Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Water Hammer v.2

Back in February I wrote a blog about “water hammer”. Water hammer is the most common form of the banging noise that you get when turning a faucet on or off or when the dishwasher, washing machine or sprinkler system cycles on or off. Well maybe because of the weather or just the cyclical nature of how problems begin to reappear on the forums, but water hammer has again begun to be a frequent topic of discussion. My previous blog on the subject can be found at:

For today’s blog I want to discuss it further with the hope to give some even better understanding. Lets start with a basic question that I ran across on the Do it Yourself Chatroom:

“Q: When the water sprinkler system changes stations (from 1 to 2 and so forth) there is a extremely loud bang in my house. This has been going on for some time. There are also some banging noises when the hot water is being used inside the house and when the toilets are flushed. I need some advice as to how I could fix this problem.

A: Sprinkler systems and wash machines use quick opening valves, you should have shock-trols at those locations. If you have other noise it may be loose pipes, I would deal with the obvious first and see if it helps the prob. First thing is to check your water pressure. Go to Ace, True Value, a big box store or wherever and get a pressure gauge that attaches to a hose bib. They're less than $10. The pressure should be about 50 to 60 PSI. If it's anything over 60 to 70 PSI, install a PRV so you can bring it into a normal range.

Things like sprinkler valves, washing machines, ice makers in the 'fridge -- these use electric solenoids to control the water. The shut off is instantaneous, and they will cause hammering. If there is any play in the pipes, the condition will be worse.

Installing a hammer arrestor is usually pretty easy, especially in the sprinkler system since that's probably PVC piping and readily accessible. All it takes for a hammer arrestor is a length of pipe about 12" long oriented vertically with a cap on the top end. This will act as a 'shock absorber' since it will be full of air, not water. For the sprinklers, simply tee it off of the manifold and have it pointing up. (Where on the manifold it is doesn't matter.)

The entire hot water system doing it means you may need to install an expansion tank at the WH.

The other places you are having the problem will be more difficult to access -- they are behind sheetrock, which means you'll have to be patching the sheetrock after the arrestor is installed.”

This answer is very concise as to some of the causes and easy corrections with the emphasis being on water pressure which is the most frequent culprit. Folks just seem to believe that the higher your water pressure the better which is far from the truth. Not only does high water pressure cause water hammer but can do permanent damage to valves in appliances and faucets and lead to their early demise. If the pipe is suddenly closed at the outlet (downstream), the mass of water before the closure is still moving forward with some velocity, building up a high pressure and shock waves that’s the water hammer. This can also cause pipelines to break if the pressure is high enough and certainly causes additional noise and potential damage to piping that is inadequately anchored in the walls when initially installed. Air traps or stand pipes (open at the top) are sometimes added as dampers to water systems (see pic above) to provide a cushion to absorb the force of moving water in order to prevent damage to the system. If your plumbing is loose or has become loose due to long term water hammer you’re in for a more difficult repair which may include opening walls to re-anchor the pipes. On the other hand, when a valve in a pipe is closed, the water downstream of the valve will attempt to continue flowing, creating a vacuum that may cause the pipe to collapse. This problem can be particularly acute if the pipe is on a downhill slope. To prevent this pressure relief valves, or air vents, are installed just downstream of the valve to allow air to enter the line and prevent this vacuum from occurring..

The following characteristics may reduce or eliminate water hammer:

• Low fluid velocities. To keep water hammer low, pipe-sizing charts for some applications recommend flow velocity at or below 5 ft/s (1.5 m/s).

• Slowly closing valves. Toilet flush valves are available in a quiet flush type that closes quietly.

• High pipeline pressure rating (expensive).

• Good pipeline control (start-up and shut-down procedures).

• Water towers (used in many drinking water systems) help maintain steady flow rates and trap large pressure fluctuations.

• Air vessels work in much the same way as water towers, but are pressurized. They typically have an air cushion above the fluid level in the vessel, which may be regulated or separated by a bladder. Sizes of air vessels may be up to hundreds of cubic meters on large pipelines. They come in many shapes, sizes and configurations. Such vessels often are called accumulators or expansion tanks.

• A device (as pictured above) similar in principle to a shock absorber called a 'Water Hammer Arrestor' can be installed between the water pipe and the machine which will absorb the shock and stop the banging.

• Air valves are often used to remediate low pressures at high points in the pipeline. Though effective, sometimes large numbers of air valves need be installed. These valves also allow air into the system, which is often unwanted.

• Shorter branch pipe lengths.

• Shorter lengths of straight pipe, i.e. add elbows, expansion loops. Water hammer is related to the speed of sound in the fluid, and elbows reduce the influences of pressure waves.

• Arranging the larger piping in loops that supply shorter smaller run-out pipe branches. With looped piping, lower velocity flows from both sides of a loop can serve a branch.


Hopefully that’s enough information to help you better understand the water hammer and more importantly the potential for damage to your plumbing which is far worse than just the aggravation of the noise. Don’t wait for the water to come pouring from a wall or for your washing machine to self destruct before doing some about it. Consider the noise as an alarm bell and look for and repair the problem…NOW.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My take on 10 ways to Decrease your Dietary footprint

Well I would like to start today's blog by hoping that all of you had a wonderful Christmas and that you are prepared for a much better new year than 2009 was for most of us. Personally and financially I don't know that I could take another one like this past year.

While researching for something to write about for today‘s blog I ran across an article discussing 10 easy ways to start decreasing your dietary footprint. This article was quoted from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and because I'm from Atlanta I thought I would be in full agreement. But of those of you who read my blogs regularly should know, by now, that I often have a contrary opinion. Here are the recommendations from the AJC for 10 easy ways to start decreasing your dietary footprint (I am 6'4" and weigh nearly 400 pounds and leave a pretty large footprint wherever I go), along with my take on each one:

1. Ditch the Bottles: Bottled water is pricey and uses a lot of fuel to transport, as well as to make and store all those bottles. Use what comes out of your tap instead. Get a good filter to boost its purity.                       I agree that bottled water is pricey and decided years ago, when living in Los Angeles, to not buy any form of bottled water. I came to this conclusion while watching people approach machines outside of the supermarket and pay for water from these machines.When you looked behind them you found a connection to a local city water faucet. Proof positive that a sucker is born every minute. Give me a Diet Coke a day. At least I can sell or recycle the can.

