Ask the Expert

Q: What should the water pressure be in my home?
Q: What does it mean to be a GreenPlumber?
Q: The drain in my kitchen sink has a terrible odor to it. How do I get rid of the odor?
Q: I would like to conserve water, but don’t want to buy a new low-flow toilet. What else can I do to conserve?
Q: What can we do around the home to help save money?
Q: At what temperature should my water heater be set to ensure my family’s comfort and safety?
Q: What is hard water?

Q: What should the water pressure be in my home?

A: Legally, the pressure in your home should not exceed 80 PSI. In Chicago this is very seldom a problem since most homes are not likely to have more than 35 PSI due to pumping stations used by the city to bring in water from Lake Michigan. Often times, as your pipes age or as you go higher in the building, you can see pressures as low as 15 PSI. Fortunately, the codes require buildings over a certain height to have pumps installed to increase the pressure. In older homes there are many solutions to solve a pressure problem. Give us a call if you are having pressure problems and we’ll be more than happy to help!

Back to Top

Q: What does it mean to be a GreenPlumber?

A: Being a GreenPlumber is not just about saving energy and water. When you think about using less water it seems easy to do on the surface but many things have to be considered. For instance, when you introduce less water into the drain and the size of the drain stays the same, you may cause a problem with “drain carry”. Drain carry is the principle of having the desired volume of water to keep solids in suspension. If you have too little water the solids get left behind and eventually clog the drain. So as you can see, the GreenPlumber has to be an all around expert at plumbing design, and here at John Baethke & Son Plumbing we are the Green Experts!

Back to Top

Q: The drain in my kitchen sink has a terrible odor to it. How do I get rid of the odor?

A: To get rid of a horrible odor coming from the drain in your sink, first pour 1/2 cup of salt down the drain followed by 1/2 cup of baking soda. Next, pour 1 cup of white vinegar down the drain and cap it for about 1 minute. After this minute, pour hot water down the drain to flush it out. The salt cleans the drainpipe while the baking soda absorbs the odor. The vinegar creates a chemical reaction with the other ingredients that bubbles and helps clean and eliminte the odor. Use this method instead of using dangerous chemicals. It’s also very cost effective! Another great option is Bio-Clean, which is an enzyme maintenance product. Ask one of our technicians about it!

Back to Top

Q: I would like to conserve water, but don’t want to buy a new low-flow toilet. What else can I do to conserve?

A: One easy way to turn your conventional toilet into a low-flow toilet is to take a bottle of water and fill it up with sand. Then, place the bottle with the sand inside the tank of your toilet to displace that amount of water and cause the toilet to use less water when flushing.

Back to Top

Q: What can we do around the home to help save money?

A: There are some simple things you can do around your home to help save money. For starters, replace old equipment that doesn’t work efficiently anymore. Next, make sure you take good care of that equipment. We will visit your home about once a year and give your new equipment a check-up. We’ll make sure its working properly and not wasting energy. Also, lower your heating and cooling when no one is home. Finally, unplug your computer, microwave oven, and other items that use a lot of energy. Did you know that when these appliances are turned off but still plugged in that they still use up energy?

Back to Top

Q: At What temperature should my water heater be set to ensure my family’s comfort and safety?

A: The Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests that water heaters be set to a maximum temperature of 120 degrees to avoid scalding accidents. For homes with older dishwashers, a setting of 140 degrees is required to clean dishes properly. This usually isn’t an issue with newer dishwashers because most of them have a built-in water temperature booster.

Back to Top

Q: What is hard water?

A: Hard water is caused when household tap water contains higher levels of calcium and magnesium. Having hard water can prevent soaps and detergents from dissolving and even more costly, contribute to blocked pipes and damage expensive household appliances because of lime scale build-up.

A simple test you can do yourself is to fill an empty plastic water bottle halfway with tap water. Then add 10 drops of liquid dishwasher soap, securely close cap and shake. If the bottle fills with foam your water is fine but if after shaking the water turns milky white then you may have hard water problems.  If hard water is identified a water softener appliance maybe needed to remove the excess levels of calcium and magnesium.  Don’t forget a water quality test is included with every service inspection, or if you ask on any service call.

Back to Top