Monthly Archives: January 2018

Imagine the worst scenario possible: You come in after a fun afternoon playing in the snow, head into the bathroom for a warm shower and…nothing but freezing cold water. If this happens to you, we want you to be informed about how you can fix the problem and when to call in a professional to make sure things don’t get worse. In this post, we’ll explain the different types of water heaters, how water heaters work, how you can fix some problems yourself, and who to contact for water heater repair in Kansas City. It’s colder in KC than Antarctica right now—make sure you have the hot water to combat the cold.

kansas city forecast january 2018

Types of Water Heaters

Choosing the right water heater is imperative to your heater’s longevity and performance. If you pick a cheap hot water heater from the get-go, you’ll end up spending thousands in repair.

It’s important to check the ratings before making a purchase. The two ratings to look out for are the Energy Factor (ER), which tells you how efficient the system is, and the first-hour recovery/flow rate (EF). You want the EF number to be high, since that means you get more hot water in the first hour after opening the spigot. Tankless water heaters are a little different; lower groundwater temperatures might cut the flow rate in half. Use both of these ratings to determine whether you’re getting a good deal on a water heater or water heater repair in Kansas City.

rating factors

Conventional Storage Tank

You most likely have a conventional storage tank in your home. This insulated tank heats water and stores it until needed. If you need to relieve pressure that hits 150 psi or 210 degrees Fahrenheit within the tank, you can use the temperature and pressure relief valve. When working properly, your conventional storage tank should not be discharging any water from the valve. If you notice a water leak, it could be due to thermal expansion, excess pressure, or low temperature relief. These are all reasons to invest in water heater repair in Kansas City.

conventional storage tank

With natural gas water heaters, you won’t have to use as much energy as an electric water heater, thereby lowering costs. You’ll have to pay more upfront though, and there may be higher installation costs.

To properly care for your conventional storage tank, you’ll need to drain and clean it a couple times each year. You can expect to get 10-12 years out of your water heater if it’s well taken care of.

Tankless Heaters

Also called ‘on demand’, this type heats water as needed rather than storing the hot water in a tank. With intense bursts of heat against water-filled coils, the water is heated right when it’s needed. The flow sensors are activated when the faucet is opened, then the heater checks the incoming water temperature to calculate how fast the water should flow past the burners.  Much like natural gas, these water heaters have a higher up-front cost that’s compensated by lower bills. Not only are you saving money, but also helping out the environment!

tankless water heater

Make sure you determine how much water you’ll need before purchasing a tankless heater, as you’ll need a specific size to achieve a continuous flow of hot water. Size needs are dependent on how many machines you have that use water (ie: dishwasher, washing machine, tub, etc.) and how often these systems are used at the same time. We recommend this option for those who use natural gas to heat their water. These systems never run out of hot water, you save 30%-50% in energy costs over a conventional gas heater, AND they’re small enough to give you extra floor space. On the downside, there’s a lag of 3-8 seconds to get the burner going and get the water to the right temperature. As far as maintenance goes, you’ll need to descale your heater of minerals at least once a year. This process can be carried out by those who specialize in water heater repair in Kansas City.

Heat Pump

In this system, heat is transferred from the air or ground to the water using the heat-exchange capabilities of refrigerant. The refrigerant flowing through the heat pump system takes heat from the cold outside air and moves it into the system. From there, the stolen heat is distributed via air ducts. This process is accomplished using 60% less energy than typical electric water heaters. Energy bills are lower, but you’ll have a higher up-front cost. You’ll want to place the heat pump water heater somewhere in your home that isn’t too cold, and give it a 7-foot clearance from floor to ceiling (since the pump is on top). You’re heat pump may struggle when temperatures drop below freezing, in which case an auxiliary electric heating strip will kick in to finish the job (though this can be costly).

heat pump water heater

Hybrid

With Hybrid systems, also known as dual-fuel systems, an air-source hear pump taps into a gas furnace for backup heating instead of using a more costly electric heating system. You also have the ability to manually switch the fuel source between the two if you find that one is more cost effective. Keep in mind though that natural gas, propane and heating oil experience market fluctuations more than electricity, so it may be a riskier option.

