While researching ideas for today’s blog, we came across a homeowner Q&A forum on the Internet. Seemingly, an insurance agent advised the owner of a 1960’s-era home that in order to obtain homeowner’s insurance, the plumbing needed to be “updated”. For the record, Allied Reddi-Rooter is not aware of any such insurance requirements. But we are big believers in regular plumbing upgrades and maintenance. Here are a few thoughts.

Copper lasts forever, right?

Actually, no. Copper water pipes have amazing longevity but copper vent pipes in a bathroom installation typically only last about 40 years. Sewer gasses are corrosive and eat away at the copper vent stack over time. Here’s true story – we have a friend who owned a 2-story, 2 bathroom home built in 1964. The second floor toilets was directly overhead of the first-floor toilet; the two toilets shared a common copper vent pipe. One day in the late 1990’s, the husband was taking a rest on the first floor toilet and his wife flushed the upstairs toilet. Unknown to them, the vent had been leaking for some time, soaking the ceiling. That last flush did the trick — before he could make a run for it, the ceiling gave way, sending toilet water out in a gush, onto his head.

Yuuuck. That copper vent stack was promptly replaced with PVC.

According to http://www.improvingyourworld.com/home/how_to_update_your_plumbing_001066.html, “Many older homes have outdated plumbing. The pipes can erode and leak, and can cause major water damage and the need for expensive repairs later. So, updating your plumbing, and properly maintaining and checking our plumbing on a regular basis is an important part of keeping your home in good repair.”

Planning a Whole-House Plumbing Upgrade
If you are thinking your home could use a total plumbing makeover, consider having the work done in phases to keep it both affordable and manageable.

1. Work with a trustworthy plumber. A plumber will work with you inspect your existing pipes/fixtures/sewer lines and help you identify which tasks you might be able to handle and which are best suited to a professional.

2. Begin with the pipes/traps/sewer lines. These are the ‘big jobs’ in a plumbing upgrade. If you home has cast iron sewer stacks, galvanized lines, or older copper, it makes sense to have them evaluated. Over time, cast iron becomes brittle and can chip or crack. In Cincinnati, it’s not uncommon for cast iron stacks to have an asbestos coating – your plumber can advise you on whether asbestos mitigation is necessary.

3. Review your existing fixtures with a critical eye. For most homeowners, this is the fun part of the project. Dated fixtures add little to the value of your home and the big-box hardware stores have user-friendly displays that showcase new approaches, materials, and designs. Allied Reddi-Rooter is one of the few local plumbing companies that will happily install fixtures that you purchase elsewhere.

4. Gadgets abound! Have fun with your plumbing. “Instant hot” water dispensers, filtration systems, pot-filler faucets, water fountains, sprinkler systems, rainwater collection systems, and artfully designed sill faucets are but a few of the things that can dress up your home without breaking the budget. Updating your plumbing can give your home a newer feel, and save you from the headache of lots of future problems.

Water You Waiting For? If you have a home that desperately needs new plumbing, call Ray at Allied Reddi-Rooter. He can help scope your project, provide budget guidance, and have a plumber at your disposal. Call today: (513) – 396-5300.

Recycling water saves money (and water).

A recent visit to a friend’s ‘boat house’ on Norris Lake brought the topic of grey water to our attention. Boat houses (uni-built homes that float year-round on the lake) have unique plumbing challenges; they use a holding tank for septic needs; drinking/bathing/cooking water is supplied via a hose that runs from the shore, through the lake, and connects to each house. Used drinking/bathing water (also known as grey water) is charged directly into Lake Norris.

Yes, you read that correctly – a recreational lake used for swimming, boating, and fishing is home to scores of boat houses that discharge their grey water right into the lake. Those bubbles floating by while you float, boat, ski, or fish are from someone’s used shampoo. How’s that for adding a little ‘zest’ to your vacation?

Grey water – the original shades of grey
According to http://www.offthegridnews.com, “[Grey water is] all that water that drains out from your washing machine, showers, bathtubs, and more—any used water that does not contain human waste. By comparison, water that contains waste is known as black water, which must be handled according to specific regulations. Grey water, however, comes in shades. “For instance, bath and washer water is further towards the black water scale, whereas water flowing continuously from a shower or sink is significantly cleaner.”

For most city-dwellers, grey water has a certain ‘ick factor’ that can be difficult to overcome. But for communities in drought-stricken or underdeveloped areas, grey water is a cornerstone of sustainable living. Recycling water is not hard; with a little effort, using grey water on a daily basis can be a fulfilling way to lead a more green life.

Can I use grey water in my yard?
Absolutely – that’s a perfect application. They key to successful water recycling is to keep it simple. Avoid complicated approaches that will cost more than they save. Also, grey water is called that for a reason – it contains soap, chemicals, and also bacteria. While fine for watering the flowers, you may want to show caution before using it to water edibles in your herb or vegetable garden. A few tips on using grey water:

· It’s alkaline, do not use it on plants that prefer acidic soil.
· Apply grey water to the soil, not to leaves or flowering parts of a plant.
· Do not use grey water on root vegetables.
· Use grey water ASAP; it should not be stored for more than 24 hours.
· Use grey water for flushing ONLY by dumping a bucketful into the toilet bowl, never into the tank.
· Avoid installing complicated, maintenance-intense filtering systems.
· Consider simple diverter valves to collect grey water for underground irrigation systems or holding tanks.
· Never cross-contaminate grey water with drinking water for people or pets.

You Waiting For? Now is the perfect time to plan for your spring watering needs. Grey water or rainwater collection kits are a smart investment during a hot, dry Cincinnati summer. Allied Ready Rooter can install your pre-purchased kits or help you construct one from scratch. For more information on going green with your water, contact Ray today. Estimates are free and coupons are available to offset the labor charge. Call today – 513.396-5300.