Posts tagged ‘Water Saving’

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.

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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.

OH-Oh! No Hot Water!

Water HeaterWe often receive calls from homeowners with gas hot water heaters who are without hot water. Like many appliances, your water heater will need occasional servicing to maintain peak performance. Sufficient air flow is crucial to the proper operation of your water heater. If the water heater is in a small tight area, a source air for combustion is needed. If the area around the water heater is large and a source for combustion air is available from the space, there may be other causes. The signs of restricted air for combustion are yellow flames, pilot outage, soot, unstable flame, or no hot water. Before starting any service or repair, consult the sections of your owner’s manual dealing with condensation, air requirements, gas supply, venting, and cleaning the air intake screen. Also, make sure that your heater is properly sized for your home. An undersized heater may result in condensation which can drip onto the flame causing a pilot outage.  Your water heater is built to the current industry safety standard and meets all FVIR (flammable vapor ignition resistant) requirements. This assures that any flammable vapors drawn into the combustion chamber and ignited cannot ignite remaining flammable vapors on the exterior of the heater causing a fire or explosion. This design includes a flame arrestor and one or two air intake screen(s). These screen(s) prevent larger particles of dust or lint from entering the heater, thus restricting air flow and causing improper combustion.  The owner’s manual asks you to visually check and clean the screen(s) as necessary.  Smaller particles may pass through these screens and lodge in the flame arrestor.Hot Water Burner Assembly

A second cause of many of these calls is a direct result of the hot water tank corroding and a leak developing in the tank. The appearance of water on the floor around the hot water heater is a visual symptom of a leak. It’s just time for a replacement.

Tankless heaters also require periodic maintenance. This includes deliming of the internal heat exchanger. This will be a more significant issue if you have a water supply with a high mineral content.

If you have an electric hot water heater, the answer could be a burned out heating element. There would not be water on the floor around the tank if an element has burned out.  There may also be a circuit breaker tripped or malfunctioning.

We are so used to just turning on the faucet and having hot water, that it’s a real surprise when the water flow is only cold. Most of these Issues require training and expertise to properly repair so be sure to call a professional. Our Technicians are factory trained to service all types of hot water heaters.

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.