2. Buy Local : According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, most produce in the United States travels an average of 1,500 miles before being sold. Reduce all that shipping by rediscovering the fresh bounty of your surrounding area. Find farmers' markets, co-ops and CSAs (community-supported agriculture projects).                                                                                                                                 All these are great ideas but I agree with Jay Leno and just avoid vegetables. My diet of fast food, pastries and lots of meat has enabled me to maintain my svelte 400 pound figure. Vegetables? I don't need no stinking vegetables. I also would like to note that I went to the local citrus stand to ship some oranges and tangerines to my grandchildren for Christmas. My son called to say thank you and mentioned that there were 9 tangerines an 10 oranges in the box. I paid $40 including shipping for those 19 pieces of fruit and the next day saw 10 tangerines for $1 at my local supermarket. Next year Ill buy "LOCAL" at the supermarket and ship them myself.

3. Dispose of Disposables: Instead of relying on single-use containers, get real dishes, and the resources saved will really add up.                                                                                                                           My philosophy about washing dishes is it that I pile them in the sink until I no longer have clean ones then I wash them. Somehow I think this conserves water also and no I'm in the running for "batchelor of the year".

4. Banish Excess Packaging : Buy things in larger sizes if you know you'll use them. Try to select items that have less plastic and extra filler stuffed with them.                                                                               I'm single and rarely need much in the way of large quantities of any item. Frozen burritos do immediately come to mind so I buy them in packages of 10 instead of individually wrapped.

5. Bring Your Own Bags: It's so simple and plastic and paper bags both take resources to produce and distribute, and end up as litter.                                                                                                                      I live in a community where when you walk your dog you must clean up after him. I found that a plastic grocery bag is very useful for this, so I always insist on plastic instead of paper, this is my way to conserve trees.
6. Get a Green Thumb : Growing plants not only helps soak up excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but it can help clean toxins from the air and provide habitat (and food, though you may not want to hear that) for wildlife. And it reconnects you with nature!                                                                          I guess this is where I would mention that in my college days, growing plants were used for a much “higher” purpose.

7. Eat Less Meat : Modern meat is energy and resource intensive, and factory farms are huge polluters. Eating lower on the food chain reduces those problems.                                                                          I am disabled and retired and have practically no food budget as it is, I don’t know how much lower on the food chain that I can eat. Like so many seniors its food or prescriptions.

8. Use Your Appliances Wisely: Get an energy audit (doing one yourself is easy), unplug unused devices and pick Energy Star when it's time to replace.                                                                                           As in #7, my budget is so tight I barely use electricity for anything. I’m trying to teach my dog to run on a treadmill to generate power, so far his opinion is that if I won’t run on the thing neither is he. If I could generate power from him sleeping on the sofa all day I could sell some back to the grid.

9. Cook! : Plan meals ahead of time so you aren't scrambling to pick up something convenient, which is likely to be less healthy and wrapped in more packaging.                                                                           As I said earlier in this blog I weigh nearly 400 pounds I don't scramble for anything. Maybe scramble eggs for breakfast?

10. Become Educated : Learn to save money and time by reducing waste and unneeded consumption, whether that's water, energy, paper, food, travel and more.                                                                Growing old and living on a fixed budget of a little more than $1000 per month gives you a quick education. I don't have the time nor money to waste anything. Breathing is all I have left to conserve and becomes more difficult, daily, without me trying.
Obviously my version of this is tongue-in-cheek with some real truth that those of you who are my age can relate to. To read the entire article without my input check out:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thrones fit for the Royalty in Your Family

When I talk to friends and readers about National Builder Supply, I often describe it best as an online retailer specializing in “high end” quality plumbing fixtures. Their largest and most famous product line is from Toto, the world renowned inventor of the ultra modern Neorest line of toilets, probably the first real innovation in toilets in a century. People who experience Toto toilets in hotels and nicer restrooms in restaurants come away talking about them and immediately to find information about them. What they usually find out first is that they retail for over $5000 unless you happen to find NBS. I have blogged about these before but what made me think about them again, especially during this gift giving season, although most of us are lucky, these days, to even have a toilet much less a $5000 one, was that I ran across an article entitled Thrones Fit For a Queen: 5 Quirky Toilets, By Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind and thought I would show you some other varieties of elegance in bathroom fixtures. The floral urinals featured in this article may also look familiar because I blogged about them several months ago:

So here for your reading enjoyment, personal edification and maybe that last minute addition to your list for Santa, is Thrones fit for a Queen with thanks and full credit given to Erin Loechner for the use of her great article.

“Poor toilets. So under appreciated, yet so entirely necessary. I'd even venture to say that they're one of the most essential fixtures in your home (aside from the remote, of course). It's a good thing the following designers are giving toilets the attention they deserve. After all, loos have feelings, too!”

The Blinged Out Bowl

Florida designer Jemal Wright can be thanked for this over-the-top collection (pictured above), which is encrusted with Swarovski crystals. The price tag? A mere $75,000. Ben Franklin toilet paper not included.

A Loo With a View
Peter Dallimore's Australian creation brings stage fright to a new level entirely. Featuring a backdrop of local models peeking at...well, you know, these urinals are built to impress (your spectators!). 

Pretty Potty

A flower shaped urinal? Artist Clark Sorenson in San Francisco is responsible for these beauties, which are installed in a Bermuda restaurant, a German hotel and, in the near future, an Italian garden center. I suppose your husband will finally learn to water those plants, ladies!

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide

Troy Adams' toilet creation comes fully equipped with a sliding wood panel to transform the commode into a bench when not in use. Let's hope your honey doesn't forget to put the seat down on this toilet!

Dinner Potty

A new kind of dinner party, the Modern Toilet chain of restaurants in Taiwan serves food on a ... porcelain platter. (A true pu pu platter?) With faux-toilet seating and a plethora of bathroom signage, even the food is served in mini-toilets. Soft-serve ice cream is a house favorite, and I can only hope the menu doesn't include Rocky Road.

That’s the end of Ms Loechner’s take on royal thrones but here is a reminder of the Toto Neorest I mentioned at the beginning:

• Cyclone Flushing System Can Be Operated By Remote Or By Sensor Operation
• Front And Rear Warm Water Washing With Temperature And Intermittent Pressure Controls
• Automatic Toilet Seat Can Be Opened/Closed By Remote Or By Sensor Operation • Heated Seat With Temperature Control
• Air Deodorizer • Dryer Function • Remote Control Operation

For more info go to:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Household Odors and Some Solutions

I have become well known among bloggers for my expertise and opinions on sewage smells. But when something else stinks, the cover-up is usually worse than the original culprit (blasting the bathroom with a rose-scented spray is like dousing your body with eau de toilette after two hours of tennis). The key to clean air is tackling the source of the smell, not its lingering effect. There's a difference between an air freshener and an odor counteractant. Odor counteractants do more than mask a smell; they actually get rid of it. While there are a number of reliable all-purpose counteractants, such as Lysol Disinfectant Spray and baking soda, certain pungent smells call for specific measures. Read on to find the best ways to eradicate unwanted aromas anywhere in your home.

