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More Heat, More Problems

It seems to be common knowledge that freezing temperatures can wreak havoc for plumbing, plumbers, and homeowners alike. It appears as though everyone knows that frozen water in pipes can potentially lead to disastrous burst pipes. However, what about the effects of extreme heat on plumbing?

The Heat Is On

With more and more areas and people being subjected to extreme heat, this is truly a concern. According to a study by Columbia University, the number of humans exposed to extreme heat conditions tripled between 1983 and 2016, reaching ¼ of the Earth’s population. This is a staggering number of people that will be exposed to these hot weather conditions, which means that an increasingly higher number of plumbing systems are also subjected to these increasingly demanding populations and heat.

How, exactly, can the heat mess with your customers’ plumbing? Believe it or not, these high temperatures can cause your customers’ pipes to burst, just like freezing temperatures can! And it can also make trying to repair those exact pipes even more of a hassle for you and your crew.

When the temperature drops below freezing, it causes pipes to contract, and when the water freezes, it expands. This combination is what leads to those wintertime pipe burst disasters. When pipes are subjected to extreme heat, however, they do the opposite and expand. This can cause the structure of the pipe to weaken over time. When a large amount of water starts flowing through these weakened pipes, they can crack and burst.

The dry ground could also be at fault here if you live in an arid region. With the ground drying out and cracking, it pulls apart and shifts. If your pipes are running through these areas, they can be damaged with all the movement. This can cause your pipes to crack or pull apart at the joints as well and lead to massive damage and water bills if not caught quickly. With all of this said, ensure that your customer is aware of where their water shut-off valve is. You can get there to fix the damage, but you will not necessarily be able to get there in time to put a stop to the water before damage is incurred. The first person onsite, usually the homeowner or the tenant, should be able to take care of this issue as quickly as possible to prevent any massive issues.

Under Pressure

Another issue that can occur because of the rising temperatures is a loss in water pressure. This can be due to the expanding pipes in the heat. When the pipes expand, it gives the water more area to go, instead of directly forced through your customers’ faucets. This results in a lower water pressure than usual. However, if your customer is experiencing a dramatically lower water pressure, this is probably due to a pipe that expanded and either has a large crack in it or has completely burst. Again, your customer will need to know where the water shut-off valve is, and you will need to address this as quickly as you can.

Stemming from this expansion and cracking, is tree roots taking advantage of this nutrient-rich environment. The tree roots will find these cracks and grow inside of your customers’ piping which can lead to clogged drains at the very least. There are a whole host of issues stemming from pipes expanding in the extreme heat and you do not know exactly what you will encounter when you show up, so it is important to be prepared! Some issues can be smaller and easier to fix but other issues will need complete repair and replacement.

Time Isn’t On Your Side

When trying to repair these cracked or burst pipes in extreme heat, you are up against a whole slew of issues that normally would not even be a problem. One of the biggest plumbing obstacles your crew will encounter will center around their cementing work. Once the temperature hits 90° F on the thermometer, your solvent will not stick to your part well enough to create a waterproof joint. Piling onto this difficulty, your crew will need to work extra fast to try to ensure there is enough solvent coating the parts and to get everything into place in order to set properly. When it is a dry heat, the solvent will dry quickly, giving little room for error. It can also cause the joint to fail in the future if it does not dry as it should.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if your crew is working in a humid heat, the joints will take even longer to set. This will make jobs take longer because the pipes cannot be tested before the seals have set and cured. This can add considerable time to your crews’ work schedule and needs to be kept in mind when working out your calendar for the day.

If your plumbers are out working with piping in the heat, make sure that they try to find shade for the pipes if possible. If not, they can try to cool the pipes down before working with them utilizing cool, wet towels, and make sure that the solvent they will be working with is kept completely closed until your plumbers are ready to work with it. This will help it to maintain its structure and texture longer.

The most important thing to keep in mind while dealing with these extreme conditions is that you and your crew need to be out there in the heat. If the heat has that sort of effect on pipes, imagine the effect it can have on people!

Safety In The Sizzling Summer

Keeping yourself and your crew safe is the number one priority, and OSHA has created some information for those who need to work outdoors to prevent heat-related ailments and even worse, death. While there are not currently any federally mandated OSHA rules on working in high heat conditions, in late October of 2021, OSHA submitted notice that the organization will set rules specifically regarding heat injury and illness prevention.

