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ASK THE PROFESSIONAL

"Talking the Talk & Walking the Walk"

To us, these are not just catch phrases; they represent what we live by, and work towards proving each day. To that, we have compiled suggestions and some thoughts regarding many of the primary plumbing questions asked daily, and put them in this section for your convenience. Remember this, we are here to help and guide you, if you need additional insight or if your question is not addressed below, please feel free to contact us.

Faucet Repair 

When deciding to repair or replace a faucet there are several considerations as noted below:

+ What is the condition, and age of the faucet?
+ The brand / some companies make standard components while others change parts with each new style.
+ What is the brand history? One particular Company made excellent faucets that were almost impossible to repair.
+ As a Customer, are you prepared to replace the faucet if disassembling the faucet damages it? A Customer may not want to take a chance on repairing a suspect tub or shower valve if it backs up to another tub. When there is no access, change is not a viable option.
+ Many companies claim to offer a “lifetime parts warranty” but only a few deliver in a meaningful way.

The Customer will pay for the service whether it is repaired or replaced, however, I do not like sending invoices that start "Attempt to repair then replaced..."

Whirlpool Tub vs. Soaking Bubbler Tub

A decade ago every new custom homes needed a whirlpool bathtub. That has changed and today many people opt for a soaking tub or bubbler tub. A whirlpool tub has "jets" that send a concentrated stream of water against the users body. Aerating this water causes bubbles which burst on the skin invigorating you as well as the massage action of the water directed at the point of a problem, such as a back. A soaking tub is a tub deep enough to soak in, with no mechanical movement for the water. The bubbler tub does not use jets. The water is aerated with air pressure through many small. The holes, sometimes hundreds, provide more bubbles and more stimulation to a larger area of skin without the directed massage action. A bubbler tub can be a relaxing experience for the end of the day. All tubs have important options such as size, depth, style. Some offer heat and light therapy.

Should I Replace My Toilet?

For the past 20-years, the government has been trying to get us to use less water. While a noble endeavor, one of the solutions was a water saver toilet. Now some 17-years after the order to use a 1.6-gallon toilet, there are actually toilets that work almost as good as the old 3.5-gallon toilets. With one manufacturer advertising their sixth generation of 1.6-gallon toilets (the first five did not work that well) you may wonder if the time has come to change your toilet. There are several reasons to replace a toilet:

+ Not working properly and deemed unfixable.
+ Style change or remodeling.
+ Changing to comfort height.
+ Water conservation.

After dealing and working with "new & improved" toilets for 40-years, we are very familiar with the many options available and can help you with making the correct choices.

What’s That Smell?

From time to time, there may be an unusual odor in your home. We have all noticed an odor in a friend’s home if they have a cat or dog and we do not. The owner usually does not notice anything. The odors that I am referring to are different. If you smell something unusual around your sink, toilet or in your basement, it could be sewer gas. A musty methane odor may be coming from your floor drain. Traps on plumbing fixtures (sink, toilet) are replenished multiple times a day, but the trap on a basement floor drain does not usually get used. If the water in the floor drain evaporates, sewer gas has a clear path into your basement or garage. Simply pouring a bucket of water in the floor drain can correct the problem.

When It's Time to Update 

Any time is the right time for cosmetic changes, but what about the unexpected. Regardless of the age of your home, the time will come when improvements to the plumbing system need to be made. Following are some "rule of thumb" thoughts on when action "should be taken" to repair, or replace:

+ Interior Galvanized Water Lines: Replace hot lines at the first sign of a leak or poor water volume. Replace cold lines if water is rusty when turned on or water volume is poor.
+ Exterior Galvanized Water Service: Best left alone until it leaks, unless there is a compelling reason to take action.
+ Water Heater: Provided the heater is in an area that will not be damaged, change only when leaking, needs significant controls or becomes too small for your situation (changing family size or the addition of a large bathtub, whirlpool or the like.)
+ Faucets: Replace when repairs are frequent or will be expensive relative to the new unit.
+ Toilets: If the toilet works properly, then the reasons for change become personal not mechanical.
+ Tub & Showers: Cast iron bathtubs wear, and Fiberglass sometimes will crack and deteriorate. They probably will not leak. The primary reason to change is cosmetic.

Garbage Disposals - Taking Out The Garbage

The modern Garbage Disposal is a mechanical marvel, and we can help our Customers with choosing the correct unit and installing it appropriately. The Disposal's main benefit is taking potentially smelly and animal attracting wastes out of a garbage bag that may sit around your house or outside for days. Today's Disposals are safer and should not become a problem for properly sized and installed kitchen sink drain lines. Imagine the convenience of scraping plates or feeding the remnants of "Wing Night" down the drain. There are many available Disposals and we can help our Customers with locating the correct unit for their needs, some even have a one full horsepower motor and carry up to a 10-year in-home warranty.

Solar Energy - Will it Work Here?

