Continuing our home improvement theme, 2015 has a some exciting developments in for kitchens. In our home, the kitchen is used and abused by kids, dogs, and adults. It’s a vicious cycle of foot traffic, heads-in-the-fridge, and dishes-in-the-sink. Frankly, things are beginning to look worn. On the bright side, a kitchen facelift is fairly easy, budget-friendly, and pays off immediately.

Faucet finishes and styles – Chrome is keen and pull-out sprayers rule 
for the kitchen, few things beat the clean, traditional appearance of chrome. Other finishes are readily available, but chrome is timelessly attractive and easy to clean. To keep your chrome faucet looking brilliant, simply wipe with a damp cloth, never use an abrasive cleanser or scouring pad. If your house has small children (including kids that like to climb), we recommend a cast-brass, chrome-plated kitchen faucet – they provide sturdy foundations for little ones. Although cast brass is a little more expensive, it’s well worth it in the long run.

The dish sprayer attachment – It’s long been a long been a staple in the kitchen sink. The ever-increasing popularity of the pull-out sprayer that’s integrated with the faucet is an elegant way to unclutter the sink area. And, it looks good, too.

Sinks and backsplashes 
glass tile backsplashes – They continue to be a hit with homeowners. We agree – the sheets of glass mosaic tiles available at the big box retailers are a simple way to transform kitchen backsplashes without breaking the bank.

Stainless steel sinks – Long the mainstay of kitchens across America, will continue to be popular. The vintage-modern trend popularized on Pinterest, however, is also a strong contender. Look for porcelain farm sinks to be a major design element in remodels and new construction.

Is there a list available?
 Funny you should ask! According to Veterans United Real Estate, the “New Home Report 2015” provides a handy listing of the kitchen do’s and don’ts:

Very Likely Kitchen Features
• Double sink
• Recessed lighting
• Table space for eating
• Breakfast bar
• Pull-out drawers

Somewhat Likely Kitchen Features
• Central island
• Walk-in pantry
• Recycling center
• Desk/computer area
• Granite countertop
• Laminate countertop

Unlikely Kitchen Features
• Small appliance storage area
• Hot water dispenser
• Butler’s pantry
• Wine cooler
• Fireplace
• Trash compactor

Water You Waiting For? If a kitchen remodeling project is your plans for 2015 and Pinterest has given you lots of ideas, call Ray at Allied Reddi-Rooter for help developing a budget, a work plan, and design ideas. 513-396-5300.

As we look forward to a new season and better weather, we’re excited to share new plumbing ideas and approaches. In this, this is the first of a 2-part series, we’ll focus on a few of the latest trends in bathroom remodeling.

Bathrooms are one of the most valuable rooms in a home or business. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), bathroom remodeling projects comprise nearly 80% of all home remodeling projects and provide an excellent return on investment. If you’re considering updating your bath, the trends below may be of interest.

Double Vanities – The ladies may enjoy sharing wine and conversation, but when it comes to sharing a whisker-dotted lavatory…well, not so much. This year’s updated looks feature Asian-inspired designs, storage space for linens and toiletries, clean lines, and can be fitted with wide selection of options in fixtures.

Touchless faucets – A popular option in corporate and institutional restrooms, the 2015 editions of touchless faucets feature more consumer-friendly and modern designs. If minimizing germ transmission is a concern, a touchless faucet may be a smart option.

Oversized showerheads – Perhaps Seinfeld started the big shower head trend in the “Shower Head” episode https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-cl=84359240&feature=player_detailpage&v=vMITcQUe-9M&x-yt-ts=1421782837. Or maybe we are collectively ready for a bold new look. Oversized shower heads provide an affordable yet luxurious look and a relaxing spa-like experience.

Curbless showers – One of the most exciting trends is the move towards “no-step” shower designs that eliminate the ubiquitous shower curb rising up from the floor. This look adds clean lines and provides a few less corners for soap scum and mold to hide. This new look is worth considering if mobility problems may be a concern for you or a loved one in your home.

