Understanding your plumbing needs is essential. Whether you’re buying a new home or worried about constant plumbing problems, knowing when an overhaul is due can save you thousands of dollars and stress.

Identifying a plumbing problem early is critical. Plumbing problems are often discovered when it is too late. To avoid last minute rush, you need to know your residential plumbing life expectancy and the right time for an overhaul. Here are a few tips to help you assess your plumbing pipes and consider an upgrade.

How long should plumbing pipes last?

The life expectancy of plumbing pipes depends mainly on the material used to make the pipe. Here is a short table illustrating the lifespan of plumbing pipes made from different materials.

Material of plumbing pipe             Lifespan

Brass                                                40-70+years
Copper                                             50+years
Galvanized Steel                             20-50 years
Cast Iron                                          75-100 years
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)                   Indefinite

Other than the material, the life of your pipes is also affected by the weather, nature of use and the environment. Under favorable conditions, the pipes can last longer.

Time is one of the factors you can use to identify if your plumbing needs an upgrade. Once they have reached their life expectancy, it is essential to have them regularly checked for any problems.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Plumbing Pipes

Other signs that hint at possible need for an upgrade include:

Leaks

Leaks are a common occurrence in every home. It could be a result of a minor problem. But, if the leaks are frequent and occur in different parts of the house, it could be indicating it is time to have the pipes replaced.

In most cases, frequent leaks are a result of rusting and corrosion inside the pipes over a long period. If that is the case, it is best to have the pipes replaced to maintain structural integrity of the house.

Mold, Mildew and stained walls

Mold, stained walls and mildew are caused by leaks by pipes inside the wall. It is important to deal with the problem quickly and effectively to avoid further damage. Poor sealing or clogged drains could also cause the leak.

Identifying the cause of the leak is essential in helping you find the right approach. If the pipes are old and rusty, consider replacement to avoid further damage.

Low water pressure

Corrosion is a severe problem in plumbing. It happens when you’re using steel pipes. They erode, and resultant debris clogs pipes hindering the flow of water. If you have steel pipes in your home, having the pressure water drop could mean it is time to upgrade the pipes.

Sometimes, low water pressure could also expose a clogged faucet. To check if the faucet or showerhead is the problem, fill a plastic bag with vinegar. Tie the bag over the fixture and leave it for a few hours. If the fixture is the problem, normal flow should resume after removing the bag. If it does not remedy the problem, it’s advisable to call in a plumber, like Benjamin Franklin, for more comprehensive checks.

Sluggish drains

A slow drain usually indicates a blockage in the pipes. You can try cleaning the drain using a drain snake or a power draining solution. If this does not work after trying a couple of times, call in an expert. It is usually a sign of deeper sitting problems like worn out pipes with limescale build up inside them.

Odd sounds coming from the faucet

Not all plumbing problems feature blockages, slow drains or leaks. Sometimes, hearing odd sounds when you turn on the faucet can also indicate serious trouble with plumbing.

Presence of air in the pipes usually causes the sound. It occurs when something is wrong with your bleed-off system. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do without training and the right equipment. If the problem persists, have a professional look at it. It’s better to have the pipes upgraded if repairing does not fix the problem.

Unpleasant smell coming from the drains

Bad odor coming from your drains is not always a plumbing problem. It depends on the location and nature of the smell.  If the odor is coming from your sink, there could be some decaying food scraps in the drain pipes. Using a disinfectant and boiling water could help alleviate the smell.

If the smell resembles rotten eggs, your sewer gas is probably backing up into the pipes. Even though this sounds serious, it’s not always the case. It is usually caused by a blocked drain vent which is easily repaired.

When the odor is coming from all the drains accompanied by constant clogging, your sewer line is having problems. To identify the cause of the blockages and possibly clear it, calling a plumber is highly recommended. After having a professional look at the drainage pipes, they can advise on whether you can keep the pipes or make replacements.

Poor water quality

You have probably noticed a funny smell in your water but passed it for a smelly drain. Sometimes, the water might also look cloudy or rusty. Most water heaters have steel rods covered in magnesium, zinc or aluminum. These rods attract bacteria and other elements that cause color change in water. The water coming out of the faucet remains clear because the bacteria and these elements don’t make it to the pipes. If these rods fail, your water can be smelly or change color.

Clogged pipes and rust can also change the color of water. Regardless of what is causing the reduced quality of water and change in color, you need to have the plumbing system checked. The checks should focus on the water heater and the piping in the house.

