Plumbing Appliances: Retail vs Wholesale, What’s the Difference?

Plumbing Appliances: Retail vs Wholesale, What’s the Difference?

Your guide to investing in quality products

This month, we’re focusing on a topic we’ve received some questions about in the last several weeks: purchasing faucets and other plumbing appliances.  It’s true, you can find the same faucet, by the same manufacturer, at two different price points. Why is that so? 

 

We’ll help you understand the differences between the two products and why it’s important to invest in products that last (or are at least backed by warranties), below.

You may have noticed plumbing fixtures at home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowes that seem much more inexpensive compared to the products we source for you. This is for good reason! There is a huge difference between a store bought faucet and a faucet ordered from a builder grade supply house. Even if the product has the same name, same brand, and same appearance, the price and quality are astronomically different. This is because manufacturers create two different versions of a product: a contractor-grade product and a retail-grade product. Big-box stores will generally order  large quantities of fixtures in bulk that are made with lesser-quality elements in order to keep the price per unit low. 

Contractor-grade products, especially the ones we use at Kegonsa Plumbing, are backed by strong product warranties in case anything goes wrong. They’re also made with better and more reliable materials, like stainless steel and brass, while the same retail-grade product typically uses plastic for the mechanical pieces. This means retail-grade products wear out more quickly, and will require maintenance much sooner than a contractor-grade product. 

Pro tip: If you ever see a fixture that looks identical to another but is different in price, always check the model number or part number. The numbers will be similar, but will vary slightly. Even within retail fixtures, some manufacturers create an A-grade and B-grade model with differences in price and quality.

When we install a product from one of our suppliers, we stand by its good quality. Using fixtures from contractor-grade suppliers that we’ve already vetted means that installation is done right, and that we’re available for repairs if anything goes wrong. If a client hires us to install a fixture that was purchased elsewhere, the responsibility falls to the client if things go wrong. The fixture would need to be taken out, returned to the retail store, and a replacement would need to  be installed.

If you’re considering a bathroom remodel,  new kitchen faucet, or other fixture, send us a message. Our team has decades of combined experience, so you can rest easy knowing we only recommend and supply contractor-grade, warranty-backed products for your home.

 

How to Remodel for Aging in Place

How to Remodel for Aging in Place

Aging in place is when a retiree makes a decision to stay in their home as they age for as long as possible. Many families have found “aging in place” as a more affordable way to retire, versus relocating to a senior living community. Some choose to remodel parts of their home specifically for their needs as they age, but if you’re over 45 or planning to retire in your current home, aging in place elements can be incorporated into any of your future remodeling projects. If you’re remodeling a bathroom or kitchen, or adding new construction to your home, incorporating safety elements now will save you money and time when you’d rather be enjoying retirement.

If you’re over 45 and planning to live in your home during retirement, take that into consideration during future remodeling projects. There are a variety of tweaks you can make to your house now to improve your quality of life down the road. 

When you plan a remodel, consider the three most common changes that happen as we age:

  1. Loss of vision
  2. Decreased mobility
  3. Increased risk of falling

If you’re finishing your basement this year, for example, have the electrician wire the bathroom for more lighting than you think you’ll need. As loss of vision is one of the first signs of aging, 60-year-old you will thank you for the extra lighting.

Most often, aging in place modifications are added to homes reactively. For example, if you fall in the shower, your family reacts by putting a grab bar by the shower entrance to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This is reactive, not preventative. This doesn’t set you up for a comfortable and independent retirement experience, it only limits repeat accidents. 

There are dozens of ways to modify your home for aging in place, from anti-scald faucets to walk-in bathtubs, but our research shows that there are three things important enough to warrant their own remodeling job:

  1. A 60-inch turn around radius in tight rooms, especially bathrooms: Rooms need to be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair – you may find yourself using one rather suddenly after an accident. If your bathroom isn’t large enough for this, you may not be able to use it without assistance. Therefore, this sizing problem in tight rooms is important enough to warrant its own update.
  2. Hallways and doorways are all at least 36 inches wide – If you fall and come home in a wheelchair, many parts of your home may be inaccessible with a wheelchair. Older homes especially, have smaller hallways and doorways than you think. These spacing issues become a real problem quickly, and are only fixable with an extensive remodeling job.
  3. Have all the main living spaces on one floor: As mobility becomes more of a struggle, you may reach an age where stairs are a fall hazard. Having all your critical living spaces (bathroom, kitchen, bedroom) on one floor decreases the risk of falls considerably. Additionally, your laundry washer and dryer should be on the main floor, as carrying large baskets down the stairs presents a major fall risk.

