high water bill

Bill vs Bill

High Water Bill? 

You may wonder why you have a high water bill but let’s start with the word ‘bill.’

The word “bill” has a number of meanings and uses. Probably most common is its use as first name. How William becomes Will and/or Bill has always been a bit confusing. If Will is short for William, shouldn’t Bill be short for Billiam? That would be an interesting name.

There’s also the legislative “bill”. In 1792, George Washington exercised the first veto on a bill. It would’ve divided the seats in the House of Representatives giving a few more seats to the North. Though he thought me might come off as a bit biased to the South, Washington nonetheless stopped its passing. Since the cherry tree, image was always a concern for ole George.

Another bill most are familiar with is their utility bill. Whether it’s your electric bill, gas bill or water bill, you see some bill once a month. Your water bill fluctuates greatly throughout the year for a number of reasons but there are some you can definitely control. An average family of four uses about 400 gallons of water a day and rates for running water can greatly vary from state to state. If you’ve seen a huge spike in your water bill, here are a things to look for:

Toilet Leaks

One possible source of a high water bill is your toilet. Your toilet uses more water than just about every other item in your home. Roughly nearly 30% of all water used inside your house goes through your toilet. Often your tank will leak back into the bowl. Now sometimes you can actually see or hear the leak if it’s strong enough. Other times the leaking water could be so subtle you’ll never notice it; until you get the bill.

If you want to be certain, you can place a few drops of food coloring into the tank. Come back after some time and if you see the color in the bowl, well, you have a leak. Normally a faulty valve in your tank is the cause for that leak. Most home improvement stores or even big-box stores will carry what’s commonly known as a flapper.

Sprinkler System

High water bills can arise because of a leak in your sprinkler system.  Many lawns nowadays have a timed watering system. So over-watering usually isn’t the culprit. What could be over-watering your lawn are cracks or breaks in pipes under your grass. Or maybe a water leak in one of the fixtures. If you had this installed by a landscaper make sure to alert them to it immediately.

New Dishwasher, Refrigerator, or Washing Machine

New appliances in your home can be very exciting. They can also cause spikes in your water bill if they use water when the previous appliance didn’t. Most newer appliances have settings that can regulate how much water they use. Make sure to have those settings dialed-in by a professional.

Change in Routine?

Are you getting up earlier for work? So perhaps you’re taking showers earlier in the morning and letting the water run longer to heat up. If there’s no way around you taking a cold shower perhaps take a shorter shower to compensate for the time waiting for the water to warm up. Also switching to a WaterSense showerhead could save about 2900 gallons of water a year. Think about this when it comes to high water bills.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Running your water while your brush your teeth can equal up to 2 gallons of water. So shutting it off can save about 200 gallons a year. Yet sometimes when you shut it off you might not notice the slow leak costing you. Or do you have any faucets you rarely use? Sometimes older homes will have faucets and fixtures in the oddest places.Those too could be leaking so slowly that it goes completely unnoticed. If you’ve recently moved into a home and aren’t aware of all the faucets, take a stroll around the garage and/or the basement. Check behind large pieces of furniture or cabinets. Another common issue is with homes that previously had a pool. The former equipment could have been improperly disconnected. Have a professional check your property thoroughly to be certain.

If you have a high water bill check closely into the above items.

Defective Meters

Misreads of meters are not uncommon. Human error does occur from time to time. It’s well within your right to ask for a reread. Also meters can become defective. Check with your local public utility service to find out more info on requesting a reread or to have your meter inspected. 

New Tenant

Son or daughter move back in with their endless amount of laundry? Your uncle staying in your extra room and just loves to run the water while shaving? Any extended stay guests can add a significant amount to your water bill and create a high water bill.

Water Conservation

Most of us now are use to having water at every faucet whenever we want it. Yet issues like those in Flint, Michigan and with the Dakota Pipeline Access show us how precious water still is. Conserving water is not only environmentally responsible but the best way to save you money on your water bill. After fixing and resolving any issues with your current plumbing, here are some tips to preserve water and ultimately keep your high water bill down:

Water Conservation Tips:

  • Water your grass and plants when temperatures are at their lowest. High temps will cause water to evaporate causing the need to water your lawn more.
  • If you are a fan of a cold beverage, store more in your refrigerator. Using your tap for cold water or to constantly make ice cubes can be costly down the road.
  • Changing out older toilets for units that are more efficient can be a huge money saver. If you don’t have the money to do that there are devices you can add to your tank that can lessen the amount of water used at each flush.
  • Locate your main shut-off valve. If you don’t have one, getting one installed by a professional is a great idea. It can be a lifesaver in the event a plumbing emergency erupts.
  • If you don’t have a dishwasher consider investing in one. A dishwasher can save costly gallons of water over hand washing dishes.
  • Washing your dishes with running water can cost up to 20 gallons of water. Filling the sink saves half those gallons.
  • In the event of rain, make sure to turn off your sprinkler system.
  • If you’re looking to buy new appliances make sure they are EPA WaterSense certified.
  • Avoid running the washer or dishwasher with less the full loads.