Deluxe, yet space-saving, bathtubs – A rain forest shower head may not be everyone’s ideal daily bath experience; some enjoy nothing more than a good, long, soak. Homeowners no longer desire the traditional shower-tub combo. These days, standalone tubs are tremendously popular in bathroom remodels. Sleek new designs combined with retro themes such as tub feet and filler faucets create a relaxing atmosphere and panache.

Designer Finishes – Today’s fixtures are available in finishes that are both trendy and interesting. Besides stainless steel and shades of grey, visualize shiny chrome, brushed nickel, and oil-rubbed bronze and a variety of warm looks in-between.

Next Up: In Part 2 of our look at 2015 trends, we’ll explore the latest in kitchen trends.

Water You Waiting For? If a bathroom remodeling project is your plans for 2015, call Ray at Allied Reddi-Rooter for help with developing a budget, a work plan, and design ideas. 513-396-5300.

It’s mid-January and cabin fever is setting in.  Just for kicks, we’ve been researching water filters – everything from household tap water dechlorination to personal, pocket-sized devices for life on the road, path, or trail.

Home Filtration Systems
Cincinnati is famed for having clean drinking water. From the river to the tap, our water treatment is among the best in the country.  Going from the tap-to-the-glass, however, there’s one element we would like to remove: chlorine.  It’s a miracle chemical for killing wigglies in our water, but do we want to drink it? No.

In looking at water filtration systems for the home, our focus is on removing the chlorine and chloramine from the water before it comes out of the tap or shower. In order of ease-of-use/affordability, here are a few approaches:

Time – The simple act of filling a pitcher with tap water and letting it set 24 hours will allow the chlorine to dissipate.

Japanese Bincho-tan Charcoal
 – Looking for something a cut above the ubiquitous Brita pitcher?  Try Bincho-tan, a specialty hard charcoal that’s a favorite of Japanese chefs and has many uses – one of which is purifying water.  Artful in appearance and intriguing in its history, a single stick of Bincho-tan can de-chlorinate a pitcher of water for up to 90 days. Then, simply boil the charcoal stick for 10 minutes and it’s good for another 90 days.   Repeat as needed.

Countertop/Under the Sink Filters
 – For removing chlorine and chloramine, a block carbon filter may be a good choice.  They are efficient, but in most cases the filter must be replaced every 2-6 months, which can be costly.  Typically, these filters are only installed on the cold water line, as that’s the one used for drinking water.

Campden tablets (potassium metabisulfite) – These inexpensive tablets, commonly used by winemakers, will remove both chlorine and chloramine from up to 20 gallons of tap water (per tablet).

Reverse-Osmosis Filtration – The “Big Daddy” of filtration approaches, a reverse-osmosis system is costly to install and to maintain.  But, for some homes it’s the best approach.  Such filters force water through a thin membrane, leaving nearly pure water behind. Homeowners determine how many gallons-per-day they will need, and the system is designed accordingly.

Personal/Portable Filtration Systems
If you’re seeking to remove more than just chlorine from your drinking water while traveling, hiking, or in an emergency situation, below are a few of the most popular emergency filter options on the market today.

Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter – Designed for travelers world-wide, this filter features a silver-impregnated anti-bacterial (and anti-protozoa) element that filters micro-organisms larger than 0.2 microns. Easy to use, Katadyn filters are military-grade and consistently ranked ‘best of class’ among soldiers and outdoor enthusiasts.

LifeStraw® Personal Water Filter – Named one of Time Magazine’s 2005 “Inventions of the Year”, this lightweight, inexpensive, and thoughtfully designed filter fits nicely in a backpack or glove compartment.  Filters up to 1,000 liters of contaminated water through a 7-layer filter system and without any chemicals.  As with the Katadyne filter above, the LifeStraw filters to 0.2 microns. It surpasses EPA standards and removes 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa.

Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System – Similar in price to the LifeStraw, the Sawyer Mini weights in at 2 ounces. Despite it’s small size, this filter is high-performance – it tested to 10 million parts of bacteria and one million parts of protozoa without a single breakthrough, the highest testing level for filtration. The Sawyer Mini can  filter up to 100,000 gallons of water. It removes 99.99999% of all bacteria and 99.9999% of all protozoa (yes, that’s the correct number of 9’s after the decimal point). Amazingly, Sawyer’s filter system removes bacteria and protozoa larger than 0.1 microns.

Caught Flat-Footed? Unscented Chlorine Bleach Works, Too.
We’ve all heard about ‘boil water advisories’ on the evening news.  Sometimes the advisories are issued in flood zones, other times because of a water main break or toxic spill into the river.  According tohttp://firstaid.about.com/od/emergencypreparation/ht/07_Treat_Water.htm, regular, unscented chlorine bleach is a perfectly sound approach for decontaminating water until local authorities declare it safe for cooking, bathing/brushing teeth, or drinking.

Below is the firstaid.about.com recipe for clean water.
• Filter cloudy water through clean cloths or coffee filters.
• Let water sit for an hour or two after filtering to allow any sediment to settle. Pour the clear water off the top into another container. Be careful not to dump the sediment into the new container.
• Use non-scented chlorine bleach and determine the percentage of chlorine by looking at the label. Use a dropper to add the chlorine to the water:
• 1%: 10 drops per quart/liter – 40 drops per gallon
• 4-6%: 2 drops per quart/liter – 8 drops per gallon (8 drops is about 1/8 teaspoon)
• 7-10%: 1 drops per quart/liter – 4 dropsper gallon Double the amount of chlorine for murky water, cloudy water, or extremely cold water.
• Stir the water thoroughly and let it stand.
• Check the water after 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine smell. If it doesn’t, repeat steps 3 and 4 again and let it sit for 15 more minutes. For water that has too strong of a chlorine taste, let it stand open for a few hours (without a lid) or pour it back and forth between two clean containers.
• Put the treated water into clean containers with lids. Tips:
• If bleach label contains directions for disinfecting water, follow the manufacturer’s directions.
• Chemical treatment works better in warm water.
• Never use non-chlorine bleach or scented bleach to treat water.
• If the strength of the bleach is unknown, use 10 drops per quart.
• To remove the chlorine taste, filter the water through a portable charcoal water pitcher, such as the kind commonly found in grocery stores.

Water You Waiting For?  If you’re interested in installing water filtration system in your home or business, the professionals atAllied Reddi-Rooter can help you determine which approach is best for your home, business, and budget. Call Ray today for a free estimate. 513-396-5300.

Many of our blogs and facebook posts center on DIY projects and water reclamation/water recycling. Intentional water reclamation is a Good Thing. But when it’s taking place unannounced through an unwanted hydraulic event called ‘backflow’…well that’s a bad thing. Backflow occurs when non-potable water enters one’s water supply as a result of improperly connected and causes potentially deadly contamination. Understanding backflow and the fix – aptly named ‘backflow prevention’ – is important.

According to http://tripleabackflow.com, backflow happens when “man-made contaminants enter the drinking water through cross-connected plumbing on private property. [These] contaminants can cause serious illness and the [property] owner can be held liable for damages.” In the vernacular, improperly connected plumbing causes your drinking water lines to hook up with your sewage, creating a condition where the good water and the bad water co-mingle in your drinking water. Yuuuuuck.

