We usually think of pranks and other practical jokes when April Fools’ Day comes around, but the real dangers to watch out for are damaging myths and falsehoods that cost you money, safety, and comfort.
To help dispel the many misconceptions about plumbing, water, and money, we’re sharing the most common plumbing myths and facts.
Plumbing Myths — Don’t Be a Plumbing Fool!
MYTH: Low-flow toilets aren’t effective.
FACT: Newer technology and design allows low-flow toilets to meet or exceed plumbing and flushing performance standards.
While it’s true that earlier versions of “low-flow” toilets and faucets didn’t always work very well, modern water-efficient products have improved tenfold. Many low-flow products have earned the WaterSense label by meeting the EPA’s stringent efficiency and performance requirements. These products save water while maintaining public health and safety and performance standards.
You can save thousands of gallons every year by just installing one WaterSense-qualified toilet, which uses less than 1.5 gallons per flush. Learn how much water you can save by installing WaterSense products with EPA’s Water Savings Calculator.
MYTH: Repairs shouldn’t cost more than the materials.
FACT: Sometimes, the costs of labor and repair will be more than the materials themselves. This depends on the project, but keep in mind the value of a good plumber to:
Correctly diagnose the plumbing problem and root cause
Recommend the best solution for your home
Decide which methods and materials give you the most bang for the buck
Install the parts properly the first time
Provide a warranty and labor and materials
Avoid general handymen for serious plumbing. When you call a professional plumber, you get highly skilled technicians who arrive on-time in fully stocked vehicles. Contact Gold Medal for fully qualified and insured to perform first-class customer service.
MYTH: The lowest plumbing quote saves you money.
FACT: Our natural instincts are to go with the lowest quote we can find. Unfortunately, this can lead to higher costs overall. You want to choose the contractor who will give you the lowest cost overall. While upfront costs are something to pay careful attention to, you also want to consider that these materials should be made to last a long time.
Often, the lower the upfront cost, the less guarantees and warranties are available. You want to compare the overall offer, including:
The quality of the parts
Any included warranties (labor and/or materials)
Guarantees and promises to “go the extra mile”
Many plumbers and handymen will quote a low price to get the business, but will provide a poor, Band-Aid fix. If you skimp out on the initial repair, you could be facing larger maintenance costs and more frequent repairs down the road. Additionally, halfway into the job, the price might suddenly change significantly. You want to hire someone who sticks by their upfront pricing and satisfaction guarantees. If a plumber does offer any guarantees, make sure you get it in writing.
Your home is an important investment. When possible, you want to focus on quality and durability over upfront costs.
Check credentials, reputation, money-back guarantees, and be suspicious of super-low prices.
Keep track of your local plumbing contractor for offers and deals throughout the year.
We also recommend scheduling a professional plumbing inspection very year to make sure everything is running safely and smoothly.
MYTH: Water-efficient products are too expensive and hard to find.
FACT: Affordable and efficient water products are not hard to find. In addition to the large selection at retail stores, your plumber will be able to inform you of additional models and styles, from low-cost to luxury.
Look for the WaterSense label and speak with your plumber about installing efficient plumbing products at your price point. You’ll quickly make back any higher upfront costs with the savings on your water bill.
MYTH: Water efficiency and water conservation are the same thing.
FACT: Efficiency and conservation are often used interchangeably, but they are actually two separate things. Water efficiency is all about how to use less water to do the same job or task. For instance, low-flow toilets and energy-efficient appliances use technology and design to use less water while maintaining or even improving performance. Water efficiency means doing more with less.
Water conservation is usually behavior and habit-based, trying to reduce water loss, waste, or use. Water conservation includes things such as turning off the water while you brush your teeth and using native and drought-resistant plants for your landscaping. Both water efficiency and water conservation are important for curbing our water use.
MYTH: Bottled water is healthier and safer than tap water.
FACT: It depends, but the fact is that bottled water is held to lower standards than tap water. While bottled water is regulated by the FDA, tap water is monitored by the stricter EPA. The EPA has stricter standards for some microorganisms and chemicals, such as E. Coli and Legionella.
In fact, a lot of bottled water is simply taken from municipal taps. If you want to improve the taste and quality of your drinking water, we highly recommend looking into home filtration, purification, softening options. Speak with one of our professionals for more information on whole-house or under-sink water filtration and water softening systems. We offer free water filtration system installation evaluations.
