If you’re a new homeowner, have owned your home for years or are even renting, it’s never too late to begin learning about the systems that make up your house. You may already be familiar with some of them, like leaking windows, electrical features and yes, plumbing, as you begin to notice issues, make repairs or call in the experts.
One of the most important features in your home, especially if you live in an area with cold winters, is your hot water heater. If you live in a household with more than one person, and have ever run out of hot water mid-shower, it’s likely that you’ve wondered about your water heater’s efficiency.
How does it work?
Most homes use a tank water heater, which means hot water is stored until you’re ready to use it. Cold water enters the tank, and is heated by either gas or electricity depending on the type you have. When you turn on a faucet in your home, the stored water flows through your home’s hot water pipes to its destination. If your water heater is tankless, cold water simply passes over a heat exchanger on its way to your faucet, with no storage necessary.
Why am I running out of hot water?
It’s safe to assume that if you’re researching hot water heaters, you might be running out of hot water too soon, or are having issues with water temperature in general. If you live in a large household and have a tank water heater, you may just have more demand than supply as it works to replenish what was used. Of course, that isn’t always the case. Like any appliance, water heaters only last so long, and can begin to run less efficiently after so many years. Having your water heater serviced routinely by professionals can extend its lifetime.
Or, if it’s beyond its useful service life, it may be time to replace the unit with a new, more efficient model.
RLB Services are your local Northern Virginia plumbing experts. If you need a new hot water heater, or need your existing one serviced, give us a call today at (703) 330-0400.
Take Care of Your Plumbing – Items that Should Stay Out of Your Pipes
Though you may need to make repairs every once in a while, your home’s plumbing can generally stay in great shape for many years – as long as you are taking proper care of it. This usually means having your plumbing inspected, flushing your water heater and cleaning your drains, but it also means using your fixtures properly on a daily basis to extend their lifespan and even prevent potential plumbing emergencies.
Your plumbing can handle a lot, but some items should never be flushed or rinsed down the drain. Even if a few of these are obvious to you, here is a gentle reminder of which items should stay out of your pipes:
- Cooking oil in the kitchen sink drain. After you’re finished cooking with oil or grease, the easiest place to get rid of the liquid would be to pour it down the kitchen sink. However, oil can solidify and form blockages in your plumbing, and can pollute the water systems around you. Let the oil cool first, and then dispose of it in the garbage. Pour it into an empty jar or can if you have more than a few tablespoons.
- Hard objects in the garbage disposal. The easiest way to break your garbage disposal is to put hard food items into it, like dry pasta or fruit pits. Your garbage disposal is strong, but it’s not actually meant to dispose of all garbage! We regularly get calls to Manassas area homes to replace garbage disposals that still had lots of life left in them.
- Paper objects in the toilet. Toilets are for toilet paper only! Avoid flushing paper towels, cotton balls, feminine products, dental floss, baby wipes and other objects that can clog your sewage system and add more garbage to the city’s.
If you aren’t sure about an object that isn’t on this list, just throw it in the garbage! If you have concerns about your Manassas area home’s plumbing because you have been disposing of any of these items down the drain or toilet and into your pipes, give the professionals at RLB services a call for a plumbing inspection.
RLB Receives “Best Plumber” Award for Fairfax, VA
RLB is proud to announce that we were chosen as one of the top 9 best plumbers by Expertise! RLB was selected for the honor from a pool of 24 plumbers in Fairfax, Virginia.
The award states, “RLB Services Inc. is a fully licensed and insured plumbing company serving residential customers in communities throughout Northern Virginia for over 40 years. Bob Beckwith, the company’s founder is a master plumber and gas fitter and HVAC specialist. Plumbing services include repairing and installing all household fixtures, gas and electric water heaters, gas fireplaces, and boilers. The company also repairs and maintains drains, sump pumps, and energy-efficient products and fixtures. Certification for National Fireplace Institute (Certification No. 167711) specialist in gas products, Hydronic Specialist (licensed to do air conditioning but doesn’t do air condition) LICENSE #2705089491.”
We are so proud of the recognition, and thank our customers for trusting us with your homes and plumbing needs. And, of course, thank you to Expertise for choosing RLB!
Low Water Pressure – What Does it Mean?
After a long day at work, a workout session or a few hours in the sun, nothing feels better than a relaxing shower – except when you turn on the faucet to discover the water pressure is lower than usual. Depending on the age of your fixtures, and if this is a repeat problem or if it’s the first time it has happened, there are a number of reasons why your water pressure is suddenly low.
Clogs or corrosion. If the problem is new, it could be because of buildup or corrosion in the pipes, or in the shower head or faucet itself. Try removing and cleaning the fixture first, but you may need to inspect your pipes for cleaning or to be replaced. Remember, if you don’t have any experience with your home’s plumbing, call the experts first!
