Tag Archives: plumbing

Winter is Here! Are You Ready for a Cold Snap?

icicleIs it really time for the holidays already? It sure feels like it here in the Willamette Valley, where we saw one of our heaviest snowfalls on record over the weekend. In places where the weather is normally mild, a sudden snowstorm can, at the best of times, be pretty inconvenient – and at the worst of times it can be downright dangerous. Since your comfort and safety are our highest priorities here at Home Comfort, we’d like to share a few tips for staying cozy and safe during a sudden cold snap.

  1. Protect your pipes: We’ve talked before of the preventative benefits of insulating your water supply lines, but whether you’ve had them insulated or not, you can help protect them against damage during freezing weather. When the temperature dips below freezing, remember to turn on the faucets in your home ever so slightly, so that only a small, tepid drip is coming from the spout. This keeps water moving through the pipes and protects them against freezing. Simply having to thaw your pipes can be time consuming and pricey, and having to replace a burst pipe can be even spendier than that!
  2. Drive wisely: Carry chains for your tires, and use four-wheel-drive if your vehicle has it. If you don’t have chains or four-wheel drive, ask yourself, “Is this an emergency?” If it isn’t, it may be safer to stay home until the roads are clear. Never drive in adverse weather conditions if you are uncomfortable doing so! Last Friday, when the Eugene/Springfield area saw a record-breaking snowfall, more than two hundred car accidents were reported in a twenty-four hour period. Don’t forget that there are lots of ways to get around without driving while the roads are icy and dangerous. Carpool with a friend or neighbor who owns a snow-ready vehicle. Take advantage of public transportation. If you need groceries or toiletries, consider bundling up and walking to the corner market instead of driving to your favorite supermarket across town. There are plenty of alternative transportation choices available; while it may be inconvenient for a few days, protecting yourself and your vehicle from unnecessary damage will make life easier long after the snow has melted.
  3. Prepare for power-outages:  A heavy snowfall can quickly and easily damage a power line. When the power goes out during a winter storm, it is important to be prepared to be without electricity for an indefinite period of time. Stock your pantry with non-perishable foods and bottled water. Keep a well-stocked first aid kit, flashlights, candles, and extra batteries handy in an easily accessible location. Keeping a battery-powered radio and extra blankets on hand is a good idea, too!
  4. Care for your HVAC system: It’s never good when your heating system breaks down, but it’s especially bad when it breaks down during the coldest part of the year. At Home Comfort, we can’t stress enough just how important it is to have a mechanical contractor perform routine maintenance for your HVAC system. A technician can spot a damaged or worn component during maintenance and perform a minor repair before it becomes a major problem. Remember, your system works its hardest during periods of extreme weather. If you keep your system operating at peak performance, a major breakdown is less likely to occur just when you need it the most.

Here’s to a warm and cozy winter! Happy holidays from all of us at Home Comfort.

Interested in learning more about HVAC, electrical, plumbing, or insulation? Like our Facebook page for more helpful information and tips from Home Comfort.

Winter Is On Its Way – Are Your Pipes Ready?

Pipe-Insulation1

Is your home ready for that first winter cold snap? It can be hard to dwell on winter weather in such a mild climate, but taking steps to winterize your home’s plumbing can be a smart idea no matter where you live.  Even on the Oregon Coast, winter temperatures have been known to dip into the twenties, and we see at least one or two snowfalls a year here in the Willamette Valley. Winterizing your plumbing may not be the first item on your home maintenance checklist, but a burst pipe can cause quite the headache for an unprepared homeowner! Luckily, insulating your water pipes can provide a measure of protection.

Anytime you hear the word “insulation,” it’s natural to wonder just how much labor is involved. However, unlike some large home insulation projects, a trusted plumbing contractor can quickly and easily identify and insulate your accessible water pipes for a reasonable price. Insulating water pipes simply involves wrapping the pipes with an approved insulation material, such as fiberglass or polyethylene tubing, and securing the material in place.

And of course, there is an added benefit to insulating your hot water lines in addition to preventing a burst pipe. Insulated pipes can transport hot water more efficiently and prevent heat loss, which can save money on your water and electric bills. Between the peace of mind that comes with home maintenance, and the prospect of lower utility bills, insulating your water lines is definitely one home maintenance project that should rise to the top of your to-do list this year.

