Plumbing and Air Conditioning Services Blog & Media

RYCO Plumbing likes to connect with you the customer. We want you to be plumbing knowledgeable so you know what we're talking about. An educated consumer is our best customer.

You've Read The Blog, Now See The Video

A few weeks ago I posted a blog titled "Is Water Softening A Scam?". While many people on social media enjoyed reading the post, we thought a video might further drive home our point. 

Not having a water softener does not clog your pipes. Watch the video and see for yourself.

Is Water Softening A Scam?

The Real Truth About Hard Water

Many water softening sales people sell you based on fear. They want you to believe that over time, a home without proper water conditioning will have restrictive buildup in the pipes that will lead to eventual failure. They want you to believe this because it's easy to sell someone who's afraid. See the calcified pipe below? That is what they want you to believe is happening in your pipes if you  don't have a water softener installed. We're about to bust that myth with hard evidence.

What they want you to believe.

What they want you to believe.

What is hard water? What is soft water? And why the heck does it matter?

These are the most common questions homeowners ask themselves when the topic of water softening gets brought up, and you’d think the answers would be simple enough to find, but they’re not.

Advertisers will tell you one thing about hard water. Plumbers will tell you another. And your neighbor will disagree with them both.

Plenty of misconceptions about hard water have developed, making the truth difficult to come by.

Here are a few common misconceptions of hard water you don’t have to be fooled by anymore.

Hard Water Clogs Pipes

This is the one advertisers really stress. They claim that the minerals in your water like calcium and magnesium can build up over time and clog your pipes. Without softening your water, you’re damaging your entire piping system.

This just isn’t true . . . at least not anymore. Between the 1940s and 1970s most homes used steel (galvanized) pipes. Minerals can stick to steel pipes, causing blockage.

If your home was built after 1975, or if your home has been re-piped, you’re good to go. The copper pipes used today don’t accumulate minerals like steel pipes.

Just the other day, we removed a 40-year-old copper pipe to fix a pinhole leak and found the line completely free of corrosion.

This 40 year old pipe was removed from a home with a slab leak. The home had no water softening system. Compared to a brand new pipe, you can't see much of a difference.

This 40 year old pipe was removed from a home with a slab leak. The home had no water softening system. Compared to a brand new pipe, you can't see much of a difference.

Minerals Are Contaminants

Many homeowners are being tricked into thinking that the minerals in water are endangering the health of their families.

In reality, minerals aren’t contaminants at all. They’re nutrients. They’re natural, and they’re okay to consume.

Sometimes we forget there was life before in-home water purifiers that get rid of all these minerals. Anyone who has ever drank from a well can back me up in saying how much better it tastes than the even purest tap water—minerals and all.

A study by the World Health Organization shows that consuming hard water nutrients like calcium and magnesium can be good for your health.

Water Softener Filters Water

Similar to the last point, water softeners don’t filter your water.

Dirty, chlorinated tap water goes into your water softener, and it comes out as dirty, chlorinated, salty water. It may taste a little better to you, but it’s still dirty, and there still needs to be a filtration process to make the water safe.

Don’t be convinced that your water softener is a multi-use piece of equipment. It removes the magnesium and calcium ions. That’s it.

High quality water filters are still to thank for removing those nasty chemicals and contaminants in your drinking water.

Hard Water Ruins Clothing

When you wash your clothing, calcium and mineral deposits do stay in the fabric and may cause them to wear a little faster, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Hard water is not the only culprit. You’ve got an entire team working against your to fade your clothing.

Chlorine does plenty of damage too, and as we just discussed, water softeners don’t filter chlorine. They don’t filter dirt either, which can also get trapped in the fabric.

Combating these issues can be as easy as choosing detergent-based products for your laundry rather than soap-based products. Detergent-based products work much better in hard water.

If you’re still worried, you can also add water softener to your laundry to get rid of those minerals. Just remember that the minerals aren’t the only problem.

Final Thoughts

Be careful when researching information on water softening and always consider the source. Plenty of businesses have agendas and will twist facts to make you believe that their products are more necessary than they really are.

