Useful Info About History of Indoor Plumbing You Should Know

Useful Info About History of Indoor Plumbing You Should Know

It’s not something that most homeowners will devote a lot of thought to, and in truth, that’s exactly the way it was designed to be. Indoor plumbing is an almost invisible feature of modern homes, with pipes, pumps, heaters, filters and other components hidden from view.

People don’t need to see or understand how these things work; they just need them to work. But the march towards a typical American home enjoying instant, safe, clean drinking water, and an easy sewage management system was far from easy.

Indoor plumbing at this level of convenience is a relatively recent thing. And for many thousands of years, it was a struggle to reliably get a hold of any water.

The Road to Civilization

Civilization needs water to prosper, and that need came from one of the harshest environments imaginable, the deserts of ancient Egypt. Because water was so scarce, the Egyptians were forced to live around the Nile River as the only reliable water source.

But once they realized they could shape clay into waterproof pipes, they invented the first plumbing networks to carry water away from the river to larger areas that needed it for crops. Eventually, they figured out how to do the same thing with metals and created the first copper pipes.

The next civilization to have a breakthrough was the Romans. Their aqueducts are now famous in history as marvels of architecture, but their primary function was to carry huge volumes of water across great distances to the populated settlements that needed it.

They first pioneered indoor plumbing when they created branches in these aqueducts that carried water right to individual homes. They even created early versions of sewage systems when they learned to hollow out elm logs, and use them to carry waste away.

The Age of Stinky Royalty

Indoor plumbing, quite surprisingly, didn’t always steadily advance. For example in the 18th century, often known as the “age of reason,”the royalty of French court, like Marie Antoinette, actually lived in worse plumbing conditions than a Roman citizen centuries before.

In fact, her famous use of perfume was a necessity in order to hide her stink, and that of the rest of the court, because French nobility usually bathed only once a month. The reason for this was the location. French palaces were built far inland, usually for reasons of a beautiful location, rather than logistical practicalities.

This meant that indoor plumbing did not exist in the highest courts of France, and that meant no easy way to bring in water for bathing. It also meant no sewage system in place. So French royals lived in palaces soaked with urine, and piled with solid waste in corridors, on rugs, and even in royal chambers, since it was so difficult to manage.

Plumbing Today

Thankfully, today’s average American does not live like the kings and queens of 18th century France. Homeowners can take baths anytime they like, with modern showers that feature both hot and cold water. And the toilets built into every home and public building ensure safe, clean sanitation processes for everyone.

People don’t even have to be concerned when problems occur, because there are companies like Heidler Inc. ready to look out for people in Annapolis, MD that need help. That means that even when something as important as water and sanitation infrastructure have problems, there are experienced professionals readily available to quickly repair any damage.

Have Fun this Summer While Being Water Conscious

Have Fun this Summer While Being Water Conscious

Summer means sunshine, more time with the kids and finding ways to beat the heat. The higher the temperature rises, the more tempting it becomes to take a dip in the pool or splash ourselves down with a hose.

It's a big reason water usage jumps during summer. Most days, an average family uses about 320 gallons of water per day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That number can rocket up to 1,000 gallons per day during summer, and some families even use up to 3,000 gallons per day.

This has an impact on both public resources and your water bill. Good thing there are a number of ways you and your family can enjoy the hot weather and stay cool without using too much water.

Here are a few ways to have fun this summer while being water conscious:

Teach Your Kids to Garden

It's never too early to teach your kids valuable lessons when it comes to maintaining the home and its surroundings. Gardening provides a way for children to acquire these skills while learning about water conservation.

A sneaky way to do this is by planting flowers that are native to your area. If they can grow naturally where you live, it's a good sign, these plants can handle the weather and therefore don't need to be watered often.

All the while, your kids will learn the value of starting and finishing a project and gain good habits when it comes to upkeep.

Two-For-One: Water Your Lawn and Stay Cool

A lot of the extra water used during summer is for landscaping. After all, keeping grass green and flowers looking beautiful requires regular watering. If you want to hit two birds with one stone, you can stay cool on a hot day while watering your lawn and garden.

Install a sprinkler and give yourself a way to simultaneously distribute water across your property while giving your family a fun way to find relief while under the sun. Your family can jump through the water jets while the sprinkler takes care of the yard. Don't have a sprinkler? Use a hose and have your kids take turns jumping through the stream.

