Tips for Avoiding a Clogged Sink at Home

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How To Keep a Sink Free From Blockages

Anyone who's owned or rented a home knows how frustrating clogged sinks or drains can be. Worse, it can happen relatively frequently. The plumbing system is filled with extremely narrow pipes, making it incredibly easy for a clog to form, so it is important to understand how to prevent this from happening.

Taking the necessary steps to avoid clogs will save a plumbing system in the long run and save money on repairs and damages to the home. The trick is to do these things often. If drains get cleaned once a week, they are less likely to experience clogs.

Continue reading for more about tips to avoid clogged sinks.

Cooking Grease Is a Sink's Worst Enemy

cooking grease Ira HansenThe problem with pouring cooking grease down a sink is that the grease solidifies once it cools down. Once the grease solidifies in the pipes, it is nearly impossible for water or anything else to get through.

Ideally, hot water will allow the grease to make it farther in the plumbing system and away from your home. But grease in the plumbing system is still grease in the plumbing system, no matter how much hot water is poured along with it. The grease will eventually reach a cooling point and solidify somewhere else in the plumbing system.

The best thing to do with cooking grease is to pour it in a cup and then throw it away once it cools down. Doing this will keep the grease out of the plumbing system entirely.

The Proper Way To Use a Garbage Disposal

garbage disposal Ira Hansen
With a garbage disposal installed in the home, it feels like anything is fair game. However, this is not the case. Homeowners should still be mindful of what they let go down the drain.

Some things that should never be thrown in the garbage disposal are:

    Cooking grease
    Coffee grounds
    Seeds and pits
All of these things will quickly cause problems for the garbage disposal. It is also important to have the water running before and after using the disposal. Water helps the blades perform their best without getting dulled down or locking up while trying to cut through food.

And garbage disposals can't handle everything thrown in them all at once. This can easily overpower the disposal and cause it to break. The garbage disposal is there to chew through the scrap food left on the plate after most of it has already been scraped into the trash can.

Investing in a Drain Stopper

drain stoppers Ira HansenA drain stopper is something placed in the drain to help catch leftover food scraps. They can be made from metal or rubber, and work to keep your plumbing system free from clogging longer.

The best thing about drain stoppers is that they can catch even the smallest stuff. Some drain stoppers have a metal net rather than holes, which ensure they catch things as small as coffee grounds.

That said, drain stoppers need to be cleaned frequently. It is best to clean it after every use to ensure it stays as clean as possible. If not, food will start to stick to the stopper and become a breeding ground for germs.

Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing Are There When Needed

The professionals at Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing know the plumbing industry. Homeowners can count on them to provide excellent service, not to mention great advice when needed. Don't hesitate to call for any plumbing help!

Prevent Health Issues Caused by Unclean Water by Calling a Plumbing Superhero

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Prevent Health Issues by Calling a Plumbing Superhero

Having access to clean water is something that many of us take for granted throughout the day, from the time we wake up in the morning and make our coffee to the time we brush our teeth before bed, and even in the middle of the night when you wake up for a glass of cold water.

But how often do you stop to think how important that water is, how it gets to your home, the people who are responsible for getting it there, and what would happen if that water weren't clean and trustworthy?

How You Can Conserve Water in Your Reno, NV Home

One of the most important things you can do to conserve water is to inspect for leaks regularly, because leaks can waste thousands of gallons of water every year if unaddressed. Check your faucets, toilets, hoses, and appliances for signs of problems, and check walls, floors, and ceilings for signs of water damage.

To check for leaks when you can't see any, take a note of your water meter reading, don’t use any water for two hours, and then check the meter again. If there's been a change in the reading, you’ve got a leak somewhere. Other things you can do to save water include:

Conserve Water1. Replacing water-using appliances, fixtures, and faucets with low-flow and water-efficient ones.

2. Taking shorter showers and not running the water when you're brushing your teeth or washing your hands.

3. Insulating your hot water pipes and tank.

4. Planting drought-resistant plants and using a rain barrel to collect water for the garden.

5. Buying a filter for your tap instead of bottled water.

6. Only running the dishwasher or washing machine when you have a full load.

Why Water Conservation Is So Important, and the Role Plumbers Play

Around the world, there's a shortage of safe drinking water, and billions of people are affected by this water crisis. The availability of clean water in our homes isn't something we should take for granted.

