Shower Valve Types And Repairs

When repairing a shower valve there are a couple different variables to be aware of when getting prepared to do the job. First you will need to know if you have a water shutoff specifically for the shower. If you do not you will need to turn off the water to the whole house. Usually located in the basement or crawlspace. Once the water is off. Bleed the pressure out of the shower by turning on the shower and letting the pipes drain out. Keep it open until water stops flowing through. Now you can start safely without any worries.

After you’ve turned the shower off, its normal for a little bit of leakage to continue for a few seconds. But if the water continues to drip at a steady rate for more, then a minute, you should double check to make sure your water is off all the way. If your water main will not turn off all the way, give us a call and we can get a new main water shutoff installed for you!

Water Mains

When turning back on the water make sure you bleed the air out of your water lines by opening every faucet. Do not be alarmed when it spits air. This is a very important step as you do not want air building up in your water lines. Sediment could also push up into your fixtures if the line is not bled correctly.

Tools needed for most shower valve repairs:

  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Small Flathead Screwdriver
  • Pocket Knife
  • Handle Puller and or Cartridge Puller
  • Crescent Wrench

Pressure Balancing Valves

A pressure balance shower valve can provide even temperature to a tub or shower valve despite fluctuations that may occur from other water usage in the home or building. Having a pressure balance valve is even more important if you live in an apartment or condo where water is shared by several units. Or if someone doesn’t take into consideration you being in the shower!

pressure-balancing-valve

Shower valves that are not pressure balanced can be dangerous due to the threat of scalding water, especially for homes with little children or elderly occupants. Most building codes require pressure balancing valves. If you have an older home or apartment it may be time to install a new shower valve to make the shower safer and more comfortable.

A pressure balance shower valve works by maintaining a balanced outlet of water from the hot and cold side. The valve has either a balancing spool or a diaphragm inside the valve body that reacts to drops in pressure from the incoming water to the valve and adjusts the outflow of the opposite water supply to match it so that the water does not change temperature.

Sudden changes in supply water pressure will reduce outflow of water from the shower head, but it will not change the temperature.

Pressure balanced shower or tub and shower valves can come in single, double or three handle varieties, so you can usually match the existing holes in the tile or surround when replacing an existing valve.

The conversion to a pressure balance valve may require some changes in the hot and cold water supply and the shower standpipe in the wall to allow the new valve to fit.

Thermostatic Valves

Thermostatic valves usually have two controllers. One knob/lever allow you to set the volume of water flow. Another to control the temperature. The two controls allow you to have a trickle of water flow or 100% full flow of water at any temperature you choose, from cold to hot.

thermostatic-valve

You can leave the temperature set at the same place for years if that is where you are most comfortable with it and simply use the water volume control to turn the water flow on and off.

The scald setting on a thermostatic valve limits the actual water temperature to a specific temperature. You can turn your water heater way up and the Thermostatic Valve will limit the temperature to whatever the valves max setting is. In comparison a Pressure Balancing Valve controls the ratio of hot to cold water.

The difference between the Thermostatic Valves and Pressure Balancing valves is something that you may never even notice. Both valves control the temperature very well and both are safeguards for scalding.

If you live in an older house where you notice a drop in pressure out of the shower when flushing a toilet then a thermostatic valve may be the better choice, this way you will have constant temp and pressure.

The thermostatic valve is also the better choice if you would like better temperature control or if you would like to reduce the amount of flow out of the shower head throughout your shower without changing the water temperature.

Valves That Can Be Repaired

There are some valves from big box stores that cannot be repaired, these valves need to be replaced. When we are being called out to repair a shower valve we ask our customers to look on the valve and see if they can see a brand name once the brand name is located we also ask for them to take a picture with their phone and send it to us. This helps us make sure our technicians are prepared for the job at hand and can repair the valve in the best and most efficient way possible. If the shower valve is the type that cannot be repaired we can notify them the cost and educate them on the product they have in their home, that way there is no surprises. Once we have a picture of the valve we may also be able to offer a trim replacement (different color finish) if this is something you are interested in. If we don’t have a different color trim in stock you would like, we will then do the research needed to insure you get the look you are after!

Single Handle Valves

If your shower works by sliding out and turning a single handle one way or the other to control hot and cold water, you have a cartridge system. The cartridge is a plastic valve with a brass insert that turns to allow more hot or cold water to the faucet. A few rubber O-rings keep everything in place, and these can turn brittle with age. Also, hard water can cause mineral build-up that will prevent them from working and sometimes cause the valve to need replacement.

single-handle-valve

  1. Remove the shower handle by popping off the cap to get to the handle screw. If the handle does not come off easily, you will need to get your handle puller. Handle pullers can be bought at most hardware stores.
  2. Remove the retaining device. Different manufacturers have their own ways of holding the cartridge in place. It should be either a clip or spring that can be pried up with a small flat head screwdriver. Do this carefully because you do not want to lose this piece. It can be a good idea to plug your drain so you do not lose these small important parts.
  3. Remove the cartridge. If it’s stuck, use pliers and gently pull with a twisting motion. Some manufactures provide a cap that threads into the valve to aid in removal, but if its really stuck you may have to buy a cartridge removal tool. These are specific to their manufacturer. Take note of who made your faucet.
  4. Cartridges are very specific to their faucets. You need to make sure it matches in every aspect or else you will have a leak.
  5. Insert the new cartridge in the same position as the old one that you took out. It should fit securely. If you put it in backwards your hot and cold water will be reversed, be very contentious of what direction it was facing originally.
  6. Replace the retaining nut and reassemble your faucet. Turn the water back on and make sure your faucet does not leak.

