Nowadays it seems there’s ways for every room in your home to high-tech, and that includes the bathroom. From smart mirrors that help you look your best, to showers that turn on and off with voice command, to high-tech faucets and toilets that save your money, it’s easy to turn your bathroom into a state-of-the art oasis.
It’s safe to say, Allied knows bathrooms and we’ve seen a lot of trends come and go, but here are some high-tech bathroom trends we think are here to stay.
The latest bathroom mirrors don’t just offer you a reflection, but also lighting features that can be controlled by motion or your voice, and embedded sockets for electric razors and toothbrushes. Some even include hidden cabinets and drawers that can really optimize space, especially in smaller bathrooms.
Many of these smart mirrors include adjustable lighting to help you apply make-up, or dim to work as a night-light of for ambient lighting for relaxing in the bathtub. Other smart mirrors feature heating and cooling capabilities to keep them from steaming up, while others offer weather and news alerts and even personalized beauty advice.
It’s no fun to fiddle around with the faucet to get the water temperature just right for your shower or bath, and now you don’t have to thanks to smart technology. Today’s responsive digital shower controls feature LED lights that change color to indicate the temperature of the water. And that keeps it safe, especially when you’re warming up the bath for small children and infants.
Another way color is getting incorporated into today’s showers and baths is with chromatherapy, which uses color to affect your mood. Many smart showers include radiant heating that make you feel like you’re at a spa. And, like smart mirrors, many smart showers have voice activated features like stereos and even televisions.
High-tech taps and faucets
Many of today’s modern bathroom feature taps and faucets that save water and are economical, too. These new taps are sensor operated so the water runs only when hands are under the faucet, or through voice activation. This helps save money and conserve water when performing daily tasks like brushing your teeth. You can also set the faucets on a timer, so the water only runs when you really need it to.
Think of them like a modern-day bidet. Today’s toilets eliminate the need for toilet paper by using an oscillating shower spray that can be customized for your body. One of the reasons these toilets are gaining in popularity is because they allow you to do your business without, well, touching your business. So between a smart toilet and smart faucets and taps, you’ll keep things more sanitary.
Newer model toilets also include heat warming sensors—perfect for those who live in cooler climates. And several also feature a sensor that will raise and lower the lid depending on if it’s in use or not. You’ll never have to argue about someone not closing the lid on the seat again.
Setting up your smart bathroom
Features like heated toilet seats are easy to purchase and install yourself, while supplementing your bathroom with voice activated lighting is a matter of connecting your lighting system with voice prompted devices like Amazon’s Alexa. And many shower systems are smart-phone compatible.
We recommend starting with what you can do simply and economically. Then, if you want to take your bathroom completely high-tech, work with a professional that can install more elaborate interfaces.
The new year is the ideal time to make positive changes, and while most of us will focus our New Year’s resolutions on personal improvement or checking off something fun on the bucket list – like a trip of a lifetime, it’s a great time to consider making changes to your plumbing.
One of the best improvements you can make to your home’s plumbing is to make it more eco-friendly, which not only helps the health and quality of your life and your family’s too, but it also helps the planet and can save you money.
You don’t need to completely redo your home’s plumbing to make it green. In fact, there are ways you may be already helping the planet in your home with your own water and energy saving solutions.
Take a look at our four easy ways to make your home’s plumbing a little better for the environment and your pocketbook, too.
Reduce your energy
Make sure to insulate any pipes, because unprotected ones can mean heat loss as water flows from the hot water heater to faucets. Also, invest in an on-demand hot water pump that can generate hot water in seconds and only when you need it, rather than letting hot water sit in the tank unused, which costs money. You could also invest in a new hot water heater if more than 15% of your home’s energy is being spent heating water.
Keep your water clean
First, test your home’s water with a kit you can buy at your local home improvement store or through a professional tester. Also, make sure you’ve got a chlorine filter on your showerheads, as chlorine can cause dry skin, rashness and itchiness. This will save you a little money on moisturizers, even.
You could also install a charcoal filter or reverse osmosis filter, which can really help if you live in an area with poor water quality. Additionally, you could invest in a filtration system for your entire home, which not only keeps your water free of scary things like chemicals and micro-organisms, but it will keep your pipes from corroding too.
