follow-up. The key to guest room preventive maintenance is in actually getting some things in the room fixed or adjusted, not in making big lists and certainly not in undertaking on a big project.

If just six rooms are done a week all the rooms in an 80 room motel will be done in 14 weeks. The second time around will go faster and more things will get done.

The best guest room preventive maintenance checklist for your hotel may be the one the maintenance person develops after going to 20 rooms. It can be improved on the second time around, along with the cart.

Remember, work orders and project lists are a byproduct of this effort and these are being worked on continuously. There should be plenty of time as I only suggested nine hours a week (three hours a day, three days a week).

Equipment and Public Spaces

Along with the guest room preventive maintenance tax, add in a schedule of maybe four hours, two days a week for equipment and public space preventive maintenance. The total tax at this point is only 17 hours. With the remainder of the maintenance work week, work orders and emergencies are dealt with.

Equipment and public space preventive maintenance is a little different than the guest room program. Most pieces of equipment come with maintenance instructions. These should be researched and organized on to cards or into a notebook. If the manuals have been lost, a vendor can usually help get them or at least a photocopy of very old equipment manuals.

Start with simple but important things, like keeping the machinery and equipment clean followed by servicing anything with moving parts. Get back to the machinery every two or three months or according to the manufacturers directions, if they are located. Some equipment needs more frequent servicing. A good example are older circulating pumps for domestic hot water. Some used to need their bearings oiled weekly. Modern equipment needs less and less servicing, but anything with air circulating through it needs filters and coils cleaned just as much as they ever did. Failing to do so causes them to overheat and breakdown prematurely.

Public spaces such as lobbies, halls, stairwells, restaurants and meeting rooms need continuous attention. Chairs, tables, doors, carpet and wall coverings all get heavy use and abuse. Without regular attention these items can cause a hotel to start looking shabby and unkempt. More importantly, some items become a safety hazard. By getting around to these areas weekly and inspecting them the person or persons working on maintenance can correct unsightly tears, fix loose legs and keep all the parts of the doors properly adjusted.

Work Orders and Organization

Work orders are a great tool for examining where preventive maintenance is failing by looking at the frequency, location or type of items that appear on the work orders. Except for damage caused by a guest or employee, many work orders are a result of poor preventive maintenance.

Many maintenance people do not organize their work orders. Organizing them might include batching work orders together by location, similar projects requiring the same tools and supplies, etc. It is also appropriate to put low priority work orders off until s/he is going to that location for an additional reason. Time is money and time spent walking to and from different jobs, getting supplies and tools and just checking things out is wasted money.

Emergencies Caused by Inattention

Emergencies have been defined by someone unknown to me as, “your poor planning becoming my crisis.” A lack of preventive maintenance and attention to detail lie as the root cause of many emergencies. The definition of emergency in a hotel is subject to frequent changes of interpretation. The owner coming and the front door closer that s/he has complained about for three months still not being fixed is not really an emergency, but will be treated as such. Anything that is a safety hazard, or is causing further damage, or is going to impact revenue now is truly an emergency. You might think of some others, but this covers most emergencies.

After each emergency situation is resolved take a few minutes to examine it. Was it really an emergency? What could have been done to prevent or at least mitigate it? Finally, what are we going to do to keep it from happening again?

Lower Costs in Long Run

In summary, I want to emphasize that whatever is spent on preventive maintenance is going to lower maintenance costs in the long run, enhance the guest experience (read that as increase repeat business and word-of-mouth advertising) and improve the hotel as an attractive and safe place to work.


A Brief History of Air Conditioning

Air ConditioningMost people associate air conditioning with a very modern electrical appliance, but that is not exactly true. Did you know that the first real discovery of the technology behind today’s air conditioners was actually discovered back in 1758, when none other than Benjamin Franklin and Professor John Hadley noted that an object can be chilled enough to freeze water due to the evaporation of certain volatile liquids.

However, it was not until well into the 1830s that the science behind the freezing took a substantial step. It was then that a doctor in Florida, John Gorrie, made what is the equivalent of today’s freezer, an ice machine which used compression to make ice and then have that same chilled air blow over the ice blocks, keeping them cold.

Throughout the nineteenth century the technology continued to make advances and in the very early 1900’s a man named Willis Carrier invents what he calls the Apparatus for Treating Air. Essentially, what this machine did was take that principle of using compressed evaporated liquids and blow the cool air that is produced over coils which will stay cooler far longer controlling not only cooler temperatures, but also regulating humidity.

Black And White AC Video

It was this step that was the major breakthrough, from this point other inventors realized that this air cooling treatment could be used not only in small spaces, but large rooms, and was soon being installed in newspaper printing rooms and on yarn factory floors. Just like with today’s computers, the first air conditioners were absolutely massive and it was not until the 1930’s that the technology made it so that these air conditioners could be sized down to fit in windows for individual rooms in homes or flats.

As you can imagine, these air conditioners were amazingly expensive costing well over a hundred grand in today’s dollars! From there, air conditioning was moved into automobiles and lorries, of course the first systems actually had no way to control the temperature from within the vehicle. From the early 1950’s on in the huge growths after the end of World War II, air conditioners are everywhere, in both homes and cars, and being sold at an amazing rate, especially within all of those new suburban regions that were appearing all over places like the United States.

From there, air conditioners shifted again from being available as central air, moving cool air through a series of ventilation systems in the home. These new cooling devices went hand in hand with the residential central heating furnace of the day. The next real change to air conditioning did not occur until decades later, however, when it was discovered that the chemicals which were being utilized as the refrigerant components (that which cools the air), were doing quite a bit of damage to the environment, particularly the ozone layer. Regulations were passed, and all of the major companies have since developed a new series of coolants which have been much more environmentally friendly.

As you can see, there are some things best left to the pros when it comes to service and maintenance. There are some things you can do your self, so click here for those types of DIY tasks. Another innovator in the home services field is Mr. Rooter Plumbing one of the best known plumbing franchises in North America. If you ever have a plumbing problem they are a dependable organization anywhere you find one of their offices.

This article has been provided by Electric Point, one of the largest electrical wholesaler groups in the UK. With their extensive stock, broad range of specialist products and experienced staff, they will be able to serve most of your needs. Please visit their website to find out more.