Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tankless Water Heaters - An Endless Supply Of Hot Water

The holidays are here.  They bring with them all the things we look forward to all year: fun, good cheer and way too much food.  Then there are the houseguests.  Your Mother-in-law, Father-in-law and your 2nd cousin-twice removed now take over what was once your peaceful abode.  If ever you needed a nice hot shower to soothe your fragile nerves it is now.  But you find yourself waiting in line behind family members you decided you couldn't live with year ago and of course your 2nd cousin.  When you finally get to the shower you find nothing but a floor filled with wet towels and noting but ice-cold water.  I have a solution to the hot water situation but for your houseguests and the pile of wet towels you are on your own.  How?  Good question.  There can be a constant flow of hot water available from any faucet of your home, no matter how large or small, by simply investing in a tankless water heater, also known as demand water heaters or instantaneous heaters.


You may ask how that is possible and I can tell you but in order to understand how a tankless water heater works it is important to know how a standard water storage tank heater operates. In a traditional storage heater system, there is a large tank that continually holds and heats usually 50 gallons of water. In order to give you hot water when you need it, the tank has to continually heat that water to maintain a constant temperature. As you use it the system refills the tank and has to start the cycle again therefore using a high energy load as it fills and then holds the contents of the tank at a constant temperature. The energy used to keep the water hot even when it's not being used is called Standby Heat Loss. Tankless systems are able to avoid the "standby heat loss" by only heating water as you need it. This is why they are referred to as demand or instantaneous heaters. This elimination of the "standby heat loss" is what makes a tankless system more efficient and where the majority of your savings will come from month after month.

A tankless water heater uses a heat exchanger to raise the temperature. A heat exchanger is a device that conveys heat from one component of the system to another. In this case, it conveys heat generated by electric coils or a gas-fired burner to the water that travels through the coils and eventually comes out of your faucet. Unlike standard storage tank water heaters the exchanger is activated by the incoming flow of water and is dormant using zero energy when not in use. When you turn on your hot water tap, the incoming water circulates through the activated exchanger, which heats the cold water to your preset temperature. Then all you need is some soap, shampoo and a good lock and you're ready to wash, rinse and repeat.

There are two types of tankless systems: Point-Of-Use heaters and Whole-House heaters. Point-Of-Use systems are smaller units only heating water for one or two faucets or fixtures such as your kitchen sink. They are generally electric and due to their size, can fit under a cabinet or in a closet. They're beneficial because they can be installed closer to your fixture. Whole House heaters are gas fired or electric and designed to serve an entire house, apartment, condo, or cabin, where multiple points of water use will exist.

The installation of a tankless water heater requires a licensed, qualified plumber or technician to do the job for several reasons. First, in order to make sure that the manufacturer's warranty remains valid, the plumber or technician must install the water heater according to the manufacturer's specifications or the warranty may be void. Secondly, installation may also require a permit and must meet building code requirements. Lastly, if you don't buy the right size or type of water heater system, it will not work correctly. This is not a do-it-yourself project please let your licensed plumbing contractor handle the job.


Tankless water heaters are a viable and easy way to save thousands of dollars over their lifetimes. Besides the energy savings we mentioned earlier they are designed to last 20- 30 years compared to the 15-20 years from the conventional water storage units. Like the conventional units, maintenance is suggested to optimize your unit's lifespan and efficiency. Maintenance is easy but should be done by a qualified and licensed plumber. Without maintaining your tankless water heater you may only get half it's expected lifespan and your efficiency returns may not give you the return on your investment as expected. So be sure to protect your investment by having a plumber thoroughly flush the tank and give your equipment general maintenance once per year.

Enjoy your holidays and treat yourself to a gift that will continue to save you money month after month and year after year.

Michael Taggert, Licensed Master Plumber and Owner of Plumb Magic LLC. has over 20 years experience in the plumbing industry. Mr. Taggert is a Certified Rinnai Tankless Water Heater Installer and Dealer. http://www.PlumbMagicllc.com

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Simple Tips To Fix A Clogged Drain


The fact is, most chemical drain cleaners generate heat through the use of caustic chemicals such as Sodium Hydroxide (Caustic Lye) or reclaimed sulfuric acid (Battery Acid) Do You really want this stuff in your home? There are some safer methods.