Clothing Odors

The Cause: Stored clothing, mothballs may be toxic, and they make you smell like a thrift store or your grandmother’s house. Sweat, body odor ( bacteria on the skin plus sweat causes body odor) can seep into clothing. Shoes, consider the potent combination of 98 percent July humidity and approximately 250,000 sweat glands on each of your feet.

The Cure: Stored clothing, at-home dry-cleaning kits can remove stale odors. Sweat body odor, simply wash your clothes to kill unseemly body odor in fabrics. Shoes, avoid wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row, and stuff them with newspaper, which absorbs moisture and, therefore, smells. Avoid sprays, which can leave a white residue.

Refrigerator Odors

The Cause: A refrigerator odor that you can't "see" is like an itch you can't scratch. You can spend an afternoon scrubbing your fridge from top to bottom without getting rid of that whiff of food that has gone bad. That's because spills often trickle into the drip pan underneath the refrigerator or into the insulation and go undetected for months.

The Cure: There's still nothing better for absorbing fridge odors than baking soda, and the old staple just got a makeover: Arm & Hammer's new Fridge-n-Freezer Deodorizer has front and back windows lined with a cheesecloth like fabric to maximize ventilation. Vanilla extract is also an effective remedy: Soak a cotton ball in it and leave the cotton ball exposed on a dish until dry.

Pet Odors

The Cause: Litter box, the ripeness of a litter box depends on the litter as well as on the pet’s diet, allergies, or infections, and whether the box is cleaned daily. Fur, dirty coats breed odor-causing bacteria. Accidents, fluids spread as they seep into carpet padding and create nasty smells.

The Cure: Litter box, clay-based litter that clumps when wet absorbs odors. Don’t make the mistake I did and flush it down the toilet. Believe me that creates a monumental clog that takes an award winning plumber to unclog. Fur , brushing and bathing can prevent the buildup of bacteria. Ask your vet about shampoos.

Accidents, you can spray any one of many available stain & odor removers found at your local pet stores, on an area wider than the spot (and under it, if possible).

Food Odor

The Cause: Poorly ventilated or cramped kitchens mixed with pungent foods -- such as garlic, curry, eggs, cheese, and burned casseroles (my specialty), make for strong odors.

The Cure: Lemon and citrus fragrances, or such antibacterial agents as Lysol or all-natural citrus products that can be found on the market today. Often the best (and easiest) remedy is to open a window or turn on a vent or exhaust fan that suck most everything out.

Cigarette Smoke Odors

The Cause: Cigarette smoke is insidious and depending on how bad the smoke is in a room, it sometimes can permeate the curtains, the bedspreads, the furniture and most everything else.

The Cure, Don’t allow anyone to smoke in your home. One of the only good things about my ex-wife was her attitude about smoking in our home. Not only did we not own even a single ashtray, when asked by an unknowing guest she would advise them to step outside because in her opinion “the whole world was an ashtray “. No one should smoke in your home or car if you object. if you dislike the smell or the habit, when hosting an incorrigible guest, rely on cross-ventilation is the best solution for ridding clothes and furniture of the noxious smell but avoiding the problem by insisting on no smoking in your home is the best cure.

Bathroom Odor

The Cause: Mold and mildew grow where there is moisture, darkness and still air. Odor-carrying bacteria can accompany it. This fast-growing ecosystem results in bad smells. Bodily functions, the most natural odors can be the most embarrassing, especially if there is no bathroom window and you have a house full of guests. Heck I can embarrass myself and I live alone.

The Cure, for mold and mildew, clean off the bacteria that generate odors and dry all tiles and caulking when wet by carefully using a diluted solution of household bleach and water in a spray bottle careful to avoid getting on any soft surfaces . As with trash cans, Lysol or other disinfectant can inhibit growth. Bodily functions, lit candles or matches kill odors. Urine can emit an ammonia-like odor, so clean the toilet regularly.

Basement odor

The Cause: Musty odors, the thick stench that seeps into books, quilts, and other valuable items are caused by moisture that gets trapped in unventilated spaces, resulting in mold and mildew that breed odor-causing bacteria. Water damage caused by leaks can create odors that won't dissipate until the wet spots and the source of the damage are dry.

The Cure for musty odors can be the use of activated charcoal. Pour two cups into an airtight bin, prop your items on a shoe box in the bin so they don't touch the powder, seal until fresh, then air them out. Water damage, once the source is sealed, ventilate and use a dehumidifier which may become a permanent necessity in your basement. They are widely available in small portable units or permanent more aggressive units can be added to your home’s central HVAC system.

Garbage Odor

The Cause: The fetid blend of banana peels, used paper towels, cheese scraps, onion ends, milk cartons, takeout containers, and dead flowers is inevitable.

The Cure, inside trash cans should always be lined with ecologically friendly biodegradable liners or bags, additionally lidded garbage cans left outdoors are especially prone to bacteria growth. Also, originally designed for pet odors, there are many antibacterial sprays that work well in garbage cans and diaper pails. These nontoxic sprays bind to odor particles and naturally biodegrade the odor-causing bacteria. To prevent garbage smells from forming, clean and disinfect both indoor and outdoor garbage cans with an all-purpose cleaner at least once a month.

Dishwasher Odor

The Cause: Most dishwasher odors are caused by dirty plates that have been sitting for a few days or by food trapped in the filter or on the tub bottom.

The Cure, if your dishes sit before you start the dishwasher, run a "rinse and hold" cycle until you're ready to wash. To clean the whole machine, run an empty cycle with two cups of white vinegar (a natural odor absorber and neutralizer) instead of detergent. Remember that your dishwasher is not a garbage disposal: You can prevent odors by rinsing food off before you load.

