What you Need to Know About Kitchen and Bathroom Remodels

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What you Need to Know About Kitchen and Bathroom Remodels

Do you feel like your kitchen or bathroom is trapped in another decade? Are your décor and your fixtures dated and worn?

It sounds like it is time to consider remodeling your kitchen or your bathroom. In addition to creating a space that you’ll smile instead of cringe coming into, these remodels usually add value to your home.

It’s a win-win! Here is what you need to know to get started.

When Upgrading Plumbing and Fixtures

Is your home older? Does the plumbing support your family’s current needs and/or your plans for your remodel?

Ideally, it is cheaper and faster to be able to connect to existing plumbing.

If you have to replumb some sections (or more extensive work) recognize that will need to be factored into both the budget and the timeline.

When choosing your new fixtures, make sure to order them at the beginning of the process so that they are ready to go when necessary for installation.

Questions When you Interview Your Contractor

No question, you need to be able to rely on quality and superior workmanship to get your remodel done right.

Here are some hints on how to hire someone that will suit your needs:pro

  • Does the candidate have credentials?
  • What kind of insurance do they have?
  • How long do they think the job will take?
  • What kind of business management experience do they have (i.e. do they have a storefront)?
  • Are you able to see photos of past work and talk to past customers?
  • What is their track record for sticking to timeline and budget?
  • How do they prefer to communicate during the job?

Go with your instincts, but make sure you ask lots of questions too.

Your Planning Checklist

1. Start with your budget.

When you’ve determined what labor will cost you, move to selecting all the “parts” for your remodel: your fixtures, flooring, tiles, grout, lighting, cabinetry and so on.

2. Invest in inspiration.

Binge watch a few design shows, and you’ll quickly know what you like and what you don’t. If you can narrow down your style, in the beginning, you’ll be ahead of the game.

3. Do measurements for your space plan and sketch it out.

Are you able to use the existing footprint? Take particular care of placement of fixtures (i.e. leave enough room between fixtures and walls and countertops, etc.).

One extra tip:

Make sure that you assign the right height for things that you often use (i.e. microwave in the kitchen, toiletry niche in your bathroom, etc.).

Don’t forget storage. Make use of under sink room and corner cabinetry.

These Are the Reasons for Stinky Drains & Foul Smelling Water

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These Are the Reasons for Stinky Drains & Foul Smelling Water

While it’s true that the plumbing in your home is supposed to carry away water and other waste, that doesn’t mean that the waste is ever supposed to be perceivable to you.

If you’re detecting a bad smell coming from your plumbing, that’s not normal, and if it’s coming from the water itself, that’s even more abnormal.

There can be a lot of causes for this, but the important thing is to nail down the exact problem. Some of these issues can be solved by you quite easily, while others may require a professional response. It all depends on the nature of the problem.

If the Problem Is With Your Sewage Line

When the sewage line of your plumbing is the issue, this is one area where a professional might need to step in and help.

blocked-drainIf you’re lucky, it may still be a minor problem in which case you can clean it yourself.

For more serious issues that run the length of your sewage line, you can’t reach it—or even inspect it—without the proper tools.

Tree roots breaking through your sewage line, or a serious water pressure problems need a professional response.

If You Have Smelly Water

If the source of smell is coming from the water itself, then this affects every tap in your house, including, unfortunately, your shower or bathtub.

If you don’t want to be showering in smelly water, then you’ll probably want to look at your water heater tank to solve this problem.

Bacteria can sometimes infest water heater tanks because they provide a safe, dark, warm, moist place, which makes it an ideal breeding ground.

However, bacteria have a narrow range of heat for comfortably surviving. If you can turn your water heater’s temperature up to 135-140°F, that’s usually too hot a temperature for the majority of bacteria to survive.

If You Have A Smelly Drain

If it’s just one particular drain that’s giving you a bad smell, your problem may be that the p-trap has dried out.p-trap

The p-trap is the unusual bend in the pipes under a sink, and it is designed to hold a small amount of water.

