Posts tagged ‘Plumbing’

Ouch! It’s Too Hot!

Home Service Corp Water HeatersThere is no easy answer to the how hot your water should be. It depends. It depends on the makeup of the family, the usage of the family, and safety for the family.

When I say safety, this is a two way street. If you look at the chart below, you can see it does not take a high temperature to cause burns especially for the elderly and the young. On the other hand water that is too cool can cause Legionnaire’s disease to form in the water. When a person is exposed to the vapor or water droplets the disease can form in their lungs as pneumonia. Each of these consequences are dire for a family. So what is the best option for the average family?

Let’s look at what the maximum temperature at a faucet where a child, an elderly individual or an adult may be scalded. These would be shower, bathtub, and combination bathtub/shower faucets. Very few faucets with separate hot and cold handles can be set for a maximum temperature so the solution for these would be to replace the faucet with a single handle faucet with a temperature limit built into it. The temperature limit must be set for each home since the incoming water temperature to the faucet can vary. The maximum temperature should be set below 120° F, preferably at 115° F. The faucet should also have at least a pressure balance feature. This feature reduces the flow of hot water when it senses a reduction of flow from the cold water supply. This could be caused by a toilet flush, a faucet turned on to cold, or a sprinkler operating.

Sinks do not require a maximum temperature on residential applications since higher temperatures may be desired and the thought is that a person could quickly remove their hands from the flow of water if it was extremely hot. In commercial application the code requires a maximum temperature of 120° F at sinks to protect handicap individuals. If you have a concern or a need to control the hot water temperature at a sink, there are controls which can be installed at individual sinks.

If you keep your water heater at 130° F or lower you are increasing the chances of Legionnaire’s Disease developing within the tank or piping. A water heater set at 120° F can have water inside of it as low as 100° F. The Department of Energy recommends 120° F set point but OSHA recommends 140° F to minimize the formation of the Legionnaire’s Disease bacteria.

Table of Hot Water Scalding Temperatures & Times

Water Temperature Setting

Exposure Time

Effects of Exposure to Hot water at These Temperatures

Water at 100°   F or below See safety   note. Most   water heaters are unlikely to scald an adult occupant;
Water at 120°   F 5 minutes 2nd & 3rd   degree burns on adult skin
Water at 130°   F 30 seconds 2nd & 3rd   degree burns on adult skin
Water at 140°   F 5 seconds 2nd & 3rd   degree burns on adult skin
Water at 150°   F 1 1/2 seconds 2nd & 3rd   degree burns on adult skin
Water at 160°   F 1/2 second 2nd & 3rd   degree burns on adult skin
Safety Note:   Hot Water Scald Burn Warning for Infants, Children, Elderly: great care must be taken when   exposing infants or children to warm or hot water as they can be badly burned   quickly and at shorter exposure times.
Source: A.O. Smith

Our recommendation is to set you tank at a temperature no higher than 140° F also be sure your shower and bathtub faucets are set at 115° F as the maximum temperature. This will provide reasonable protection from scalding and Legionnaire’s Disease. As stated above, if you still have concerns about sink faucet temperatures, a control can be added to the sinks in your home.

Contact us for more information or visit our website at www.HomeServiceCorp.comHome Service Corporation serving our Michigan customers Heating & Air Conditioning , Plumbing and Electrical needs since 1980.

Lead in Your Water?

Beginning in 2014, all piping, valves, fittings, and faucets used in drinking water systems must be lead-free that are used for water consumed by humans in the United States. What are the issues and what has already been done to protect the public? First, let’s look at the history of lead and drinking water.

History of Lead and Drinking Water

Home Service Corp.