 

These three modifications will take time, and may make some areas of your home unusable during construction, so we strongly recommend implementing these when you have some flexibility. From there, you can look at non-slip flooring, walk-in bathtubs, lowered countertops for easier access from a wheelchair, and even thermo balanced, anti-scald faucets for your bath and shower. There are dozens of small plumbing modifications that are quick to install that will maximize your ability to live independently as you age. We recommend researching more about design for aging in place in order to figure out which are most beneficial for your needs.

Looking for guidance on a future remodel project? Reach out to us! We can offer as much (or as little) advice as you’d like throughout the process.

The Pros and Cons of Installing Traditional Water Heaters

The Pros and Cons of Installing Traditional Water Heaters

The reality is, a water heater is a commodity appliance. It’s not as exciting as a spacious shower with a rain head or a whirlpool tub with jets. Few enjoy the purchasing process, sure, but for the sake of hot showers and clean laundry, you need to have one. If all goes as planned, any water heater you purchase will live in your home for at least a decade, so it’s worth considering which type is best before you budget and plan. There are two types, powered two ways, each with its respective pros and cons. All water heaters are either tank or tankless models, powered by either natural gas or electricity. When deciding which type of water heater is best for your needs, consider the costs, energy efficiency (and the corresponding power bills you’ll pay), and longevity.

 

Traditional Water Heaters

A traditional (tank) water heater preheats between 30 to 50 gallons of water in a storage tank, and pipes send hot water across the house for use, from laundry to a dishwasher to a shower. They use either natural gas or electricity as heating sources. In such tank-style models, natural gas uses less energy than electric by at least 10%, reducing your power bills. As a result, the natural gas models tend to be more expensive. A tank-style water heater will perform well for 10 to 15 years before you’ll need a replacement.

Traditional tank water heaters are less expensive than tankless models and are cheaper to install. This makes maintenance simpler and cheaper, too. However, if your 30 to 50 gallon tank malfunctions, you run the risk of a basement flood. The large tank also means that the appliance will take up a large space in your basement, which isn’t ideal in small homes. Traditional tank water heaters use more energy to keep a large tank of water hot, at your specified temperature. They’ll work harder if they’re in a cold location and during the winter months, too.

 

Traditional Water Heater Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Lower initial cost
  • They’re simpler, so easier to install, maintain and repair

Cons:

  • Higher utility bills
  • Shorter life, must be replaced more often
  • They occupy a larger space, and must be located inside the home

 

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters will heat water on demand, so there’s no storage tank component. The tankless heater can even be installed outside, or on a wall. Typically, a tankless water heater will last 20+ years, and are also known to be much more energy efficient. The actual dollar amount saved will fluctuate, but an average household will see 25% – 30% greater energy efficiency with a tankless model than a storage tank water heater. If your household uses more than 50 gallons of hot water each day, you’ll see energy efficiency increase around 10% – 15%. On average, a gas-fired tankless water heater saves homeowners $100 per year, and electric tankless heaters save homeowners about $44 per year. So, in a 20-year lifetime, you can expect to save $2,000 in power costs by switching to a gas powered tankless water heater.

Regardless of whether you choose a storage or a tankless model, you always run the risk of running out of hot water after the fourth or fifth shower! If you want to circumvent this issue, it’s only possible with tankless water heaters. If the investment is worthwhile for your home, you can install tankless water heaters at multiple hot water outlets, so every shower or dishwasher has its own on-demand hot water. Installing on-demand water heaters at every outlet is also the most energy-efficient option, with average energy efficiency increases ranging from 25% to 50%.

 

Tankless Water Heater Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Last 20-30 years
  • Space efficient: can be installed in a very small area, or even on a wall
  • Energy efficient: can save $44 – $100 per year on power bills

Cons

  • The purchase price and installation costs of tankless models higher
  • Like traditional water heaters, they have output limitations

 

With All Water Heaters:

If you live in an area with hard water, talk to a plumber about best practices for keeping your water heater healthy. Hard water can be tough on any type of water heater — gas or electric, tank or tankless, and can even shorten its lifespan. If you need a plumbing appliance installed and would like our input, give us a call and we’ll help you find the best options for your home.

