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Baths Versus Showers Water Usage

Baths vs. Showers: Which Is Really Better for Water Conservation?

If you’re a thoughtful homeowner who wants to reduce utility bills and be mindful about water conservation, you may be wondering whether people save more water by taking baths or showers.
Standing in the Shower or Soaking in a Tub?
When it comes to comparing how much water you use when taking a bath or when showering, you have to take into account how long you let the water run for showers.
A typical filled bathtub uses about 36 gallons on average according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Older showers may use as many as five gallons of water every minute. This means that if you showered for longer than seven minutes (not uncommon!), you will be using more water every time you shower instead of drawing a relaxing bath for yourself.
Are baths or showers better for water conservation?
Ways Improve Water Conservation
The USGS notes that newer, more efficient low-flow shower heads only use about two gallons per minute, meaning that you could take an 18-minute shower and use about the same amount of water as you would if you had opted for a soak in the tub instead.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, investing in water-saving fixtures and appliances can save families more than $380 from the $1,000 spent on water on average each year in the U.S. —-
Get Advice from Discount Plumbers
Since we use so much water every day just to stay clean, it makes sense for property owners in the Twin Cities Metro Area to take advantage of the latest in water-conserving fixtures. Not only will you feel pride in doing your part to use fewer natural resources, you should be able to anticipate seeing lower water utility bills going forward.
At Discount Plumbers, we can help you save water by installing new low-flow showerheads, water-saving toilets, and by fixing wasteful leaks. We also advise you to replace older appliances with newer versions that meet the U.S. government’s Energy Star ratings. —- This includes dishwashers and washing machines that will help your family get more use out of much less water.
To learn more about our approach to helping Minneapolis/Saint Paul area homeowners reduce their water consumption or to arrange for an appointment for service, please contact Discount Plumbers.
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Common Plumbing Emergencies

Most Common Plumbing Emergencies?

Plumbing emergencies can be extremely stressful, causing damage to your home and racking up expenses quickly. Knowing the most common plumbing emergencies can help you to anticipate and deal with them more effectively when/if they do occur.
Overflowing Toilet. A clogged toilet can quickly overflow when flushed, leading to unsanitary issues and immense water damage. To avoid an overflowing toilet, never flush any product aside from toilet paper. Paper towels, tissues, wrappers and even baby wipes can all easily clog your plumbing and cause your toilet to overflow. If you do experience this common plumbing emergency, find and turn off the water supply valve beneath the toilet tank to prevent more water from entering the bowl.
Blocked Drains. If reaching into your shower or tub to pull out hair and debris isn’t your thing, don’t worry! Blocked drains are never fun, but in most cases, store-bought drain cleaner will do the trick. If, after a few drain cleaner attempts, you aren’t able to remove the blockage yourself, it may be time to call your local BelRed experts for a drain cleaning before this small issue turns into a full-blown emergency.
Burst Pipes. Many homes have pipes that are located near the surface or even above ground. If temperatures get too low, the water in these pipes can freeze and cause them to burst. Be sure to cover above ground pipes with towels during cold spells to prevent freezing. If you do experience a burst pipe, quickly turn off your home’s main water supply and run cold water in your home until the existing supply runs out, then give BelRed a call to get the problem solved as soon as possible.
Broken Water Heater. From water that’s too cold or too hot to water that has a strange odor, water heater malfunctions are never something to look forward to. Flushing your water tank may solve color and odor problems as well as improve the heater’s efficiency, but if you notice a leak, it’s time to call the experts for a water heater repair!
If you experience any of the above plumbing emergencies, the experts at Discount Plumbers are here to help! We are proud to specialize in plumbing services, Contact us today.
Toilets 101
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Toilets 101

Although they are used daily, homeowners seldom think about their toilets and how they work.