Two Handle Shower

A two handled shower can be either a washer style or cartridge style. A cartridge type is repaired in the same way as a single handled shower valve mentioned above. A washer style, also called a compression type is a little different.

two-handle-shower-valve

  1. Remove the handle the same as previously mentioned
  2. Locate the bonnet nut beneath the handle and, using a crescent wrench, turn it counterclockwise to remove it. If it is sunken back behind the wall. You may need a shower valve socket wrench.
  3. After the bonnet nut has been removed, use pliers to gently turn the stem counterclockwise and remove it.
  4. Remove the screw at the other end of the stem and remove the old washer, replacing it with a new one. The replacement washer should be an exact replacement and should be coated with silicon grease or petroleum jelly.
  5. Find the O-ring and replace it with an exact replacement coating it with the lubricant.
  6. Replace the stem, bonnet nut and handle.

Note: When your shower was installed, it is possible that they cut a hole just large enough for the stem to go through. Your shower socket wrench may not fit in this hole. You may need to bore this hole out a little in order to fit the socket in.

Three Handle Shower

A three handle shower has hot and cold faucets, but it also has a diverter valve. The diverter valve is what sends the water to either the tub or the shower. If water comes out of both, it is time to fix it. The hot and cold handles are repaired as mentioned above, in the two handle guide. The diverter valve will either be a small handle on your tub spout or a handle on the wall of the shower.

three-handled-shower-valve

Tub Spout Type

  1. Using channel locks or a pipe wrench, turn counterclockwise to remove the tub spout. The old pipe should come off with it. If not, use the wrench to remove it (some spots are held on with a set screw on the bottom.) Check this before trying to turn the spout and remove it. Your Spout should then slide off.
  2. Clean the wall where the old spout was to ensure a snug fit.
  3. Your new spout should come with a new pipe. Wrap both ends in plumbers tape to ensure a good seal. (wrap the tape so that when you thread it in clockwise it wont come off.) For the end that goes into the wall a little plumbers dope can help ensure a good seal.
  4. Thread the pipe in and snug it up with a wrench. It doesn’t have to be extremely tight.
  5. Thread the new tub spout on snugging it up with the wrench. Wrap cloth or something protective around the spout to ensure you do not remove the finish of the spout with your wrench. (If it is the set-screw type) Slide it on to the pipe and tighten the screw.
  6. Apply a bead of caulk where the spout meets the wall to ensure a watertight seal.

tub-spout

Wall Type

  1. Remove the cap and handle as in the single handle guide. you may have a sleeve over yours. Gently remove it being careful not to mar the finish.
  2. To Remove the diverter valve, use the shower socket wrench.
  3. Wrap plumbers tape around the threads of the new diverter valve, leaving the first few threads bare to ensure a grip.
  4. Insert the new diverter valve and tighten it nice and snug, giving an extra quarter turn after it’s tight. Do not force it. If it doesn’t want to go it is fine.
  5. Turn the valve with the handle and test the water to make sure it only comes out of where its supposed to. This is also a good time to shine a flashlight into the valve and ensure there are no leaks.
  6. Reassemble the diverter handle

Is It Time To Upgrade?

When repairing these valves you need to be aware that it will be more difficult to turn then it was before. If you have arthritis this could be an issue for you. Before moving forward with the cost of repair, it would be beneficial to decide if you want to replace it instead of repairing it. Often times customers repair it because it is more affordable and then are disappointed when their valve is more difficult to open and close.

You might be tempted to upgrade your faucets and handles while you have them apart. (Trim Colors). This is a good idea when you already have the faucet completely apart.

Hard water may be leaving an awful residue, making your spout or shower head not only look crusty and gross, but perform poorly. The same residue can be building up in your valve, making a replacement a must. This will adversely affect your water flow and turn a relaxing shower into a frustrating chore.

Sometimes a simple upgrade of the faucets and handles is all that is needed to give your bathroom a quick face lift. You might be doing this for a sale, or you may just be tired of looking at the same old faucets day in and day out. If you’ve upgraded your shower from a plastic surround to tile or stone, you old faucets may look pathetically out of place.

The cost of upgrading your shower valve is really a long term investment. Then when it comes to selling your home it is one less thing to worry about!

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Electric Water Heaters Efficiency and Recovery vs Gas – Hard water effects

There is usually a lot of confusion about the differences between Electric and Gas water heaters. Electric water heaters cost less upfront for the unit and install than gas, but depending on your local utility costs, electric water heaters are typically more expensive in the long run. Gas water heaters generally make up for that cost difference in your utility bills, sometimes even within one year.

Gas water heaters use the heat from burning a fuel (usually natural gas) to heat water, while an electric water heater uses electric resistance coils.

water_heaters_parts_diagram1

When comparing gas vs electric water heater operating cost, its said that gas is almost always cheaper than electric. Gas water heaters typically cost about $30 a month to run, while electric water heaters run closer to $42 a month, depending on utility rates, of course. This analysis of gas vs electric water heater water heater operating costs is based partially on the fact that natural gas is typically less expensive than electricity. Assume that you already have access to natural gas in your home. Having to put in a natural gas line would add expense and mean that it would take much longer to realize any potential hot water heater savings.

Thermal Expansion

Thermal expansion is important to know about when you have a closed plumbing system in your house. A closed plumbing system is when you have a check valve installed in line, that restricts the water from back flowing into the cold side of the system. A check valve at the at the water meter or a PRV (Pressure Reducing Valve) that will make your home a “closed system”.

