Category Archives: Tampa Plumbing Blog

Hybrid Water Heaters and Point of Use Water Heaters

As promised, today we will be discussing hybrid water heaters and point of use (POU) water heaters.  In recent years, hybrid water heaters and POU water heaters have been seeing a rise in popularity. We all know the two most popular types of residential water heaters are either gas or electric tank storage heaters and tankless water heaters. Both do well to serve their purpose, but they are not the only options. POU and hybrid water heaters shouldn’t be ruled out when making a decision about the water heating system in your home. This is especially true if you have high demand water usage and energy efficiency is important to you. Both offer many options and offer more function than traditional water heaters.

Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid water heaters come in different configurations with heat pumps, tanks, tankless, electric, gas, and solar. With evolving technology, new designs with a focus on efficiency and high volume water supply are being introduced. Some of the more popular and reliable brands are Rheem, Rinnai, General Electric, and AO Smith.

Tank-Tankless Hybrids

 Hybrid Water Heaters - Tank-Tankless

Standard tankless water heaters can have issues keeping up with multiple fixture demand. A storage tank heater is  good with multiple fixture demand but not with long periods of usage. Tank-tankless hybrid water heaters provides the convenience of large volumes of hot water when you need it and makes the process much more efficient. The ability to have instant hot water is  coupled with the hybrid’s ingenuity. This design Integrates a storage tank with a tankless water heater. Instead of supplying hot water directly to the fixtures, the tankless unit supplies constant hot water to the storage tank. Constantly replenishing the tank allows for longer periods of use. Complete recovery of a 40 Gallon storage tank water heater is approximately 1 hr for gas and 2 hrs for electric models. Tank-tankless hybrid water heaters recover a full tank in only a few minutes.

Installation is an easy conversion from storage tank models. There is minimal pipe work required as they are about the same size, and the hot and cold water connections are the same as standard tank units. Initial cost is higher than a standard water heater but the efficiency and convenience of endless hot water is well worth the investment.

Heat Pump-Tank Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid Water Heater - Heat Pump-Tank

Heat pump-tank hybrid water heaters are very similar is design and style of a standard storage tank water heater. The innovation with this design is incorporating heat pump technology. Utilizing heat in the air  to assist in heating the stored water translates to efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. Heat pump-tank hybrid water heaters are more than 50% more energy efficient than conventional electric water heaters. They also heat water more quickly. Most heat pump-tank hybrid water heaters ship in full hybrid mode.  This setting will primarily use the heat pump and only engage the internal elements when required.  Most models have built in timers and a control panel where you can select different operating modes. This helps to balance your household hot water needs and efficiency desires.

The general size and water connections are the same as a conventional water heater. The installation is straightforward but does require the installation of a condensation drain line. They are ideal replacements for homes in a warmer climate with basements, garages, or utility rooms. They operate best in locations with warm ambient air temperatures. As with the tank-tankless hybrid, the initial costs are higher, but that cost can  be offset by the savings on your energy bill.

Point of Use Water Heaters

Point of Use Water Heater

Point of use (POU) water heaters are similar in design to tankless units but are smaller and designed for single fixtures. POU water heaters installation options include lavatory sinks, showers,  laundry rooms,  and kitchen sinks. They are installed very near the fixture. As water travels through your plumbing it drops in temperature. POU units are very helpful when your fixture is quite a distance away from your centralized heater.  Another option is to place a POU water heater at every, well, point of use. This is ideal if you use less than 30 gallons of water a day. You heat only what you use so there is less energy used keeping large amounts of water heated.

POU water heaters generally run from the $125.00 – $250.00 range and most of them can be plugged into a standard 120 V three prong plug. Installation costs for each unit are reasonable.  So, in certain situations the purchase and install for each fixture can be comparable to other whole house water heating appliances.

What Type of Water Heater Should You Buy?

