Tag Archives: saving money

Plumbers Insights – Our Christmas Gift to You

When you call a plumber it will cost you over $100 just to get us in the door. That’s an expense you don’t want to have to deal with in the weeks leading up to Christmas. So what we’ve decided to do is give you a few insights from our experienced staff that will allow you to navigate your plumbing service this season. These tips and tricks range from DIY standbys for those of you who have a bit of technical skill and are willing to get a little dirty in the process to ways to limit water damage when you have a broken faucet or leaking toilet. Most plumbers won’t tell you this kind of stuff because they make a pretty penny on an easy fix, but in the spirit of the season, we’ve become quite a giving bunch!

  1. If you can wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to get service, schedule ahead. We get the most calls on Mondays when wives are calling us to fix what their husbands “fixed” over the weekend.
  2. Don’t know a reputable plumber in the area? Call us. Or, if you want to get an unbiased opinion, call a local plumbing supply company for a recommendation. They won’t usually work with unlicensed or below average plumbers.
  3. Don’t put a brick or half gallon of water in your toilet reservoir. Your toilet was designed to flush with a specific amount of water. Changing it could keep your business from going down the drain (not something you want to deal with if you have guests over the holidays). Instead, if you want to save money, invest in a low flow toilet. They aren’t excessively expensive and can pay for themselves in water savings in just a few years.
  4. If you do have a clog, avoid using over the counter liquid drain cleaners. They are caustic and not only can be harmful to you, but to your pipes too. Use a plunger, or better yet, purchase a hand auger (drain snake). The snake will come in handy and pay for itself on its first use.
  5. Clogs are the bane of most bathrooms. If you happen to have a long locked beauty in your home, invest in a drain cover to catch all of the excess hair that comes out during a shower. Not doing so can lead to slow running drains and even full clogs (another good use for that drain snake).
  6. Replace the rubber hoses on the back of your washing machine with stainless steel reinforced ones. The flimsy ones will break over time and are one of the top insurance claims from homeowners. Even a small leak can cause a problem because the washing machine is almost always in a low traffic area. The drip can go on for quite a while before being caught. We suggest (if you still have the flimsy rubber hoses) that you check the hoses every time you do the laundry.
  7. Don’t let drippy faucets and leaking toilets go. Get them fixed right away. A single dripping faucet can waste up to 8 gallons of water a day. A leaky toilet up to 200! If you don’t want to pay for the fix, you’ll be paying for it when your next water bill comes. And the bill after that and the bill after that. You get the picture.
  8. Do you find yourself jiggling the handle of your toilet to get it to work properly? If so, you probably need a new drain flap – they cost about $5. They are quite easy to install and will stop your need to jiggle without having to shell out a Benjamin just to get a professional plumber in the door.
  9. When you purchased your garbage disposal it came with an Allen wrench. This is a manual way to advance the interior grinding mechanism when the disposal gets jammed. Keep it under the sink (taped to the unit is best) so it is there when you need to clear a jam.
  10. Get multiple estimates for any large plumbing job that you need to have completed. The estimates should be within 25% of each other. Any that are excessively high or low may indicate either an overpriced company or a company that is going to try to nickel and dime you with hourly charges.
  11. Asking for quotes is good, but asking for references is better. Get them from customers that have used the service in the past 3 months. Also realize that plumbers can change their names or company name at any time they wish. So look for a well established company that has a good track record to be on the safe side. Again, if you don’t have any personal references to go from, contact a plumbing supply company to get their recommendation.
  12. Always work with a plumber that warranties his work for at least a year on all major installations and repairs. A plumber that doesn’t stand behind his work is a plumber I don’t want messing with my pipes.
  13. Don’t be afraid to ask us to check your water pressure or those pesky banging signs in the supply lines under your sink. Just do it after we’ve completed the work we have been contracted to do. Plumbers never turn down the potential for new work.
  14. Do you have a wire hanger handy? If you do you can easily fashion a hook that can be snaked down your bathtub drain to remove hair and soap scum clogs. Remember, about two inches down almost all bathtubs have a 90 degree drain turn. This is where the clog is likely to strike.
  15. Learn where your shut off valves are. This is an invaluable piece of information. When a leak starts you can literally have minutes until you are dealing with an interior flooding situation. Locate both the main shut off for your home and the interior shut offs (usually under the sinks and behind the toilets). Know where they are can literally save you thousands of dollars in damages.
  16. If you have some food coloring handy, you can check you toilet for leaks with a dye test. Simply drop a few drops of food coloring (we prefer green) into the reservoir and let the toilet it for half an hour. Check the bowl. If you see colored water you have a leak. The darker the color, the worse the leak. Replacing the flapper valve is usually the solution.
  17. Don’t buy a brand new low flow faucet to reduce your water usage. There are aerators that will thread on to your existing faucets for about 1/10th of the cost and will do the exact same thing.