If you do have a high water bill and wonder what the source is call Mitch Clemmons Plumbing serving La Habra, Fullerton, Brea, Anaheim and surrounding communities.

(562) 242-3218

Clogged Drains – Clog vs Clog

Clog Vs Clog

The good ole Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “clog”as a “thick piece of wood” or a “wooden soled overshoe.” Though they took the fashion world by storm in the 80’s they’ve been around since the 13th century.  They’ve inspired dancing known as “clogging” and even the ever-classy tap dance owes its popularity somewhat to the clog. Now, the Oxford Dictionary has another entry that states a clog as “an encumbrance or impediment.” It also lists a clog as a verb meaning to “block.”  However, this clog has never been embraced quite like the great pine loafers from Sweden. Nowadays, when we hear the word ‘clog’ we think clogged drains! No fun!
Rooter Services Fullerton
Plumber unclogging a tub drain with an electric auger.

The history of this “clog” dates way back. In previous blogs we’ve mentioned that indoor plumbing dates back to 3000 BC. You can bet that clogs are just as old. And the things that caused clogged drains in the ancient world are many of the same things that are causing clogs today. So lets take a look at some of the most common reasons for clogs:

Design Can Cause Clogged Drains

Improperly designed and installed plumbing may be why you are experiencing clogged drains or slow drains. Therefore, if clogged drains are constantly plaguing you it could be a design issue.  Both drain pipe venting and slope affect how well drains work.
 
When an substantial amount of air is entering the vent, the water and waste will drain properly.  For example, when you flush your toilet it will swirl and empty quickly when the air vent is installed and located properly. Clogged drains caused by a poor installation of a vent can cause odor and therefor distress to the homeowner.

clogged drainsHair Can Cause Clogged Drains

As long as teenage girls have been washing their hair in a bath, shower, or sink, subsequent clogging has occurred. Nowadays we might even have a Lhasa Apso rinse causing some minor blockage.  There are many ways that hair can be removed from the sink. We do not recommend heavy chemicals that can damage pipes. Get your clogged drains cleaned out properly by calling a professional.

Oils Can Cause Clogged Drains

Whether it’s a large industrial galley on an ocean liner or a small kitchen in a studio apartment cooking grease can wreak havoc on pipes.  Wait for oil to cool after cooking and then dispose of it in the trash. Pouring oil into your pipes is a surefire way to cause clogged drains.

Garbage Can Cause Clogged Drains

Are you using your toilet as a typical bathroom trash can? If so, that may be the reason why your toilet is becoming clogged. People throw items meant for the garbage into the toilet and that will cause toilets to back up. Whether it’s feminine hygiene products, cotton-tipped swabs, dental floss, diaper wipes, paper towels, or food. Only throw toilet tissue down the toilet… everything else needs to go in the trash! 

Soap Can Cause Clogged Drains

After water, soap may be the one thing that washes down your drain most frequently. When combined with dirt, skin, hair, and other particles soap “scum” can a myriad of issues on your pipes. Many people think that soap will clean out the pipes but soap leaves an oily residue that causes clogged drains. 

Here are some tips avoid clogged drains:

  • Since hair is commonly the cause of many drain clogs, especially in showers and bathtubs, place strainers in those drains. And then make sure to clean them periodically.
  • Be careful of things you wash down your sink. Motor oil, paint, lacquer, and wax can harden in pipes and cause clogged drains with severe blockage.
  • Cooking oil, grease, or lard should not be wash down your kitchen sink. These items will cling to your pipes and cause other things that  go through your pipes to grab ahold as well. To avoid clogged drains, make sure to put all used cooking fluids into a garbage can. 
  • Hair products like shampoos and conditioner often wash down a sink with no issue. Yet, if your washing out dyes or coloring products those can cause problems. These can leave a residue that builds up causing clogged drains. Running hot to boiling water immediately after using any hair substances will help to keep that build up to a minimum.
  • There’s lots of things that should and should not go down your toilet. The only thing that belongs in a toilet other than waste, is toilet paper. Make every effort to place everything else in a trash can. A clogged toilet can be a real problem.
Make sure to follow these tips to keep your pipes clear and running smooth.
If you do run into clogged drains or a stopped up toilet call the professional plumbers  serving La Habra, Fullerton, Anaheim and surrounding areas. Call us today at (562) 242-3218
Sewer Camera Inspection

Sewer Camera Inspection & Line Location

Drain Clog? Find an Expert in Diagnosing Sewer Drain Problems

Today’s technology allows drain clogs to be addressed quickly and easily. It used to be that these issues were extremely difficult to find and fix. However, now our Sewer Camera Inspection equipment can accurately identify problems in a pipe. This can save lots of money when you can concentrate on a specific issue and is less invasive than tearing out walls or cutting into concrete.