In order to determine whether a hybrid water heater, POU water heater, tankless, or just a standard gas or electric tank water heater is best for you, it important to know how much water you use in one day. How many showers are being taken? How many loads of clothes are being washed? The maximum amount of hot water you may use at once is also an important figure to factor in. To properly size an new water heater, count how many fixtures you have and determine how many fixtures may be used at the same time and for what purpose.

The best course of action is always to contact a reliable plumber to consider all these factors. .They can help determine whether a hybrid water heater, POU water heater, tankless, or a standard tank water heater is best for you. Remember, although the initial cost of hybrid water heaters, tankless, and POU units may be higher, the costs can be recovered over time through savings on your energy bill. Also, many of the high efficiency units are eligible for local energy company rebates and tax credits that can significantly offset the cost of purchase and installation.

Who’s Got Plumbing??? We all do!! So Subscribe via email in the right hand column and receive automatic notifications of new informative plumbing articles. Have a great day!!

CPVC Pipe – Benefits in Water Re-Piping

CPVC Pipe

Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride or CPVC pipes are one of the most common materials for water delivery systems in construction today. When the plumbing materials used in the original construction of homes or businesses begin to need repeated leak repairs, exhibit water pressure issues, have rust colored water, or foul smelling water coming from the taps, they have reached the end of their service life. Re-Piping the water lines in your home or business with CPVC pipe is the most cost effective and long lasting solution.

Advantages of Installing CPVC Pipe

CPVC Pipe - Advantages in Water Re-piping

  • Self Insulating with nearly no condensation
  • Pipes and fittings will not rust
  • Prohibits scale build-up inside the pipe
  • Inhibits growth of bacteria inside pipes
  • Light-weight and easy to install or modify
  • Extended service lifespan
  • Quieter flow through and less “water hammers”
  • Resilient to poor water conditions and acidic soils

Re-piping using CPVC pipe is an ideal option for the Tampa Bay area. It is resistant to the affects of the saltier air, and can even be installed directly under concrete slabs with no adverse chemical interactions with the concrete. When installed professionally with the proper CPVC pipe primer and cement, you can be assured of  leak free joints and fittings. Copper piping has a life span of approximately 50 years and galvanized pipe has a lifespan of 20-50 years, both depending on water quality, installation location, and climate.

If your home or business has reached that threshold and you have experienced the symptoms mentioned above, you may want to consider re-piping. Make sure you hire a licensed, insured, reputable plumbing company that only uses quality Schedule 40 CPVC pipe, and applies for the proper plumbing permits and inspections. Do your research, read customer reviews, and choose an experienced plumber who will walk you through the re-pipe process.

Who’s Got Plumbing??? We all do! See ya soon.

 

Plumbing Permit – The Process Explained

Plumbing Permit – Do I Need One?

Late last year we talked about why you should pull permits for plumbing repairs.  This time we will get a little deeper into the process of pulling a plumbing permit and why. Only a licensed professional, or in some cases the homeowner, can pull a plumbing permit.  As a homeowner if you are requested to pull a plumbing permit for someone who presents themselves as a professional, that person is more than likely to be unlicensed. You may get a better price for unlicensed work but that carries a risk of poor craftsmanship and even substantial fines for the property owner. It can be quite time consuming for the plumbing company and add a little cost to the plumbing services, but the benefits far outweigh the savings.

You may be wondering which services require a plumbing permit. This is determined by the individual municipalities and counties where the work is being conducted. Most of the time it is for major plumbing services like home water re-pipes, main sewer line replacements, and water heater replacements. Pulling the proper plumbing permit protects the homeowner or commercial property owner against substandard work, and creates a public record that the plumbing services were completed to local code requirements and inspected. This can be a real advantage when selling, refinancing, or insuring the property.

So yes, for major plumbing repairs you need to pull the proper plumbing permit.

