Leaking Water Heater Nearly Kills Family

A hot water heater caused the carbon monoxide build-up that almost caused the deaths of a entire family. Danvers Massachucets Fire inspectors determined that the heater sprung a leak on the hot water side and was trying to keep up with the flow of water, the water heater kept running.Normally this would not be a health issue, but because the flue piping was defective it release carbon monoxide into the home.  Fire Chief Kevin Farrell. said it would be the same as if a car was running in the garage with the doors shut.

Luckly everyone survived however this brings up the reasoning  behind new California state Laws that require carbon monoxide dectectors when any home improvements are completed costing $1000 or more. Carbon Monoxide detectors are required in the immediate vicinity of bedrooms and on every level of a dwelling unit including basements.

A Home Safety Inspection might have prevented this accident, Having your home plumbing and heating systems checked yearly can locate problems before they become emergencies, at George Salet Plumbing we offer a 70 point home safety inspection as part of our annual service agreement. We can also install carbon monoxide detectors for your home.

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New Plumbing Codes for Water Heaters

Here in California we have adopted the California 2010 plumbing code as of January 1 2011. One of the many changes is that you can now put your water heater back on the floor as long as it is a Flammable vapor ignition resistant approved water heater, We are now required to protect the water heater from damage by a car in the garage by installing pipe Ballard or other similar devices

Another standing requirement is that water pressure over 80 pounds per square inch must be reduced to 80 psi however the new code requires when a pressure regulator is installed to reduce pressure a properly sized expansion tank to be included in the system.

The new code has addressed many concerns of plumbers and water heater manufactures you see the new water heater that are flamable vapor ignition resistant prevent ignition of flammable vapors better than raising the water heater. and keeping cars from crashing into water heaters just makes sense.

One of the major causes of premature water heater failure is excessive pressure and metal fatigue. the more pressure in a water heater the more the tank expands creating more stress on the tank, by limiting the pressure to 80 psi that reduces the pressure to approximately 1/2 of the maximum operating pressure the tank was designed for,  When you have a pressure regulator installed the pressure goes in but usually cannot go back so when the water heats up it expands creating more pressure this causes the thank to expand, when your turn on the water the pressure drops back to your 80 psi. A expansion tank absorbs the pressure increase when the water heats up so the tank expands and contracts less, helping reduce metal fatigue.

Excessive pressure and expansion tanks are so important that most water heater companies will not warrant leaking water heaters when the pressure exceeds 80 psi

The Big Freeze

As most of the world knows pipes freeze in cold weather, but here in the San Francisco Bay Area it is a uncommon experience.  The weather here has been uncommon all right, Friday night the temperature was a balmy 39 degrees at 6:30 at night and who knows what it was at 4am in the morning.  I know all you readers in the east would say that's a heat wave. The weathermen predicted a cold storm from Canada coming in this week that will bring the snow level down to under a 1000 feet.

Are You prepared if the temperature drops to freezing or below? most homes with people living in them and pipes concealed in the walls will not have any problems. Its the homes that are empty or have exposed water pipes on the outside of the building that could experience frozen pipes.Frozen pipes don't just mean no water but it can also mean burst pipes. when the water in the pipes freeze it expands and if it has no where to go, will burst the strongest of pipes.

You can prevent frozen pipes by insulating them with foam insulation. according to insulation manufacturers 1/2 foam insulation will prevent pipes from freezing to -30 for a couple of days. In places that freeze regularly they insulate the pipes with thicker insulation and sometimes wrap the pipes with a electric heating tape that keeps the pipes from freezing. If the home is empty it should be winterized by turning the water off at the meter and draining the water from the pipes and water heater then leaving the faucets open.

If You think you may be in danger of pipes freezing this winter give Us a call or schedule a free estimate.


Why Buy A Faucet From A Plumber

I was brushing my teeth this morning and marveling how easily my new Moen faucet operated . I thought about my old faucet, an American Standard Reliance, which had given me great service for over 20 years. It still worked well, but the chrome was starting to fail, and it was time to replace it.

Thinking about this reminded me about a conversation I had with a faucet manufacturer representative about faucets sold at discount stores like Home depot and Lowes. The rep told me that the faucets sold at those stores are different products than sold to professional plumbers. In fact, it was great to reaffirm what we already knew, discount stores sell inferior products with low quality plastic parts were as professional products which cost more use high quality parts with metal handles instead of plastic.In short you get what you pay for

With the high cost of labor you don't want to install a cheap faucet then have to replace it before it's time. The faucets I installed in my own home purchased from a professional plumbing supplier have lasted me for over 20 years without need to be replaced and of course it was installed by a Highly Qualified Plumber Me <GRIN>


How Well Do HET Toilets Flush?

Have you ever wondered how well the new High Efficiency Toilets (HET) flush? I have, that's why I change the toilets in the shop several times a year. I test out new models and with a bunch of plumbers using them every day you really get a really good test. I use the results from the toilet testing to inform our customers about the different toilets and which one will work best for them.

So one day I was talking to one of our plumbers about the flush of a particular toilet and he said to bad you don't have a picture of that.......  and the light went on why don't we make a video of  our test toilets flushing and maybe some personal observations.

