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Innovative New Toilets and Why to Consider Installing One Now

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

It’s safe to say that there is a technology revolution happening across the world, and this revolution has reached the bathroom, finding new ways to offer highly advanced toilets with impressive features. Not only can toilets save water, they also have heated seats, open by motion directors and much more. Here are three innovative toilets that consumers are flocking to.

Kohler Numi Toilet – The AutoSensor Toilet

At the pinnacle of toilet innovation is the Kohler Numi Toilet. This is a compact one-piece toilet with an elongated bowl, offering any user maximum room and comfort. Its impressive list of features begins with motion sensors, meaning that the toilet requires no hands to open or close the lid. Moreover, with a precision air dryer, self-cleaning wands, and a deodorizing filter, this toilet offers advanced cleansing mechanics. The toilet also comes with a heated seat and foot warmer, ambient lighting, built-in speakers to play desired music and a touch-screen remote control. Most consumers also tout the emergency flush system, allowing users 100 flushes during a power outage.

Ove Decors Alfred Eco Smart Toilet – The Water Saving Machine

When it comes to mixing comfort and innovation, the Ove Alfred Eco Smart Toilet can be a suitable option. With motion sensors, there is no need to touch, open or close a toilet again. The toilet also features one of the most popular innovations of the year, an automatic bidet. The Ove Decors Alfred also comes with an automatic drying feature for optimal cleanliness. This eco-friendly toilet machine boasts the ability to customize the water pressure, jet intensities and amount of water, making it easier for users to save more money. Some other notable features are the heated seating, water saving technology and LED night lights.

The Bio Bidet 1B83 Fully Integrated Toilet System – The Money Saver

The Bio Bidet 1B83 Fully Integrated Toilet System is one of the first of its kind, offering a consumer all features of toilet innovation in one toilet. The design is elegant and luxurious while also promoting innovative eco-friendly technology that saves water and energy. In fact, the Bio Bidet has been ranked as one of the most environmentally friendly toilets on the market. Given the automatic bidet technology, this toilet requires no toilet paper, ultimately saving even more money. On top of the classic bidet, this toilet system also messages to promote relaxation while using the bathroom. Don’t forget about the heated seat technology, a frequent fan favorite.

Ragsdale, Quality You Deserve

If you are in the market for a new innovative toilet, be sure to contact an experienced plumbing company. Visit Ragsdale today for solutions you to all your plumbing needs.

Polybutylene Pipes: What to do if Your Home Has Them

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

From the mid-1970s through the late 1990s, polybutylene pipes were installed in 6-10 million US homes. They were inexpensive and easy to install–but homeowners and plumbing professionals have discovered one serious flaw: Over time, oxidation and exposure to chlorine in the water supply causes the pipes to swell and crack, leading to widespread flood damage throughout the home, usually without any warning. The problems led to a class-action lawsuit during the 1980s. If you have recently purchased a home and you are unsure whether your pipes are polybutylene, it is important to consult with a plumbing professional to find out before you are confronted with serious water damage.

How do I Know if my Home is Affected?

Many home inspectors will detect polybutylene plumbing lines, but they are not required to report this finding, and thus it may go unaddressed. Identifying polybutylene pipes can be tricky, as they appear similar to other plastic resin piping, including polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polypropylene. Polybutylene pipes, which are sometimes used in conjunction with copper piping, are described as:

  • white or gray in color
  • having a dull or matte finish
  • approximately 1/2″ to 1″ in diameter
  • often stamped with “PB2110”

If your home was built in the 1970s, 80s or 90s, it is possible that you may have this type of plumbing system installed, notes home inspector and author Nick Gromicko, writing for The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, Inc. Your plumber will examine your entire interior and exterior plumbing system and look for signs of polybutylene piping.

What Should I do if Polybutylene Pipes Are Found?

You will need to replace the pipes, because the micro-fractures can rupture without warning. Even if your pipes have lasted a decade or more, they will eventually fail, and replacing the pipes now, before a major flood, could spare you the cost of repairing structural damage to your home. The repipe process can be costly, but your homeowners policy or home warranty may help pay for the replacement. Your plumber will remove all of the polybutylene and replace it with copper or durable PVC, including adapters and valves on appliances. You may also need to upgrade to new risers, manifolds and fittings.