Plumbing Permit – Overview

Plumbing Permit - Application

  ****** Tampa Plumbing Permit Application ******

Once the determination is made that a permit is required for the plumbing services, your plumbing contractor accesses the public property records to determine zoning, ownership, and property descriptions that are required by the permitting authority where the property is located.  Some require that the plumbing permit be posted at the job site, many do not have this requirement. Additionally, if the work requires a permit and the value of the work is $2500.00 or greater, another legal document known as a Notice of Commencement (NOC) is required. This is a notarized document that certifies that the work was done with the knowledge and authorization of the owner or the owner’s representative. It is recorded with the County Court and a certified copy of the NOC is delivered to the appropriate building department to be attached to the plumbing permit. Only then will then the permitting authority allow the property to be inspected and the permit to be finalized and closed.

Plumbing Permits  – Step by Step

  1. Plumbing services that requires a permit are identified and an internal company request is made for a plumbing permit to be pulled.
  2. The plumbing company permit specialist researches the property in public records and gathers the necessary property information.
  3. An application is filed by the plumbing services contractor or their agent. This may be in person or online depending on the permitting authority.
  4. If the plumbing permit requires a Notice of Commencement (NOC), the permit specialist prepares this legal document and secures the notarized signature of the owner or authorized person for the property.
  5. The document is hand delivered to the county courthouse for recording and to secure a certified copy.
  6. The certified copy of the NOC is delivered to the building department to be attached to the plumbing permit and an inspection can now be scheduled when work is completed.
  7. When the plumbing service is complete and ready for inspection, a date is set for the inspection. No permitting authority allows a specific time of day for appointments so the owner or a designated person may need to be available all day on the day of inspection if access to the interior of the home is required.
  8. The inspection is completed and passes, or approval is withheld if even one criteria needs attention. If so a follow up inspection is scheduled to complete the job.
  9. When the job is complete, the plumbing company’s permit specialist follows up to verify approval and all necessary paperwork is completed.

So there you go.  And remember, if a plumbing company indicates that a permit needs to be pulled, it is not as a means of making more money.  It is so the consumer is protected and will have the peace of mind that they received quality craftsmanship and the work is done to local codes. If you have any questions leave a reply and I will update the post to answer.

Who’s Got Plumbing??? We all do! See ya soon.

Water Heaters – Residential Guide

A Guide to Residential Water Heaters

Today we will be talking about the two most common types of residential water heaters. Conventional storage tank water heaters that most of us have in our homes, and  tankless water heaters that have become more popular in the past few years.  Both of these types are whole home water heaters that can supply hot water to all fixtures in your home simultaneously.

Water heaters can account for well over 15% of residential energy costs. Choosing the right style and energy source for your household needs is an important decision. The efficiency of water heaters varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, model, and fuel sources.

Storage Tank Water Heaters

The most common type of water heater is the storage tank style that we are all familiar with. They store large amounts of heated water for use when needed.  A small initial investment is needed and they have economical operational costs over time. Energy sources for storage tank water heaters include electric, natural gas, or  propane. (Note: natural gas and propane water heaters require additional venting for safety). Since water heaters can be installed in a closet, garage, basement, or even an attic, there are multiple styles and capacities to choose from to fit your usage and placement needs.  Residential storage tanks range in capacity from 20 to 80 gallons.

For households with:

Water Heaters - Residential Gas

***Vented Natural Gas Water Heater***

1 or 2 people, a 20-30 gallon tank is recommended.

2 – 4 people, 40 gallon tank is recommended.

3-5 people, 50 gallon tank is recommended.

5 or more, 60 gallons or more is recommended.

Short or “low boy” tank styles have a larger circumference and shorter height. They are ideal for placement under cabinetry, on shelving in a utility room, or in an attic.

Medium tank styles are smaller in circumference than the short style and taller in height.  These are the most common tank style and are ideal for larger spaces like garages, utility rooms, and basements.

