Quick Guide to 4 Common Water Heaters

Quick Guide to 4 Common Water Heaters

In order to fill up the tub, take a shower, or wash your clothes, you need to have an adequate amount of hot water ready to use. This is made possible via an appliance called a water heater. Water heaters are familiar fixtures in any home, yet many homeowners are unaware that there are a number of different models to choose from that offer their own various benefits, and don’t know how to distinguish between them.

In today’s blog, we are introducing you to four common types of water heaters, giving you insight into how they work and how you can identify them. 

Electric Water Heater

Electric water heaters use heated elements within the tank to heat up your water. They then store the water in the tank until you are ready to use it. You can easily identify them because, unlike other types, they do not have an exhaust. Because they run on electricity, this type of water heater typically comes in at a lower upfront cost, making it an appealing short-term choice for many homeowners. 

Chimney Vent Water Heater

Chimney vent water heaters are run on gas, making them more efficient than electric water heaters. Like the electric water heater, chimney vent water heaters store the hot water in a tank until you are ready to use it. You can identify the chimney vent style by the top hat that sits on top of the tank, as well as the stovepipe exhaust, and it typically comes in at a higher upfront cost than the electric alternative. As its name suggests, this water heater requires venting to be run out through a chimney, meaning it cannot be installed in a home without one.

Power Vent Water Heater

A power vent water heater is an upgrade from the chimney vent water heater, as it’s gas-powered and more efficient to run. They allow for a bit more flexibility than a chimney vent as they can be vented through the home in a variety of ways. Power vent water heaters are gas-powered and have exhaust pipes made from PVC. You can identify them by the fan that sits on top of the tank.

Tankless Water Heater

A tankless water heater is even more efficient than a power vent water heater as it provides instantaneous, unlimited hot water. Like the power vent, a tankless water heater also uses PVC exhaust pipes. Whereas other types of water heaters store water at all times, the benefit of installing a tankless water heater is that it only runs when you’re actually using it, which uses less energy and reduces your bills. They also typically have a shelf life of 20 years, which is double the lifespan of other models. 

For a visual of what each model looks like, watch a video with one of our team members here. If you have questions or are thinking about upgrading your current water heater, reach out to a member of our team.

How to go Green with your Plumbing in 2020

How to go Green with your Plumbing in 2020

2020 is a big year for sustainability, especially in Madison. More and more people are requesting we go green with our fixtures and upgrades. If you’re thinking about making some changes and being more environmentally friendly with your choices, here are some sustainable plumbing options that can make a huge difference in your home.

Think about investing in a tankless water heating system

Tankless water heaters are becoming a new movement when it comes to household sustainability. Whereas your old water heater will constantly heat water you don’t use throughout the day, a tankless system will only heat water when you need it to. This means you’re saving on both your emissions and your bills. A quick tip: tankless water heaters are also known to last for decades and to provide endless hot water. 

Replacing your old tank

Did you know that an old boiler in the basement that heats oil can be one of the worst polluters in your home? This is because heating oil isn’t very efficient. But you can replace your existing unit with a natural gas or electric boiler, which can really help make your home green. 

Low-Flow Fixtures

Fun fact: electricity that’s used to treat water accounts for 35% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions annually. That’s right, clean water is a large source of household carbon usage. But don’t worry, switching your fixtures to low-flow ones can save hundreds of gallons of water per month and can help you keep your own personal contribution down. From toilets to faucets, there’s a low-flow option for so many fixtures in your home.

Check and Repair Leaks

If you don’t currently have the budget for brand new fixtures, another way to become more energy efficient in your home is to simply check your faucets, toilets, and pipes for moisture, dripping, or general leaks. This can help you decide which fixtures need a simple fix like a sealant and which ones you should prioritize replacing. 

Solar Water Heater

A final option is to use solar panels to heat your water in place of the traditional systems. In the past 5 years, solar energy usage has quintupled, which means cells are now cheaper and more efficient so you can use fewer of them. The benefits of this option are the energy source (the sun) is free, they can be used in any climate, and you can also save money via tax credits. 

If you’re thinking about making some changes and want a more personal assessment on your home, we’re here to help! Give us a call, or send us a message today to receive a free in-home consultation.

DIY Series: The Shower, Toilet, and Garbage Disposal

DIY Series: The Shower, Toilet, and Garbage Disposal

Depending on how comfortable you are with DIY projects and repairs, there are numerous at-home tasks and minor plumbing jobs you can complete at home with the right tools. In this blog series, we will walk you through common plumbing tasks you may be looking to take on yourself.