Take Advantage of the Local Pool

Another way to reduce water consumption at home is to take a trip to the local pool to cool off on a hot day. Make use of a public resource instead of using your own water.

These pools are always staffed during operating hours by well-trained lifeguards who will always be at hand to help with any problems. You and your spouse can kick back while your children play with other kids from the neighborhood. Public pools are designed to be used by locals, so you might as well enjoy them.

 

A Water Leak Detection Guide for Homeowners

A Water Leak Detection Guide for Homeowners

A leak might seem more like a minor blemish on owning a home than the actual problem that needs to be quickly dealt with.

The truth is, that ignoring a leak and letting it continue can mean a more expensive repair down the road. We explain why that is, and how you can stop it.

A Hint of Things to Come

A leak may appear small, but in some cases, a leak can be the start of a much more serious problem.ceiling-leak

Leaks definitely cost you money.

Having a leak means that you are paying for wasted water, that can range between 2,000 to 20,000 gallons.

A leak in a pipe that runs through a wall or, worse yet, a ceiling, can mean water damage to the actual home that you will need to pay for if you want to keep your home in good condition.

Worst of all, a leak can mean that your pipes are undertaking damage, and the longer you ignore it, the worse and more expensive the repair to the pipes will ultimately be.

Locate Your Problem

You can’t deal with a leak until you know its location and understand the extent of it.

The very lucky will have no problems tracking down a leak if it’s on a faucet and just needs a tightening with a wrench to deal with it.

Other leaks can occur in toilets, water heaters, water pipes, or sewage pipes and each brings its own challenges.

Track down a leak as best you can, and try to gauge how much water is leaking.

If you can use your water meter to track how much water is being lost, even when you shut off the water, you, unfortunately have a very big leak.

Exercise Some Prevention

The best way to avoid an expensive repair is to not let a problem escalate to the point where it requires major intervention. Prevention is the best way to achieve that.

hard-waterIf you inspect your pipes occasionally, you may catch leaks that can then be addressed as minor problems rather than major ones.

If you want to keep your pipes “healthy,” then exercise a little care with how you use them.

Setting your water to be delivered at a higher pressure can actually shorten the lifespan of your pipes, causing them to fail earlier.

In the same way, using “hard water,” (water that has a high mineral content) can over time damage your pipes.

Compared to soft water, which is gentler and has fewer erosive or corrosive effects on your pipes.

A Reliable Guide for Kitchen & Bathroom Remodels

A Reliable Guide for Kitchen & Bathroom Remodels

You take great pride in your home, which is why you always want it looking its best.

When it comes to remodeling, you have the chance not only to make your home look fantastic, you can actually increase its value at the same time. Kitchen and bathrooms are among the renovations that will add the most value to your home.

They are also some of the biggest jobs to take on; it is essential that you set a smart budget and enlist support from qualified professionals to make sure that the job is done right.

We’ve put together a guide that you can rely on for your project.

Plumbing and Fixture Updates

First things first. How old is your home? Have you had problems with leaks in the past in your kitchen or bathrooms?

During the remodel process, it makes good sense to ensure that there hasn’t been water damage lurking beneath the floor and the walls. You want your remodel to be perfect- even where your eyes can’t see.

When updating your fixtures, don’t just choose something sleek. Consider function as well. This is the perfect time to upgrade to eco-friendly fixtures that use far less water and therefore cost you less money.

Ask about low-flow shower heads, dual flush toilets and motion sensor faucets.

The Hiring Processpro

Your job will only be as good as the workmanship of your contractor.

You need someone who:

  • takes pride in their work
  • has a reputation for quality
  • adheres to budget
  • timely
  • more than happy to let you speak to past customers

It’s also helpful if you can see a portfolio of their work too.

When getting a quote, ask about their preferred payment schedule. Also ask about things like insurance, credentials, clean-up policy, and if there is a guarantee on their work.

Do they do all the work themselves or do they sub-contract part of it? Who is responsible for purchasing the materials?

Developing the Plan

With your budget as a guide, decide on what your overall objective is for your remodel (i.e. total gut, cosmetic touch up or prepare home for sale).

Choose colors, fixtures, cabinetry, tiles, grout and accessories. Make sure you do research and choose durable materials that will stand up to the use in these high traffic areas.

Look for inspiration in magazines, TV and on the internet. Sketch your plan out, complete with measurements. Make sure you include storage space, especially in the bathroom.