Tall tank styles are taller and thinner than the medium style. This style is for installation in tight spaces like a closet, small utility room, or to save space in a smaller garage.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless Water Heater

Tankless Natural Gas Water Heater

Tankless water heaters are becoming more popular, especially for condominiums and smaller household with only one or two people. Tankless water heating systems heat water on demand using a natural gas or propane burner (Note: natural gas and propane water heaters require additional venting for safety), or an electric element as it passes through the water heater. They require a larger up-front investment that can be recovered over time by eliminating the energy costs related to keeping a large tank of water at a consistent temperature. Tankless units can save up to 30% of your monthly energy costs related to heating water for your home.

Tankless water heaters are compact units that can easily be mounted on the outside wall, in a garage, or utility closet. Some tankless water heaters come equipped with waterproof remote controls. These allow adjusting the temperature as needed. You might want 120°F when running dishwasher, 104°F for kids bath time, then back up to 110°F to fill the tub for a relaxing soak.

To properly size the tankless hot water heater you will require, you will need to calculate the maximum amount of hot water your home may use at one time. This is known as the flow rate. Flow rate is determined by how many fixtures you expect to be using at the same time, the type of fixtures (kitchen faucet, shower faucet, dishwasher, etc.), and size of supply piping. Contact a licensed plumbing company to assist you in determining the correct flow rate required to properly size the tankless water heater in your home. Remember to always be a smart plumbing consumer. Research the plumbing company before you hire them by checking out their reviews on their website, their BBB ranking and their reviews on Google +.

Other Water Heating Options

There are other water heater options for your home. Hybrid systems employ elements of the storage tank design with the addition of a heat pump to increase hot water production and efficiency. Another type are point of use systems. These systems are smaller, individual water heaters that are installed near the specific locations hot water is required. Point of use units are usually used to supplement a tank or tankless system. Keep an eye out for a follow up post where we will delve further into the hybrid water heaters and point of use water heaters.

Who’s Got Plumbing??? We all do!! So Subscribe via email in the right hand column and receive automatic notifications of new informative plumbing articles. Have a great day.

Flood Prevention – Plumbing Technology

Flood Prevention Technology

Flood Prevention - Plumbing Technology

Automatic Flood Prevention Shut Off Valve

Flood damage to a home or business is  very costly and disruptive.  Troublesome insurance claims, hiring a dry-out service, repairing damaged walls, preventing mold growth, and various other inconveniences. Avoiding these hassles with the flood prevention technology available on the market can help in a major way.

According to many insurance company websites the #1 insurance claim for nearly all of the zip codes in the Tampa Bay area is “sudden and accidental damage caused by a water source. This includes broken pipes or drain failures”.

Up to 250 gallons of water per day can be released from a pipe leak with only a 1/8 inch crack. That is a lot of water and a lot of damage from such a seemingly small problem. Just imagine how much water could rush into your property if one of your water heater supply lines fails, or a supply hose to your  toilet bursts.

Types of Flood Prevention Devices

Alerting a property owner to a water leak can take several forms.  Some are individual alarms and shutoff valves for each appliances or fixture.  These are effective, but can be costly to install and maintain to protect your entire home or business.  Another type are individual flood prevention sensors placed around possible leak sources that sound an alarm when excess water is detected. These are also effective but someone has to be around to hear the alarm. They also require  the knowledge to address the issue promptly and properly.

The best in flood prevention technology are leak detection sensors coupled with an automatic shutoff valve. These units are installed on the incoming water supply line adjacent to the manual shut-off valve. Place the sensors near possible leak sources such as washing machines, sinks, water heaters, toilets, dish washers, refrigerators, as well as various water supply valves. When the flood prevention sensor detects excess water it sends a wireless signal to the shut off valve which in turn shuts off the water automatically.  This can save you thousands of dollars in repairs and hassles. Two popular brands are WaterCop and FloodMaster.

In conclusion, if you have an interst in this type of system for your home or business; contact a licensed local plumber for more information. Also, check with your insurance provider as they may offer policy discounts for properties with flood prevention systems installed. These discounts can offset the cost of installation.