Two simple plumbing tips:

Use a Plunger:
The plunger, referred to as the "plumber's friend", will often clear up the clogged or slow drain. If you do not already own a plunger you can purchase one at your local home improvement store.
You will need to get the most suction as possible. If you are working on a clogged double sink plug the other sink with a stopper or wet rag. (* plumbing tip put a thin coating of petroleum jelly on the base of the plunger to get a tighter fit and better suction) Place the plunger over the drain and push down - pull back just a bit without breaking the seal. Do this 10-15 times then pull up quickly. If the water rushes down the drain you're done. If not try the process again.
You can repeat this process several times however, if the clog remains after the first few times it may be time to try something else. If you can locate your trap under the sink, simply remove the clean-out plug and pull the materials causing the problem from the trap. This will require some tools and some minor working knowledge of plumbing. If you do not have access or do not want to try this on your own call a plumbing professional to assist you or simply try the natural enzymes below.
Using Natural Enzymes:
Another cause of a clogged drain could be a result of a build up of biofilm (and occasionally a small toy). Basically, biofilm is a glue like substance that holds clogs together. There are many products on the market today but how do you know if you are using the best of the best. If you are unsure or you simply want someone else to handle the issue for you - call your plumber. However, if you wish to tackle this very annoying plumbing issue look for a product that contains natural enzymes. Natural enzymes turn most drain build ups into harmless liquids and send them safely down the drain. In fact using a natural enzyme product on a monthly basis will keep your home's plumbing systems clean, safe and running freely for the lifetime of your home.
Brought to you by Michael Taggert, Licensed Master Plumber and Owner of Plumb Magic LLC. Mr. Taggert has over 20 years experience in the plumbing industry, studying and working under the tutelage of his father. Mr. Taggert brings his eye for design and quality to your home to make your plumbing woes disappear. www.PlumbMagicllc.com

Simple Tips To Fix A Clogged Drain


The fact is, most chemical drain cleaners generate heat through the use of caustic chemicals such as Sodium Hydroxide (Caustic Lye) or reclaimed sulfuric acid (Battery Acid) Do You really want this stuff in your home? There are some safer methods.
Two simple plumbing tips:
Use a Plunger:
The plunger, referred to as the "plumber's friend", will often clear up the clogged or slow drain. If you do not already own a plunger you can purchase one at your local home improvement store.
You will need to get the most suction as possible. If you are working on a clogged double sink plug the other sink with a stopper or wet rag. (* plumbing tip put a thin coating of petroleum jelly on the base of the plunger to get a tighter fit and better suction) Place the plunger over the drain and push down - pull back just a bit without breaking the seal. Do this 10-15 times then pull up quickly. If the water rushes down the drain you're done. If not try the process again.
You can repeat this process several times however, if the clog remains after the first few times it may be time to try something else. If you can locate your trap under the sink, simply remove the clean-out plug and pull the materials causing the problem from the trap. This will require some tools and some minor working knowledge of plumbing. If you do not have access or do not want to try this on your own call a plumbing professional to assist you or simply try the natural enzymes below.
Using Natural Enzymes:
Another cause of a clogged drain could be a result of a build up of biofilm (and occasionally a small toy). Basically, biofilm is a glue like substance that holds clogs together. There are many products on the market today but how do you know if you are using the best of the best. If you are unsure or you simply want someone else to handle the issue for you - call your plumber. However, if you wish to tackle this very annoying plumbing issue look for a product that contains natural enzymes. Natural enzymes turn most drain build ups into harmless liquids and send them safely down the drain. In fact using a natural enzyme product on a monthly basis will keep your home's plumbing systems clean, safe and running freely for the lifetime of your home.
Brought to you by Michael Taggert, Licensed Master Plumber and Owner of Plumb Magic LLC.  Mr. Taggert has over 20 years experience in the plumbing industry, studying and working under the tutelage of his father.  Mr. Taggert brings his eye for design and quality to your home to make your plumbing woes disappear.  www.PlumbMagicllc.com

Monday, October 24, 2011

Proper Maintenance Of Your Garbage Disposal



By properly maintaining your garbage disposal will extend its life and prevent plumbing and drain disasters.
Lets face it - most of us have a garbage disposal in our homes and we do not treat them kindly. As a matter of fact, it is my opinion that we take this household appliance for granted. A poorly maintained or operated disposal can and will break down, block and clog the drains and cause an endless list-and dare I say- of expensive plumbing and drain disasters.
Read more

Monday, October 3, 2011

Purchasing A Water Heater


So you are out to get a new water heater and the amount of choices is overwhelming you. You think to yourself "...what the heck am I doing?  I don't have a clue!"  I'd like to give you a little help.  What I would tell you fist is to consult with your plumber.  In fact, if you had a plumbing maintenance plan like our Wizards Plumbing Club, you wouldn't be worrying about this now.  The correct water heater that meets the needs of your home would be delivered and installed before you knew it.  But that is enough of the gratuitous plugs for the day--let's talk water heaters and FHR.