If your home was built during the polybutylene era, it is better to investigate and remediate now, before you’re faced with an emergency. If you’re in any doubt about your plumbing system, don’t hesitate to call Ragsdale today for a complete evaluation and inspection.

Three Reasons Your Sewer Line May Clog in Summer

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

There is no good time to find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having a sewer line clog in your home, but there are times when clogs are more likely to develop, so it pays to be aware of the potential causes and symptoms. Because of changing household usage and weather patterns, sewer lines are more vulnerable to clogging during summer months. Homeowners should be on the lookout for these indicators.

What Causes Sewer Line Problems in Summer?

Increased use of the facilities. During the school year, families with school-aged children are often gone from the home during the day. In summer, however, the whole family may be home and using the wastewater system. Having more guests and family members using the bathroom and shower can increase the likelihood of a sewer line clog.

Sudden severe storms. During summer, storms are expected. In some cases they can be severe and lead to flooding or downed trees and branches. When flash floods or prolonged periods of rain occur, it can put a strain on sewage systems. If the system cannot drain quickly enough, wastewater can back up into the drains in the home.

Invasive tree roots. Most plants and trees grow at a greater rate during the summer months when water and sunshine are plentiful. Root systems can damage and clog underground pipes, especially if pipes have been weakened by rust or deterioration.

How Will I Know if a Clog Has Formed?

Your drainage system will let you know when a problem has occurred. If the drains around your house are suddenly much slower to drain, or if a bubbling sound comes from the drain, there may be a clog. And if wastewater is backing up into the drain, an unmistakable smell will be present. It will probably smell like sewage, sulfur or rotten eggs. If you have a septic tank, you may also notice that the grass over the tank is greener or wetter than the rest of the yard. Once these signs appear, it is time to contact a licensed plumber to evaluate the situation. Exposure to sewage that has backed up into drains or flooded a yard is a health risk for everyone present.

If my Drain is Clogged, How do I Solve the Problem?

The first step is to contact a licensed plumber to come out and and detect exactly where the clog is located. Once the location and degree of the problem are known, the plumbing professional can clear the line and restore your system to peak efficiency. If you live in a flood-prone area, the plumber may also recommend the installation of a backflow valve, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) often advises.

Avoid future clogs in the summer by upgrading your plumbing system, having your sewage tank emptied frequently and avoiding overuse and abuse of the entire system. Call Ragsdale today for a complete plumbing evaluation.

House Flooding From a Water Leak? What to Do Before the Plumber Arrives

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Acting fast to control a water leak can make all the difference when it comes to preventing water damage to your home. If you have a visible water leak, try to turn off or close the valve in the line that leads to the leaking appliance or pipe to stop the flood, and call your plumber immediately. Finding the valve may be a little tricky, but following a few simple guidelines should make it easier.

Leaking Appliance

To stop a leak in an appliance, like a washing machine or water heater or in a fixture, like a toilet, close the valve in the line that supplies the water. First, locate the line that runs into the appliance. This supply line is often cold to the touch because it’s full of water that entered the house from underground. The valve could be a spigot, lever, knob, nut or similar device in the pipe, and might be close to the appliance, or you might have to follow the pipe until you find it. Toilet supply line valves are usually under or behind the seat, the valves to turn off water to a washing machine are usually behind the machine and the supply line to a water tank is usually near or at the top of the tank. If a gas water heater tank is leaking, close the gas valve first and then the water valve.

All water valves close by turning them clockwise. An easy way to remember is the simple verse, “righty tighty; lefty loosey.”

Leaking Indoor Line

When an indoor line is leaking, the house’s main supply may need to be closed. Domestic plumbing systems include a main supply valve that controls the water to the whole house. Closing this main supply valve cuts off water leaking from anywhere in the indoor plumbing, though the leak may take a few seconds to stop. To find the mains supply valve, check inside the perimeter of your home on the side nearest the street. If you have a basement, look around at eye level for a pipe entering the house from the street.