As always I know there must be dozens of other household odors and unique solutions to these problems. Please share them with me and I will see them published and credit you with the discussion.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Twenty-Two (22) More Ways to Go Green Around Your House

Well as long as I’m on the “green” bandwagon I may as well share more information that I have come across detailing 22 simple low cost things you can do around your house to help the t without going to Copenhagen and save yourself some cash. Of course there are big changes that you can make, adding spray-foam insulation to open walls, or installing a tankless water heater. . Here from the good folks at AOLHome and This Old House Magazine are some low-stress steps to take around the house to reduce your carbon footprint, create a healthier home, and lower your monthly bills to boot. Reprinted directly from them and with full credit given to them. I do not claim to be smart enough to come up with these things but I am smart enough to find them and to pass them on to you.To view the entire article visit:

1. Unplug your power tools
Figure out which cordless tools (like drill/drivers) get the most use, then unplug the chargers on all the rest. Most cordless tools have nickel cadmium (NiCad) batteries, which will hold some charge for up to a year. They lose 15 to 20 percent of their juice each month, but only take a couple of hours to power up again. Newer tools with lithium ion batteries lose just 2 to 5 percent of their charge each month, so they'll be ready to go even if you haven't charged them in ages.
2. Spread sawdust on your floor
Take the superfine shavings captured by your dust collection system, wet them down, then push them around with a stiff broom to sweep your concrete garage or workshop floor. The mix is as good as a power-guzzling shop vac at picking up dust but doesn't swirl it into the air. 

3. Up the wattage on lights
Where you still use incandescent bulbs (with dimmers or three-ways) on multiple fixtures in a room, try consolidating. One 100-watt incandescent emits more light than two 60-watt bulbs combined but requires 17 percent less power. The 100-watter also uses the same energy as four 25-watt bulbs, but pumps out twice as much light. Just be sure your bulbs don't exceed the maximum wattage recommendation for each fixture.

4. Eat your leftover take-out
Then save the plastic containers it came in -- which can't be recycled in most municipal waste systems -- and use them to organize your nails, screws, and leftover paints. Not only does their tight seal help preserve solvents, but the see-through containers stack neatly and display contents clearly. For added strength, double up the thin ones.

5. Save used paint thinner
After cleaning oil-based finishes from brushes and tools, allow the dirty solvent to sit overnight. The sludge will settle to the bottom of the jar, leaving a layer of clear thinner on top. Carefully decant the clear thinner into a clean jar, and reseal it for future use. Be sure to dispose of the leftover sludge at a hazardous-waste-disposal site--never down a sink drain or into a street gutter.

6. Mix it up in the garage
Combine all those cans of leftover white paint that inevitably collect after you decorate the house and use them to paint the garage or workshop. (Make sure only to mix latex with latex and oils with oils.) You'll keep the stuff out of the trash, and by adding the semi-glosses to the flats and eggshells, you'll end up with a sheen that's easy to clean.

7. Turn things on their heads
Store paint cans upside down so the solvents--which separate and rise to the top--get trapped under the bottom of the can. Not only will paint last longer, but solvents won't be able to slowly seep out through the lid this way.

8. Take charge of your charges
Invest in an inexpensive battery tester, then set up a "battery center" where you can store new cells, check used ones for power, and set aside those that have burned out and have to be recycled. A designated collection spot will deter you from throwing bad batteries in the garbage. Once or twice a year, you just take the pile to your town's recycling center.

9. Take your  fridge's  temperature
Stick an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of your refrigerator, or between frozen goods in the freezer, overnight. Your fridge temp should be between 37 and 40 degrees F (no more, to keep bacteria at bay); your freezer between 0 and 5 degrees. If either compartment is too cold, adjust the setting, since keeping them just 10 degrees colder than necessary can boost your energy consumption by up to 25 percent.

10. Freeze your assets
Slip a dollar bill between the rubber gasket on your freezer and fridge doors and the frame, then close the door and tug on the buck. Notice any resistance? If not, the seal's not tight enough and cold air is probably leaking out, making your fridge work harder to stay cool. Try this on all four sides of the door. If necessary, call the manufacturer's service department to find out how to replace the gasket.

11. Throw a dinner party
And clear out that second fridge or freezer in the garage or basement. Then banish the appliance to the recycling center. Getting rid of either one can save you more than $200 a year, especially if it's an old, inefficient model.

12. Invite your biggest buddy over
Ask him to help you move your fridge out of direct sunlight or away from the range. The heat from either will force a refrigerator compressor to gobble up more energy than necessary. A fridge uses up to 2.5 percent more power for each degree the surrounding temperature is above 70 degrees. So moving it out of a 90-degree spot can save you as much as $70 a year. If you can't move it, at least block any sunny window with curtains and put as big a buffer as you can between it and the range.

13. Use the dishwasher
Doing a full load in your machine is far more efficient than washing the same number of dishes by hand. This is especially true if you have an Energy Star dishwasher, which requires an average of 4 gallons of water per load, compared with the 24 gallons it takes to do them in the sink. Using one will save you 5,000 gallons of water, $40 in utility costs, and 230 hours of your time each year.

14. Turn your toilet tank blue
Or green or red. Pour food coloring into the water in the tank, wait two hours, then check to to see if any color has seeped into the bowl. If it has, your tank's flapper is leaking, either from mineral buildup or worn parts. After you flush the dye away so it doesn't stain, head to the hardware store for a replacement flapper assembly (then go to for instructions on how to install it). Toilet leaks waste up to a gallon of water per minute. That's more than 43,000 gallons a month.

15. Run the shower
Place a 1-gallon bucket under the running water, then see how long it takes for it to fill up. If it's less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with one that sprays 1.5 gallons per minute. That could save as much as 14,600 gallons of water a year -- especially if you limit your showers to 10 minutes. It will also save you $22 on your annual water bill, and $150 per year on water heating.

16. Go from scalding to just hot
Turn your water heater's temperature setting down from the standard 140 degrees F to 120 degrees. Not only will this save you some bucks, it'll also slow down mineral buildup and corrosion, prolonging the life of your tank. Since a new water heater costs about $900 installed, each additional year of use saves you money as well.

17. End  the water torture
One drip per second from a leaky faucet or pipe can waste up to 5 gallons of water a day -- and 1,800 gallons a year. While you won't notice much of an increase on your water bill (around $3 annually), if an overlooked leak soaks through your kitchen floor, you could wind up with a $1,000 repair job -- money that could have been saved by simply replacing a 50-cent washer.

18. Wipe your feet
Equip your exterior doors with a series of mats -- or one long "walk-off" mat -- so everyone enters with clean shoes. As long as there's room for five steps on the mats, you'll drastically reduce the amount of grime tracked in. That means fewer pathogens that cause disease and less chemical cleanup. It will also mean improved indoor air quality, since dirt embedded in a carpet can become airborne when it's tromped on or agitated by a vacuum.

