Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Water Heater Care

A water heater is a type of appliance that does not get a wealth of attention when it comes to maintenance. In fact, many homeowners take them for granted. It is not until a problem arises that they suddenly become a priority. But those unwanted times can be avoided by following some helpful ways to care for your water heater.

Adjust the temperature

Most people are unaware that water heaters are set to about 120°F. The truth is that there is no need to have the temperature set that high. Tank water heaters need to heat all that water, which means you are unnecessarily using more energy than you need to. That can take its toll on the life expectancy of a water heater. It is a good idea to drop the temperature down to around 100°F. This will mean less work for your water heater to keep the water hot.

Take out the sediment

There is no avoiding a buildup of sediment in your water heater over the course of time. Some sediment is not going to be an issue, but an abundance could cause problems to occur. The reality is that is quite simple to remove sediment. All you have to do is drain the tank as the majority of the sediment will be removed with the water. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and do this annually to avoid any major issues.

Tankless care

Tankless water heaters do not need as much maintenance as tank varieties, although there are still some important steps that can be taken to ensure they are working optimally. First, it is important to check for hard water as this will need to be fixed with a water softener to keep your water heater running efficiently. It is also recommended to flush your heater every year or so. This can be done with a do-it-yourself remedy or by calling a professional plumber.

Annual inspection

Once a year, it is advisable to check out your water heater for issues. If you have a tank water heater, the first inspection should be to check for leaks. Also, be on the lookout for rust in gas heaters, particularly in the combustion chamber. Rusting inside will indicate a new water heater will probably be needed in the near future. If your water heater is electric, be sure to power down the heater and check for any corrosion around the ports and fittings.

The Benjamin Franklin Plumbing plumbers are ready to help you with all your hot water needs. We assist home and business owners daily to find the best solution for their particular needs then execute the job with precision. You are welcome to explore the hot water heater section of our website anytime to learn more about those services.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Is It Time for a New Toilet?


If there is one plumbing fixture that homeowners are guaranteed to use multiple times throughout the day, then it would be the toilet. The toilet is one of the primary fixtures in any bathroom, and the efficiency of your home's plumbing system relies on the condition of your toilet.

Despite the fact that toilets play such an integral role in daily life, homeowners often give little thought to their toilet until the fixture begins to seriously malfunction. Replacing your toilet before it breaks down completely can help you reduce the cost of replacement by eliminating the potential water damage a failing toilet might cause.

Use these four factors as a guide when trying to determine if it's time to replace your toilet.

1. Age

First and foremost, you should consider the age of your toilet when determining if the fixture needs to be replaced. Older toilets are more likely to malfunction as the valves and seals deteriorate. An older toilet could also be costing you a significant amount of money each month.

Toilets that were built prior to 1992 could use up to 8 gallons of water for each flush. When you compare that with the 1.6 gallons per flush used by modern toilets, it's easy to see how an aging toilet can really drive up the cost of your water bill. Replace your old toilet with a newer, more energy-efficient model.

2. Cracks

Toilets are made of porcelain. Although this is typically a durable material, there is always the potential that your toilet's porcelain bowl or tank could crack. Even hairline cracks can lead to serious water loss and structural damage.

You can easily check to see if your toilet is cracked by conducting a thorough visual inspection each time you clean the fixture. If you notice any water pooling around the base of the toilet, this water could be coming from a leaking tank or bowl.

To see if the tank is cracked, put a couple drops of food coloring into the water inside the tank. If the water pooling around the base of your toilet is tinted with the same hue, you have a cracked tank. If the water is clear, the crack is most likely in your toilet's bowl.

Replacing a cracked toilet will help you avoid water damage and prevent water waste in the future.

3. Performance

It's important that you keep track of the number of times your toilet needs to be repaired throughout the year. If your toilet frequently clogs or you need to call in a plumber on a regular basis to address leaks, then replacing the toilet might be a more cost-effective option.

A new toilet (both the fixture itself and professional installation) will cost you anywhere from $218 to $522. When you compare this one-time cost with the cost of multiple house calls by a professional plumber, you can see how replacing a failing toilet can save you money in the long run.

4. Comfort

Comfort might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of sitting on your toilet. However, since the toilet gets used on a daily basis, the fixture should provide a comfortable seat.

Elongated toilet bowls offer more room for larger or taller individuals. These elongated bowls can also help reduce odors and can be easier to clean than their round counterparts, making them more comfortable in a multitude of ways. If you have a toilet with a round bowl in your bathroom, then increase your comfort level by switching to a toilet with an elongated bowl.