Outdated or defective hardware

Your residential plumbing life expectancy extends to the fixtures like showerheads, faucets and sink hardware. Over time, these also experience wear and tear. Not only are worn out fixtures sore to the eye, but they can also be harmful. Older hardware is notorious for having bits of metal that chip off and can get caught in the water stream.

When considering an overhaul of the worn-out fixtures, you should also have the pipes assessed. Chances are, the pipes are as old as the fixtures and could use an upgrade as well.

Keeping your plumbing system functional and up to date can save you from a lot of trouble and expensive repairs. By identifying these problem areas, you know when you need to call in an expert. It is also advisable to be aware of your residential plumbing life expectancy. It makes it easier when deciding if the pipes and other parts of your plumbing need upgrading or repairs.

Benjamin Franklin of Lake and Mendocino Counties has the expertise needed to safely and reliably inspect and replace your plumbing system, if needed. Give us a call at (707)-263-1629 or toll free at (877) 236-1776. You can also visit us online at Benjaminfranklinplumbingmendolake.com.

 

 

Ever wondered about what people are talking about when they comment about hard or soft water? Read this and you’ll be ready to jump right into the next similar discussion you encounter. Here’s how water becomes hard or soft, and what drawbacks and benefits your local water type involves. We’ll throw in some cleaning tips and best maintenance practices too.

First, why does this matter?

Our water affects our health and hygiene, and it’s behind the scenes of just about everything we do day to day. It impacts everything that works in our homes with water, and some of these impacts can cost money tomorrow if neglected today.

So it’s important to understand the effects of our type of water over time.

How Hard Water Becomes What It Is

Most — around 85% — of the water available from taps around the United States is hard water. Its origin? Rain.

As rainwater soaks into the earth and makes its way into wells, its movement naturally cleanses and purifies it. On its way, it collects minerals from the earth and rocks through which it passes — minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and lime.

These minerals bind with the soaps we use, and help dissolve them. Also, most people prefer the taste of hard water. Yet while hard water has its good points, it also leaves us its hallmark residue: think lime scale in a tea kettle.

Common Hard Water Complaints…

Years of washing with hard water can bring accumulations of lime scale. Additionally, clogs in the basin, tub, and shower drains may happen more often than they would in an area with soft water.

With hard water, your dehumidifier, water heater, and faucets all may be subject to a lot of sediment buildup. Very hard water can leave deposits that gradually corrode pipes. If untreated, hard water ultimately causes major home appliances to become less efficient, guzzle more energy, and even leak.

A water heater can be especially vulnerable to long-term damage caused by water with a heavy mineral content.

…And Solutions

Most people looking to address hard water issues have a water softener installed at the point of entry to their homes. A water softener filters your home’s water through resin that takes out the hard ions. Some models are self-cleaning. Others require a cleaning to address the buildup of minerals accumulating over time.

Homeowners with hard water take a variety of other measures, such as using a mix of white distilled vinegar and baking soda in drains, followed by a pot of boiling water, to wash out clogs in the making. Or they might buy detergents made especially for use in areas that have hard water. To prevent the buildup of scale on your appliances, add vinegar into your dishwashing cycle and your clothes washing machines. Vinegar is great for washing coffee makers and anything that runs on hard water.

Calcium and magnesium ions in the hard water mean soap is quickly dissolved and you might get more of a soap scum than good, sudsy lather. As sodium counteracts the mineral in hard water, it’s possible to adjust your bathwater to your liking by adding bath salts. You might find the adjustment enables you to get a fine bubble bath.

What Makes Soft Water Different

Now, soft water. Soft water never took that rocky path. It was, instead, taken straight from rainwater collection basins or from lakes and rivers.

Soft water tends to be a great at washing and rinsing dishes and clothes, and it leaves your skin silky after bathing. It won’t leave deposits in appliances and pipes. Everything in a home that’s associated with water — kitchen and AC appliances, fridges, washing machines, and pipes — are easier to maintain and will function more efficiently throughout their useful lives.

On the other side of the coin, soft water will lack that desirable, refreshing mineral water taste that hard water offers.

And without the calcium and magnesium, soft water really does have a “soft” or less abrasive quality. If you’re not used to it, it can feel filmy (people who like it call it “silky”). So, for example, if you typically bathe with hard water, and you visit a place with the soft water, it might seem your hair isn’t as clean after shampooing.