Old Lead Water Pipe

The definition of a plumber is a person who works with water pipes, once made from lead, or with lead solder for the joints. The Romans used lead pipes, and the word plumber comes from the Latin word for lead, plumbum. There is no Latin, or even Indo-European, etymology for plumbum but it bears a distant similarity to the Greek word for lead. Some historians believe the decline of the Roman Empire was as least partially caused by the abundant use of lead in piping, eating utensils, pots, pans and other uses. This is still an ongoing controversy. Lead piping was used for 2,000 plus years for drinking water distribution. Lead was used for solder to connect copper piping when copper replaced lead in pipe material primarily due to cost.

The Issue

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Infants and children who drink water containing lead in excess of the action level could experience delays in their physical or mental development. Children could show slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. Adults who drink this water over many years could develop kidney problems or high blood pressure.”

What has already been done?

Prior to the 1960’s lead was often used for the water line from the city main into the home. In 1986 lead based solder for joining copper piping was banned. In 1988 all piping and fixtures were required to be lead free which required them to contain less that 8% lead content. So we have already had a significant reduction in the use of lead in our water supply system within a home. At present lead is either present in the systems of older homes or in the valves and faucets used in homes. Those valves and faucets are made of brass which is an excellent material for this use when lead in the amount of 2% is added to the copper and zinc to improve the machinability. This is the area that lead is required to be removed from the drinking water distribution system.

What is being done?

Manufactures of valves and fittings and faucets are approaching this challenge in several ways. Some are lining the water way through the valve, fitting or faucet with epoxies, plastics, stainless steel and other materials which are completely lead free. Some are building their products out of other materials such as plastic or stainless steel. Others are changing the components of the brass they are using to eliminate the lead content.

How can I reduce lead in drinking water at home?

If you have a lead water service in your home, replacement would be the very best option to reduce the chances of lead leeching into your drinking water supply. You will have valves, fittings and faucets in your home which will contain very small amounts of lead. Having your water tested would be a reasonable option.

If these are not options because of cost or other obstacles then flush your pipes before drinking, and only use cold water for consumption. The more time water has been sitting in your home’s pipes, the more lead it may contain. Anytime the water in a particular faucet has not been used for six hours or longer, “flush” your cold-water pipes by running the water until it becomes as cold as it will get. This could take as little as five to thirty seconds if there has been recent heavy water use such as showering or toilet flushing. Otherwise, it could take two minutes or longer. Your water utility will inform you if longer flushing times are needed to respond to local conditions. As lead piping ages there is often a coating of calcium carbonate which provides significant protection from lead leeching into the water.

Use only water from the cold-water tap for drinking, cooking, and especially for making baby formula. Hot water is likely to contain higher levels of lead. The two actions recommended above are very important to the health of your family. They will probably be effective in reducing lead levels because most of the lead in household water usually comes from the plumbing in your house, not from the local water supply.

In lieu of replacing the hazardous parts of a plumbing system, there are several methods of treating water to make it less corrosive, or to remove lead from water. Water filtration may be a help to treat water to make it less corrosive, including:

  • Calcite filters
  • Carbon cartridge filters
  • Ion exchange resin cartridge filters
  • Activated alumina cartridge filters

Lead removal devices are typically applied individually to faucets and are not 100% effective, but can usually remove at least 85% of lead from a water system. They may employ such methods as:

  • Reverse osmosis
  • Distillation
  • Carbon filters

These procedures may not be appropriate for your plumbing system; you should consult us to make sure these measures are sufficient to reduce the lead content to acceptable levels before implementing them.

Contact us for more information or visit our website at www.HomeServiceCorp.com.

Home Service Corporation Celebrating since 1980 serving our Michigan customers’ Heating & Air Conditioning , Plumbing and Electrical needs.

DO NOT send your kids to college!