FHR?  What is that?
It's pretty simple and could probably be the most important thing you consider when buying a new water heater system.  Although many consumers buy water heaters based only on the size of the storage tank, the first-hour rating (FHR), provided on the Energy Guide label, is actually more important.  The FHR is a measure of how much hot water the heater will deliver during the busy hour.  A larger tank doesn't necessarily mean a higher FHR.  When you buy a water heater, estimate your household's peak-hour needs and use this information to choose the best fit for your family.

How do I figure out my household's peak-hour?
Don't worry, it is simple to estimate your peak usage.  While not scientific and exact this simple guide should give you enough information to make a smart purchase.  You can accomplish this by answering the following question:  Home many times in the peak hour of your family's day do you:
  • Shower (20 gallons avg)
  • Bathe (20 gallons avg)
  • Shave (2 gallons avg)
  • Washing hands and face (2 gallons avg)
  • Washing dishes by hand (4gallons avg)
  • Using the dishwasher (10 gallons avg)
  • Cooking (5 gallons avg)
  • Washing laundry (32 gallons avg)
So if your busiest water usage is at 6 p.m. the dishwasher is running, there is a load of laundry in the wash, and two people will take showers then your peak water us is 82 gallons per hour. You will need a tank with at least 82 gallon FHR, or fist hour rating.  Not accounting for low flow shower heads and faucet aerators your usage could be less but this is a good rule of thumb.  While most standard 40-50 gallon water heaters come close to this, you may need something with a bit larger FHR capacity.

Alright, one more gratuitous plug!  Our Plumb Magic Wizards Plumbing Club will help you in many ways but when it comes to your water heater our plan pays for itself.  We will extend the life of your water heater by maintaining it year after year and if and when it fails we will be there to install your new one immediately.  

Peace of mind...that's what is all about.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Plumbing Disasters and How To Avoid Them


Plumbing disasters are horrible no matter how large or small.  They are among the costliest problems a homeowner can experience.  Whether you are a skilled do it yourselfer or use a professional plumber, plumbing catastrophes mean two things: damage and money.  The good news is that there are measures you can take to help protect you and your family.

Let's take a look at two common plumbing disasters, which you or someone you know may have already experienced, and explore some ways to avoid them or, at the least, contain them.

1. Water Heater:

I am sure you know of someone who either woke up one morning or came home from a few days away to find the water heater has failed.  The irreplaceable family possessions stored in the basement are now floating on a lake of water.  Or, even worse, the water heater is on the first floor of their home and they returned home from a week long vacation to find the furniture, carpets and hardwood floors ruined plus their house and everything they own covered in mold.  Is this scenario avoidable?

Well, nothing is ever 100% certain but you can take measures to mitigate the risks.  This is one of the most common causes of interior water damage and the first and easiest way to avoid this plumbing nightmare is to inspect your Water Heater on a regular basis.  If you are not qualified to do that then have a professional plumber do it for you.  The costs are anywhere from $200 to $300 depending on the type of system you have and are pennies when compared to the costs of cleaning up after a such a catastrophe.  In fact, there are many plumbers who will do this as a part of a yearly maintenance contract.  If attempting to do it yourself look for rusty pipes going into the water heater and check for leaking or rust spots on the tank. Call a plumber immediately if you think you have a problem.  Preventative Maintenance is always the best course of action and will save you money over the long haul.

Another way to mitigate the risks of flooding due to water heater failure is a drain pan.  Admittedly, a drain pan may not look effective but when installed correctly it can save you thousands of dollars in clean up costs later.  A drain pan is required to be 24 gauge sheet metal or preformed plastic with a minimum height of 1-1/2" although almost all commercially made pans are 2" or 2-1/2" deep.  They are further required to be fitted with an outlet for a 3/4" drain line.  The drain line is required to drain by means of gravity flow (minimum of 1/4" per foot pitch) to an approved indirect waste receptor (floor drain or sump pit). The lowest portion of the line must be 2" above the flood level rim of the receptor or discharge outside the structure a minimum of 6" but not more than 24" above finished grade.  A leak in the water heater will be no problem for these devices to handle but a complete failure or "burst" may still do damage however, after the initial rush of water, the drain pan should be able to contain the water still flowing to the water heater if the main valve is not shut off immediately.

The best way to avoid a catastrophe when you are away for a weekend or an extended period of time is to simply shut it all down.  You can shut off your water main and turn your water heater to the vacation setting on the control dial if it is a gas system or shut off your electrical breaker if its electric.  This way, if something does happen while you are gone, you will not come home to a flooded house.

2. Pipe Burst:

If a pipe bursts there is not much that can be done to avoid a mess.  However, you can control the mess by knowing one of two critical things: where is your main valve and where is the water meter and meter key.