That water acts as a vapor barrier and keeps gases from the sewer line from entering your home.

If this is the problem, all you have to do is get more water and pour it down the problem drain.

Once you’ve restored your vapor barrier with the right amount of water, you’re shielded against bad smells. This is the single most common problem for smelly drains, so we always advise trying this first.

Going Green Tips from the Experts

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Going Green Tips from the Experts

Green isn't just a buzzword, and going green doesn’t just have benefits for the environment. In fact, when you celebrate Earth Day this April 22, you'll save energy, water, the planet, and money. And we all know that more money means more freedom, more fun activities for the family, and more time enjoying life, so here are some expert plumbing tips for going green this Earth Day.

Go Green or Go Home: Targeting Your Carbon Footprint

carbon-footprint_480When people talk about going green these days, there's one underlying thread that always links the actions: reducing your carbon footprint.

This is because there's a direct link between carbon footprints and fossil fuels, which are having very detrimental effects on the environment and the global climate. To go green, therefore, is to lower your carbon footprint, which you can do by:

  • Turning off lights, gadgets, and electronics when you're not using them
  • Opting for open windows, sweaters, and line drying in place of air conditioners, furnaces, and clothes dryers
  • Replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs or CFLs
  • Upgrading to ENERGY STAR appliances
  • Insulating and protecting your house from the elements
  • Investing in clean and renewable energies
  • Reusing and recycling more

Green Tip: Modern Plumbing Fixtures

Modern plumbing means modern fixtures, and that means water conservation and going green without even trying! Low-flow and water-efficient toilets, faucets, and shower heads can do wonders for cutting your household water use, and your family could reduce water waste by thousands of gallons per year with these simple upgrades.

You'll save water with each flush, and every minute that you have the taps running, you'll save up to 5 gallons of water per minute.

Green Tip: Tankless Water Heaters

save-water_480Water heaters typically need to be replaced every 10 years or so, and when yours is up for renewal, there are plenty of reasons why you should upgrade to an energy-efficient tankless version. Let’s compare the two styles:

Heating: Conventional storage-tank water heaters expend lots of energy keeping the tank hot, and this leads to standby loss that accounts for about 20 percent of the energy they use. Tankless heaters, on the other hand, only heat water as it’s needed, so there's no energy wasted.

Availability of water: Because conventional heaters rely on a tank, there's only as much hot water available as the tank can store. With tankless, the water is heated on demand, so it will never run out.

Lifespan: Conventional water heaters last about 10 years, whereas tankless ones will last upwards of 20. Fewer replacements mean more money saved and less trash in the landfill.

Green Tip: Whole-Home Water Filtration

What does a water filtration system have to do with your carbon footprint? Well, if you currently buy bottled water, the answer is a lot. Bottled water produces millions of tons of waste that ends up in the landfill because only one out of every five bottles gets recycled.

And to compound the issue, those plastic bottles are fossil fuel products, and every year millions of barrels of oil are used to create water bottles just to meet America’s demands. If you really want to go green, put a water filter in your house instead of buying bottled water in bulk.

Call us, Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing, serving the Reno, NV area, today at 775-626-7777 to book an appointment, ask questions, or inquire about energy and water efficient options for your house.

March 22: Commemorating World Water Day

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March 22: Commemorating World Water Day

world-waterIt’s the day created to highlight the value of clean water in communities around the world. World Water Day is an event that requires us to consider how we use water and recognize that over 1 in 10 people globally doesn’t have access to clean water today.

In this latest post, we’ll take a look at the World Water Day Event, what it means for us and what you can do locally to make a difference in your own community.

Recognizing Our World Resource Challenges

The World Water Day event was created formally by the UN in 1993 in recognition of the ongoing challenges we face in meeting water requirements globally. With 1 in 3 lacking access to a clean toilet, and 1 in 10 people worldwide not having access to fresh, clean water, there is a looming humanitarian issue that must be resolved.

