Which Type of Water Softener Should You Install?

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How To Find the Ideal Water Softener 

While tap water is overall safe to drink in the U.S., there are still some minerals in tap water that are best to leave out of the body, and this is easily accomplished with water softeners. In this article, plumbing experts explain how some of the most popular water softeners work and how homeowners can find their ideal unit.

The Perks of Water Softeners

blue puzzle

Water softeners primarily remove two key minerals from tap water: calcium and magnesium. While these two minerals seem harmless on the surface, they can cause problems for both the plumbing system and homeowner health. Calcium and magnesium in water create hard water because the minerals can attach and build up into a mineral deposit. This is very bad for drains and can cause clogs in the plumbing system as well as stains on dishes and tubs.

A water softener works by “softening” the minerals in the water through a filtration process. This stops minerals from latching onto pipes, skin, fixtures, and dishes, leaving homeowners with a reliably clean source of water. 

Explaining Salt-Based Water Softeners

trowing salt into a water softer

In a salt-based water softener system, the hard water is passed through a membrane called a polymer resin bed. This membrane removes the calcium and magnesium from the water and exchanges it with sodium or salt. 

The system also has a cleaning cycle that disposes of the calcium and magnesium particles through a drain line while simultaneously replenishing the salt content. This method results in a calcium and magnesium-free water source that is kind to homeowners and their household items and kitchenware.

Explaining Salt-Free Water Softeners

red letters

While water softeners are supposed to take magnesium and calcium out of the water, salt-free softeners work a little bit differently. Salt-free water softeners use a process called Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC). Instead of removing the minerals from the water, the TAC system binds the minerals so they are unable to bind to anything else. Homeowners may occasionally still see mineral deposits, but they won’t stick to anything or cause any plumbing problems.

The type of system they decide to get is based on what their personal needs are. A salt-based water softener system requires more maintenance and buying salt, but it completely eliminates the minerals, so there won’t be any deposits. A salt-free water softener system requires less maintenance and will protect plumbing, but deposits might still come out, and there are none of the shower benefits. 

For more help, it’s always recommended to contact a local plumbing company!

About Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing

For over 40 years, Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing have been honing their craft to provide top quality service to the citizens of Sparks. With a strong focus on family, they aim to make all customers feel right at home with their technicians. Call today to schedule an appointment. 


The Scoop About Water Heater Services

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Water Heater Services Technician

All the Information You Need Before Purchasing a Water Heater

Water heaters have been around long enough that they are now a staple in the modern household. Water heaters make it possible for the public to properly clean things in the house like clothes, dishes, and even the people living in the home. Without a water heater, the world would likely see a lot more illnesses and diseases. Not only that, but hot water is crucial for safety in the winter months. Even in Nevada, the weather gets cold enough in the winter that without a water heater, you could get a cold simply from taking a cold shower. 

Throughout this article, you will learn all about water heaters, why they break, and how to prevent it from happening. Continue reading to learn all about it. 

What Is a Water Heater?

What Is a Water Heater System?

A water heater is a system that essentially takes the cold water and heats it up before it reaches your faucet. It only works when the faucet is turned toward the hot water direction. 

Water heaters have several components to them including: 

  • The tank
  • The heat pipe
  • The drain valve
  • An internal anode rod
  • Dip tube
  • Pressure relief valve
  • Insulating material to keep water hot

Each of these components is used in the process of heating up your water. There might be more than a few components that make up a water heater, but when they are all working together, the process seems relatively simple.

Below are the steps that make your water heater work

  • The cold water comes through the dip tube.
  • The water is then heated electrically in the tank.
  • Once the water is heated and rises toward the top of the tank.
  • The hot water leaves the tank and enters the home through the heat pipe.

The Factors That Lead to Water Heater Repairs

Water Heater Repair Specialist
Just like anything else, your water heater can and will experience issues from time to time. For the most part, however, your water heater should work without a lot of need for repairs.

When your water heater needs to be repaired it is important to know what to watch for so you can call a professional as soon as you notice there is a problem. The professional can get your water heater fixed hopefully before any expensive damages occur, but you can’t call a professional if you don’t know what to look for. 