If you are thinking about replacing your toilet, contact Ben Franklin Plumbing. We can help you choose the toilet that will be best suited to meet your needs and install the fixture quickly to keep your bathroom functional.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

4Signs Your Drains Need Professional Attention

Your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room drains serve a sole purpose: to get rid of excess water. When your drains fail to operate as they should, you have to deal with an irritating — and sometimes costly — plumbing situation.

This guide lists four signs your home's drains are in need of professional plumbing attention. You will also learn what you can do to preserve your home's plumbing in the future.

1. Back-Flowing Drains

When a serious clog is blocking your drains, you will notice water starts to go down, then begins to fill back up into your sink or tub basin. Water that comes back up may have debris in it from a stubborn clog.

A back-flowing drain can be a serious issue. A clog blocking your pipes can eventually cause your plumbing lines to burst due to excess water pressure from water that can't flow through. If you notice this issue, call your plumber right away.

2. Smelly Drains

When drains start to get clogged with soap residue, oils, hair, or food particles, the bacteria that builds up inside your plumbing pipes will begin to emit a foul odor. You may notice your drains smell a lot like rotten eggs or something even worse.

Smelly drains are not just an embarrassing annoyance, they can be a health hazard as well. A bacteria-ridden drain can expose you and your family to salmonella and other dangerous bacteria. This is particularly true if you allow meat or other bacteria-prone products to rest in your sink when the drains don't work properly enough to whisk odors and germs away.

3. Slow Drains

A clog that doesn't entirely block a sewer line, or is so far down in your home's plumbing that water still drains successfully, can still be a problem in the home. Slow-moving water in your drains will soon become an issue.

If your drains are releasing water at a slower rate than you are used to or start to drain and suddenly stop, leaving standing water in your sink, tub, or laundry area, then you need to call a plumber for an inspection. In most cases, a clog is to blame; in others, an offending tree root or other pipe damage is the cause of your drainage issues.

4. Poor Flushing

Sometimes your drains aren't the problem, your toilet is. When a foreign object (such as a toothbrush, cotton swab, or another accidentally flushed item) clogs your toilet, it will begin to collect toilet paper and human waste around the caught debris. Eventually, your toilet will begin to flush slowly or have less water in the bowl.

Left untreated, a clogged toilet will overflow, causing your family to be exposed to harmful, tainted water. As soon as you suspect a toilet issue in the home, call your plumber right away.

Protecting Your Drains

Remove your drain covers and take out hair, food, and other debris from your drains periodically. Never flush food, oils, or items other than human waste and toilet paper down your toilet. Don't allow food to go down your kitchen sink unless you have a working garbage disposal.

You may want to avoid treating drain issues with store-bought chemicals, even if they are designed to remove and dissolve clogs. You may be simply masking plumbing problems rather than solving them, which can lead to more expensive issues with your home's plumbing. Instead, call your plumber for assistance if you have any future drain issues.

Your home's plumbing is important. If your drains are showing signs of problems, then don't hesitate to call for professional help. Our plumbers at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing are licensed and insured. We can handle all of your home's plumbing and sewer needs. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Maintenance Tips to Extend Your Water Heater's Life Span

Your water heater is responsible for storing and heating the hot water for your home, and it is generally used every day. Because of its heavy use, the water heater requires routine cleaning and maintenance in order to keep it in top working condition.

Simple routine maintenance will not only extend the life span of your water heater, but it will also help keep small problems from developing into larger ones. Here are a few maintenance tips that can be done between you and your plumber to keep your heater in tip-top condition.

Drain, Flush, and Clean the Tank

Many people don't realize how important it is to drain, flush, and clean the water heater tank. The older the water heater is and the less frequently it is cleaned, the thicker the layers of sediment on the bottom of the tank will be.

Sediment is created as the water is heated, and it can be especially problematic when a water softener is used. A buildup of sediment may cause the tank bottom to overheat, which can melt the lining of the tank. Sediment can also find its way into the recirculating lines, which can cause the pump to stick and eventually jam the open check valves.

At least once per year, you should have the tank drained and flushed in order to remove sediment buildup inside the tank.

Inspect the Pressure Relief Valve

Both electric and gas water heaters have a pressure relief valve, which allows pressure to be released from tank in case it should over pressurize. If you choose to do this yourself, make sure to refer to the owner's manual for step-by-step instructions on how to check the pressure valve on the specific make and model of water heater.

If the pressure valve is faulty, it can lead to excess pressure, which can cause the tank to explode. If you find the pressure relief valve is damaged, you should contact a plumber to make the repairs immediately.

