Category: Water Heaters

Family enjoying summer fun together with a sprinkler.

Summer Plumbing Preparation Tips

Warmer weather and longer days are finally upon us here in Minnesota. As we make the official transition to summer, it’s important to make sure our plumbing is as ready for the season as we are. Use these summer plumbing preparation tips to help protect your home from major problems down the road.

Summer Plumbing Preparation Checklist

  • Test outdoor faucets and hose bibs (spigots). If any of them drip or you notice leakage inside the home the first time the hose is turned on, there may be a pipe that froze in the winter, cracked when it thawed, and needs to be replaced.
  • Clear debris from yard drains and gutters/downspouts. Pine needles, leaves, and other debris can build up in these systems over the long Minnesota winters. Be sure rain and wastewater can flow freely away from the house to prevent leaks and backups that can cause water damage.
  • Remove obstructions from sprinkler system. Clogged sprinkler heads can lead to increased water pressure and potentially burst the system’s water main. Clear any blockages now, and remember to check for dirt, grass clippings, and other obstructions throughout the season.
  • Make sure your sump pump is clean and working properly. Dump a bucket of water into the sump pit to see that it activates, safely removes the water, and shuts off without issue. Make sure the line is clear of debris and consult the owner’s manual for cleaning. Contact your local plumber if you detect any issues to prevent potential flooding.
  • Check toilets for damage and operation issues. Thoroughly inspect the bowl and tank for cracks/leaks that need to be fixed. Make sure toilets flush properly – if the handle needs to be held down for a thorough flush or frequently runs after flushing, you may need to replace worn tank parts. Make these inexpensive fixes now to prevent costly repairs or replacements later on.
  • Inspect faucets for drips or leaks. They may seem small, but the extra (and unnecessary) water use will add onto your bill. Identifying these simple repairs early on can also help prevent more expensive issues in the future.
  • Check exposed and exterior water pipes. Piping located in basements, below sinks, outdoors, and in your exterior walls are more susceptible to freezing in the winter. Make sure they’re free of cracks and leaks.
  • Test your home’s water pressure. Make note of the water pressure when you take showers or use a sink. If it’s low, there could be a leak somewhere in your system that should be addressed by a plumbing professional.
  • Schedule professional drain testing/cleaning. Clogged drains can lead to backups and other major issues, so plan ahead. We recommend homeowners have their drains tested and cleaned every two years, or sooner should they notice a problem.
  • Pour a gallon of water into infrequently used drains (including floor). This will fill the trap and prevent odors from entering the home, and also let you see if the drains are slow and need to be snaked or cleaned to ensure proper draining in the event of a flood.
  • Check your water heater. Make sure the temperature is no higher than 120 degrees to reduce energy use and prevent scalding water. Drain several gallons of water to flush harmful, corrosive sediment from the unit. If you notice any signs of corrosion or leaks (i.e. puddles on the floor, rust or soot by the control panel) and/or your unit is 15 years or older, consider replacing your water heater.
  • Turn the main water valve off and on. Left untouched, the valve can become difficult to turn over time. Simply close and reopen the valve to prevent its parts from sticking in place in case you ever need to shut off the supply.

While it’s impossible to guarantee you will never face plumbing issues as a homeowner, being vigilant and understanding what to look for can greatly reduce the risks. Use these summer plumbing preparation tips to help keep your home safe while you and your family enjoy the season. From inspections and installations to emergency repairs and replacements, you can rely on the master plumbers at Robillard Plumbing for all your plumbing service and product needs. Contact us to learn more.

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Understanding different types of water heaters.

Understanding Different Types of Water Heaters

From showers and baths to dishes and laundry, hot water is a huge part of our daily lives. Do you know what kind of water heater is in your home? Maybe you didn’t even know there are multiple styles. If not, don’t worry – Robillard has you covered. We put together this guide to understanding different types of water heaters commonly used in our region. Read on to learn more.

Conventional Storage Water Heaters

This is the most common type of water heater. As the name implies, it heats and stores hot water inside an insulated tank, ready to be used throughout the home whenever you need it. Many homes use natural gas to fuel this style, though they can also be powered by electricity (which we look at next).

Pros and Cons

Conventional water heaters tend to be the most affordable, both in outright price and installation time/cost. They work around the clock to always have hot water available when you need it, though the actual amount at any given time will depend upon the size of the tank itself (typically anywhere from 30 to 80 gallons).

However, this means you are paying to heat water all the time, whether you’re using it or not. Conventional water heaters also require regular maintenance, such as routine valve testing and flushing the unit twice annually to prevent mineral/sediment build-up.

Electric Storage Water Heaters

This style operates in virtually the same way as standard or conventional storage water heaters, with the key distinction that they use electricity rather than gas.

Pros and Cons

Electric water heaters have low upfront costs and offer more energy efficiency compared to gas models, which experience energy loss during the venting process. Electricity is also more widely available, as not every house is connected to a natural gas line, which is a costly upgrade to make should you choose to do it.

There are a few things to consider when it comes to electric water heaters. For one, they have a relatively slow heating time compared to the rapid gas combustion heating process. Relying on electric power, your water heater will also be susceptible to power outages. Additionally, electricity tends to cost more than natural gas, which is one of the cheapest energy sources.

Tankless Water Heaters (AKA “On-Demand”)

As you probably guessed, tankless water heaters have no tank for storing hot water. Instead, they feature coils that rapidly heat water on demand.

Pros and Cons

Only heating water as it’s needed, tankless water heaters are much more energy efficient than conventional ones.  However, upfront costs tend to be higher. They come in a wide range of sizes, and you’ll want to consult a plumbing professional to ensure you get the right size for your household demands – you don’t want to be left with lukewarm or cold water because your system can’t keep up!

As there’s no “one size (and style) fits all” answer, understanding different types of water heaters is important for every homeowner. Be mindful of your budget and remember to consider the size of your household and hot water demands, primary energy source, and regional climate. Consult a professional to ensure you make the best choice possible. Robillard provides water heater installation and maintenance. We’re your local experts for all things plumbing. Contact us today to learn more.

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