The Evolution of Plumbing

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Home Maintenance

06Throughout our lives, we spend significant time thinking about where we want to live, dreaming about what type of house we would like to own and imagining how we would furnish it. But many of us don’t focus on how much work and money it will require to maintain a home once we finally have one.

Financial and real estate experts advise homeowners to expect maintenance costs to run between 1 and 4 percent of a home’s value each year. The cost of home repairs covers tasks such as lawn care, roof replacements, basic appliance repair and even paint and floor-covering maintenance. And although home repairs can be unexpected, you can mitigate some unpleasant surprises by staying organized and current with routine maintenance.

As with any home organization project, there are different ways to approach keeping track of maintenance and improvement projects. Don’t deliberate for too long about which option is best; choose one that will work for you and get started.

Low-tech options include creating files or a binder where you keep all of your home-maintenance receipts in chronological order or by category. Categories may include outdoor maintenance, appliances, HVAC, furniture and floor coverings. Create files with names that make sense to you and be sure to put all relevant paperwork, including warranty information, from repairs and purchases inside. This way, you’ll be able to reference documents to see the date, cost and vendor for all of your repairs.

If you don’t want to pull out files each time you need to find a record, you can also keep track of repairs by creating a Word document or Excel spreadsheet that you update each time an appliance gets serviced or something is replaced.

There are several websites that provide online checklists for home-maintenance projects. These are especially helpful for those of us with little knowledge about all the details we should be checking as a homeowner and on what schedule.

We always think we’ll remember when the dishwasher was last broken or when we installed that new water heater, but then never have a clue when we actually need to know. Make sure you update your records regularly to keep the information current. One advantage of spreadsheet tracking is that you can sort by date and, with a quick glance, look at what maintenance is coming due. If you have any maintenance plans, such as an annual HVAC plan or quarterly pest-control visits, be sure to include those approximate dates in your tracker.

Black and Decker’s “Home Planner and Logbook” provides a ready-made template for keeping all types of information related to your home. The book has room to record all of your maintenance information, as well as tips for managing almost every detail in your house.

If you prefer to track maintenance projects electronically, reminders apps and calendars on your phone or computer work well and can be especially helpful for things that require regular maintenance, such as changing the filters for your HVAC system and switching out water-purifying cartridges for your sink or refrigerator. To stay on schedule, buy enough cartridges and filters for at least one year so you don’t have to go to the store each time you get a reminder. And while you’re at it, keep a regular stock of the most common lightbulbs in your home.

Not surprisingly, there are also several apps that can help you track home-maintenance jobs and expenses. HomeZada allows you to personalize your home-maintenance schedule and keep track of documents and costs for repairs. Evernote lets you create and organize your maintenance routines, download manuals for your products and send yourself reminders.

Keeping track of home-maintenance projects requires attention to details that many of us would rather ignore. But it’s important to maintain accurate records to ensure that you’re caring for your investment properly and so that you’re not wasting money along the way. If you sell your home one day, you will also have a convenient and up-to-date record of major maintenance projects, such as a roof or appliance replacement, that can be a big selling point to buyers.

Tips to Prevent Shower Clogs

showerEvery morning, you rush out the door to get to work on time. When you run late, you don’t even have time to shave or do your hair, so you certainly don’t have time to deal with a clogged shower drain. The best way to fix a clogged shower drain is to prevent it from clogging in the first place.

Here are some tips and tricks to prevent shower clogs, and what to do if you do see a clog.

1. Use a Hair Catcher
You’ve probably noticed that hair is the most likely culprit for shower clogs. Since they’re thin and
long, strands of hair can easily wash down your drain, where they clump together and form a stubborn blockage.

Some people try to avoid clogs by setting stray hairs aside as they wash their hair. But even if you pay close attention to your hair, you can’t prevent every strand from falling down the drain.

To block hair clogs, purchase a hair catcher. This device sits on your drain so hair and other debris land in it rather than down the drain. To clean the hair catcher, you simply empty it into the garbage every once in a while.

2. Flush All Drains
Another creative way to prevent hair clogs is to flush all your drains at once, sending a cascade of water to clear up the hair and debris. You’ll need several people to help you with this task.

