Charlotte Water Conservation Tips

Charlotte Water Conservation Tips

People always talk about conserving water and protecting the environment, but for many it isn’t clear why this is the case. After all, isn’t water a naturally occurring resource that recycles itself in nature through evaporation and precipitation? This may be true, but there are lots of other reasons to conserve the water we use in our lives.

Though it may seem limitless, only 3% of the water on Earth is fresh (unsalted) and suitable for human consumption. However, of that 3%, the majority is frozen in the icecaps and glaciers on our planet. The rest is trapped underground in aquifers and the water table – largely inaccessible unless it seeps to the surface via springs or wells that are tapped deep into the ground. Three percent quickly becomes .3% of fresh, aboveground water – the kind that populates rivers, lakes and swamps. That’s just .3% of Earth’s life-bestowing water to tend to seven billion humans and billions more animals and organisms!

 

When you begin to examine how that fresh, useable water is used by humans, conservation becomes key. Consider the water that flows into your home. It doesn’t come directly out of a lake or river – it’s treated, processed and transported to you. By reducing the amount of water you use in your home, you are effectively contributing to the reduction of the amount of water being treated. That reduces freshwater consumption in general, sure, but it also reduces some of the pollution and energy usage that occurs at a water treatment plant. If everyone limited their use, it would make a huge difference given the fact that an area’s supply of that freshwater is far more finite than you might think, especially as population increases.

 

Some simple ways to reduce your water consumption (saving you money and the environment’s health, too!) are:

 

  • Install a low flow showerhead in bathrooms – this can reduce consumption by four gallons per minute. You can even buy ones that have “pause” functions so you don’t have to turn the whole shower off to save water while you wash or shave.
  • Low flow toilets are extremely effective at saving water as well – up to 60% less water is used per flush after you install.
  • Don’t run the water if you wash dishes by hand – fill one side of the sink with soapy water for washing and rinse everything at once on the other side of the sink when you’re done.
  • Garden in the fall when temperatures are cooler and you don’t need to water as much. Plant succulent plants that don’t require tons of water and use mulch when landscaping to retain more moisture.
  • Throw away or compost waste items in the kitchen to avoid using the disposal and running extra water.

Need a Charlotte Plumber?

Call 704-269-1066 if you need a Charlotte plumber.

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Charlotte Plumber Advice: List of What You Should Never Pour Down Your Drain

Charlotte Plumber Advice: List of What You Should Never Pour Down Your Drain

Grease

Many home cooked meals will leave grease behind. Grease comes from products like lard, butter, margarine, oil, meat fats, and vegetable oils (think Crisco). Though it’s in liquid form when you’re done cooking, grease will solidify as it cools. When you pour it down your drain, it will typically solidify as it reaches your cooler pipes. This can cause clogs, backups or other expensive damage.

Instead of going right to the drain with cooking grease, it’s best to pour it into a sealable, disposable container and throw it in the trash once it is solid. Some people even make use of a “grease bottle” if they cook with grease often – adding to it regularly and tossing it when it’s full.

If you still feel the need to dispose of small amounts of occasional grease in the sink, it’s best to run very hot water for a minute before, during and after. Adding a healthy amount of Dawn soap to the mix is a good idea as well.

Food

Garbage disposals may seem like the catchall answer for kitchen cleanup, but even they have their limits. There are some common items that you may be trying to work through your disposal that are causing clogs, smells or damage to the disposal itself.

Vegetable Matter

Whether you’re peeling, slicing or chopping, it’s safest to dispose of vegetable waste in the garbage instead of the disposal. The worst offenders are peels and celery. They’re small and slippery and don’t always get completely chopped up in the disposal. They can then coat the insides of the pipes and smell as they decompose. Celery is especially bad because the strands can twist up in the blades of the disposal and damage the machinery.

Egg Shells

The worst parts of making that amazing omelet or frittata in the morning are the slimy eggshells that you have to deal with. It may seem tempting to toss these down the disposal and hear the satisfying crunch but don’t! The tiny pieces of shell will coat the pipes and reek as they break down.

Chicken Skin

A no brainer, but consider the hassle of cutting skin off chicken in the first place. Then imagine your poor garbage disposal trying to get rid of it. It will stick in the blades and on the pipes and smell awful as it rots.

In Case of Sink Emergency… Call a Charlotte Plumber for Help!

If you’ve accidentally clogged up the drain or damaged your disposal, don’t hesitate to call ER Plumbing Services day or night at 704-269-1066. We are available 24/7 to assess, fix, and clean whatever has caused your kitchen sink grief, so use our online contact form to get immediate help.

