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Plumbing

Refresher on Water Pressure

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After a long day out in the sun, nothing sounds better than a long shower. So, when you finally get the opportunity to hop in the shower and the water pressure is just not up to par, the frustration immediately sets in. However, all is not lost. There are several measures any homeowner can take in order to increase their home’s water pressure for the long haul.

Causes of Low Water Pressure

While some of these efforts are simple fixes, others may take a certain level of expertise. Make an educated decision early on as to whether you should call or at least consult a plumbing professional. Regardless, we have listed some of the major causes of weakened water pressure below (as well as some of the simple fixes).

Water Valves

Often times, the cause of limited water pressure is due to one of the two major water valves not being fully opened. Be sure to check that both of the following valves are fully opened:

  • Water Meter Valve
  • Water Supply Valve

Both of these valves are important to the water supply and pressure for your entire house, though. It is important that if you do make any adjustment that you do not overcorrect because improper changes can cause damage to your entire plumbing system. If you are concerned, give a plumber a call and they can certainly make these changes for you.

Water Leaks

If you are experiencing water pressure in specific areas or a specific faucet, check for leaks near that particular fixture. If there isn’t a significant change to your entire house’s pressure, small leaks are a typical cause of water pressure restrictions for specific outlets.

Old or Broken Pipes

A major cause of weakened water pressure for your entire plumbing system is old pipes. Galvanized steel pipes become corroded over long periods of time which causes water to flow through them slower. This kind of problem occurs over at least a decade of time and requires the replacement of pipes. In these cases, be sure to contract professional services for this kind of work to ensure that the system is properly installed and adjusted.

Alternatives

Sometimes your plumbing system is just battling its environment. Some of these elements are just impossible to avoid but they are solutions.

For example, if you live in an elevated community, your water has to fight gravity and travel up to your home, which reduces the water’s pressure as it makes its way to you. Looking into a booster will allow the water to be re-pressurized once it reaches your home or property’s plumbing system.

Additionally, the water entering your plumbing system should be functional for use. However, this water can still damage your pipes over time. This is where water softeners can also be installed to aid in protecting the investment you make in your plumbing system. Softeners will add a secondary measure to help extend the life of your plumbing.

Homeowners may also look into resources and support regarding water pressure problems for their entire home with their regional provider; in the Treasure Valley, the water provider is United Water by Suez Water Idaho.

Professional Plumber Support

Ultimately, there are many resources available to home and property owners to keep their water pressure at peak performance. Fortunately, there are simple fixes to many problems. For those not comfortable investigating and working on plumbing systems themselves, professional support comes in handy because we already possess the expertise for all things plumbing.

Root of the Problem: Trees Disrupting Sewer Line Plumbing

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We all like to bask in a little summer sun but sometimes tree shade can be an easy source of relief from the hot sun. But when we plant those trees in our yards in the fall, we often overlook the auxiliary impact that they can have. By this, we mean the underground consequences of tree growth that can impact your home and its plumbing.

Old and New Implantations

Where some trees have minimal subsurface growth, others have extensive networks of roots to support and provide for them. Choosing the appropriate lawn and garden additions from the beginning can make a world of difference. For those of you moving into a new home or evaluating your long term home, being able to identify the existing shrubbery and tree status can also help you look out for potential conflicts.

Biggest Tree Root Complications For Plumbing

Regardless of your situation, it can be difficult to predict what might happen. To counteract some of this uncertainty, we have listed a few common plumbing complications resulting from root interference.

1. Piping

A major complication for many homes, especially in the Treasure Valley, is the strength of their foundational piping. Because of the older or historic nature of many Idaho homes, their plumbing is often based in clay piping. Roots pose a great threat to clay pipes because they are more susceptible to obstruction or damage that the current industry standard PVC pipes.

2. Property and Placement

Another plumbing issue often arises because of trees with deep or far-reaching roots. If garden planning was not made with respect to the property, roots often come into contact with important plumbing and foundational structures. As far as plumbing is concerned, there can be serious consequences that can impact the entire property, not just your water or waste systems.