Who’s Got Plumbing??? We all do!! So Subscribe via email in the right hand column and receive automatic notifications of new informative plumbing articles. Have a great day!!

Find a Good Plumber – 8 Simple Steps

Tips on Picking a Good Plumber

How to Find a Good Plumber - 8 Simple Steps

As a 24 hour plumbing company we take a LOT of calls from customers who are cautious and a little distrusting when they call looking for a good plumber. Service providers who visit your home require a higher level of trust and comfort than the dry cleaner or computer store that you visit on their territory. Many times customers will insist on a getting a price for plumbing services over the phone. Because they want the reassurance of price comparing when shopping for services, customers will call multiple plumbers. This is a valid method for shopping for many items and is a practice I have used many times myself. However, plumbing problems can be very complex and nearly impossible to accurately price over the phone.

A good plumber will want to examine the problem and arrive at a true diagnosis. They can then give an accurate written estimate for the plumbing repair service. Therefore, any price you get on the phone is a vague estimate, not a firm price. Additionally, if you use this technique for plumbing services you are putting yourself at the mercy of unscrupulous companies. They will low ball you on the phone just to get their “foot in the door”, and raise the price once they are in your home or business. The best way to be a smarter plumbing consumer is to do some research in finding a good plumber before you need one. This will help to avoid making a  panicked call to to get your plumbing issue fixed by the first plumber that can get to your home or business.

8 Simple Steps to Finding a Good Plumber:

  1. Visit a few local plumbing company websites and look for informative content.
  2. Research the company owner. Is it a faceless chain or local family owned business?
  3. Be sure they are a licensed, bonded, and insured plumbing company.
  4. Insure they provide binding, written estimates explaining the plumbing repairs.
  5. Insure they guarantee their work and the warranties are written on the estimate.
  6. Read their reviews on their website, and sites like Google+ and Home Advisor.
  7. Check the Better Business Bureau website for the plumbing company’s rating.
  8. Make sure there is no trip charge, estimate charge, or fuel charge.

In conclusion, a little research can go along way in finding a good plumber. It can give you the peace of mind you are looking for when you have a plumbing issue in your home or business. Once you have the information and assurance through your research, pick the plumbing company that you are most comfortable hiring. A great place to start your research are local plumbing companies and not the big name-brand chains.

Who’s Got Plumbing??? We all do! See ya soon.

Bidets – Plumbing Upgrades

Benefits of Installing Bidets

Benefits of Installing Bidets - Plumbing Upgrades

** Standard Toilet with Traditional Faucet Style Bidet **

I did some research on bidets recently for one of our Tampa plumbing customers. They wanted two bidets installed in their existing bathrooms. They prefer that method of personal hygiene and wanted the best options available.  From what I found there are many bidet styles available. From stand alone fixtures, accessories that compliment your existing toilet, or very advanced systems that are integrated into the toilet seat itself. Although not as common in  the United States as in other parts of the world, bidets are becoming more popular in the United States.  Senior citizens and people suffering from any number of injuries and ailments find a bidet easier to use rather than twisting and reaching using conventional toilet paper. In addition, bidets can reduce skin irritation in a very sensitive area.

Environmental Benefits

Integrated Toilet Seat Bidets

**Toilet Seat with Integrated Bidet**

The environmental benefits are also a big attraction in switching to a bidet. Bidets are more in line with “green” living as they reduce the amount of paper products used in your home.  By some estimates we use over 30 billion rolls of toilet paper a year in the U.S. alone. This translates to over 10 million trees and billions of gallons of water. Not to mention the innumerable gallons of chemicals used in the process of turning trees in to soft, convenient rolls of toilet paper. Bidets also make for healthier sewer lines as there is less paper product to cause clogged drains.  So, take an environmental stand, enjoy more comfortable hygiene experience, and experience fewer toilet and drain clogs. Look into investing in a bidet today.

