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Do We Have it Good?

I jumped out of bed this morning, OK maybe rolled out of bed would be more accurate and made my way to the bathroom where I found it occupied. My daughter and her family had spent the night after a Halloween party. So I made my way downstairs to use the downstairs bathroom, then to the kitchen to get a glass of water. As is my usual routine I jumped on the internet to check my email and low and behold a message from Google alerts about toilets. Being a plumber finding out about toilets in the news is of great interest. Today only one toilet article : India: Land of many cell phones, fewer toilets That sounded plausible to me, family of five, five cell phones, two bathrooms but I read on.

In the Mumbia Slums there is only one toilet or latrine for 10,000 people. That's like having 4 toilets for all the people attending the world series, not bathrooms but toilets. In case you did not know, a latrine is a hole in the ground with a toilet seat... if you are lucky. Oh did I mention that most of these are "Pay Toilets" which cost about 4 cents per use which is out of reach for most Mumbias. According to the United Nations figures , only 366 million Indians have access to a private toilet or latrine, leaving 665 million to defecate in the open. If you have ever had to clean up after a dog kept in the backyard for a week just imagine 665 Million people!!

My Mind is running wild as a plumber I ask the questions why no sewage systems?, why no flush toilets?, What about water? I read on..... In Rafiq Nagar there are no water pipes or wells, residents are forced to rely on water vendors for water to do cooking, washing clothes, bathing and drinking. The neighborhood is rampant with skin infections, tuberculosis and other ailments.

A large blue barrel outside a home is filled with murky brown water, tiny white worms and an aluminum drinking cup. To fill up two 5 gallon cans of water costs between $.90 and $1.10 a day, about one-third of the average family's earnings .

I am horrified at the conditions in India! here in America we expect clean water, Hot showers and flushing toilets for about two dollars a day. As a plumber I appreciate the infrastructure that is here. When you flush a toilet the water magically comes from the mountains and the sewage magically disappears to be recycled again and again. I am proud to be a plumber doing my part to protect the health of Our Nation one small repair at a time.

Joe the Plumber - a plumbing legend?

In my meandering course through the whizzing ones and zeros we call the Internet, I was reminded of a certain plumbing story that begs to be dredged up from our hilarious history:

Joe the Plumber was just like any other guy, until he ran into - completely by coincidence - Senator Obama.  He criticized the future President’s tax proposal then and there, catching him unaware and off-balance.

His rise to fame was swift, and sure.  His criticisms were taken to heart by the Republican candidate, Senator John McCain, who set up Mr. Plumber as an avatar of the average American.

Senator John McCain was extremely happy with this strategy, and its outcome, citing Samuel J. Wurzelbacher - Joe’s real name - as “the winner” of October 15’s presidential debate.  Clearly, an important standpoint had been championed by a paragon of plumbing virtue.

And all of this was fine until the media had a couple of days to explore the seedy underbelly of Mr. Wurzelbacher’s real life.  Not only was it revealed that his chance-meeting with the president elect was intentional, when he admitted as much on a conservative web site: familysecuritymatters.org, but it also bubbled up from a routine backcheck that Joe the Plumber was not actually registered to lawfully plumb in Ohio.  Mr. Wurzelbacher, the champion of the average American, was not even a plumber, after all.

But, as the San Francisco Chronicle was apt to point out, Joe the Plumber took more interviews in the brief period of his fame, than did Sarah Palin.  He certainly took the spotlight well.  But where did it leave him?

Corrupt practices such as this may be standard in places like Ohio, but certainly not at George Salet Plumbing.  No one is disgruntled, here, and you can tell by the way they approach their job - with pride and commitment.  Proper registration, licensing, etc. all go without saying.

George Salet named PHCC Contractor of the Year

George Salet, Contractor of the Year

Goerge Salet with the PHCC Contractor of the Year trophy.

The Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors of California have named George Salet Contractor of the Year. The award is given yearly, with the trophy being passed from contractor to contractor since 1984.  The awards committee considers several criteria for this honor including the candidates' contributions to their local, state and national PHCC, as well as other ways they serve their industry. This prestigious award is only given to one Contractor each year in the State.