 

Hopefully at least a few of our insights will help you save some cash or trouble. If you happen to have other questions or concerns about the plumbing in your house, send them in to our professionals. We will be starting a monthly readers question and answers section to our blog. And again, a happy holiday to yours from every one of us at My Plumber Ca!

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Why Zoning May Not Be the Best Option for Your Home

With humidity and temperatures on the rise each summer, it’s important to stay cool and hydrated. Your home may be difficult to cool down, especially if you live in the inland or desert areas of California. Luckily air conditioning, better known by the acronym AC, allows for the ventilation of cool, clean air throughout your home with a touch of a button. Most air conditioning units allow you to control the temperature, intensity, and duration of operation. The EIA reported that air conditioning systems are present in 87% of homes in the United States alone. Certainly, AC has become a luxury many people aren’t willing to forgo.

What is Zoning?

Replacing an air filterEver since modern air conditioning systems were invented in 1902, manufacturers have attempted to modify units to be energy efficient and friendly to the environment, with relative success. The Department of Energy estimates that heating and cooling amount to 40 percent of the average home’s utility costs, so energy efficient air conditioning systems will not only help the environment, but your wallet too. Some energy saving features that are present in current air conditioning systems are being able to detect when a set temperature is reached, powering off automatically to reduce energy waste, and running for a certain time period, which eliminates the problem of overuse.

A popular method that companies advertise will save you money is called zoning. Zoning involves the installation of multiple air vents and thermostats that wire to a universal control panel. The consumer can determine what rooms or zones (depending on the home’s layout and needs) receive cool air. This system may be attractive to people who feel some rooms in their home are stuffier than others and wish for more ventilation in those rooms as opposed to their entire house. For example, you may not want to waste money and energy air conditioning the guest room in your home if that room is empty. Depending on the size of your home, multiple air conditioning units may be necessary to keep up with the energy demand and delegate air to the different zones. Essentially, zoning does allow for more control over the distribution of air conditioning throughout your home, but may also require a costly installation and energy bill, if not used properly.

Zoning in on Energy Inefficiency

Woman needs more air conditioningWhile the concept of zoning is certainly a step in the right direction for energy efficiency, the way zoning is currently being implemented in homes is contradictory to the promise of energy efficiency.  The main problem with zoning is the need for multiple AC systems. Having multiple air conditioning units responsible for cooling one home is excessive and will result in a costly upfront installation fee. Furthermore, what happens if one unit breaks before the other? Do you only fix one unit or replace them both at the same time? It’s a vicious cycle of replacing and reinstalling that will eat up your wallet. Instead of adding more air conditioning units to cool your home, it may be more effective to update other areas of your home to allow better ventilation and circulation. For example, poor ductwork and insulation in your home prohibit the cool air to flow from your AC system and through your vents. In other words, the route that the cool air travels through is not adequately sealed to allow the air to flow through your vents and reach you. Updating the ductwork and insulation is usually a one-time expense that can have a major impact. An alternative to multiple units is installing adjustable vents that you may close in certain rooms. These vents will prohibit air from flowing into rooms you don’t want and allow more air to flow in the rooms you do want. Finally, something as simple as closing your blinds and windows while running your air conditioning will allow the air to stay in your home more effectively. Zoning may not be the best option for every consumer, so be sure to investigate other options before purchasing or updating your current AC system.