Solar

It may seem like something from the future, but you can actually use roof-mounted solar panels to take in the sun’s heat and convert it into an anti-freeze type liquid. The closed-loop system funnels into the water tank and heats the water. These are going to produce the best results in the summer, when sunnier conditions provide extra energy. You’ll have to pay more on cloudy days, but a backup electricity or gas system should prevent you from freezing. To purchase and install a solar system, you could be waiting 10-30 years to make back your investment. Keep in mind though that there are federal and local rebates offered if you choose to go solar.

solar hot water heater

Condensing

For those requiring a unit with more than 55 gallons that uses gas, condensing water heaters are the way to go. The tanks look similar to that of a conventional water heater; The main difference is that they collect the hot exhaust gases that typically leave through the flue and use this gas to heat the water in the tank. The gas is blown through a coil in the base of the unit and is then absorbed by incoming cold water when it flows around the coil. These are one of the most efficient water heaters (96% thermal) and you’ll never run out of hot water. The downside is that they’re a little pricier and require a gas line/venting reconfiguration (which can be done by those who specialize in water heater repair in Kansas City).

Water Heater Troubleshooting

Water Not Hot Enough

Before you do any troubleshooting, you need to make sure that the power to your water heater is turned off. This can be done by turning off the fuse or circuit breaker connected to the unit. If there’s no hot water being produced by the unit, the problem could be due to lack of power, a defect electric thermostat, or issues with the upper electric heating element.  You can check to see if it’s a power problem by following these steps:

 

  1. Reset any tripped circuit breaker/replace broken fuses (see below)
  2. See if power is being pumped into the water heater element thermostat
  3. Test the element and replace if broken
  4. If thermostat is getting power but still not working, try replacing it or other heater part

tripped circuit breaker

If the water is warm but not hot, you may have an undersized water heater that can’t accommodate the amount of water you’re needing heated at once. Other issues might be crossed hot and cold connections, a faulty heating element or the thermostat. You’ll know an undersized heater is to blame if the heater has less than 75% of its capacity as hot water. Rule out crossed connections by shutting down the water supply and turning on a hot water faucet. If you water still flows after this has been shut down, check for a crossed connection. When all else fails, call a professional for water heater repair in Kansas City.

Leaks

This can be one of the most troublesome issues to fix, as water damage can be costly to repair. These leaks could be due to a broken temperature and pressure relief valve, too much pressure, a stuck valve, overheating, a leak from an overhead or close plumbing connection, loose bolts, or a leaking water tank. Follow these steps to identify and resolve the cause:

 

  1. Check the T&P valve by putting a container beneath the overhead pipe, opening the valve and flushing the pipe of debris. Continuous leaks after flushing require repair replacement.
  2. For excessive heat or pressure, lower thermostat, scan for loose pipe connections and use a tool to tighten any loose connections you encounter.
  3. Tighten any heating element bolts that seem loose
  4. For leaking storage tanks, new o-rings (see below) may be necessary. 

orings

Odd Color or Smell

If the odor only occurs with hot water, the source is normally a reaction between the hot water heater’s anode rode and water with a high concentration of sulfates. The decaying sacrificial rod might be releasing hydrogen, giving off a rotten egg smell. For troubleshooting:

 

  1. Run the hot water for a couple minutes
  2. Flush out the tank.
  3. Use a mixture of 2 pints of 3% hydrogen peroxide and 40 gallons of water to treat the tank for two hours
  4. If water still smells odd, replace the anode rod with a new, zinc-alloy one that’s flexible.
  5. Worse comes to worst, you may have to replace the heater with a plastic-lined one

bad smells

For garlic smells, a dead pilot light may be your problem. Switch the gas valve off and wait until the smell has disappeared before relighting. If the smell persists, you’ll need to contact someone who knows their way around water heater repair in Kansas City.

