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FAQs

Sump Pumps

Any basement with items stored or finished basements that rely solely on a single pump to keep them dry should have some form of supplemental protection against flooding either due to a power outage or simply the pump fails. The potential damage and cost can be significant. See our section on recommended back-up pumps.

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Yes, the standby generator does nothing if the sump pump simply fails. You would not need a battery back-up type system because you have a reliable power supply, but a dual pump system is a must to keep you safe.

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Water Heaters

The first thing that comes to mind is your water heater is under sized.

If you're running out pretty fast, there is a chance that the heater has a bad dip tube, meaning the cold water coming in isn't being directed to the bottom of the tank and is exiting out the hot port of the heater. This is very rare, but does happen.

There is also a condition I call a lazy gas control valve, where the control which fires up the water heater doesn't turn on when it should. This is also very rare.

In most cases the heater is simply undersized and it runs out before it can heat up again. Many homes I'm in have a whirlpool tub or a larger soaking tub that can never be used to their full potential because they do not have an adequate water heater.

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To clarify, this is a device that instead of storing preheated water it heats the water as it is being used. They are generally About the size of a smaller carry on bag and can be mounted on the wall. The cold water goes in and when you open a hot faucet it senses the flow and turns the burner on and the water passes through a heat exchange loop which heats the water very quick and as long as everything is working it will keep flowing hot water and not run out.

First of all these are not new, the first one I ever installed was in the seventies. They have definitely improved, but in many cases they are just too expensive to justify. As you read on you'll see there is more to it than just switching out the heater, and by the time it's all figured out it is hard to justify and recoup the expense in many cases.

The first problem is sizing them. And quite simply from my observations the less expensive the less the output. They are rated by how much heated water they can pass per minute taking into consideration the temperature of the incoming and outgoing water. In this area the incoming water averages 55 degrees and the outlet you want to be at least 120 to 130 degrees and you want it to do this at 4 to 8 gallons per minute minimum ( even higher in some cases) to be adequate. Many are too small to run a second faucet or a performance shower system. There are some modifications needed to install in an existing home such as the piping, large enough gas supply and most need to be vented independently, either out the wall or through the roof.

Nevertheless, we have installed many of them, and there is a 90+% efficiency rating on certain models. Some of the advantages include:
  • First and foremost, they do not run out of hot water. This is very important in many cases.
  • They take up less room. You can reclaim some space if standard water heater is in a confined space.
  • They don’t burn a drop of gas if no one is using water, unlike a conventional heater which keeps its capacity hot at all times.
  • They have a projected life of about 20 years. Conventional heaters average 11 years.

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This is caused by the anode rod in the heater reacting to certain differences in the water. The anode rod is magnesium and is in the heater to protect it from corrosion. When this problem occurs an aluminum rod could be used as a replacement. It is not as effective as magnesium but is less likely to cause a sulfur odor. In some cases this still won't work. Then the only solution is to remove the rod completely. This may shorten the life of the tank but it is still better than having a sulfur odor.

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In most cases the answer is yes. The proper way is that they both be the same heaters and piped in parallel which means they both work equally. This would double your output. Things to consider are enough room, chimney and gas supply large enough to handle the extra load.

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There usually is nothing wrong; the water has to travel from the point of origin to the point of use. Depending on the size and layout of the house this can be a long wait for the heated water to get to you. A hot water recirculating loop would solve this, but unfortunately it is not very easy to add once the house is built. The best way is if it is installed during the original construction of the house.

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Garbage Disposals

We have found there to be two types on this subject, those who wouldn't live without one and those who won't live with one. There are several advantages to owning one, for instance it will cut back on food waste thus decreasing the total amount of Garbage, it makes clearing the plates simpler right at the sink instead of back and forth to the waste container. When used Properly they're not at much risk of clogging the drain. With minimum maintenance they stay clean with no odor.

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Yes. Depending on the size and horse power of the unit, the drain or water supplies may have to be moved, this is usually easy to do. They do need electric and an on/off switch and this too is usually not a big problem. Some are easier than others, but adding one is rarely impossible.

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We use In-Sink-Erator brand disposals (ISE). They are the most reliable and they offer many motor sizes, features, and sound levels and come with an in home warranty repair service that depending on which unit is purchased can be 2 to 6 years. All this at no extra charge. Give us a call for a quote on which one is right for you.

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Adding a Bathroom

Yes, in most cases. J.E.M. Plumbing has added many basement baths. Some possible exceptions are if there is heat or electrical runs in the floor making it harder or too risky to break up the floor.

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This is correct, but some things to consider are that you have to step up one stair to get in the bath. Many basements simply do not have the head room and this tends to look like a poorly planned add-on. And because the unit is not deep, the pump in the unit (needed to lift the waste water up and out) will cycle more often as compared to a deep ejector pit.

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Yes, J.E.M. Plumbing has also done many of these. Some are easier and some are harder depending on how close there is plumbing to tie onto. The harder ones are always possible but the cost can play a big factor.

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J.E.M. Plumbing does many existing bath remodels. Some common changes we run into: piping for a second lavatory where a single one was if there is enough room, upgraded shower or tub valves, relocating or replacing a fixture to modernize or for revised layouts, converting to a new finish such as brushed nickel or oil rubbed bronze to name a few.

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This is called shower shock and happens because the water flow has been interrupted; you need a pressure balance type valve that does not do this. Most newer homes have these already because they are required by the building code, older homes were not required to have these. The whole valve has to be changed to do this and may require the tile to be opened.

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