Extend the Life of your Water Heater

CopperStone Plumbing, LLC

The single most important factor in whether a water heater lives or dies is the condition of its sacrificial anode. For more than 60 years, it has been used as a key part of the rust protection of a tank, although few people know it’s there.

This is a rod made of magnesium or aluminum that’s formed around a steel core wire and is screwed into the top of the tank. A six-year-warranty residential tank will have one, while a 12-year-warranty tank will have two, or an extra-large primary anode. Commercial tanks have from one to five. Special aluminum/zinc sacrificial anodes or powered (impressed-current) anodes can be used to resolve odor problems caused by bacteria in some water. But if you have a vacation home where the water heater sits idle for long periods of time, using them may not be a solution.

When the tank is filled with water…

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Why is my water bill high?!

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Customers call CopperStone Plumbing after receiving a high water bill. Sometimes it creeps up a little at a time and sometimes the bill shoots up suddenly

How do you determine what is causing your bill to be high? Is it due to usage or do to a leak? You have two very helpful tools to help you search.

  1.   Your meter
  2.  Your water bill

1: Meter

Outside Meters

Most meters are located outside of the home. The meter is usually in the yard or close to the curb and has a cover over the meter pit.

Water mater

The first thing to do is determine if the leak is inside your home or outside. Once the meter is located you need to be able to see and read the meter. If the meter pit is full of standing water, you will need to pump out the water so you can read the meter.

Once you are comfortable reading the meter, shut the water off.  Once you have shut the water off to the home, open a faucet inside the home to make sure the shut-off valve is completely holding. There may be some residual water in the pipes and it will come out of the faucet, but that flow should stop in a few minutes. Once no further water is flowing, you have verified your home shut-off valve is working. Now go back to the meter and check to see if it is registering any flow.

If the meter is moving while you have the water shut off at the home, you have a leak on the service line between the street and the shut-off valve for the home. If the meter is not moving when water to the home is shut off, your water usage or leak is inside the home past the shut-off valve. Turn the water back on to the home and begin following the same steps listed for an inside meter:

  1.   Make sure no water is being used in the home. If the meter continues to move, or if your meter has a red triangle (flow indicator) that continues to move, there is water flow and something is using water.
  2.   Start shutting off water using devices one at a time inside the home. Make sure to include toilets, clothes washers, dishwashers, ice makers/water dispensers, water softeners, irrigation systems, hose bibs, showers and faucets, and hot water heaters. After each water-using appliance or fixture is turned off, check the meter to see if the meter has stopped moving. If it has, you have found the culprit.
  3.   If the meter does not stop moving, you likely have a hidden leak under a slab floor or in a wall.

Where do I find shut-off valves for fixtures and appliances?

1.   Toilets –  Usually at the bottom and back of the toilet.

Toilet shut off valve

2.   Clothes Washers – There should be two valves. One for hot, one for cold. They could be behind the washer, on the utility sink or in a recessed box in the wall near the washing machine. Turn both valves off.

Washer Shut off valve

3.   Dishwashers – Normally under the kitchen sink. It may be near the shut-off for the sink faucets.

dishwasher-water-supply

4.   Ice Makers/Water Dispensers – At the back of the refrigerator, the supply tube connecting the water to the refrigerator has a valve that can be used to stop the water supply.

Ice maker shut off valve

5.   Water Softeners – These valves are usually behind the softener. Commonly, there are shut-off valves for cold water, hot water and a main shut-off. Close all three valves for the meter test.

Water Softener Bypass

6.   Hose Bibs – There are usually outside hose bibs for garden hoses. The shut-off valve can be inside. Sometimes the valve is behind a wall or in an access panel.

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7.   Irrigation systems – Irrigation systems have a main shut-off valve where water can be shut off to the entire system. It is usually outside in a pit.

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8.   Sinks – Most sinks contain shut-off valves near the sink or in the cabinet for the sink.

Sink shut off valves

9.   Water heaters- The shut-off valve for the water heater is normally on the pipe bringing water to the tank.

Water heater shut off valve

 

I shut everything off. Nothing is using water. But my water bill is still too high!

Before moving on to analyzing the bill itself, there is one more issue to check. Is there any appliance or fixture, such as a water softener or irrigation system that is on a timer and might have been inactive and therefore not using water when you performed your meter tests? If so, either disable the timer and activate the appliance or fixture to use water now, or set the timer to the current time so the appliance or fixture is actively using water. Check your meter to see that usage is registering and then begin to shut off the valves to the appliance or fixture and check the meter again. 

