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
- Lower initial cost
- They’re simpler, so easier to install, maintain and repair
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We’ve all been there: your toilet’s clogged, your car battery’s dead, and you have no idea how to fix it. Where do you go?
Google, of course.
Internet sources like DIY blogs and YouTube have empowered consumers to do all sorts of tasks that originally required calling a pro. In fact, Americans watched over 100 million hours of YouTube how-to videos by 2015.
The problem is, these resources have empowered DIY-ers to forgo the professionals when they’re actually important. One of these important resources is a general contractor. We’re happy to work alongside both DIY homeowners and general contractors, but here, we’ll outline how and why we believe that the general contractor benefits YOU, the homeowner who’s considering a DIY project. Whether you’re remodeling your kitchen, building a custom shower in your dream bathroom, or doing new construction on a home addition, a general contractor is ideal for these types of complicated projects.
A general contractor saves you time and money.
The top reason homeowners forgo the general contractor and manage the project themselves is to save money. A general contractor charges either a flat fee or a percentage of your total project, so managing all the individual components yourself could, in theory, save you money. However, unexpected challenges should be expected in any large project. You should expect it to take longer and cost more than what YouTube says.
A general contractor can orchestrate individual subcontractors most efficiently, and is responsible for the quality.
The general contractor has a vetted, qualified list of electricians, plumbers, carpenters and landscapers. Before he or she is hired, a seasoned general contractor has already invested dozens of hours into ensuring that every person entering your home uses high quality products and does high quality work. As a first-time project manager, you can’t be confident of quality and skill if you’re hiring a subcontractor for the very first time. A general contractor can also get an individual trade, such as plumbing or electric, into your home more quickly.
In a good economy where tradespeople are in high demand, those subcontractors can pick and choose the best opportunities like any other successful business. When given the option, we’ve found that the trades choose the contractor jobs over working with DIY homeowners. As a result, you can get a better electrician or plumber into your home through a contractor.
Why? A good general contractor sends blueprints with detailed measurements. Whether remodeling a kitchen or building a new kitchen from scratch, subcontractors such as plumbers can actually come into a home without previously seeing the space and go straight to work. The contractor already saved the tradesperson hours of (billable) work, saving you the expense of their time. With a DIY homeowner, a plumber needs to do a home visit and take measurements first. Where a new job through a general contractor might have a turnaround time (from initial call to completed job) of two or three weeks, an average turnaround time with a DIY homeowner takes two months or more!
That’s not the only way that the general contractor can minimize the billable hours of subcontractor work. As a DIY contractor, you’ll have to go to Google for the order of project steps. Generally, there’s an accepted order of who comes and installs when. Foundation, framing, electric, plumbing, drywall, right? A general contractor already knows the best order, and it may vary on a case-by-case basis. He or she will know how to minimize the billable hours and avoid any downtime. If your DIY project gets off schedule and the electrician comes in on the same day as the drywaller and the plumber, someone has to stand around and wait. You’ll get billed for those waiting hours, cutting into your DIY savings.
A general contractor protects you from building code violations, warranty violations, and damages that cost you money.
For starters, if a less-than-reputable subcontractor throws an old toilet out the window, misses the trash bin, and hits your neighbor’s car, the general contractor assumes liability for the damage. If you are the general contractor, you’re liable for that damage. Additionally, if a subcontractor is injured on the job and you’re the general contractor, you could also be responsible for his healthcare costs. Suddenly, you’re not saving much money by doing this project alone.
Building codes and product warranties are a complex, ever-changing area of expertise. Work that isn’t done up to code can result in fines, difficulty getting future building permits or construction loans, and even problems with home resale. A general contractor is always aware of current building code, and will assume the responsibility and costs if any of the subcontractors do a sub-par job.
General contractors also will ensure that work done doesn’t nullify any product warranties. Most of our high end bathroom and kitchen products come with warranties, because no brand-new toilet should stop working after a year. However, if you do some of the work yourself or hire out an inexperienced contractor to do the tiles or drywall, an innocent mistake can nullify your warranty. If that product malfunctions, the replacement can only come out of your pocket.
How do I find a good general contractor?
We value our DIY homeowner clients and are happy to work with you personally to meet your needs. In fact, we’ll come out and offer an estimate for free. But for the reasons above, we’ve found that projects go faster and smoother for homeowners who use a general contractor.