The most common among these property conflicts tends to be root interference with sewer lines and septic tanks. If roots slow, block, or damage either of these networks that exist beneath the ground, there can be overwhelming outcomes. These unpleasant, harmful results are usually paired with expensive solutions.

Knowing where the important infrastructural systems are on your property can save you loads of time and money when you think potential or impending problems are on the way. Whether you are in the position of a renter, homeowner or management company, keeping an eye on the property and seeking out preventative or check-up sewer line services relieves you of the “what if” that comes with the unknown.

3. Planning

There are plenty of variables that can cause root growth as well as plenty of variables that can cause plumbing complications. However for each one of these problems, there are multiple solutions. And even if the problem comes up, there are 24/7 emergency services available to you with the click of a few buttons. Organizing a plan of action should the unexpected happen can also protect you from extended damages. Time is money, especially when the unforeseen become reality.

Sometimes new, unexpected growth can occur after a few years of neutral or nonaggressive root development. Sometimes time just takes its toll. Having a conscious investment in your home as well as an awareness of the resources available to you will dramatically increase your likelihood for preventing expensive plumbing problems in the future.

Wasted Water: How to Maximize Plumbing in Older Homes

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Older homes come with an immeasurable amount of character. That ambiguous but charming term, character, can come from the finishing, the exterior, quirky layouts, and even standout or stand-alone features on the property. Homeowning of older or historically acclaimed homes are proponents of the integrity of their accessories and appliances. As they should be.

In order to maintain its authenticity, homeowners of older homes must invest not only their money but their time and energy into the maintenance of their home. Not all can be trusted to perform quality service with quality products. Plumbing often gets bundled into that connotation in the service industry. While many providers are executing to their best ability, older homes require a bit more attention to detail, which can operate by antiquated processes and systems as well as the burden of structural change that inevitably evolves over time from social and cultural needs.

Homeowners may know the most about the personality and general format of their homes but taking measures into their own hands either results in temporary or short-lived results, amateur servicing, or misdiagnosed treatment. Finding and relying on a ‘fixer’ from the outside world can cause trepidation. Ultimately, though, allowing a professional plumber to carefully and critically assess the plumbing environment in your home is your best bet for maximum asset retention.

The following are leading recurring issues seen in the majority of older or historical homes when left undiagnosed.

Extended Damage from the Seasons

Plumbing piping is one of the few exceptionally stable and formidable features of the home but it is not completely safeguarded from natural elements. Seasonal change, especially as dramatic as we experience it in Boise and most of the Northwest for that matter, can factor in on the materials science aspect of plumbing.

Because plumbing is wired both inside and outside the immediate framework of the home, it must shift with the outside environment just as we do. Changes between cold and hot can result in wear and tear on plumbing systems. Underground pipes withstand the brunt of this seasonal weathering. Over time, pipe bellies – the middle space between joints – can start to sag due to the force of gravity on the contents of the pipe and the pipe, itself. This dragging can result in an eventual burst or breakage in the pipe belly to due untreated stress on the pipe. Broken pipe detection is our first step in resolving your plumbing problems.

Mismatched Plumbing

Quick fixes can be an appealing solution for immediate issues in an older home but they generally produce complications and obstacles with larger consequences that the initial issue. Many people also ignore the materials used in these quick fixes. Using mismatched materials (piping, joints, taping, etc) especially in homes that rely on particular resources can contribute to larger conflicts in the plumbing system as well as manufacture new problems.

Original Equipment

Vintage is in and, as plumbers, we completely understand that. However, sometimes vintage is not in use. Function and utility are the primary objectives of plumbing systems. Original equipment and fixtures are typically sturdier than their contemporary counterparts. Although, time does impact function so just because an original may last longer does not mean that it does not have a threshold of use.

When goals are no longer being achieved by original equipment or fixtures due to small but strenuous leaks, alternatives must be looked at before the original parts threshold oversees its capacity in a historic home.

Poor Sewer Line Management

Every homeowner knows that their plumbing is an essential asset for the home. Every homeowner also knows that their plumbing is a nitty-gritty means to an end for waste management. While most do not enjoy thinking about waste removal, the reality does not change. In order to operate and uphold the ‘dirty work’ of plumbing, sewer lines must be adopted into the regular checklist of home maintenance.