2: Water bill

What your water bill looks like varies from City to City. But most have some items in common. Gather together several months’ bills and begin to analyze your bills.

  1.   Reading Type

Somewhere on your bill, usually in a chart, the type of reading performed is shown. There are normally two types of readings: Actual and estimates. This may be indicated only by an A or E. If your meter is unable to be read, usage is estimated. Sometimes a huge water bill can happen when your meter is read and the estimated usage is much lower than the actual usage shown on the meter. If your bills contain any estimated usage periods, contact your water provider to see why the meter could not be read.

  1.   Unit of Measurement

What unit of measure is used to measure your water consumption? The two most common units of measurement are cubic feet and gallons. One cubic foot of water is equal to 7.48 gallons. Most water providers that measure in gallons set rates based on 1000-gallon units. Your bill will reflect rates per 1000 gallons. 

  1.   Service Period

Your water bill will show you the calendar period for the bill and the number of days of service. Compare this to previous periods on previous bills. Some bills have a graph showing your water usage history which will aid you in this analysis. Are your water usage patterns consistent? Is there a month where your usage was abnormal? In the time period for your bill, has there been a one time or unusual event that caused water usage to spike? Did you have guests or an increase in occupancy? Did you fill a swimming pool? Has it been extremely dry causing you to water the landscape more frequently? Did you have a leak, such as a running toilet that has now been repaired? Is the service period different in any of the bills? Service periods can fluctuate due to the number of days in the month or if the meter was read at a different time of the month due to a holiday.

  1.   Water Base Rate and Charge

Few utilities charge only on consumption. There is usually a base rate or charge for anyone able to receive water from the water provider, regardless of the amount of water used. Sometimes this charge includes a certain amount of usage and any additional usage is charged separately. Sometimes the base rate includes no usage and all usage is charged separately. Check with the water provider if this is not clear on your bill. Compare this rate with previous bills. Has there been a change in the base rate?

  1.   Sewer Base Rates and Charges

Most cities charge for sewer on the same bill as water and the sewer charges are based on water usage. There is usually a base rate for sewer just as there is for water regardless of usage. The base rate may or may not include a certain amount of usage. What is your base rate for sewer? Compare this rate with previous bills. Has there been a change in the sewer base rate?

If after performing the meter tests and analyzing your water bill, you find nothing to explain the high water bill, you will want to continue to monitor the incoming bills to understand your usage patterns. If your usage drops back to normal, there must have been a one-time event, such as a faucet being left on or more than normal laundry. If the usage continues to be higher than normal, you should check anything you have on a timer, such as water softeners or irrigation systems that might be cycling longer than you set them for originally. If the home is unoccupied during the day, you might want to cut off the water supply to outside hose bibs in case of unauthorized usage during your absence.

If you are concerned that your water bill is too high simply because you just can’t believe you used the amount of water the meter indicates, you may want your city to test or replace your meter. But, be aware. Meters normally slow down with age (register less water passing through). Rarely do they speed up with age (register more water passing through).  

The average American uses around 88 gallons per day per person in the household. That means a family of four would use around 352 gallons per day or 10,560 gallons in a 30-day period. Roughly 70 percent of this usage occurs indoors.

Toilets are by far the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of an average home’s indoor water consumption. Older, inefficient toilets that use as much as 6 gallons per flush also happen to be a major source of wasted water in many homes.

Nationally, outdoor water use accounts for 30 percent of household use but can be much higher in drier parts of the country. 

Have you identified a probable hidden leak after performing the meter test yourself? The professional technicians at CopperStone Plumbing can find that hidden leak for you.

No one wants to throw money down the drain!

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Residential Leak Detection

Residential Leak Detection

Has your water bill risen despite you trying to reduce water usage? Or can you hear water running when you know for sure all the taps are off in the house? You might have a leak hidden somewhere within your house. If these leaks are not taken care of they can eventually lead to foundational damage, mildew growth and much more. The positive side of things is that finding these leaks have never been easier, with Electronic Leak Detection, CopperStone Plumbing, LLC. can find exactly where the leak is coming from without being intrusive or destructive.

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What Causes Water Leaks

Water leaks can appear from a variety of different causes, normally it comes from poor workmanship when the house was built. Leaks can also be caused when the pipes rust, erode, or break down from wear and tear, and occasionally from abrasive chemicals. Electronic leak detection helps us find exactly where the leak is without having to tear down the walls or foundation to pinpoint the location of the leak.

