Backflow Prevention Devices Targeted by Thieves

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Local City Wide Plumber handles backflow prevention cages and backflow testing.

Scrappers, thieves who steal metal objects and turn them in for scrap metal, are now targeting backflow prevention devices in area.

Backflow preventers are placed above the ground, usually along the street fronts, and tie into water supply lines to keep clean water flowing into homes and businesses around town. When backflow preventers are removed from water lines without warning, contaminated water can flow into your home or business, making water unsafe to use in any way, even watering your garden.

According to police reports, these scrappers cut open the metal cages around the valves to remove the backflow prevention device, a process that takes approximately 5-6 minutes. Thefts happen mostly at night and in areas like business and apartment complexes, and motels. They have most recently been targeting Tempe, Mesa, Ahwatukee, and Phoenix, Arizona.

Because a new backflow prevention device costs between $2,000-$4,000 and replacement is absolutely necessary to maintain water safety for your business, here are some ways to protect your building:

  1. Enclose your backflow prevention device with a cut-proof cage and secure it with a tamper-proof lock. Make sure your maintenance crew has the key.
  2. Mount the cage to a cement pad.
  3. Stamp, label or identify the backflow preventer with a recognizable code or name.
  4. Paint the cage and the preventer to match the area around it so it blends in.
  5. Plant a screen of greenery and/or a fence to camouflage the devices, making them more difficult to see from the road and passers-by.
  6. Set up cameras in the area to keep tabs on each device.
  7. Post a visible warning to would-be thieves, telling them that there is video surveillance on the devices.

Do you still have questions? Contact your local City Wide Plumber and let the pros do it for you. 480-966-8795

Choosing the Right Hot Water Tank

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Hot Water When You Want It!

Most of us are very used to turning on the hot water faucet and having hot water come out.

It’s usually so reliable that we hardly think about it…until the water isn’t hot. And then suddenly, you’re in the market for a new hot water tank.

It’s been a few years since you’ve been in the market, so here are some of the choices you’ll have to make when deciding on your next hot water tank:

We say “tank” because that’s the most common choice out there, but there are tankless water heaters, too.

Pro: Tank or storage water heaters are the least expensive to buy and last between 10 – 15 years.

Con: Tank or storage water heaters can lose heat. Look for an insulated one.

Size: Tanks come in sizes ranging from 20 – 80 gallons. Bigger isn’t necessarily better, but a good way to figure out what size you need is by estimating how much water your household uses during a peak time. Allow 12 gallons per person, but other items may be running, too, such as a dishwasher or clothes washer. Try this online calculator to more accurately gauge your use.

What kind of energy do you want to use to heat it?

The most common choices are electric or natural gas. Typically, natural gas will be less expensive to operate than electric, but it depends on your local utility costs. Talk to your local utility provider to learn more about which choice might be best in your area.

Green is growing in popularity, so be sure to check which options are viable for your area. In the southwest, solar heaters a great option because of the high number of sunny days and shorter winters. Although the cost of purchasing a solar-based heating unit can be pricy, the operating costs are low. Geothermal is another option, using energy from the earth, but like solar-powered tanks, the heating unit can be costly, while operating costs remain low. Propane water heater tanks are the longest lasting (up to 20 years) because they’re built with longer lasting heating elements. Whichever energy source you choose, be sure to check the energy factor or EF listing on its yellow energy use label. The higher the number, the more efficient the tank is.

Where will the tank sit?

Any tank you buy will have to fit in the space you have for it. Make sure if you’re going with a larger capacity tank that you have the physical space to accommodate it. Every water tank needs room around it for ventilation and future servicing.

If you decide that you don’t want a hot water tank, tankless options are out there. Take a look at some of the pros and cons for a tankless system here.

Overall, a new hot water system will be with your household for many years, and you’ll want to know which one will be right for you.

Call City Wide Plumbing 480-966-8795 and we’ll help you today.

What is Backflow Testing?

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backflow prevention cage and backflow

You know you have to have backflow prevention assembly testing done like clockwork, but what is it?

In the simplest terms, backflow prevention means maintaining the water flow in one direction.

It keeps waste water flowing away from taps and clean water running to the taps. Backflow prevention provides a continuous stream of fresh water. It also prevents contaminants, such as debris, gases or solids, from backing up into your water supply.

So what makes a water system backflow?

Low water pressure or even higher water pressure on a portion of the system can be enough to trigger a vacuum. This condition can force contaminated water back into the clean water. When a municipality backflow prevention assembly fails, you’ll be asked to boil all of your drinking water for the next 24-48 hours.

Testing is done to make sure the backflow prevention device is working properly. It consists of a full battery of diagnostics designed to measure and gauge how well your backflow prevention assembly works, and whether it remains up to your local legal codes.