 

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Not Sure If You Need a Plumber to Handle the Job?

 

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Charlotte Plumber Advice: How to Unclog a Drain

Charlotte Plumber Advice: How to Unclog a Drain 

Even though indoor plumbing is a huge societal advancement in history, it’s not a perfect system. We are very hard on our drains and pipes – really everything we do that isn’t simply pouring liquid down them has the potential to clog them up and cause damage and inconvenience. Hair, food, personal care products, lint and laundry byproducts, and cleaning byproducts are all things that end up in the drains and give us grief.

First Line of Defense: Prevent Clogged Drains

The first thing you should aim to do is prevent clogs in the first place. Be mindful of what goes into you kitchen sink and garbage disposal. Use the trashcan as much as possible – chances are it’s better off in a landfill than in your drain. In showers and bathroom sinks, place wire mesh traps in the drains. They may be a little gross to empty regularly but they will save you clogged drains and plumbing costs later on. If you do begin to notice a drain starting to clog up in your home, don’t jump right to caustic chemical pipe cleaners. If it doesn’t break up the clog immediately, it can linger and pool, making it dangerous to plunge or for a professional to clear out. Try lots of boiling water and mild Dawn dish soap first, or a basic plunger. If you’re not successful, it’s time to get more serious.

Unclog Drains Like A Pro

If a few attempts with a plunger don’t seem to do the trick, start with a 99-cent Zip in sink drains. For stubborn drains and uncooperative toilets, you can graduate to a flexible snake. Always wear goggles and keep sanitizing cleaning supplies on hand – it can get messy. Beware of using professional grade plumbing equipment like hydrojetters and high power snakes on your own. Though they are available for purchase in many hardware stores, they require training and experience to operate and the consequences on improper use can be disastrous – personal injury and bad pipe damage are high on the list.

Need a Charlotte Plumber to Unclog That Drain?

If your drains will still not come unclogged after these simple solutions, it’s time to call in a pro at 704-269-1066. If you live in the Charlotte area ER Plumbing Services will be happy to come take care of your drain problems anytime, day or night. We’ll leave your drains clean, clear and functional so you can get on with enjoying the benefits of indoor plumbing! Use our online contact form for immediate service.

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Charlotte Leak Repair: How Much Money is that Leak Costing You?

Charlotte Leak Repair: How Much Money is that Leak Costing You? 

It’s a homeowner’s worst nightmare – you walk down into your basement and see water where it shouldn’t be. Or step out into your yard and see water bubbling up into the grass. Or reach to get something out of a little used cabinet under a sink and find water or stinky mold growing on the damp woodwork.

It could be even more insidious than that; maybe you’ve noticed your water bill has spiked even though you’re not doing anything differently around the house. Or maybe the guest bathroom toilet won’t stop running, even after you’ve checked the toilet itself for issues. Perhaps you or a family member is experiencing increasingly worse allergies or illness.

All of these less-than-desirable scenarios can be attributed to a leak in your plumbing system, which is no small thing and cannot be ignored.

Leaks Cost More Than You’d Guess

You may not see it and you may not know it’s even there but a leak the size of a pencil point in a pipe can be costing you 970 gallons in 24 hours at a measly 40psi in water pressure (which is low for most households, especially in the Charlotte area). That’s a lot of money on your water bill unnecessarily – between $100-$600 a month! Leaks just twice as big (1/8” as opposed to 1/16”) can run up to 3600 gallons in the same 24 hours.

Aside from the obvious water cost, you may be considering where these hundreds of gallons of water are going. The damage will be exponentially more expensive than the leak itself. Those allergies or sickness we mentioned earlier could be due to mold and mildew growing in unseen places because of leaking water. Longer-term mold inhalation can even cause permanent lung damage.

You may also have rotting drywall, wood, and flooring. Water damage issues increase in severity very quickly. Those rotting floors can allow heavy appliances to fall through unexpectedly, causing tons of damage and even injury. The small puddle in the basement can become a sea of flooded water in the blink of an eye. According to one insurance agency, 12% of all paid claims are due to water damage.

Don’t Wait – Call a Charlotte Plumber

If you think you may have a leak in your home, you should call a qualified plumber immediately at 704-269-1066. ER Plumbing Services will come and investigate your pipes using the most current technology anytime, day or night. We can repair plumbing damage as soon as we find it affordably and effectively – we’re so confident that we’re the right choice for leak repair, we offer a two-year guarantee on all workmanship and materials.