19. Reach behind your clothes washer.
Turn down the hot water tap for the washing machine so less goes into the warm-water cycle. Perspiration and most other dirt dislodge best at body temperature, so you don't need water that's warmer than 100 degrees. Since most washers simply open both the hot and cold taps to make "warm" water, it may take longer to fill the machine. But you'll save about $40 annually on your water-heating bill.

20. Spend more time in the basement
Make sure furnace filters in forced-air systems are clean. Dirty furnace filters restrict airflow and increase energy use. Cleaning them, or swapping them out each month during the winter, can save you up to 5 percent on your heating costs. Also schedule an annual checkup before the heat comes on to see that the furnace is properly calibrated.

21. Listen to your mother
And put on a sweater. That way you can turn down your thermostat this winter. Adjust it by just one degree for eight hours a day, and you could save 1 percent on your monthly heating bills. Do it for 24 hours and save 3 percent. Try setting the temp at 70 degrees during the day and 62 at night during winter (and 78 or higher come summer). Heating and air-conditioning account for nearly half the energy used in our homes, so every little bit less you use makes a dent.

22. Worship the sun

Or at least use it to your advantage. Open blinds or drapes to let in natural solar heat on cold days, then close them once the sun sets, and you can reduce your heating bills by 10 percent. You can also cut your cooling costs by up to 33 percent in the summer by blocking out sunlight with exterior blinds, shutters, or awnings. To keep rooms bright, paint or paper with light or reflective colors.

Well there it is folks, enough to keep you busy this weekend and to keep you away from the mall and all of the traffic. That alone will help decrease the carbon emissions in your neighborhood or maybe if enough of us did it we could offset the carbon footprint of that Air Force One makes taking President Obama and his crew to Copenhagen this weekend. I wonder how many of us would it take?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Living Green Can also Mean Living Smaller

Most of you who read my blogs know that I am a strong proponent of living the green lifestyle. What most of you don't know, to a certain extent, is that I have been forced to live a green lifestyle by virtue of my own disabilities and their problems. For many years I worked at my career as a specialized accountant dealing with business startups and turnarounds. This career allowed me to live a wonderful lifestyle, raise three great sons and to help many people with their businesses. When I became unable to work in 2006 my lifestyle changed completely, I had to give up a beautiful large 3100 ft.² home on a mountaintop in North Georgia, I could no longer drive a nice new-car and had to literally watch my every expenditure to be able to make it on a day-to-day basis. Probably the worst thing of all was that I had to burden one of my sons take care of me. This not only made it difficult and a financial burden on my son but it took a great toll on me both emotionally and personally. I began for the first time in many years to learn how to cut corners, save money and became more appreciative of living a green life. When my son began to expand his family I had to find other resources in which to live, which brought me to Florida. Here in Florida I learned to live not only the green life but to live in a much smaller more efficient space. Through the good graces of my best friends, I live in a senior citizen's community, as many do here in Florida, in a manufactured home that they own. Even though the home measures 24 x 60(1440 ft.²) actually live in only about one half of that space or about 700 ft.²which enables me to conserve energy by heating cooling less space but also allows me a smaller, easier to maintain area in which to live. As a result of this I find that I have become a proponent of not only living in the green life but living a new trend of smaller spaces. As our earth's resources become more scarce and our available land becomes more expensive and harder to obtain, more and more of us will need to adjust our lives to living in smaller spaces which does not mean that we will be forced to live in one half of an aluminum box such as I do today.

• I read more about this trend to smaller spaces over this past weekend in an article on AOL:

• What I discovered was that where I thought I was living a necessity I was actually being trendy. The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company has developed a niche market in designing and building small houses for everyday living, some as small as 100 ft.². A trip to their great website at , ,
shows some of the many unique designs and floor plans, a couple of which I have attached pictures above. I have to admit that if I were younger and had more financial resources I would buy myself a piece of property somewhere and jump at the chance to build one of these great small houses. For a single person like myself one of these would be ideal.

A lot of what the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company is about is not only a great utilization of space but I sense a real style which goes a long ways towards helping you to forget the amount of space you're living in. You can do this wherever you live whether inside a tiny little house or manufactured home, by utilizing nicer materials, better fixtures, in addition of color and style to your surroundings. As an example in my small manufactured home I've added nicer plumbing fixtures such as Toto toilets, nicer faucets, plantation shutters to the Windows and decorated the place with a real beachy feel. Would I rather be home in my beloved North Georgia mountains? Certainly I would, but the important thing to remember is that we make the best of what we have with what resources that we have to make it with.

I hope you'll take some time today to look at the Tiny Tumbleweeds House website and to examine your own life and how you might be able to live it in a smaller space and better utilize your resources.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Frozen Vent Pipes Can Cause Sewer Gas Smells.

I have written several means blogs in the past about plumbing smells, in fact they have been some of my most widely read and most well received. Every time I think I've heard them all a new scenario arises. I ran across such a new smell problem this past weekend that we don't often run across here in Georgia or in Florida where I am now. The new example smells backing up into the house from blockages caused by frozen water in the vent pipes. When this happens the plumbing smells can’t escape through the vent. The following is the question posed in the forum and the answer:

Question: When the weather is below freezing I get a sewer smell in the house. One plumber came over and poured hot water down a pipe on the roof and it immediately unplugged the pipe and the smell went away until it froze again which it can do the next day if there is a cold spell. I can’t be getting up on the roof everyday for weeks at a time to do this. There must be a better solution. This plumber didn't know what to do so I made some calls and another plumber told me to put an external heat tape like the one gets put on the roof to keep the snow melted down this pipe. I am going to try it. I was wondering if anyone has had this problem before and what their solution was.

Answer: In most venues the minimum sized vent pipe is 1" diameter (that’s with a minimum number of fixtures that its venting), this minimum sized vent needs to penetrate the roof and must extend a minimum of 18", no greater than 24" above the roof . All these rules are to allow the gases to escape well up in the air above the house and to prevent the roof vent from becoming blocked by hoarfrost (basically the same white, icy frost you'll find in a freezer. If, after all that, you still have a roof vent that's susceptible to hoarfrost, they tell you to increase its size one pipe diameter (i.e. - from 2" to 3") - which could mean having to replace the roof flange, as well. Find out what the code is in your area, and determine if your current installation meets that code. Additionally the most common vent problem that we run across is a clogged vent which causes toilets to gurgle and drains to run slow. Water can also build up at the clog and eventually can cause an ice blockage of the vent pipe thus not only would you have the sewer gas type smell to build up but slow running drains as well.