Because our company values are based on trust and quality, we have relationships with some of the best-rated, reputable general contractors in our area. If you’d like a general contractor with the Kegonsa seal of approval, reach out to us. We’ll help you find someone that will work perfectly for your unique project.
January is infamous for New Year’s resolutions. From weight loss and healthier eating to job promotions and world travel, it seems people create resolutions for everything but the kitchen sink! If you’re considering a kitchen remodel this year, or you’re building a new home, you may be setting time-related resolutions in the New Year for your build job. Soon, you’ll be shopping around for household appliances of all kinds and picking out a new tile backsplash. But don’t forget the kitchen sink.
Kitchen sinks aren’t usually the most expensive part of your investment, so they’re frequently overlooked or selected at the last second. They’re pretty expensive to remove and replace, though, even if the sink itself is affordable. There are two things to consider in order to make sure you’re choosing the right sink the first time: how will you (or the plumber) install it, and what is it made of?
What type of mounting style should I choose for my kitchen?
A mounting style is simply the technique the plumber uses to install your sink. Most homeowners base this decision around the overall appearance and ease of cleaning, but there are a couple other features to keep in mind when deciding.
The simplest and most straightforward installation in new kitchens is a drop-in sink. A hole is cut in the countertop, and the sink is lowered into the opening and sealed. Drop-ins are advantageous because they will work with any countertop and tend to be more affordable sinks (both to purchase and install).However, they tend to be more difficult to clean — food can be caught between the lip and the counter.
Farmhouse sinks, also called apron sinks, rest on the very front of the cabinet; there is no counter surface at the front of the sink. Many homeowners prefer this exposed-front style because you can easily reach into the sink without worrying about water pooling on the counter and running over the edge as you wash dishes. Keep in mind that farmhouse sinks require reinforced, custom cabinetry, as the heavy sink is installed right over the top.
Undermount sinks are one of the more popular styles of sink installation. The sink is attached to the underside of the countertop using a high strength epoxy, so there is no lip on the edge of the sink — water and crumbs can be wiped easily into the sink. Homeowners choose this style for its sleek look and because it is easy to clean. The main drawback is that it becomes more difficult to replace your sink in the future, as the entire countertop has to be removed.
What’s the best material for kitchen sinks?
Not all sinks are created equal. When considering what your future sink is made of, think of what’s most important to you — is an easily cleaned sink more important than one that matches the counters? Will scratches and wear-and-tear marks bother you? Some homeowners are very particular about the kitchen sink material, while others want the sink that gets them the most bang for their buck.
Stainless steel is a popular, affordable choice in comparison to the other materials used for kitchen sinks. Stainless steel is heat and stain resistant, so you can throw hot pots and acidic liquids like red wine into the sink without worrying. Stainless steel is also a nice choice for a sink if you’re choosing stainless steel appliances, as more of your kitchen will utilize the material already. The only warning about stainless steel is that it’s very prone to scratch marks. Avoid a mirror finish stainless steel; a brushed steel will help hide minor scratches much more effectively.
Stone sinks tend to be the most expensive option available, and for good reason. Composite granite, like the photo, won’t show scratches and marks theway stainless steel will. Stone is very durable and comes in a wide variety of color options. If you are building your kitchen from scratch, you should consider a sink made of the same stone as your countertop for a sleek, seamless look. There’s only one caution for stone sinks — inspect it before it’s installed. While a massive stone sink is nearly indestructible once installed, it is at risk for damage during transit.
Porcelain or fireclay sinks are a must for all-white kitchens. They’re similarly priced to stainless steel, and are very water-resistant and easy to clean. Unfortunately, these types of sinks are not friendly to a dropped pot. They tend to chip over time, but can be repaired professionally or with a DIY hardware store kit. A fireclay or porcelain sink will be very heavy, so be sure to check with your builder and make sure that the countertop can support the weight. Porcelain also will have the widest variety of color choices, ensuring your kitchen can look one-of-a-kind.
Do you have a kitchen remodel in mind for this year? We can help you find options that fit your budget, style and function, so that your kitchen is beautiful to see and easy to use. Give us a call today, or send us a message on our website.