Some common reasons a water heater needs to be repaired include: 

  • Rusted or discolored water
  • A water leak
  • Rotten smell to the water
  • Loud and unusual noises
  • There is no hot water at all

Common Water Heater Maintenance Services

Water Heater Maintenance and Tune-Up Expert

When you are a homeowner, it is important to take good care of your plumbing system. If you don’t take the extra time to ensure your plumbing system gets the maintenance it needs, you could end up spending more money than you bargained for just trying to keep up with all the repairs. 

The same goes for your water heater. It doesn’t need a lot of day-to-day attention, but periodic maintenance is required to ensure that your water heater always works safely and efficiently. If you take this extra time, you could extend the lifespan of your water heater as well as save money on repairs. 

Some common at-home maintenance tips are: 

  • Drain the sediment from the tank.
  • Check all the valves and wipe them down.
  • Make sure the water heater is clean and free of pooled water.
  • Listen for noises.

The best thing you can do for your water heater is to have a plumber perform maintenance on it at least once a year. A professional can see and reach places you cannot so this will ensure that the system is running properly all year round. 

Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing Keeps You Safe

The experts at Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing have been in the industry for 30 years servicing the Sparks, NV area. When you call them you can trust that the job will get done right the first time, every time. Call today to schedule your next appointment!


What Are the Health Benefits of Alkaline Water?

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Benefits of Drinking Alkaline Water

There has been a lot of talk on the news and online about the benefits of alkaline water. Some people claim that the benefits are non-existent, while others claim that they’re plain to see, however, the studies that have been done are promising. While drinking enough water is a challenge for most people, drinking alkaline water can help in a number of ways.

Alkaline Water and Hydration

hydrationAlkaline water is at one end of a PH scale. The PH scale goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral, over 7 being alkaline, and under 7 being acidic. The recommended PH of alkaline water is between 8 and 9.

The recommended PH of “neutral” drinking water is between 5.5 and 6.5. Proponents of alkaline water point to its increased hydrogen as an indication that it provides better hydration than neutral or “acidic” drinking water.

This can be beneficial especially after strenuous exercise or other dehydrating activities. Most tap water in the US falls somewhere between 4.5 and 5.5, meaning it’s more acidic than recommended by the EPA.

Can Alkaline Water Provide an Immunity Boost?

immunity boost

Now more than ever it’s important to pay close attention to your immune system. Drinking enough water is key to a healthy body, but if you drink alkaline water regularly, could it boost your immune system?

According to some studies, the answer is yes. Since most of the tap water in the US is more acidic than is recommended by the EPA, drinking alkaline water can help to balance your body’s PH level.

This can help your overall immune system as well as helping to reduce things like acid reflux. Diet and stress can also contribute to a more acidic PH level in your body, which alkaline water is said to help with.

Alkaline Water and Antioxidants

antioxidantsBeneficial alkaline water contains minerals and provides negative oxidation-reduction potential or OPR.

A negative OPR is what gives alkaline water antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are naturally occurring in your body, but are also found in fruits, vegetables, and other foods rich in vitamins and minerals.

They provide a defense against free radicals in your body, which can cause serious harm if their levels become too high. While alkaline water shouldn’t be your only source of antioxidants, it can help to maintain a healthy body, especially when combined with proper diet, exercise, and recommended health precautions.

About Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing

If you’re facing any plumbing issues or you’re having problems with your water, contact Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing today. Since 1986 their experts have been the go-to in the Sparks, Nevada, area for all kinds of plumbing needs. They always offer fast, friendly, and professional plumbing services!


How to Deal With a Tub Inside Your Home That Keeps Backing Up

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Is the Tub Backing Up?

Many people confuse a clogged tub with a tub that is backing up. The difference is important. A clogged tub just has something stuck in the drain or pipe, which can be removed pretty easily. A tub backing up, though, is more serious. This occurs when there is a clog in the sewer line.

The easiest indicator is if multiple drains in the house are clogged at the same time, or if water comes up and out of the tub drain when the toilet is flushed. This type of issue can present serious health concerns and unclogging bathroom drains should become your first priority.

What Is a Sewer Line Clog?

The sewer line is the single pipe that carries all of the drained waste away from the home and into the sewer beneath the street by the property. All of the plumbing in the home is connected to the sewer line, from the kitchen faucet to the washing machine, and the toilet to the tub.

sewer line clog

Everything that is sent down those drains is carried to the sewer line, so it makes sense that eventually, it may get clogged. Unfortunately, because this line is located underground, it can be difficult to assess and clear clogs. It is also susceptible to tree roots penetrating and blocking it.