It is recommended that you acclimate your crew to the heat and start off with them working shorter shifts during these hot temperatures. You can increase workload by 20% each day until your crews are accustomed to the heat.

OSHA also recommends offering shade for rest and supplying more water than you would think necessary! If your plumbing crew is going to be out in the hot sun, you need to ensure that they drink water every fifteen minutes. Drinking water in smaller amounts over shorter periods of time is more helpful than drinking more water less frequently. When temperatures reach 90°F or higher, your crew should be drinking at least four cups of water per hour. Even if your crew is not thirsty, they will need to abide by this rule. Hydration plays a key role in preventing heat-related illnesses and protecting your crew. Remind your crew to continue to hydrate after they leave the job site as well, as the amount of water that they lost while working is still not the same as their intake even at these recommendations. It is also important that your crew does not OVER hydrate, it is a thin line. If your plumber drinks more than 48 ounces in an hour, their sodium levels can become too low, and the symptoms are similar to that of heat illnesses.

Ensure your crew is trained to recognize symptoms of heat-related illnesses. While heat exhaustion is not as critical as heat stroke, if not addressed, it can quickly turn into the more severe heatstroke. Signs of heat exhaustion include headache, dizziness, nausea, and excessive sweating.

If you notice crew members becoming confused, faint, developing hot, dry skin, or sweating excessively, these could be signs of heatstroke and will require that your plumber receives immediate medical attention. Immediately hydrate them in some shade and apply ice or cold towels to your crew member immediately while waiting for medical backup to arrive.

With the summer temperatures ramping up, you and your crew are up against a whole slew of plumbing issues coming at them, each with its own unique challenges. Extreme heat conditions are something that you must make adjustments for, for the quality of the plumbing repairs you are conducting, the homes you are plumbing, and the break schedule of your crew. Make sure to allow for extra time when scheduling those summer days, from longer setting times to the need for frequent breaks and hydration, you do not want to push your crew too hard. Make sure to allow each individual to acclimate to the conditions before sending them out for a full day of work. It could mean the difference between a longer day at work and an employees’ health and well-being.

Written by Catherine Lauer – Marketing Communications Specialist, Supply Smart

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Change Your Water. Change Your Life.

Water filtration is a relatively new avenue for many plumbers. Concerns over water quality have surged substantially in recent years as more and more developments come from the CDC and EPA. However, water quality has been a known issue for years – based on taste alone!

Have you ever sat down to take a big drink of water after working out in the yard (or eating an entire bag of chips – no judgment) and the water just did not taste right? The idea of a nice cold glass of water goes from refreshing to “Why and how do people even drink this stuff??”

Water quality is an issue for many in the United States, despite having some of the safest public water supplies in the world due to EPA regulations. However, water conditions remain an issue in many areas. Whether due to a manmade error or naturally occurring elements, water can make it to your faucet filled with additional minerals and contaminants. Organically occurring arsenic or radon can wind up in your drinking water. There could be a malfunction at the water treatment facility and too much chlorine could be added to the water supply. Water could be perfectly treated when it leaves the water treatment plant yet could travel through pipes that have not been properly maintained which could lead to metals seeping into your drinking water. There are a myriad of problems that can occur despite stringent standards.

According to the CDC, there are many states where substantial portions of the population are regularly exposed to water with chemicals or elements that exceed the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) established by the Safe Water Drinking Act. This Act was established in 1974 to determine safe levels to ingest of over eighty contaminants that can be found in our drinking water, including chemicals, metals, microorganisms, and radiation. The allowable levels have changed significantly throughout the life of the Act, based on new research. This is an ever-evolving science as we learn more about the possible harmful side effects of ingestion or exposure to these elements.

Harmful Contaminants To Health And Home

Arsenic, nitrates, and disinfection bi-products are the most common contaminants found in public water supplies – some of which are natural and some of which are synthetic. Arsenic, for example, occurs naturally in some areas due to the specific type of soil and rocks. However, elevated levels of arsenic are also found in the ground in areas with a heavy agricultural presence, which will work its way into the water supply. According to the CDC, repeated exposure to higher amounts of arsenic can lead to a slew of health problems, including an abnormal heartbeat, damage to blood vessels, and a drop in the production of red and white blood cells – which increases the risk of developing certain cancers according to the National Research Council. The acceptable level of arsenic in drinking water was not dropped until 2006! Even with these newer standards in place, a study conducted by the EPA in 2009 revealed that public water systems in 44 out of 50 states tested had arsenic levels higher than the MCL. California was the worst offender, subjecting over 13 million residents to unsafe levels of arsenic.