That title is  strong but the American dream of sending your children off to college so they can get a great job and live better than you did is out of reach for many American families. Between the cost of a four year degree and the number of degrees that offer little economic future for the graduate, much has changed in the last couple of decades. College costs have exploded at the same time the value of most higher education is in decline. According to the Project on Student Debt, b

I should have been a plumber

etween 2001 and 2010 the cost of a university education skyrocketed from 23% of median annual earnings to 38%. Two-thirds of today’s college graduates have to pay off student loans, which typically amount to tens of thousands of dollars and frequently climb into six figures. Student loan debt is a large part of the reason why so many young adults in their twenties and thirties are living with mom and dad these days. They can’t afford to start their own families and households. Some of them will be in debt for the rest of their lives.

Many of the jobs filled by college graduates with degrees have been replaced by automation operated by lower skilled and paid employees. A current report says the unemployment rate for recent graduates is 8.8% and the underemployment rate by those recently graduated is 18.3%. Many of those employed are in jobs their degree is not even needed.

There have been other alternates available for young people to provide for themselves and a family but the common wisdom has said college is the only way. Let us give you and your kids an alternative of which we are intimately aware.

As a heating, air conditioning and plumbing contractor, we see the existing shortage of highly skilled young men and women in our field of service and replacement. The opportunities are here today for motivated young people to earn while they learn or to be earning after achieving an associate’s degree from a local education facility. Starting wages are well above minimum wage and by their later twenties they can easily be earning $60,000 to $80,000. Along with a good income they won’t have that sizable college loan to repay, will have several more years of income and will have jobs that are “green” and in high demand.Students

Some other options include the opportunity to move into management positions, designing positions, sales positions and become self-employed business owners. The health of each of us is as dependent on the plumber as the doctor. Our comfort is as dependent on the heating and air conditioning technician as that easy chair. Each of these areas doesn’t have the pizazz of some other jobs but they do have the stability and future that many other jobs may not possess.

Contact us for information or visit our website at www.HomeServiceCorp.com and to talk to us about a future that may be right for your son or daughter!

Home Service Corporation

Celebrating our 32nd year serving our Michigan customers Heating & Air Conditioning , Plumbing and Electrical needs.

Do You Need an Ark?

Home Service Corp.Noah was warned by God of the great flood that was to cover the earth. He had enough time to build the Ark, outfit it, gather the animals, and double check it’s seaworthiness. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had that same early warning of an impending “Great Flood” in your basement. You ask “What are you talking about? My basement is bone dry. I’ve never had a flood.” We’ll, over the years we have heard these words spoken to us along with “I can’t believe my carpeting, furniture, and prized collections are damaged by a flood from our sump pump failing.”

 

There are now many options for helping prevent basement floods. These include a second pump, a battery operated backup sump pump, a water power backup sump pump, audible flood alarms, and of course regular maintenance. Each of these are good options when properly applied, properly installed and properly maintained. We have installed dozens of these devices over the years and have helped many of our customers avoid the “Great Flood.”

 

Some alarm companies are providing an alarm which senses water overflowing the sump and spilling onto the floor. These are also an option but what do you do if you are at work, on vacation, or away from home for other reasons? What if the alarm doesn’t operate when you need it because no one maintained it? Before you can react to the alarm you could have a serious flooding situation.

 

There is a new option for homeowners today. In consists of a water powered backup sump pump with an audible alarm and the ability to contact you and three others by phone if the backup sump pump is running. It senses a higher water level than normal in the sump, starts the backup pump, contacts you via the phone all before water reaches the floor of you basement. It gives you time to check out the problem or to contact us to check it out for you. Although it would not contact you in the event of a total phone outage in your home, it would continue to operate the backup pump powered by your water supply. Technology is providing us with new options which were not even dreamed about just a decade ago.Home Service Corp.

 

You may ask “What other new plumbing things are out there?” These include touch control and touch-less faucets, emergency water supply shutoff systems, smart energy saving hot water heaters, toilets that flush on less that 20% of the water many older models use, quiet garbage disposals, filters to eliminate harmful chemicals and metals in the water supply, and even the kitchen sink with hundreds of styles, shapes and accessories.