"Erie is one of the worst places in the Country for sunshine." You have probably heard this at one time or another, but what does it really mean. Let us try another quote, "what came first, the chicken or the egg". What do these quotes have in common? Neither tells you what the possibilities are. We do not live in Phoenix, so why should it matter that they can do much more with solar energy. The amount of direct solar light in Erie, Pennsylvania is not normally sufficient for economically justifying many solar applications, when inexpensive natural gas is the competing energy source. With this said, possibly some day, subsidies and tax credits may change the economics. Contact us for further discussions regarding the potential use of Solar Energy and how it might be a solution for your specific applications.

I Smell Gas 

If you smell natural gas, do not ignore it. Any natural gas leak can be serious. In an emergency "always" call National Fuel Gas or your Provider first, or if applicable, call Public Safety. The same goes if you are at all concerned about a natural gas odor in or around your home. Should you attempt to self diagnose the problem, keep the following things in mind:

+ Natural gas is combustible. Never check for its presence with a match.
+ What you are smelling may be from a leak or discharge of natural gas outside.
+ Liquid dishwashing detergent can be brushed into a suspect area connection and will bubble up if there is a gas leak.
+ Your gas can always be shut off near your gas meter.

The best advice is to call a Professional, ignoring the problem will not make it go away.

Drain Cleaning

We provide drain-cleaning services for drains up to 2 inches in size. For larger projects, we can sub-contract services or recommend a company for you to call. In most cases when working on a drain the pipe is not an issue. There are some situations however that we cannot take responsibility for when servicing:

Galvanized pipe that has deteriorated. Galvanized pipe will deteriorate (rust) over time. This is particularly prevalent at the joints. When disconnecting galvanized joints it is not unusual to notice deteriorated or missing threads. In this case, replacement of additional piping may be required.

PVC plastic pipe that was not properly assembled. We have encountered a number of PVC installations where the pipe joints pull apart. Several times this has happened to pipes concealed in the wall. This should never happen and is a sign the original installation was defective.

Most of the time drain cleaning is routine but please understand we cannot be responsible for what we cannot see. It is reasonable to expect the concealed piping is at least as old, and in no better condition than the exposed pipe.

HELP! My Sewer Is Plugged

When sewer lines are plugged, and sewage is backing up into your basement floor there is a tendency to panic. Take a step back, assess the situation and take the appropriate action:

+ Do not use any additional water. This will prevent the situation from becoming worse.
+ Call a professional. J.E. Grieshober Plumbing Hydronics does not open main sewers. This requires specialized equipment that cost tens of thousand of dollars. We do not receive enough sewer calls to justify an investment of that size, and we will not do a project, unless we can do it properly. We can recommend a professional firm to provide the appropriate services, just contact us.

Boiler Replacement

A standard statement used to describe old cast iron boilers was "its 50-years old and should last another 50". Back in the early 70s, efficiency was not much of a concern. Energy shortages and rising energy prices changed that. Over the past 30-years, there has been incremental changes in boiler & system efficiencies. We have advanced from vent dampers and intermittent pilots to outdoor resets and 5-1 burner turndowns. The latest and I believe the most important technology is the fully modulating boiler. First, a short lesson in how your hot water heating system was designed, and how it works:

+ Most systems were designed with a 180-degree average water temperature. The boiler would turn on heat to 190-degrees then shut off until the water cooled to 170-degrees or the thermostat was satisfied.
+ The boiler fired at its maximum capacity (often 150,000 BTUs or more) even when only a little heat was required.
+ This led to high chimney temperatures and significant standby losses in times of low heating demand (Spring and Fall).
+ The newest boilers sense the outdoor temperature and modulate the flame to the required system water temperature. A new boiler installed in an existing system may fire at 15,000 BTUs with a water temperature of 120-degrees, matching perfectly the heat required to the building heat lost. The benefit: lower utility costs with a more comfortable even heat.

Contact us for a more in-depth discussion regarding today’s efficient Hydronics-Heating Systems.

The New Boilers

I like to say, the best product is the one that is right for the job. With boilers, the proper size has always been the one that could provide the appropriate heat on the coldest day. The problem with that statement was that coldest days occurred infrequently and the boiler fired at the maximum rate, at every call for heat. This has now changed. Many new boilers modulate adjusting their firing rate to the load required. It is an exciting time to be a heating contractor as we can save almost everyone a significant portion of their heating bill with improved comfort using today’s products.

Water Heater Replacement

Selecting a water heater was once as simple as replacing what was there previously. Changes in government mandates, housing, furnaces and efficiencies have made choosing the right heater more important and complex. Picking the proper heater involves fuel type, venting size and regulatory considerations. Anyone who quotes you a price on the phone without an in-depth discussion is probably doing you a disservice. Replacing a water heater is more than "what size is in there now?" Please feel free to contact us and we can walk you through the appropriate steps to choosing the correct Water Heater for your requirements.

Reliability vs Efficiency

Picture this: driving down the road, making great time, only to find you were traveling in the wrong direction. You were efficient but not very effective. Efficiency gets a lot of play when talk turns to heating products. We all want efficient products, but what about the products reliability. Furnaces, boilers and water heaters that have worked trouble free for years have spoiled us. Some of the newer equipment needs regular expensive maintenance, and is difficult to repair when it breaks. Look beyond the efficiency rating and perceived savings when selecting equipment. We can help you.