Low Flow Shower Heads - what to do when water pressure is decreasing

You just bought your new shower head six months ago, and already it needs some plumbing.  Water is not coming out any more like it should be.  Do you need to go out and buy a new shower head?  Do you need to call a plumber?

New water conservation requirements dictate that shower heads only use 2.25 gallons of water per minute.  To do that, new shower heads use smaller nozzles than older models.

The downside is that these newer models tend get clogged up with mineral deposits  and rust easier than older, water-guzzling ones.  When this happens it is more difficult for water to pass through, reducing water flow giving the feeling of less pressure.

But instead of giving up, it is entirely possible to put on your plumbing cap and clean the shower head - or get someone to do it for you.  In order to clean the shower head, skip to the last section in my faq, very little water comes out of my shower head, why.

Leaks in the shower arm are another common problem, shooting water from the base of the assembly at strange angles.  This process is a little more involved but is certainly within reach of anyone who can handle a wrench.  You will need: 1) an appropriately-sized wrench; and 2) teflon tape.

First, Carefully unscrew the shower head from the shower arm with a wrench in a counterclockwise direction

Second, clean the threads in the shower arm, Now turn on the water and flush any debris out of the shower arm, next remove any debris is the end of the shower head

Third, Tape the end of the shower arm with the Teflon tape.  Be sure not to put too much on or too close to the end of the threads, or it might stop up the shower head. This stuff is so thin that you will be able to reattach the shower arm without any problems.

Fourth, Now screw the shower head back on the shower harm in a clockwise direction and tighten in till just past snug.Now turn on the water and check for leaks.

If this seems like seems a little too technical or you would just rather have someone take care of it, Give us a call

Compare 10- and 6-year warranty hot water heaters

To compare the various hot water heaters usually gives me a sense of déjà vu.  They all look the same!  How can anyone tell the difference between these similarly ecru-hued cylinders?  Fortunately, installing them has given me a closer look, an insider’s view, you could say, and I would be happy to share my perspective.

Some people like to take risks on occasion, if it’s worth it.  This article compares 10-year and 6-year warranty hot water heaters to give you a better idea of what you’re buying into, so that you can make a better-informed decision the next time you face the dreaded wall of hot water heater clones.

What’s at stake? Surely, the warranty itself does not matter as much as the durability of the tank. The bottom line is this: we place value on the longer warranty, not because we think the heater will break within the time period; we value that 10-year package because it is a mark of confidence - the manufacturer would not offer the 10-year warranty if it expected the hot water heater to break in 9.

What’s the difference? 10-year warranties have an extra anode – a sacrificial rod made of magnesium or aluminum that allows the electrolysis in the water to eat them up instead of the water heater tank. So when the anode rod is used up the tank will start to deteriorate.  There is almost nothing a water heater company can do about this, so in order to extend the life of the heater, they need to use an extra anode, so that one will take longer for them to deteriorate

So, that extra anode does, in fact, double the life of the water heater.  In this case, the old adage is true: you get what you pay for, Just Like George Salet Plumbing were we offer full parts and labor warranties on our standard and premier 6 and 10 year water heaters

Shopping for High-end toilets - Toto, Kohler, and Acorn

High-end toilets are a little harder to find than a Dolce & Gabbana purse, but there are some models out there, like Toto, Kohler, and Acorn’s, that are downright luxurious.  I have included just a few facts about each company, as well as links for anyone to follow who is interested in knowing more.

Acorn Toilets

Most will have probably seen an Acorn toilet at some point, seeing that their toilets are some of the finest in the world.  More well known for their stainless steel, commercial installations, Acorn also has a sub company for high-end, residential purchasers called Neo Metro.  These designs are extremely sleek, gorgeous and high-functioning.  I would recommend anyone check out their site just to see what bathroom design can aspire to.  Additional information, installation, and repair can be found on the toilet service page of this site.

Kohler

Kohler a leader in bold designs has really come to the party with some great looking toilets that will flush just about anything. Kohler’s has adopted class five flushing technology that flushes 1000 grams in a single flush and  rinse clean the bowl surface every-time.

Toto Toilets

Lately, the state of California has been pushing for toilets that use less water per flush.  As a result, plenty of companies are now building low flow toilets.  But this practice is old hat for Toto, which started developing low flush technology well before the main legislation passed in 1987.  One of the most trusted names in American manufacturing, Toto produces smart, effective, reliable products.  Additional information, installation, and repair can be found on the toilet service page of this site.