This resource is necessary to both life and health. While you may not immediately think about plumbers when you consider the people to thank for your water, plumbers do play a vital role in the water cycle.

Without plumbers, there wouldn’t be any pipes to bring clean water from the source to your house, water could become contaminated along the way, and things like blockages and leaks could prevent water from getting to you.

What Would Happen if You Didn’t Have Access to Clean Water?

There are many things that can contaminate water and make it unfit for drinking, including heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, bacteria, viruses, nitrates, and more.

The side effects from drinking contaminated water depend on a variety of factors, including the nature of the pollutant, your age, your immune system, and other medical factors like whether you're pregnant or are undergoing chemotherapy.

Symptoms can include things like gastrointestinal problems (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea), neurological problems, organ failure, respiratory distress, aches, pains, weakness, and more. In general, our lives depend on having clean water to drink, cook with, and clean with, and if the water we rely on for these things were to be contaminated, lives could be at risk.

Clean water may be something we take for granted, but it’s important to understand where it comes from, how it gets into our homes, and how vital it is in order to appreciate this priceless resource. And on top of being appreciative of the plumbers and other people who help bring water into our homes, it’s also important that we each do our part to conserve the clean water that we do have

Interesting Facts About the History of Indoor Plumbing You Should Know

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Interesting Facts About the History of Indoor Plumbing You Should Know

These days, for homeowners and other residents, water is just about the easiest thing in the world. You turn a tap, and hot or cold running water comes out. It’s even safe to drink or cook with.

And if you use a toilet, it’s the same deal; a simple flush and the waste is gone, you don’t even have to think about it anymore.

That ability to “fire and forget” is the result of a complex network of pipes, heaters, pumps, filters, and other indoor plumbing technology that’s been carefully designed to work without you ever needing even to see it.

While it’s easy to trust and rely on today, it took us thousands of years of engineering progress to get to this point.

Water Is Civilization

For the ancient Egyptians, access to water wasn’t a matter of convenience; it was critical to survival. The Nile River was the only source of reliable water for this culture, but it was impossible to have homes and farms all hugging the shore of the river.

The invention of clay pipes allowed the Egyptians to carry water further inland. It even helped to advance their metallurgy as they discovered the usefulness of copper for pipes, a material that is still in use in some plumbing even now.

The Romans took this to the next level, building massive aqueducts that carried more water even further. But they had a breakthrough when they built their aqueducts to branch out, allowing water to flow directly into specific homes for the first mass indoor plumbing project.

Then they went further, taking hollowed out elm logs and using them as a pioneering experiment in sewage management to better carry waste out of populated areas.

Advancement Is Not Guaranteed

Most science and engineering techniques improve with time, but there are exceptions. One of the most notable is the step backwards experienced by French royalty like Marie Antoinette in the 18th century.

She was famous for her early use of perfume, but it was a defensive measure. She and her court smelled horrible. The reason for that is simple; they only bathed once a month, and that was because these top-class French palaces had no indoor plumbing.

So not only was drinking and cooking water hard to bring in, but waste disposal also didn’t exist. That means that all these nobles and courtiers had no access to toilets, and so both liquid and solid human waste could be found in all parts of these palaces, on rugs, pooling on floors, even in royal chambers.

No More Worries

It’s almost shocking to think that the typical 21st century American has a more luxurious life in terms of water access than 18th-century royalty, but it’s true. Modern showers and baths provide both hot and cold running water.

Appliances like dishwashers can clean up plates and utensils by themselves, and toilets safely move waste away, protecting entire households from exposure to bacteria and other contagions that could impact health.

Should anything go wrong, there’s still no reason to lose your cool, things are well at hand. There are companies like Ira Hansen & Sons that have years of experience helping homes and businesses in Reno, NV with any breaks, mishaps, or other issues that need a quality repair.