Here are a few other benefits of finding your drain clogs and then using Mitch Clemmons Plumbing’s Camera Inspection service :

  • Save time by eliminating the guesswork about where the drain clog is coming

  • Identify problems with a pre-sell or pre-buy inspection of a property

  • Line location prior to expanding on your home

  • Locating items lost or trapped in pipes

Give us a call to find out how we can use or Camera Inspection services to work for you.
Call Mitch Clemmons Plumbing today at  (562) 242-3218
 

Can I fix this drain clog on my own?

There are times when there is a drain clog in your toilet, a drain clog in your sink, or a drain clog in your slab. When your drains are clogged and you don’t know where the clog is coming from it’s time to call the professional plumbing pros that work in Fullerton, Brea, and surrounding areas to get in there with a camera and find out what is really wrong.
You can save a lot of money by getting a camera into your drain to get to the bottom of the issue right away before serious damage is done.
Call Mitch Clemmons Plumbing today at  (562) 242-3218
 
Check out our Sewer Camera Inspection page

Check for leaks!

Check for small plumbing leaks!

Recently I had a customer that had a small plumbing leak that went unnoticed for a long time. It caused mold and some major water damage. After several weeks of having different contractors in-and-out they are finally almost back to being able to live normally in their home again. It was all caused by a slow leak from a water flex connector in their water heater closet. A very minor repair. They never looked in that closet, so it leaked steadily over a long period of time. Often insurance companies will not cover damage caused by long term leaks since that can be considered negligence.


It’s always wise to check in your water heater cabinet and under your sinks from time to time to see if there are any leaks. If you have a house on a raised foundation it would even be good to crawl under your home to check for leaks under the house as well.
Catching a small leak early on can save you thousands of dollars. Add it to your calendar to check for leaks on a regular schedule.

Drain Tips

Drain Tips

When showers and bathtubs start to drain slow it is usually hair causing the clog. Liquid bleach dissolves hair. Try pouring a cup of bleach directly into the drain, but make sure to rinse any bleach off of metallic finishes. Allow the bleach at least 30 minutes to do it’s thing. It may take a couple of applications to do the job. This is just one of the many drain tips we offer up at Mitch Clemmons Plumbing serving Fullerton, Brea, and LaHabra.

Kitchen Drains

In your kitchen drains we recommend not putting any food or grease into your drain. It’s best to put those things into a trash can. But if you still intend to put things into your garbage disposal you should definitely stay away from these items: grease, coffee grounds, potato peels, rice, and citrus fruit skins.

If you do get a drain clog, or other plumbing issue, give us a call! We appreciate the work our customers give us and would be happy to come out to serve your plumbing needs.

Bathroom Drains

Of course the big culprit in your bathroom drain is hair. This goes for the sink as well as the shower. Hair builds up and clogs the drain. There are several methods that you can use for cleaning your drain.

Drain Tips

See my article on using bleach to clean your drain. It’s fast, easy and inexpensive. Bleach eats the hair away and allows the drain to flow freely again. Another one of my drain tips is to install a hair catcher in both the shower and the sink. These easily remove once a month and allow you to pull the hair free. 

So those are my drain tips for this month. Stay tuned for many other blogs on things like how bleach dissolves hair, toilet replacement, why I became a plumber and many more!

Here’s another article on drain tips you might find interesting: 6 Tricks About Drain Cleaning You’ll Wish You Knew Before

Call Mitch Clemmons Plumbing today at (562) 242-3218

 

Copper piping in ancient Egypt?!?

Copper piping, which is the #1 material used for plumbing work in today’s world, is the same material that the Egyptians used to lay their own pipe – some 3000 years ago! Archaeologists have recovered a portion of a water plumbing system from the Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. The evidence of indoor plumbing in palaces has dating back to 2500 B.C.

Today we still use copper piping because of its durablity and ease of use.

Check out repipe page for more details about copper and PEX replacement piping.