If you are in the market for a bidet or would like to know more about plumbing upgrades for your Tampa Bay area home please contact a local Tampa plumber today.

Who’s Got Plumbing??? We all do! See ya soon.

Plumbing Permits – The Legal Side of Plumbing

Why Pull Plumbing Permits?

Just spent the better part of the morning and afternoon pulling plumbing permits for some of our upcoming jobs in the Tampa and the Brandon areas. Plumbing projects like home re-pipes, drain replacements, sewer line replacements, and water heater installations require plumbing permits.  Most of all, the municipalities require them  to protect the consumer.

Plumbing Permits

Natural Gas Rheem Water Heater 

If you contract an unlicensed handyman to complete these types of plumbing jobs for you it can cost you. Code enforcement fines, hours of your time, thousands of dollars to repair shoddy workmanship, and out-of-compliance repair can result. In addition, worker injury and damage claims become the property owners responsibility. Lawsuits are always a possibility if unlicensed contractor accidents occurs on your property.

Rather than taking the chance, the plumber you hire should be licensed, insured, and bonded. They will have the ability to handle all of the permitting and inspections required by your local city, county, or municipality. Furthermore, this will alleviate your responsibility for worker injury. Licensed plumbing companies are required to carry workers compensation insurance. While pulling the proper plumbing permits may cost a couple extra dollars and some time at the permitting office. Consumers will have the peace of mind they deserve when hiring a service provider and investing hard earned money in a home’s plumbing  system.

Professional Plumbing Repairs

If you are looking to complete some major plumbing upgrades or repairs make sure to always hire a licensed, insured and bonded plumbing company. They will have experienced plumbers that are trained to comply with all local building codes. For absolutely professional plumbing work, whether it be sewer repair, home re-pipe, 24/7 emergency plumbing services, or just day-to-day plumbing maintenance contact a fully licensed local plumber.

Finally, more information on the permitting and inspection process, read our post on the plumbing service permitting process.

Who’s Got Plumbing??? We all do! See ya soon. 

High Water Bills – Why is My Water Bill so High?

High Water Bills Can be the First Sign of Plumbing Problems

High Water Bills - Water MeterHave you been getting seemingly high water bills lately? It could be a sign of an undetected pipe leak or issues with the faucets, toilets, and valves in your home. Being aware of your water usage is good way to monitor the health of your water supply pipes and fixtures. A high water bill is often the first sign that you have a plumbing problem.

Unusually high water bills are almost always an indication of  undetected leaks in your water supply pipes, dripping faucets, or toilets that are slowly but constantly running. In addition, homes with concrete slabs may have pipes leaking under the foundation. Since, this can erode away the sub structure and cause extensive damage it should be addressed immediately.

Older properties with copper or galvanized steel pipes are especially susceptible to corrosion and failure. There are many instances where property owners have had this problem. They lose hundreds of thousands of gallons of water beneath the slab and don’t know it. As a result they receive a water bill in excess of $1000. The local water departments rarely have mercy in these cases.

Plumbing Inspections & Repairs

If you suspect you may have a leak contact a licensed plumber to diagnose the issue. They can inspect your plumbing for obvious signs of failure. They can also pinpoint hidden leaks using ultra-sonic leak detection devices. After discovering the source of the leak the plumber can best advise on the method of repair. Based on the age and type of pipe,  a whole water house re-pipe may be recommended.

Furthermore, it is a good idea to have a plumber inspect your home every couple years. This will help avoid problems that may cause costly damage to your home. Upon inspection the plumber will check the condition of your water supply pipes, drains, water heater, valves, and faucets. For a complete inspection they can also check the condition of your sewer lines via video inspection. Like they say: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  Remember to always hire a licensed, insured, and bonded plumber to have the peace of mind and guarantees your local “handy man” will not be able to provide.

Who’s Got Plumbing??? We all do! See ya soon.