First, close all your bathtub and shower drains and sink drains, and fill each tub or sink with warm
water. Next, make sure someone is standing next to every drain and toilet in the house. Everyone should open all the drains at the same time, and then flush all the toilets in the house at the same time.

3. Use Natural Solutions
If you do notice a minor blockage in your shower drain, there are a couple of tricks that might remove it. First, see if you can remove the clog with a bent wire or with your hands. If you can’t, you’ll need to loosen the clog.

Rather than use harsh chemicals, you can try one of the following to loosen the clog:

  • Pour boiling water down the drain. Then turn on the shower on a warm setting for about five minutes.
  • Pour one cup of bleach into the drain at night. In the morning, run the warm water for a few minutes.
  • Pour ¾ cup of baking soda and ½ cup vinegar down the drain. Plug the drain for about 30 minutes, then
    pour boiling water down the drain.

Now, shine a flashlight down the drain to see if the clog is removed.

4. Use a Plunger
If you tried one of the natural solutions with no luck, try plunging your shower drain. Fill the tub with a small amount of water. Place the plunger over the drain, and then plunge the drain several times.

5. Call a Plumber
If these techniques don’t work, and the clog doesn’t improve, call an experienced plumber.

The plumber will use a piece of equipment called a plumber’s snake.  The plumber’s snake is a long, steel cable with a hand crank. The plumber sends the cable down the drain by turning the hand crank. As the plumber’s snake moves down the drain, it breaks up obstacles in the way. It also scrapes the walls of the pipe to remove oil and minerals. Finally, it can snag certain pieces of debris, which will come up when the plumber removes the plumber’s snake.

Don’t let shower clogs ruin your day. Try a few tips above, and if you can’t clear the clog on your own, call a local plumber to get rid of it for good.

Ways to Conserve Water

According to Washington State’s Department of Ecology, we have a better water supply in 2016 than we did in 2015. Even so, it’s important to pay attention to how much water we use. Along with helping the environment, conserving water can save you money on utility bills.

Follow these tips and do your part to prevent drought:

Fix Leaks
Has your kitchen faucet dripped for months, but you’ve put off getting it fixed? That small drip can waste up to twenty gwaterallons of water a day!

Hiring a Certified Plumber
Even if you haven’t noticed leaks in your home, they may be hiding where you don’t expect. Check your water meter and don’t use any water for two hours. Now, check your water meter again. If the number has changed, call us to check for hidden leaks.

Upgrade Your Toilet
Older toilets use anywhere from 3.5 to 5 gallons per flush-much more water than necessary. Today’s EPA-certified toilets use just 1.1 gallons per flush. You can also choose a toilet with a dual-flush feature, so you have the option of flushing with less water when practical.

We would love to talk with you about installing a modern toilet with environmentally friendly features. You’ll conserve water and enjoy your contemporary toilet.

Don’t Leave the Faucet Running
Many people leave the faucet running while they brush their teeth, wash their hands, or do the dishes. However, they could easily turn it off while performing these activities. For example, you could wash your dishes in a full sink of soapy water rather than using new water for each dish.

Use Your Trash Can, Not Your Toilet
Flushing garbage down the toilet is a quick way to get rid of it. But do you think about how much water this takes? Each time you flush a diaper, a cigarette, or a wrapper, you use up to five gallons of water. Plus, these items can clog your toilet. Avoid a sticky scenario and use your trash can instead.

Wait for Full Loads
If you run your dishwasher or clothes washer every time you want a wash a few items, you use a lot of water. Wait until you get a full load before running your washers. Think about it: running your dishwasher just once a day rather than twice a day can cut your dishwasher’s water use in half!water1

Install Low-Flow Shower Heads
Many shower heads create a larger water supply than you actually need. Why not reduce the amount of water that blasts out of your shower head? With a low-flow shower head, you can still enjoy a warm shower while cutting your water bills.

There are also other ways to conserve water while you shower. For example, you could use water only for rinsing and turn the water off while you scrub.

Water Your Lawn Less
Many homeowners make the mistake of overwatering their lawns, which can actually damage your grass. Your lawn only needs about an inch of water a week. With our frequent Seattle rain, you may not need to water much at all.

During dryer summer weather, you still don’t need to water every day. Rather than sprinkling your lawn each day, give it a deep soak once a week. This allows grass roots to fully absorb the water.