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Benjamin Franklin Plumbing

Water and energy saving tips for your plumbing on Earth Day

Plumbers with Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® offer these top tips to help conserve water and energy for Earth Day and every day. 

According to the Department of Energy, water heaters account for almost 17 percent of the energy you use in your home. That’s more than all your other appliances combined.[1] As we focus on the environment for Earth Day, plumbers with Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® offer these suggestions for quick and easy things you can do at home to help conserve water and energy with your plumbing.

• Tip #1: Adjust the temperature on your hot water heater.
This is quick and easy to do. According to the Department of Energy setting your hot water heater at 120º or lower can help you save more than $60 a year on your utility bill.[2] You can also turn off your water heater if you are away on vacation to conserve energy.

• Tip #2: Add an insulation blanket

Most new hot water heaters are insulated. If you have an older water heater consider adding an insulation blanket to help reduce heat loss. If your tank feels warm to the touch, this could be an easy and cost effective addition.

• Tip #3: Check for leaks

Do a quick check of your sinks, showers, toilets and the hoses outside. Make sure your washers and gaskets are tight. The most common cause of a leaking toilet is often the inexpensive, rubber flapper. Check for wear and replace if needed. Remember plumbers have professional grade products that often last longer than store bought parts.

• Tip #4: Consider water saving and energy efficient upgrades

Many new faucets, shower heads and toilets are low flow or have water conservation features. These are easy to upgrade on your own or with the help of a professional plumber. There are also new energy efficient options for water heaters.

For more information on ways to save water and energy with your plumbing, contact Benjamin Franklin Plumbing 402-333-5000.

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Water Filters Can Keep You Healthy

April showers might bring May flowers, this month also brings us Earth Day (Apr. 22) and Hug A Plumber Day (Apr. 25).

Earth Day is not all about trees; it's to promote the preservation and protection of our environment. Very few people take the time to think about and fully understand the connection between plumbing, physical health and the quality of the water in their home.

Water filters are often the first line of defense against waterborne illnesses and are the best source for understanding the quality of the water coming out of the faucets, assuming that the filters are properly maintained.

Did you know that most of the water that you use on a daily basis is recycled? There is no "new" water. So you can imagine how easy it is for the water we drink, bathe in, and use to wash our clothes is not as clear and clean as we'd like it to be.

A home water filtration system or having your filter replacement by Benjamin Franklin Plumbing will give you healthy water without filling our landfills with used water bottles ... and that's something to hug a plumber about. 

Call Benjamin Franklin Plumbing at (402) 333-5000.

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Water-efficient Plumbing Fixtures Can Lower Your Bills

When it comes to reducing your utility bills, don't neglect your water consumption. Most of the attention around conservation in the home is focused on energy efficiency, but there is still space to find savings in your plumbing system as well. Take a glance at water-efficient plumbing fixtures to save both water and money in your home.

Look for the Water Sense Label

Just as the federal government maintains an Energy Star program to label products at the cutting edge of energy efficiency, it has a similar program for water conservation. The Environmental Protection Agency runs the Water Sense program to identify products that can cut down on your water usage, as well as provide tips on how to adjust your behavior to find even more efficiencies.

Products that get the Water Sense certification must perform as well as their standard counterparts but conserve at least 20 percent more water.  Among the options to help you save:

Toilets: Ultra-low-flow toilets use 1.28 gallons of water per flush or less. That's compared to 1.6 gallons for normal low-flow models, and as high as 6 gallons for older toilets. Other models have two flush options so you can use even less water when flushing only liquid waste.

Sink fixtures: Standard federal regulations cap water flow from sink faucets at 2.2 gallons per minute, but Water Sense products go a step beyond that, limiting output to a maximum of 1.5 gallons per minute. The average family can save 700 gallons per year by making the switch, according to the EPA.

Showerheads: American families use up 40 gallons a day in the shower, or 17 percent of total household water use. Ultra-low-flow showerheads use two gallons of water per minute or less, helping you hold your consumption to a minimum.

The EPA claims that its efforts have saved consumers 757 billion gallons of water and $14.2 billion in water and energy bills since 2006. If every household in the country upgraded to Water Sense plumbing and products, consumers could save a total of 3 trillion gallons of water and $17 billion each year, the government says.