What Kind of Damage Leaks Can Cause

Water damage from leaky pipes can cause huge problems for you and your home, not only does it affect the structural integrity of your home, but it can also affect your health. Water from leaky pipes promotes mold and fungal growth, and this can lead to some serious health issues. For most people mold and fungal spores will cause nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, coughing, and sneezing fits, however if you have a weak immune system it will cause even further issues for you.

Now if knowing that health issues aren’t a good enough reason to check for leaky pipes, then damage to the structural integrity of the house might be a reason. Water damage can cause walls and ceilings to sag, discolored walls and if left long enough the support beams on the house will start to become compromised. And of course, with all of this, the property value of the house will fall drastically. Check your pipes today with Electronic Leak Detection by calling CopperStone Plumbing, LLC.

 

CopperStone Plumbing, LLC. ROC# 313712

602-790-7565/ 602-663-6348

www.copperstoneplumbing.com

copperstoneplumbinghs@gmail.com

Does your home have flood-prone Polybutylene pipes?

HOMEOWNERS ALERT!!!

Why You Should Have Your Pipes Checked in your home:

In the 1980’s litigations over leaking plumbing due to polybutylene pipes began in California and Texas. The eventual Class Action settlement of $1 billion (Cox v. Shell Oil) in 1995 was enough to ensure that polybutylene water pipes were no longer acceptable by U.S. building codes. From the years between the late 1970’s till the mid-1990’s polybutylene was being used widely through houses. It is estimated that at least 6 million homes were built using this material. The material was being used throughout the sunbelt, meaning Arizona is one of the states being hugely affected by this. Now what is the problem with this? Well Polybutylene has an unusually high failure rate since it is broken down easily by chlorine and mineral levels within the water. When polybutylene comes in contact with oxidants in tap water it becomes brittle and fragile. This causes the pipes to break from the inside, cracking and eventually leading to leaks, causing massive damage. Further reasons for poor quality piping:

  • Water quality
  • Pipe fittings degenerating
  • Chlorine and mineral levels
  • Age of piping and fittings
  • Poor installation by the previous plumbers

The piping will eventually start leaking, usually within 10-15 years after installation. When a pipe begins leaking without the homeowner’s knowledge the damage can become very extensive. For this reason, it is very important to know the dangers of polybutylene piping and eventually re-piping your house.image2

Where you’ll find polybutylene piping in the home:

Polybutylene piping is used to supply water from the main city water line into a home. Polybutylene piping is typically found in the following locations:

  • Interior
  • Entering the water heater
  • Feeding sinks, toilets, and bathtubs
  • Exterior
  • Attached to the home’s main water shutoff valve
  • Attached to the home’s water meter

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Cost of Damage:

If polybutylene is left inside of a house and is allowed to cause damage, the cost will be huge. Insurance coverage sometimes will cancel or even refuse give policies to homes with polybutylene piping. Making it very difficult to market the homes or even to fix a leak or flood caused by plumbing. The damage that a ruptured pipe line can incur is between $40,000-$120,000 depending on how bad of a rupture it is. However, re-piping a house is much cheaper than this, for a 1500 square feet home with 2 bedrooms, the average cost would be around $5,000-$7,000.dollar-499481_960_720

CopperStone Plumbing, LLC.  will be happy to help you determine if your home has polybutylene piping, and beyond that we will help you re-pipe your home. Save yourself from having a flood destroy the equity of your home.

 

CopperStone Plumbing, LLC. ROC# 313712

602-790-7565/ 602-663-6348

www.copperstoneplumbing.com

copperstoneplumbinghs@gmail.com

Extend the Life of your Water Heater

The single most important factor in whether a water heater lives or dies is the condition of its sacrificial anode. For more than 60 years, it has been used as a key part of the rust protection of a tank, although few people know it’s there.

This is a rod made of magnesium or aluminum that’s formed around a steel core wire and is screwed into the top of the tank. A six-year-warranty residential tank will have one, while a 12-year-warranty tank will have two, or an extra-large primary anode. Commercial tanks have from one to five. Special aluminum/zinc sacrificial anodes or powered (impressed-current) anodes can be used to resolve odor problems caused by bacteria in some water. But if you have a vacation home where the water heater sits idle for long periods of time, using them may not be a solution.