Because of the condensation that is inherent to sewer lines, tree roots and other naturally occurring environmental factors can tamper with the functionality of sewer lines. Watching out for potential conflicts like these and seeking professional opinions and intervention can hinder major sewage backups.

More often than not, homeowners of any age of home do not take preventative steps to check in on their home systems. For homeowners of older homes, this can be what makes or breaks the authentic preservation of a historical home. Additionally, the EPA has recognized that resolving plumbing problems can result in major energy savings for older homes plumbing is all too often taken as a given in home maintenance but to capitalize on your investment, checking up on plumbing systems before the going gets rough can be your home’s saving grace.

The Top 8 Most Common DIY Plumbing Mistakes

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We’ve all heard doing DIY projects is way more cost effective than calling a pro, but if you fail to do the job correctly, you can wind up spending way more than you would have if you had used a professional plumbing service in the first place. Let’s take a look at the top eight DIY plumbing mistakes, how to avoid them and how to fix them.

1. Overuse of liquid drain cleaners.

This is arguably one of the most common mistakes most people make when it comes to anything plumbing related. Most people either use too much drain cleaner or use it too often. If it doesn’t work to remove the clog you or a professional plumber will have to remove the p-tap and at that point it will be filled with corrosive liquid, which isn’t exactly ideal. Plus, too much drain cleaner can damage metal traps and pipes and actually destroys rubber gaskets causing leaks down the road.

Instead, you can easily just remove the p tap and pour out the debris. Even easier yet, a drain snake or barbed drain tool does wonders for tough clogs.

2. Over tightening connections.

When you don’t want a soda to go flat you try to screw the lid on as tight as possible, in fact with most things you seal, a good rule of thumb is tighter the better. However, this is not the case with plumbing. It’s a common misconception, but over tightening fittings can cause fittings to crack, leading to a leak. Worse yet, the crack could develop later causing a huge flood at an inconvenient time. Plus, over tightening the toilet closet bolts at the floor or between the bowl and tank can crack the porcelain, at which point you’re going to need a new toilet. It doesn’t take much strength to seal a connection.

3. Using the wrong type of thread tape or wrapping it improperly.

Thread tape, or teflon tape needs to be wrapped clockwise around the threads in order to work properly. Wrapping the tap the other way will not seal the connection properly. Also, make sure you’re using thin white or thick pink tape for water carrying fittings and yellow gas related tape for gas fittings.

4. Replacing one piece at a time.

Oftentimes when doing a DIY project, many people will only replace the part causing the issue. A good rule of thumb to follow is if one piece is worn, it’s likely other pieces are too. So, following this, go ahead and just rebuild the whole thing instead of replacing pieces one at a time. Plus, the pieces are pretty cheap so it won’t cost an arm and a leg to replace everything at once.

5. Forgetting or choosing not to turn off the water supply.

Professionals turn off the water supply before they start any job, what makes you feel like you can just “quickly swap in a new valve”? Failing to replace the part quickly will lead to a huge flood of water which could cause thousands of dollars. Once again, when water damage can be so extensive and expensive, opt for a professional instead of trying to do it yourself.

6. Using too much force trying to turn a stuck shut off valve.

If something is stuck, don’t try to force the knob to turn. This will lead to a broken knob or even the valve stem breaking off completely if you’re not careful. Instead, use an adjustable wrench to loosen the stem nut just enough to break the seal. Then you can safely turn the knob without working up a sweat or breaking anything.

7. Not having the proper tools or skills.

Having the wrong tools can lead to huge problems. Don’t try to “make do” with the tools you have. If you know they’re not right for the job you’re doing, consider getting the correct ones. Tools aren’t very expensive and a set of wrenches can go a long way. The same goes for using the wrong parts or connecting mismatched parts. This can lead to leaks or cracks and can break plumbing and safety codes, which brings us to the last but maybe most important DIY plumbing mistake to avoid…

8. Doing unpermitted DIY work.

Safety codes exist for a reason: to keep residents safe in their homes. This sometimes gets overlooked by DIYers and the consequences are costly or sometimes even deadly. DIY repairs may seem fine for months or even years, but when it comes time to sell your home and have it inspected, you might be in big trouble. You can avoid this by familiarizing yourself with building and safety codes before performing any work, or better yet, calling a professional. If you’re in the Boise area give Knight Plumbing a call for the best plumbing services in the Treasure Valley!