 

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Bottled Water vs. In Home Filtration

Let’s talk about that bottle water that you’re drinking. Is it really a good investment? Does it really taste better than what you could get at home? Here are some things that you might not know:

  • 40% of bottled waters are taken directly from a municipal water source. It’s basically tap water in a bottle.
  • 22% of all bottled water has a level of contamination that is above the state limit for California municipal water systems.

Ok, so the water you are drinking out of a bottle may not be as good as what you could get out of the tap. But sometimes it’s still more convenient to drink out of the bottle. But should you really be using those disposable water bottles or refilling your own instead?

  • 13% of water bottles are recycled. So 87% of all bottles end up in landfills.
  • 17 million barrels of oil are used to produce bottles for bottle water ever year. That’s conservatively enough to run 1 million cars for a year.

These are all impressive numbers, but they don’t really hit you where it counts. Here’s the one number that will.

A gallon of bottled water bought in individual 16.9 oz bottles costs around $10 gallon. Water out of your tap costs $0.0015 per gallon. Yes – those numbers are right.

If you don’t like the chlorine taste of municipal water, consider adding an in home filtration system. Even if you go with the top of the line model, your unit will pay for itself after about 200 gallons of water. Depending on how much bottled water you drink, that could happen in as little as a few months.

If you happen to live in an area where municipal water doesn’t flow, you can get a water softener system to remove minerals from your water and couple it with a filter to clear out the salt and leave you with crystal clear drinking water.

Call the My Plumber CA team to discuss your filtered water options today.

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Let’s Cut Your San Diego Water Usage Bill in Half

Water isn’t free, just check your bi-monthly water usage bill. The average water bill in San Diego can range from $75 to over $200 every two months depending on how large your family is. There are generally about $50 of water service related fees and the rest of the bill is based on usage.  What if you could take that water usage cost and cut it in half without changing anything about your daily routine? You’d be looking at savings of between $150 and $300 a year.

Stop Flushing Your Money Away

We’ll look at your bathrooms first. This is where about 75% of all indoor water usage happens. The toilet is the major culprit in most homes. If you have the original toilets that were installed when your home was built, they could be using between 3.5 and 5 gallons of water per flush. For the average family of four, that’s up to 60 gallons a day or 1800 gallons per month. Installing low flow toilets can cut this usage to 1.1 to 1.6 gallons per flush. That’s more than 50% less water use. Low flow toilets can cost as little as $79 at the home-improvement store.

Don’t Get Soaked by the Shower

The next place to look is at your showerhead. Older showers use 5 to 7 gallons of water per minute. Switching out these heads with new, WaterSense approved shower heads that flow at 2.5 gallons per minute eliminates at least half of your water use in the shower. You could shower for twice as long or keep your showers shorter and bank the savings. A family of four taking 15-minute  showers every day will save 130 gallons of water per day – 3900 gallons per month.

Retrofit the Faucets

Kitchen and sink faucets also waste up to a gallon of water per minute they are in use. Installing aerators on each of them could save up to 30 gallons of water every day in the typical home. That’s another 900 gallons of saved water every month.

The Water Usage Savings Are In…..

In total, the average family will use 6600 fewer gallons of water every month. In terms of your bill, it would break down like this. Water bills are measured in HCFs (hundred cubic feet). 1 HCF = 748 gallons. The average family saves 6600/748 or 8.8 HCF.

The water cost schedule for San Diego in 2014 is as follows:

  • 0 – 8 HCF used are billed at $3.64 per HCF.
  • 9 – 24 HCF used are billed at $4.08 per HCF.
  • 25 – 36 HCF used are billed at $5.82 per HCF.
  • Each HCF used after the initial 36 HCF is billed at $8.19 per HCF.