Thermal Expansion of water in a closed plumbing system can create a number of annoying and potentially dangerous problems. These include; the build up of unusually high pressure in a system (even when a pressure reducing valve is installed), pressure surges, and the continuous dripping of your temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P). In Addition, dripping faucets, leaking toilet fill valves are also symptomatic of thermal expansion.

water-system-expansion

More serious problems can also occur due to thermal. When dangerous pressures are built up in a water heater, internal parts may fail such as the internal flues, fittings or water connections. If a flue way collapses it can lead to the potential release of toxic gases, such as carbon monoxide into living spaces. Thermal expansion can also lead to a ruptured or distorted  hot water heating tank and may void the manufacturers warranty.

Plumbing codes require you to address this safety issue. No matter what your thermal expansion problem may be, whether for new construction or for retrofitting or remodeling an existing there are plenty of affordable options to fix these issues.

When water is heated it expands. For example, water heated from 90 degrees F to a thermostat setting of 140 degrees F in a 40 gallon water heater. It will expand by almost one-half gallon. This is because when water is heated, its density decreases and its volume expands. Since water is not compressible the extra volume created by expansion must go someplace. During no-flow period in a system, pressure reducing valves, backflow preventers, and other one way check valves are closed. Thus eliminating a path for the expanded water to flow back to the system supply. Hence, system pressure increase. This is where thermal expansion tanks and valves come into play.

Thermal Expansion Tanks and Valves

When the water is heated in a closed system it expands. Water is not compressible, therefore, the additional water volume has to go someplace. When an expansion tank is installed the excess water enters the pre-pressurized tank (set at normal house pressure). As the temperature and pressure reaches its maximum, the diaphragm flexes against an air cushion (air is compressible) to allow for increased water expansion. When the system is opened again or the water cools, the water leaves the tank and returns to the system.

expansion-tank

As the water temperature increases, the expanded water is received by the tank.

expansion-tank-2

As the water and pressure reaches its maximum, the diaphragm flexes against the air cushion to allow for increased water expansion.

Thermal Expansion Valves 

Thermal Expansion Relief Valves are used in the same circumstance as expansion tanks, but instead of expanding within expansion tank, the expansion will escape within the valve and go out through a drain port routed to your nearest floor drain. These are commonly used when there is not enough room for an expansion tank, when these fail you will see a steady flow of water going through the drain tube rather than a normal couple drips. If this problem goes unnoticed for long periods of time you will begin to waste a tremendous amount of water. So make sure you have this routed to a visible floor drain!

Anode Rods

Most water heater tanks are steel with a thin glass lining to protect the metal from corrosion. Since the lining eventually cracks due to the minerals, rust and sediment in the water. Water heaters need a second line of defense. A long metal “anode rod” that attracts all the corrosive elements in the water. These anode rods are made from magnesium, aluminum or aluminum/zinc alloy. Anode rods usually are completely corroded after 5 years, but if you have hard water and are aware of that, the rod may last as little as 2 years. This is something that can be replaced periodically and can sometimes double the life of your water heater. This little bit of maintenance can really save you money in the long run. People are often unaware that you are able to replace these rods and extend the life of your water heater!

Sediment and Hard Water

Is sediment buildup harmful? The amount of sediment that builds up in your water heater will depend heavily on where you are located. If your city water supply is filtered and you water is naturally soft with little mineral content, then you may have very little sediment, but that little amount of sediment will separate from your water once heated. Build up in the bottom of the water heater tank. In other areas you may have a large build up of sediment.

A small amount of sediment at the bottom of your water heater is not serious, and can be removed by flushing your water heater annually. This can really extend the life of your water heater because the minerals in the sediment attack the tank and cause leaks over time. A deep layer of sediment displaces water and reduces the amount of hot water available for your use. This sediment can also affect the efficiency of your water heater because the burner is then having to transfer the heat through the sediment and can overheat the bottom of the tank. Overheating can weaken the steel and damage the lining of the tank. With Electric water heaters, if the sediment covers the bottom heating element, the element can overheat and burn out. If it gets into got water circulating systems it can cause problems with the pump, valves and fixtures they are serving.

Sediment can cause noises like popping and other strange sounds as water between the tank bottom and layer of sediment turns to steam bubbles. This is a warning sign that your water heater may be on the verge of going out and you should be maintaining your system in a different way in the future. A simple flush could add years onto your water heater, this removes some of that harmful sediment that causes issues within your water heater.

Hard water will have a similar effect as sediment except picture white calcium build up instead of sediment. This can build up much faster in certain situations and will cause very similar issues. If you know your water is extremely hard then you should consider  filters, or water softeners. These can make a huge difference for all your fixtures, appliances, look of your water, and most of all the taste. These are all extremely important variables to consider that will save you money in the end. If you address these issues correctly you could increase the life span of your water heater by as many as 5 years in serious cases.water-heater-corrosion

Gas Water Heaters

Cost Less To Operate

Lasts Average Of 13 Years

Takes Less Time To Reheat Water

Works During Power Outage

Less Efficient. More Heat Loss.

Electric Water Heaters

Costs More To Operate

Lasts Average Of 12 Years

Takes More Time To Reheat Water

Won’t Work During Power Outage

More Efficient. No Heat Loss.

