Thursday, August 13, 2009


Do you ever wonder what that brass thing is by the main water shut-off? That is one of the most important plumbing parts in your home. It is called a Pressure Reducing Valve, also known as a PRV. Without it, your home is more susceptible to water pressure spikes. This can cause severe damage to your home as it may rupture pipes, water heaters, water softeners, faucets etc.
Water main pressure can exceed 200psi. Municipal and private water supply companies use pumps and pumping stations to boost water supply pressures. This allows them to maintain adequate water pressure for fire fighting, high-rise buildings to overcome loss of pressure and to maintain water supply in water towers and supply tanks. Water pressure reducing valves, on domestic systems where the municipal water main’s pressure exceeds 80psi, are required. Also, in reference to our blog post on water heater explosions, keeping your PRV in proper working order will help keep the water pressure at or around 50 psi. While there are more factors that go into water heater explosions, a working PRV will help prevent water heaters from exploding.
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Hot Water Burns

For every 1/2" of sediment build-up in a water heater, it uses 70% more energy to heat up the water. It is most likely costing more to keep an old water heater running than it would to replace it with a more energy efficient model. A common mistake when running out of hot water is to turn the thermostat to the highest setting on the water heater. Children and the elderly are the most susceptible to burns because their reaction time to scalding water is slower. Small children don't know how to remove themselves from the threat of scalding water either.

Third degree burn at 160F Degree water = less than 1 second

Third degree burn at 150F Degree water = 2 seconds

Third degree burn at 140F Degree water = 6 seconds

Third degree burn at 125F Degree water = 2 minutes

Third degree burn at 120F Degree water = 10 minutes

Even though it is relatively safe, exposure to 110 F degree water is painful. The human threshold for pain is around 106F degrees to 108F degrees. It is best to set your water heater at 120F degrees to 125F degrees for best effieciency and to help prevent burns. Still take proper precautions, especially with children. If you find that you run out of hot water before everyone is done showering; consider upgrading your water heater to a larger, more efficient model or add a second water heater to your existing one. The additional cost is minimal compared to a trip to the emergency room.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Water Heater Explosion Prevention

Water heaters can blow up! In the picture above is a home that was destroyed by a water heater that malfunctioned and exploded. While this is rare, it can and has happened. There are some precautions that you can take to prevent this from happening. Either on the top or side of your water heater there is a Temperature & Pressure relief valve. It detects if there is too much pressure building within the water heater and it will relieve the pressure as it becomes too great. It's important to know that water turns to steam at approximately 200 F degrees depending on pressure and steam expands to 1600 times it's original water volume. That's what actually creates the explosion.

Here's what you can do to test your T&P relief valve:

There is a small handle that lifts a pin in the center of the valve. Before testing make sure you are in a safe position where you will not be struck by the hot water discharge and that you know how to shut off the water supply to the water heater. You don’t have to turn it off but you need to know how to do it as the valve, when tested, may not reseat properly causing water to leak. If this occurs you will need to be able to shut off the water until the valve can be replaced. All you need to do for the test is lift the handle so the valve opens then release it so it closes. If the valve is frozen (it does not open or close), it should be replaced ASAP. Sometimes the valve may not set properly after testing. Open it and allow it to slam shut several times. If this works the valve is okay. If it doesn’t it needs to be replaced. This test does not ruin a valve. If the valve fails the test it was already bad and was not offering the protection you need. Regular testing may actually increase the life of the valve. Test the valve a minimum of once a year.

Note: The T&P valve should never leak on its' own. If you notice water coming out of it, it is a sign of something wrong within the plumbing system. Too much pressure is building up within the water heater or the T&P valve is broken. Contact a plumbing professional to address the problem.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mold Prevention

Here's a simple way to prevent mold from growing in your bathroom. Turn on the bathroom exhaust fan while the shower is running. It will remove steam from the bathroom and can help prevent mold from growing.
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Handyman or Professional???

As homeowners deal with economic pressure, many are looking to save money by doing jobs around the house themselves or they hire a handyman. Often, they end up with disastrous and more expensive results. Before inviting a handyman into your home, ask yourself these questions:

-Is he professionally trained?
-Has he completed schooling?
-Is he going to perform all necessary work according to code?
-Is he licensed and insured?
-Does he warranty his work?

A handyman is good for changing door knobs and light bulbs, not your plumbing.
Did you know that as of May 12, 2009, Utah law prohibits handymen from performing plumbing services?
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Monday, August 3, 2009

Plastic Water Bottles

Plastic water bottles: They are convenient, right? Everyone drinks water and it seems like a plastic bottle is the way to go. That's why the price continues to go up and so does the pollution.

If you spend $1.50 per bottle at the convenience store, you are spending 1900 times more than you would have for tap water. Even in spending less on a larger quantity pack of water at the store, the average person still spends approximately $400 per year on bottled water.

Currently only 16% of plastic water bottles are recycled (16% of 26,000,000,000+ per year). That's approximately 1500 bottles going into the trash every second. Even if all of them were recycled there is still a huge impact on polluting the environment. Over 2,500,000 tons of carbon dioxide is produced in manufacturing plastic water bottles. We use enough oil in the production of plastic water bottles each year to fuel 100,000 cars for a year.

The answer??? Water filtration in your own home. There is a variety of choices in home water filtration. Reverse osmosis is becoming very popular because it is inexpensive compared to bottled water and it is just as good or better in quality. The filtration unit is installed underneath a kitchen sink and the filtration faucet dispenser is installed on the kitchen sink. They come in a variety of different styles and finishes.

Make small changes to help keep the world beautiful. Grab a water container that you are able to re-use. Enjoy drinking your filtered water and cut out soda. This way, we can cut out soda containers and we'll be more healthy too.
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Friday, July 31, 2009

Home Plumbing Precautions

Have you ever heard of a home flooding while the owner was on vacation?

Plumbing systems are designed to give years of reliable service. However, plumbing is subject to pressure spikes and pipes do wear out. This can cause costly flood damage to your home. Next time you are away from your home for an extended period of time, turn off the water supply. It is also a good idea for everyone in your home to know where all water shut-offs are located in the event of a water leak emergency.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Toilet Water Waste

Everyone wants to save money and protect the environment, right? Here is a way that you can do your part to save water and money.

Did you know that one toilet that continues to run after flushing can waste 5-10 gallons of water per hour? That may seem somewhat small at first but after just one year that single toilet has wasted 44,000 to 88,000 gallons of water? Small and simple repairs can save this water from being wasted and keep your money in your pocket.

Here's how to tell if your toilet is leaking:
Drip several drops of food coloring into the toilet tank (This is where the water is stored for flushing. It is located behind/above your toilet bowl.). Let the food coloring remain in the toilet tank for about 15 minutes. Check the toilet bowl water and if it's clear, your toilet isn't wasting water. If you see that the coloring has entered the bowl water, you have a leak that needs attention. It's important to remember that toilet bowl cleaners that are placed in the toilet tank break down the rubber components and make your toilet more prone to leaks.

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Welcome to Robert W. Speirs Plumbing, Inc. blogspot. Visit us often for helpful plumbing tips and information. Hopefully this will help you become familiar with your plumbing system and help save you money.

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The information shared on this blog is informational only and Robert W. Speirs Plumbing, Inc. is not liable for any problems or potential problems within your plumbing system.