Contact Us

For water heater repair in Kansas City, contact us to get more information on how we can help!

If you’re the building manager for an apartment complex or business, you know how imperative it is to receive fast, reliable repairs. Our work reflects your reputation, so we seek to provide the best quality commercial plumbing in Kansas City. Our 24/7 availability allows us to fix the issue right when it’s noticed. Whether you’re looking for industrial sink repair or a quick fix for a clogged toilet in a public restroom, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll cover the common plumbing issues that affect commercial buildings and some preventative steps you can take to save money on repairs.

Here are a few of the most common problems with commercial properties:

  1. Leaks (check for water stains and puddles)
  2. Exposed piping with corrosion (discoloration)
  3. Unusually low water pressure
  4. Orange, rust-colored water (sediment)
  5. Toilets that don’t flush correctly
  6. Drainage issues with faucets

If you notice any of these issues, call a certified professional immediately to get the problem taken care of.

commercial plumbing in kansas city

Frozen Pipes

It’s that time of year again when the defroster runs on full blast and you dream of better days splashing around in the swimming pool. Freezing temperatures have made us dread going outside, but you shouldn’t have to dread frozen pipes. Commercial properties located in smaller structures or buildings that were previously used for residential purposes are particularly susceptible. You’ll want to pay mind to pipes that are exposed to severe cold, like water sprinkler lines, water supply pipes in unheated interior areas (garages), and pipes with little insulation that run along exterior walls.

frozen pipes in kansas city

Prevention

When water gets cold, it expands. This expansion within your pipes can cause them to break. It’s much easier to prevent frozen pipes than to repair broken pipes, so follow these steps to save yourself some trouble:

  1. Add insulation (pictured below) to areas of pipe that are exposed to prolonged periods of freezing temperature (pipe sleeves, UL-listed heat tape, or heat cable).
  2. Add insulation to hot and cold water pipes in unheated areas where water supply lines are located (Bonus Tip: If you’re thrifty, you can use ¼” of newspaper to provide pipe insulation).
  3. If you don’t have children that might tamper with harmful cleaners and chemicals left under the sink, open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to circulate the warmer air inside.
  4. When the weather gets particularly chilly, allow a steady drip from faucets served by exposed pipes. The moving water can keep the pipes from freezing.
  5. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature during the day and night.
  6. If you know you’ll be gone for an extended period of time during a cold weather season, leave the heat on in your home and set the temperature to 55 degrees or higher.

pipe insulation

By following these preventative measures, you can save thousands on commercial plumbing in Kansas City.

Natural Gas Lines

Though natural gas lines are generally reliable, they can struggle under extreme pressure. Common issues include gas leaks and loss of pressure, both of which require immediate attention. Unresolved gas leaks can have extreme consequences, like fire explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning. Trust us—it’ll make your day at the office MUCH worse. These gas leaks can be caused by gas appliances and piping that hasn’t been properly fitted or has cracks.  Regular inspections ensure you catch the leaks before they endanger the health of your tenants.

Water Lines

Since commercial buildings access a HUGE amount of water, your commercial water lines are constantly in use. Clogs and burst pipes can disrupt a business and force tenants to reconsider their housing choice. Our expert technicians know how to clean out pipes and address repeat issues to see what the cause is. Shoddy installation might be the culprit, in which case we can re-install the pipes to ensure you don’t waste money fixing the problem over and over again.