Call Mitch Clemmons Plumbing for a free estimate today at (562) 242-3218

Water filtration

I had a few questions about water filtration lately so I thought I would give a basic breakdown of different types of filtration.

Some types of water filtration media strain out particles.  The amount of filtration depends upon the micron rating of the filter media.  The smaller the number the smaller the particles it will filter out.  These types of filters are generally referred to as sediment filters since they filter out actual undissolved particles.  Another type of filtration is actually a process that changes the chemical make up of things which are dissolved in the water.  An example of this is when you filter water that has chlorine content through activated carbon the give and take of electrons as the water passes through the carbon filter media changes the chlorine into harmless chloride.

Most dual or multi stage basic filter systems use a sediment filter followed by an activated carbon filter.  Most whole house water filters use a process of layering filter media in a single tank to filter many things out all at once.  Single, dual, & multi stage systems can be installed under your sink to improve the waters taste and odor at a faucet, can be installed in line on a refrigerator, and can be installed as a whole house system at the water service entrance to the house to filter everything.

Reverse osmosis water filtration

 Reverse osmosis uses a combination of different stages to filter your water.  A basic RO system will have a carbon pre-filter followed by a membrane filter (the actual reverse osmosis stage) and then a carbon post filter.  The actual reverse osmosis stage filters water that has dissolved impurities in it.  This stage actually works much like a sediment filter except that the way this system is designed it allows water with dissolved solids to pass through to a drain and the “pure” water is allowed to pass through to a storage tank.  Normally we see these types of units installed under a kitchen sink with a separate spout mounted on the sink or counter top.  This is the most effective way of getting purified water.  

Though purified water may not necessarily be the best thing for you… water with useful minerals is actually better in most cases.  Reverse osmosis does waste a lot of water, but it is very effective.  There are also very large reverse osmosis systems available.  It is possible to have reverse osmosis water for your whole house, but it would be quite a costly system, starting at about $5,000.00 just for a small whole house reverse osmosis filter system.  

Installing these types of systems requires that you have special piping in your home and you will want to separate the toilets, sprinklers, hose bibbs, and possibly some other water outlets onto unfiltered water to conserve the filtered water.  I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone, but I thought it was interesting to know that these types of systems are actually available.

Water Softening

Lastly, there is water softening, which is a whole subject in itself.  Living in southern California we nearly all have hard water.  It leaves crusty deposits on our faucets, shower heads, and other plumbing fixtures.  Hard water leaves your skin dry and makes it so that you need to use more soap to clean laundry than you would if you had soft water.  Hard water also builds up in your water heater.  If you have a tankless water heater unit it probably has a warranty stipulation that requires you to have some sort of scale inhibitor to keep the hard water build up from getting into the heat exchanger.  If you have a traditional tanked water heater you likely hear a rumbling sound when it is heating due to hard water build up in the bottom of the tank.  There are many approaches to dealing with hard water, but the only way to eliminate hard water completely is to “soften” the water.  

A traditional water softener uses a process called ionic exchange to remove the hard water ions (typically calcium and magnesium) which are in the water and replace them with either a sodium ion or a potassium ion (I recommend using potassium).  Some scale reduction filters use this same principal but just do less softening.  Other types of scale inhibitors include pass through filters and electronic units that claim to isolate the hard water molecules in some manner in order to allow them to pass through your plumbing system without attaching to anything.  

I’ve personally found that most of these types of system are only marginally effective.  A water softener requires it to be connected to the inlet water supply to your house, must be connected to a plumbing drain, and needs an electrical connection.

As a side note, most municipally supplied water is tested regularly and must pass certain safety regulations set by the government to make sure it is safe to drink.

If you have more questions about water filtration call Mitch today at (562) 242-3218

Tankless water heaters

Tankless water heaters pros & cons

Tankless Water Heaters or not?

I’ve been getting a few questions about the subject of tankless water heaters lately.  I’m not much of a salesman since I talk most of my customers out of the bigger job of converting to a tankless water heater.  Under most circumstances for most homeowners it just simply does not make very much sense to me.

  • Tankless water heater pros

    • Never ending hot water (in theory)!  In some households that initially sounds like a huge plus… especially households with kids that like long showers.
    • Take up less space and can even be mounted on an exterior wall or in an attic
    • Have a lower cost per year to operate (though, as I will explain later, the long term cost is much higher)
  • Tankless water heater cons

    • Requires electricity to operate… no electricity = no hot water
    • Initial cost is much higher
    • Long term cost is higher
    • No in home water storage tank.  With a 50 gallon traditional tank water heater, in an emergency situation (earthquake, power outage, civil unrest…) you would have 50 gallons of clean drinkable water in the house.  With a tankless water heater you will have none other than what is in the pipes.