Leaking Main Water Supply Line

Sometimes, leaks occur in the line between the street and the house, causing wet and muddy patches and puddles in the yard. The valve that controls the main water line before it reaches the house is located under a small, square plastic or metal trap door near the street. Lift up the door, and turn off the valve that’s nearest the house with a wrench.

When your home has a serious water leak, there’s no time to figure out how the leak started. Turn off the water supply, and call Ragsdale to schedule an emergency visit from one of their expert plumbers.

5 Signs You May Have a Sewer Line Clog

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Out of sight and out of mind is most homeowners’ attitude about their home’s sewer line, but when there’s a problem, it can turn serious quickly. A plumbing expert can fix a clogged sewer line before waste water damages your home, so don’t hesitate to call in an expert if you spot any of these signs.

Slow Draining

The pipes from toilets, sinks, bathtubs and water appliances can all become clogged from time to time, but if two or more pipes aren’t draining well, you may have a main sewer line clog. A toilet that suddenly becomes slow to drain is another warning sign.

Bubbling Water

The last place you’d expect to see bubbles is in your toilet or filled sink. If bubbles do appear, a sewer line clog could be causing wastewater to back up into the toilet, shower or sink.

Blocked Cleanout Drain

Cleanout drains allow access to sewer systems. You usually find them in basements and crawl spaces in homes. Any sewage buildup or water flowing out of a cleanout drain means a blockage farther along the sewer line.

Sewage Smells

The smell of sewage is unmistakable, and sewage smells inside or near the home are never a good sign. These odors are one major indication of sewage backup potentially caused by a clogged sewer line.

Wet Yard

When waste water doesn’t drain through a main sewer line, it has to go somewhere. In some cases, a sewer line clog causes sewage to soak into the yard soil. An unexplained wet patch during dry weather might be due to a partially blocked line.

When a sewer line clogs, it’s a smelly mess that isn’t going to fix itself. A plumbing professional like those at Ragsdale can help you prevent a sewer line disaster.

If you suspect you may have a problem with your plumbing system, contact Ragsdale today.

Top Bathroom Style Trends and Upgrades for 2017

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

If you’re ready to revamp your tired and lifeless bathroom, there’s no better time than now. Not only are there plenty of bathroom style trends to choose from, upgrades to your plumbing and electrical system can help you save money on utilities and more! Your first step should be to contact a Ragsdale pro to make sure your home’s electrical and plumbing systems are updated and ready for a remodeling project. When you’re ready to start, here are just a few design ideas that are available for your home.

Accessible Bathrooms

More 2017 design trends are leaning toward easier accessibility. Accessibility upgrades are important for residents who want to stay in their homes as long as possible, as well as those with disabilities. They also make your shower and bathroom experience a comfortable and stress-free one. When planning the layout for your new bathroom, consider incorporating:

  • Slip-resistant tile on the floors
  • Curbless built-in shower benches
  • Grab bars in the shower and near the toilet

Gone are the days of ugly steel bars and rods to make a bathroom accessible. Different types of materials and design themes help create a welcoming and contemporary look and feel to your bath area. An accessible bathroom is a good choice if you plan on staying in your home for many years to come or want to provide that option to the next owners.

Shower Spa

Transform your existing walk-in shower into a true spa experience. A popular trend in bathroom upgrades is incorporating a shower spa. This combination includes:

  • Waterfalls against a marble, stone or synthetic material shell and base
  • Multiple jets strategically placed throughout the shower
  • Enhanced shower nozzle with a variety of water-saving adjustments

Ask your Ragsdale plumber about making a few more upgrades once the new jets are installed. Consider a tankless hot water heater that saves energy and reduces the amount of water that is wasted while showering. Another option is upgrading your entire plumbing system to help ensure that water is flowing properly.

Radiant Heat Flooring

Heat lamps and lights have been popular bathroom style trends for several years, but it is really making its way onto the bathroom remodel to-do list. Radiant heat offers a low-energy option that warms specific areas on your bathroom floor. For example, the area in front of the toilet or the space where you step as you’re getting out of the shower will be toasty warm.