World Water Day has spawned regional events across the globe, as communities come together to take on one of our most difficult and pressing issues.

What You Can Do

In reviewing the challenges we face across the globe, there are actions that you can take on a global level that can help to mitigate your impact on the available water resources. Here are several options:

water-dropReduce your number of showers: Instead of showering every day, you might consider switching to showering every other day and finding other ways to freshen up. Each 10-minute shower can lead to the use of over 17 gallons of water. And this can mean that you’re wasting hundreds of gallons a week.

Speak with others on the issues: You can also make your impact on the world water crisis by speaking with others about the types of challenges we face in ensuring everyone has access to drinking water. You might consider joining or starting community groups to discuss water access challenges.

Install low flow toilets: The use of low-flow toilets can help you cut the amount of water you use with each flush by half. This will help protect local resources and limit your impact on the environment over the coming year.

Our professional team is here to introduce you to the latest low flow systems for your home. To learn more about how you can reduce your water consumption this World Water Day, contact our Reno, NV experts directly at (775) 626-7777.

Reliable Tips to Plan for Healthy New Year

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healthy-lifeReliable Tips to Plan for Healthy New Year

You rely on the water in your home for the many different aspects of your family's health. It's used for cleaning, cooking, and to keep hydrated. That's why it's critical to look at the state of your water supply and your plumbing.

Here are a few tips that you can follow to ensure the good health of your water:

Install a Filtration System

Even if your water is treated by the local water management entity, it probably still contains traces of harmful chemicals and other contaminants, including chromium, lead, barium, and manganese. Although the water is tested on a regular basis to ensure that the presence of these chemicals is within acceptable boundaries, most people would prefer to eliminate them entirely.

A whole home reverse osmosis or carbon filtration system will go a long way in ridding your water supply of toxic contaminants. And, if your water comes from a well, a filtration system is that much more essential since your water isn't tested regularly.

Empty Your Hot Water Tank

Even with a water filtration system in place, it's possible for your water to contain lead. This can sometimes happen if some of the aging lead-based solder used in the installation of your plumbing system comes loose and travels to your water heater. There, these small pieces of lead can accumulate along with other sand and grit, tainting your hot water.

To flush your water heater, shut off the water supply valve and turn the heater off. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve and place the other end in a floor drain or outside where the water can safely escape. Open the valve to empty the tank.

Then, reopen the water supply briefly to stir up any remaining sediment. Once completed, shut off the drain valve, remove the hose, refill the tank and turn it back on.

Clean the Aerators on Your Tapsleaking-faucet

Some of those tiny pieces of lead can also make their way to the aerators installed at the end of your waterspouts.

We've heard of people experiencing the symptoms of lead poisoning, despite having filtered water, because the water they used for cooking traveled through an aerator that was congested with bits of lead.

Cleaning the aerator is very simple. With a pair of pliers, unscrew the aerator and disassemble it. Using an old toothbrush, gently scrub its components, in particular, the wire mesh.

To dissolve built-up calcium deposits, soak the pieces in white vinegar overnight. You can then reassemble the aerator and install it once again.

If you'd like assistance with any of these health and safety water tips, the licensed and experienced professionals at Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing are here to help. In the Reno, NV area, call 775-626-7777 to book an appointment.

Learn all the Benefits of Low Flow and Dual Flush Toilets

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Learn all the Benefits of Low Flow and Dual Flush Toilets

As a homeowner, it’s important that you have access to the latest information on the products that can improve your property.

When you consider new improvements to the home, the products you select should offer both performance value and long-term cost savings.  

It’s part of the reason so many are now considering the latest low-flow and dual flush toilet options. In this latest post, we’ll explain the performance of low-flow and dual flush toilets, and dive more into the benefits they can bring to your home.

How Low Flow and Dual Flush Toilets Work

Without having experience in the plumbing industry, you might not have a clear understanding of the true performance value that low flow and dual flush toilets can bring to your home. So, let’s look at each product and their performance benefits.

