ABC Blog

Conserve Water to Prevent Higher Rates in San Antonio

A classic cause and effect relationship

For two decades, San Antonio has struggled with perennial water shortages and persistent price pressures. Despite serving as a model for other southwestern cities, it’s unclear how much more the city can do to keep rates affordable—or even ensure that enough water reaches its residents and business owners. The next line of defense against urban drought might be locals who install low-flow fixtures, repair leaky faucets and conduct other important repairs.

The Lay of the Land (and Water)

Among American cities with limited water resources, San Antonio has long been regarded as a pioneer. The city was one of the first to see its water allocation curtailed as a result of a court order, and the amount that it pumps from the nearby Edwards Aquifer is likely to be capped in the face of competing sources like ranchers and endangered animal species. As a result, it’s a … Read Full Post »

Making the Big Switch From Traditional to Tankless

Stretching your energy dollars further

By now, you’ve probably heard something about the benefits of tankless water heaters. Compared to traditional water heaters, these pieces of equipment have plenty of positive implications for your home’s energy bills as well as the general state of your utility areas. While installing a tankless water heater isn’t rocket science, it does help to keep a few commonsense tips in mind as you embark on this money-saving project.

How Do Tankless Water Heaters Work?

Also known as “continuous flow” heaters, tankless water heaters live up to their name. Instead of taking in heating and storing water from an incoming main line, tankless water heaters deliver powerful blasts of heat that warm up the water that flows into a structure from outside without halting its movement. Since stored water has much more time to lose heat than rapidly flowing water, this dramatically reduces the amount of energy that … Read Full Post »

Castle Moats Were Sewers, Too

Not much of a fairy tale

It turns out that those fairy tales you read as a child all left out a very important truth: The moats that surrounded medieval castles weren’t just useful defenses against attack; they were also open sewers into which the castles’ primitive waste disposal systems flushed human excrement and other foul substances. The next time you have a plumbing problem, be thankful you don’t live near one of those.

More About Moats

The history of sewers is fraught with misconceptions and legends. However, it’s true that moats played a big role in sanitation for medieval Europe’s nobility. Whereas commoners used communal outhouses or open, out-of-the-way latrines, residents of Europe’s castles used rudimentary plumbing systems called garderobes. These were little more than holes or short tubes that dropped waste directly into the castle’s moat or onto a hillside that led down into the pool. Needless to say, moats were … Read Full Post »

The Risk Report: Why You Should Never Hire an Unlicensed Plumber

It’s time to have work done on your home’s plumbing system. Maybe you need to have emergency repairs completed or you want to remodel your bathroom. Whatever the case, many homeowners dread going through the process of collecting estimates and hiring a plumber. However, taking the time to choose a licensed plumber who can truly meet your demands is key to ensuring the successful outcome of the project and protecting your home’s value. Don’t be lured in by unlicensed contractors who offer to work at cut rates.

Is Hiring a Licensed Plumber Really Important?

Unlicensed plumbers and contractors target homeowners throughout the greater San Antonio area. These unlicensed workers often attract new clients by promising to complete work at much lower rates than other companies. If you’re looking for a plumbing professional to complete work in your home, it’s important to be very wary of unlicensed plumbers. Because they haven’t proven their … Read Full Post »

What’s Going On Under Your Sink?

Settling the score in the kitchen and bathroom

When you think about plumbing problems, your first thought probably involves your home’s toilet. For multiple reasons, toilets tend to cause a host of visible problems with relative frequency. Meanwhile, temperature swings can cause poorly insulated pipes to burst in your basement or under your yard. However, there’s another class of plumbing problems that doesn’t get the attention it deserves: leaks, breaks and clogs in kitchen and bathroom sinks.