Save hundreds of dollars a year by switching to tap water. Just remember to schedule professional plumbing maintenance every year to prevent any water quality problems.
MYTH: Lead in the water is the city or utility’s fault.
FACT: Most often, the source of lead in drinking water comes from the plumbing system inside your home. If you think you may have lead in your pipes, either call your local plumber or get a lead testing kit from your local home improvement store and send in your sample to a certified laboratory.
Learn more about lead in your drinking water here.
Don’t be foolish! Contact Gold Medal Service for your free water filtration system installation evaluation.
Our experienced technicians will assess your water supply and provide you with water filtration solutions that match your home’s need.
If you run into any other questionable plumbing advice, don’t hesitate to contact the plumbing mythbusters at Gold Medal. We’re glad to answer any questions you may have!
Gold Medal Service loves to share green tips and St. Patrick’s Day seems like the perfect time to share our green lighting guide. With a little luck of the Irish, the only pinching will come from penny pinching.
What is green lighting?
Lighting is important for every home and business. Not only does it provide comfort and aesthetics, it can also make us safer and more secure.
If you are interested in creating a more energy-efficient home, the perfect place to start is with your lighting. And we’re not just talking about LEDs (light emitting diodes). There are a variety of energy-efficient lighting styles and functionalities available.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy [pdf], if every U.S. home replaced their 5 most used lights with ENERGY STAR-qualified bulbs, we could save around 8 billion dollars every year in energy costs and prevent the amount of greenhouse gases produced by ten millions cars on the road each year. At the individual level, changing 5 bulbs to ENERGY STAR saves around $150 every year.
By replacing your lighting with green lighting, not only will you save energy and money, these products are also designed to last around 6-20 times as long as traditional lighting.
If you are still using 60-watt incandescent bulbs, we don’t blame you. Walking down the lighting aisle can overwhelm even an the most well-informed consumer. We’re here to help relieve any confusion you may have so you can walk down the lighting aisle with confidence.
Always ask these questions before purchasing a new light fixture:
Is it ENERGY STAR qualified?
Will it accommodate different bulbs and beam spreads?
Does it fit with the surrounding lighting and architecture?
What is the main goal of the light (aesthetics, task, security, etc.) and does it solve the problem?
Is the fixture available? Can it be ordered?
Is it easy to find replacement bulbs?
If you are purchasing new fixtures, keep the main goal in mind. Is the main purpose to increase security, ambient lighting, task lighting, aesthetics, or something else?
We highly recommend speaking with a professional electrician about the different options available to you. You may not even realize what your options are.
Green Lighting – Light Bulbs 101
We’re starting with the most popular and well-known type of light bulb. If you have incandescent lights around, you’ll notice a tungsten filament inside the bulb that heats up to produce the desired light. The heated filament (around 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit) produces a warm, yellowish light.
Standard incandescent lights are very similar to the ones invented by Thomas Edison in the 1800s. Unfortunately, they are far from efficient, only converting around 5-10% of the energy they consume into light. The remaining 90% of the energy gets lost to heat. This may feel like an OK trade-off in the winter when you want heat in your home, but in the summer, your air conditioner will have work harder to dissipate the extra heat.
Halogen lights still use a tungsten filament, but it is surrounded by a small amount of halogen gas (contained in a quartz capsule). This allows the heat to be used more efficiently, producing a more whitish glow than standard incandescent bulbs. If you like the glow of incandescent lights but want a more energy-efficient bulb, consider halogen lights. They work great for task and accent lighting. If you really want to produce more light with less energy, ask us about halogen IR (infrared) lights. They use around 30% less energy than regular halogen lights since an infrared-reflective coating helps redirect heat back into the filament.
If you have any fluorescent lights in your home, they are probably in the garage or laundry room. You can recognize them easily by the long glass tube that houses the electric current and the distinctive buzzing sound they make when switched on.
While older fluorescent lights are known for humming and flickering, modern fluorescent lights can get rid of these unwanted inconsistencies. Depending on which type of fluorescent light you have and how it was installed, they can last anywhere from 5,000 to 25,000 hours and output 2-10 times as much light per watt as an incandescent light.
While fluorescent lights can create nice, warm color tones, keep in mind that they contain small amounts of mercury and should NEVER be thrown away in the trash. They are also very fragile and have been known to break easily.