The savings on the average family bill could then range anywhere from $30 to $40 per month or $60 to $80 per billing cycle. If you make all the suggested changes to your home, the initial cost should be recovered in less than two years.

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The Ductless Mini Split – Heating and Cooling for the 21st Century

If you are looking for a way to bring your heating and cooling into the 21st century, the ductless mini split might be exactly what you are looking for. It is a great solution for those of you who are putting on additions or looking for a way to turn a sun room into a year round paradise.

What is a Ductless Mini Split?

A ductless mini split system is composed of both an outdoor compressor and condenser system and one or more indoor evaporator and blower units. The indoor units may be mounted on any wall or in the ceiling. There are even hidden units available that fit in seamlessly with your décor.

How is it different than a window or portable air conditioner?

Mini splits don’t have to be mounted inside a window casing or through an exterior wall. They can be mounted anywhere within the living space. Additionally, because the compressor is located outdoors, the mini split is much quieter than a window or portable air conditioning system.

Why is it better than a central air system?

Most central air units are set to cool an entire home. Unless you have a zoned system, ductless mini splits are the best way to condition individual portions of the home as needed. Multiple indoor blower units allow you to only cool the areas that are occupied and not waste cooling power on vacant spaces.
Ductless systems also save energy by putting the cooling source directly in the room instead of in a centralized location. Up to 30% of all cooling energy can be lost in the ductwork of a traditional system. This waste is eliminated in the ductless system. This has made it possible for some ductless units to achieve SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) values of 27 and higher, making them some of the most efficient HVAC options available.

Do I Need an Inverter System?

Units with an inverter system run a variable speed motor. This allows them to deliver cooling at the rate necessary for the conditioned area. This can lead to a saving of up to 30% over older units without an inverter system. Inverters aren’t necessary, but they will lower your cooling bill significantly while also keeping the humidity in your home at a comfortable level.

What About Air Filtration?

One of the first questions we get about ductless systems is “where is the air filter?” The answer – there is an ion filer in each blower unit. These ion filters are similar to those on window air conditioners and remove odors, pollen, dust and dander just like traditional filters.

Can a Ductless Mini Split Be Used for Heating?

Since it doesn’t get too cold here in San Diego, units with electric heaters are often the mini splits of choice. There are also heat pumps that work with mini split systems. These forced air systems are often used instead of older baseboard heaters in the area.

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Summer Air Conditioning Costs Too High – Old Ductwork Could Be Blowing It For You

How old is your ductwork? No, really, it’s important to know. If your ducts were installed before energy efficiency was a key concern for home buyers (mid 1990s), your ducts could be leaking live a sieve. Ductwork used to be tossed in at the last minute and secured into place with a few metal screws. You’d be lucky if they met minimum building code. This fast and cheap builder mantra could be costing you hundreds of dollars every year.

With Old Ductwork Failure is an Option

Your cheap, old ductwork may be starting to fail if it even worked right in the first place. Your ducts could be rusting out, have significant air leaks, or a complete run may have already fallen and disconnected from main system. This is because the metal joints were often held together with six hex-head screws. That’s it. If you were lucky you got some duct tape to seal around the joints. Duct tape, by design, is only meant to hold ducts in place temporarily because repeated heating and cooling makes it brittle. A good duct tape will last about 5 years.

The point here is that you probably are losing a lot of heating and cooling efficiency behind your walls – maybe up to 30 percent. You’re paying to condition the spaces behind your walls and under your feet. In addition, unfiltered air is getting sucked back into the ductwork when your system shuts off. The negative air pressure created when the fan shuts off draws in dust, debris, insulation and chemicals into your system that are then pushed into your living areas when the unit kicks back on. We’d like to help you fix that.

Let’s Inspect Your Ductwork

First, there needs to be a visual inspection of your ductwork to make sure there are no major areas of concern. This is the place you’ll find disconnected duct runs, potential blockages and other problems. We suggest checking the attic and crawlspaces that are hard to access. These will be the places that the construction crew was likely to hurry through. Look for peeling duct tape, dust lines around joints and any areas of rust. If you don’t find any of those, congratulations! If you did, you’ll probably need to get a professional to fix it the right way.