 

If you have a sump pump and would like a free evaluation of the options for your unique home, just contact us.

Contact us for more information or visit our website at www.HomeServiceCorp.com.

Home Service Corporation

Celebrating our 32nd year serving our Michigan customers Heating & Air Conditioning , Plumbing and Electrical needs.

Need a Plumber or Heating Contractor?

Over the years we have seen so many bids lost to the low bidder. It was a plumbing repair or a duct cleaning or a furnace replacement. The buyer was so focused on price that they did not qualify the bidders for their job. Home Service Corp.Then the homeowner got burner. We have seen this time and time again.

So what was the homeowner supposed to check into before buying? Here is a list you can use on your next service need or replacement need:

  1. Could you show me your liability and workman’s comp insurance. If not you may pay later!
  2. Could you show me your proper state and federal licenses and certifications?
  3. Can I have a copy of the permit you are obtaining for the work?
  4. What training do your Technicians have?
  5. Do your Technicians have a criminal background or drug tests prior to hiring?
  6. What is the quality of the materials that will be used?
  7. What do other customers say about this contractor?
  8. What’s your experience and that of your employees?
  9. What is the financial status of the contractor? Do the trucks look clean and in good working order? Will they be there for you in the future for warranty work?
  10. Who is standing behind the quoted warranty?
  11. Why should I feel safe with your Technician in your home?
  12. What do you and your Technicians do to protect your health and property?
  13. Are the Technicians trained in the safest work practices?
  14. Do you have 24/7 service if something goes wrong?
  15. Have you given me choices so I can choose the solution that I believe fits my needs?
  16. Do you have a street address if I need to find you?
  17. Can I get a planned maintenance program on my home comfort system?
  18. How are you an active part of our community?
  19. Who will remove the debris and cleanup the work area after the job is complete?
  20. Are you and your Technicians familiar with my plumbing and heating systems?
  21. Is your office in or very near to my community?

Home Service Corp.When these questions are overlooked, the homeowner pays. Television programs like “Holmes on Homes” and investigative programs often highlight the consequences to homeowners who fail to check the contractors they hire. Many of the questions bring items to light that the low bidder cuts to save costs. The cuts affect quality, safety, and warranty for the homeowner. As the old commercial used to state, “You can pay now or you can pay later!” Legitimate contractors expenses are greater to provide you with safety, quality, and warranty on their repairs and installations.

We are always willing to share all the above information with you. Contact us for more information or visit our website at www.HomeServiceCorp.com.

Home Service Corporation

Celebrating our 32nd year serving our Michigan customers Heating & Air Conditioning , Plumbing and Electrical needs.

Instant Coffee…Instant Tea

Air Popcorn PopperIt seems there is a least one new gadget for the kitchen every year. Some have been around for a long time such as the blender and others have disappeared after only one Christmas season, such as the air popcorn maker, the pasta maker, or the rotisserie chicken oven. These gadgets promised better tasting more nutritional food. The promised convenience and time-saving. They promised to make you a gourmet cook. They were shiny and we were told everyone must have one of these. Well, let us suggest another gadget for your kitchen.

This gadget has been around for decades. It is small, doesn’t take up counter or usable cabinet space and those who have it use it daily. It operates automatically, doesn’t require washing, and saves energy. It is always ready to provide for the gourmet cook or casual user. It is available in a variety of styles and finishes to match your kitchen. It does not require polishing or cleaning after use and can perform a multitude of functions for the cook and family. It won’t create a mess with use. So you ask, “What is it?”.

It’s a gadget called an instant hot water dispenser. It mounts on your kitchen sink near the faucet. It is available is all the same popular finishes your faucets. It comes in several style to match your kitchen style. It mounts under the sink, at the rear wall of the sink cabinet up out-of-the-way. It does require a simple water hookup and an electrical outlet to plug into. Once installed it does not require maintenance and will often outlast the other appliances in the kitchen. An instant hot water dispenser is always ready for use.

