Posts made in April, 2016

3 Features To Consider When Replacing Your Water Heater

A home’s water heater is something that can often be taken for granted until it’s not working properly. If your water heater is not working properly, you obviously need to have a professional contractor come out and look at it. But if it’s determined that you’re better off just getting a water heater replacement, then you will have some decisions to make. A water heater purchase could last you a decade or more, so it’s important to make sure you get the details right. Here are 3 features to think about when it’s time for a water heater replacement.

Has Your Family Grown? Then So Should Your Water Heater

Water heaters come in various capacities, measured in gallons. Take stock of how many gallons your current heater is and then take a step back. Do you have more people in the house today than you did when you moved in? Or are you and your spouse planning to start a family over the next decade? It might be worth it to go with a bigger water heater. Even if you don’t notice it right now, it can be quite frustrating when your shower starts spraying you with lukewarm water because the 4th person of the day is taking a shower. A larger tank allows your water heater to keep up with your larger family.

Energy Efficiency

Water heater companies have come a long way in working towards greater energy efficiency in recent years. If your tank is quite old, you may not even realize what you’ve been missing. Look for a tank with the Energy Star designation. Energy Star is a government run program that helps identify appliances that are more energy-efficient. Even if the energy efficient heater costs a bit more money now, it will likely save you multiple times that amount on your water and heating or electric bills in the months to come.


Today, water tanks are sometimes lined with a heavy-duty porcelain glass layer. Your water heater will build up sediment inside the tank over time and the corrosion can cause damage. A water heater that is glass-lined can combat these effects, lengthening its life.

If it’s time for a new water heater, take a step back and look at the big picture. Make sure you get a heater that is large enough for your growing family but energy efficient enough that your utilities won’t go through the roof. Finally, ensure that the inside of the tank is glass-lined to help fight the effects of corrosion. For more tips on picking out a new tank, contact a local HVAC specialist, like Marv’s Plumbing.

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Four Creative Uses For Recycling Your Cardboard Boxes

Whether you’ve just moved homes or you get your groceries boxed at the supermarket, you might have a significant number of cardboard boxes that need disposal. While you can break them up and cart them to the curb on recycling day, it’s important to remember that you can also transform the boxes to use them in different ways around the home. Using your boxes for storage for children’s crafts is ideal, but there are a number of other ways to recycle at least some of your boxes. Here are four ideas.

Package Stuffing

If you frequently send packages in the mail, you might spend a significant amount of money on bubble wrap to keep the items protected. You can make homemade package stuffing with your cardboard boxes. Break down a box and, with a utility knife, cut long strips of the cardboard. Crumple each strip up between your hands and you’ll have something versatile that can easily be packed around a variety of products. The corrugated nature provides support and will limit your need to buy packaging materials.

Homemade Gift Tags

For creative people who enjoy wrapping gifts in a rustic style, making custom gift tags out of old cardboard boxes is ideal. Use heavy scissors to cut the tags out of the box in any desired shape, carefully cut a small hole with a knife or scissors and then paint or otherwise decorate the tag based on the design you’re going for. You can then pass a piece of twine through the small hole and tape it to the wrapped gift.

Drawer Dividers

While you can buy plastic drawer dividers, recycling your cardboard boxes into dividers is a fun project to tackle. Carefully measure the width of the drawers in your dresser, desk or even your kitchen, and then cut pieces of cardboard to fit — you want the cardboard to fit snugly so that the friction between the cardboard and the sides of the drawer keeps your homemade divider upright and in place.

Homemade Photo Frames

Framing photos can be costly, but with a little effort you can build custom photo frames out of cardboard. Find a photo that you wish to frame, cut the right size of hole in the cardboard and make the frame as wide as you’d like. You can then cover the frame in wrapping paper or paint it — or, when decorating for children’s rooms, have your kids paint their own frames.