Common Soft Water Complaints and Solutions

Soft water tends to be high in sodium, and obviously that’s less desirable for people who need to restrict their sodium intake. Additionally, the plants won’t care for it much. For outdoor water, hard is better. Most irrigation water bypasses water softeners for just that reason.

If your concern is sodium intake, you can shop for a reverse osmosis water purification system for your household drinking water. These devices are designed to remove not only the sodium but also several other problematic chemicals from your tap water. Reverse osmosis devices can even be used with your ice maker. And some people consider them a great benefit when used with a humidifier to take the dryness out of household heating in the winter. These devices do not replace water softeners; the two can work together.

Methods for Testing Your Water at Home

The bottle test is a great activity to do at home with the kids. Get an empty, capped plastic bottle. Take off the cap. Run water into the bottle until it’s half full. Now put a few drops of dishwashing liquid into the water. Shake it up and you’ll see a bubbly foam. If the sudsy foam lasts, you have soft water. If it disappears, you have hard water. Here’s a brief video to watch with your kids, to really get into the chemistry!

There are also water testing kits on the market. The kits contain a bottle and solution that you add with water and shake according to the instructions on the label. Drop by drop, you add the solution into the water, shaking as you go, until you get a certain level of sudsy foam. The test lets you know whether your water is soft, slightly hard, or hard enough to warrant a water softener.

Help for Your Pipes

Getting ahead of problems by testing your water and addressing troublesome effects makes good sense. The rewards? Gentler electricity use, more efficient appliances, maintenance-free winter heat, and certainly fewer pipe problems. Homes that have relied for years on hard water may need the pipes professionally cleaned and the scale buildup removed.

Unsure about your water quality? Concerned about preventing or addressing water-related issues? Give us a call today. We’re here to help. Contact our knowledgable team today online or call 707-263-1629.

Resources:

Image: U.S. Geological Survey (U.S. government image, identified as public domain here).

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Popular Mechanics

It can be tempting to handle some of the repairs around your house on your own to help you save money. However, in the long run, this isn’t going to save you much, primarily because most people don’t have the expertise and knowledge required to complete some of the most complex repairs, let alone some of the simpler ones. This is why it’s often best to work with the professionals. A professional plumber can ultimately save you money on your water heater repairs, ensuring you have an operational water heater at all times.

Lower Your Energy Bills

One of the biggest complaints homeowners have is how much their utility bills are. Both electric and gas water heaters will come with a rating that indicates how much energy they use when they are operating at peak efficiency. Over time, these units will begin to operate less efficiently, which will cause the unit to begin using more energy than it previously did. This is why it’s important to pay close attention to your energy bills. If you begin to see your bills rise, you will need to determine which appliance is the cause. One of the best ways to do this is to call on the professionals to conduct an inspection of your water heater. They will be able to identify any problem that may exist and then resolve it quickly so you can experience lower utility bills again.

Reduce Your Water Bill

Did you realize if your hot water heater requires repairs, it could actually be wasting water? This typically happens if the water heater springs a leak. While it would seem like you would be able to easily identify the presence of a leak, sometimes the location of the issue or its severity can impact whether you will notice water pooling around your water heater. If you don’t notice a problem, you will be wasting water without giving it another thought. Professional water heater repair will ensure these leaks are handled quickly and efficiently. In addition to leaks, there are other reasons an inefficient water heater increases your water bills. Think about your habits when you use your faucets and want hot water. If you’re like most people, you have to run the water until the hot water reaches the taps. If your hot water heater is struggling, this will take longer, causing you to use more water and thus increase your bills.

Prevent Further Damage

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons to turn to the professionals for your water heater repairs is because they have the experience necessary to complete the repairs properly the first time around. Many people mistakenly think they can diagnose and correct any problems their water heater may have. After all, there are many tutorials online that show you what to do and how to do it. Unfortunately, these are often difficult to follow and things aren’t as easy as they may appear to be. If you don’t perform a repair correctly, you will ultimately do more damage to your water heater, which will require you to either hire professionals to redo your incorrect repairs or replace your water heater entirely. Completing any repairs in their earliest stages will ensure no further damage is done and you are able to continue using your current water heater without worrying about needing a replacement in the near future.

Save on Parts

It isn’t always easy to diagnose the problem when it comes to your water heater. If you misdiagnose the issue, buy the wrong parts and spend the time replacing them, only to find the problem persists, you have not only wasted your own time, but you have wasted your money and will need to pay even more to either buy the right parts or hire the professionals to make sure the problem is properly managed. Not only will you save money knowing the professionals have purchased the correct parts for the job, but in many cases, plumbers have access to discounted parts and will pass those savings along to you. This can also make for a much cheaper repair than doing it yourself, even if you do have to pay the labor costs.