There are multiple types of fluorescent lights available to you, so make sure you speak with a professional electrician first. They’ll be able to tell you which bulb (T12, T8, T5, etc.) is best for your lightness and brightness needs.
You may have heard of CFLs in the past couple of years when referring to more energy-efficient light bulbs. CFL stands for compact fluorescent lamp (or light).
They were designed to replace standard incandescent lights due to their improved performance, lower costs, longer lifespans, and smaller sizes. Usually, when homeowners and businesses are looking for ways to reduce energy costs and improve the lighting in their indoor spaces, they turn to either CFLs or LEDs. The two most attractive factors being longevity and energy savings.
When CFLs first came out, consumers were confused about which CFL to buy since you had to find one that fit the wattage and pin configurations. Recently, however, light bulb manufacturers have improved their designs to give customers more choice and knowledge in selecting CFL replacements.
The major drawback is still incompatibility with existing fixtures, dimmers, motion sensors, and other lighting controls. If you are selecting CFL replacements for any fixture that has a lighting control, such as a dimmer, speak with an electrician to make sure you are selecting the proper replacement. There are specific dimmable CFLs that should be used for dimmer lights, however, many times they may not dim as much and the color will be different.
You should also keep in mind that CFLs take slightly longer to reach full brightness (up to 30 seconds). This is actually a feature that makes them more energy-efficient. While CFLs may seem to be more trouble than they are worth, consider the fact that they last 6-10 times as long as traditional incandescent and use a lot less energy. Speak with an electrician first to avoid all of the potential troubles when selecting replacement bulbs.
Light Emitting Diode (LED)
When people normally talk about improving the energy efficiency of their lighting, they are thinking of LEDs. For many years, LEDs were used for exit signs, appliances, and digital displays. Now, they can be used for anything from flashlights to Christmas lights.
LEDs are preferred by homeowners and business owners alike for their durable, energy efficient, and nontoxic qualities. Many LED lights can last for over 50,000 hours, sometimes over 20 years!
So if you don’t like replacing your light bulbs, replace them with energy-efficient LEDs. And if you don’t like the whitish color temperature of LEDs, look for warm white LEDs for a warmer glow. LEDs now come in a wide variety of colors, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that fits your needs. Phillips Hue is a popular LED option because you can change the color range easily with the same bulb.
Keep in mind that when shopping for LEDs, the wattage will be completely different from what you may be used to with incandescent. Since wattage measures how much energy the light bulb draws and not “brightness,” the replacement LED will have a much lower wattage for an equivalent brightness. Look for lumens and degrees Kelvin to determine light output.
Lumens measure light output.
Kelvin measures the color of the light, or color temperature. The higher the Kelvin number, the cooler the color; a lower Kelvin numbers translates to a warmer color.
Watts are standard units of power of electrical power.
Don’t worry about doing any math though. Here is a useful chart showing the wattage-lumen conversion for LEDs:
LEDs are very versatile and can fit nearly any design. In order to earn the ENERGY STAR label, “light bulbs must provide at least three times more lumens per watt than standard incandescent bulbs” (energystar.gov).
Dimming the lights isn’t just a romantic move. It’s an energy-efficient one as well.
For instance, did you know that when you dim the lights by just 10% or so, you can double the lifespan of the bulb?
Luckily, most ENERGY STAR bulbs are dimmable, but check the package to make sure.
Which Bulb Where?
To know which light bulb you should use, it’s a good idea to become familiar with color temperature (measured in in Kelvin or “K”).
To make it easy for you, take a look at the infographic below:
Daylight Saving Time (DST) is synonymous with clocks. But what about your carbon monoxide (CO) and smoke alarms? When it’s time to change the clocks, be sure to check out those invaluable home safety features as well.
This March 12, beginning at 2AM, is when you change your clocks forward an hour, hence the term “spring forward.” After ensuring that you’re functioning on the proper time, spend some time on home safety. There are two steps homeowners are encouraged to take on Daylight Saving Time — test your alarms, and change the batteries.
Ensure CO and Smoke Alarm Safety for Daylight Saving Time:
1. Put in fresh batteries
Yes, batteries may actually last longer than a year, but when it comes to home safety devices, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Test your CO and smoke alarms every 30 days and replace them at least once a year. While you may hear that annoying beeping that signals the end of a battery’s life, sometimes the alert doesn’t work or dies while you are away from home.