Some homes are equipped with a clean-out, which provides easier access to allow clearing out a sewer line clog. If a home does not have one, it can be installed at any time by a licensed plumber. Either way, a sewer line clog is a serious problem, and will most likely need to be cleared using professional equipment. These types of clogs can be prevented, though.

Only Flush Toilet Paper

The toilet might seem like a great way to dispose of unwanted items quickly, but they are only designed to flush out waste, urine, and toilet paper. This is because toilet paper is specifically designed to dissolve in water. Anything else that is flushed will almost definitely build up over time and lead to clogs.

toilet flushHere are a few examples of what NOT to flush down the toilet:
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Diapers
  • Wet wipes
  • Dental floss
  • Paper towels, napkins, or tissues
  • Pills or other medications
  • Cotton swabs or balls

Keeping a wastebasket by the toilet for these types of items is recommended so that nobody is tempted to flush them down the toilet.

Use a Hair Trap

Another thing that shouldn’t be sent down the drain is hair, but this can be trickier to manage. The average person sheds between 50-100 strands of hair every day, and they can easily be washed down the drain during the shower without the person even realizing it.

use hair trap

Installing a hair trap is an easy DIY fix that almost anybody can do to avoid drain pipe or sewer line clogs from happening. This will collect the hair (and any other debris) and prevent it from going down the drain. Cleaning it out is quick and easy--just remember to put the hair in the wastebasket, and not down the toilet, or else it defeats the purpose.

About Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing

Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing has trusted experts available for plumbing emergencies as well as regular services, like drain cleaning, and preventative maintenance. Family-owned and operated since 1986, they offer 24-hour service to both commercial and residential residents in Sparks and the surrounding areas.


All You Want (And Need) to Know About Clogged Shower Drains

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What’s Causing Clogs in Your Shower?

Clogged shower drains are a common complaint of homeowners. Unfortunately, daily life leads to plenty of ways that these drains can naturally generate clogged showers. Luckily, there are simple ways to prevent them from happening.

The Common Causes of Clogged Shower Drains

Generally, clogged shower drains are caused by one of four different issues.

  • fixing clogged shower drainsHair: Everyone sheds hair naturally. This process is sped up in the shower. As the hair goes down the drain, they tangle together and block water from being able to flow down the drain.
  • Hard Water: Sometimes it’s not foreign material that causes clogged shower drains but the actual water itself. Homes with hard water deposit minerals on the inside of the pipes, which eventually clog the drain.
  • Trash: This isn’t trash as most people normally think of it, but bathroom trash usually consists of things like razor blade covers and shampoo caps.
  • Soap Scum: Soap scum, over time, builds up and deposits itself on the walls of the pipes. With enough build-up, the pipes narrow themselves enough to get clogged. It can also catch other objects, like hair and skin cells.

Often, especially in older homes, clogged shower drains come from a combination of multiple factors. If one of the causes is present, it is best to check for the remainder instead of just fixing only a portion of the problem.

How Clogged Shower Drains Can Be Fixed

There are many different ways homeowners can fix clogged shower drains. Most of them can be attempted by people with zero experience, and with products available around the house.

For instance, clogged shower drains can be unclogged by simply pouring boiling water down the drain. The unclogging effect may be strengthened by pouring one cup of baking soda followed by one cup of white vinegar down the drain prior to the boiling water. A plunger may also work.

causes of clogged shower drains

For homeowners with more experience, a plumber’s drain snake may be needed. However, there is always a risk of accidental pipe damage if used by someone who doesn’t know how to safely use one. Err on the side of caution and always ask for help from a professional plumber if you’re not sure.

It is not advised to use any sort of unclogging chemicals, as they can be corrosive to the pipes.

Can Clogged Shower Drains Be Prevented?

preventing clogged shower drainsPrevention of clogged shower drains doesn’t have to take time or money. Most prevention tips are quick and easy to start doing right away. For the prevention of hard water, homeowners can install a water softener.

A quality water softener will remove minerals from the water before it enters the shower. In addition, water softeners make clothes softer and drinking water taste better. If the issue is being caused by repeated and preventable hair clogs, a simple wash hair catcher can be placed in the drain. This can be easily removed and cleaned after each shower.