How To Replace A Showerhead

Did you know that upgrading to a low flow showerhead can save anywhere from 20-30% on your monthly water consumption? Whether you choose to replace your showerhead to update your style or upgrade your water efficiency, there are numerous benefits that could put this DIY task to the top of your list.

 For this project, you will need Teflon tape, a wrench, and a new showerhead.

Step 1: Clean the shower arm threadsAfter you remove your old showerhead, there may be old Teflon tape or hard water buildup present. Be sure to thoroughly clean the shower arm (the angular pipe to which the showerhead is attached) and remove any old debris.

Step 2: Wrap the threads in new Teflon tape – Wrap new Teflon tape around the base of the showerhead to help prevent any water leakage. When applying the new tape, be sure to wrap it in the direction the new showerhead will be threaded to prevent any tearing of the tape when the new showerhead is installed. It’s also important that you cover all visible threads and wrap the Teflon tape a few extra turns up the arm.

Step 3: Thread the new showerhead on the arm – Screw on the new showerhead in a clockwise direction.

Step 4: Tighten the showerhead – This is where your wrench will come into play, preferably with a smooth clamp to prevent scuffing. Place your wrench on the two flat sides at the base of the showerhead and tighten.

Step 5: Remove visible Teflon tape – Once the new showerhead is securely in place, remove the visible Teflon tape on the shower arm. When you get to the base of the showerhead, the visible tape will snap off and ensure that there is a secure seal to prevent any leakage.

After completing steps 1-5, you should have a new showerhead that is ready to go. If you run into any issues, watch this video from a member of our team or reach out with any questions.

Having Issues with Your Garbage Disposal?

A garbage disposal that isn’t functioning properly can be a huge inconvenience to your cleaning routine. It can also be a potential risk for sink clogs caused by unprocessed debris or food that may slip down the drain. If you run into any problems with your garbage disposal, there are a couple of quick fixes that can help troubleshoot or address any issues. 

For this task, you may need the following tools: garbage disposal wrench, pliers, bucket, broom handle, flashlight, and plunger.

Step 1: Check the electrical connection to the power source – If there is no activity present when you turn on the disposal, it may be a simple power supply issue. The power source for your garbage disposal is typically located directly under the sink. It’s not uncommon that supplies that may be located under the sink could disrupt the power cord from the power source. It may also be necessary to reset the circuit breaker that supplies power to the outlet utilized by the garbage disposal.

Step 2: Try the reset button on your garbage disposal – Most garbage disposals have a reset button located directly on the device.  Depending on your issues, simply hitting this reset button may be sufficient to solve the problem.

Step 3: Determine if there is a clog – If you hear a low humming sound when you turn the disposal on, you may be experiencing some sort of blockage. Clogs can be caused by numerous factors including feeding garbage too rapidly into the disposal or failing to use enough water to completely flush out the drain pipes. When removing a clog, it is important to turn off the garbage disposal and unplug the power source before manually trying to address the issue. After removing all power, you must then remove any standing water in the sink with a plunger or bailing out any water into a nearby bucket. After the water is drained, use a flashlight to look into the disposal to see if you are able to identify any large objects, like an eating utensil, that may be causing a clog. If you are able to identify a foreign object, carefully remove it with a pair of pliers.

Step 4: Rotate garbage disposal blade If the disposal is still jammed, the next step would be to rotate the impeller or blades to dislodge any debris. It is important that you never use your hand to do this task and instead use a disposal wrench or even a broom handle. After ensuring the power source is removed, insert the garbage disposal wrench or the end of a broom handle to gently move the blades back and forth until the blockage is disbursed and the blades can function freely.

After the blockage or clog is removed, plug in the power source and turn the disposal back on with running water to ensure the disposal is now functioning properly. If you continue to experience issues, please reach out and contact a member of our team.

Replacing A Toilet

For those of you looking for a more ambitious at-home plumbing project, we’ve put together a few helpful steps to help guide you through replacing your toilet. Though it may at first seem like a daunting task, here is a step-by-step guide to lead you through the process. For this project, you may need a putty knife, wax seal, screwdriver, Johni-Bolts, measuring tape, a pair of pliers, and a wrench.

