Lynn D'Avolio
J. Barrett & Company | 801-597-2857 | lynn1@soldbylynn.com


Posted by Lynn D'Avolio on 6/18/2019

Do you live in a house that has hard water? You know, where you get those white rings on the counters and the faucets have this grungy, crusty build up. While you’re at the DIY store, you see this free water testing kit and decide its time to learn what is going on. You get the results, and the company asks to come out and give you a further evaluation as well as introduce you to a solution. The time this takes is well worth the process because it gives you valuable information about your water and how to fix it. Unfortunately, the typical solution is a $6,000 to $8,000 fix. Now maybe that is in your budget, and that is great, but most of the time that solution still involves the use of salt.

There is another way 

Alternatives exist where the installation cost may be way less—although it might be the same depending on how large of a system you get. But more importantly, it is a solution that doesn’t involve the constant purchase of salt. 

A recent addition to the water treatment lineup includes many different brands on salt-free water conditioners or de-scalers. Typically, a non-salt system consists of a large particle filter and a multiple-part canister. The system works by neutralizing minerals such as magnesium and calcium by changing their ionic makeup so that these minerals do not stick to pipes and other surfaces. They do remain in the water, though, so if you allow a pool of water to dry, the minerals will form a powdery residue that easily brushes off.

DIY Installation?

Installation is not complicated, but if you have little to no experience plumbing, you should hire a local plumber or certified installer to do the project. It is essential to put it in-line with the water going the correct direction (into the water heater, for example), so you’ll need to know which way the pipe is flowing where you add the joint.

Does it work?

The results are different from a water softener. You’ll see a reduction of the calcium in the water. Your skin will feel less dried out, and dish soap will create larger amounts of suds. You will not have that slippery feel of salt-softened water though. Most importantly, you can drink the water and water your plants with the water directly from the tap. 

Is it green?

The environment gains because there is no back-washing of the system like with traditional salt-based softeners, so you are not dumping salt water into the drainage system, and you are not using a bunch of extra water. 

What does it cost to maintain?

The cost to operate it once it after installation is very low. There is no salt to purchase every month. You only have to change the large particle filter every 6 to 12 months, depending on your water source. You may even receive extra filters with your installation, so check with the dealer.

The cost to DIY the project includes the purchase of the system and a few fittings to make the connection into your water pipes. Check with your real estate professional to see if adding a water conditioner system will increase the value of your home for resale.




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Posted by Lynn D'Avolio on 3/5/2019

If you’ve ever lived in the country, or even inside city limits but beyond the reach of the city’s sewer system, you may not know much about a septic system and how to take care of it. Just the idea that a home has a septic tank might scare you away and send you looking for a house with a sewer connection. The truth is, when properly cared for, a septic system can last for decades. And care for your system isn’t all that hard. Just remember a few basic rules.

How it works

A septic system uses bacteria and enzymes to breakdown solid waste that enters a large, typically watertight concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene tank. As the solid and liquid waste flows into the tank, the solids settle on the bottom to for “sludge” while the oils and grease float to the top to form “scum.” The wastewater (called “effluent”) flows out from between the sludge and the scum into a drain field (long, perforated pipes buried in gravel trenches spread across a large area) to be evaporated or percolate into the ground.

Inside the tank, bacteria break down the solid waste. To handle the scum, regularly adding enzymes designed for septic systems can break down the scum so that it becomes solid (to settle to the bottom) and liquid (to flow out to the drain field).

Installation

If your septic tank is not yet installed—that is, if you’re building on site in an area without a city sewer connection—make sure you apply for the proper permit. Officials from your county or city building department or health department most likely will need to perform a soil or percolation test (sometimes referred to as a perc test). They need to determine if the ground can support a septic system. In addition to the septic tank, septic systems need either a drainage field or a scum pond, so you need plenty of space for the system to work.

Septic system size varies depending on the size of the home and the number of bathrooms it has, so if you intend adding on to your home, or putting an apartment over the garage later, factor in a larger septic system.

Use common sense

Systems can be overloaded when too much water or waste enters the system without time for it to properly deal with the load. Excessive large loads of laundry and the same time as showers, toilets, and the dishwasher are in use, for example, might temporarily overload the system.

To reduce the load, use flow restrictors and aerators on faucets and showerheads, and use low-water, energy efficient equipment for clothes and dishes. Install efficient toilets as well to minimize the water flow, but don’t reduce the water too much, because solid waste needs water to properly function.

Do not park vehicles on the drain field and be careful not to build over the top of the pipes. Even a small storage shed can crush the pipes and damage your septic system.

Beware the disposal

In the kitchen, don’t use the disposal excessively for food waste since that taxes the septic system’s ability to break down the solids. Undigested food requires much more effort for the bacteria to break it down.

In the same way, do not pour grease and oils down the drain since these end up as scum. When either the scum layer or the sludge layer becomes too thick and cannot be broken down by the bacteria or the enzymes, your tank will need pumping. 

In that case, it’s time to call in a professional to pump out the tank and restore function to your system.




Tags: septic system   how to   plumbing  
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