Save water, save energy
When going green, think less is more. You want to use less water overall, which saves energy.
This is pretty easy to do. First, start in the kitchen, you should turn off the faucet in the kitchen sink when you’re cooking and preparing meals as much as you can. Always put food scraps in the wastebasket, not in the sink.
The same goes for the bathroom. Turn off your faucet when you’re brushing your teeth, and never use the toilet as a waste basket. Also, conserve water by taking showers instead of baths. And, in the laundry room, wait to do laundry until you’ve got a full load.
Green solutions in the bathroom (and elsewhere)
This year, consider installing a low-flush toilet that greatly reduces your water use. In fact, it can save you about 30 gallons of water per day. You can also easily install faucet flow reducers.
In the bathroom – and your entire home – invest in a device that you can buy at your home improvement store that will alert you when there are leaks present in your faucets and pipes, and upgrade to energy efficient toilets and appliances.
A wise frog once said, “It’s not easy being green.” But it’s easy to go green when it comes to your home’s plumbing. Follow these tips and you’ll save money and better the planet and your health in no time.
So, you’re anticipating out-of-town guests for the holidays, and you’ve got friends and family who live close by coming over, too. It must be holiday season, and while it’s a joyful time of the year, it’s also one of the most taxing for your home’s plumbing.
Make sure your plumbing is ready for the busy weeks ahead with the tips below. With a little planning, you can focus your attention on the things that matter the most – spending time with loved ones.
Do a thorough cleaning. This isn’t just to make everything look great, but to help the bathroom and kitchen fixtures work great, too. We recommend using a vinegar and water solution to clean everything from your kitchen faucets to your shower heads.
That’s because the vinegar will remove any build up, which then allows water to flow freer. Of course, we know vinegar isn’t a favorite smell, but you can always follow the cleaning with a lighted candle or open a window.
Protect the drains. Your plumbing is going to work overtime if guests are over using sinks, tubs and showers, and that means drains will be prone to build up. Invest in inexpensive drain strainers to catch things like hair to prevent clogs in the bathroom.
Protect kitchen drains by not pouring cooking oils and grease down them. Instead, pour the grease or other fat substance in an aluminum can, wait until the fat has hardened, and then throw away. You can also help your drain (and garbage disposal) by not putting bones, vegetable rinds, and anything else that’s fibrous down them.
Add extra garbage bins. In the kitchen, have an extra garbage bin around for those bones and rinds so you can save the disposal. And in the bathroom, make sure there’s an extra garbage bin on hand so your guests aren’t tempted to flush items down the toilet or the sink.
Change the toilet flapper. The flapper is a hard-working is a plug-like device located at the bottom of the tank that is prone to malfunctioning and breaking from overuse, which can cause leaks that can lead to higher water bills. Since the toilet will be working overtime during the holidays, why not check the toilet flapper and fix by purchasing a new one at a home improvement store, or by calling a professional plumber?
Check the hot water heater. It would be a real disappointment to leave your guests lukewarm water for showers. Avoid that by doing a thorough check of your hot water heater before they arrive. Look to see if there are any leaks coming from the base or anywhere else. If there are, contact a professional plumber for a repair.
Consider turning the hot water heater up as high as it can go (not to exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit), and remember to turn it down when your guests leave. And, if you’re worried you don’t have a large enough hot water heater for guests, perhaps it’s time to invest in a tankless hot water heater. Now that’s a nice gift!
Know your home’s plumbing. In the event of a major leak, you’ll need to know where your home’s shut off valves are located. Also, make sure you have plungers, snakes and the phone number of a professional plumber on hand in case you need extra help.
By following these quick tips, you’ll be able to rest easy while your plumbing works hard. That way, you can enjoy the fun ahead.
So, you’re buying a new home. Before you make it official, it’s important to take a look at your potential new home’s plumbing. Doing this before you buy can save you lots of money (and a few headaches) in the future.
To help you streamline the process, we’ve created a list of the most important plumbing features to check before booking that moving truck.