Broken regulator. Your water doesn’t flow through pipes on it’s own – you get the right amount of pressure from your water pressure regulator. If your water pressure has suddenly become low after years of use, it may be time to replace or repair the regulator.
Partially closed valves. If you’ve just moved into your house and the water pressure is unusually low, you may want to double check that the water valves are fully open, allowing all water to flow through easily.
High water usage. Often low water pressure can just be from bad timing. Do you have other members of the family trying to use additional showers at the same time? Is the washing machine or dishwasher running? There may not be an issue with the system, just too much water demand at once.
RLB Services are your local experts for plumbing needs in the Northern Virginia area. Contact us at (703) 330-0400 to find out more about our residential plumbing services.
Can You Do That Yourself? Residential Plumbing
With the current state of the world and social distancing measures in place, you may have noticed many of your friends and family picking up new skills or learning new things. Some have taken up sewing to help their communities by providing non-medical grade masks. Others are learning new languages for when it is safe to travel again. As many businesses have been closed, though, you may have begun to dabble in making your own home repairs as a project to occupy your time, or because you don’t want non-family members in your house.
As a homeowner, it’s always a good idea to become familiar with the parts of your home to make sure you can recognize a problem if one arises, and make simple repairs if needed. However, there are always a few areas that should be left to the experts, like electrical work and plumbing.
Of course, this rule doesn’t apply to every situation. For example, replacing an overhead light isn’t the same as installing a new power outlet. Here are a few situations in plumbing where you can do it yourself if you have the skills and tools:
- Replacing a sink faucet or shower head
- Fixing a running toilet
- Unclogging shower and tub drains
- Recaulking your shower or tub
- Minor repairs to a garbage disposal
These tasks are all relatively simple, and won’t likely lead to bigger issues unless something REALLY goes wrong. It’s the bigger, more complicated tasks that can lead to home damage if done incorrectly. Unless you have the knowledge and training, leave these tasks up to the professionals:
- Sewage issues
- Remodeling projects and new appliance and fixture installations (including hot water heaters)
- Pipe leaks and repairs
- Shower and tub valve replacement
- Replacing a sink or tub, particularly into a different location
- Any work that requires a permit
- Water line repairs
It can be tempting to make these changes on your own, but one misstep can turn a relatively small problem into a major one. If you are ready to call in the experts for one of the reasons listed above, RLB Services is here to help! Contact us at (703) 330-0400 to find out more about our residential plumbing services.
Now Is the Time for Efficient Hot Water
What is the best way to remove and kill germs? Soap and hot water, of course! As the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to expand around the globe and across the United States, the CDC recommends frequent hand-washing for 20 seconds, and washing clothing in hot water to prevent the virus from spreading in your home after you’ve been to the grocery store or anywhere else in public. These are small, but effective ways we can “flatten the curve” and do our part, along with social distancing.
For even the smallest households, frequent hand washing, laundry days and showers mean an increase in hot water usage. Hot water and soap is the most effective way to rid of germs and help break down a virus, so now is the time to make sure your home can produce hot water efficiently and never run out.
If you find that your hot water heater isn’t running as efficiently as it used to, it may simply be time to have it serviced. A water heater flush ensures your unit is running efficiently, has no sediment and is leak free. Taking the time to flush the system each year can keep debris from finding its way into your pipes, and keep your pressure at the best possible level. You may not realize your water heater isn’t running at full capacity until you’ve had it flushed!
Replacement. Go tankless!
If your hot water heater is older, or a less efficient model, it may be a better idea to replace the unit entirely. With a tankless water heater, you never have to wait for hot water, saving you time and money on your utility bills – especially with an increase in water usage already.
RLB Services is here for you and your home. Contact us at (703) 330-0400 to talk with one of our experts about our residential plumbing services.
The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Guide
Though spring doesn’t officially begin until mid-March, the end of February often marks a change for most people. Flowers and trees are beginning to bloom early after a mild winter, plans for vegetable gardens begin and it’s time to get rid of the winter dust and gloom that can collect around the house after the post-holiday season. Spring cleaning is a yearly ritual that can help shift the atmosphere in your home, and even your mood.
Of course, at RLB, we are all about taking care of your plumbing and fixtures, and spring cleaning is a great opportunity to deep-clean your bathroom.
Don’t get overwhelmed – start small!
It can be easy to continue putting off your spring cleaning when you walk into your bathroom and see just how much there is to do. The best way to take on this task is by starting small, getting rid of clutter and making space to move onto bigger projects:
- Begin by clearing out dirty laundry, towels and your shower curtain to be washed.
- Next, throw away or recycle old, out-of-date products, mostly empty shampoo bottles and other items you haven’t used in months.
- Organize the items you decide to keep.
Time to scrub.