Three Tips for Adding New Plumbing to Your Home

Three Tips for Adding New Plumbing to Your Home

Taking on plumbing projects in your home may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to. To help you on your journey to home improvement, we have pulled together three tips for you to keep in mind when updating and installing your homes plumbing. Find out what to look for, what to avoid, and what will help ensure your plumbing is done right to avoid costly mistakes and headaches down the road.

Below, we have three tips that will help ensure that your plumbing work is done right, and mistakes won’t cost you money down the road.

1. Hire a plumber that does work up to code, with permits.

Unless you’re doing the plumbing yourself, in your own single-family home, you’re required to hire a licensed plumber in the state of Wisconsin. Additionally, the penalties for plumbing without the right license can be as high as $2,000. You should verify the plumber’s license, then verify the permit for the work. A permit means that the government regulatory body knows a plumber is doing work in your home, and that record holds the plumber accountable for high quality, up-to-code work. All plumbing work in Madison requires a permit, and most cities and townships in Wisconsin are similar. If your plumber has a license and a permit for your home’s work, this a strong indicator that your new plumbing will tick all the legal boxes.

Buildings that aren’t up to code are considered unsafe or out of date and could lead you  to face a lot of liability later. insurance won’t pay out for damage, any warranties on nearby appliances are voided, and you could be responsible for injuries or damage to others as a result of the faulty job. This also makes it especially difficult to rent or sell your property later.

 

2. Consider products with warranties.

If you invest in a top-of-the-line toilet, but it malfunctions in just a few weeks, the warranty will cover a replacement. If you don’t, you’ll pay out of pocket for damages and replacements.

All the products that Kegonsa Plumbing uses come with factory warranties. We stand by those warranties, because we’ve vetted our sources. We know that any sink, toilet, water heater or piping we bring to your home is tested and trusted. For that reason, we’re happy to replace any factory malfunctioned products. If a homeowner has already purchased a product and simply wants us to install it, we can’t stand behind any warranties. We aren’t sure where the product has been, who has handled it, or what elements the product is exposed to, and we haven’t vetted the manufacturer. As a result, when installing new plumbing or appliances, it’s best to go directly through the plumber or a trusted, warrantied source.

 

3. Invest in the most modern options that you can afford.

Upgrading the plumbing networks themselves in your home can be  a great investment for future resale. Doing so at the same time as a remodel or new plumbing addition, is much more convenient and cost-efficient for the homeowner. Different piping materials such as copper are more expensive, but are a major plus for future homebuyers. In many cases, these investments can increase your resale value down the road. Deteriorating, leaky pipes or even hazardous lead pipes, which can still be found in old homes, could be the reason a buyer chooses a different home over yours.

Additionally, consider the most energy-efficient options within your budget. By choosing a toilet that uses only 1.28 gallons per flush instead of 5, you reduce your water usage (and water bill) significantly! Energy-efficient plumbing systems not only save you money, but add to the overall appeal of your home when it’s up for resale.

Armed with these three tips, you’ll avoid common mistakes that new homeowners encounter when they put in new plumbing for the first time. If you need a an estimate on a project, reach out to us and we’ll estimate your project for free.

 

Spring Cleaning Checklist for Healthy Plumbing

Spring Cleaning Checklist for Healthy Plumbing

From forever homes to rental properties, maintaining healthy plumbing saves you money. With a few steps every season, you can extend the life of your home’s plumbing network by many years. Additionally, catching fatal problems with your plumbing early can save you money in potential damages. Nearly all of these checklist items can be done by anyone,ma with just a little YouTube searching. Here’s our checklist for keeping your plumbing in tip-top shape.

 

Kitchens and Bathrooms Checklist

If done just once or twice a year, these steps for sinks, faucets and tubs in your kitchen and bathrooms will keep the plumbing clean and healthy.

  • Fill sinks and tubs with water, then ensure that they drain properly.
    • If not, is the diverter spout stuck?
    • Is the drain slow or clogged? Take the time to snake the drains.
  • If the floor drains clog frequently, spring is the perfect time of year to snake these as well.
  • Clean the p-traps under your kitchen, laundry, and bathroom sinks. If you don’t already have them, consider installing mesh filters over the drains to catch debris and prevent clogs.
  • Examine all pipes, hose bibbs, or exterior garden hoses for leaks, swelling, and corrosion. Replace bad ones.This includes water supply lines from ice machines or dishwashers.
  • Leak check — your faucets, tubs, showers, and toilet need to be checked.
    • Check underneath sinks for leaking into the cabinetry.
    • Ensure toilet water isn’t leaking from the cut off valve or the tank. Lowe’s has a great test using food coloring that will show you what part of the toilet is the issue.
    • Do a water meter reading to verify you aren’t missing any big leaks that increase your water bill.
  • Clean the mineral deposits off faucets by rubber-banding a bag of vinegar over them. Let it soak overnight, then scrub the deposits off with an old toothbrush.