Auxiliary Savings as Well

The savings aren't just in your water bill. If you use a low-flow showerhead, for example, you will use less water, and critically, less hot water, so you need less energy to heat it up. That means you save on two bills for the price of one installation.

And there's more at stake than just saving money. California and parts of the Southwest have been experiencing major droughts in recent years, putting the value of fresh water at a premium. Some experts fear that clean water supplies worldwide could become stressed in upcoming decades, unable to meet rising demand for agriculture, industrial, landscaping, commercial and residential use. That means that by investing in efficient plumbing systems, you're doing more than just cutting down on your utility bills-- you're doing your part to help make the world a better place.

For more advice about how to find or install water-efficient plumbing, or how to get the most from your existing system, contact Benjamin Franklin® today. 402-333-5000

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Ride the 2015 Omaha NE Saint Patrick's Day in less than 2 mins!  We put a GoPro camera on our McCarthy's One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning​ truck.  Feel free to share with your friends. #omaha #omahanebraska #luckoftheirish #saintpatricksday #stpatricksday AOH-Sarpy County NE. Ancient Order of Hibernians​ Omaha Nebraska​

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Looking to replace your home water heater? New federal rules governing the appliance efficiency go into effect April 16.

The results might leave you paying more at the outset for a new model - and with a little less space in your basement – but will result in lower energy bills.

Call Benjamin Franklin at (402) 333-5000 for any Plumbing need!

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Could Your Dishwasher Give Your Child Asthma?

Using a dishwasher in your home could contribute to your child's asthma, according to a recent study. The research, which took place in Sweden, found that children in families that washed dishes by hand had lower rates of asthma, eczema and allergic diseases compared to children in families that used dishwashers.

The Benefits of Dirty Hands

Allergies occur when the body mistakenly attacks harmless substances like pollen, triggering common conditions like runny noses, sneezing, skin conditions and more. It's not that the dishwashers themselves are causing allergies, researchers say. Instead, they think that exposure to a variety of microbes keeps the immune system strong and on-target, a notion known as the “hygiene hypothesis.”  Because homes tend to be so clean and sanitized in developed countries, the hypothesis goes, children aren't exposed to enough microorganisms.

Washing dishes by hand, the scientists suggest, is one more way to get kids' bodies used to fighting off disease. "We therefore speculate that hand dish washing is associated with increased microbial exposure, causing immune stimulation and, hence, less allergy," Dr. Bill Hesselmar, an associate professor of allergy at Queen Silvia Children's Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, said to HealthDay.

The kids in the hand-washing contingent had only half the incidence of allergies as the kids in the dishwasher families. The presumed effect was largest on asthma -- 1.7 percent of hand washers had it, compared to 7.3 percent of kids with dishwashers. It turns out that children should be grateful to their parents for their post-dinner chores after all.

The Price of Efficiency

That doesn't mean it's time to get rid of the dishwasher just yet. "I'm not convinced it's going to make that big a difference," Dr. Todd Mahr, an allergist at the Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wis., and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said to NPR. Your dish cleaning habits are just one out of many ways that kids will or will not get exposed to microbes.

There are downsides to hand washing, too. Unfortunately, washing dishes by hand turns out to be more wasteful and expensive than using a modern dishwasher. According to the federal Energy Star program, you can save almost 5,000 gallons of water and $40 on your utility bills annually by using a dishwasher as compared to hand washing -- and that's not to mention all the extra time you lose doing the job manually. You can reduce the amount of waste in hand washing by filling a basin with water and not running the sink constantly, but it's still tough to beat a dishwasher for efficiency.

Ultimately, it's up to each family to decide on the trade-offs. Unless more corroborating research emerges, you might consider keeping the dishwasher, and washing dishes by hand only part of the time. Or rely on the many other ways your kids can get exposure to helpful microbes, so they can build healthy immune systems — and get them to help you with other chores instead.

Call Benjamin Franklin for all of your plumbing needs at 402-333-5000!

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Beware Of Lead In Your Drinking Water

There could be a hidden danger lurking in your pipes. If you have an older plumbing system, there's a chance that your drinking water contains lead. Lead can cause serious health problems for both children and adults, so it's essential that you address the issue before you fall ill. Read on to learn more.

Do I Have Lead in My Water? 

According to the EPA, if your house was built prior to 1986, or if your fixtures are less than five years old, it's worth checking into your lead levels. Your pipes themselves could be made of lead if they were installed before 1930, and has only been banned from fixtures and solder for the past three decades. Even today, brass and chrome-plated fixtures can release lead into the water, especially when they are brand new. The danger drastically decreases if they've been in use for five years or more.