Household Drains and Water Smell Terrible? Here Are 3 Reasons Why

Household Drains and Water Smell Terrible? Here Are 3 Reasons Why

The plumbing that makes up your drains is supposed to do just one thing; carry things away from your house. You are never supposed to see things come back up, especially not things that you can’t see or touch, like odd smells.

If you’re experiencing odors coming from your plumbing, there’s a problem, but fortunately, it doesn’t have to be an expensive one. Just ask yourself these three questions, then try to find the answers.

Is Your P-Trap Filled Up?

The p-trap is the unique bends that you find in plumbing pipes just under your sink. It’s designed in such a way that water is literally trapped there, and that’s a good thing!p-trap

That water acts as a cheap but incredibly effective “vapor barrier” that is intended to block out gases, such as sewage fumes.

Your p-trap can either dry out, or that water can be displaced by air pressure movement in plumbing in other parts of your home.

Once that vapor barrier is gone, there’s nothing stopping the smell from sewage from entering your home, so try filling up that stinky sink with water first before resorting to more expensive solutions.

This is often the most common cause of a smelly plumbing.

Is Your Water Heater Infested?

If you water itself is smelling bad, then it’s not a problem with the pipes, but probably your water heater. Unlike people, bacteria don’t need good food, plenty of sunshine and exercise to stay healthy, they just need a dark, moist, warm location.

Sometimes your water heater tank is it. Bacteria in your water isn’t just a smell hazard; it can be a health hazard as well. For example, Legionella pneumophila can cause Legionnaire’s Disease, and thrives in water tanks at a certain temperature.

You can deal with this problem by raising the temperature to between 135-140°F which is too hot for most bacteria to survive in. If you do raise the temperature and live in a home with older plumbing, you may need to take some precautions now to prevent scalding.

What Is The State Of Your Sewer Line?

It’s natural that since your sewer line handles sewage, this may be the source of a bad smell. However, there are many ways and places that a sewage problem can occur, and not all of them are easy or cheap DIY solutions.

You may have a ventilation problem where anything from rotting leaves to a bird’s nest may be blocking the proper escape of gases.

blocked-drainOn the other hand, you may have a blockage in the sewage line itself, or worse yet, some kind of break in the pipes that has been slowly building up to a bigger problem for quite some time.

This is the type of problem that will require a professional to evaluate.

Easy Tips for Going Green

Easy Tips for Going Green

Earth Day is happening this year on April 22, and you might be wondering how you can go green to help celebrate. And if you're worried that going green might take too much effort, or time, or money, then you'll be happy to know that being eco-friendly only requires minor changes to your habits. It doesn’t take any more time than your current routine, and can actually save you money! Don’t believe us just yet? That’s ok, here are some easy tips you can use to go green, save the planet, and finish the year with more money in the bank.

Ease into Going Green by Reducing Water Usesave-water_480

Modern technology and innovations have made it easier than ever to save water, and you can conserve thousands of gallons annually withlow-flow toilets and water-saving faucets and shower heads.

And if you want to be more proactive with water-conservation habits around the house, try taking shorter showers, turning off the taps when you're brushing your teeth and using lower water settings on appliances.

Transition into Energy Savings

Everybody wants to save energy because saving energy means saving the planet and saving money. And what if we told you that there's a huge money pit sitting in your basement right now? Your conventional storage-tank water heater is an energy guzzler!

Not only does it waste tons of energy keeping water hot when you don’t need it, but it also loses about 20 percent of the energy it uses when heat escapes from the tank. By switching to a tankless heater, you'll save energy, save money, have a longer-lasting water heater, and you'll never have to worry about running out of hot water again.

Save the Planet by Saving the Bottle

Bottled water has become a hugely popular method of hydration, and many Americans buy bottles because they're cheap, convenient, portable, and cold. But those same bottles that make this type of water so convenient are also what make bottled water so detrimental to the environment.

For one thing, millions of barrels of oil are used each year to produce the bottles alone, on top of the fuel needed to ship the bottles around the country. Moreover, most of those bottles don’t get recycled, which is why there are over 2 million tons of bottles in landfills around the country. So what's the alternative? An even more convenient and affordable water filtration system for your house.