 

 

Boiler Problems in Conjunction with Pump Sizing and Placement

People will often have a their cast iron boilers replaced with 90% efficiency boilers to save money . When these boilers are being installed you MUST follow the manufactures recommendations for piping methods and pump placement. These are extremely important to follow strenuously or else many other problems could arise. A lot of these problems may not be noticed or show up for up to 3 years. Which often times will be as the warranty expires. The problem with these issues is when they occur they often are confused with normal problems. Such as; Temperature and pressure relief valves (TNP’s) , Expansion Tanks, Fill Valves, Zone Valves and Air Separators.

When these problems are fixed they will keep rearing their head and will start to cost a lot of money. It may seem as if this issue will never go away. This is when you need to have a skilled boiler technician come in and take an extensive look at your system. The technician needs to be looking at all variables of your system. Starting from the very beginning.

First the technician will need to make sure that your boiler is properly sized for your home. This is extremely important because if your boiler is undersized it will not properly supply your home on a day when every zone is calling (all rooms need heat). And if your boiler is over sized you will be dealing with boiler short cycling (turning off without reaching peak efficiency)  when there aren’t enough zones calling. When your boiler is over sized you also risk over heating rooms, because your boiler is then heating up the water too quickly and not able to properly monitor the temperature of water it is sending to your zones.

The next variable to look at is your how the boiler is piped and if it is to manufacturers recommendations. This is one of the problems that goes unnoticed by many installers and technicians. This is important because if its not piped correctly your hot water may be mixing before serving the zones which will cut your efficiency down and in some cases in half. Sometimes this can be pricey to fix, but this is extremely important and worth the investment. Because if your boiler is running at max efficiency you will save more money each year on your utilities. Therefore you will get a return on your investment to re pipe your system.

The other very important part of your system are your pumps. If your pumps are in the improper location they will not properly serve your zones. Often times if your pump is placed incorrectly. The water will take the path of least resistance and can mix with cold water therefore crushing your efficiency or the water may push back to your boiler and overheat your heat exchanger causing it error out on high limit. When your boiler codes out on high limit this will make it so your heating or domestic needs are not met. This can go unnoticed in heating and DHW (Domestic Hot Water) often because if you have a really big zone calling. The Boiler still be distributing enough water so that your boiler will not error on high limit. When you have a call for a smaller zone it will then create that issue. When your boiler is supplying a DHW tank this can go unnoticed because you will still have the hot water you need and your tank will still be satisfied but not in the most efficient way possible.

The problems previously mentioned will sometimes take months or even years for the problem to go noticed. Making them very confusing and frustrating for the customer and also the technician. This is something that can be very hard to explain to a customer and often times ends up being blamed on a technician. Even when the original installer can be to blame. Hydronic systems can be very tricky to dial in once installed improperly.

 

Wolverine Faucets and Product Reliability – Hard Water Effects on Fixtures -Tired of Replacing Faucets?

Wolverine Brass was founded in 1896 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They are devoted to quality products and ensuring that not only the customer is happy with their products. Wolverine not only cares about the customer but also the plumbers installing their products, they want them to be confident and stand behind what they sell.

Not only are Wolverine faucets and cartridges reliable but their drain assemblies are also high quality. They have a 17 gauge pop-up assembly, with a brass pop-up plunger and cast brass tee. This are normally in chrome with other manufactures. The chrome corrodes much quicker and is also more susceptible to leaking, breaking or chipping off.

100 Year Warranty

The ceramic disc cartridge technology was invented by their plant engineers in 1971. Their cartridge carries a 100 year, drip free warranty. They are all manufactured in Conway, South Carolina plant and every faucet is hand inspected and water tested to insure no leaks. All faucets are triple chrome-plated and use only K-copper water lines and silver soldered joints. There is also a 100 year guarantee on the finish as well! The faucets arrive wrapped and complete, no need to order handles, handle inserts or additional parts.

This is one of the best warranties in the industry and that covers everything from the finish to the cartridge! Making this one of the favorite faucets for not only our customers but also for our plumbers!

Cartridges

Often times when looking at a lavatory faucet there may be multiple different cartridges that you will need to have in stock to fix a faucet. With wolverine one cartridge fits all with single handle faucets. And one cartridge fits all with two handle faucets. This allows standardization and eliminates large and expensive inventories of parts; no cups, springs, screws, etc. This makes for an easy and inexpensive repair for the customer and plumber alike! Overall the integrity of the fixtures and cartridges are much better then most competitive brands!

Hard Water Effects On Fixtures & Pipes

Hard water is water which has a high mineral content. Two of the minerals that are particularly problematic are calcium and magnesium. These minerals find their way out of the water and bind themselves together. This becomes a scale or mineral deposit. Scale sticks to the interior of pipes, household appliances and other surfaces throughout the home. Once this scale becomes attached to something its very difficult to remove it. This is what leads to clogs and other problems within the pipes and appliances. The hardness of the water contaminated with mineral deposits is rated on a scale of 1 to 10.

While these mineral deposits cause problems in the plumbing and other places in the home, they are not a health hazard. The problem is when the calcium and magnesium makes their way out of the water they can cause havoc for all sorts of appliances from which water passes through. They also stick to basins, faucets, shower heads, tubs and tiles in the bathroom and even to your pots and pans. Once the scale deposits itself on a surface, getting it off can be a challenge.

Imagine what the scale could be doing to the cartridge and innards of your faucet! With Wolverine Brass Faucets the 100 year warranty speaks for itself! The cartridges are made to be much more durable for any water quality, and if your water quality does cause any problems, Wolverine will stand behind their product and replace what is necessary to make your faucet not only look its best but work its best! These are just some of the reasons why we recommend Wolverine Brass faucets and shower valves to all of our customers!

Septic Systems – Why is my septic tank full after just being pumped?