Step 1: Install the wax ring – After removing your old toilet, it is important to also remove the old wax ring with a putty knife to make a clean surface. The wax ring is put in place to ensure there is a tight seal between your closet counter and your toilet. It’s important that your closet counter is level, or slightly above level with the floor. If not, a jumbo wax ring may be required. Next, you will place the new wax ring on the closet counter and secure the Johni-Bolts into the flange (aka the plumbing connecting your toilet drain to the drainpipe). After the Johni-Bolts are secured to the flange, we also recommend pushing them slightly into the wax ring to increase stability and ensure they remain standing.

Step 2: Line up the toilet base and seal – The next step is to line up the two holes at the base of your toilet with the Johni-Bolts you just installed. Once the bolts are aligned, apply weight to the toilet to push it down securely on the wax ring to ensure a tight seal to prevent any potential leakage.

Step 3: Measure to ensure the toilet is straight – Once you secure the base of the toilet to the wax ring, measure the distance from the base of the toilet to the wall to ensure it’s level and at an equal distance.

Step 4: Attach the base of the toilet to the Johni-Bolts – Now that your toilet is square with the wall, you will use the hardware that comes with the Johni-Bolts. You will first apply the cap to cover your bolt followed by the washer then the nut. Next, you will use the wrench to tighten the nut to the bolt until the nut is firmly secured; repeat for both bolts.

Step 5: Attach the tank to the base – Most toilets come in multiple pieces: the base, tank, lid, and toilet seat. The next step in this process will be to secure the tank to the base of the toilet. You will do this by lining up your two bolts on the tank with the holes on the top of the toilet base. Next, secure the nuts to the bolts on the tank that are now sticking through the base of the toilet. Then, tighten the nuts with a wrench. Some new toilets will come with custom tools to assist you in this step. A tight fit will ensure the tank remains sturdy on the base of the toilet.

Step 6: Connect the water supply – Water supply lines are what gets the water from your plumbing to the toilet. These supply lines come in many sizes to cover the distance from the water stop in the wall or base of the floor to your toilet. Once you’ve measured the distance between your water stop and the toilet tank,  secure the threaded side of your supply line to the tank. You will then attach the other end of the line to the water stop. A wrench may be required to tighten the connection.

Step 7: Add the toilet lid – Place the lid of the toilet on the top of the tank.

Step 8: Install the toilet seat Line up the lid with the holes located at the top of the toilet bowl. Each toilet will come with custom hardware to attach the lid to the base,  typically a plastic nut and bolt. Push the plastic screw through the top of each hole and hand tighten with the plastic nut on the underside of the bowl. Next, ensure your seat is centered over your toilet before tightening the bolt further with a screwdriver.

Step 9: Add the bolt caps to the base – Each toilet will come with base caps to cover the exposed bolts on the floor. These caps can be applied with light to moderate pressure and should snap on to the caps placed in step 4.

For more tips and tricks or to follow along with one of our team members, watch this step-by-step video. For more plumbing tips and tricks stay tuned for the next blog in our DIY series, or reach out to a member of our team.

4 Signs of Winter Damage and How to Fix It

4 Signs of Winter Damage and How to Fix It

We’re almost into the month of March and although we may still get some winter weather, it will soon be the first day of spring! As the weather starts to turn and we get a few more sunny days, now is the time to check your home for winter damage. So, where do you start and what do you do if you find damage?

 Roof

The first place to check for signs of winter damage is your roof, as this is the part of the home that is most directly hit by the harsh winter weather. First, we recommend heading into the attic to check for any leaks. On a sunny day, look for water stains or damp/cracked plaster as both can be a sign that you’ve had a leak. We also suggest that you look at the chimney and ventilation pipes to see if there are any obvious signs of damage or leakage in your home. Another way to check for damage is to turn the lights off and look for small cracks of light coming through the roof.

Once you’ve checked the inside, we also recommend checking the outside for cracked, warped, broken, loose or even missing shingles, as damage to these can happen because of sudden changes in temperature. We don’t recommend you get up onto the roof yourself unless you have the appropriate safety equipment. Most signs of damage can be spotted with a pair of binoculars, but if you can’t get a full picture from the street level, you can also get a full roof inspection done by a licensed professional to avoid any accidents. Make sure to get any issues repaired so that they don’t turn into larger leaks down the road.

Windows

The next place to check for damage is your windows. Damage is easily caused in the winter months by frost melting, which can cause moisture to settle into the casings, trim, or drywall. So, check for wet or soft wood around your windows and repair as needed so it doesn’t turn into rot. Moreover, fluctuations in temperature can cause caulking to detach from your windows. This will likely cause your home to become more drafty than usual so make sure to double-check your windows and reapply caulk where needed.