Well here it is Our first three videos. Please remember we are plumbers, we have learned a lot from the first three, like we need more lighting and maybe a real microphone would help the audio. We colored the water blue so you can see the flush better, Enjoy!

Carbon Monoxide the Silent Killer

I went to a customers house today to check out their water heater and noticed that the flue was disconnected, I explained how this was a dangerous condition that could cause death! The customer acted surprised since this had been this way for quite a while and it was just their water heater. I then explained that all gas appliances create Carbon Monoxide.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, a colorless, as well as tasteless kind of gas that is a lighter than air and very toxic gas. Every year carbon monoxide claims hundreds of lives and sends over 50,000 poisoning victims a year to emergency rooms. Carbon monoxide is created by the the incomplete burning of carbon based matter, such as wood, gasoline, natural gas pretty much anything that will burn. The biggest cause of carbon monoxide poisoning in the home include malfunctioning fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters; engine-powered equipment such as portable generators; fireplaces; and charcoal that is burned in homes and other enclosed areas. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 15,769 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning resulting in 39 deaths in 2007.In 2005, the CPSC reported 94 generator-related carbon monoxide poisoning deaths. Still others die from carbon monoxide produced by non-consumer products, such as cars left running in attached garages.

To put all this into perspective never try and heat your home with un-vented appliances such as leaving the oven door open or using charcoal in a BBQ. Have your furnace, water heater and gas appliances inspected every year by your gas supplier or a reputable plumbing or heating company and NEVER NEVER use a portable generator inside your home or garage and NEVER start your car inside the garage without the garage door open. If you want to warm the car up before driving, drive out of the garage and let it warm up in the driveway NEVER let a automobile run in the garage!!

Carbon Monoxide detectors are very similar to smoke alarms and are priced very inexpensively. Carbon Monoxide detectors are mounted on the ceiling and since Carbon Monoxide is lighter than air will signal you have a problem sooner than later, makeing your home that much safer.

So, stay safe this holiday season and all year.

Happy Hollidays

January 7,2011
Carbon Monoxide Update Article from SF.Gate

Cold Weather and My Water Heater

It looks like winter must almost be here, I am sure you have noticed the drop in temperature in last few days. Here at George Salet Plumbing we have seen a increase in water heater problems as we do every year when the temperature drops. So why do water heater fail more in winter?

As the temperature gets colder the water temperature also declines. This forces the water heater to work harder and longer to get the water to that temperature you like. It also causes more stress on the tank because the water enters the water heater on the top but is forced to the bottom through the dip tube, this means the top is hot and the bottom is colder this caused the tank to flex. in winter there is a greater temperature differential than in summer causing more more flexing, another stress caused by colder water is thermal expansion caused by the cold water being heated and expanding, as the water expands it can create more pressure, if there no place for the water to go. All these extra flexing and pressure will cause a water heater at the end of it's life cycle to give up and die spewing water from it's stressed tank down to to put out it's eternal pilot light.

While there  will always be cold winter days there are a few things that can help keep your water heater  stress free. One of the things you can do is to install a expansion tank for your water heater, a expansion tank absorbs the extra pressure caused by thermal expansion, reducing the stress on your water heater. Don't forget to flush the tank to remove the sediment and replace the anode rod when needed .


The Day After Thanksgiving

Did you know that the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for plumbers. I remember one year I was on the way from one job to another and a man chased me down the street  banging on my truck to  say" I need you over at my house too" So what can you do to prevent a visit from your plumber? In the kitchen fibrous materials are the worst culprit when it comes to crippling your garbage disposal. This includes fibrous materials like asparagus, celery, corn husks, artichokes and other vegetables that have any kind of stringy qualities to them. Large amounts of stuffing,  pasta, mashed potatoes,coffee grounds can also plug your drain .Remember to always  feed food scraps slowly into the garbage disposal with lots of cold water. If you have a large amount of anything except water to get rid of, it is probably best to put it in the garbage can. When you think of Thanksgiving and getting ready to go to Grandma's, everyone is lining up for a shower one right after another. When you get to Grandma's there always seems to be a line waiting to use the toilet. This unusual heavy use will cause a weak plumbing system to  revolt and say no more. If at all possible try and space showers ten minutes or more apart, as far as the line for the toilet....... Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone and may your day be free of plumbing problems. If you need us we will be open Friday and Saturday at no extra charge. George

40% of the World Populations has No Toilets

I didn't write this but I thought it was important so I am putting it on Our blog:

World Toilet Day: Top 10 nations lacking toilets

See a lot of people squatting in the open today? Don't be offended. The so-called "big squat" was held worldwide to coincide with the 10th annual World Toilet Day, an initiative to bring awareness to the need for adequate sanitary facilities.

Every day, some 1.1 billion people go to the bathroom without any type of toilet, according to the World Health Organization. And even with a toilet, facilities are not necessarily sanitary. WaterAid America estimates that roughly 2.5 billion people – nearly 40 percent of the global population – do their business unsafely, often in public spaces.