This is proof that you can teach an old dog (that’s me) new tricks. Having been raised in the South I didn't even know what hoarfrost was. Do you mean it's not a cold woman of the streets? Also rarely does it get cold long enough to cause this type of build up, but we do experience frozen vent pipes temporarily during ice storms or particularly cold weather. Normally this clears up sooner than we can realize that the problem exists. As always, I hope this new solution will be also help to you. Comments and stories about your own problems and solutions are always welcomed. Use the search device on my blog (upper righ corner) to find all of the blogs I have written amount "whats that smell". I smell a book coming on!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Change the Look of Your Bathroom with New Hardware From NBS

Bathroom hardware can be a quick and easy way to give your bathroom an entirely new look. There are four basic components to most bathroom hardware, towel bars, towel rings, robe hooks, toilet paper holders, matching toilet handles and for convenience and safety, grab bars. As shown in the links and pictures below National Builder Supply offers 100’s of choices in these bathroom necessities in a wide price range and no matter the style of your bathroom, whether it is traditional, contemporary, nautical, modern, vintage, rustic or a style of your own creation, there is a complimentary bathroom hardware for you. You can choose from a variety of manufacturers that specialize in polished chrome, stainless steel, oil rubbed bronze, brass, and antiqued finishes.

Towel bars are a great way to keep towels from taking up valuable counter space. Choose from single towel bars, double towel bars. Towel bars, 235 to choose from:

Towel rings can be used for a more informal look for towels or for a convenient place to hang wash cloths, depending on how much space you have in the bathroom. Towel rings 96 to choose from:

Toilet paper holders come in some of the most unusual configurations than ever offered before. You can choose from the simple old style rod holder, rings, hanging slip on bars, stand up single slip on rods and in single and multiple roll styles (no more hiding the extra roll). Toilet paper holders 88 to choose from:

Robe hooks, usually hidden behind doors can be beautiful enough to take a prominent place on a wall in plain sight. Robe Hooks 77 to choose from:|Robe+Hooks|7|&origsearch=Robe+Hooks&altsearch=Robe+Hooks

Grab bars, for safety in the shower, if you have elderly folks or small children, are a great option to keep to keep them steady: Grab bar 61 to choose from:

Tank handles are probably the most ignored and least frequently changed bathroom item. Until I started writing this blog for NBS I didn’t even know there was such a thing as designer tank handles. Whatever came on the toilet is what we had. Now you can choose from 92 different tank handles that coordinate with the rest of the hardware in your bathroom:

Coordinate the finishes on the accessories you choose to help it blend in with the rest of your décor. If you are really pressed for space I did a blog a few weeks ago, that has gotten a lot of response, on medicine cabinets and how to replace them with decorative mirrors or pictures. A bathroom looks its best when the hardware is coordinated. Take a few minutes to look at the NBS websites listed above and see all of the choices in styles, finishes and price ranges available to perk up you boring bathroom. Maybe add a magazine rack, a MP3 player and a flat panel TV for that Dad or Husband that spends an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom…LOL.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How Do You Get Your Bathtub Clean?

From time to time I run across discussion forum threads where folks share their opinions and ideas for how to accomplish household chores more efficiently. This week I ran across one on the I-Village Garden Web series asking the question….Anyone have a secret to getting their bathtub really clean? My bathtub never seems really clean and white - any secrets?
The following are some of the interesting ideas as well as some warnings about what to use and not use on your bathtub:

1. Try soft scrub with bleach. Before I went *green* with cleaning products, I used to use this stuff and it worked beautifully getting out that sort of gray hazy type thing that collects on white sinks, tubs, etc over time with heavy use.

2. Borax claims that it can put the shine back. I tried it on an old cast iron white tub that is original to a house from the 40" or 50's it looks like a cotton ball it has no shine left. The owner told me to use very fine grit sand paper he said it worked in a house he was rehabbing. It did nothing for the bathtub I was working on but he said it did for his. Newer tubs should never be cleaned with anything abrasive so they keep their shine Bon Ami is a good cleaner. I got to tell you it was really weird using that sander in the tub and loud! It was a last resort kind of thing.

3. It kind of depends on what the problem is. If the finish is shot, it's not going to look splendid no matter what you do. If the problem is just years of crusted on crud, try spraying on Tilex Soap Scum, lavishly, and leaving it on for a while. If you can start shifting gunk after that, keep on with the Tilex.

4. Soft Scrub and Tilex soap scum remover will get the grime/build-up off, bleach will whiten it (one can just spray on bleach clean up a little and let it sit). Clean possible, white possible, shiny maybe not...

5. Baking soda or borax and white vinegar for buildup & general dirt, also helps with mildew if you make a paste & let it sit. Simple Green or X-14 for soap scum & mildew. Oh, and elbow grease

6. Comet has a citrus-based spray-on cleanser that I use on my cast iron tub that keeps it clean and shiny. It's only a few years old, but is still white and shiny. I think that it's about 6% citrus base, which works quite well.

7. I found a Magic Eraser did wonders on my porcelain tub. Try it in a little spot first.

8. I have your secret!!! Lysol toilet bowl cleaner...yes toilet bowl will not damage the finish either.and I have tried it on fiberglass as well. Wear gloves generously apply and let sit a couple minutes...rust is GONE...sparkling clean...cleaner then you have ever seen it. It works better then iron out and does not have the fumes that make me run from the room gasping.. RINSE warning IT WILL DAMAGE METAL FIXTURES such as chrome if left on (my son used it on his shower fixtures and it ruined the plating. (USE THIS STUFF SPARINGLY IF AT ALL ON ANYTHING BUT THE TOILET)

9. Comet. It's now no-scratch--works far better than Soft Scrub. Use it with a sponge with a no-scratch abrasive side.

My Mom was visiting many years ago and shared this secret. First scrub the bath tub with a non abrasive agent such as Bon Ami. Rinse. Then fill the tub with cool water. Add a few cups of beach and soak overnight. Not sure how 'green' this is but it certainly made my old tub white & shiny. (make sure you vent the bathroom and close the door).

11. Last but not least my favorite way to keep my bathtub clean and sparkly? I have a housekeeper to come in frequently and I don’t have the slightest idea what she uses but it works for me, bathtub always sparkles!