Go Green with Water Conservation – How You Can Save Water In Your Home Today

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Going green is increasingly popular and it’s easy to see why. Not only do eco-friendly actions help the environment, but they can often help us save money. When it comes to water conservation for the plumbing in your home, there are a variety of things you can do to make a positive impact on the environment and your pocketbook.

Hot Water Heaters and Other Systems

Hot water delivery systems have improved greatly in efficiency over the last few years. One device that can be a big help when it comes to saving water is a hot water recirculation system. These systems help to deliver hot water to your taps sooner, even the ones farther away from the source. This means less time letting the water run down the drain while you are waiting for the right temperature.

You might also consider having a plumber install a tankless water heater. Rather than keeping an entire tank warm all the time you, you can install a system that provides hot water on demand, which reduces energy, but also helps with water conservation by reducing the wait time.

Dishwashers & Hand Washing

If you have an older model dishwasher, you may consider upgrading your appliance. Newer models are designed for energy efficiency and recycle water at a greater rate, helping to keep your consumption down.

Whether you have a newer or older model, there are often settings that can help cut down on energy and water waste. If possible, use a shorter wash cycle and eliminate unnecessary, cycle like pre-rinsing.

When washing by hand, try filling up a sink with warm water to wash the dishes, rather than leaving the water running. This can also help keep water consumption down.

Showers

Showers are a big waster of water for a lot of us. While taking a nice, long warm shower is undeniably enjoyable, when you have water conservation in mind it can account for a lot of consumption that can be reduced.

You can install timers to help you and your family reduce the time spent in the shower, however you can also cut back on consumption with you cutting back on your shower time. Try installing a showerhead with a water reducer. Often time these can be obtained directly from your water company, at little to no cost, but you can also find them at your nearest home hardware store.

Laundry

Adjusting how you do your laundry is one of the easiest ways you immediately make changes to improve your water conservation practices. To start, you can reduce the numbers of washes that use higher water temperature settings. Consider using shorter wash cycles when appropriate and always adjust the water level to meet the needs of your wash load.

If you are able to upgrade your washing machine, this will offer you the greatest opportunity to save money and water. Older models can use as much as 25 gallons more per wash cycle than some of the newer energy efficient models. Some washers also have automatic sensors that control the water level to meet your load requirements, saving you even more water.

Toilets and Faucets

Anywhere you can make an upgrade, can usually result in water saving. Toilets are another great example. You could save as much as 5 gallons per flush with a new model, versus an out of date one. Faucets, especially if they are leaky, should be addressed immediately. If you think you might need a new faucet or a new toilet, it’s a fairly easy process and can be handled by your local plumber in a short amount of time.

Other Things You Can Do

Research water conservation. The EPA has a lot of products and tips to help you implement water conservation in your home. Doing simple things like turning the water off when you are brushing your teeth or limiting your sprinkler use can help make an impact on all of your water saving efforts.

 

Making a few changes today can obviously make for a brighter day tomorrow. At Knight Plumbing we want to help you with all of your plumbing needs, whether it’s an emergency or just an upgrade. Let us help you save money and make an impact on the environment with some easy changes to upgrade and bring value to your home.

Plumbing Home Renovations You’ve Never Thought Of

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Plumbing is integral to our home and our lives. Without the convenience of indoor plumbing, many of us would feel like we were in the dark ages. However, most people think of only a few installations when they think of their plumbing. Sinks and showers and baths are givens, but what other ways could you make your life easier (or better) by expanding your home’s plumbing horizons?