Low Flow Toilets Limit Water Usebenefits_of_dual_flush_toilets

Low flow toilets were first introduced in the 1990s. The early systems used a 1.6-gallon tank with a limited flushing mechanism. This is likely the source behind the myth that low flow toilets don’t work effectively.

Now, the flush valve is larger on low flow toilets. Allowing for a stronger flush that rivals even toilets with exceptionally large tanks

Dual Flush Toilets Offer Customized Flushing

Dual flush toilets have been designed to give the user the option to control the flow of their flush. This means when they require a heavier flush to remove a large amount of waste, they can use the regular flush option on the system, while the low flow flush option allows the user to remove small amounts of waste in their plumbing.

This ensures that large amounts of water are not being used to remove only small amounts of waste.

save_on_water_bills_480The Clear Advantages of Dual Flush and Low Flow

Many homeowners are now discovering the benefits dual flush and low flow systems can bring to their home. One obvious example is the financial savings.

These systems can help you, as a homeowner, save hundreds of dollars on your water costs annually. And because they use less water than traditional systems, you’ll be helping to conserve local water resources ready for effective use in other areas.

Many property owners are now making a choice to turn to low flow and dual flush toilets. Now that you have the details of these systems and their performance, you can call our team directly to discuss installation.

Call Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing, serving the Reno area, at (775) 626-7777 now to speak with an experienced specialist!

Hydro Jetting vs. Snaking for the Clearest Drains

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Hydro Jetting vs. Snaking for the Clearest Drains

Maintaining the integrity of your home’s main sewer line and ensuring that there are no clogs which could cause your toilets, sinks, or floor drains to begin backing up and overflowing is an important plumbing maintenance step.

If you’ve noticed that your drains aren’t emptying as quickly as they once did, or that water is backing up from one drain as you leave another, then there is a clog present in your sewer line which needs to be resolved.

Below are the two most common methods of clog removal, and their benefits and drawbacks. Which is the right choice for you?

plumbingsnakeWhat is Snaking?

‘Snaking,' or using a plumber’s snake, is a traditional method of clog removal which involves using a long metal tube with a rod inside to get deep inside your sewer line. One end of the snake is equipped with a coil, and the other end has a hand crank. As you turn the hand crank the snake moves farther into the pipe, and the coil at the end breaks apart any clogs which get in the way.

Some benefits of ‘snaking’ are:

  • Time tested methods. Plumber’s snakes have been popular tools for a long time because they work so well.
  • Noninvasive methods. Using a snake is a “gentle” method of clog removal.

Some drawbacks of this approach are:

  •     No tree root removal. Plumber’s snakes are inefficient means of removing tree roots from your sewer lines.
  •     Limited in range. The coil can only remove what is directly in front of it, which means if your pipes are larger than the coil, some of the clogs may remain.

When Should You Use ‘Snaking’ for Clog Removal?

Snaking is ideal for homeowners who are budget-conscious, and who have old pipes which may be damaged by other, more intense, methods of clog removal. They are a good intermediary step between trying to remove a clog with a plunger and turning to a more aggressive process like hydro jetting.

Not sure what hydro jetting is? Let’s learn more:

What is Hydro Jetting?hyrojetting

Hydro Jetting is a professional plumbing technique for clog removal which involves using specialized tools to spray highly pressurized water into your main sewer line. The pressure from the water can scrape away even the most stubborn clogs, leaving your pipes clean and clear.

Some of the benefits associated with hydro jetting are:

  •     Great results. Hydro jetting will remove years of caked-on grime, oil, debris, and anything else which may have accumulated inside your pipes.
  •     Easy tree root removal. Hydro jetting is the only method of clog removal which can also eliminate the presence of tree roots from your pipes.

The downsides to this approach involve:

  •     Costs. Hydro jetting is more expensive than other clog removal methods due to the professional equipment required.
  •     Not suitable for old pipes. Older pipes may not be able to withstand the spray of water and may begin leaking as a result.