Soap scum build-up can be prevented by pouring a few buckets of very hot water mixed with chlorine bleach down the drain once every few weeks. This will work to strip the insides of the pipes of any potential deposits of grime.

About Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing

Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing has offered locally owned and operated family plumbing services to Sparks, Nevada for more than 30 years. They provide bathroom plumbing remodeling, repiping, and water heater repair as well as emergency services. The staff prides themselves on standing by their word, every time.


Why Haven't You Been Told About Dangers of Liquid Plumbing Fumes?

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Dangerous Liquid Plumbing Fumes to Avoid

With the new year come new lessons. Some lessons are hard to learn, but they are often the hardest to forget. And for good reason! When a driver gets into a car accident after having a few too many at the bar, they learn the hard way to never drink and drive again. When a kid wanders off into the street with fast traffic, their parent learns to never take their eyes off of their kid.

And when liquid plumbing fumes are released into the home, homeowners should do everything they can to prevent those fumes from filling the air again. Liquid plumbing fumes are often caused by chemical drain cleaners and can be toxic, but many individuals don’t know this!

They can cause breathing irritation, eye irritation, and unpleasant smells. The worst part is these fumes can stick around long after the product has gone down the drain. Luckily, there are a few tactics homeowners can use to mitigate the dangers of these fumes.

Avoiding Toxic Chemicals

toxic chemicalsChemical cleaners are a host of many toxic ingredients. When someone takes a step back after opening a bottle of cleaner because the smell of the chemicals is so strong, it’s clearly not a user-safe option.

Or when the directions on the back of the bottle tell the user to wear gloves, to not make contact with the skin, to not touch the eyes or mouth after using the product, or other safety precautions like this, these are all signs that the product has toxic chemicals and should be avoided. However, many homeowners don’t take as much caution as they should with products like these, so they are commonly held in many homes.

Products like Drano and Liquid-PlumR are among the most popular liquid drain cleaning solutions, but they are filled with toxic chemicals like muriatic, sulfuric or hydrochloric acids as well as other chemicals like bleach. When these chemicals come into contact with other household chemicals or products, they can create toxic fumes. If inhaled, they can cause harm to a person’s nose, throat, or other parts of the body, or even worse drain cleaner poisoning.

Chemical Cleaners Cause Skin Irritation

Because these chemicals in liquid drain cleaners are so dangerous, it’s critical to take proper precautions when using them. Simply breathing in the fumes of the chemicals can cause nose and throat irritation. Wearing a mask can help avoid this. However, these chemicals are even more dangerous if they touch the skin.

skin irritation

When these chemicals make contact with the skin, it can cause severe rashes or burns. Make sure to use heavy-duty gloves during use, and wash the hands and skin afterward too.

Chemical Cleaners Are Dangerous for the Eyes

dangerous for eyesPeople’s hands touch everything, from the doorknob on the bathroom to the buttons on an ATM. So it’s important to wash hands frequently, but it is especially important to wash them after handling toxic chemicals.

If someone has even the smallest bit of chemical residue on their fingers and then touches their eyes, it can result in serious burns and eye irritation. If this occurs, immediately rinse the eye under a faucet to wash it out and seek medical attention if the pain does not go away.

To avoid this medical emergency, it may be best to wear safety glasses and, again, wash hands thoroughly after using these chemicals. Or, maybe it’s best to avoid dangerous liquid drain cleaners and find a safer way to clean drains in the first place.

About Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing

Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing was founded with a focus on family, work, and community. They strive to reflect these values in the way they do business every day. When customers work with them, they can expect top-notch drain cleaning services by technicians who are prepared with the right materials and resources, to deliver service with integrity.


Will My Plumbing Systems Or Services Ever Be Automated?

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Understanding the Future of Your Plumbing System

Barely a day goes by without a news story online or on TV about how robots or even AI, artificial intelligence, will be taking over everyone’s jobs in the future. Everyone from truck drivers to wait staff are all in danger. But what about plumbing? Not to worry! The following information will show you that it’s unrealistic to think plumbing will fall to the same automated fate.

Dealing with Plumbing Issues in Hard to Reach Areas

slab leaksSlab leaks are a tricky problem that can face any homeowner with a house built on a foundation. Now, it’s true that some new houses are being built with “smart” foundations, but any existing homes don’t have that luxury, which means that if a slab leak happens in your home, you’re going to need to contact a local plumber.