Once the small stuff is out of the way, it’s time to move on to the tough part. Make sure you have all of the cleaners you need on-hand before you begin, so you can get everything done in one go. Remember, this is a deep clean – not your weekend once-over. Scrub away mineral build up on your shower glass and faucets, look for mildew along caulking, dust ceiling and floor vents and sanitize door and cabinet handles.
Spring cleaning doesn’t always just mean cleaning. If you have repairs that you’ve been meaning to make but just haven’t gotten around to, now is the time to fix that leaky faucet or toilet that never stops running. Whatever the issue is, RLB can help! Contact us at (703) 330-0400 to talk with one of our experts about our residential plumbing services.
What Does A Modern Bathroom Look Like?
If your home is 15 years or older and you haven’t made any updates to your bathroom, chances are that both the style and fixtures are outdated. Whether thinking about selling your home, want to increase its value and efficiency, or simply desire the space and comfort you’ve been dreaming of, this year is the perfect time to upgrade your bathroom with modern features. But, what does a modern bathroom even look like? Use these ideas to get started on your planning:
- A space of your own. Are you still sharing sinks with your spouse? Fighting for the mirror before work, battling to brush your teeth, and claiming counter space when there is little to go around? A modern master bathroom often features two sinks, and sometimes separate vanity mirrors to give each person a space of their own. It’s an easy upgrade to take your bathroom from tolerable to comfortable
- Let there be light. Nothing is worse than waking up in the morning and heading into a bathroom with harsh, dim yellow lighting to get ready for the day. Add fixtures with brighter, white lighting to reach those darker corners, and consider using more glass when renovating your shower, and even more windows. Mirrors can also be helpful to reflect light and make smaller spaces feel bigger and more open.
- Shapes and colors. When it comes to modern bathrooms, the biggest factor is often the design – shapes and colors. “Modern” designs usually feature geometric shapes and neutral color palettes with grays and whites. Clean lines and simple colors can transform your bathroom into a spa-like retreat and every day can feel like you’re waking up in a luxury hotel – without the price.
Whether you’re adding new fixtures to renovate your bathroom this year, or simply need your leaky pipes fixed, the experts at RLB are here for all of your residential plumbing needs. Learn more about the services we offer here, and give us a call today!
Stay Warm This Winter
By this time in December, you probably know whether your home is running efficiently enough to keep you warm and comfortable all through the winter season. Do your showers end prematurely, not because you’re ready to get out, but because the water is getting colder and colder? Are you constantly bundled up in sweaters and thick socks in the house? While it may seem manageable, it’s more likely a sign that your heating appliances are showing their age and may need repairs or replacement.
The first step is to have your appliances and HVAC system inspected. If they aren’t running as well as they have in the past and you aren’t keeping up with annual inspections, it could be a smaller issue that can be easily fixed. However, if the appliance itself is 15 years or older, it may be time for a replacement. Newer technology for water heaters means that your bills may be lower, and you’ll have access to hot water even faster, and for longer. No more letting the faucet run before washing dishes, or waiting for the shower to warm up when you’re on a time crunch to get to work. The same goes for gas boilers – A gas boiler that’s more than 10 years old can be functioning perfectly but only working at 65% or less efficiency. Newer gas boilers are available that operate above 90% efficiency.
Another option is to add more sources of heat. This can mean adding more vents for better circulation of central heat through your home, adding more furnaces for gas heat or even adding a fireplace to your living room for maximum comfort and warmth on cold winter nights.
If your home isn’t as warm and comfortable as you’d like it to be, turn to the experts at RLB Services for hot water heaters, gas boilers and fireplaces. Give us a call today at (703) 330-0400.
We Are Thankful… For You!
Can you believe the year is almost over already? November marks the beginning of the busy season for many families and households – completing tasks at work before the year ends, preparing goals and planning for 2020, getting your home ready to host a family holiday get-together and more. However, it’s also the month to take a little extra time and give thanks and reflect on what, and who, made your year special. We often do this at home, but here at RLB, we want to make sure our customers know who we are most thankful for… you!
Thank you to each and every customer who has trusted us with their home, whether it’s new plumbing fixture installations for your bathroom remodel, or leak repairs. Without you, we wouldn’t be who we are as business today! We always enjoy visiting our customers and their families (and pets) and helping make their homes more efficient, or making everyday life easier with faster, longer-lasting hot water or modern fixtures. We cannot express how rewarding it is to give our clients the peace of mind that their plumbing is free of issues and that they can relax a little more over the holidays, or any other time of year.
We hope you will continue to use RLB Services for your residential plumbing needs into 2020 and onward. Please know we will always take great care of your friends, extended family and co-workers, too, when they have plumbing needs. Our goal is to continue growing to give our customers the best experience possible, and we look forward to you joining us! We hope you have a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends.
If you have residential plumbing needs that should be addressed before the holidays, or simply want to upgrade your home with a gas fireplace or new water heater, now is the time to give us a call. Contact us at (703) 330-0400 to talk with one of our experts about our residential plumbing services.