Not sure if you need a plumber or not? Submit your question to our ASK DAVE plumbing advice column or use our online contact form.

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Prevent Cracked Pipes by Insulating Properly

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Charlotte Plumber: How to Turn Off Your Water in an Emergency

Do You Know How to Turn Off Your Water in an Emergency?

Water, while essential, is a fair weather friend. Your perfect, soothing hot shower can quickly turn to disaster if the hot water heater breaks or a pipe springs a leak. In that case, you would spring into crisis mode and do… what?

Many people have no idea how to disable their hot water heater or main water supply in the event of an emergency. In this quick guide, we’ll provide you with several simple steps and tricks to avoid costly water damage and to know what to do should ever that crisis occur.

How to Shut Off Your Main Water Supply

Up North, most water meters are located in the basement of homes. Here in Charlotte (and most southern states), they are typically outside near the curb in a concrete or metal box marked “WATER”. If you can find your water meter, you’re well on your way to cutting off the water supply.

Now, using pliers or a screwdriver, open the box up. Inside you will see two pipes with levers/valves on them. The one that leads into your home is the house valve. The other is the main water supply. Turn off the one on the street side to cut off the water. Once you’ve done this, go inside and turn on any faucet to make sure it worked.

Managing the main water supply is an essential disaster preparedness tactic. Everyone who is old enough in your home should know how to do it at any time. We advise holding a family meeting to discuss scenarios in which water would need to be cut off, how to turn off the supply, and who to call and notify afterwards.

How to Shut Off Water Supply to Your Hot Water Heater

If the problem is localized in your hot water heater, it may be unnecessary to jump right to turning off all of the water to the house. In the event of a hot water heater disaster, you must first turn off the gas or electricity. If you’re using gas, locate the thermostat and turn it “off”. If you’re running on electricity, find the circuit breakers and flip them “off”.

After you’ve cut the power, you must cut off the water supply to the heater. To do this, turn the supply valve on or near the heater clockwise until it’s completely stopped. In the event that this doesn’t actually stop the water, you’ll need to turn off the main water supply as we previously mentioned.

Now that all of the inputs are taken care of, you’ll need drain and relieve the tank. Attach a hose to the tank’s drain valve and allow it to run out. Take care when deciding where to drain the water, as it will be hot and possibly rusty. Turn on a hot water faucet somewhere in the house to drain it faster. Afterwards, flip the tank’s relief valve to get rid of the excess water and pressure. Then you should call a professional immediately.

Need a Charlotte Plumber?

ER Plumbing Services has many well-trained technicians working day and night to tend to your needs in case of an emergency. We can assess and repair damages affordably and effectively. Give us a call at 704-269-1066 if you need help finding your water main shut off valve, replacing a rusted water main valve or shut off valve (this happens more frequently than you’d think, and the new ones are plastic and will not rust) or dealing with a plumbing emergency.

Got a question? Visit our ASK DAVE advice column or use our online contact form for advice or help.

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Not Sure If You Need a Plumber to Handle the Job?

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Charlotte Plumber Advice: Is My Water Pressure Too High?

Charlotte Plumber Advice: Is My Water Pressure Too High?

Oftentimes you’ll be disappointed or seeking solutions if you have low water pressure. There’s nothing worse than a shower or faucet that dribbles unenthusiastically when you’re trying to clean up. But you probably didn’t know that high water pressure is actually just as bad.

If your water pressure is too high, it can cause damage to almost everything that has to do with water in your home. Appliances may have abbreviated lifespans, pipes may burst, and hot water heaters, showerheads and faucets may leak. It can also cost you a ton of money on your water bill – a difference of 15 gallons per ten minutes from normal (50psi) to high (100psi) pressure. Either way you slice it, too much pressure is too much of a problem.

In Charlotte especially, high pressure is a reoccurring problem. Normal pressure range is from 50psi – 75psi and many homes and businesses in the area have between 80 and 120psi, which is way too much. To test your pressure, you can purchase an inexpensive gauge at any hardware store. Simply attach it to your hose spigot outside and it will let you know if your home has a pressure problem. If it registers at 80psi or higher, you should consider taking action to lower it.

It’s a Quick Fix!

High pressure can be simply adjusted by installing a pressure regulator – also known as a pressure reduction valve. A relatively inexpensive fix, this little piece of hardware can save up to 30,000 gallons of water in a year, which will pay for itself in no time.