To properly treat water and make it safe for public consumption, the most widely used chemical to disinfect drinking water is chlorine. We have almost all gotten a taste of this from the faucet when they are flushing the water supply. This chlorine can bond with other elements found in the water supply and create by-products such as chloroform which would end up streaming from your faucets!

So Many Options – Where To Begin?

Because of these contaminants, there are a plethora of water filtration options on the market. These products range from basic off-the-shelf water pitchers to whole-home solutions.

Of course, your drinking water is a good starting place to begin removing these hazards – but many of these filters are basic and not able to thoroughly clean your water of all the occurring elements. This simple solution will also not aid with any other water in your house. Thus, the water coming out of your shower, the water you wash your hands with, etc., are all still subjecting your customers to this poor-quality water. Water can affect health even when it is not ingested, which is important to remember.

In addition to health issues, these elements can have a major impact on everything from your water heater to your pipes and appliances.

Protect Your Home. Protect Your Health.

To achieve protection from scaling and health issues, a whole home solution would be the ideal place to start. Enter HALO Water Systems.

HALO Water Systems were designed by a plumber after initially seeing issues with water scale and the negative impact it had. This led to a deeper understanding of these elements and the effects that they can have on both people as well as fixtures and appliances. It is way more of an issue than just a bad taste in the water.

HALO offers a range of products for unique needs and budgets, all of which will improve the lives of both your customers and fixtures. For complete home coverage, like the HALO 5 to an inline conditioning insert like the ION-9 that attaches to either a tanked or tankless water heater to an under sink 5 Stage Reverse Osmosis with pH balancer at the tap, the RO5  – HALO has so many options that you can present to your customers as a way to both better their health and extend the life of their fixtures.

 

HALO provides both free support and certification for their line of products, which are available to contractors only. These systems are not available at any box store or online storefront and are only available through certified partners. This ensures the quality of the product and result.

Improved water quality? Check. Safer for the family? Check. Extend the life of your appliances? Check. Waterboy approved? Also, check. This is some high-quality H20!

Written by Catherine Lauer – Marketing Communications Specialist, Supply Smart

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Remodel Fever

We did it! We made it through the worst of winter. The weather is starting to warm up, and with rising temperatures come homeowners’ plans to remodel. We have all heard of Spring Fever, but what about Remodel Fever? Springtime is a popular time to start those ambitious remodeling projects, which makes sense since everyone has been couped up all winter long watching HGTV and building up a plethora of ideas. Whether it be a new deck or patio complete with an outdoor kitchen, updating those 1970s-style bathrooms, or creating a more inviting kitchen, your customers will be anxious to get moving on those major projects!

Spring starts the remodeling season off with a bang, and summer continues to be a busy time of year for these undertakings, with your customers hoping to have everything wrapped up by early fall. No one wants to have work done in their homes with doors opening and closing all day when it is cold outside.

The Great Outdoors

Let us start with the great outdoors. Once your customers get their new decking placed and that brand new grill installed to complete their perfect outdoor space, they will more than likely need a complete outdoor kitchen, which is a big trend in remodeling projects. According to a study performed by the National Kitchen and Bath Association in 2021, 60% of homeowners were adding outdoor kitchens to their remodeling list. The average Return on Investment (ROI) on outdoor kitchens is staggering and could entice even more customers to want to tackle this project. The average ROI on these outdoor kitchens can vary, with projects in warmer climates pulling in the highest percentage. These projects produce an ROI of 100-200 percent, the highest of any remodeling project, but could be as low as 55%, depending on climate and the real estate market near your customer. That possible ROI is a significant number, and you can surely assist your customers with the plumbing aspects, from the faucets down to the piping.

Multiple types of faucets are popular for outdoor kitchens, whether a wall-mounted faucet or the single faucet with pull-down sprayers and a single lever or a more classic faucet, it is hard to go wrong. It all depends on what your customers are specifically looking for. Sometimes the sink area is very compact in these outdoor kitchens so the space can help guide you to make suitable suggestions to your customers. The best option for outdoor faucets would be a stainless finish or a matte black finish with anti-corrosion coatings. After all, these fixtures need to be able to withstand whatever mother nature wants to throw in its direction, and perhaps even worse, they will need to stand up to the wear and tear from those maybe not so gentle outdoor cooks.