Cross-Connected Plumbing Defined
“A cross-connection is a point in the plumbing where ones drinking water is connected to a contaminated source and the contaminated water can flow back through the connection.” Typically, cross-connections can include (but are not limited to) the following:

· Sprinkler systems
· Utility sinks/wash basins
· Water conditioners
· Boilers, cooling towers and chillers

Backflow Prevention – It Matters.
If you have a home or business sprinkler system (lawn or fire) or any other plumbing situation where potable water is connected to a non-potable application, a backflow prevention device is a requirement. Two types are available for use with sprinkler systems: a pressure vacuum breaker (PVB) for lawns that are mostly level and a reduced pressure assembly (RPA) for lawns that are hilly and uneven. Note that once you have a backflow prevention installed, state and city codes require the backflow prevention devices to be tested annually be a licensed inspector.

Water You Waiting For? If you are planning improvements that include installation of a sprinkler system, the licensed professionals at Allied Reddi-Rooter can insure the installation is done correctly. Call Ray today for a free estimate. 513-396-5300.

This week, we experienced two unexpected power outages – three-hour outage in urban Cincinnati and a two-hour outage in rural west-central Ohio. And as luck would have it, the outage in rural Ohio happened in the middle of a holiday gathering with our “city friends” and their children visiting the Ohio countryside. So, what does one do with 10 children and eight adults during a mid-winter power outage?

Light the kerosene lamps, and explain that flushing the toilet and drawing water from the faucet is not an option until the electricity is restored.

While the kids LOVED the popular water conservation adage “if it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down,” the adults were clearly taken aback. During Cincinnati power outages, a water line is seldom out of service. Rural households, however, typically rely on well pumps and electricity. Without water and electricity, country living quickly becomes sanitation adventure.

Composting Toilets – A New Twist on the Outhouse Approach

According to Wikipedia, “composting toilets can be suitable in areas without a suitable water supply, sewer system or sewage treatment plant.” Additionally, “composting toilets can be suitable in situations where an individual, family or community wants [a workable waste solution in case of] natural disasters or…to reduce or eliminate the need for a septic tank system to [shrink one’s] environmental footprint.”

A composting toilet offers a controlled approach to waste decomposition, which is a little different from the traditional outhouse/pit latrine many are familiar with.

Who Thinks This Stuff Up?
According to the “the Internet,” it was during London’s ” ‘Great Stink’ in the summer of 1858 that the smell of untreated human waste and effluvia…prompted authorities to [implement a ‘dry earth system’ of processing waste]”. Although the water-based flush toilet attached to a sanitary sewer system eventually won the popularity contest, the composting approach was widely adopted in British homes, military camps, and hospitals. In certain areas of Europe, it’s still in use today.

What Makes It Work?
Similar to the compost pile in one’s backyard, composting toilets follow a few basic principles. There are two elements: a chair/seat and a collection/composting receptacle. Once the waste is collected in the receptacle, the composting action takes place when the following are in good order:

• Ventilation/oxygen is enough to ensure an aerobic environment.
• Leaching action that enables drainage of excess liquids. Note that wood chips, shredded paper, and other cellulose (and carbon-rich) material can be added to absorb moisture and increase the beefiness of the compost. Plus, it’s a nice way to cover up the stuff you don’t want to see or smell. Powdered lime is also a good compost activator and odor-reducer.
• Heat—the internal temperature of the compost heap should be in the range of 100-12 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Nitrogen – the carbon to nitrogen ration should be 25:1.
• A door to access the mature compost (if that’s what you had in mind).

Is a Composting Toilet Really the Best Way to Go?
Admittedly, it’s more popular in Europe than America but the recent rise in prepping has drawn attention to the importance of effectively managing waste in a ‘grid-down’ scenario. At Allied Reddi-Rooter, we recommend the water-based flush approach whenever possible. That being said, it’s good to understand the range of options readily available.

Water You Waiting For? The professional plumbers at Allied Reddi-Rooter are on hand 24/7 to repair, install, or upgrade your existing toilets and other bathroom needs. Call Ray today for a free estimate and advice on the recommended waste management approaches in an urban area. (513) 396-5300.