Faucets and sinks
First, turn on every faucet in the house to make sure the water runs quickly and drains quickly, too. This will give you an idea of how well the water pressure is in the home and if there are drain issues that will need to be repaired. We recommend having a plumber take a look. Don’t rely on a bottle of drain opener to fix the problem. Have it fixed right — and permanently – before you buy.
Next, look around the faucets and at the base and installation points of the sink to see if there are any leaks. These, too, can be costly in the long run, so the leaks should be repaired by a professional right away.
If possible, get a full history of the home’s plumbing, including repairs and updates, from the current owner or the realtor. It’s especially helpful to know the age of the water heater, which can usually be found on the heater itself. Generally, water heaters should be replaced every 10-12 years.
Check the water heater for any leaks around the inlet, outlet valves and the heater’s base. Listen for any noises when you turn the water heater on and check to see if you find any rust on the tank.
You can also turn on the faucet and check to see if there is any rust colored water that runs. If you notice any of these signs, have a plumber check to see if the water heater needs to be replaced or repaired.
Main sewer drain
Avoid one of the most costly and extensive repairs by hiring a plumbing professional to check the main sewer drain. We recommend this especially if the home you’re considering buying is older.
Age and tree roots that grow under the home’s foundation are two of the main culprits of sewer drain breaks. However, the best way to tell if the drain need repaired is with a camera inspection performed by a professional plumber.
If the sump pump in the home you’re planning to buy isn’t working properly and needs to be replaced or repaired it can cause a flooded basement. This can lead to costly repairs and is liable to cause damage to the property in the basement, too.
Before you buy, ask the current home owner or realtor if the basement has ever flooded. If it has and they haven’t investigated to find out why, you’ll want to hire a plumber to examine the condition of the sump pump.
When you’re looking at the house, turn off the water meter to test the shut off valve. If you notice water coming out of the spouts, you’ll need to have the valve checked out. It may need to be repaired or replaced.
Don’t let plumbing concerns take the joy out of homebuying. With these tips, you can be sure that if all are in working order, you’ve found a great house to call home.
Don’t wait until the water from your faucet, shower or bath runs cold to ask yourself if it’s time to replace your water heater, especially during the winter months. Fall is the best time to check your water heater.
We’ve created a list of things to check. This way, you’ll feel confident making the decision to invest in a new one.
Check the age
The average water heater lasts between eight and ten years. So, if you’re using one that’s older than that, you’re on a bit of borrowed time. Regardless of if your water heater is showing signs of wear-and-tear or not, we recommend replacing it when it reaches ten years old.
You can find out the age of your water heater by locating it’s serial number and checking with the manufacturer. Also note, gas water heaters last only about six to eight years.
Rusty water and tank
Any sign of rust in your water or around the tank is a good clue that it’s time to replace the water heater. Rust is a sign that corrosion has begun in the steel water heater itself or the valves. Either way, once corrosion has begun, leaks aren’t far away. Another thing to consider is your family’s safety. Rusty water is contaminated water and another very good reason to replace the water heater.
If you hear any clanking, rumbling, or general loud noise coming from your water heater, it’s time to take a closer look. Water heaters should run quiet, and if they don’t you probably have an issue that needs repaired or a heater that needs replaced.
Hardened sediment that collects on the floor of the heater could be to blame. Over time, sediment can build up and weaken the steel foundation of the heater. When that happens, it’s best to replace the heater.
Another option, if the sediment hasn’t caused too much damage, is to flush the water heater. A professional plumber should perform a flush on your water heater every year. If you’re still hearing noise after the flush, it’s definitely time for a new water heater.
Water leaks around the heater
While some water heater leaks can be repaired, if you’re noticing water around the base of your tank (especially when your water heater reaches an older age), it could be caused by wear-and-tear and the result of years of heating and cooling water.
Hot water expands metal. Over time the expansion of steel changes the size of the heater and creates the potential for leaks. These leaks can be costly if they lead to damage to your flooring – and dangerous if the leak reaches electrical wiring. It’s much more cost-effective (and safer) to replace the water heater at that point.