Many people that have septic systems are unaware of how they actually work. Knowing how they work is beneficial to knowing the proper times and ways to maintenance your system. Maintaining your septic system and leach field is very important to the lifespan of your leach field and could save you Thousands of dollars. Even as much as a dripping faucet could affect your leach field and cause harm to how the water is being distributed.

Septic systems are underground wastewater treatment structures, commonly used in rural areas without centralized sewer systems. They use a combination of nature and proven technology to treat wastewater from household plumbing produced by bathrooms, kitchen drains, and laundry.

Most common septic systems consist of a septic tank and drain field, or soil absorption field (leach field).

septic-system-diagram

The septic tank digests organic matter and separates floatable matter (e.g.,oils and grease) and solids from the wastewater. Soil based systems discharge the liquid (known as effluent) from the septic tank into a series of perforated pipes buried in a leach field, leaching chambers , or other special units designed to slowly release the effluent into the soil or surface water.

Alternative systems use pumps or gravity to help septic tank effluent trickle through sand, organic matter (peat and sawdust), constructed wetlands, or other media to remove or neutralize pollutants like disease causing pathogens, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other contaminants. Some alternative systems are designed to evaporate wastewater or disinfect it before it is discharged to the soil or surface waters.

Septic

  1. All water runs out of your house from one main drainage pipe into the septic tank.
  2. The septic tank is a buried water tight container usually made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene. Its Job is to hold the wastewater long enough to allow the solids to settle down to the bottom forming sludge, while the oil and grease floats to the top as scum. Compartments and a T-shaped outlet (Baffle) prevent the sludge and scum from leaving the tank and traveling into the drain field area.
  3. The liquid wastewater (effluent) then exits the tank into the drain field (leach field).
  4. The drain field is a shallow, covered, excavation made in unsaturated soil. Pre-treated wastewater is discharged through piping onto porous surfaces that allow wastewater to filter through the soil. The soil accepts, treats, and disperses the wastewater as it percolates through the soil ultimately discharging into groundwater. If the leach field is overloaded with too much liquid, it will flood, causing sewage to flow to the ground surfaces or create backups in toilets and sinks.
  5. Finally, the wastewater percolates into the soil, naturally removing harmful coliform bacteria, viruses and nutrients. Coliform bacteria is a group of bacteria predominantly inhabiting in the intestines of humans or other warm-blooded animals. It is an indicator of human fecal contamination.

septic-tank-diagram

Importance of Exposed Lids

It is very important to have your septic lids exposed. If you have a drain issue and a tech is there to fix your problem they may need to see exactly where your tank is and examine it to see if it needs to be pumped. This is also crucial in having your tank pumped, if your tank is needing pumped and your lids are not exposed, the pumping company will commonly tell you to call a plumber to have them locate the lids and bring them to the surface.

It is often required that your lids be exposed depending on the county you live in. There are different regulations for Accessibility for Inspection, Maintenance, and Servicing.

  • Septic tank lids shall have risers over each access manhole and all risers shall extend to or above final grade.
  • Septic tank access risers over effluent screens, pumps, siphons or other components needing maintenance other than cleaning shall extend to or above final grade.
  • Each treatment component of an OWTS (onsite water treatment system) shall be equipped with access manholes with risers that extend to or above final grade, located to permit periodic physical inspection, collection and testing of samples and maintenance of all components and compartments.
  • Riser Lids: Each riser, septic tank, or treatment component lid brought to the surface shall have a secure closing mechanism, such as a lock, special headed bolts or screws, or sufficient weight to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Components that require access for maintenance shall include but not be limited to: Submerged bearings, moving parts, pumps, siphons, valves, tubes, intakes, slots, distribution boxes, drop boxes, clean outs, effluent screens, filters, inlet and outlet baffles, aerators, treatment equipment and other devices.
  • Components shall be designed and constructed so that ,when installed, they shall be easily maintained, sampled, and serviced according to the manufacture’s recommendations. Easy physical access to treatment components by maintenance personnel and equipment shall be provided.

Without your lids exposed, you could be at risk of more cost when you need your tank pumped or have a backed up drain.

Septic Treatment Enzymes & Bacteria

The chemistry in your septic tank is very important. Therefore you want to make sure are conscious about what you put down your drains.

Toxic and hazardous chemicals should never be poured down the drains or flushed down the toilet. Chemicals such as paint, varnishes, pesticides, solvents, and caustic drain openers can kill off the enzymes and bacteria within the system and also could contaminate the ground water.

Non-biodegradable materials such as cat box litter, disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, cigarette butts, and coffee grounds are not attacked by enzymes and bacteria. Therefore these inorganic materials will decrease the capacity of the tank and must be removed.

Every effort must be made to avoid letting large amounts of grease or oils into the tank. Grease is one of the hardest organic materials to be broken down by naturally occurring septic tank bacteria. Grease and oils will combine with soap and laundry detergents to form a scum that is very hard to break down and liquefy. If possible don’t use garbage disposals because they add extra solids to the tank. These large solids combined with other solid wastes such as cigarette butts, paper towels, etc. should be disposed of in the garbage.

Limit, as much as possible, any personal care products that kill enzymes or bacteria. Mouthwash is a good example of this. You have probably heard the commercial stating mouthwash kills germs that cause bad breath. Well, if it kills bad germs (bacteria) that causes bad breath, then it will also kill the good enzymes and bacteria that make your septic tank work. Baking soda mixed with water works good as mouthwash. Baking soda does not kill enzymes or bacteria.

The same is true of household products such as chlorine bleaches. Chlorine is one of the best killers of enzymes and bacteria. These types of products should be avoided and alternative products should be used.