Make the Leap with a Reduced Carbon Footprint

carbon-footprint_480If you want to lower your carbon footprint, the key is to wean yourself and your family off fossil fuels. There are three major categories of activities you can focus on to reduce your carbon footprint, and they are:

  • Transportation: Opt to leave the car at home more often, and instead bike, walk, carpool, or bus to work, school, and outings
  • Plastics: Stop using grocery bags and instead bring reusable ones to the store, don’t buy overly packaged foods, buy in bulk, and, of course, stop buying bottled water
  • Energy: Save the planet and tons of money by switching to energy-efficient lights and appliances. Seal your house with insulation and weather stripping, install a programmable thermostat to keep your house warmer (summer) or cooler (winter), and turn off lights, gadgets, appliances, and electronics when you're not using them

We’ll be happy to help with your transition to greener living and can come by your home at your earliest convenience for plumbing and maintenance calls.

To schedule an appointment for your Annapolis, MD home, call the experts at Heidler, Inc. today at 410-268-7191.

Make an Effort to Celebrate World Water Day

Make an Effort to Celebrate World Water Day

World-WaterIt’s a day on which we recognize the significant resource challenges facing those around the globe. The studies show that 1 in 3 people still lack access to a clean toilet in their living space. While the World Economic Forum has stated they believe the water crisis is the number one risk around the globe today.

It’s an ongoing struggle driven by overuse of resources and a growing population. In this latest post, we’ll highlight World Water Day and your role in reducing water use in your local region.

What is World Water Day?

Wasting-waterWorld Water day was formed in 1993 by the U.N as a way to formally highlight the water resources issues taking place in locations such as Africa and the Middle East. Millions of people in these regions are unable to access clean water.

This has caused the spread of dangerous diseases such as cholera and dysentery. A lack of water is also considered one of causes behind global food shortages, as millions lack the resources of clean their local foods and prepare their meals.

What Can You Do?

You might think of World Water Day as an opportunity to learn more about the crisis taking place around the world. First and foremost, you should research the issues and become more aware of the ways in which water deprivation is having an impact globally. Secondly, you can take actions at home to conserve your own local water use. Consider the following:

water-dropUsing the dishwasher only when it’s full

Many of us simply run the dishwasher to ensure that a specific item is cleaned ready for the next day or an upcoming meal. Try to use your dishwasher sparingly as it’s one of the leading uses for water around the home and can use 6 gallons of water per cycle.
Educating others

Once you’ve learned more on the world water crises, you can take the opportunity to talk with others about the global challenges we face. This process can help you build community groups and amplify your involvement in conserving local water resources.

Limiting your showers

Instead of those long and luxurious showers that can waste 15-20 gallons of water each time, why not opt for shorter 5-minute showers? This process will reduce your water use and mitigate your impact on local resources.

Our expert team is here to guide you in moderating your water use around the home. To learn more about World Water Day and what you can do to conserve water resources, call our Annapolis, MD team now at (410) 268-7191.

Which Way Does Your Toilet Bowl Swirl?

Which Way Does Your Toilet Bowl Swirl?

Sometimes it’s the little things that make us wonder how they came to be that way… Do you know which direction your toilet bowl swirls? Take the video quiz below to find out! You may be surprised to see what you find.

The experts at Heidler, Inc., in the Annapolis, MD area, are always willing to share their knowledge with you. If you're interested in learning more contact us at (410) 268-7191.

Find Out How to Plan for a Healthy New Year

Find Out How to Plan for a Healthy New Year

A healthy life starts in a healthy home. We depend on our homes to provide us with reliable shelter, warmth, and water during the cold winter months, and beyond.

myth-or-factTo ensure that your home stays healthy and active all year long, plan to assess and care for your home’s plumbing system early on in the New Year.

 Here are some tips on how to maintain a healthy plumbing system to enjoy a healthy New Year:

Check for Efficient Water Filtration

Water flows in and out of our homes through faucets and drains every day. Maintaining a healthy and adequate flow of water can help us preserve this precious resource while keeping menacing bacteria at bay. There are a couple of easy steps you can take to ensure that water is flowing sufficiently throughout your home, including:

Clear Hair Clogs: Once a week, provide your shower drain with some preventative maintenance. Remove your shower drain covering and use a flashlight to assess if your drain needs clearing. If so, use a pair of tweezers to pull out any knots or clogs that may have formed throughout the week.