Water-Saving Toilet

If you have children or entertain guests on a frequent basis, consider upgrading your toilet. If your commode hasn’t been updated in the past few years, it could use up to 7 gallons of water with every flush. Upgrading it to an energy-savvy model can cut your water usage to less than half of that, without sacrificing flush flow.

Remodeling your bathroom using the latest trends in design and technology will save money and impress your guests. Contact Ragsdale today to ask about plumbing and electrical upgrades to make your bathroom remodel a reality.

How Does a Video Pipe Inspection Work?

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

When a drain snake or wrench just won’t do the trick alone, plumbers turn to more high-tech solutions. One of the most useful tools is the video pipe inspection, in which plumbers thread a small camera down a pipe to see what’s inside. Here’s how it works, and why it comes in handy when traditional tools won’t work.

Specially Designed Equipment

The video camera line or inspection scope is a flexible rod with a small camera attached to the end. The camera is waterproof and dirtproof and includes an LED light that shines down the pipe as it moves. Like a drain snake, the rod is flexible enough to maneuver around even sharp turns in the pipe. Professional versions can reach throughout a residential plumbing system to explore pipe problems far beyond the usual reach.

Using Inspection Scopes

When investigating trouble with pipes, the plumber first finds an entry point into the plumbing, preferably as close to the source of the problem as possible. Then, they slowly insert the camera. The feed transfers to a screen that shows the plumber the inside of the pipe in real time, and can record the video for review later. These cameras are designed to be self-correcting so they don’t get trapped in odd angles.

Exploring Blocked Pipes

So, when is a video pipe inspection necessary? The most common scenario is a repeatedly clogged or slow-to-drain sink or shower. A video inspection can show problems like an accumulation of grease, a cracked or dislocated pipe, a tree root entering the pipe or heavy scale build-up. Each of these problems requires a different solution, so a clear view is very helpful in identifying the culprit.

Finding Valuables

Another reason video pipe inspections are used is to find things that have accidentally fallen down the drain. For example, sometimes people drop jewelry down the drain, and a video inspection can quickly show exactly where the item is located so it can be retrieved.

Has something of yours slipped down the drain, or do you have a stubborn clog? Let Ragsdale know and we can arrange an inspection to identify the issue and provide the best solution for your plumbing problem.

Photo source: BigStock

Anatomy of a Water Leak: How the Drips Begin

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Do you hear constant dripping sounds in your crawlspace or basement? It’s likely a sign there’s a water leak coming from a cracked or broken pipe, and it’s important to call in the pros to assess the problem. Ahead, you can learn basic facts about water leaks and how to remedy them before they cause a more serious problem.

Loose Hose

The main culprit in many water leak situations is simply a loose connection in the discharge hose or the hose connected to the main intake valve on an appliance. Initially, you may see or hear a light leak, which can easily be fixed by tightening the fitting on the hose to secure it to the washer or dishwasher. If the hose has broken or you’re unable to reattach it, don’t hesitate to call a professional from Ragsdale to assist.

Broken Fitting

The fittings on PVC or copper plumbing pipes throughout your home can become loose or deteriorate over time. Rust build-up and fluctuations in heat can lead to significant wear. A cracked fitting can cause plumbing lines to break, which can lead to water loss and flood damage. If this happens, shut off your main water valve immediately and contact a plumber to repair the line.

Cracked PVC

A hairline crack in your PVC plumbing can lead to drips and a visible decline in water pressure. These types of cracks can be caused by overall wear and tear or problems involving the pipes under your sink or in your bathroom. Because water is pressurized as it travels through your pipes, it can make a hole larger rather quickly. This can lead to water damage and mold growth. Having it repaired as soon as possible keeps hidden areas under your sink and crawlspace dry and odor-free.

Clogged Discharge Drain

One of the main lines leading to your sewer pipes contains a heavy flow of waste water. In many cases, this discharge drain can build up with waste and become clogged. The result is a backup of water into the home or a slow-moving drainage system, which can lead to a crack in the pipes and, eventually, water leaks. Ask your plumber to clear the discharge drain and replace the cracked pipe to restore flow back into the line.