For a full listing of the toilets George Salet Plumbing knows, loves, and repairs, click here and scroll to the bottom of the screen.

InSinkerator Garbage Disposal Product Review

InSinkerator garbage disposal product review guide

Of all the garbage disposals out there, Insinkerator Brand is certainly the most well known.  The company was founded in Racine, Wisconsin by John W. Hammes, an architect. Hammes is credited with inventing the "in-sink" food waste disposal in 1927, which works by grinding and shredding solid food waste. I personally Feel Insinkerator is the a great product with a great warranty So Here is my recommendations for the Insinkerator and don’t forget to check out our longer warranties available to Our customers

The Badger 1 by InSinkerator entry level

As with the other 1/3 Horsepower garbage disposers this is the entry level unit. 1/3 HP is a little underpowered for most homes and creates moderate noise. Comes with a 1year warranty. Upgrading to a Badger 5 for a little more money for an all-around better product.

The Badger 5 by InSinkerator

As with the other Badger models this ½ Horsepower garbage disposal creates a moderate amount of noise. The Badger 5 comes with a galvanized steel grind chamber a 2 year warranty and I consider this unit to be the minimum grade garbage disposal to install

The Badger 5 XP by InSinkerator

As with the other Badger models this 3/4 Horsepower garbage disposal creates a moderate amount of noise. The Badger 5XP comes with a galvanized steel grind chamber a 3 year warranty. If you are looking for more power on a budget this is a good choice, However I believe you will get more bang for your buck by moving to the Insinkerator Evolution Line.`

The Evolution Compact by InSinkerator

This ¾ Horsepower unit is 30% quieter than the Badger series and features MultiGrind™ Two stage grinding chamber that is 30% bigger than Badger 5XP to grind more food, like celery and potato peels. Comes with a 4 year warranty

The Evolution Essential by InSinkerator

This is the My choice for best value ¾ Horsepower unit is 40% quieter than the Badger series and features MultiGrind™ Two stage stainless steel grinding chamber that is 50% bigger Than Badger 5XP to grind more food, like celery and potato peels. Stainless steel grinding chamber resist corrosion better than the Badger and  Compact models. Comes with a 6 year warranty

The Evolution Excel by InSinkerator

This is the Big Daddy of garbage disposals 1 Horsepower unit is 60% quieter than the Badger series and features MultiGrind™ Three stage stainless steel grinding chamber that is 50% bigger Than Badger 5XP to quickly grind virtually any food waste.. Stainless steel grinding chamber resist corrosion better than the Badger and  Compact models. Comes with a 7 year warranty

Don't forget Professional Installation by George Salet Plumbing

Talking Shop with with a plumber - Rooters and hydro jetting

Rooter is without a doubt one of the best terms in the plumber’s dictionary.  Everyone should know what it means, at least to be able to pull it out of one’s hat at a cocktail party.  It really works wonders on a crowd.

Listen to the way it gathers force with the first syllables, Roo,  before finally toppling off into the short ending: ter.  With a dynamic sound like that, no one will need to know what it means to be impressed.

But in case someone asks, a rooter is the flexible metal cable that allows a plumber to remove most household clogs.  The professional will simply insert said rooter down the drain, using the metal to loosen up any debris or detritus.  Clean, effective, simple - thorough.

The rooter is not a tool to be taken lightly.  Technically called, the plumber’s snake, this tool was to plumbers, what sliced bread was to the baker.  Before rooters were around, a plumber would have to dig up your sewer in order to fix a clog, which took much too much time and effort.

Not only does the plumber’s snake make a plumber’s job easier, it makes it much more affordable.  So cheers to Sam Blanc, inventor of the rooter machine!

Hydro jetting takes clog removal to an altogether different level.  Originally used for commercial buildings, this involves a hose with a nozzle that sprays six jets of water to the rear which propels the nozzle and hose up the drain pipe much like a rocket ship.  Once the hose hits the plug a single jet of water facing forward blasts the blockage into pieces, The real cleaning power of a hydro jetter is when you pull the hose back against the six rear jets blasting away at 3500 to 4,000 pounds of water per minute, until the pipe is completely cleaned to it’s full diameter.  Hydro Jetting is the perfect tool for grease build up or pipe with large amounts of sludge.