Smaller leaks are harder to find, but easier to fix. Here’s a professional trick. Get yourself a smoke candle or incense stick and turn on the blower fan at your thermostat. Run the smoke candle along the joints. Any small leaks will become immediately visible. Aluminum backed tape can be used to seal these leaks – fast and affordable.

Once you’ve sealed up the leaks that you can find, do this last thing – check the airflow in each of your rooms. If you don’t have air movement somewhere, or the temperature is significantly different in one area, you could have a leak behind the walls where you can’t get to it. This is another time the professionals have the right tool for the job. We can run a video snake through the ductwork and see what is going on. We can also schedule a blower test to check for high pressure leaks in your system and clear them up as well.

Routine Maintenance

crescent wrench used for routine plumbing maintenance in San Diego, CAWhen you buy a new car, you’re looking for not only a car that looks great, but one that is durable, reliable, and in good mechanical condition. Whether you buy a top of the line luxury car off the lot, or a used sedan, you are going to get regular oil changes, tune-ups and part replacements at a predetermined schedule. We do this to keep our cars not only running their best, but retaining value as well.

Many of us don’t look at our home plumbing systems in the way that we would our daily driver, and it can end up being a costly mistake. Rather than waiting for a breakdown, try out a regular maintenance routine to assess the health of your home plumbing system, and keep it running smoothly.

There are a lot of things to be aware of on a regular basis. If you notice any changes, your safest bet is to diagnose what might be causing a problem before it grows. While you don’t need to take detailed logs of daily performance, it pays to be aware of anything seems a bit off.

What to Look For:

  • Corrosion
  • Leaks, condensation
  • Low water pressure
  • Low flow rate
  • Water heat issues
  • Leaky faucets
  • Garbage disposal performance changes
  • Corrosion/hard water damage

Aim for Maintenance Instead of Repairs

Creating a system of scheduled maintenance will keep you in the know before an issue becomes a problem. Let us show you how regular maintenance can be an investment into your home. Common plumbing problems like leaks and corrosion, if left unattended, can cause water damage, mildew, rust, corrosion. Call a licensed plumber before a plumbing problem becomes a structural one.

Get it in Writing

Nothing conveys confidence to a buyer, and nothing is more valuable to the seller than comprehensive maintenance records. Remember when you last bought or sold a used car? Imagine if you had ten years of maintenance records on the car in question. A thorough maintenance record will tell you what has been fixed, when it was worked on, and what may need work in the future. This is a valuable tool to have, and you will be building the value of your home while you keep it running smoothly.

Don’t know where to start? We Do.

Give us a call today. Our licensed residential plumbing technicians are trained to assess your home plumbing system. We’ll tell you what to keep an eye out for, and can even help you get started on a plumbing maintenance plan that’s right for you and your home. To learn more about our plumbing services, visit our plumbing services page.

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Maintenance Plans Save Money

A maintenance plan helps ensure that your heating and cooling systems operate at peak performance when you most need them and is a great investment to have. A maintenance plan can save you money and help your HVAC system live longer and perform more efficiently. With a maintenance plan, you can save yourself from costly repairs later on. Without a maintenance plan, a unit that is not well maintained can malfunction, and the repairs can be expensive. You may even have to replace your unit, which is very costly.

Ways a Maintenance Plan Saves You Money

A maintenance plan helps your system run more efficiently by getting it the required maintenance it needs in order to run properly. Having regular maintenance on your system helps keep your system clean and makes sure any little problems that may be wrong are taken care of before they turn into bigger, more costly problems. With a clean, more energy efficient system, you will have peace of mind knowing that the more expensive repairs won’t be needed for your system.

A well-maintained system will also last longer, which means you won’t have to worry about replacing your unit anytime soon. Not having to replace your unit will save a lot of money. Having a maintenance plan can help increase the lifespan of your system.