Slab leaks happen when the pipes laid in the concrete foundation of a building, leak. If left long enough, these leaks can eventually damage the foundation, which can be a costly repair.

Plumbers can locate the leak in the slab, using very specific equipment, and then repair it by either using a jackhammer to reach the pipe or using tools to laterally reach the leak. Either way, until every house is built with a smart foundation, plumbers will still be needed for slab leaks.

Bathroom Plumbing May Get Upgraded

Of course, there are definitely certain aspects of plumbing that can be automated, and it’s okay to upgrade your house in this manner! Smart showers and smart toilets are two such ways of automation in bathroom plumbing, and perhaps you’ve already seen these in person. It’s not uncommon to visit a public restroom only to find a toilet that flushes on its own.

bathroom plumbing

This saves you from flushing the toilet yourself, preventing the spread of disease and illness. Automation like this can be great! It’s time-saving and can be better for the environment and everyone's health and safety. And when those smart toilets break down, a plumber will still have to come and repair them. Automation and plumbers can work together to move into the future.

Tradesmen Are More Important Than Ever!

tradesmenHaving a trade job, such as being a plumber, is a position that requires a lot of hand-eye coordination and technical know-how. It’s why it can take a lot of training to become an excellent plumber.

Though in the future it’s possible that robots and AI will be able to take over some aspects of the plumbing industry, as long as there are issues or emergencies that require human ingenuity, then human plumbers will be here to stay.

Not to mention as technology continues to progress, there will be a need for people to run and manage the automated and AI plumbing systems too, which is another way plumbers can adapt to this ever-changing world.

Contact Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing Today!

Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing has been the #1 local family owned and operated plumbers for over 30 years. They serve the Reno, NV area and offer honest, upfront service. Their competitive pricing results in instant savings for you.


Falling Leaves Mean More Sewer Cleaning Coming This Season

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Are You Ready to Clean Sewers?

Fall is a beautiful time of year. The weather is changing, the leaves are beautiful and there are lots of opportunities to get outdoors for festivals, events, and activities. From pumpkin patches to corn mazes and costumes, it’s a time of year that many people look forward to with great anticipation.

But autumn also means lots of leaves falling, and those leaves have to go somewhere. As a result, oftentimes drains can get clogged and backed up this time of year, making it a good time for sewer cleaning.

A Sewer System Overview

sewer systemYour home’s plumbing system has two piping systems - one to carry clean water into the home and one to carry wastewater out. The line for wastewater primarily uses gravity to carry waste down and out of your house.

It then flows into the main drain line, which connects to a city or municipal sewer line and carries the waste to a wastewater treatment plant.

While the main drain line isn’t a part of the home’s plumbing system that most people think about very often, it plays an integral role in your plumbing system and ensures that wastewater is effectively carried out of your home.

The Importance of Keeping the Main Drain Line Clear

When a drain or pipe in your house is backed up, it causes a back up at just that location. This can lead to a variety of problems and can cause damage to your home. While one backup is inconvenient and problematic, imagine what would happen if all of your drains were backed up.

main drain line

This is essentially what happens if the main drain line is blocked. When the mainline is blocked, wastewater can’t properly exit the home. As a result, it effectively blocks all drains in your home and makes your home’s plumbing systems ineffective.

Concerns Regarding Raw Sewage

sewageAs you can imagine, if the mainline remains blocked, it can start to cause blockages in drains throughout your home. What’s worse, if the problem isn’t dealt with, sewage will start to flow upwards because it has nowhere to go.

This creates all kinds of problems throughout the home which are inconvenient and messy. Further, raw sewage backing up in your home can create a number of health hazards. Finally, it can be incredibly expensive to clean up.

In order to avoid this headache and to keep your home’s plumbing systems functioning properly, it’s important to keep your main drain line clear. Especially during the fall when lots of leaves are coming down!

Work With Your Local Plumbing Pros

Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing has been family-owned and operated since 1986. For over three decades, they have treated their customers like family and provided Reno with nothing but top-notch plumbing services. All of their technicians are qualified professionals that provide excellent service, superior workmanship, and lasting solutions.

Always using high-quality materials and giving customers competitive prices, Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing give clients peace of mind to know that their plumbing systems are in good hands.