Use the Energy and Vacation Settings

All water heaters have a temperature setting; unfortunately, most people have the temperature on the water heater set higher than what is necessary. Setting the temperature too high means you are wasting energy by keeping the water hot during the times when you don't need it, such as while you're at work or sleeping.

In most situations, setting the temperature to 120 degrees is usually sufficient, and it may help to reduce sediment and extend the life of various parts, such as the heating element.

Another way to extend the life of certain water heater parts as well as reduce energy consumption is by using the "vacation" setting, which prevents the water from continually heating while you are away for an extended length of time.

Have Annual Inspections

One of the best things you can do to maintain and extend the life span of your water heater is to have annual inspections. During an inspection, your plumber will inspect all metal for leaks and rusting, inspect the drain valve, and check the vent pipe to ensure there is a good connection (a poor connection can lead to a carbon monoxide leak and possible poisoning).

The plumber will also inspect the combustion chamber to ensure it doesn't contain black soot, which indicates a drafting problem, combustion problem, and/or fume problem, all of which can be a fire hazard.

If you notice any damage to the water heater, it is important that you contact a plumber as soon as possible to repair or replace the water heater. If you ever smell gas around a gas water heater, turn off the gas supply and contact a professional immediately.

Contact a plumber as soon as possible if you notice rust or residue around the electrical components on a gas or electric water heater. Call Benjamin Franklin Plumbing today to schedule your water heater inspection.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Weird Signs of Plumbing Problems You Shouldn't Ignore

Most of the time your home's plumbing runs without issue. You have hot water when you need it, your drains flow without clogging, and you don't have any weird drips in your faucets or leaks under your sinks.

However, just because you don’t notice any plumbing problems doesn’t mean there are none. Learn about some odd signs your home has problems that need a plumber's attention.

Sewer Smells in Basement/Laundry Area

Does your basement or laundry area have a strange sulfur or sewer smell? The smell may be most prominent near floor drains, where excess water is supposed to exit your home. You've inspected the smelliest rooms in your home but see no signs of water damage or actual leaking, yet the smell persists.

The reason why is likely due to water that was trapped in a nonworking or poorly operating floor drain that eventually evaporated, leaving a rotten stench behind. Or your sewer could be starting to back up, and the drain traps are letting foul gases into the air. Since the problem is hard to diagnose and can lead to sewage eventually leaking into your home, have your plumber investigate what is causing some parts of your home to stink and not others.

Bulging or Soft Walls/Floors

A leaking pipe won't always leave moisture or water stains that are visible to the eye. However, the effects of constant water damage will eventually become apparent in strange ways.

Perhaps the floor in front of your washing machine feels squishy underfoot. Or a wall in your bathroom is slightly bulging and the paint is peeling away. A burst or leaking pipe underneath your sub flooring or beneath your drywall is a likely culprit behind your home's strange foundation changes.

Don't peel away your drywall or flooring to discover a plumbing issue on your own; your plumber will use noninvasive techniques to explore your home's pipes to see if a break is causing your interior home damage. If repairs are needed, your drywall or damaged flooring will be removed.

Uneven Growing Grass

Are some parts of your landscape overly lush and green? Does your yard have uneven patches of growth that you can't explain? If your sewer line is leaking due to an offending tree root or a backed-up septic system, your landscape will flourish in the affected areas as a result.

One way to tell if your sewer system is to blame for your new backyard oasis is this: wearing old sandals or shoes you don't mind destroying, step on the lush grass and see if it feels wetter or spongier than surrounding grass. Sniff around your yard as well; if a sewer pipe is leaking underground, you'll notice a dank, egg-like odor.

If your sewer line needs to be replaced, the costs vary depending on how much pipe length your plumber will be working with, where the damage is located, and how much labor will be required to complete the work. On average, plumbing costs for pipe replacement begin at around $2,000.

Overactive Toilet

A toilet clog, especially a deep-rooted one, won't always result in an overflowing toilet. A strange symptom of toilet issues is when your toilet water levels change as you use your bathroom faucet.

When you turn your bathroom sink on, does your toilet water go up or down in the bowl, or does the water bubble and gurgle? If so, your plumber should be called so they can send a lighted snake into your toilet's plumbing to see what is clogging this bathroom essential.

Your home's plumbing problems aren't always obvious, but if you catch strange symptoms of plumbing woes soon enough, you can have repairs made before conditions worsen. Trust our experts at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing for all your residential plumbing needs today.