It’s only when they cease to work that toilets get the respect they deserve. When the toilet won’t flush and water is flooding across the bathroom floor, homeowners suddenly realize how essential their toilet is.
A clogged toilet is a common problem. Read on to learn how clogs form in the toilet drain, how they can be repaired, and how to prevent clogs in the first place.
The Toilet Drain
Where does all the stuff go when you flush your toilet? Just beyond the bowl of the toilet is the trap, a sinuous ceramic tunnel shaped like a backward S. The purpose of the trap is to keep sewer gases from entering your home, but it can also become a hot spot for clogs.
After passing through the trap, the waste goes down through a flange underneath the toilet and into a drainpipe, which will send it along to your home’s main sewer line. These drain pipes can occasionally become clogged, as well.
Here are the five main types of toilets that are available on the market today:
Gravity-Feed Toilet: Uses gravity to flush waste down. This is the most commonly used toilet and is easy to maintain and repair.
Pressure-Assisted Toilet: A pressurized system in the tank forces water down into the bowl when flushed. Although louder than other toilets, this type is more efficient and less prone to clogs.
Dual-Flush Toilet: A combination of gravity-feed and pressure-assisted, this type is growing in popularity. The user can choose between two flushing options: a half-flush for liquid waste and a full flush for solid waste. This toilet is the most efficient.
Double-Cyclone Toilet: Instead of several small holes for the water to pour into the bowl, this type has two large nozzles in the bowl that emit a forceful stream of water. More water-efficient per flush and fun to watch!
Waterless or Composting Toilet: Typically used where water or plumbing is not available, the waste collects in a receptacle beneath the toilet seat. Composting toilets use evaporation and decomposition to turn waste into fertile soil. These are becoming more common thanks to trends in “tiny homes” and the eco-friendly lifestyle.
These are some of the most common styles, but there are many other types of toilets to choose from! Find the right toilet that meets your household’s needs.
Simple Toilet Clog Removal
As mentioned, the trap and the drain pipes of a toilet can sometimes become clogged. Clogs in the toilet are usually formed of excessive paper products, solid waste, hair and debris, and even foreign objects. (Parents know all too well how much toddlers like to flush things!)
The homeowner can often resolve minor clogs themselves by using a plunger to build pressure and move the clog along. There are also chemical drain cleaners available for use in toilets, but they should be used with caution.
Toilet clog removal
For major clogs, it’s best to call a professional plumber. A plumber will typically use a very long, electric drain snake or a sewer auger to break up clogs in your toilet drain, no matter how far in the system they may be. If need be, they can also disassemble the toilet and pipes to remove the blockage.
Preventing Clogged Toilet Drains
Some simple tips to prevent clogged toilet drains include:
Do not flush wipes or sanitary products. Even those labeled as “flushable” can stop up your sewer system.
Keep the lid closed. This will prevent objects from falling into your toilet. If you have small, curious children, get a toilet lid safety lock to keep them out.
Flush some enzymes. Periodically flushing an enzymatic drain cleaner will help eliminate waste buildup in the drain pipes. Follow the instructions on the label carefully.
Get a professional drain cleaning. Professional plumbers have the tools and skills to quickly and safely clean your home’s drains. An annual drain cleaning will stop clogs before they start.
We’ve all been there: you’re in a rush while cleaning the kitchen and need a quick fix for unclogging your dishwasher or getting rid of grease. It’s easy to use popular drain cleaning products to unclog your drain or to quickly pour that pan grease down the kitchen sink. Unfortunately, these “quick fixes” can actually lead to more time-consuming and expensive problems.
If you are having issues with your toilet, call the professional plumbers at Discount Plumbers in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area. We can inspect your home’s toilet and give you an honest opinion if you need to consider a replacement, or simply need maintenance. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for any and all emergency plumbing needs.
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When to Replace Waterheater

When determining the right time to replace your water heater there are several factors to consider.

Age of the Water Heater
Maintenance History
Water Conditions
Money Invested in the Water Heater
Amount of Hot Water
Future Family Plans
Length of Time Being in the Home
All of these factors play an important role when considering it’s time to replace your water heater.
How to Determine the Age of Your Water Heater
Most home owners are unsure of the age of their water heater. Simply locate the brand of the water heater, the model number, and the serial number found at the unit. Once this information has been collected you may contact the manufacturer to confirm the age of the water heater and the status of the warranty.
Water heater manufacturers may be contacted by phone or the web to verify age and warranty status. A majority of water heaters come with a 6 year tank and parts warranty from the manufacturer.
Importance of Regular Maintenance
Performing proper water heater maintenance can significantly extend the life and energy efficiency of your water heater. Manufacturers recommend flushing the water heater at least once a year to prevent sediment build up and loss of efficiency. When flushing the water heater it is important to inspect the condition of the anode rod and replace when necessary. While performing maintenance, your plumber should also check to make sure the water heater is operating safely.
RELATED: How Often Should I Flush My Water Heater
How Local Water Conditions Affect the Life of Your Water Heater
Knowing the local water conditions will help in determining when to replace your water heater. Your local municipality can provide you with a report of local water conditions. At home test kits are also available to do your own analysis. Once you have the results you can ask your local plumbing professional about options for water treatment if needed. Treating the water that feeds the water heater can help extend its life.
Resources for Minnesota Residents: Community Water Systems –
Is Your Water Heater Big Enough for Your Family?
Water heaters may be sized properly for your home, but not your family. If you ever run out of hot water or are planning on growing your family, you may want to consider a larger capacity heater. Take into account all hot water usage including bathing, dishwashing, laundry, etc.
Tankless water heaters are a great upgrade option for growing families or homeowners that plan on living in the home for an extended period. Always take these factors into account when deciding the correct time to replace your water heater.
An informed consumer has an advantage over a non-informed consumer. Keep record of any investments made for your home. You can compare the price you paid for your current water heater with the current costs of water heaters. Service receipts can give you the total invested in servicing and repairing your water heater. Tracking your investments will let you decide whether to repair or replace.
Contact a Professional Plumber
If you are having issues with your water heater, call the professional plumbers at Discount Plumbers in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area. We can inspect your home’s water heater and give you an honest opinion if you need to consider a replacement, or simply need maintenance. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for any and all emergency plumbing needs.
Avoiding Plumbing/Drain Issues
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Avoiding Plumbing/Drain Issues

Avoiding Plumbing or Drain Issues! Watch What You Flush/Pour Down the Drain.