Monday, December 7, 2009

To Repair or Replace Household Appliances & Fixtures

America is generally divided into classes…THE HAVES AND THE HAVE NOTS. In my 60+ years I can say that I have been both. I grew up in a generally middle class family and as an adult have experienced my share of ups and downs. I have lived in a one bedroom furnished apartment with not even a radio to listen to much less anything like a TV and have owned a home in Los Angeles that was the French embassy for some 47 years. In either situation when something went wrong with a household appliance or fixture I still tried to use common sense when it came to repair replace it. Over this past weekend while researching for a subject to write on for today I came across an article AOL/Home about when to repair or replace by JUDI KETTELER. To read the entire article unabridged check the link below:

Here in some of her words and the addition of my own is my take on the article.

With the economic downturn, our inclination is to make-do with what we have--including repairing (versus replacing) appliances and other household items. We've consulted appliance experts for advice about when to cut your losses and buy new, and when to invest in what you already have. Generally my rule of thumb has been to buy the best item that I could at the time and hope for the longest useful life but in general never spend more to repair something that it would take to replace it with one equal to or better than the old one. When you consider the improvements that continue to be made in quality and features sometimes it may even be better to spend a little more and replace anything that goes bad. I am currently hoping my old TV (about 6 years old and not High Def , big screened nor flat panel) will quit so I can justify buying a new one. Man are they getting cheap. I tried to give the old one away to one of my sons during his visit for Thanksgiving and he wouldn’t buy into it, he wants one of the fancy new ones too! The following are a few household items and opinions as to whether to repair or replace.
Dishwasher: Broken and rusting dishwasher racks are a common issue. At about $100 apiece, they may not be worth replacing if your dishwasher is on its last leg already. Less expensive fixes are cleaning out the inlet screen (where debris can build up) or replacing some seals (broken seals can cause water to leak). More expensive would be a broken pump. New models are more effective in their cleaning ability, tend to be quieter, and most importantly to many of us these days are more energy efficient using less water and electricity. These would be some reasons to consider replacing the old one instead of repairing the old one.
Vacuum: Vacuums range wildly in price, but if you're even mildly handy, it's nearly always worth it to replace a broken belt. I had one break on my fancy $60 Walmart variety two weeks ago and I got 2 of belts for $2.99 and it just took a call to my buddy Mike (Crash & Burn) Hennecy to come over and loosening a few screws. Can't do it yourself or don’t have a Crash & Burn in your life? You're probably looking at a minimum of $30 to take it somewhere. On the other hand, if you're smelling a burning smell, it might be the motor, a major repair, that likely isn't worth it for less expensive models.
TV and/or DVD player: I’ve already discussed this one and with today's televisions and DVD players most are more economically replaced plus have so many new features and efficiencies. Unfortunately if you’ve already replaced it with the latest and greatest I hope you invested in the lifetime warranty. DVD players are so inexpensive now that almost no one attempts to fix them and the technology is changing so fast that yours is probably already out dated. One important tip is to always use a surge protector to prevent voltage spikes, one of the number one things that ruin televisions, DVD players and computers.
Lawnmower: If you pay someone, like I do, to do your lawn you dont have to worry about this. If your lawnmower is running sluggish, it could be something very simple, like bad gas (gas left from the previous season), which should be drained. It's usually worth it to get a tune-up for your mower, and to replace the blades, about $20 and one bolt to loosen or even to have them sharpened (also inexpensive). However, if your mower starts knocking or blowing smoke, that's a much bigger and costlier problem that might empty your wallet. So head on down to the local big box store and buy the latest greatest in a new one or watch your neighborhood for the local guys cutting grass and get a bid.
Refridgerator: If your ice cream is soft and your milk is warm, don't panic yet. It may just be a dirty condenser coil, an easy fix. If you know your way around a fridge: unplug, take off the back, and use a vacuum to blow air onto the coil to clean. Otherwise, have a tech do it. It's also not too costly to replace fan motors, light switches, or water valves. If your compressor dies, however, that's a big-ticket repair. The same applies for the electronics. If you shop smart, watch sales at the big box stores or the scratch and dent sales you can get the latest thing for a reasonable price. We replaced our refrigerator last year with a large side by side stainless steel model with ice and water on the door that does more things than I have space to write about including a beeper when I stand in front of the door open looking for something to snack on. I may as well have bought it from Jenny Craig. It retailed for $1300+ we got it for $700 still wrapped up in its original packaging although it was billed as a floor model.
Oven & Range: If your oven isn't heating, it's likely the bake element coil (in electric ovens) or the igniter (in gas). At around $30-$50 for a coil and $50-$80 for an igniter (plus labor if you can't do it yourself, but they're quick jobs), it's usually worth fixing. For burners that aren't working, it's usually the electrical connection (especially if the burner is working intermittently) and is usually worth having a tech look at.
Microwave: While there are a few minor and inexpensive fixes for microwaves, like door switches and light bulbs, it's often not worth it. First, working with microwaves is generally not for do-it-yourselfers (unless you are well-versed in electricity), so service can be costly. Second, the price has come down so much that it's cheaper to replace your $100 microwave than to pay $150 or more for a major repair, such as a circuit board.
Room air conditioner: If you are still in the dark ages and cooling with window units and they aren't cooling anymore, it could be a quick fix or it could mean it's time to throw in the towel. Cleaning the back of the coil is the first step--a job for a DIY-inclined person (or a service person can do it relatively inexpensively). However, if it's an issue with the refrigerant, that's a pretty expensive repair. It may be worth it if you have a larger wall unit. But for smaller window units, it makes more sense to replace. If you haven’t heard, they now have central units that can heat and cool your whole house. A window unit can be an expensive thing to run and the economics and efficiencies of new central units can help to offset the cost long term and additionally give you a far better level of comfort year round.
Water heater: It's pretty simple with water heaters. If you have a leak, don't repair, replace. In terms of maintenance and getting the most out of your water heater, once a year, it's a good idea to pull the plug, drain the tank and wash it out so that sediment doesn't get stuck in the tank (which can lead to brownish-looking water). The general problem with water heaters other than leaks are burned out heating elements (there are 2 , one on the top and one in the bottom)in electric models and thermostats. Both issues are easily handled if you are an accomplished DIYer but if not its time to call the plumber or an electrician. A good well taken care of water heater should last 10 to 12 years so don’t replace unless it is nearing that age.
Garbage disposal: A garbage disposal that's simply jammed is definitely worth fixing. Twisting the turntable manually with an Allen wrench can usually clear the jam. Replacing the turntables altogether is a more costly option (ripping it out may be the same price as replacing). And if there is water leaking at the base, it's a sign that the seal has failed and is likely running into the motor and it's time to replace.
Washer: A washer that won't drain probably has an issue with the pump, which can be as simple as something being caught in it (small articles of clothing, like baby socks, can sometimes get pushed out and make their way into the pump). If the pump itself is broken, you're probably looking at a $125-$200 repair, usually worth it for a good washing machine. I had to replace a timer on my washer 2 months ago that cost me $150. If I had known it was the timer I could have done it myself and saved $135. Sometimes it pays to go online and look for solutions in the discussion forums.
Dryer: If your dryer isn't heating up, it's most likely the heating element (electric) or the igniter and the coils on the gas valve (gas). Both are mid-level DIY jobs. It could also be as simple as improper venting (the vent is too long, or it's plugged up)--something you can troubleshoot yourself. Thermal fuses may also need to be replaced (the fuse blows if the dryer overheats). Most of these common repair jobs run $100-$150, another discussion forum solution to look up and do it yourself.
Faucets: Well we all know that the most common problem with a faucet is a leak. Depending on the quality of the faucet this may be a simple DIY project with parts readily available and sometimes free along with help provided by the manufacturer. Most of the better American brands now offer a lifetime warranty on their faucets so check with them before you pick up a pipe wrench and do some permanent damage. There has been many new innovations in plumbing fixtures from water savings to touch technology. Before investing in a new faucet contact my friends at NBS (866) 355-0310 and let them help you make a decision as to whether to buy or replace.
I hope this information has at least encouraged you to think about repairing or replacing the next time you come across a problem.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Old Ideas.... but GREEN