Are you ready to winterize your home’s plumbing? Make an appointment with one of our plumbers today!

Fall Freebies at Home Comfort!

gift_certificate_largeFall is a busy time for homeowners. Sure, the summer yard work season is winding down, and you may be putting away the sprinklers, mulch, and pool toys, but it’s more than likely that your work gloves, rakes, and tool boxes are sticking around for a little while longer. Fall is home maintenance season, that milder time of year when homeowners take time for the little-but-necessary home improvement projects and start prepping their houses for winter. Along with the do-it-yourself projects, you may be calling in the experts to start winterizing your home – chimney sweeps, electricians, plumbers, and yes, maybe even an HVAC technician.

The cost of all those little projects can add up quickly, but they’re also necessary to maintain a safe and comfortable home.  Here at Home Comfort, we want to celebrate our customers and the hard work that goes into keeping their homes cozy. Now through November 15th, if you like our page on Facebook your name will be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift certificate! The gift certificate can be used toward the cost of any maintenance, service appointment, or air filter purchase.*  We’ll announce the winner on November 15th – leaving plenty of time to schedule that fall HVAC maintenance before winter really starts to set in.

Remember, you can only win if you like our page before November 15th! Check out our profile here and get connected today. Happy Fall!

* For complete gift card drawing rules, please visit our policies page. You’ll find all the details at the bottom of the page.

Pipes and Plumbing: A Comparison of Common Piping Materials

You hardly ever see them, but the pipes in our homes are one of the biggest reasons we’ve achieved such a high standard of health and living in the developed world. Plumbing systems are the reason we can have water for hot showers and dishwashing, as well as fresh, clean drinking water at the turn of a faucet. Your plumbing helps you complete your chores, maintain your appearance, and stay healthy. That’s why when it comes to selecting pipe for new construction, a re-piping project, or even a simple repair, selecting durable, quality materials is extremely important. In this article we’ll discuss the pros and cons of three common pipe materials to help you make your selection for your next plumbing project.

Copper

Copper: When it comes to home plumbing, copper is by far the most common piping material that comes to mind. That’s for good reason, too – copper has a stellar reputation as a reliable and durable product. Copper can be used to supply both hot and cold water, and is corrosion resistant. Its main drawback is that is an expensive material when compared to the plastic-derived alternatives on the market. It’s also not recommended for do-it-yourself projects; it requires a fair bit of skill and patience to properly install and solder copper piping, so installing and replacing this type of pipe is best left to a licensed professional plumber. However, if you’re willing to invest the extra money, this material can last an exceedingly long time in home plumbing applications when it is properly installed and maintained.

PEXPEX: Over the past decade, PEX has been gaining in popularity for residential plumbing projects. “PEX” is shorthand for “cross-linked polyethylene,” a durable plastic material that can be molded into pipes and tubing. PEX costs significantly less than copper pipe per foot, and can be installed much more quickly. While PEX is corrosion-resistant and has been tested to withstand quick pressure and temperature changes, keep in mind that the use of PEX pipe in plumbing projects is still a fairly new concept in comparison to other materials.

CPVCCPVC: Like PEX, CPVC pipe is derived from plastics and is a cheaper alternative to copper, but it has been around on the plumbing scene for a longer period of time. CPVC pipe is versatile, with different types and thicknesses available depending on how you want to use it; hot and cold potable (drinkable) water and sewage piping are among the most common applications. Many plumbers and contractors debate the lifespan of CPVC, but CPVC is immune to galvanic corrosion and electrolysis, processes which can affect your water taste and quality in houses with metal pipes. Some people have complained of a “plasticky” taste in their water after installing CPVC pipes, but for those who are interested in do-it-yourself projects, CPVC is valued due to its affordability and the ease with which it can be cut into a variety of sizes for different projects.