Link button to buy a hex-head magnesium anode rod

When the tank is filled with water, an electrochemical process begins whereby sacrificial anodes are consumed to protect a small amount of exposed steel. Powered anodes replace that process with electricity and are not consumed.

When two metals are physically connected in water, one will corrode away to protect the other. Sometimes that’s bad, but often it’s good. Although few people have heard of this, the principle is used all over the place — anywhere that someone wants to protect metal exposed to water. In marine applications, anodes are known as “zincs” and are usually made of that metal.

All metals fall somewhere on the galvanic scale of reactivity. When two are placed together in water, the “nobler” — or less reactive — one will remain intact while the more reactive one corrodes. When steel and copper are together, steel will be the one that corrodes. Indeed, steel is more likely to rust in the presence of copper than it would have been by itself. That’s why dielectric separation is necessary on items like copper flex lines when they’re connected to steel nipples.

Magnesium and aluminum are less noble than steel, which is why they’re used for anode rods.

Remember, the anode is screwed into the tank. That means it can be unscrewed and replaced.

A sacrificial anode’s life depends on the quality of the water, the amount of use the tank gets, the water temperature, and the quality of the tank — meaning how well it was constructed. When salt is added to the water (as in softened water), anodes corrode more quickly. Water softeners help reduce sediment, but anodes can corrode in as little as six months if the water is over-softened. Do not soften to zero. Leave 50-120 ppm of hardness. This may require some plumbing to add unsoftened water to softened water.

People occasionally ask us if pipe-seal tape applied to the threads of the anode blocks the electrolytical reaction. Tanks we’ve serviced repeatedly usually have corroded anodes. We’ve tested with a multimeter and found continuity between the anode and the tank, despite the tape.

While we generally advocate putting two anodes in a tank, that may not be a good idea if you have odor problems. Doubling the anode surface area may worsen odor even when special aluminum/zinc anodes are used that reduce or eliminate the odor.

If you have odor and soften, or for that matter, merely if you soften, consider getting a powered anode that replaces the sacrificial reaction with electric current and isn’t consumed through use.

An aluminum anode with a flat hex head next to a magnesium anode with a hex head with a bump

If you contemplate adding an anode to a new tank, make sure both rods are of the same metal. Otherwise, the magnesium rod will be consumed more rapidly in the presence of an aluminum one and you won’t get as long a life. How do you tell them apart? In nearly all cases, an aluminum hex head will be flat on top, while a magnesium rod will have a bump, as in the photo at right. The size of the bump may vary, but bump, magnesium; no bump, probably aluminum. And all that said, the latest shipment of aluminum/zinc anodes we bought had hex heads with bumps! We thought we’d been sent the wrong stuff, but verified that it’s really aluminum/zinc.

The exception to that is Rheem and its sub-brands, Ruud/Richmond and General Electrics. As far as we know, Rheem always uses magnesium even though there is no bump on top of its anodes. On the other hand, if the tank is five years old or more, having dissimilar metals is less of an issue, since the original one will likely be largely consumed. GE Geosprings may require a ratchet extension to remove the anode.

And there is no way to tell metal type if a tank has a combo rod, but you’re probably going to be replacing it anyway.

As to other brands, as far as we know, American/Whirlpool/Maytag always uses aluminum anodes. Bradford White may use either aluminum or magnesium, and many of their tanks have one combo rod in the hot port. Giant and uses magnesium, as does Bock. Heaters made by American Standard can have either magnesium or aluminum anodes. Sometimes it’s mentioned in their spec sheets and sometimes not.

Older State/Reliance/Kenmores have had both combo rod tanks and tanks with a hex anode. More recently, they all seem to have hex anodes. Aluminum is usually used, but in the past, high-end models have come with magnesium. Today, some of those also offer powered anodes.

There is one important exception to the anode equation: all Smith, State and sub-brand ultra low-NOX heaters come with aluminum anodes.

It’s common for people to ask us to choose a water heater for them. We won’t do it; there are too many variables and many of them are buyer-specific. Occasionally, also, we’re asked to pick a tank that will permit the addition of the parts we sell that will extend life. Even that has gotten harder because the manufacturers are rolling out models that meet the April 2015 energy rules. We may be able to tell you more later, as we see what has changed.

If you decide to remove and check your anode, we’ll tell you some of the possibilities and what they mean.

If there is rough, seemingly chewed-up metal all up and down the rod, that’s normal. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do. If you can see six inches of the steel core wire, replace the rod. If all you have IS the steel core wire — or less — then extending the life of the tank by replacing the anode becomes more iffy. You might still get several more years out of the next anode. Or the tank might fail shortly after. It all depends on factors that exist where none of us can see them.