Green Plumbing - shopping for low flow toilets, automatic faucets, tankless water heaters, etc.

This resource article provides brief explanations of different green plumbing appliances (low flow toilets, hybrid and tankless water heaters, and automatic faucets) that are now on the market, as well as links to useful discussions about them.

Basically, there has come a point when all the different technologies have started to blend together in my head, and this is an attempt to keep them distinct and crisp.  Some of the biggest questions I had and tried to answer when I started looking at these contrivances:

-   Are these technologies worth it (up-front versus long-term cost);

-   Are they convenient; and

-   Do they look appealing?

Follow the links for more in-depth information about each product.

Low Flow Toilets

The common misconception about low flow toilets is that they do not work very well.  This is not the case any more because of the MaP test. Also, find a discussion regarding the relative costs and benefits.

Water Heaters - Hybrid and Tankless

Europe has been using tankless water heaters for awhile now.  Until recently, sales in the US were a big flop.  This is due, in part, to some small inconveniences, but they do save energy.  Many people are choosing to use tankless heaters for particular faucets or hot water taps in their home.

I have calculated and explained that Hybrid Water Heaters will pay for themselves in 3-5 years and are just as convenient as standard water heaters.

Automatic Faucets

We see them in commercial bathrooms, at airports, etc., but would anyone consider them for their home?  Please find a summary of their pros and cons, well, back over there.  :)

San Bruno Gas Explosion

I am writing this on Sunday as some residents are being allowed to return to their homes not knowing what they will find. If their home is livable they have a place to live, but their lives will be changed forever.

What caused this great disaster is still under investigation what we know is a 30 inch high pressure gas transmission pipe line developed a leak and ignited. Why it developed a leak is unknown at this time, possible causes are corrosion, electrolysis, ground movement, earthquake or all of the above. What happened in San Bruno happens everyday in homes across the United States. While we don't have 30 inch gas lines in Our homes we have gas pipes that feed Our stoves, furnaces, water heaters and the like. Gas piping generally last a very long time. But they do Leak!!

When a gas pipe leaks within a home it generally is silent, the only way you would notice a leak is the smell that is added to gas to make it noticeable (Rotten Eggs) or a higher than normal gas bill. While the gas pressure in a home is approximately 1/2 pound it still can create a Life changing explosion. My first experience with this was in 1962 when my best friend's House Blew Up!!! Luckily everyone made it out without being hurt. The force of the blast was so great it actually lifted the entire roof and framing off the house. Sal and his family could not live in their home for about six months while it being rebuilt.

Most gas leaks are caused by corrosion, improperly installed gas piping and movement of some sort. Most gas piping within a home is made of black steel pipe with tapered threaded joints if the piping is subject to water or dampness it will corrode very quickly eventually causing a leak. Galvanized pipe is black pipe that has been electro-plated with zink to resist corrosion and is generally used outside the building above ground. The threaded tapered joints I mentioned earlier usually have the bare metal exposed and are where most leaks occur, not because the rust through because of the threaded joint has failed due to vibration or movement or poor workmanship. A improperly installed gas pipe were the pipe is improperly supported or the joint is strained may not leak right away,but after years of expansion and contraction from temperature changes may leak without notice. Earthquakes shake and twist everything, a gas joint is no match for Mother Nature.

The good news is that new gas line materials are proving to be better and last longer. High Density Polypropylene is a type of plastic gas pipe that is used underground that uses fusible joints that are as strong as the pipe itself and does not corrode. A gas line material called Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing replaces steel piping within houses. The new material called CSST for short is vinyl coated and is flexible, being flexible it means less joints and should handle movement better.

What can you do to protect yourself and your Home?

1) IF YOU SMELL GAS, or if you have any doubts, open windows and doors and get everyone out of the building. Using a phone away from the building, call 9-1-1 and  Your gas supplier

2) Install a automatic earthquake gas shut off valve

3) Only use a professional plumber  trained in gas pipe installation, repair and leak detection

4) Have your gas piping visually checked for corrosion painting may be required.

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