Why Should You Hire a Professional for Hydro jetting?

Specialized training is necessary to use the tools required for hydro jetting, as it can be challenging to know the appropriate amount of pressure required to solve the problem without overwhelming the integrity of your pipes.

Call Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing in Reno, NV  today at (775)-624-8378 and enjoy high-quality solutions to a variety of your plumbing needs.

It's Time to Get Your Water Heater Ready For Winter

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It's Time to Get Your Water Heater Ready For Winter

There are some telltale signs of the upcoming change of seasons: the evening air is a bit chillier, days are getting shorter, and there are some added items on your to-do list. You shouldn't overlook your water heater on that list.

By following a few simple steps, you can prepare it for the winter months and help save on your monthly energy costs.

Adjust the Temperature Setting On Your Thermostat

To avoid scalding, the suggested setting on your water heater’s thermostat is 120°F. Lowering the temperature setting not only makes your home safer, but it can also provide significant savings. You could experience as much as 5% reduction in your energy costs for every 10° lower on your heater’s thermostat.


Test the Pressure Relief Valve

The pressure relief valve, located near the top of your tank, is designed to open when the temperature or pressure inside gets too high to avoid damage or injury. You can check the valve by shutting off the power and water supply and placing a bucket under the drainpipe connected to the valve. Open the valve by lifting its tab to let some water run out.

If little or no water comes out, or if the water continues to run after you've closed the valve, you'll have to replace it. You can replace the defective valve by partially draining the tank and removing it with a plumbing wrench. The new valve can then be installed in its place.

Check the Anode Rod

Inside your hot water tank, magnesium or aluminum rod is inserted to slow the corrosion of its metal lining. By allowing the corrosive elements of water to consume it first, the anode rod provides lasting protection against rust.

Make sure the water supply valve is shut off, and the power to the water heater is also off the circuit breaker, or, in the case of a gas heater, the thermostat is on the pilot setting. Drain several gallons from the tank and loosen the hexagonal head of the rod found on the top of the tank. Retrieve the rod and replace it if it has a diameter of less than ½ inch.

Flush Out Sediment Inside the Tank

During years of use, sand and sediment can accumulate on the bottom of your water heater making it less energy efficient. To remove the residue, attach a garden hose to the drain valve located near the bottom of the tank. Place the other end of the hose in a floor drain or outside.

Turn on a nearby hot water tap to assist in the draining process and open the drain valve. Once the tank is empty, turn on the cold water intake valve to stir up remaining sediment and repeat this step until the water flows out clear. You can then shut off the drain valve, open the cold water intake, and, once the tank is partially filled, turn the power back on.

With these simple tasks done, your water heater will work more efficiently and be ready to take on the cooler weather of fall and winter.

If you'd like some assistance in maintaining your water heating system, your friends at Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing in Reno, NV will be pleased to provide the help you need. You can call us at 775-624-8378 to speak with one of our experts.

Reverse Osmosis vs. Deionized Water Filtration: the Facts

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Reverse Osmosis vs. Deionized Water Filtration: the Facts

When you’re thirsty and reach for a cool, crisp glass of water, did you ever stop to wonder why it’s so pure and tasty? A lot of that has to do with how the water is filtered.

Two of the more common methods to purify water include reverse osmosis (also known as RO) and deionized water filtration. Here is a quick and handy guide to help you compare and contrast the two systems.

Deionized Water Filtration Summarized

This method makes uses of two resin beds. As the water passes through these resins, the ions (i.e. impurities) in the water are removed using electric charges and replaced with hydrogen and hydroxide, which together form clean water, completely purified. It’s a very efficient process that produces clean water “on-demand.”

Deionized water filtration produces a similar product to distilled water (which you may be familiar with) but in a much more efficient, cost-effective way.