To find out if your plumbing poses any danger, your utility provider or local government can refer you to a water testing laboratory. You should test your water at each faucet and outlet, because lead can come from specific pipes and therefore contamination can be localized. Your doctor can also test your family’s blood-lead levels to determine if you have been exposed to hazardous amounts of the metal. 

What Are the Effects of Lead?

Lead is especially dangerous to children, but it can harm adults as well. If children are exposed to lead, their mental and physical development can be temporarily or permanently delayed. Adults can be subject to brain and kidney problems, and lead has also been linked to strokes and cancer. Pregnant women should be especially careful about lead exposure because fetuses are very vulnerable to contamination. 

How Do I Get the Lead Out?

If you have lead in your water and it affects faucets from which you get your drinking water, you can minimize the danger by consuming only cold water from the affected faucets, because lead dissolves more quickly into hot water. Also, lead accumulates over time as the water sits in your pipes, so run some water down the drain before you use it; this will help to flush out any lead that has built up. You can minimize water waste by filling a pitcher after the pipes are flushed and keeping it in the fridge so you have water to drink throughout the day without having to run your faucet every time. This will provide a short-term fix until you can make more significant changes to address the problem.

For a more permanent solution, NSF International and the Water Quality Association maintain lists of filters and products that can help you reduce the lead levels in your water. If your plumbing system is very old and your pipes are actually made of lead, you should consider replacing them outright.

Contact a qualified plumber who can help you evaluate your drinking water and advise you on the next steps. For additional information, contact Benjamin Franklin Plumbing at 402-333-5000 for all of your plumbing needs.

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Prevent Winter Water Leaks

Winter isn’t over yet, with parts of the country experiencing record cold this February. Besides keeping your family warm and protected, you should be vigilant in below-zero temperatures to avoid water leaks, both inside and outside your home.

A Freeze in the Night

There's nothing worse than frozen pipes. If your pipes freeze you won't get water from your faucets, and more ominously, if you don't address the situation the pipe can actually burst and send a deluge of water rushing through your home, causing serious damage. Avoid disaster by making sure you insulate any pipes that aren't located in heated areas of your home. In extreme cold this might not be enough to prevent a freeze. You should take the additional preventive measure of turning your faucets on to a drip to keep the water running. If you do experience a frozen pipe, call a professional plumber. In a pinch you may be able to use a hair dryer, heat lamp or other non-flame heat source to melt the ice before the pipe bursts. Never use a torch or open flame to thaw a pipe. Not only is it a fire hazard, but it will likely damage the pipe.

Drip, Drip, Drip
Frozen pipes don't have to burst to cause you an expensive headache. If you catch one in time and are able to thaw it, you might think you're out of danger. However, repeated freezing and thawing can put stress on the pipes by causing them to expand and contract. Over time, this can damage the pipe and cause it to leak. This is a risky situation, especially if it's in an out-of-the-way area you aren't likely to notice for some time. Even the tiniest leak can cause major damage to your home if it isn't fixed, so stay alert.

Water Heater Malfunction

It's not just your pipes that can take damage in cold weather. Even your water heater itself can spring a leak, especially if you have an older model that's kept in an unheated basement. The metal can flex and contract with the changes in temperature. If the tank fails, it's time to buy a new one -- after you clean up the mess. Keep an eye out for rust in your water or bending, cracking or bulging in the appliance that could be a sign it's reaching the end of its lifespan and might not make it through the winter. Call a plumber to make an assessment.

Your Roof Betrays You

As well as paying attention to the plumbing inside your home, you should also be wary of water coming in from the outside. If you have heavy snowfall, ice can build up on your gutters and the edge of your roof, preventing snow melt from draining properly to the ground. Instead, the water may back up and find its way inside your house, jeopardizing the structural integrity of your roof and causing damage inside the home. To prevent this, make sure you clear snow off your roof as soon as you safely can, and knock away any ice around the edge.

Don't wait until the winter elements combine to flood your home. Make a preemptive call to a plumber; he or she can find any danger spots in your plumbing system and help prevent leaks before they start.

Contact Benjamin Franklin® to make an examination of your plumbing system and perform any necessary maintenance.  402-333-5000
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