World Toilet Day is organized by the Singapore-based World Toilet Organization, which has 235 member organizations in 58 countries "working toward eliminating the toilet taboo and delivering sustainable sanitation." Here's a list of the world's worst nations in terms of people lacking access to sanitary facilities.

10. Niger: 12 million

Four in 5 people in Niger go in the open, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). That's about 12 million people, or 79 percent of the 14.7 million population in the north-central African nation. It's a slight improvement from the 84 percent of the population who did their business in the open in 1990, according to the WHO's 2010 update on progress on improving sanitation.

9. Brazil: 13 million

About 13 million Brazilians go to the bathroom in the open, according to the WHO, although this is only about 7 percent of the nation's population of 192 million people. Over the past two decades, about 80 percent of the population saw an improvement in sanitation facilities, allowing more than 50 million people to gain access to better facilities. Across Latin America and the Caribbean, the percentage of the regional population openly defecating dropped from 17 percent in 1990 to 6 percent in 2008.

8. Nepal: 15 million

The Himalayan nation wedged between India and China has low use of sanitation facilities, with some 52 percent of the 29 million population lacking access to indoor plumbing. Still, 31 percent of the population – or 6.8 million people – have seen improved sanitation facilities over the past two decades.

7. Sudan: 17 million

More than 17 million people, or 41 percent of the population, in the northern African nation of Sudan use the outdoors as their bathrooms.

6. Nigeria: 33 million

Africa's most populous nation, Nigeria, also has the world's 6th highest number of citizens going to the bathroom outside. Of 151 million people living in Nigeria, 33 million do it in the open. Still, more than 12 million people there have gained access to sanitation facilities over the past two decades.

5. Pakistan: 48 million

Of Pakistan's 177 million people, about 48 million go where they please. But Pakistan has seen incredible gains over the past two decades in increasing access to toilets and other sanitation facilities, with 47 million people no longer defecating in the open, according to the WHO's 2010 update on progress on sanitation and drinking water.

4. Ethiopia: 49 million

Seven in 10 people in Ethiopia's rural areas don't use indoor toilets. The landlocked nation on the Horn of Africa has seen minimal progress over the past two decades in increasing sanitation access, with only 12 percent of the population gaining improved services.

Next-door neighbor Eritrea, on the Red Sea, has one of the world's lowest rates of toilet use, with about 85 percent of the population defecating in the open.

3. China: 50 million

China has 50 million citizens going in the open. That's only 4 percent of its 1.3 billion population. More than 267 million Chinese have gained access to improved sanitation since 1990, according to the WHO. As the Los Angeles Times recently found, China's surge in wealth is also causing a spike in toilet purchases. Nearly 19 million toilets are sold in China annually – double the number sold in America.

China is one of the few countries where going to the bathroom outside is much more common in cities than in the countryside. Six percent of the urban population – compared to 2 percent of the rural population – go in the open, according the WHO's 2010 update on sanitation.

2. Indonesia: 58 million

About 58 million Indonesians, 26 percent of its population, don't use toilets. Southern Asia, home to 64 percent of the world's population that still uses the bathroom in the open, has seen the practice decrease the most – from 66 percent in 1990 to 44 percent in 2008.

1. India: 638 million

The world's second-most populous nation, after China, has the world's largest number of people going outdoors. Nearly 640 million Indians, or 54 percent of the 1.1 billion population, lack access to toilets or other sanitation facilities. In some states, the Monitor reported last year, the problem was so bad that village women started a slogan: “No toilet, no bride.

What Makes a Good Plumber?

So what makes a good plumber? is it training? is it just  knowledge or is it more?  In my career as  plumbing contractor I have employed several hundred Plumbers some great some not so great.  One thing I have learned is that plumbing is not a easy trade, the products that we service range in age from brand new to over a hundred years old and when they are in need of repair it usually means a crisis for the homeowner. No Hot water, the noise from toilet kept me up all night, My bathtub is clogged I can't use the toilet and worse.  A good service plumber must be able to show up at the job meet with the customer, diagnose the problem, put a monetary value to the repair and then finally repair the problem, The best service plumbers I have met are great people, they enjoy people, work hard and never give up.

I know a lot of plumbers who are very skilled but don't have the patience for repair work. In general it takes four years of training for a person to call ones self a plumber, but the training never stops in the service business every year there are new toilet designs, water heaters seem to change yearly to meet safety and environmental requirements, in fact most tank-less water heater have on-board computers to regulate temperature and efficiency. My Dad would be proud I finally made it into electronics .

When we make a repair we are usually in someones home, so protecting the homeowners property is crucial.  There is nothing worse than coming home to find the toilet fixed and foot prints on the carpet. In fact I believe that protecting our customers homes is probably more important than the actual repair, that's why we require our plumbers to use floor protectors and wear booties when working in someones home.

Honesty, being able to trust the plumber who comes into your home. Do I really need this? Is he charging me to much? A dishonest plumber can ruin a plumbing business. My favorite saying is "Good News Travels Fast, Bad News Travels Faster"  I don't have time for dishonesty, It's the fastest way to get fired at George Salet Plumbing!

I truly believe in our motto  "Skilled, Clean, Honest Plumbers" I believe this what every customer wants when they need a plumber.