Utility Sink

If you have a workshop, art room, or even a kids’ playroom, you may consider adding a utility sink to make life a little easier. Utility sinks can come in a variety of sizes so you can choose the one that works best for your needs. Another excellent place for a utility sink is your laundry room. If you need to hand wash clothes or pretreat them for stains, a sink can save you a lot of time and hassle.

Mud Shower

Depending on where you live, mud can be a real problem. Add kids, dogs and visitors and your home can turn into a mess quicker than you can imagine. Why fight with a pile of muddy shoes at the door and dirty tracks all over your house when you can install a simple mud shower or sink to stop the problem right at your door. Mud showers can be installed in mudrooms, entryways, garages, or anywhere the makes sense for you and your home.

Pet Bath

Speaking of muddy pets, why not install a pet shower for your furry friend? If your four-legged companions are making a mess out of your home, or if they just need regular grooming, you can make your life so much easier if they have a bath or shower of their own. Let’s be honest, you love your pets, but do you really love sharing a bathtub with them? Keeping it separate is not only convenient, but it is cleaner and safe for you and your family.

Outdoor Tubs or Showers

Hot tubs aren’t the only way to get your soak on outdoors. It is becoming increasingly popular these days to install an outdoor tub so you can enjoy a great soak and the great outdoors at the same time. It’s an excellent way to avoid all the chemicals and maintenance that are involved with hot tubs, while still being able to enjoy the best of both worlds. If you do have a hot tub, perhaps an outdoor shower might be a better fit. It allows to rinse off before and after your soak, keeping things clean and healthy.

Bidet

Bidets are far more common in countries outside the US, but they are rising in popularity state-side, especially among the eco-conscious. Bidets can help cut down on toilet paper waste and manufacturing making an overall positive impact on the environment. In addition, if you have someone who is mobility impaired, a bidet can be an easier way for them to comfortably manage their bathroom hygiene. There are full bidet toilets that can be installed by a professional, as well as bidet attachments that can be added to your current toilet.

 

Plumbing is designed to make your life easier, so why limit its abilities to just the basics? A different or unique plumbing installation might be exactly what you and your home needs. No need to limit your choices to just these ideas either. Think outside the box and create a plumbing solution that can make your everyday life, just a little greater. In addition, many of these can be considered home improvements and add value to your home. Call Knight Plumbing today and let us help you bring your dreams to life!

How to Clean Stubborn Rust Stains from Your Bathroom

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When metal and water come in contact with each other as they do in a plumbing system it is almost inevitable that rust will eventually appear. Over time, pipes, fixtures, and even water heaters can develop rust which can leave you with unsightly brown stains that are not only unattractive but stubborn to get rid of.

What is Causing These Stains?

While rust is a natural reaction that we don’t have a lot of control over, the appearance of rust can indicate a deeper problem.

Rust, however, isn’t the only cause of these stains. If you live in an area with high concentrations of iron in the water, you may experience the staining as a result of the contact with the iron over time. No matter what the cause of these stains, the common thread is that they are near impossible to remove—at least with traditional bathroom cleaning methods.

Checking With Your Plumber

While many of the causes of rust stains are natural, they can still be an indicator that something deeper may be wrong. If it is being caused by rusty pipes or an aging water heater, you will need to call a plumber to replace these items and control the flow of damaging rusty water. If you do have a high concentration of iron in your water you can also have your plumber install a water softener to help manage the situation.

Cleaning The Stains

Over time these stains can really settle into porcelain making your cleaning job that much more difficult. We aren’t going to lie, cleaning these stains isn’t always easy—but the important thing is that it’s not impossible.

Abrasive Scrubbing Pads

There is a variety of scrubbing pads out there—from a two-sided kitchen sponge to steel wool. Porcelain will scratch, so be careful when choosing the higher-duty abrasive pads. Abrasive pads are a good first place to start not only do they loosen up the stain, but they also do so without heavy chemicals.

Natural Cleaners

If you are trying to avoid those heavy chemicals you may consider making your own homemade cleanser. Lemon juice and salt are particularly good for battling rust and stubborn stains. Simply combine lemon juice with salt to make a paste. Make sure you cover any potential cuts on your hands with gloves, while these are safe substances, we all know they can certainly hurt an already open wound—so be careful.  This paste isn’t as effective on the toilet, because it doesn’t grip to the stain, but lemon juice and salt can work wonders on sinks and tub drains. Leave the paste to settle into the stain for 20 minutes or more and scrub away with a brush.