Bathroom Remodels Dripping With Personality

The bathroom remodel presents a blank slate and an ideal space to add small touches to make a significant difference. Bathroom faucets are an excellent way to add personality to your space. In the bathroom, you have bath and shower accessories, including the sink faucets. Your customer can decide if they would like to mix and match these fixtures or have the same look throughout. Too many options can easily overwhelm your customers, but you can help guide them. Bathroom remodels have an average ROI of sixty to seventy percent. The vanity and countertop areas are key players in how much return your customer will see, as they are the first things people focus on when walking into a bathroom, along with the flooring.

Updating your customers’ fixtures will help strengthen their ROI significantly with your guidance. There are several types of faucets and many types of finishes for your customer to choose from! Shower and tub fittings have so many variations, not just from a finishes standpoint but also from a water pattern standpoint. Showerheads with different options for different water pressure and patterns are an excellent option for a bath remodel due to their flexibility and broad appeal. A critical feature that you should look for in these fittings is water savings without sacrificing water pressure. This will help your customer while they are living at the house as it will save on their water bills, and it will help your customer when or if they decide to sell.

The Big Show

Now for the big show, the kitchen remodel. Many customers eagerly await the day that they can create their dream kitchen, the heart of the home. In the process of creating their ideal cooking environment (or the perfect place to order takeout from, we are not judging), they can also get quite the bang for their buck. The average ROI on kitchen remodels nears 80%! However, customers can achieve a remodeled look by going a simpler route by replacing hardware, updating paint, and replacing that old kitchen faucet that looks like it has been there since 1985. Small things like this can substantially change your customers’ appreciation and enjoyment of the space and even up the resale value of a home. Guiding your customer through what is popular and what they will enjoy but will also appeal to buyers when the time comes to sell will be a tremendous help as clients can easily get overwhelmed with decisions during a remodel.

There are so many innovative ideas to bring into the kitchen from a plumbing fixture standpoint. The conveniences that have been developed for your customers’ kitchens are nearly endless. From under-counter soap dispensers to help make handwashing those thermal mugs much easier, to faucets that will filter drinking water for your customer right out of the tap. You can also help your customers go completely water bottle free with Reverse Osmosis pH-balanced water straight from the tap, as well! For the coffee or tea drinker, you could suggest an instant hot water dispenser to allow your customers to get their fix faster. You could also suggest that your customer improve the water quality throughout their whole home with a whole home water filtration system that will extend the life of their shiny new fixtures and go as far as to ensure the longevity of their pipes – talk about ROI!

Finally, there is the centerpiece of their kitchen, the kitchen faucet. Everyone loves a good sink and faucet combo. The kitchen often becomes a gathering place in the home, and the appearance is especially important, and your customers have so many options from styles to colors and finishes. Depending on your customers’ personal style, they could pick a more industrial style with a spring-style pull-down sprayer faucet, the single lever look with included sprayer, the single lever option with a separate sprayer, or the more classic double handle faucet. There are high-arch faucets, straight angle faucets, and smaller arch faucets. The options are endless, and you can help guide your customers based on the look they are trying to achieve and if they are remodeling with ROI in mind or if they just want what is perfect for them, and, of course, their budget!

Remodeling is exciting, but also an extremely stressful time for your customer. They might not initially understand the amount of stress that living in a construction site can cause. With major projects, comes major stress. You can help to ease their mind with straightforward quotes regarding both cost and time. Understandably timelines can change but clear communication about any changes will help to ease their minds. Be patient with your customer as they may go weeks (maybe months) without an operable bathroom or kitchen.

At first, your customer may be okay with this (hello – eating out every day and no dishes!), but constantly having all these contractors in your house and not having a homecooked meal will eventually stress your customers out, and that is okay. Instead, sit down and have a talk with them regarding timelines and any important dates for them. Make sure that they understand timelines and show them products as they come in before installing them, if possible, so they feel they have control over what is happening and can approve products they paid for. All these things are telltale signs of not only a great contractor, but of a contractor that your customers will trust and want to work with again. Keeping a customer informed goes a long way and odds are you will retain them after establishing such a positive relationship.

Written by Catherine Lauer – Marketing Communications Specialist, Supply Smart