Plumbing

As we all know, the winter months can be harsh on your home’s pipes. If you followed our winter-proofing recommendations for your plumbing, chances are that you didn’t have water freeze and burst in your pipes. However, you could still have small cracks appear in your pipes due to the cold and fluctuating winter temperatures. Make sure to check for any leaks throughout your home and call us immediately if you find any problems, as even small cracks can cause a lot of water damage over time. Addressing the issues sooner rather than later will ensure they don’t turn into larger, more expensive problems down the road.

Gutters

In the winter months, leaves and debris in your gutters and downspouts can lead to a backup of water which blocks drainage and can cause water to back up in your walls, so check for any signs of leakage and clear them out to avoid any issues. You will also need to check for damage caused by heavy blocks of ice, which can sit in your gutters and pull them away from your home. Without repair, this issue can shorten their lifespan and create an overhead ice hazard in future years.

So, although winter weather is not completely gone, now is the time to check for winter damage so that you can have repairs done as needed and save yourself the stress and expense of larger issues down the road. If you notice any issues, make sure to contact our team or a licensed professional to have issues taken care of!

The Top 3 Basement Remodeling Projects

The Top 3 Basement Remodeling Projects

If you recently moved into a home with an unfinished basement – or have been living with one for a while – you may be itching to transform it into additional living space, such as a bedroom, guest bathroom, kitchenette or bar. This month, we’re covering the top three basement remodeling projects, their associated costs, and why you should consider them for your next home improvement project. 

Finishing vs Remodeling 

To be clear, finishing your basement and remodeling your basement are two separate projects. An unfinished basement typically has concrete flooring, exposed pipes and electrical, and no walls, or just the wall framework. Before you can remodel your basement, (adding a bedroom, bathroom, or other living space) you’ll need to tackle the necessities first. These can include hanging drywall, framing in walls with studs and adding insulation, installing flooring and electrical outlets, and finishing a ceiling. Check out this article for a comprehensive list of projects. 

Added Value and Return on Investment 

Finishing your basement not only means you gain more living space, but the money invested can increase your home’s value. According to HomeAdvisor, the average basement remodel project can have up to a 70% return on investment. 

Generally, homebuyers prefer a house with a finished basement and may even increase their offer if the basement was recently updated or finished. Basement projects are often less expensive than an above-ground addition (depending on square footage and the type of remodel), making them a great bargain for additional living space. However, the appraised value often does not increase based on the renovations. In general, the deeper your basement is below-grade, the less the added square footage will appraise for. An appraiser may calculate the value based on several factors, including the total number of windows, access to the outside, and quality of the materials. With this in mind, consider these top three basement remodel projects that can add value to your home. 

basement bedroomAdding a Bedroom 

Bedrooms are a great addition to a basement because, if your family grows, you can increase living space without having to put an addition on your home above-ground. 

Keep in mind, you’ll be required to install egress windows in your new basement bedroom or other living space, and obtain a permit before you start the project. Egress windows are required so you can leave the basement in the case of an emergency, or to allow firefighters a way to access the basement. Permits are required to ensure compliance with building code safety. 

Project costs will largely depend on the square footage of the area. At a minimum, the project will include framing, drywall installation, flooring and ceiling installation, and electrical — if these projects haven’t already been completed. Overall, it can cost anywhere from $40-90 per square foot to finish a basement depending on the materials used. 

Adding a Bathroombasement bathroom

Adding another bathroom can add huge value to your home. Especially if you currently have just one, as too few bathrooms can be a dealbreaker for some homebuyers when you look to sell your home in the future. 

You have several options when adding a new bathroom. You can choose to add in a full bathroom, which is a toilet, bathtub, shower, and sink. A three-quarter bath, which includes a shower, toilet, and sink, or a half bath, which is just a toilet and sink. Knowing how you will use the remainder of the basement space can help you choose which bathroom style to go with.

Most of the essentials listed above to add in a bedroom are also applicable when adding in a new bathroom. We recommend working with a professional to install the proper plumbing and to ensure you’re abiding by local zoning law regulations for adding in new plumbing. Costs can range anywhere from $15,000-$20,000, depending on the square footage and materials used. 

basement kitchenetteAdding a Wet Bar or Kitchenette

If you’re planning to host events or spend a significant amount of time in your basement, a wet bar or kitchenette may be a great option to add to reduce the time spent going up and down the stairs. 