When to repair – not replace – the water heater
If your water heater simply isn’t producing hot water, it may just need repaired. Some culprits that cause water to run cold (and only cold) include a faulty thermostat or one that simply needs adjusted. Your thermostat should be set between 120 and 140 degrees.
Other components in your water heating system could be at fault, too. To know for sure, contact your professional plumber who can tell you definitively whether you should repair or replace your water heater.
It’s not quite time for flannel shirts and holiday parties, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to get your plumbing ready for the colder months ahead. In fact, now that another September is in the books and October is underway, it’s the ideal time to do some winter home plumbing preparation.
Below is a list of the most important home plumbing jobs to take care of before the first frost. Most items require a mere simple inspection, while others require just a little bit of easy leg work.
When it comes to checking your home’s plumbing before winter, it’s much better to be earlier than too late. Take a look at the list below, and give us a call if you have questions or need an extra hand getting your home ready for colder weather. The last thing you want is a frozen, busted pipe to fix when you least expect it.
Start outside – This is the time to put the garden hoses inside. Fall flowers and plants require less water than those that bloom and grow in summer and your grass is likely not growing as fast.
Clean gutters – Check both the gutters and downspouts and get rid of any leaves, twigs, or other debris. If you haven’t already, install leaf guards to keep your gutters clear.
Invest in insulated covers – You can find these at any home improvement center. These inexpensive covers prevent cold air from passing through pipes that open from inside to the outdoors, so you won’t lose heat.
Inspect your pipes – Take a look at all the pipes in your home and fix any that are leaking. When looking for leaks, don’t just rely on the sight of water from leaking faucets or valves. Check under sinks for any moisture, puddles, water marks and notice if you detect any moldy smells.
Inspect your water heater – Before the cold weather sets in, make sure to check your water heater and get it serviced. We recommend having the water heater drained at this time every year.
Wrap pipes in unheated areas – You can purchase pipe insulation or heat tape at your local home improvement store, where you can also find kits that help keep the pipes from freezing.
Service your furnace – Since your furnace is about to come out of retirement, you’ll want to make sure it’s working properly and ready to take on the job of heating the house. This is a great time to get the furnace serviced by a professional. It’s also good to have filters on hand to change on a regular basis to keep the air clean.
Check the sump pump – Your sump pump is located in the sump basin or pit of your basement where water collects and drains. To check it, take off the lid and make sure there are no clogs and that it’s clean.
It’s easy to check these tasks off the list. Once you do, you can relax knowing you and your family will be cozy in your warm home, with plumbing that will carry you through the winter.
So, you need to know where your sewer line is located. Maybe you’re ready for new construction work at your home or you need to locate the line for a repair.
While there are various ways to find out where your sewer line is located, some require a little more work and time than others. Regardless of how you find the line, the good news is that once you locate it, you’ll always know where they are.
Make a visit to city hall
Your municipality very likely has maps with all of the sewer lines in the city or county. The best place to start is with your town’s zoning office.
Ask the previous owner and your neighbors
If you have access to the former owner of your home, you may want to reach out and see if they know where the sewer line is located. Additionally, if you’re considering buying a home, ask the seller where the sewer line is located or have the realtor relay the question or help you find out. You could also ask your neighbors. If they know where their sewer lines are, it could give you a good clue about where yours are, too.
Find the Septic Tank
If you have a septic tank, that makes it a little easier because the sewer line that connects in your basement goes straight to the tank. You can use a stake to find the line underground. Typically, the line is buried 12 to 24 inches underground.
Contact a plumber
We recommend contacting a plumber for these next two options to finding your sewer lines. First, is when you’re considering digging. Plumbers can look closely in your crawlspace or basement, locate the drain line, and follow that until it leads to the sewer line. This requires digging around the drain line. Without doing this properly, you could damage your foundation or plumbing, which is why we recommend using a professional plumber.
The second time to contact a plumber is to use small, flushable cameras that will show you the location of the drain line. Some plumbers, including Allied, use underground video snake technology paired with a metal detector to locate the sewer line through the ground.
Every day, homes throughout Greater Cincinnati use natural gas for everything from water heaters to oven ranges to clothes dryers. While natural gas is very clean and usually extremely safe, natural gas leaks can occur, and when they do it can be a very dangerous situation.