A tankless water heater requires a larger gas line than a traditional water heater, it requires electricity, and it requires special venting. Due to this a typical cost to covert from your existing tank water heater to a tankless water heater is around $3500.00. This price can vary depending on your particular situation. A typical price to replace a standard 50 gallon water heater is $920.00. So the difference in initial cost is $2580.00 (average costs).

Tankless Water Heaters – Brands:

The Noritz NR71 is an adequate tankless water heater for a small home and has an EF (energy efficiency) rating of 0.83.  The Bradford White 50 gallon water heater model #M4TW50T6FBN has an EF rating of 0.67. I calculated the cost per year to operate each of these units by using the information from here and here and found the Nortiz will cost your $81.44 per year less than it would to operate the Bradford White 50 gallon. The initial cost of $2580 divided by the cost per year of $81.44 shows it will take you 32 years before you hit the break even point.  And honestly you will never break even since you will have to replace that tankless water heater at least once during that time.

There are circumstances where I think tankless water heaters are okay. If you are limited in space and need to free up that water heater closet.  If you can afford the space and money to store water by some other means for emergency situations.  And last but not least, if you are insistent that you want one and are willing to pay?

As a side note, if you are running out of hot water for your showers it can often be remedied by simply replacing your existing water heater with one the next size up or with a larger “first hour rating”.

Tankless water heaters can be a terrific choice!

Bleach dissolves hair!

Did you know that bleach dissolves hair? It’s true! This is due to the chemical make up of the two. Bleach is a “basic” chemical and hair is “acidic”. The neutralization reaction between an acid and a base produces a salt and water. Bleach can dissolve any fiber that has acidic properties.

Next time you have a bathroom sink, shower, or bathtub draining slow try pouring a cup of liquid bleach into the drain. Be sure to rinse off any metal finishes with a little bit of water so they wont get damaged. After about a half hour any hair the bleach is in contact with will dissolve. If it doesn’t get rid of the stoppage completely then try another application of a cup of bleach.

This may not always work. There are many other things that can clog a drain line… floss, food, soap scum, hard water, GI JOE’s, etc… If the bleach doesn’t work give me a call. I’m always happy to come fix your drain. But hopefully the bleach tip will save you a few calls.

Liquid bleach is much less expensive than bottled drain cleaners… and for hair stoppages it’s much more effective (which usually bathroom sinks, showers and tubs are hair stoppages).

Caution: Of course you should always wear protective clothing, gloves, and goggles when handling chemicals such as bleach. Please be cautious!

(Edit: If your drain is completely stopped and is not draining at all it is best to call a plumber. Any chemical, if left to sit in a pipe, if it is unable to clear out the stoppage it has the potential to cause further problems. Bleach is less likely to cause any problems when compared to other chemical “drain cleaners”. But if the drain isn’t draining at all then the bleach, or any other chemical, will not be able to get down the drain to the problem area.)

plumbing job

It’s best to do a plumbing job right the first time

When it comes to a plumbing job it really pays to  do it right the first time!

I had a couple of kitchen drain calls the other day that each had problems caused by previous poor plumbing work done.

In one case a laundry line drained into a sump pit and then was pumped into the kitchen drain line under the house. It was connected to the house plumbing system improperly, which is causing the water to overflow into the kitchen sink and then the water in the kitchen drain trap is siphoned out. With no water in the drain trap, and therefore nothing to trap the sewer gases in the sewer, the house is filled with a strong sewer odor. This may seem like a simple plumbing job but you want to handle it correctly.

The Second Plumbing Job

On the second plumbing job a laundry sink is hooked into another drain line improperly, and is also undersized. The home owner complains of a lot of water backing up into the laundry sink when the washing machine drains.

In both cases I was able to provide a temporary solution to the plumbing job by cleaning the drain with a snake. However, both will have problems again soon due to the improper installation of the plumbing. I can fix the problems by installing the plumbing properly, but in either case this is not an inexpensive project.

When having a plumbing job done make sure you have a responsible, professional, and licensed plumber perform the work. The professionals at Mitch Clemmons plumbing assure that even a simple plumbing job gets done correctly the first time. A plumbing job done correctly, thus saving you time, money and frustration.

So, when it comes to plumbing job…

I saw this quote and it is so true:

“The bitter taste of poor quality remains much longer
than the sweet taste of a low price.”

Call the professionals at Mitch Clemmons Plumbing for any plumbing job you might encounter!
(562) 242-3218