Additives: The additive that we most commonly like to use is The Beast BioDrain this does not affect the chemistry of your tank. The Beast dissolves organic build up, digest fats, oils, greases, organic food waste and deodorizes as it opens slow drains.

Why Leach Fields Get Saturated

There may be a day where your leach field becomes saturated. You will be able to tell because the area where your leach field is will become a swampy marsh of septic water. This is because the leach field which exists under the lawn has become so saturated that the septic water has risen to the surface. This problem can occur for a wide variety of reasons, the most common of, which is the fact that the septic tank is over filled and too much liquid is being sent to the field at one time. There are a lot of reasons why a tank can be overfilled with liquid and subsequently lead to a saturated leach field, and finding the cause of the over fill is the first step toward fixing the over saturation problem.

One common cause of a saturated leach field, is that the area has experienced a severe amount of rainfall or snow melt in a short period of time. If this is the case, the simple solution to the problem is to simply reduce the amount of water that is being sent down the system for a couple of weeks and let the ground dry out on its own. It is imperative that after this condition you take the time to introduce bacteria to the system and compliment the treatment with some sort of aeration if possible. This will help restore the natural balance of enzymes and bacteria in the soil which help to clean the waste water that is ejected to the field.

Another common cause of leach field saturation is the tank itself being over filled with water. This can occur due to a crack in the lid of the tank or the seal of the lid. This can allow rain water, water from the irrigation systems, and other liquid into the tank which can in combination with normal water use lead to the tank being overfilled. The simple solution is to have the tank pumped out and re balanced. This can be done in some cases in little as an afternoon. They can also re balance the leach field once it is dried out which will normally take a couple weeks. Just make sure again to reduce the amount of water that is being sent through the system regularly until the leach field is dried out.

If your tank is getting overfilled constantly one of the first things to look at is the tank lids and seals. If they are all sealed properly then the next thing to look at is your fixtures in your house. Do you have any dripping faucets or showers? Do you have old toilets that use a lot of water? Fixing these issues could be the solution to your tank filling too quick. This is very important to address when on a septic system because all the extra water usage could eventually saturate your leach field.

Having a properly working distribution box is key to the integrity of your leach field. Distribution boxes often go unnoticed and unchecked when dealing with a septic or leach field problem.

Lastly, years and years of sludge buildup within the leach lines themselves can contribute to slow drainage and back ups. Again, bacteria is the key here since once the system is at this stage, only replacement or remediation remains as a viable method to restoration. These are a couple things that can be done to help with the situation of having an overfull tank and saturated leach field. This is a serious problem, but not one that is impossible to deal with.

Distribution Boxes

The septic distribution box is a crucial part of the conventional drain field system. It distributes the effluent (wastewater) evenly to the drain field (leach field). They are most commonly gravity fed from the septic tank to the distribution box and then from the distribution box to the leach field.

As effluent flows out of the tank, it travels a short distance into the septic distribution box. The box, which comes in many shapes sizes, handles effluent by sending the wastewater into various drain field lines or trenches.

A distribution box is concrete or plastic structure that has a number of openings. Septic pipes fit into the openings, usually they are fit in with a gasket for the seal. The distribution box has a cover because it will be buried under ground. For this reason concrete boxes tend to work better than other kinds, because the construction is sturdier. Also a concrete distribution box is easier to find (a probe rod can locate it) and inspect.

The distribution box openings can be fitted with flow leveling devices that rotate so that some openings are higher or lower than others. This is to ensure all of the drain field lines are receiving the same amount of effluent waste so one side of the field will not become over saturated.

distribution-box

It is very important for the distribution box to work properly. An improperly working septic distribution box is a main reason for drain field failure. The equal distribution of the wastewater will maximize the life of the drain field and the entire septic system overall.

An alternate distribution method uses pipes instead of a box to send wastewater into the drain field. In using this method, watertight pipes lead to the trenches in the drain field.

There are two types of septic distribution systems, the parallel system, in which the septic distribution box sends wastewater to all the trenches at the same time, and the serial system.

The serial system sends wastewater to the first trench, then the second, and so on. This type of system has an immediate disadvantage in that it often overworks the first trench. Generally speaking, the effluent runs into the first trench until it fills up. Then it flows into the next trench, so that first drain field line tends to be full all the time. Each drain field line functions separately from the other, and theoretically, if one line works less well than another, it will receive less effluent. On the other hand, a trench that drains well will receive a great deal of effluent. The efficiency of a drain field trench depends on the soil around it, how much sunlight it receives and other natural factors.If a serial system fails, another trench can be added at the end if a landowner has room to enlarge the drain field.

Time is the main culprit in a failing distribution box. The boxes are level when installed, but weather, including flooding and freezing temperatures, can make the boxes tilt to one side. Because the box is no longer even the effluent no longer flows properly into the trenches.

The distribution box is a very important component of a septic system. Without even distribution of effluent, the drain field will be used unevenly. As trenches in the drain field become overloaded, portions of the drain field will fail. The result of a poorly functioning septic distribution box is untreated wastewater appearing on the surface of the soil of the drain field. So pay close attention to that area and make sure nothing looks abnormal!