Seasonal weather can put a lot of stress on your system, but with a maintenance plan, you and your system will both feel less stress. A clean, well-maintained unit uses less energy to cool or heat your home, which means less wear and tear on your unit. With your unit having to use less energy, it will help keep it from having any major problems. If your system is not well-maintained, it can use more energy than what is needed to cool or heat your home.

Don’t let your system cost you unnecessary money and leave you in the heat of summer or cold of winter. If you do not want to have to pay for costly repairs or a new unit later on, call My Plumber today at 866-779-7204 and talk to one of their trained professionals about a maintenance plan for your system. The trained professionals at My Plumber will be able to help you get a maintenance plan in place as well as perform the needed maintenance your system currently requires.

To learn more about what we offer, visit our air conditioning & heating pages.

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Identifying Common Plumbing Problems

In the way that flat tires and oil changes are a fact of life of vehicle ownership, plumbing problems are a side effect of having running water. The fact that major problems can be so damaging, expensive and time-consuming to fix leads people to either panic and call a plumber for every little thing or to stick their heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away. A little education can go a long way towards restoring peace of mind.

Here are a few common problems you may encounter:

Low Water Pressure in a Shower Or Sink

Low water pressure is probably the single most common plumbing complaint. When it only affects a single fixture like a sink, it can be a relatively simple fix, like a corroded aerator. If it’s a whole house problem (and your water supplier has good pressure otherwise) then the issue can be more complex, like corroded pipes restricting flow.

Loud or Banging Pipes

This is caused by “air hammering”– air bubbles getting in the line with a microscopic leak. This should not be ignored. Small leaks turn into big leaks and replacing moldy drywall is never fun. Soft ticking or tapping noises are more benign, usually caused by the temperature differential between the water and the pipe. Sometimes this will even cause the pipe to vibrate, and it you see this happening you can wrap it up or clamp it down to prevent it.

High Water Bill

If your water bill suddenly spikes (and it’s not due to your teenager taking too long in the shower) you may have a slab leak– a leak in the supply line to your house. If you catch it at this stage, be happy that you haven’t yet noticed any of the secondary side effects of a slab leak: wet or ruined flooring, shifting or cracking foundation, or mold in the walls. You can also have a leak in the septic lines, although normally the smell will be the first indicator.

This is definitely something to call a plumber in on, because the damage a slab leak can cause is enormous, and it’s rarely covered by insurance. If you’re not certain whether your water bill spike is cause for concern, call and ask. A reputable plumber is there to help you.

If you’re looking for plumber service in the San Diego area, look no further than My Plumber. Call us today at 1 (619) 447-5556 or email us here.

A Question About Our Service

A gentleman from Accokeek Md. recently wrote to us and asked:

I am unhappy with the company that I currently have a heating and A/C repair contract with. I was wondering if you offered contracts that for an annual fee provided a heating inspection in the fall and an A/C inspection in the spring and provided a reduced cost for repairs. We have been with the same company for 8 years however the technicians they have been providing have been doing substandard work of late that resulted in our system failing 2 weeks after the inspection 3 times in a row, all due to missing problems. We are looking for a new and reliable company to provide all services for our systems.


Our Answer

Sir, we have the kind of program you are asking about, with some pretty incredible side benefits.Our Priority Club offers three preventive checks a year, one for each of your systems (heating, cooling and plumbing) in addition to a fantastic bundle of services and perks available only to you, as a Priority Club member.

Some of these services include:

  • Extended Same Day Service Hours – Call before 2PM Monday – Friday and before 10AM Saturday and Sunday
  • Waive the Plumbing Dispatch Fee
  • Double your Discounts, up to $200
  • Concierge Service! Each member gets a concierge phone number to call, and receive Priority service
  • Over $2,200 in Coupon Savings – available only to Priority Club members

You can look at our Priority Club online at our website. The address is here and if you have any questions our customer service agents will be happy to help you at 1-866-469-7586