You never want to be in a structure with nonworking CO or smoke alarms. Changing your batteries bi-annually is a conscientious move that will save you from any beep-induced headaches or undetected emergencies later on.
How to change the batteries in your smoke alarm:
Check the battery type and replace accordingly. You’ll most likely be looking at lithium or 9v batteries. Choose high-quality, lithium batteries if you can; this is not the time to buy generic.
Remove the smoke detector. A sort of twisting or sliding of the detector away from the mounting accomplishes this. Sometimes, you can open a battery compartment door without removing the entire unit. Check the owner’s manual for specific instructions.
Locate the battery compartment. The location is different in each model. Be sure to install the batteries correctly, following provided symbols or instructions in accompanying manual (“+” with “+” and “-” with “-“).
2. Test each device
Testing your smoke alarms is actually something that should be done monthly (set a reminder for the first of every month). If this task is not already on your monthly checklist, March is the perfect month to begin. Take advantage of Daylight Saving Time to get your home safety in order. By using the test button on the alarm, you can determine whether or not it is functioning.
Since you have just installed new batteries, this test will also let you know if you’ve properly installed the new batteries.
How to test your alarm:
Locate the “test” button on the device.
Press and hold down the test button until you hear a loud, piercing alarm (up to 10 seconds for ionization alarms; up to 20 seconds for photoelectric models).
The alarm will emit a sound, usually a patterned beep. This lets you know that the test was successful.
WARNING: Replace all CO and smoke alarms that are 10 years old or older!
CO detectors and smoke alarms last around 5-8 years, and should always be replaced after 10 years. After a decade, CO and smoke detectors can become erratic and ineffective. Check the owner’s manual for specific information on your model. Additionally, replace any smoke or CO detectors that have a weak or non-alarming sound when you conduct your test.
We recommend replacing your smoke alarms with dual sensor or photoelectric smoke alarms. Ionization smoke alarms are slow to sound when there is a smoldering fire. Photoelectric and dual sensor alarms are more effective and less susceptible to nuisance alarms.
For the best protection, your alarms and detectors should be “interconnected” so when one sounds they all sound. This is even more important in larger homes where an alarm can sound without anyone noticing. Ask us about strobe lights and bed shakers as well if anyone in your household is hard of hearing.
Where should alarms be installed?
Alarms should be installed in hallways and bedrooms, basements, and on each additional level of your home. They should be installed at least 20 feet away from combustion appliances such as furnaces and ovens, so as not to trigger a false alarm. One should also avoid installing them within 10 feet of high-humidity areas like bathrooms and laundry rooms. They should also be placed 6 to 12 inches below the ceiling and away from doors, windows, and other ventilation areas.
Proper placement and installation of smoke and CO alarms is important. For more information on installation and safety measures, contact Gold Medal Service. We offer smoke and carbon monoxide testing, installation and replacement services. Life is unpredictable; preparedness is key.
So, you’re wondering if it’s time to replace your faucet? If you have a leaking, loud, or spouting faucet, it may be better to make a small repair. There’s no noises, but you just moved into a new house, and—yuck!—the bathroom sinks clash with your aesthetic! Call Gold Medal Service for installation. Or, you could be in need of more information on faucet replacement because your sink is more than 10 years old and previous repairs just haven’t fixed a deeper internal issue.
For instance, if you have a screeching faucet, replacing the washer can be an inexpensive fix. A spitting and spouting faucet can probably be fixed by cleaning or replacing the aerator. On the other hand, you may have to replace the entire faucet if it’s time to update.
Is It Time to Replace Your Faucet?
Your bathroom and kitchen faucets are pretty durable and can last a decade or more. This depends, however, on certain factors such as frequency of use and how hard your water is.
Many homeowners will replace the faucets for aesthetic reasons as part of their kitchen or bathroom remodel.
Most of the time, however, faucets are replaced for more practical reasons:
They are over 10 years old and you are about to spend $100+ on repairs.
They look old, worn, discolored, scratched or cracked. They don’t meet your standards.
The repair is difficult and expensive. If you are looking at $250 or more for a repair, consider a replacement instead.
Internal parts are so bad, that replacing one part, such as an O ring or washer, doesn’t fix the problem.
We repair and replace faucets all the time. Usually, it depends on your preference.
Older faucets typically flow at a rate of 3 to 5 gallons per minute. Modern faucets don’t use more than 2.5 gpm. While installing aerators will slow down the rate and save you money on your water bill, installing new faucets can save you even more. You may even want to consider motion-sensor faucets, the ones you see in public restrooms. They are more expensive to install, but the amount of water you save will make up for it.