 

 

RGF Reme Guardian Air Purification System Photohydroionization (PHI)

The Guardian Air by RGF uses Photohydroionizationin (PHI) in conjunction with enhanced UV light and is designed to eliminate sick building syndrome risks by reducing odors, air pollutant, VOCS (chemical odors), smoke, mold bacteria and viruses. The HVAC-PHI Cells are easily mounted into your heating and air conditioning systems air ducts where most sick building problems start. When the HVAC system is in operation the HVAC-PHI Cell creates an Advanced Oxidation Process consisting of, Hydro-Peroxides, super oxide ions and hydroxide ions. All are friendly oxidizers. By friendly oxidizers we mean the oxidizers revert back to oxygen and hydrogen after the oxidation of the pollutant.

The Guardian Air unit size, is scaled to accommodate the various air flow rates of different HVAC systems. Locate the air blower size in cubic feet per minute (CFM) of the HVAC system you are intending to install the system in, then pick the model number that corresponds to that flow rate. Therefore, there is a unit available to install in almost any HVAC application.

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 Germicidal UV Light vs Photohydroionization

Germicidal UV light rays have been used for decades by the medical industry as a method for destroying micro-organisms (germs, viruses, bacteria). UV light is dependable and can be easily installed in HVAC ducts or a plenums. Germicidal UV light is effective in reducing only the airborne micro-organisms that pass directly through the light rays. However, germicidal UV light has little to no effect on gases, vapors or odors.

Photohydroionization Advanced Oxidation, on the other hand, is very effective on gases, vapors, VOCS and odors. UV light enhanced by a hydrated quad-metallic compound target develops an advanced oxidation reaction that creates an Advance Oxidation Process (AOP). This process also produces hydro-peroxides, super oxide ions and hydroxides. By engineering the proper UV light wavelength, in combination with a triple function, no maintenance unit. The PHI Cell provides safe AOP to purify the air. With the RGF HVAC-PHI Cell Advanced Oxidation System, micro organisms can be reduced by over 95%. Gases, VOCs and odors can also be reduced significantly, and the room will have hydro peroxides, super oxide ion and hydroxides which will help give your room fresh, clean and odor free air.

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Hydro-peroxides Breakdown

The breakthrough in the RGF advanced oxidation technologies is a group of oxidants known as hydro-peroxides. Hydro-peroxides have been a common part of our environment for over 3.5 billion years. Hydro-peroxides are created in our atmosphere when ever three components are present: oxygen molecules, water vapor and energy (electro magnetic). REME also has the ability to super charge these hydro-peroxides or ionize them into Ionoized-Hydro-Peroxides.

Ionized-Hydro-Peroxides are very effective at destroying harmful microbial’s in the air and on surfaces. As oxidants, they do this by either destroying the microbe through a process known as cell lysing or by changing the molecular structure and rendering it harmless (which is the case in VOC’s and odors). The amount of hydro-peroxides required to accomplish this task in a conditioned space is well below the level that is constantly in our outside air. The Advanced Oxidation Technology found in RGF’s Guardian Air product family has brought the oxidants found in the outside air into the conditioned space of your home.

There is no known case of hydro-peroxides ever creating a health risk. Over the past 20 plus years RGF has more then 1 million Advanced Oxidation products successfully used worldwide without a safety problem.

hydroperoxide

Test Results

  • Tested on H1N1 Swine Flu with 99+% Kill on surfaces
  • ISO-Level 3 particulate reduction in a bio-chamber (better than HEPA Filtration)
  • 4-log reduction (99.9%) surface bacteria/virus reduction
  • Over 90% VOC reduction
  • 88% of microbes in human sneeze killed at 3 feet
  • 97% airborne bacterial reduction
  • 99% reductions of Ecoli, Listeria, Strep and Bird Flu
  • 85% odor reduction
  • 97% airborne mold reduction
  • US Military approved for mold protection in field hospitals
  • Hospital approvals Infectious Diseases – U.S. and International 99% reduction of STAPH (MRSA)
  • Major US city school reports 20% reduction in absenteeism
  • Tested and approved by the Chinese Government for protection against SARS virus
  • Approved by the USDA, FSIS and FDA for use in food processing plants
  • Fox News three-part indoor air series featured RGF and concluded substantial mold and bacteria reductions.
  • RGF’s technology has been featured on Fox, ABC, CBS, and in Popular Science Magazine.

We have installed many of these with great reviews from every customer! We are proud to be installing RGF REME products in Northern Colorado. If you would like to improve the air quality in your home today! Call Ace Hi Plumbing, Heating and Air for any of your plumbing or heating concerns!

Troubleshooting Power Vent Water Heaters

Venting

When troubleshooting a Power Vent water heater the venting often goes unnoticed even if there is an issue. The venting is so important to inspect on Power Vent Water Heaters because if they are sloped the wrong direction condensation will makes its way to the blower and damage it. Power vents don’t always form condensation, but there are a couple different variables that do cause them to condensate.

-Ambient temperature and humidity of installation location

-Ambient temperature and humidity of venting space

-Vent distance, slope, and correct product usage

-Vent has slope minimum of 1/8″ AWAY from the blower – Horizontal Applications

-Know the proper vent lengths for the model water heater (see table below)

These are the variables you need to pay especially close attention to when inspecting the venting. If you do notice an issue where the Power Vent is condensating a condensate kit is available to install. This is a Fernco exhaust adapter with a drain outlet that you pipe to the drain using vinyl tubing. An inexpensive part that will solve the condensate problem.

Check for vent blockage and determine if the vent could become clogged by surrounding vegetation. If so, consult with the home owner on a solution to make sure the problem does not repeat itself.

Its extremely important to make sure there is adequate air for combustion and ventilation. An insufficient supply of air will cause re-circulation of combustion products resulting in air contamination that may be hazardous to life. In Such conditions you will notice a yellow,luminous burner flame, causing carbon build up or sooting of the combustion chamber, burners and flue tubes with possible damage to the water heater.

