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While the EPA has worked to remove lead from drinking water over the years, it can still exist in trace amounts in drinking water. Here are the most common sources of lead in drinking water.

If your home was built prior to the 1980s, it's likely to have lead solder connecting the copper water pipes. Lead found in tap water often comes from corrosion of plumbing fixtures or the solder connecting the pipes. Today's plumbing fixtures must pass rigorous tests and be certified to contain levels of lead that are below safety thresholds.

Some major U.S. utilities use lead pipes to supply water from to homes and businesses. Because the pipes have been in use for a long time, they have formed a natural oxidation barrier that prevents lead from leeching into the water. Utilities will often add lime or orthophosphates as an additional barrier to prevent lead from getting into drinking water.

If you're concerned about lead in your home's drinking water, regular testing can help ensure that levels are safe to drink. In addition, EPA has an online guide called “How to Identify Lead Free Certification Marks for Drinking Water System & Plumbing Products” that can help you choose the right plumbing fixtures for your home.



















Published in Plumbing
Thursday, 02 February 2017 12:46

The ABC's of Plumbing – Dual-Flush

In response to water conservation concerns in the 1990's, low-flush (or high efficiency) toilets were introduced to significantly reduce the number of gallons used per flush (GPF). Low flush toilets use 1.3 gallons per flush, while a regular toilet 1.6 or more gallons per flush. The average US home will save US$90 per year, and $2,000 over the lifetime of the toilet, according to the EPA. To be eligible to the EPA's Water Sense label, a toilet cannot be more than 20 percent less than the maximum allowed.

As the name suggest, a dual-flush toilet is uses two buttons or handles to flush different amounts of water. Depending on the design, the amount of water can be cut in half. While they can save a significant amount of water, the downside to dual-flush design is added complexity with more parts, as well as higher initial cost.

Have questions about low-flush toilets or other high-efficiency plumbing fixtures? Call ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric. We can can help with all your home plumbing installation, repair and maintenance needs.


Published in Plumbing
If you’ve ever come home to a burst pipe or a flooded house you’ve probably wished you knew where your main water valve was located. And even if you already had an idea about where it was, you may not have known how to turn it off which could have prevented you a huge headache. This is one of those things every homeowner should know in case of an unexpected emergency.

Where is the Main Water Shut-Off Valve?

It all depends on the type of house you have:
  • If your house is on a slab, the main water valve is likely located near your water heater tank. Take a look underneath it or on top of it - it should be shaped like a ring or it could be a lever.
  • If your house has a basement, this is likely where you’ll find the valve. Picture where you would attach a hose to the outside of the house and the valve is usually located on the opposite wall.
  • If your house has a crawl space, this is where the valve might be located. Check the front wall of the house underneath the crawl space.
Still can’t find it? This could mean the water has to be shut off from the main city water line which can usually be found at the front of your house in a covered box. Check coat- or bathroom closets near the front door.

How do I Turn the Water Off?

If you find the circular-shaped valve, turn it clockwise until you can’t spin it any further. If it’s a lever, turn it so it’s perpendicular to the pipe.

The plumbing system in your home is complicated and one of the most important parts in providing comfort and making life easy for you and your family. One call to ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric and the problem is taken care of quickly and professionally. Our plumbers are the best of the best in the Chicagoland area, so you know you can count on us!
Published in Plumbing
Thermal Imager For Smart PhoneFor years professionals have used advanced thermal imaging cameras to identify problems with pipes, ductwork, insulation and other systems in the home. Thermal imaging works by converting infrared light into an visible image on a video screen called a thermogram. Temperature differences are easily seen as a range of warm and cool colors. Aim a thermal imager at a window and cold air leaks become easily visible. By performing a thermal inspection of your entire home you can locate leaking air ducts, drafty doors and attics with insufficient insulation.

The advantages of thermal imaging are not limited to home heating and cooling. Problems with plumbing and electrical systems can also be identified. Water leaks inside walls and ceilings, and clogs inside pipes can be detected through thermal imaging. Overheating electrical systems can also be quickly located and diagnosed.