You might think that flushing toilet papers or wet wipes won’t do any harm. But these “flushable” products can create clogs and damage your pipes. Additionally, avoid pouring any oil or grease down your sink. Instead, put it in a container or handy jar. You can also use strainers to keep debris and other particles from plugging the drain.
Test out your sump pump and make sure it is functioning properly by following these simple steps:
Pour a bucket of water into the pit where the sump pump sits.
When it activates, drain the water.
Then deactivate it.
If your sump pump didn’t work as it should, then you know that something’s off with your unit. Hire an expert plumber to take a look at the problem and fix it immediately.
Check for Leaks
Look for leaks around your home. Check the toilets, sinks, ceilings, and walls for any damp spots. This could indicate serious plumbing issues that need to be addressed quickly. Don’t let your money go down with a dripping faucet or broken pipes. Call your local plumbing contractor for an expert repair service.
Schedule a Maintenance Service
Living in a fast-paced environment makes it easier for us to forget our plumbing system. After all, as long as it’s working and there are no leaks, then it must be fine, right? Well, it isn’t exactly true. If you wait around for your system to malfunction, it could put your budget in a big hole.
With regular expert care, it can prevent costly repairs and future problems. Thus, you can have peace of mind and save more on your utility bills.
Other Ways to Avoid Trouble
Know where your home’s main water shut-off valve is. This way, you can quickly turn it off when there’s a leak.
Clean your shower head to improve the water pressure.
You can use vinegar and hot water to unclog any debris down your drain.
Don’t put hard food scraps and overload your garbage disposal.
Don’t let these plumbing issues trouble you and your family at any moment. If you experience a plumbing or drain problems call the professional plumbers at Discount Plumbers in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul Area.
Sewer Backup
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Sewer Backup

Nobody wants to think about a sewer backup.

It’s gross and messy and can potentially cause a lot of damage to your home and your health.
If you have a simple clog, it’s easy to pull out the plunger or yank out that clump of hair from the tub drain. But when you find the tub overflowing because you flushed the toilet; or the kitchen sink won’t drain no matter how many time you run the disposal or clean the trap, you might be dealing with a more serious problem.
This might be a case of a serious sewer stoppage problem.
Causes of Recurring Sewer Backup
There are a few common causes of these backups that keep happening over and over again.
Tree and Shrub Roots
causes of sewer backupsTree and shrub roots crave water and will make their way toward any moisture. So even the smallest crack in a sewer line will attract roots.
And as trees and shrubs continue to grow, so do the roots causing a potential blockage and possibly creating more cracks and holes. The roots can also grow around and crush a sewer pipe.
And don’t think just because you don’t have any trees near or in your yard means this can’t happen. Roots can reach your lines from your neighbor’s yard or even from surrounding city land creating undesired sewer backups.
Sewer Clogs
Sewer systems are designed to handle a lot of crap. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care with what goes into those pipes.
Here are a few main culprits that could be causing serious clogging in your sewer pipes:
Fats, oils, grease – Never pour these into your kitchen sink. Even if you run really hot water with it, these substances still stick to your pipes and solidify. Aside from building up on their own, there’s the added bonus of catching any other debris and food stuffs that might make it into your pipes creating very stubborn clogs.
“Flushable” wipes – Just because you can flush these wipes down the toilet doesn’t mean you should. Utility companies around the world are finding these wipes congealing with other debris creating “superknots.” And testing by Consumer Reports have found some of these wipes don’t break down as advertised.
Paper and feminine hygiene products – These are just not meant to be flushed. They don’t break down like toilet paper. Toss them in the trash instead.
Cracks and holes left un-repaired lead to broken sewer pipes. A broken sewer pipe leads to backups. Older homes constructed with cast iron or clay pipes are more susceptible to breaks.
And a sagging—or bellied sewer pipe—create recurring backups, too. Because a sewer line is designed to use the power of gravity, if a pipe is sagging, it can’t drain leaving water and debris to settle in the sag causing backups.
Determining the Cause of Your Sewer Backups
One thing you don’t want to do when you have a sewer backup is reach for the Drano or some other liquid drain cleaner. The chemicals in these products can cause more damage to your pipes creating an even more expensive problem.
Instead, call a licensed professional plumber to diagnose your sewer stoppage problem. As we’ve explained in a previous post, a sewer leak cannot be found with a sewer camera inspection but sewer stoppages can.
Once the cause of your problem has been found, a plumber will then lay out the best course of action.
If you have any questions about sewer backups, give us a call the professional plumbers at Discount Plumbers in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area. We are happy to discuss any issues you’re having, and always keep your specific needs and budget in mind.