Of course preventative maintenance is a good idea here.  A professional plumber who does yearly inspections may recognize problem pipes or joints before they become your plumbing nightmare and address them saving you time, money and damage.  However, if you do not currently have a maintenance plan agreement I recommend that you contact your plumber to schedule a thorough inspection.  This may cost a bit more than a yearly contract but it will serve two purposes.  First, the professional plumber will inspect your home and plumbing systems to make you aware of any potential problems.  Second, if you do not know where either your main valve or water meter are, he can show you. 

The plumber will also show you how to turn off these mechanisms.  Let's face it, knowing where they are but not knowing how to operate them is futile at best.  Water meters will need a meter key to operate.  Most meters are turned off by clockwise quarter turns.  If you cannot operate the valve using your key, call whomever provides the water and have them come to repair or replace the valve.  In most cases there will be no cost to you for this service. 

If you do not have access to the meter key or to the water meter than you will have to rely on the main valve of your home.  Access to the main valve is not always easy but in the case of a burst fitting, fixture, joint or pipe you must turn it off immediately.  Your plumber will be able to tell you if it is in good operating condition or if it needs to be replaced.  The worst possible scenario is that you find the valve but cannot close it or even worse it breaks.

I strongly recommend a plumbing maintenance program.  They are affordable at $200 - $300 per year depending on the size of your home and the type of systems you are running.  Considering what could happen and what it could cost you, they are the best dollars you can spend.

The Wizards at Plumb Magic LLC are always here to help you.  You can reach us by calling 540-370-0752 or visit us on the web at www.plumbmagicllc.com



Monday, September 19, 2011

Why Keep Your Gutters Clean?

Over the weekend when I was running errands, going to service calls and franticly trying to organize my helpful hints for everyone (there are just so many of them) I was asked by a customer why it was so important to keep their homes gutters clean.  After I explained all I knew to her it hit me…this will be my next tip.

Now you must be thinking, wow a plumber that will also clean my gutters, what a perfect world.  Well, I don’t do gutters (or windows for that matter).  To be perfectly honest, most homeowners don’t think about the maintenance of their gutters.  Let’s face it, when it is raining we tend to rush into the home to keep from getting wet and we are not surveying our gutter drainage system.  When the weather is nice we still do not take notice of our gutters unless someone else notices that home with a garden growing out of their roof.  A gutter that is full of debris will actually cause more harm than good to your family and home.

If the gutter drains are clogged they obviously defeat the purpose of having gutters in the first place.  Water will just overflow and cause damage to your landscaping and to the gutter system itself. The overwhelming amount of water in the gutter will cause it to pull away from the home and eventually fall off.

Plugged or clogged gutter drains can cause wood rot. If the drains are plugged, water could sit in the gutters for weeks and if your home has a wooden fascia, this will rot first.  Wherever your gutters are overflowing, the “splash back” effect will cause doorways, garage doors and porches to rot.

Also, mosquitoes love stagnant water.  If your gutters are clogged they can be an oasis for mosquito larvae to grow and hatch. This can be detrimental to the health and well being of your family and pets, as these pests are known carriers of many diseases.

When should I clean my gutters?
Gutters should be cleaned twice a year.  In the spring (May/June) after all the seedlings fall.  Then again in November/December as winter approaches.  Cleaning the gutters is not how most of us want to spend our weekend now that football season has begun so I suggest waiting until the leaves are about 80% down.  If you wait until the very last leaf falls before you clean your gutter this could lead to trouble if you get a sudden cold snap or snowstorm.  Remember the Blizzard of ’09.

How to clean your gutter can be simple or very dangerous.  If you do not have or are not willing to invest in the proper equipment I strongly recommend that you hire a professional.   You may find that your gutter is only littered with the grit or dust from your roof asphalt shingles.  If this is the case (lucky you) simply use a blower to blow out as much grit as you can.  Removing this sediment is important, as it will build up considerable weight over time.

Once you get to the leader pipes you can be sure it is clean by dropping a stone down the drain and watching to see if it comes out below. If it does not than there is probably a blockage in the elbows at the top or near the bottom of the leader pipe. You will have to use a cordless drill to disassemble the leader pipe to clean it properly.  Keep in mind there is no one part of this maintenance project that is more important then the others.

Now lets get out there and clean those gutters.

P.S.  While you are up there you may as well take a hammer or screwdriver (depending on what type of fasteners are used to hold the gutter system to the fascia) and tighten up as you clean your gutter.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Begin Winterizing Your Home

It is very difficult to start thinking about winterizing your home when temperatures are still well above freezing.  Fall is the season to begin and it is fast approaching.  If you wait until the last minute the damage caused by freezing pipes or unattended leaks will be costly. So, my tip for today is have your home’s plumbing system inspected by a professional.  This is an important step toward preparing your plumbing for the cold weather.  The Wizard’s of Plumb Magic offer winter maintenance inspections, which are done by trained, certified, experienced professional technicians.