If you spot a leak or hear dripping sounds, call Ragsdale immediately. Our professional plumbers can troubleshoot the problem and fix it properly. Early detection can also save you from a plumbing disaster.

5 Simple Plumbing Tips That Can Help You Save Money

Monday, June 5th, 2017

If you’ve been making some upgrades around the house, it’s important to remember your home’s plumbing system. Small leaks or malfunctioning appliances can quickly add to your monthly utility bills. Here are just a few simple plumbing tips that can help keep your household budget in check and prevent future damage to your plumbing system.

Replace Outdated Faucets

Is it time to replace an outdated kitchen or bathroom faucet? Your faucets do more than enhance the appearance of your sink. They also adjust the amount of water passing through. Over time, this can cause an increase in your water bill. Newer eco-friendly designs help control how much water is being used and reduce water flow by up to 30 percent or more. Just choose products with the WaterSense label backed by the EPA. Ask a Ragsdale plumber about installing new faucets in your home.

Examine Your Water Meter

Your water meter runs from the outside water main line to a small metered box located on the outside of your home. As it makes its way into your home, another meter controls water flow. Be sure to check this area for leaks. Do you see the meter turning even though water isn’t flowing throughout your home? If so, you may have a water leak somewhere. A Ragsdale technician can come to your home and perform a complete plumbing inspection, which will detect the source of the leak.

Look for Drips

Puddles of water on your basement floor are an obvious sign of a plumbing leak. But, in many cases, a loose valve or cracked pipe may simply cause condensation to build up in a specific area. Odor-causing bacteria and mold can begin to form in these places. If you suspect a leak, having your plumbing inspected by a Ragsdale professional can help you save money and avoid replacing damaged drywall and carpeting.

Upgrade Your Water Heater

When it comes to plumbing tips, one of the best ways to lower your utility bills is to replace a hot water tank that is over ten years old. Older models can drain your electric and gas bill each month. An on-demand gas water heater can save on your utility bills each year. Because you’re only using water that is being heated right away, there is no need to keep stored water warm. If you decide to keep your old water heater, consider having it drained every six months to flush out impurities and improve its performance.

Inspect Your Toilet

You may take your toilet for granted every day, but it actually works hard to keep your home’s plumbing system flowing properly. A sticky flapper valve can cause more water to push through your toilet than what is needed. Having a professional plumber inspect your toilet for flow issues and valve leaks can improve performance and reduce the risk of future plumbing disasters and overflow. If your toilet is over 10 years old consider replacing it with an eco-friendly one that uses less water.

Have your home’s plumbing system checked for problems now. This simple step can save you money on utilities and emergency plumbing calls in the long run. Call Ragsdale today for all of your plumbing questions and needs.

How to Choose a Tankless Water Heater

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

When it comes to buying a tankless water heater, you have plenty of options. The choices include gas pilot light and electronic ignition, point-of-use heaters and heaters that supply the whole house. The best tankless heater for your home is the one that meets your family’s hot water needs without breaking your budget.

Gas and Electric Water Heaters

If your home has no gas supply, an electric tankless heater is the obvious choice. However, if your home is supplied with gas and your household is large, you might be better off picking a gas water heater. One exception to this is if you’re looking for a small water heater to supply one area of your home, such as a bathroom. In that case, an electric tankless heater could be more suitable for you.

Flow Rate

Gas tankless heaters are usually the best option because their flow rate is higher compared to electric heaters. Gas tankless water heaters supply around five gallons of hot water per minute versus roughly two gallons per minute from electric heaters. To give you an idea what that means, a hot water faucet delivers around 0.75 gallons per minute and a standard shower head supplies about 2.5 gallons per minute. If your water heater can’t keep up with your household’s hot water demands, the result is lukewarm water and unhappy family members.

Which Location?

A gas-fired heater requires venting to the outside, either through the roof or a side wall, depending on the model. If you’ve already selected a spot for your new tankless water heater and you want a gas model, be sure there’s a place for the vent. Tankless water heaters can even be mounted outside but require special provisions. If you aren’t sure which type of water heater is best for you, contact Ragsdale for expert advice.