Each type of pipe on the market has its drawbacks and advantages; it all depends on a number of details, from the type of piping you need to do down to the acid content in your area’s drinking water. If you’re building a home or decide that its time for a re-pipe, the best thing you can do is contact your local licensed and trusted plumber. Plumbers have the training and expertise needed to install your plumbing properly, which can lengthen any piping material’s overall lifespan. They can also answer more detailed questions about a variety of piping materials, and provide their professional opinion on which types of material are common and trusted for homes in your area. When in doubt, calling a trusted plumber like Home Comfort can bring you peace of mind on your next plumbing project
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Small Changes Can Lead to Big Savings: Cutting Down on Summer Water Use

sprinkler

Does your heart do a little somersault when you open your water bill after a long heat wave? Perhaps you’ve been feeling reluctant to fill up the plastic wading pool for your kids on a hot summer day; or maybe pranksters have been writing “wash me” in the dust on your car’s back window because you just can’t justify turning on the hose one more time this week.

In most parts of the U.S., there’s just no way around it. Between thirsty gardens, dusty cars, and a simultaneous desire to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors and avoid heat stroke, we use more water during the summer months than any other time of year. A lot more, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA estimates that during this peak water use season, a household’s daily water use can nearly quadruple in comparison to an average, off-season day. The good news is that there are plenty of measures you can take to reduce the amount of water you use in your home without sacrificing the beauty of your garden or the fun of an old-fashioned water balloon fight.

Start by assessing your outdoor water use. How frequently do you water your lawn and garden, and what time of day do you usually turn on the hose? Many people will water their lawns on a hot summer day as a preventative measure, even when the grass is at no risk of drying out – which can lead to hundreds of gallons of wasted water. To avoid watering your lawn unnecessarily, the EPA recommends trying the “Step on It” test. The test is easy – before you start to water your lawn, simply walk across the grass. If you see footprints in the grass when you’re finished, your lawn is thirsty and needs to be watered. But if the grass springs back into place, put down the hose – your lawn probably doesn’t need the extra water right now.

To conserve even more water when it comes to your garden, be deliberate about your watering schedule. Instead of watering your garden in the middle of the day, do your watering first thing in the morning or just before sunset. A lot of the water you generously pour on your grass and flowers can be lost to evaporation if it’s done during the hottest part of the day.

To reduce water waste inside your home, take a look around and make a list of plumbing components that need to be repaired or updated. Consider this – your toilet alone can waste around 200 gallons a day if it is operating with a leak! Call a trusted, licensed plumbing contractor like Home Comfort to fix any leaking pipes or fixtures.

If you think it’s time for your plumbing components to be updated, talk to a plumber about installing a WaterSense-labeled toilet or a low-flow showerhead. These components are easy to install, and can use less than half the amount of water older fixtures were designed to use. The initial investment to stop the leaks in your home and update your fixtures can lead to big savings down the road. With small changes in behavior, and an investment in your home’s plumbing, you can take charge of your summer water bill.

Works Cited:

http://www.epa.gov/watersense/our_water/summer2011.html

http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/pubs/indoor.html

 

Replacing Your Water Heater? Let Us Help You!

Go ahead and fill up that tub! We'll help you find a water heater that's energy efficient and ready for a high-demand household!

Go ahead and fill up that tub! We’ll help you find a water heater that’s energy efficient and ready for a high-demand household!

Choosing the source of hot water in your home may seem simple, but there are many choices on the market thanks to advances in technology. Should you choose a conventional tank heater, or go with a tankless model? Is initial investment an important factor, or are you interested in a long-term savings strategy? Home Comfort sells and services water heaters regularly, so we are happy to share some of our strategies with you.

The most common water heating method on the market today is still the traditional storage tank-style water heater. In this type of water heater, the water stored in the tank is ready for use throughout the house, but will lose heat while sitting unused. Installation is cheap, but it typically uses more energy than other methods. In this case, installing a well-insulated tank can make a world of difference. When choosing a tank-style water heater, look for R12 through R15 insulation classifications.

If long-term energy savings is a priority, then a demand water heater, also known as a “tankless” water heater, is a better option. These models use the same energy sources as the storage tank heaters, but instead of storing hot water, they heat the water on demand and send it throughout the building. There is no energy being lost from a storage tank, but it also means that there can be a limit to the amount of water that can be used at once. Check out our website to learn more about our tankless water heater offerings, where you’ll find links to product specifications and available models.

Other types of efficient systems are available, such as solar or geothermal heating systems. Whatever method you choose, it is always important to choose an Energy Star-approved system and a licensed contractor like Home Comfort to install it.