Isolating Waste Water

To prevent waste water from mixing with the potable water supply, backflow prevention is necessary. The waste water collection system is the main part of this prevention strategy, which is why municipalities require that commercial properties show annual proof that their system is working correctly. Backflow prevention is closely interlinked with water pressure. While water is normally maintained at a specific pressure to allow easy flow from the tap/ shower/other fixture, this may be hindered or reduced when a water main bursts, your pipes freeze or there is an unexpectedly high demand for water. When this pressure is reduced, contaminated water from soil or storage can sneak into the system. Without a proper backflow prevention device fighting this contamination, your water could start tasting funny…

backflow prevention

Drain Cleaning Maintenance

The most common commercial plumbing problems we come across are clogged drains in public restrooms, faulty industrial sinks in restaurants, and issues with floor drains in warehouses. All of these issues could be prevented with proactive drain cleaning from commercial plumbing in Kansas City. Instead of just opening pipes, our expert plumbers fully clean out the pipe (utilizing video cameras if needed). The main sewer line may be to blame for your clog. At the root of the problem is normally water-seeking roots (haha…get it?) that can break through the line and block drain flow. We can cut away the roots to get your drains in working condition again. With clogged toilets, we utilize a special tool that removes the blockage and hugs the inside of the pipe to clean away grime.

Hidden Leaks

Though you may not be dealing with bathtub leaks in your commercial building, you WILL deal with leaky faucets and running toilets. Sure, some problems can be remedied with a simple silicone seal, but other times a complete part replacement is necessary. Hidden leaks are the worst, because they destroy your plumbing infrastructure without you even noticing at first. You may see negative effects on the piping, walls, ceiling or slab covering the pipe due to a hidden leak. You don’t have to wait until the water breaks through the slab’s surface or walls to detect a hidden leak; Just keep an eye out for these clues!

  1. Warm spots on your floor even though you don’t have heated flooring
  2. Moisture leaks may cause mold growth or mildew smells within your home
  3. A sudden increase in your water bill even though you aren’t using more than usual
  4. Water stains on floor, baseboards, walls and ceiling (pictured below)
  5. Hearing water running though the pipes in the wall when the water isn’t turned on

water stains

Apartment Problems

One of the most frustrating things as a building manager or owner is when tenants cause plumbing issues by using their fixtures improperly. To ensure you don’t have to pay for their mistakes, you should communicate with tenants to let them know best practices when dealing with toilets and faucets. Hopefully, they have enough common sense and respect for their building to abide by these rules. You can post signage in bathrooms and break rooms that clearly lays out what can’t be flushed down the toilet or rinsed down the sink. You can even send out an email if it becomes a repetitive problem. Prohibited toilet items include:

  • Kleenex
  • Tampons
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Paper Towels
  • Tissue paper
  • Unused pharmaceuticals

don't flush sign

Items that should not be disposed down your drain include:

  • Fats, oils and greases
  • Large chunks of garbage
  • Cat litter
  • Metals, wood, straw or grass
  • Plastics
  • Corrosive substances
  • Flammable or explosive liquids
  • Paint, stains, and thinners
  • Poisonous and hazardous waste
  • Fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides

Fixing apartment building plumbing problems isn’t just a nuisance; It’s also a potentially expensive endeavor. Since repair and damage can affect multiple tenants, you need to get professional help as quickly as possible. You don’t want to deal with leaks that come down through multiple units or a pipe burst that requires water shut off for an entire building. Take preventative steps to keep your plumbing running smoothly, like routine maintenance from companies that specialize in commercial plumbing in Kansas City.

Building Codes

Building codes are meant to ensure the safety of everyone within the building, so it’s important that your plumbing follows these regulations. Fresh water and sanitary sewage disposal are basic requirements that can result in heavy fines if not implemented. If violations are especially severe, you could face project termination or delay until the issue is sorted out. Codes aren’t just there to make your job harder; they also protect property owners who hire contractors to perform professional services on their property. It holds contractors to a minimum quality. Breaking building codes may require assistance from commercial plumbing in Kansas City, so give us a call if you need help passing inspection.

building codes

Who Choose Us?

If you require commercial plumbing in Kansas City, we’re your guys. We have the correct contractor’s license to deal with commercial properties, our technicians receive 100 hours of training each year, and we have experience with industrial systems. As a larger company with a stellar reputation in Kansas City, we can handle any plumbing problem that comes our way. Give us a call!