Need a Charlotte Plumber?

Handy homeowners can install one on their own, but it’s always best to have a professional handle your plumbing needs. If you have high water pressure, call ER Plumbing Services at 704-269-1066 or use our contact form any time to schedule a regulator installation. We will get it fixed, cleaned up, and done right the first time!

Want to learn more about plumbing issues? Check out our ASK DAVE question and answer column or post a question of your own. 

 

Charlotte plumber fixes shower

Showerhead problems? Maybe it's the water pressure...

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Charlotte Plumber: Do You Need to Perform Maintenance on Your Water Heater?

Charlotte Plumber: Do You Need to Perform Maintenance on Your Water Heater?

If your hot water heater is exhibiting signs of damage or failure, it’s best to call a professional as soon as possible. However, in the interim, to have a well-functioning heater requires regular maintenance just like your car does. So, once a year, it’s best to check out your heater and perform the following small maintenance tasks. Before doing anything with your heater though, you must turn off the breaker or gas powering the heater.

Anode Rod

The anode rod in your hot water heater is there to protect the metal of the heater from rusting. It receives the preferential corrosion as described in the process of galvanic corrosion (two metals, add water – something’s gotta give), thereby saving the other metal, that of your tank.

The rod should be replaced fairly regularly – most last up to five years but depending on your pipes and water, it can be much less. Best practice is to replace annually, or biannually. To access your anode rod, drain some water from your heater (using the drain cock) and loosen the hex bolt on top of the heater to expose the rod. Observe the rod to see how corroded it is or if there is any of the steel cable exposed. Replace as needed.

TPR Valve

This is an easy task, as you are simply testing the efficacy of an emergency valve (called the “Temperature Pressure Release”). Place a bucket underneath the valve on the side of the tank and open it for a few moments. Once you close it again, the water should cease immediately. If it keeps running, replace the valve.

Drain n’ Wash

Over time, gunk and sediment will accumulate in your tank. To combat this, you must drain and rinse (with cold water) once or twice in order to clear out most of the mess. Simply attach a hose to the drain cock and make sure the other end is somewhere that water of varying temperatures and cleanliness can go, and let it rip. After it’s drained, use the cold water supply valve to fill and drain again, until the water comes clean. Then refill all the way and power up!

You should also ensure that the temperature is set to a cozy 120 degrees.

Need a Charlotte Plumber?

If you don’t feel capable of performing this maintenance, it’s best to call a professional. At ER Plumbing Services, we are highly skilled in all things water heater related – you can call anytime, day or night at 704-269-1066 or use our online contact form.

Charlotte emergency plumber dealing with water damage and neglect

Looks like we've got some serious water damage here!

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Is It Okay to Flush Prescription Drugs Down the Toilet?

Is It Okay to Flush Prescription Drugs Down the Toilet?

No. It is not.

Here’s why: when you flush prescription medication down the toilet or drains, it stays with the water all the way to the water treatment plant. It will most likely dissolve on the way there, contaminating the water with the medication. Most plants filter and treat for common water contaminants like basic chemical imbalances or waste. Pharmaceuticals are not screened for or cleaned from the water and therefore remain after the plant begins sending out the “cleaned” water to homes or releasing it into the environment.

As a result, trace amounts of pharmaceuticals have been found in natural bodies of water. They’ve even been present in tap water testing. This is obviously an undesirable scenario. So what can you do to get rid of leftover or unwanted pills?

Proper Prescription Drug Disposal 101

Similar to how we think about managing kitchen drains (IE: the less waste that goes in, the better) is how you should be thinking about medication disposal. Trashing it is always the first option, though you should never simply toss an unwanted bottle into the garbage.

First, scratch off any personal information from the label. Then, fill the bottle with water so the medication will dissolve and no longer be in pill form. You should also add an animal deterrent like cat litter, cayenne pepper or charcoal to ensure no animals are harmed if your bottle somehow opens. Once you’ve sealed it, wrap the whole thing with duct tape so it is nearly impossible to reopen. After that, put it in a paper bag or other disguising container before trashing it as close as possible to pickup time.

If that is too labor intensive or risky for you, many pharmacies have medication disposal programs. CVS, Walgreens and most big name companies offer free disposal if you bring the prescription back to the store. There are also Hazardous Waste Collection facilities in almost every municipality. It may be more of a trek, but they will also properly dispose of your medication.

Need a Charlotte Plumber?