 

Checklist for Plumbing Appliances

Don’t neglect your plumbing appliances. Test them at least once per year for any signs of damage beyond the normal wear-and-tear.

  • Is the water heater making strange noises when turned on? Is there exterior moisture on the heater?
    • Newer water heater models are much more energy efficient, saving you money on your monthly bills. If your water heater is more than 10 to 15 years old, this may be a good option for you. Send us a message if you think it may benefit you to replace your water heater.
  • Run your garbage disposal and listen for anything other than a healthy humming sound. Rattling means it needs to be replaced.
  • Test your sump pump. Pour water into the basin, trigger the pump, and ensure it drains.

Armed with this list and the power of DIY videos, you will have most of the tools necessary to keep your home’s plumbing networks healthy. Are some of your appliances or pipes in need of replacement after your spring inspection? Let us know and we’ll get your home back to working order in no time.

Plumbing Upgrades that Increase your Home’s Value

Plumbing Upgrades that Increase your Home’s Value

Many homeowners remodel their kitchen for the benefit of a beautiful, functional kitchen. They invest for their enjoyment, thanks to a timely tax return or careful saving towards their dream kitchen. Not every homeowner makes updates purely for their own enjoyment, though. They’re looking to increase their home value, possibly because of the desire to sell in the near future. They know the bathroom is outdated because it’s original to their 1960’s house. They’re pretty sure that bathtub was a different color 40 years ago, too. It’s time to remodel, and they know it. These strategic homeowners know that investing in updates actually increases the home value, and they could see up to 100% of a return on their investment when they decide to sell their home.

When potential buyers see outdated bathrooms or dysfunctional kitchens, they see more expenses in the way of their ‘dream home.’ You, the seller, don’t want the potential buyer’s first thought when they see the kitchen to be, “This is a total gut job.” This means they’re adding many thousands of dollars onto the sale price in their mind. So, the potential buyer may even try to negotiate your home’s price down to fit desired renovations into their budget. Below are some of the most common plumbing upgrades we do, big and small, for a quick and easy resale of your home.

Quick Plumbing Upgrades

Start small. You don’t need to cut apart the room, move the sinks around, or rip up floors just yet. Upgrade the kitchen sink or master bathtub for a larger, deeper one. Update the current fixtures to something more modern. By hiring a professional, you can have your bathroom renovation complete in one or two days. Small changes still add value to the home when the time comes to sell.

Another affordable, but critical kitchen upgrade for those on a city sewer system is a garbage disposal. Most buyers consider garbage disposals a high priority kitchen item, yet installing one usually costs between $290 and $360. Install this ahead of time and you’ll recoup the majority of your investment through a happy buyer.

Advanced Plumbing Upgrades

More advanced plumbing jobs might be necessary in older homes, especially if your goal is to pass a home inspection. Putting in this work shows buyers that you’re reliable and that the home is well maintained.

Modern plumbing lines

If your home was built during or before the 1970’s, the plumbing is likely made of galvanized steel. Modern home builders know not to use galvanized steel because of how prone the material is to rusting and corrosion. PEX plumbing and other modern solutions last longer, and are easier to work with too.

Sewer lines made from clay, cast iron, or Orangeburg are also prone to corrosion, breaking and rust. Modern plastic sewage lines are a huge advantage to selling your home in a buyer’s market. Nobody wants to deal with a sewer pipe issue, so being able to say that your pipes are modern is a big plus.

Flood-proofing

A basement prone to flooding is one of the most common reasons a home sale doesn’t go through. If your basement has ever flooded, or is prone to flooding, fix the problem before putting the home on the market. Consult with a plumber about how to waterproof your basement or replace an old sump pump. Indications of past flooding is one of the most common red flags on a home inspection. If you’ve had flooding in the past, ease the buyer’s concern by showing the investments you’ve made to fix the issue. You’ll see those investments pay off in your sale.

Does your kitchen or bath need a facelift? When was the last time you checked the sump pump? If you’re looking to sell and need some advice on the best ways to allocate your remodeling budget, we can help. Give us a call for a free in-home consultation and estimate.