Clogged Sink Drains

This is a common problem in the bathroom and kitchen. Although a slow drain may be little more than an inconvenience for intrepid homeowners, clogs can eventually cause damaging backups. Worse, they may even result in burst or leaky pipes underneath your sink. To prevent these negative effects, attack the problem as soon as it becomes apparent. If you don’t want to use harsh drain-opening chemicals, opt for a handier approach. Simply remove … Read Full Post »

Three Quick Home Plumbing Upgrades You’ll Love

Whether you’re the go-to neighborhood handyman or can’t tell a tire iron from a toilet seat, you probably don’t give your DIY skills enough credit. With a little preparation and a lot of discipline, it’s possible to execute many straightforward plumbing upgrades and fixes without calling on a professional or buying special tools. We outline three simple tasks that take less than half a day and leave your home in even better shape.

Upgrading Faucets with Aerators and Other Water-Saving Devices

If your home suffers from low water pressure or has wasteful, outdated faucets, you don’t have to replace your entire piping system. Instead, tack a simple aerator onto your faucet head to increase the perceived speed at which water shoots out of the tap. You can buy aerators at most home improvement stores, and installing them simply demands some manual twisting or clipping.

If you’re more interested in sprucing up your faucet’s … Read Full Post »

Going Tankless at Home

How Tankless Water Heaters Can Improve Your Austin Home

To the extent you think about your water heater at all, odds are that you think of a big, bulky contraption with a large tank that stores hot water. Thanks to modern technology, though, you can get rid of the tank and save plenty every year.

Unlike an ordinary water heater, a tankless system heats water on demand. As soon as you turn on a faucet or start up an appliance that uses hot water, cold water flows into the heater. The system warms it up directly using gas or electric heat, then pumps the hot water right where it’s needed. As soon as you shut off the hot water, the system shuts down, too.

The biggest upshot of such a system is that there’s no power wasted heating up water that you don’t really need. A tankless heater gives you exactly as much … Read Full Post »

Does Your Home Have a Deep Dark Plumbing Secret?

If you’ve owned a home for any length of time, you’ve probably dealt with a plumbing problem or two. You may even be handy with routine plumbing tasks like tightening fixtures or unclogging toilets. However, your water system’s woes may be the result of more serious issues that won’t go away without professional assistance. Learn more about how to tell if your home has a deep, dark plumbing secret.

Common Plumbing Problems

Along with a hefty dose of elbow grease, plenty of plumbing problems can be fixed with a plunger, snake or pliers. Unfortunately, many others may be signs of more serious issues that can’t be remediated without professional assistance. These might include:

• Corroded pipes
• Blockages caused by mineral accumulation
• Tree root damage
• Burst pipes
• Intake line issues and sewer collapse

Quick Fixes That Don’t Work

These problems can manifest themselves in many different ways. When faced with a leaky or blocked pipe, many … Read Full Post »

Five Everyday Activities That Could Be Destroying Your Plumbing

Every day, you might be making some simple mistakes that could be destroying your plumbing. As much as you might like to become best friends with the plumbers in Austin, we’d like to offer some helpful tips to avoid major plumbing disasters.

Some plumbing issues are just annoying, while others can actually pose a hazard to your family’s health. Minor issues quickly escalate into expensive ordeals if not dealt with properly. Follow these tips to avoid learning the hard way.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Hair clogs are a common cause of blocked drains in showers, bathtubs and sinks. Avoid brushing your hair right over the sink, and always put the hair from your comb or brush directly in a trashcan. When washing your hair, be mindful of the hair that you lose, and gather it after each shower or bath. Keep a small trashcan nearby so that you can quickly dispose of the … Read Full Post »

Things That Ruin a Garbage Disposal

Before you toss that banana peel down the drain, find out which things can bring your garbage disposal to a grinding halt

The garbage disposal is responsible for more residential plumbing calls than any other single device. By knowing which foods are fine for the disposal and which aren’t, you can avoid the expensive fees of the handyman.

The Power of Cleaning

You can give your garbage disposal a lot of help simply by running cold water. This will help flush food through the drainage lines and prevent a clog from forming. Adding ice and salt to your disposal every so often can keep it clean and sparkling.

Things That Ruin a Garbage Disposal

By keeping the following things out of the drain, you can avoid expensive appliance repair:

  • Bones

The remnants of chicken tenders may be fine for the disposal, but you should avoid putting bones of any kind down the drain. Even very small bones … Read Full Post »