Who can do backflow testing?

A plumbing company that’s specifically certified to conduct backflow tests. Companies who have their certification must renew their credentials to stay up-to-date on new requirements and policies that impact public drinking water, health and other important facts to help maintain local water systems.

 

DIY Plumbing

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plumber fixing sink

When you’re a homeowner, you know a plumbing horror story.

Even if you personally never had your plumbing go wrong, you know someone who has. Here are some ways to keep that story from coming home:

1. Know where your shutoff valves are. If you have a leak, you’re going to want to shut the water off before you’re floating.

a. Turn off water using the shutoff valves before doing any repairs.

b. Make sure all of these valves are in good working order before you need to use them.

2. A dripping faucet or a toilet that keeps running can cost you big money in wasted water.

a. For a leaky faucet, remove the handle on the tap that keeps leaking and check the washer. A worn washer may fall apart in your hands or be thin in some spots. Either way, it’s the reason why you couldn’t get the tap to shut off the water completely. Replace the worn washer and reassemble the faucet handle. Note: You probably want to take the old washer to the hardware store to make sure you’re getting the right size and type washer for your faucet.

b. For a running toilet, pull the lid from the tank and check the inside of the tank. The ball or flapper (located at the bottom of the tank) cover an opening, allowing the water to leave the tank when you flush the toilet.

  • The running toilet might be very simple to diagnose: The chain that lifts the ball or flapper is tangled, meaning the tank never fills with water. As a result, the water continues to run.
  • If the reason the water keeps running isn’t so easily seen, check the float. If it’s set too high, above the overfill tube, then the water in the tank will overflow into the tube, emptying the tank as fast as the water supply tube can fill the tank. Move the float down below the overflow tube so that water levels are about an inch below the overflow tube.

3. Maintain your water heater tank.

a. Drain and refill your tank at least once a year, clearing rust and other accumulated sediment out. This is particularly important if you have hard water.

b. Turn your temperature control down to 120 ͦF.

 

Call City Wide Plumbing 480-966-8795.

Our local plumbing experts are ready to handle your plumbing problems for you.

Troubleshooting a Stinky Dishwasher

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troubleshooting a stinky dishwasher

Nobody really enjoys washing dishes, but we all appreciate them when they’re clean. That’s why we have dishwashers. But what happens when your dishwasher starts to smell and you’re at that point where you don’t want to open it to put the dirty dishes inside? And what can you do if, after a wash cycle is finished, the smell remains?

Here are some ways to troubleshoot a stinky dishwasher:

Arm yourself with a bit of liquid dish soap and a wet rag, a few sturdy toothpicks, the dishwasher’s owners’ manual and:

  • Check the bottom of the tub, under the lowest rack, where food and other debris may accumulate. Remove any visible particles and wipe the area around the spray arm.
  • Remove the dishwasher filter and empty any accumulated food debris. You may want to rinse the filter before re-installing it, or dip it into mild soapy water and then rinse well with clean water before you put it back, depending on what your owner’s manual suggests.
  • Wipe down the door’s seals and scrub discolored areas with an old toothbrush. If there’s mold, wipe the spots with a soft cloth soaked in a very light bleach solution…but use caution with bleach. Bleach can corrode the insides of stainless steel dishwashers and break down metal and plastic parts. If you plan on bleaching anything, use plenty of water with it and RINSE WELL.
  • So where do the toothpicks come in? To clean out the holes on the spray arm. Clean the holes first using toothpicks to remove lime scale and other build-up; then using the damp cloth, wipe the spray arm. If you have two (one upper and one lower), make sure to clean both.
  • Run the dishwasher on its hottest cycle while it’s empty. Some folks add a commercially available dishwasher cleaner, but basic household ingredients will do the trick, too: an unsweetened lemonade mix packet or baking soda sprinkled around the inside; or a cup of vinegar on the top rack in a dishwasher-safe cup can help deodorize and bring your dishwasher back to a more neutral scent.

So what happens when you’ve done all of that and the smell is still there?

  • Check the water supply and discharge hoses. Your manual will show you where yours are located. Over time, both of these hoses can develop low spots or even kinks, trapping water and food debris in the lines. Rinse them out, wipe them down and then re-route to help keep water moving and draining properly.
  • Make sure the discharge hose is installed properly. It needs to be able to drain freely.
    • If you notice that you have a puddle in the bottom of your dishwasher after running it, re-route your discharge hose so it will drain completely.
    • A draining sink can cause water to back up into your dishwasher through the discharge hose. Re-route by raising the loop higher.
  • Check under and around the dishwasher for foreign objects. Children and animals have a knack for knocking small items under appliances.

Call City Wide Plumbing 480-966-8795. Our local plumbing experts are ready to handle your plumbing problems for you.