Simple repairs are preferable to full replacements, however, there are many reasons why you may want to replace it instead. The newer faucets have improved technology and added features that result in longer lifespans, less water waste, and more beautiful designs.
Different Types of Faucets
Ball Faucet — Most common in kitchen sinks, will occasionally leak due to how many parts it has!
Ball, disk, and cartridge faucets don’t use washers like compression-style faucets, but they do use O-rings and seals that may need to be replaced. If you have a leaking or sputtering faucet, simple repairs, such as washer, O-ring, and aerator replacements will do the trick.
If you have faucets in your home that need upgrading or replacing, don’t hesitate to contact a trusted East Brunswick plumber at Gold Medal Service. We can fix and replace all faucet makes and models. Just show us what you like and we’ll get it installed quickly and professionally.
Since each home is different, you will benefit from a full-home inspection and professional recommendations. Choosing the ideal unit depends on many factors, not just measuring the size of the home. Knowing a little bit about each of the different types of heating systems will help you decide which one you want.
Heating System Types
If you have an aging heating system that needs replacement, a variety of heating technologies are available as replacement options:
1. Forced Air Heating System (Central Heating)
In a forced air system, you heat up the air and distribute it through air ducts using a blower motor. The heat usually comes from natural gas, however, other heating methods can be used, such as electricity, propane, and oil.
The reason why they are called central heating systems is because heat is generated in a central location and then distributed throughout the home via a network of ducts.
There are furnaces that can be used as air conditioning systems in the summer and furnaces that can serve as backup heat for hybrid heating systems. If you decide that a central air heating system is your best option, get the highest AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating that you can get. You’ll get your money back in energy savings and a longer lifespan.
The most common type of radiant heating delivers heat through a system of hot water tubes installed into your floor (“floor heating”), ceiling, or wall panels. A boiler pumps the heated water through the tubes. Sometimes, radiant heat consists of electric cables.
Either way, it’s like having heated seats for your entire home. Wouldn’t you want warm floors on those freezing cold mornings?
Since radiant heat doesn’t require any ductwork, it can be extremely efficient since they deliver the heat directly, with no heat loss through air ducts.Additionally, radiant heating can be easier to create “zones,” separate areas of the home that each have their own thermostat controls.
While they can be expensive to install, indoor air quality will improve (no more air movement or dirty ducts) and your monthly energy bill will go down (operates at lower temperatures).
3. Heat Pumps
Heat pumps are used to both heat and cool the home. They use refrigerant and electricity to transfer heat rather than generating it directly like a gas furnace. As a result, they are often much more efficient than other types of heating systems. Unfortunately, they work best in moderate climates where temperatures rarely dip below freezing.
An energy-efficient alternative would be to use a heat pump in conjunction with another heating system (such as a furnace) to cut down your energy use.
4. Hybrid Heating
Hybrid heating combines the energy efficiency of a heat pump with the power of a gas furnace. Most of the time, the heat pump will operate to heat and cool your home. It is only during extreme temperatures when the furnace kicks on.
Hybrid heating offers year-round heating and cooling solutions adaptable to any climate. They are often the most efficient set-up you can have.
Most homes in the United States are heated with either a furnace or a boiler. Boilers use steam or hot water to transfer heat through pipes and out through radiators.
Steam boilers operate at much higher temperatures and are often less efficient and effective than their hot water counterparts. Oil, natural gas, propane, biodiesel blends, and electricity can all be used for heating the water. They need to maintain a certain minimum temperature all year to prevent frozen pipes.
6. Ductless Mini-Split (Zoned Heating)
Ductless mini-splits are a great option for additions and add-ons. Since they don’t require new air ducts and can deliver heating and cooling directly, many homeowners choose them for their guest houses, garages, and add-ons. Similar to air-source heat pumps, mini-splits have both an indoor and outdoor unit. The indoor component, however, is mounted in any room you like.
Homeowners choose ductless mini-splits for their flexibility and zoning advantages. Since each zone has its own thermostat, you can end up saving a lot of money by having the option to only condition one area of the building.
Once you have a new heating system, don’t forget to schedule annual check-ups. Consider signing up for a home maintenance plan so you never have to forget annual heating, cooling, plumbing, or electrical appointments.