The other day I wrote a blog about “What’s Old is New Again” discussing trends in kitchen décor and appliances that harken back to the 1950’s. Since then I ran across a great article on HomeAOL entitled "7 Lost Household Arts" by BRIAN CLARK HOWARD , to view the entire article and great pics go to:

Here with full credit to Mr. Howard and Hearst Publications, are some of the ideas of yesteryear that were common place that we have all forgotten either accidently or on purpose.
“They're not called 'the greatest generation' for nothing. A fun fact about going green: Much of it isn't new. Many of the eco-tips people are 'discovering' are things our grandparents did every day. Here are our favorite 'lost arts' from our collective memory banks.
1. Line Dry Your Sheets and Towels: Indulge yourself by sleeping each night on pillowcases and sheets freshened by sun and breeze, both of which naturally disinfect and lift stains. You'll also save energy, since automatic dryers use 6% of household electricity.
2. Get a Rain Barrel: Buy a fab-looking rain barrel from a garden store, such as a space-saving model that 'pops up,' or simply use something old. You'll reduce the amount of storm water that runs off your property and into overburdened sewers, causing erosion and spreading pesticides, oil and other toxins. Use the water for plants and save on your water bills.
3. Reinvent the Root Cellar: You don't have to live with a dirt-floor cellar to take advantage of stocking up on fresh vegetables and fruits during harvest (when prices are cheap). All you need is a cool, dark place that won't freeze; it could be under a stairwell, or in a corner of a basement, garage or shed. Pack clean, dry produce -- such as carrots, beets, potatoes and winter squash -- in boxes surrounded by sawdust, sand or straw. You want good air circulation and relatively high humidity (earthen floors work well, or put out trays of water or damp cloths). Remove spoiled items immediately and keep apples separate, since they promote ripening.
4. Supplement Your Heat with a Wood Pellet Stove: Pellet stoves are vastly more efficient than traditional fireplaces or woodstoves, and produce very little smoke and ash. They are easy to install in many settings, and don't require a masonry chimney. They use a little electricity (to run fans and controls), and slowly burn wood pellets that are made out of recycled, compressed sawdust that would otherwise be thrown out by mills.
5. Rediscover Borax and Baking Soda: People have been cleaning and bathing with mild, naturally occurring baking soda since ancient Egypt. It is great for scouring and deodorizing many surfaces, from tile to toys and hands. Borax is an element that forms crystals in arid regions. It makes a good cleaning agent, disinfectant, mold killer and stain remover, from the laundry room to the bathroom. Both substances are cheap and readily available.
6. Repel Moths with Aromatic Herbs: To protect your fabrics, use cedar shavings and blocks or cheesecloth bags filled with cloves, rosemary, eucalyptus, lavender, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves or other herbs. Your favorite sweaters, not to mention your drawers and closets, will smell fresh and clean. You'll avoid mothballs, which contain a pesticide the EPA links to cataracts, liver and neurological damage.
7. Use Vintage Dish Towels: Avoid paper towels, and have fun finding and collecting vintage and funky dish towels from garage and estate sales, auctions and online. You can even get different sets for the seasons and holidays. You'll add a splash of color (and a conversation piece) to your kitchen and table.”
I hope you find some of these ideas helpful. I’m old enough to remember when they were the common place thing to do. Unfortunately I’m old and not becoming new again. AH The Good Ole Days.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Clog Busting 101

Clogs still appear to be one of the most common household problems that appear over and over in forums and discussion groups. To this end I have written several blogs on the subject as well as having joined into so many discussions on forum groups that I can’t begin to some up with a count, yet the problem still persists. This weekend I finally ran across the best, simplest and most concise discussion via a video of simple clog busting procedures and tools of the trade. The video is by HGTV’s Eric Stromer and was posted on AOL. Here is the link to the video:|welcome|dl5|link3|

In the video Eric points out the “P” trap (and many people don’t know what one is) and that it is the most common point of clogs and he shows how easily it is removed, a simple pair of slip joint pliers. Most people are afraid to touch the “p” trap for fear that it is permanently attach or that some sort of leak will occur. In reality it is normally made up to be simple to take apart simply because by its on nature it attracts clogs. As for leaking, the most important thing to remember, as pointed out in the video is to put a bucket under it before you take it apart because it does trap water and will or should be full of it, and the bucket will make a convenient place to dump the contents if there is a clog. He goes on to demonstrate various devices to use to break up a clog including 2 different types of augers or “snakes”. These devices and their proper use are also new to many homeowners who generally reach for a bottle of liquid drain cleaner first. You should be cautioned that although sometimes these drain cleaners may work, they are caustic and dangerous to both you, your family, your pipes and the environment and should be avoided.
Even I learned something new on this video, a new clog breaking device called the “Clog Buster” (pictured above) which with a simple Google search can be found for about $10 at most hardware and big box stores. This device connects to your garden hose and super pressurizes the water. When inserted into your drain line past the “p” trap seals up against the drain line and powers a blast of water through most clogs. I don’t how this little device has slipped past my radar all these years but I WANT ONE!