Pumice Stone

Another natural substance that can help with your cleaning efforts is pumice. Pumice is a naturally occurring volcanic rock that has been used in everything from cleaning to self-hygiene. They have specially designed pumice stones for porcelain and tile that can be reused over and over again. It takes some scrubbing, but if you are dedicated to keeping things chemical free it’s worth the extra effort.

Cleaners

If you must, you can opt to use a chemical cleaner. However, you everyday surface cleaners are not going to have the punch you need to send the rust stains packing. Some people try to use bleach too, but it generally doesn’t have much effect on the stain. What you are looking for is a cleaner that contains hydrochloric acid. This sounds more dangerous than it is, but these cleaners are safe for tub and tile cleaner, though you will want to follow directions for safe handling purposes.

If you still can’t get these stains to budge, it might be time to consider a replacement. Before you decided to replace your tub and sinks, make sure the source of the problem has been properly managed so that the problem doesn’t reappear. At any point, feel free to call the experts at Knight Plumbing and we’ll help get your bathroom and kitchen in the condition you are hoping for.

I Think my Plumbing has Water Hammer – What do I do

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Water hammer, by name is a fairly self-explanatory phenomena. If you’ve ever heard a loud clunk or thunk sound when you turn off the faucet, you may have “Water hammer.” You might hear it when the washing machine or dishwasher shuts off the water, or even after a shower, but the sound is unmistakable. And while it may seem like just an annoying noise, the truth is it could be the sound of a plumbing problem to come.

Why Does it Make a Hammering Noise?

To ensure flow, the water in your plumbing pipes is under pressure. When you open a faucet, the water can run through freely, but when you shut if off the water flow crashes into the closed valve and this creates what is known as a hydraulic shock. While this is not necessarily a problem, it can contribute to issues if your pipes have not been secured properly. The vibration that results from water hammer can even cause your pipes to physically move, which can lead to even more noise, and if things are secured properly could even cause severe damage to your pipes.

How can I Stop Water Hammer?

Air Chambers

Most modern home plumbing systems already include a fix for this issue by utilizing air chambers. An air chamber is installed right behind the valve, but placed higher than the valve, allowing the valve to fill with air, giving the water a cushion when the water flow suddenly halts.

However, sometimes it can still occur, even with air chambers in place. Overtime water can bubble up into the chamber, rendering the process ineffective.

Water hammer sometimes occurs at valves that have air chambers installed. When this happens, the cause is usually that water has bubbled up into the air chamber over time, nullifying its protective effects. However, a simple fix can usually remedy this issue. If you are able to shut off the main water valve you can open your faucets at the highest and lowest points in your system which will allow your chambers to fill back up with air once all the water has run through the system. Remember, if you are at all uncomfortable, remember you can always call us or your local plumber, and we can help you out.

If you find you don’t have air chambers, give us a call and we can make sure they are installed properly – which will ensure a longer lasting life for your plumbing system.

Water Pressure

Since the problem of water hammer is caused by pressure, it makes sense that your water pressure can play into this issue. Sometime, even with air chambers in place, you could experience water hammer if your water pressure is too high. Most local hardware stores carry water pressure gauges, so if you are concerned about this issue, it is worth the few dollars it takes to purchase one. You can easily screw the gauge on your hose bib and open the faucet all the way. Make sure there are no other open faucets in your home when you perform this test. Safe water pressure for a home should range between 50 to 80 psi, so if your water pressure higher than that you will want to contact your local water provider to see if they can help. Another solution would be to install a water pressure regulator, which can easily be done with the help of a plumber.

Water hammer, when serious enough, can do damage to your pipes and your system. Most of the fixes for this problem, however, can be a lot easier to manage than what could happen if you let the problem go. Some of the fixes are DIY, but if the problem persists reach out and give Knight Plumbing a call, we are ready and waiting to help!