Inexpensive Thermal Imaging for Homeowners

Until recently the high cost of thermal imaging systems meant they were used almost exclusively by professional contractors. Today, inexpensive thermal imaging cameras are in reach of the average homeowner. One example is the Seek CompactXR®, a portable thermal imaging camera that plugs directly into your smartphone. It works by translating thermal energy (infrared light) into a visible image right on your phone.  So the next time you're weather sealing your your home tracking down water leaks, or checking for overheating electrical systems, you can take the guesswork out of the equation by using a thermal imaging device to pinpoint the source of the problem.
Published in Heating
Tuesday, 17 January 2017 16:50

5 Causes of a Low Hot Water Supply

If you're noticing that your water heater is not getting the water hot enough even after turning up the thermostat, there are a number of possible causes.

1. The Dip Tube Is Broken

Cold water enters the water heater through the dip tube where it is forced to the bottom of the tank for quick heating. When the tube is broken the water remains at the top of the tank, where the hot water outlet is, causing it to return cold water with the heated water.

2. Sediment Has Built Up at the Bottom of the Tank

Over time, minerals in the water can build up at the bottom of the water heater tank where the burner is located. This causes a gradual reduction in heating efficiency that will make the water heater work harder and eventually resulting in less hot water. Flushing the tank annually will prevent sediment build up.

3. The Heating System Is Malfunctioning

Most water heater problems occur with these systems:
  • Thermal switch
  • Thermostat
  • Heating element
A licensed plumber should inspect the water heater and repair the pasts as needed.

4. Hot Water Heater Is Too Far From Where It's Needed

If the water eventually heats up, the problem is sometime a hot water tank that is too far from where it's needed. In the cold months in particular, pipes will cool the hot water before it reaches the faucet where it's needed. Insulating the pipes can help reduce heat loss.

5. The Water Heater Tank Is Undersized

If you have recently noticed that your water heater suddenly seems to supply less hot water, or runs out suddenly, it could be that your water heater tank is too small to keep up with demand. Installing a larger tank or tankless water heater will ensure that you have all the water your household needs.

Have questions about your hot water heater? Call ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric.
Published in Plumbing
Tuesday, 24 January 2017 17:13

Water Heater Safety Tips

It’s that time of year again - when temperatures drop down below freezing and homeowners across the Chicagoland area give their home’s heating equipment a bit more thought than normal. We all know how nice a hot shower can be after long day out in the cold, but if you don’t pay any attention to your water heater this season, you could be in for a rude awakening.
  1. Flush your water heater at least once per year. Over time, sediment from the water builds up inside the tank which can clog valves and reduce efficiency.
  2. Test the Temperature-Pressure release valve to make sure it’s working properly. This valve is designed to open up in any instance of excessively high temperature or pressure inside the tank. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, your plumber will gladly take care of it for you.
  3. Avoid scalding by keeping your water heater set to 120ºF. Setting it higher can lead to burns as soon as the water from the taps in your home comes in contact with your skin. It is however, important not to set it lower than 120ºF as unhealthy bacteria can form and grow.
  4. Clear the area around the water heater of combustibles if you have a gas-fired model. This also includes dust, dirt, paper or anything else that could catch fire.
  5. Call the experts at ABC to replace your sacrificial anode. This is an extremely important maintenance step as the rod helps to protect the inside of your tank from corroding.
ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric recommends that you have one of our elite plumbers perform an annual water heater tune-up and safety inspection. These tune-ups help keep your water heater in top condition, running safely and efficiently and that if any issues are discovered they can be repaired before they become a major inconvenience. Call us today to schedule an appointment and don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook!
Published in ABC Blog
Thursday, 05 January 2017 21:59

Why Does My Water Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

If your tap water smells like rotten eggs, or sulphur, it's often a sign that there is hydrogen sulfide gas present. Because heat will allow the gas escape into the air more easily, the odor will usually be strongest when running hot water in the shower. In higher concentrations, hydrogen sulfide can corrode metals, causing yellowing or black stains (metallic sulfides) on metal plumbing fixtures. It can also affect the appearance and taste of drinking water and food cooked in water. Fortunately, the levels of hydrogen sulfide found in drinking water are small enough that they are not harmful to humans.