Vents are susceptible to freezing and can be very easy to overlook. If the burner wont stay lit you should check to make sure there are no obstructions and investigate the possibility of frozen vent.

Troubleshooting codes and Vent Length Table

The link below includes a table to troubleshoot any issues you may have

The link also includes Maximum vent length including number of allowed elbows

vent-length-table-troubleshooting-codes-and-cause

Proper Combustion Air

Combustion air is very important for a water heater to run correctly. All different variables should be considered. When an exhaust fan is installed in the same room with a water heater, sufficient openings for air must be provided in the walls. Undersized openings will cause air to be drawn into the room through the venting and causing circulation of combustion products. A very common solution to this problem is the installation of a louvered door.

The formula to correctly determine proper openings

All air coming from inside the building: an opening must have a minimum free area of 1 inch² (6.5 cm²) per 1000 BTU (0.29 kw) per hour of the total input rating of all gas utilization equipment in the confined space, but not less than 100 inches² (645 cm²). One opening must be within 12 inches (31 cm) of the top and one with 12 inches (31 cm) of the bottom of the enclosure.

All Air coming from Outdoors: The confined space must be provided with two permanent openings, one commencing within 12 inches (31 cm) of the top and one commencing within 12 inches (31 cm) from the bottom of the enclosure. The openings must communicate directly, or by ducts, with the outdoors or spaces (crawl or attic) that freely communicate with the outdoors.

  1. When directly communicating with the outdoors, each opening must have a minimum free area of 1 inch² (6.5 cm²) per 4000 BTU (1.2 kw) per hour of total input rating of all equipment in the enclosure.
  2. When communicating with the outdoors through vertical ducts, each opening must have a minimum free area of 1 inch² (6.5 cm²) per 4000 BTU (1.2 kw) per hour of total input rating of all equipment in the enclosure.
  3. When communicating with the outdoors through the horizontal ducts , each opening must have a minimum free area of 1 inch² (6.5 cm²)  per 2000 BTU (0.6 kw) per hour of total input rating of all equipment in the enclosure.
  4. When ducts are used, they must be of the same cross-sectional area as the free area of the openings to which the connect. The minimum dimensions of rectangular air ducts must be not less than 3 inches (7.5cm)

Specially Engineered Installations

The requirements noted under the CONFINED SPACES above must not necessarily govern when special engineering, approved by the authority having jurisdiction, provides an adequate supply of air for combustion, ventilation, and dilution of flue gases.

Sequence of Operation

The sequence of operation is important to know so you can properly diagnose the problem.

Control Sequence of Operation

Start up sequence

Upon powering up, the control checks for the presence of the resistive plug, if the resistance is in the expected range the control will begin normal operation after 5 to 8 seconds.

Normal Heating Sequence

  1. The thermostat senses a need for heat.
  2. The control checks the pressure switch condition.
  3. If the pressure switch is open, the control sends power to the blower motor.
  4. The blower starts moving combustion air through the combustion system.
  5. The pressure switches closes.
  6. The control senses the closed pressure switch and starts the ignition process by providing a spark at the pilot electrode and allowing gas to flow to the pilot.
  7. When the pilot is lit the gas control senses the pilot flame and opens the main gas valve.
  8. The main burner is lit.
  9. The main burner and blower continue to operate until the thermostat is satisfied.
  10. When the thermostat is satisfied the main and pilot gas valves close.
  11. The blower operates for a short post purge period before shutting down.
  12. The water heater remains in the stand-by mode until the next call for heat.
  13. Make sure Power Vent is plugged into a grounded outlet.
  14. Make sure you have correct continuinty

Maintenance

  1. Annually check the operation of the thermostat
  2. The flow of combustion and ventilation air MUST NOT be restricted. Clear the combustion air openings of any dirt, dust, or other restrictions. WARNING! The ventilation air system may be HOT.
  3. At all times keep the water heater area clear and free from combustible materials, gasoline and other flammable vapors and liquids.
  4. Bi-annually conduct a visual check of the main and pilot burner flames to determine that they are burning properly. see Burner Flame Check. If sooting or other burner anomalies are evident, shut down the water heater by turning off the gas per the instructions listed in this manual or as listed on the water heater.
  5. Annually remove the inner door and main burner assembly to clean orifices and related parts of any dirt or other foreign material. Inspect the burner ports for obstructions or debris and clean with a wire brush as needed. Wire brush and/or vacuum clean the combustion chamber as needed to remove scale deposits and debris. NOTE: It is imperative for proper operation of the water that the inner door replaced in the original location.
  6. At least once a year, check the combination temperature and pressure relief valve to insure that the valve has not become encrusted with lime. Lift the lever at the top of the valve several times until the valve seats properly without leaking.
  7. Monthly drain off a gallon of water to remove silt and sediment.
  8. If the combination temperature and pressure relief valve on the appliance discharges periodically, this may be due to thermal expansion in a closed water supply system. Contact the Ace Hi Plumbing, Heating and Air to help correct this problem. Do not plug the combination temperature and pressure relief valve outlet.
  9. A combination sacrificial anode rod/hot water outlet nipple has been installed to extend tank life. The anode rod should be inspected annual and replaced when necessary to prolong tank life. Water conditions in your area will influence the time interval for inspection and replacement of the anode rod. The use of a water softener may increase the speed of anode consumption. More frequent inspection of the anode is needed when using softened (or phosphate treated) water.
  10. The blower has sealed motor bearings and does not require adding oil.