Combo and Hex-Head Anodes

combo magnesium anode rod, nipple, outlet and anode

There are two configurations of anodes. The first kind is called a hex-head anode and you can see a couple at the top of this page. They are found in their own port on top of the tank. With some brands, the hex head is exposed. On many, it may be under a plastic cap about halfway in toward the center from the edge. If there are caps on the edge, they were used to insert the foam insulation. On some older tanks, it may be hidden under the sheet-metal top.

The other kind is called a combo or outlet anode, like the one in the picture at right. It is an anode/hot-water outlet/plastic-lined steel nipple and is used in the hot-water port. Often longer-warranty tanks have one hex-head and one combo rod, although a couple of manufacturers make tanks that have just one combo rod, with no place for a second one.

If you’re adding a combo rod to a Rheem/Ruud/Richmond/GE tank made in 2005 or later, you’ll need a special half-length one that is only available from a plumber affiliated with Rheem. It may be pricey. We were able to stock full-length ones for awhile, but our source dried up. Do not try to install a standard combo anode, or you may not have water pressure, due to a redesign of the tank’s hot-water port in 2005.

The test, on older heaters, of whether you have a combo anode or not is to unscrew the nipple and see if there is an anode connected to it.

Anode rods of all types can be purchased on our Product Page. Also you might want to consult our Sacrificial Anode Buying Guide.

Water heaters always come with sacrificial anodes, and that is the most common type. But not the only type. A powered anode can be a permanent replacement for a sacrificial one. It replaces the sacrificial reaction by feeding electrical current into the tank by way of an electrode. The device plugs into a wall socket. However, it costs several times more than a sacrificial anode. We often recommend them for smelly water situations where sacrificial anodes may not help. To learn more about them, go to the Powered Anode Page.

Source: http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/Longevity/water-heater-anodes.html

 

 

Green RO

With the Green Reverse Osmosis system you get the same high-quality water and you save water. The Green Reverse Osmosis System uses only 25-35% of the water used by a conventional reverse osmosis system. This is a completely new technology offered by Pentair. This system is designed to give you high-quality water and a worry-free purified water for drinking and cooking. The system is available with a 36, 50 and 75 gallon per day production option. This high quality system will provide outstanding water from private wells or municipal supplies. We may not save the world, but we will be helping and
so will you with this reverse osmosis system.

Check out the link below for more information.

Green RO Brochure

Source: http://www.bandrindustries.com

 

 

 

Running your Water Softener smart: Some tips

How do customary resin-based water softeners work? The answer to that might help you choose the right settings for yours.

First, salt is needed to create a brine solution. This solution needs to be run over resin beds from time to time, recharging them. The resin beds are then able to draw hardness out of the water. In effect, the resin bed attracts hardness elements. But as that bed wears down through use, it needs a fresh jolt of brine from time to time.

The control valve on the softener regulates how much brine is created and when. And that’s where you might be able to save salt.

Begin with the assumption that the average person uses 70 – 75 gallons of water every day, although this could be lower if you have high efficiency fixtures, and manufacturers sometimes use slightly different assumptions. The hardness level must be determined next.

Let’s take a simple example.

If the device is a 40,000 grain softener, this means it can treat that many grains of hardness between regenerations. Let’s suppose the water has a hardness level of 20 grains per gallon. You divide the grain capacity (40,000) by the hardness level (20) and come up with 2,000 gallons of water between regenerations.

Next multiple the number of users by 75, the average number of gallons used daily. So a household of two people would use about 150 gallons every day. That is divided into 2,000 to get around 13. That means the softener should go into regeneration mode about every 13 days.

Based on your own circumstances, you can calculate the right setting for yourself. You may wish to consult a certified water treatment professional for help determining your hardness level, if you do not know it already.

Remember that settings should be revisited from time to time to achieve not only the ideal level of softness but also efficiency. Water treatment professionals follow best practices for choosing efficient softener technologies and system settings. This includes the proper sizing of equipment and proper settings to minimize water consumption and salt usage, avoiding over-treating of water, and by-passing outside sillcocks so that softened water is used only inside the home.

Don’t forget to use vacation settings, when available, to avoid needless regeneration when they aren’t using water. Especially for temporary residents in the state – those who are likely to leave for several months – shutting off a softener can be a wise decision.

Source: http://wsspa.org/tips

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