What Causes Hydrogen Sulfide In Water?

There are a couple of reasons your home's water may smell like rotten eggs from hydrogen sulfide, they include:

1. Well water with decaying organic material or soil that causes chemical reactions of sulphur-containing minerals.

2. Water heaters that generate hydrogen sulfide gas through the magnesium anode rod, which supplies electrons that sustain the reaction of sulfate to hydrogen sulfide gas.

Solving Hydrogen Sulfide Problems in the Water Supply

When the problem is occurring with the water supply itself, such as a well, installing a whole-house water treatment system is usually the most effective long-term solution. If the odor is a result of the hot water system, modifying the hot water heater may reduce the odor. The process involves replacing the water heater’s magnesium anode rod with one made of aluminum or other metal may improve the situation.
Published in Plumbing
When a bathroom or kitchen drain gets clogged many homeowners will purchase chemical drain cleaning products to try to clean out the obstruction. While drain cleaners can be effective at removing organic material from drains, they also carry a few risks.

Liquid drain cleaners usually contain corrosive alkaline, bleach and lye in concentrations up to 50 percent. They dissolve organic matter like food waste, hair, grease and other material. However, the further the clog is from the drain opening, the less effective they will be. This is why drain cleaners are usually not very effective for unclogging toilets.

Drain cleaners are also highly corrosive and are among the most hazardous household products you can purchase. To reduce the risk of injury, the manufacturer's instructions should be followed carefully and the products stored in a safe location where they cannot be reached by children.

When using chemical drain cleaners it is important to avoid contact with materials near the drain such as wood, paint, fiberglass and aluminum. Wear rubber gloves and protect your eyes.

The alternative to chemical drain cleaners is professional drain cleaning. Physically removing obstructions using a drain snake or water jetting is the safest, most effective way to remove tough clogs from sewer and drain lines. At ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric we provide fast, affordable drain cleaning, so you can skip the chemicals and
rest easy knowing the job will be done right and there are no dangerous chemicals stored in your home.
Published in Sewer and Drain
If you're seeing pink stains on the inside of your toilet, bathtub or shower, it's usually not a problem with water quality, instead it's likely the result of airborne bacteria that finds a home on moist surfaces. The film is usually found as a ring that accumulates at the water line in the toilet bowl or on shower doors, sink drains and bathtubs.

The bacteria that causes these pink stains is Serratia Marcescens, which is found naturally in the environment. The airborne bacteria thrives on moisture, dust, and phosphates. The best way to eliminate the bacteria is to use a bleach-based toilet bowl cleaner. Occasionally flushing toilets that are not used very often can also help reduce the bacteria growth.
Published in Plumbing
Tips To Protect Your Plumbing System While Your Away From Home

If you plan to travel to warmer climates this winter, it's a good idea to take a few steps to protect your plumbing while you are away. Here are some tips to avoid wasting water and damage from frozen pipes.

1. Leave the Heat On

At first thought, it may seem like you could save significant money on your heating bill when your away by turning the thermostat way down. However, this is an invitation for disaster. Unless you go through the trouble of draining the water from your plumbing system and shutting off the water main, there is a lot of standing water in your pipes that can cause extensive damage if the temperature drops. So play it safe and keep your thermostat set at 60 degrees or higher.

2. Check the Water Heater

Inspect the area around the water heater for leaks or signs of corrosion. If you see any water on the floor near the water heater, call ABC for assistance.

3. Fix Leaks and Clogs

If there are slow drains or dripping faucets, it's a good idea to have them repaired before leaving home for an extended period of time. Standing water and stagnant drains can cause unhealthy mold and mildew and could also attract unwelcome guests like insects and rodents.

4. Make Sure the Sump Pump Is Working

Pour a bucket of water into the pump pit. The sump pump should turn on and remove the water.

For all your home plumbing repairs, ABC is the only call you need make.
Published in Plumbing
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ABC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric • 220 W Campus Dr, Arlington Heights, IL • 60004 • 888-903-4070 • State of Illinois Plumbing License Number 055-013536

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