Not only can gas leaks lead to explosions, they can also cause you and your family to become ill. Gas poisoning is a potentially serious condition that can cause nausea, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness and even loss of consciousness.
Don’t let a gas leak put you and your loved ones in danger. Below are our tips for detecting a gas leak and what you can do in the event that you’ve got one inside – or outside – your Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky house.
How to detect a gas leak inside your home:
Follow your nose – Natural gas contains an additive that makes it easy to smell. Usually described as a “rotten egg” or sulphur-like scent, this is often one of the first signs there’s a gas leak someplace in your home. Follow your nose to the leak. Then, when you find it, stay away from the area until you’ve taken steps to fix the leak (we’ll tackle this below).
Follow your ears – Yes, you can actually hear a gas leak. If you smell what seems to be natural gas, and also hear a hissing sound in the same area, that’s usually a good sign you’ve got a gas leak. You can often hear a hissing sound easily around appliances like your oven range or from your gas valves, for example, if there is a leak.
Check malfunctioning appliances – If your gas stove or water heater doesn’t produce a flame when it’s ignited, check for a gas leak. And while these are obvious appliances in your home where leaks can occur, also check others that are powered by natural gas such as your clothes dryer and also around your home’s valves and pipes.
How to detect a gas leak outside your home:
Look for dying plants – If there’s a gas leak near flower, plants and trees, they will look wilted and lifeless. Eventually, they can even die because a gas leak will deprive the plant’s source of oxygen. If you begin to see dry, brown, or otherwise discolored plants there is a good change you have an outside gas leak, especially if you’ve otherwise taken care of your lawn with proper watering and other methods.
Flames – In rare cases, natural gas leaks can cause flames coming from the ground. You’ll want to steer clear of the area if you detect this and call your local fire department immediately.
What to do when you observe a gas leak in your home:
• Open all doors and windows
• Put out all candles or other naked flames
• Do NOT turn on any electrical devices
• Do not turn on or off any light switches. Leave them as is.
• Do not smoke
• Know where your appliance and building gas shut-off valves are located and shut them off
• Get everyone, including pets, out of the house
• Contact 911 and your local energy provider
• Do not re-enter your home until the gas leak is repaired
Allied Reddi-Rooter can help you detect gas leaks and repair natural pipes on your Greater Cincinnati property. Give us a call today if you’re concerned you may have a leak. It’s best o err on the side of caution when it comes your family’s safety.
Conserving water isn’t just good for the planet, it’s also great a great way to limit wear-and-tear on your plumbing that can lead to repairs. And reducing your water usage can also help you save money on water bills, which tend to be higher in the summer months when we use water outdoors for things like watering our lawns.
Luckily, there are many easy ways to conserve water. Below are our tips for saving water at your home. Once you get into the habit of following these small steps, you’ll save money, be doing your part to help save the planet, and you’ll give your plumbing a break, too.
1 – Use your sprinklers early morning or later in the evening. Generally, the hotter the temps, the quicker water evaporates. Water your lawn or set your sprinklers to run when it’s cooler outside. We recommend early in the morning (before 9 a.m.) and or after 6 p.m.
2 – Keep the grass a little higher. When mowing, adjust the mower to a higher setting to shade the roots. This will require you to water your lawn less.
3 – Inspect your irrigation system. Look for any leaks, breaks, or blocks in the irrigation system. Alternatively, if you don’t have an irrigation or drainage system, consider building one. There are simple ways to create an efficient yet simple drainage system that conserves water.
4 – Get a low flow toilet. One of the biggest uses of water in the home is the toilet. Older toilets use between five to seven gallon per flush. That’s a lot. Low flow toilets only use about 1.6 gallons of water.
5 – Check for toilet leaks. Here’s an easy way to check for leaks: put a little food coloring in the tank. If the color appears in the toilet bowl before a flushing, you’ve likely got a leak. That’s when you should give us a call.
6 – Don’t let the faucet run needlessly. Seems easy enough, but how many times have you multi-tasked while cooking and let the faucet run between jobs? Take a second to turn the faucet off. It’s a habit that can save you gallon of water (per meal!)