Knowing the truth about hard water can help you sift through all the misconceptions and make sound decisions about softening your water.

What other misconceptions have you heard about hard water?

Share them with us in the comments!

Everything You Need To Know About Sewer Line Inspection

What's That Smell?: The Signs And Symptoms Of A Broken Sewer Line.

It is estimated that more than 4,000,000 homeowners will have a major sewer or septic line disruption by the end of 2013.

On the daily list of things to worry about, sewer line maintenance isn’t usually one of them.  This is mainly due to the fact that many homeowners just aren’t aware of the importance of maintaining their sewer lines or how to spot warning signs that might signal a problem.

Like many plumbing issues, the homeowner is responsible for understanding the basics of the issue. They have to know how defects can be detected and when calling a professional is necessary.

Here is everything you need to know about sewer line inspection and how you can use that knowledge to protect your property.

The Importance Of Sewer Line Inspection

Before anything, let’s talk about the number one reason why having your sewer lines inspected is important—money.

A home’s sewer system is often one of the most neglected aspects of a house because it’s underground—out of sight, out of mind. What’s ironic is that the most neglected aspect can turn into the most costly.

Lingering little sewer line issues that could have easily been repaired can escalate and become big problems for your home and your wallet.

Having a professional perform an inspection can help prevent these problems from escalating.

Reasons Why Sewer Lines Need Inspection

Tree roots that grow into a sewer line is one of the most common reasons why homeowners call a professional. These roots make their way into tiny openings and then expand in the pipe causing blockage and sometimes more serious damage.

Many homes built in the 1950s have sewer lines made from pipes called Orangeburg. This could be a problem as well. These pipes are known to collapse, and they typically require placement.

Similarly, older homes sometimes have to deal with cesspools. These underground containers were meant to temporarily store waste before cities and towns installed normal sewer systems, and now they’re more of a hindrance than anything.

Warning Signs To Look For

Damage to sewer lines can often go undetected for years, especially since lines can be as deep as 10 feet below the surface. Symptoms of sewer line damage might not make themselves apparent initially, but when they do you have to recognize them and act accordingly to prevent any further damage.

To detect a sewer line leak, keep an eye out for these signs:

  • Unusually lush patches of lawn in random areas

  • Sections of perpetually moist or damp ground

  • Sewage back-up in sinks and bathtubs

  • A foul odor lingering around your plumbing fixtures

How Sewer Lines Are Inspected

In the past, sewer line inspection was a tedious process. It involved using a tool called a mandrel that fits inside the correct dimensions of a pipe. Inspectors would attempt to pull the mandrel through the pipe, and if it made it to the end, no repairs were needed. If the tool got stuck, it signaled an issue in the piping that needed to be fixed.

Today, laser devices produce a digital profile of the pipes. Similar to the mandrel, the laser takes measurements as it goes from one end of the pipe to the other, and these measurements are crucial to detecting defects.

These instruments easily detect the size and extent of the defects, and they eliminate the need for physical entry into the pipes.

Video Inspections

At RYCO, we use a specially designed snake video camera that travels into pipes. This allows us and the homeowners to see what is going on in the pipes both inside and outside of the home.

One of the common issues we find outside of the home is tree roots. Those trees may look harmless in your yard, but their roots are powerful and cause all kinds of issues with pipes and other items underground. See inside an actual sewer line and the damage caused by roots on our RYCO Plumbing YouTube Channel.

The camera process allows us to see exactly where issues, like tree roots, are occurring. We can show the homeowner exactly what is happening and tell them what we recommend as a way to fix any issue.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let thoughts of your sewer line fall to the back of your mind. Stay on top of the symptoms of a busted pipe, and when in doubt, schedule a time to have your lines inspected.

The fee you’ll pay to have a professional inspect your lines hardly compares to the cost you would pay to make major repairs.

What experiences have you had with sewer line inspection/repair?

Tell us in the comments!

Image: Flickr