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Trusses Are An Important Part Of Your Roof

When your contractor is working on building your new house, they don’t just stick the roof on top of the walls. The walls are held up by temporary trusses until the permanent roof trusses are added and the walls are stabilized. Then the temporary wall trusses can be taken down since the permanent roof trusses take over the job of keeping the walls square, the roof stable, and the house standing.


A truss is generally a wooden structure and is almost always made in the shape of a triangle. The reason that the truss is in a triangular shape is that it allows the stresses to be spread equally and along paths that can be easily supported. The larger triangle of the truss may be made up of a series of smaller triangles. The reason for this is that having the truss constructed out of several smaller triangles to make up a larger triangle strengthens the truss, which in turn strengthens your house.

Truss Use

There will be a number of trusses that will make up the support for your roof. How many trusses your roof has and how they are spaced depends on several things, including how heavy your roof will be, how big your house is, and how heavy a load your roof may end up carrying from things like snow. The contractor will also have to make sure that the trusses are the proper dimensions for your house.

How Trusses Work

The contractor installs the truss by connecting it to the load-bearing walls of your house. The truss then takes the weight of the roof and the stresses that are placed on it and then distributes that weight and stress down through load-bearing walls and into the ground. Not only do the trusses support the roof, they also help to keep your house square. The weight of the roof on top of your walls without the trusses would not only cause the roof to collapse, it would also push the walls out of square and could cause the entire house to collapse. 

The contractor for your new house is going to do what they can to make sure that your house is as strong and long-lasting as possible. One way to do that is to make sure that they use trusses to hold up the roof and the tie the entire house together and strengthen it. To learn more about roof structure, talk to a roofing expert like those at American Building & Roofing Inc.

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Determining Who’s Responsible For Paying Repair Costs On Shared Sewer Lines

It’s strange but true: there are neighboring homes that connect to the city sewer lines using a shared pipe. While this type of plumbing layout may be more cost-effective for the city to employ, it can cause trouble between neighbors when repairs need to be made. Here’s what you need to know to determine who’s responsible for paying the cost of repairs on a shared sewer line.

City vs. Homeowner

The first thing that must be established is where the problem is occurring. In most joint plumbing setups, a line is run from the main sewer (which usually sits under the street) onto the residential property and then split between two neighboring homes using some type of T- or Y-pipe connector.

Many times, the city’s responsibility for issues with the sewer pipe ends at the property line. The utility company will take care of plumbing issues in the main line that sits under the street. However, the plumbing under the property is the responsibility of the homeowners. Before approaching your neighbor about paying for any repairs that the pipes may require, you should have a plumber establish where exactly the problem is.

For instance, you would call the city utility company for a clog in the main sewer line that is making your toilet back up. However, if roots from a tree sitting on the property are causing a problem in the lines running from the street to the homes, then you and your neighbor are responsible for fixing the issue.

Neighbor vs. Neighbor

If the plumber discovers the problem is in the shared plumbing lines, then determining who pays the cost of fixing it will typically boil down to what caused the problem. For the most part, the cost of maintenance and issues where no one appears to be at fault is split between both homeowners, even if only one of the homes is experiencing symptoms of the issue.

For example, if the pipe deteriorated to the point where it’s collapsed in on itself, causing sewage to back up into one of the homes, both parties would be responsible for paying for repairs because fixing the issue would benefit both homes, even though only one home is affected by the problem at that time.

On the other hand, if the people in one home caused the plumbing issue (e.g. flushing diapers, toys, and other non-flushable items down the toilet), then the homeowner in the house at fault would be responsible for paying the entire cost for the repairs.

Asking a neighbor to pay for repairs involving joint plumbing can be a contentious issue. You should have a plumber thoroughly diagnose the problem before approaching your neighbor about contributing to the cost. Having a clear idea of what the plumbing trouble is and how it impacts both homes can go a long way towards convincing your neighbor to pony up his or her portion of the price.

For more information about this issue or assistance with fixing a plumbing problem, contact a plumber.

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