How can it be used? The most common and marketed uses are for making coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. These are all great and convenient ways to use it. With new “instant” coffees such are Starbuck’s Via you can now have a gourmet cup quickly and without the mess of coffee grounds. For the tea drinkers, the ability to immediately have hot water is so helpful and time-saving. Of course we wouldn’t want to forget about little Johnnie or little Susie would we? You can have hot chocolate ready for them when they come in from a cool fall day of play or their walk home from school.Instant Hot Water Dispenser

There are numerous other uses for this little kitchen tool. Products such as instant soups, Mac and cheese cups, Ramen Noddles, and other such products can be prepared quickly and without muss or fuss. Also that baked on mess on the skillet or baking pan can be much easier to clean when very hot water is put into it. Other cleaning tasks can be simplified when you have very hot water available. Thawing out foods with very hot water can speed up meal preparation. Warming a baby bottle is easy. Rinsing out a cup with very hot water will clean it and take the chill off of it so your coffee will stay warmer longer. On a cold day a cup of hot water with or without a lemon wedge can warm you up with out calories and we are all encouraged by doctors to drink more water. If you add one to your kitchen, you will surely find other uses.

Contact us for more information or visit our website at www.HomeServiceCorp.com.

Home Service Corporation

Celebrating our 32nd year serving our Michigan customers Heating & Air Conditioning , Plumbing and Electrical needs.

Down The Drain

There has been a lot of talk about water usage in the United States. In some parts of the country water is a very limited resource. This is especially true in the Southwest, California, New York City, and Southern Florida. These areas have severe restrictions on water usage, often limiting outdoor usage to once a week for a few hours. There have been major changes in the residential water usage over the last several decades. These include faucets with restricted flow, shower heads with restricted flow, timers on lawn sprinkling systems, rain detectors on lawn sprinkler systems, water saving appliances, and of course low water needs for toilet flushing. Many toilets in the 1950’s required about 7 gallons to flush. That was reduced by government mandate and code changes to 3.5 gallons and in the last two decades to 1.6 gallons per flush. When the changes came to 1.6 gallons per flush, many of the toilets would not remove the waste or simple plugged up. This was a result of poor design and little research on how to create a toilet the consumer would find acceptable. Well in the wisdom of the government and with little thought to the existing plumbing systems in homes today, the water usage for flushing has been reduced again to 1.28 gallons per flush.

We have been watching these changes and with our field experience have found that the amount of water saved is not what the pencil pushers have expected. Also we have found more issues with systems plugging from waste left behind in the piping due to the low amount of water to move it through the system and into the municipal sewer systems.

Our experience shows that the toilets often need to be flushed twice to remove small bits of waste left behind. Some require scrubbing with a toilet brush to clean waste sticking to the surfaces because of less water in the bowl. Then the toilet needs to be flushed a second time. Neither of these situations saves water for the homeowner.

The other concern is the design and materials used in older plumbing systems. The materials used included cast iron and clay tile. The sizes were determined by the older style toilets which used upwards of 7 gallons per flush. Now with less than 1.3 gallons per flush, oversized pipe, and materials with rougher surfaces more issues with plugging are expected. This is particularly a concern for those systems that may have low spots in the drainage piping, tree root impingement, or long runs to the municipal sewers. On the other hand, those with septic systems may find their systems will last longer before a drainage field needs to be replaced since less water is flowing into those fields.

We are continuously field testing the various brands and models to provide a quality efficient product to our customers. Our experienced technicians can recommend the toilet that we have tested to provide our customers with a unit that will provide the best service and save dollars for you.

As the old Plumber used to say,  ”A royal flush beats a full house all the time.”

Contact us for more information or visit our website at www.HomeServiceCorp.com.

Home Service Corporation

Celebrating our 32nd year serving our Michigan customers Heating & Air Conditioning , Plumbing and Electrical needs.