If thoughts of plumbing brings visions of nasty clogs, flooded basements, grease traps and sewers, think again. Sure, plumbing work is not all sugarplums and chocolate oranges, but it definitely has moments that make a positive difference in people’s lives, homes, and businesses. At Allied, we love our work and the ways in which we are able to enrich your water and sanitation experiences in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas. Plumbing is an ever-changing industry on the leading edge of better living. According to HardwareRetailing.com, “recent legislative mandates regarding water conservation, as well as water safety and health concerns” have created four exciting trends in the plumbing business. (THANKS, Environmental Protection Agency!)
Purchase your own parts/DIY
Because of the growing popularity of instructional YouTube videos (THANKS, internet!) and DIY television programs, homeowners and small business owners are able to tackle small plumbing fixes on their own rather than hiring a plumber. In big-box hardware stores, it’s easy to see the trend – plumbing aisles are laid out in a manner that mimics the way homeowners will approach a project. Gregg Kirksey, plumbing buyer for Scarborough Lumber in Ben Lomond, California notes that in his store “the first aisle has ABS and PVC fittings. The next aisle over is toilet repair, then next is faucet and faucet repair,” he says. Plumbing hardware retailers are seeing increased interest in no-solder and flexible gas fittings, PEX products and other fitting innovations that simplify pipe connections.

At Allied Reddi-Rooter, we fully support handy homeowners and appreciate that some repairs are easily accomplished without us. But, if you find the job to be a bit more involved that initially thought, our trained plumbers are just a phone call away. And if that weekend trip to the big orange home store lands you with a new lavatory, vanity, stool, showerhead or faucet, we’ll happily install it for you.

Skilled troubleshooting and customer service. When looking for a plumber, seek out a company that has a solid knowledge of common plumbing complaints. Typically, you’ll find that local plumbers who have been in business for decades have a reputation for troubleshooting and outstanding customer service. The best plumbers will be able to isolate the trouble, explain it clearly, and likely offer repair solutions in lieu of a full fixture replacement. Plumbing is all the mechanics of “parts” – unless the porcelain is cracked or the pipe has burst, it’s typically repairable, saving you both time and money.

Water Conservation and Reclamation
Followers of our blog, may have noticed that water conservation is a favorite topic. Although water use is not highly regulated in Cincinnati (yet), it’s a national and global trend. Products such as rain barrels/catchment systems, low-flow showerheads toilets continue to lead the way in plumbing innovations. In the coming year, look for water conservation workshops held by local retailers as a way to educate consumers about the importance of water awareness.

Energy Efficiency
According to HardwareRetailing.com , “In 2015, the government is expected to regulate new efficiency standards for electric and gas water heaters, similar to the [recent] light bulb regulations.” (THANKS, big government!). The new standards won’t make existing units illegal, but the newly manufactured ones must meet the new standards:

· Electric water heaters with more than 50 gallons capacity must have a heat pump to improve efficiency.
· Gas water heaters must have a 2″ thick tank insulation wrap, to keep the water hotter longer and to achieve a minimum energy efficiency ratings.
· Tankless water heaters may become more popular as a result of the new regulations. In spite of the higher initial investment, tankless water heaters offer energy savings over time.

Water Filtration Systems
Cincinnati water quality from the plant-to-your-faucet is widely known to be among the best in the nation. That being said, the quality of our drinking water from the faucet-to-glass can be improved further with the installation of a water filtration system. Readily available and inexpensive (THANKS, internet!), filtrations systems vary from the standard charcoal-filter pitcher to in-line systems for your faucet and refrigerator. If you have an in-line system, we recommend replacing the filter every 6 months (bacteria grows in wet, dark places).

Water You Waiting For? Allied Reddi-Rooter has been serving Greater Cincinnati residential and commercial plumbing repair needs since 1950 (and recently, the Dayton area), our skilled team is available for drain cleaning and sewer repair, stack replacement, water main installation/repair, leaking pipes, broken toilets, water heater and sump pump installation at home, plus restaurant grease trap cleaning. Call Ray today for a free estimate. 513-396-5300.