At a basic level, a bar or kitchenette includes a sink, countertops, cabinets, lighting, plumbing, and electrical. More extravagant kitchenettes or bars can also include appliances, such as a refrigerator and microwave, or a backsplash for additional flair.

Costs associated with a kitchenette or bar installation are more focused on the materials used (cabinets, countertops, sink, fixtures), and the electrical and plumbing installation. Plan to spend anywhere from $2,000-$12,000, varying based on materials used, the square footage, and the cost of plumbing. 

Finishing your basement can be an overwhelming task, especially if your project has a lot of moving parts, like installing the plumbing, electrical, sourcing materials, and obtaining the required permits. At Kegonsa Plumbing, we cover all the bases so you don’t have to worry about hiring and managing multiple sub-contractors yourself. If you’re looking to finish or remodel your basement and would like the simplicity of working with a team that will handle your project from start to finish, reach out to us. We’d be happy to supply you with a custom quote and free consultation for your project. 

Kitchen Remodel Basics

Kitchen Remodel Basics

For many, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Few remodeling projects will come with more benefits than a kitchen remodel – from increasing the overall value of your home to creating a space for quality family time. However, kitchen remodels are some of the most complex (and stressful) projects of all home improvement projects. By knowing what to expect in advance, you can plan for a successful kitchen remodel with Kegonsa Plumbing. Follow our guide to the steps of a kitchen remodel, below. 

Step 1: Decide Who’s in Charge

Managing the project yourself may save you money, but it’s also likely to lengthen the process from start to finish. That means having no dedicated space to prep meals in your home, and a few weeks of family take-out bills will eat into those project-management savings quickly. Hiring a general contractor will save you time and stress that accompanies managing several subcontractors and ensuring they show up on time. The general contractor’s job is to supervise other workers, make sure the subcontractors (electrical, carpentry, plumbing) arrive in the right order, make sure the work is done at a high-quality level, keep the project on-budget, and to pull all the necessary permits. At Kegonsa Plumbing, we offer both general contracting and plumbing services.

[Related: Why a General Contractor Benefits You]

However, if you want to save money and manage the project yourself, you can simply hire us for the plumbing elements. When choosing your general contractor or subcontractors, require them to provide proof of their license and permits for the job.

Step 2: Organize Your Priorities

What was the most frustrating part of your old kitchen? Lack of counter space or the need for a garbage disposal? Perhaps your kitchen had a narrow galley design and you prefer an open concept. Your new kitchen should be designed with all of this in mind. 

Take careful consideration when planning the design of the kitchen, especially if you are building from scratch. Consider what areas of the kitchen will be most used, and what might be the best utilization of the space. Then, make a list of everything you want in your kitchen – think big! Take your list and split them into must-haves and wants. This way, you have prioritized the most important elements and can build your budget accordingly.

Step 3: Set Your Budget

The average kitchen remodel can cost anywhere between $20,000 – $50,000 for the Madison, WI, area. Consider the priorities you mapped out in planning, then begin to allocate your budget.  If you decided to allocate $20,000 towards your remodel, for example, in what areas of the kitchen would you spend that money?

Here’s a suggestion on how your budget could look:

  • Countertops: 5%
  • Flooring: 5%
  • Lighting: 5%
  • Drywall and Paint: 5%
  • Plumbing: 10%
  • Appliances and Ventilation: 15%
  • Cabinets: 25%
  • Design Fees: 5%
  • General Contractor: 20%
  • Other: remainder

If your heart is set on the latest in marble countertop trends or if you’re able to source some gently-used cabinets instead of new custom ones, you can tweak your budget according to what you have.

Other Things to Keep in Mind

As your kitchen is basically gutted following demolition, this is a great time to fix any ongoing plumbing or electrical issues. This includes replacing old, leaky, or galvanized pipes, updating the shut-off valves, snaking any clogged drains, or replacing rusted sections of pipes. Any old, shorted electrical circuits should be replaced as well. You could also run a new gas line if you’re switching from gas to electric.

When planning your design, we recommend that you match the wood trim and metal finishing throughout the rest of the house with your kitchen design. This will make your new kitchen feel like a natural extension of the home instead of a new insertion – ultimately increasing your resale value if/when you decide to move.

Ready to begin the planning process on your dream kitchen? We can assist in as many elements as you want! This includes 3D design software to help you visualize your design, referrals to great showrooms in town, and even contracting well-qualified designers; Kegonsa Plumbing is ready to service your needs. Give us a call, or send us a message today!