Reverse Osmosis Summarized

An RO system uses a high-pressure pump to push water through a semi-permeable membrane. The pores in this membrane remove contaminants from the water. It is widely believed that this method (in conjunction with the use of a carbon filter) is up to about 99 percent effective. The impurities are removed from the water and flushed away, and you are left with a crystal clear product.

Which One is Better?

Regarding maintenance, RO has the edge over deionizing. Over time, the resins will lose their charge, which makes them less useful. Although RO membranes and deionizing membranes have about the same lifespan (about four years), cleaning out the resin is a little more labor intensive.

Also, in the meantime, before you clean the resin, the quality of your water will be less. Resin beds use some toxic materials (hydrochloric acid and caustic soda) to help regenerate the resin beds. These materials will require special disposal.

On the other hand, some feel that deionized water is healthier for you because it retains some essential minerals, like magnesium and calcium. If this is a priority for you, you can accomplish this with an RO system by installing a remineralization system, which puts the “good” minerals back into the water.

Picking a quality water system depends a great deal on your specific needs, but also on the composition of the water that you are purifying. It’s important that you consult with professionals to help guide your decision. Call Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing in Reno, NV,  today at (775)-624-8378.

Useful Plumbing Tools to Keep Around the House

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Useful Plumbing Tools to Keep Around the House

Some homeowners like to fancy themselves DIY masters who can accomplish any task, great or small, without the help of a professional. For others, calling in an expert to deal with a simple problem just isn't in the budget. Others still just love the challenge of tackling problems and the sense of pride that success brings. And to be sure, with the right tools and a little information and guidance, almost anybody can fix these underlying plumbing problems that commonly occur around the house.


Dealing with Clogs

Every house should have a plunger. Any time there's a clog in your bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room, there's a good chance you can fix it with a good plunging.

Using the right process: Plunging requires a few things to work properly, and one of the most important is a good seal. Your plunger can form a seal and create the suction it needs to dislodge clogs without exploding water everywhere, there should be about two inches of water in the basin. (And yes, unfortunately, that does mean you may have to remove some water from the toilet bowl.) Also, make sure you hold the plunger vertically when you're plunging, and dive in 15 to 20-second spurts.

Sealing up Leaks

Another plumbing tool that you should have is a caulking gun because caulk can be used in many areas of the house, and it can save you money, time and energy. A caulker, or caulking gun, is what you need to apply the tacky putty that goes around windows, doors, and in bathrooms.

Caulk for air leaks: If you have any cracks in the caulking (or don’t have to caulk at all) around your doors and windows, you could be throwing away hundreds of dollars every year. Heating and cooling costs are the biggest expense on most energy bills, so leaks that allow outside air in and inside air out can make your house energy inefficient, and this is very costly.

Caulk for water: Another place that caulk is great is in the bathroom because it prevents water from getting where it shouldn’t. Not only does this stop mold from growing in cracks and crevices, but it also prevents water from eroding and damaging tiles and grout.

Addressing Loose Pipes

While a pipe wrench may not be something that you have in your toolkit, it’s worth the minor investment. In fact, there are a lot of jobs you can do on your own with a pipe wrench that you may have thought required a call to the plumber.

Replacing pipes: The purpose of a pipe wrench is to loosen and tighten pipes and fittings without damaging them, so as long as you have this tool in your arsenal, you can remove, replace, and install new pipes in your system in case of leaks or bursts.

Retrieving fallen items: Anytime something falls down the sink that shouldn’t, it gets lodged in the P-trap under the sink. With the pipe wrench, you can loosen this off, empty the trap, and retrieve whatever it was that fell down the drain. (Consequently, this is also a quick and easy way to remove stubborn clogs from your sink drains).

There are lots of things you can do around the house with the right tools, but sometimes there are problems that arise and repairs that need to be done that should only be performed by a professional. When those issues occur, Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing is here to help in Reno, NV. Give us a call at 775-624-8378 if you need emergency plumbing services, have a major leak, or need help with gas lines and boilers.