Prolong Its Lifespan

In most cases, water heater repair is often significantly cheaper than replacing the entire unit. While you will need to replace it at some point in the future, hiring the professionals to repair any problems you encounter will keep you from having to pay for a replacement long before it is due. This is why it’s important to request regular inspections to identify minor problems before they become more serious issues. Unfortunately, many serious issues will require a full replacement to ensure it is properly fixed. However, if you make these repairs when they are still small, you will be able to save money by keeping your water heater operational for a longer period of time.

As a homeowner, it’s important to find as many ways as possible to reduce your regular bills and keep your budget under control. With all of the appliances in your home, it’s critical to make sure they all operate efficiently. Unfortunately, there are some homeowners who feel they can save themselves money by performing repairs on their own. However, when it comes to something as complex as your water heater, it is often best to hire the professionals to complete the work for you. Few people have the experience and knowledge to perform plumbing repairs, which means they may waste their money buying the wrong parts. Hiring professional plumbers can be a great way to reduce the risk you will waste money performing repairs that aren’t necessary, as well as reducing your energy and water bills, prolonging the lifespan of your water heater to put off replacement as long as possible and preventing further damage due to incorrect repairs. The goal is to make sure your water heater is operating as efficiently as it was designed to so you can enjoy the hot water you need on a daily basis.

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing serves Mendo Lake, CA and surrounding areas. We have technicians trained to repair, install, and tune-up water heaters of all makes and models. Give us a call at (707)-263-1629 or visit us online at Benjaminfranklinplumbingmendolake.com.

*We have 24/7 emergency services available in Lake & Mendocino Counties

Toll Free: (877)-236-1776.

Small plumbing problems can often be fixed with a bit of knowledge. However, people sometimes overestimate their abilities, and some end up performing tasks that are better left to professionals. Here are a few reasons to consider hiring a plumber if you’re in need of plumbing repairs.

Save Time

Repair work has a tendency to take more time than anticipated, and a task you predict might only take an hour or two can quickly occupy a day or more. When you hire a plumber, you can avoid wasting hours of time on a task that a professional can complete quickly. Calculate how much your time is worth compared to how much a professional charges; it’s often well worth the money spent.

Making the Problem Worse

Too often, people trying to fix a problem end up making it worse. In some situations, a problem that would take a professional minutes to fix can turn into a much larger, and more expensive, project due to damage caused by fault repair work. Hiring a professional comes with a guarantee, so consider the cost of mistakes before performing plumbing work yourself.

Hidden Damage

In addition to providing repair work, a plumber will also look for signs of damage. Leaks can wreak havoc on your home by causing mold and rot, and this damage can occur from even the smallest of leaks. Perform repair work without proper training increases the likelihood of causing this type of damage dramatically, so long-term damage needs to be considered when you perform your own plumbing repair work.

Legal Considerations

Rules vary, but most areas require that certain plumbing work only be performed by a licensed professional. In some places, even seemingly minor work must be done by a professional plumber, and failing to have the work certified can cause major issues, especially if an inspector notices the discrepancy. In some situations, agencies might even demand the work be redone by a plumber, negating the benefit of do-it-yourself work to begin with.

General-purpose repair skills are useful, and they can save money if used properly. Some tasks, including plumbing and electrical work, require expertise, and choosing to stretch your skills might lead to disastrous results. Be cautious when it comes to plumbing, as small mistakes are easy to make and costly to fix.

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing is headquartered in Lakeport, California, and we offer services throughout all of Mendocino County and parts of Lake County. We offer 24/7 repairs, and our installation services help you get new dishwashers, water heaters, and other equipment up and running quickly and safely.

The water heater is probably one of the most widely used – yet under appreciated – common household appliances. The average person will take for granted the privilege of having instantaneous hot water delivered throughout their plumbing system.

Power: Gas or Electric?

Where their power and energy come from has both pros and cons. Gas units cost more to install up-front than electric. However, within the first 1-3 years, they likely will make up the difference in cost-of-use by being less of a burden on your utility bills. Electric models are cheaper up front and better for the environment, but over time they cost more to operate.

How Do I Know My Water Heater Is Properly Functioning?