Call 704-269-1066 for Charlotte plumbing services. Learn more about plumbing issues at www.erplumbing.com or use our online contact form to get advice or plumbing assistance.

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Worried About Water Heater In Attic?

What is the Ideal Location for a Water Heater?

Many homes have bulky, tank hot water heaters. These typically take up a large amount of space and they’re not something you want out in the open. In many homes across the country, you can find the hot water heater in the basement. However, in North Carolina we are at a slight disadvantage due to our thick, red clay based soil. Very few homes in the Charlotte and surrounding areas have basements due to the labor involved in digging that deep through the clay. If homes have a basement floor, it’s usually a walkout because of the grading of the land.

That being said, many homes are built using a slab foundation. This makes it difficult to run plumbing through the first floor. In that case, hot water heaters are usually found in attics, sometimes near the HVAC system. This is a risky placement for many reasons. Attics are the most rarely visited spaces in a home. If an aging hot water heater is up there, chances are it can break, leak and cause thousands of dollars in damage before you even notice.

So what’s the solution to this outdated placement?

Change It Up

You have a few options, and doing nothing isn’t one of them.

Firstly, you could (and probably should) move the hot water heater downstairs to a first floor interior closet or the garage. This will be expensive and require professional work but will be worth the heater’s weight in gold if it should one day spring a leak and you are spared massive multi-floor interior water damage.

You can also opt to replace your tanked heater in the attic with a tankless heater. Though they can be a bit pricey, tankless heaters are exponentially smaller than their tanked counterparts and far less likely to cause water damage. They do not store heated water; they simply heat it as it’s called for around the home. In this way, a tankless water heater will save you money on your energy bill as well as give you peace of mind.

If neither of those options appeal and you are determined to leave your aging tanked heater in the attic, you should seriously consider investing in Water Cops. Water Cops are tiny sensors placed in potential problem sites around the home (like near your hot water heater!). They detect water if it should appear and alert the Water Cop system to shut off the water immediately to prevent damage.

Charlotte Plumber to the Rescue!

At ER Plumbing Services, we are experts in finding and creating the best solution for your plumbing needs. So if you’re concerned about that attic heater, give us a call day or night at 704-269-1066. Learn more about our Charlotte plumbing services at www.erplumbing.com or use our online contact form for advice or service.

Charlotte emergency plumber dealing with water damage and neglect

Looks like we've got some serious water damage here!

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Which is More Cost Effective: Tankless or Traditional Water Heater?

Charlotte Plumber Answers Question: Which is More Cost Effective – Tankless or Traditional Water Heater?

So you’ve made the decision to buy a new hot water heater and now you are wondering which to choose – tank or tankless. There are several important aspects of the decision to consider before making your choice and you should first assess your existing infrastructure and hot water needs.

Tankless Water Heaters

When contemplating a tankless water heater, there are certainly some immediate benefits. The fact that you will never run out of hot water is at the top of the list. This is especially meaningful if you live in a household with many people or if you love filling up your oversized bathtub. The way tankless heaters work is by pumping water past burners at a variable flow rate (the rate depends on the initial water temperature). As much water as you need is as much as will be heated.

Another benefit to this method of water heating is that it’s more energy efficient – tanked heaters constantly heat and store water, which also constantly uses energy. Tankless heaters only use energy when you need the hot water. This will decrease your utility costs and save you money in the long run.

We use the phrase “long run” because installing and purchasing a tankless heater is a substantial investment. They are not standard hardware and can be a bit pricey. However, they do pay for themselves in the long run, both through energy savings (40% per year) and longevity (they last twice as long as tank water heaters).

Tank Water Heaters

There are several options these days within the “tank” category of hot water heaters. You can choose from a conventional gas heater, to a condensing gas heater, or even to a hybrid pump. All of the options are large, tank based heaters, but they differ in the methods by which they heat the water.

No matter which option you choose in the tanked category of heaters, know that they will definitely take up space. They probably won’t save you much money on your utility bills either, though they are typically cheaper to purchase and install. They also won’t provide endless hot water – they have to refill in between uses. But if you live alone and don’t use much hot water, a tanked heater could be for you.

Need a New Charlotte Water Heater?

If you live in the Charlotte area, ER Plumbing Services can help. Call us at 704-269-1066 or use our online contact form for assistance choosing the right water heater for your home.

We’ve been installing water heaters for two decades, so we can quickly help you determine what is the best model for you. If you need a Charlotte plumber, we’re here to help!

Need more information? Watch our video comparison of tank and tankless water heaters!


 

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