Ways to Have Summertime Fun While Conserving Water

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Ways to Have Summertime Fun While Conserving Water

Many of us enjoy spending the summer outdoors, but that also means dealing with the heat. As temperatures rise, it's tempting to find salvation by taking a dip in the pool or spraying one's self with a hose.

Water consumption skyrockets during the summer months partly for this reason. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, on average a family uses about 320 gallons of water per day at most times of the year. That number can spike to 1,000 gallons per day during summer. If you can believe it, some families use up to 3,000 gallons per day. That's the equivalent of running a garden hose on full blast for eight hours straight.

The extra water we use when the weather is warmest can affect our water bills and local resources, but it doesn't have to. There are ways to have fun in the sun while using less water.

Here are some ways to keep yourself entertained during summer while conserving water.

Get Into the Game

Playing games might be the easiest way for the whole family to have fun while saving on water. Most of the time, the only water you'll be using is the amount you drink to rehydrate.

Throw around the pigskin or play a game of catch with your kids. Hit the pitch for a game of rugby or a round of soccer. Whether you're participating or spectating, keeping yourself occupied with outdoor sports means less time spent at home using up your own water.

Water Your Lawn While You Cool Off

This is by far the most efficient way to use water during the summer. A lot of the extra water consumed during summer is due to landscaping. We use it to keep our grass green and our garden blooming. But there's a way to tend to our yards while simultaneously keeping cool under the hot sun.

If you use a sprinkler to water your lawn, it can double-up as a water attraction. Put on your bathing suit and jump through the water jets as a way to beat the heat. Don't have a sprinkler? Make use of a hose and spray your kids or encourage them to jump through the stream.

This keeps your property looking fresh while giving your family an excuse to have fun in the sun.

Have a Pool Day

If you live near a pool , a day splashing around can be fun for the whole family. There's no shortage of games you can play at the pool.

Take advantage of this public option, instead of using up water in your own home, this will keep your water bill from rising like the heat.

Reliable Water Leak Detection Guide

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Reliable Water Leak Detection Guide

A water leak in your home may be a big problem, or it can be a small one, but the one thing that doesn’t change with the scale of the issue is how irritating it can be.

When you’ve got a “drip, drip” sound that just won’t stop, this can keep you up at night. And if it’s going to be an expensive problem to solve, you should have even more motivation to deal with it.

If you have a leak in your home, you should ask yourself these questions to see what kind of issue you have.

Why Should You Care?

One mistake that a lot of people make with leaks is underestimating the scope of the problem. A little water leaking out doesn’t seem like much, but don’t be fooled.

Just the leak alone can cause a loss of between 2,000 to 20,000 gallons of water every year that you still end up paying for.ceiling-leak

Beyond that, if the leaks occur in pipes in ceilings or walls, they can cause water damage to these areas.

Which ultimately turns in to another added expense for you to deal with if you don’t like crumbling walls or ceilings in your home.

Also, a leak is a sign of a pipe on the road to breaking, and once that pipe does burst you have a very big, very expensive problem on your hands.

How Do Your Track It Down?

Solving a leak means first knowing where it is. Some lucky homeowners can see a leak right on a faucet and fix it with a wrench.

Other homeowners need to conduct an inspection of the home if they can hear a leak but not see it.

The toilet, water heater, water pipes, and sewage pipes are all candidates for inspection.

You can also gauge how severe a leak is if you think it’s a big one. Try shutting down the water in your home, and then spend 10-15 minutes watching your water meter.

If your meter is still measuring water being used, this means you have a more serious leak.

How Do You Prevent Leaks?

The best way to deal with an expensive, arduous repair is to simply not allow a problem to get to that point in the first place.

Leaks can often be addressed quickly and cheaply if you catch them early enough.

Take some time and inspect your pipes on occasion, or have an expert do it if you’re not feeling confident.

hard-waterYou can also help your pipes out by being kinder to them and lengthening their durability.

“Hard water,” or water that is high in minerals, can shorten the lifespan of your pipes because the minerals can corrode the pipe.

High pressure on water has a mechanical effect on pipes that can eventually damage them so shifting down to a lower pressure can also help.

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.