7 – Don’t use water to defrost frozen foods. Not only is this bad for water conservation, it’s not safe. We recommend defrosting foods in the refrigerator (and food safety experts do, too).
8 – Use leftover water. Keep a bucket in your kitchen to dump left over drinking water and from washing fruits and vegetables. Then, when it’s full, use it to water the lawn.
9 – Invest in a dishwasher. It’s not only more convenient to use a dishwasher (rather than washing by hand), it saves water. In fact, energy efficient dishwashers only use about 4.5 gallons of water per job. Handwashing takes about 20 gallons of water.
10 – Don’t take long showers. We know you don’t want to hear this, but long showers are a culprit when it comes to higher water bills. We recommend limiting your shower time to one single song (as in a pop song, not a symphony).
11 – Install low flow faucet aerators. These can save you gallons every time you use the tap. Low flow faucets use only about 1.5 gallons of water per minute.
12 – Turn off the water. When you brush your teeth, or while you’re getting spruced up for a night out, keep the faucet off.
13 – Use baths sparingly. Start thinking of baths as an indulgence. The average bath can use up to 50 gallons of water.
14 – Full loads only. Limit your washing machine use to full loads of clothes only.
15 – Check for leaks. We saved one of the most important tips for last. Did you know that a simple water leak – like a leaky shower or toilet – can waste nearly 3,000 gallons of water a year? Examine your washers and gaskets for leaks. Simple pipe tape can help a leaky shower head, but if can’t be fixed with a wrench it’s probably time for a new one.
Following these simple tips can preserve your plumbing and help you save money, too.
Why hard water is bad for your home’s plumbing and heating systems
Have you ever taken your glasses and silverware out of the dishwasher only to find spots or film all over them? The culprit is likely hard water, caused when calcium carbonate and magnesium heats up and adds solid residue on your dishes.
But hard water isn’t just a nuisance, it can also cause damage to your home’s plumbing, especially when the calcium builds up on pipes and restricts water flow.
While Cincinnati has clean tap water, most home owners find steps are needed to soften their water, because while our tap water may be safe, it’s also known for carrying high amounts of magnesium and calcium than many other cities. Basically, Cincinnati has a hard water problem.
Take a look at our article below that explains hard water, why it’s bad for plumbing, and what you can do to make sure your home’s water doesn’t amount to costly plumbing repairs.
What is hard water, anyway?
Basically, when we use the term “hard water,” we’re talking about water that his high in dissolved minerals. Usually, we’re talking about calcium and magnesium that, while safe for consumption, can build up in pipes over time.
Why is hard water a problem?
Hard water is bad for a variety of reasons. At the very least it means your soap and detergent will be less efficient, so you’ll use more of it. But the bigger concern comes when water gets heated, which you probably do on a daily basis for anything from dish washing to showers to heating your home, so hard water can adversely affect our water pipes and our heating systems, too.
Here’s a breakdown of issues hard water can cause, in order of seriousness.
- The need to use more detergent or soap for washing everything from dishes to clothes
- Soap or shampoo residue on hair, which can make it look dull
- Unsightly soap buildup on tile, bathroom and kitchen fixtures
- Spots on glasses and dishes after they’ve been washed
- Build-up in water pipes that reduces the flow of water
- Build-up in water heater systems that can cause them to use nearly 40% more energy to work
How do I know if I have hard water?
There are a few ways to test if your home has hard water or not. This simplest way is to add a little dish soap to a glass of water. Close the glass, give it a shake, and see if it produces a lot of suds. If it doesn’t you probably have hard water.
You could also ask your municipal water department for a water report on your neighborhood, which will show you levels of minerals in your water. Other options are to have the water tested by a private company, or with water hardness test strips you can find in your local home improvement or hardware store.
My water is hard. What do I do?
There are several water-conditioning products out there that will work on one part of your house, for example a water filter on a faucet. However, your best bet is to install a home water softener system for your whole house. We can help match you with the best one for your home.
Remember: when you test your water and make sure it’s soft, you’re not only increasing the quality of your life and helping your health, you’re helping to avoid costly plumbing repairs, too.