water filtration

Water filtration

Basic breakdown of different types of water 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 the water.  An example of this is when you filter water that has chlorine in it. The chlorine goes through activated carbon and the electrons change the water. This happens as it passes through the carbon filter media and changes 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. This is 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.  

Whole House Reverse Osmosis

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. You will want to separate the toilets, sprinklers, hose bibbs 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 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. This is caused from the water build up in the bottom of the tank.  There are many approaches to dealing with hard water. The only way to eliminate hard water completely is to “soften” the water.  

Traditional Water Softeners

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. They isolate the hard water molecules in some manner and then 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. It 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

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. Bleach dissolves hair and it takes a bit of time. 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. Bleach dissolves hair but be careful!)

Other links:

Pipe vs Pipe

Clog vs Clog

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