Clean Your Faucets: Calcium, lime, and other sediment can accumulate on faucet heads over time. This grime prevents a normal flow of water and can contaminate your tap water with unnecessary bacteria. To clean your faucets, remove the aerator from the tip of the faucet, and soak the screen in hot white vinegar to remove mineral deposits.

Practice Water Safety Precautions: Depending on the age of your home and the type of pipes that are laid throughout its foundation, harmful contaminants may be entering your water system unknowingly. Test your water regularly, and if you sense an issue with your water quality, think about installing a water filtration system in your home.

Flush Out Your Water Heater

By taking the time to clean and flush out your water heater, you can improve the efficiency and extend the lifespan of your existing heater. Water heaters have a dip tube that directs water flow to the bottom of the tank, sending sediment to the bottom, as well.

This build-up of sediment reduces energy efficiency, as the heater is also working to warm up the sediment. You can flush and assess the condition of your water heater by yourself, but for added safety and effectiveness, seek professional assistance.

Plan to Have Your Drains Professionally Cleaned

Completing preventative maintenance for your home's drainage system can save you heaps of time and money by ensuring that your pipes are in excellent working order. You may want to consider getting your drains professionally cleaned if they are showing the following symptoms of a clog:

  • clogged-drainsWater backs up the drain when the faucet is turned on.
  • There is slow (or no) drainage in your sink.
  • Your kitchen or bathroom sinks are emitting foul odors.
  • Your toilet is beginning to overflow.

Clogged drains are bacterial cities, and can harbor illness-inducing bacteria such as E. Coli and salmonella. To diminish the risk of creating comfortable environments for bacteria to grow in your drains, be mindful of what goes down your sink.

Ensure that as little food waste as possible goes down your drains, and purchase a drain strainer to eliminate large amounts of food waste from entering your pipes.

Professional drain cleaning should be performed annually to effectively prevent any clogs from forming throughout the year.

If you want to put your healthy home plan into action in the Annapolis, MD area this year, call 410-268-7191 to speak with the plumbing experts at Heidler Inc.

DEFENSE: Protecting Your Pipes During Super Bowl LI

DEFENSE: Protecting Your Pipes During Super Bowl LI

Halftime Flush, Fact or Fiction?

If you are a Super Bowl fan, then you have probably heard that thousands of spectators who are watching the game at home will flush their toilets at the same time during Half Time. Some of these stories are true because several cities have noticed that water usage does increase during the Super Bowl’s halftime break.

halftimeflush2Many television viewers are in a hurry to get back to the television to watch the musical performance, and they also don’t want to miss any part of the football game. In many homes, people are in a rush to visit the bathroom during the Super Bowl’s halftime show so that they can also scurry into the kitchen to get more snacks and beverages.

While water usage may increase during this time, it won’t cause any widespread plumbing issues for an entire city. However, if you have a home with old bathroom fixtures, sewage lines and water pipes, then having numerous guests flushing toilets at the same time can overburden a building’s plumbing system.

If you plan to have a Super Bowl party in your home, then it is important to prepare ahead of time by making sure that your home’s plumbing system is in tip-top condition. Contact a plumber to have your home’s drainage devices cleaned and repaired to avoid having overflowing toilets.

Don’t Drop the Chicken Wings

dontdropthewingsWhen you have a Super Bowl party, make sure that your guests understand what they can put inside your kitchen’s garbage disposal. If one of your guests decides to drop the remains of their barbecue chicken wings down the garbage disposal, then a disaster will occur. Before Super Bowl parties, make a written list to hang on the wall above your kitchen’s sink to prevent a broken garbage disposal.

In addition to keeping chicken wing bones out of the appliance, don’t put hard or fibrous substances such as eggshells, potato skins or rice in the garbage disposal. These items will break your garbage disposal’s blades or create a clog in the drain underneath the sink. If you do have a problem with your kitchen’s garbage disposal, then call a plumber!

If You’re Not Going Green, You’re On the Losing Team

Instead of spending a lot of money on huge cases of bottled water for your guests, have a water filtration system installed inside your home. When you are having a lot of guests at your home for a Super Bowl party, they will need to have more drinking water than you are normally used to and you may also use more water for preparing snacks. By using a filtration system, you can remove the impurities from your home’s water so that it has a fresh flavor.

Call Heidler, Inc. in Annapolis, MD today at (410) 268-7191 to learn more about garbage disposal safety, drain cleaning and water filtration systems.