Simply put, if there is no hot water coming out of your faucet, it is likely a faulty unit – but it can be more complicated than that. Your water may seem warm, but just not hot enough. American families, on average, keep their hot water temperature somewhere between 125 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit which is very hot to the touch.

Noises are also a good indicator that it is not functioning properly. Over time, sediment can build up inside of the unit, causing it to bang, creek, clank, and knock. Another sign of strange noises can be an indication that the heating element may be burning out.

Age is also a factor. On average, these appliances are sold with a warranty of anywhere from 5 to 10 years. After this time, the manufacturer does not guarantee the product will still work. If your water heater is 5-10 years old, it may be beneficial to have an expert come out and ensure everything is still running fine. It’s better to take action before getting stuck in a cold shower while trying to get ready for work!

When In Doubt, Check The Water!

The water itself can also be a good indicator – aside from just the temperature of it – the way it looks and smells will also give you an idea of whether or not everything is functioning properly. Cloudy or murky water is a bad sign. The smell of rust or iron is also not so good. If your water looks or smells not like water should, you should have a specialist come out as soon as possible.

Whether you are looking to fix your current heater, purchase a new one, or simply get reassurance that your current one is running fine, we encourage you to contact a specialist in your area who has been professionally trained to take on any issues that may arise.

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing serves Mendo Lake, CA and surrounding areas. We have technicians trained to repair, install, and tune-up water heaters of all makes and models. Give us a call at (707)-263-1629 or visit us online at Benjaminfranklinplumbingmendolake.com.

*We have 24/7 emergency services available in Lake & Mendocino Counties

Toll Free: (877)-236-1776.

A home plumbing system has a variety of components. Each of these components has to be in peak condition in order for this system to run efficiently. Just like any other part of a home, eventually, your plumbing system will begin to show signs of wear. In some cases, worn out components can lead to plumbing emergencies. When these emergencies occur, the first thing you need to do is call in a reputable and experienced plumber. Read below to find out about some of the most common plumbing emergencies you may experience in your home.

Leaking Water Heaters Can Be Very Problematic

Getting a hot shower is something most people do to wake up in the morning. In order for you to get the hot water needed for this morning ritual, your water heater will have to function properly. As time goes by, your water heater’s tank may start to rust. If this rust makes its way through the tank, it will cause water to spill in the floors of your home. Instead of dealing with the water damage this can cause, you should call in a plumber as soon as these leaks are detected. The plumbing professional will be able to install a new water heater in a hurry.

Broken Plumbing Pipes

The plumbing pipes in a home perform a very specific and important function. If one of these pipes breaks or cracks, it can lead to an excessive amount of water being dumped into your home. The best thing you can do when experiencing plumbing pipe damage is to cut off the main water supply to your home. After this is done, you will have to call in a plumber to replace the damaged pipe.

Plumbing problems? Call us today and find out how we can help or visit our website at Benjaminfranklinplumbingmendolake.com.

Due to the complexity involved in maintaining and repairing a home’s plumbing system, allowing professionals to perform this work is important. Some homeowners think they can save some money by doing their own plumbing repairs, but this will usually backfire. When the time comes to replace your home’s water heater, finding experienced plumbers to help is vital. The money paid to a plumber for this work is worth it due to the damage they can help to prevent. The following are some of the reasons why hiring professionals to perform this job is wise.

Removing the Damaged Water Heater

The first thing a professional will do when hired for this job is to remove the damaged water heater. While this may sound relatively easy, it is anything but. Without the right tools and experience, removing a damaged water heater can turn into a disaster. If you insist on doing this job alone, it may lead to extensive water damage. Rather than increasing the amount of the repair bill for a job like this, you can find the right plumber to do the work for you.

A Faster Turnaround

Being without hot water for days on end can be inconvenient, to say the least. Instead of having to suffer without hot water, you can hire a plumber to get a new water heater in place. They will be able to get this job done in a hurry without you having to lift a finger during the process. Taking the time to do a bit of research will make finding the best plumber in your area much easier.

Be sure to contact Benjamin Franklin Plumbing to find out more about the plumbing services we can provide. Our team is dedicated to providing customers with the best service and price around. Allowing us to handle your plumbing repairs will ensure they are done correctly.

If you have an older home, you should be aware of some of the issues that older homes may possess. One problem that you might not be aware of in your older home is issues with plumbing due to the type of pipes used. We’ll cover some of these issues here, but if still in doubt, contact a plumber.
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