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Monthly Archives: September 2017

Home water filtration systems: what are the pros and cons?

Considering one of the many home water filtration systems you can have installed? You’re not alone! But it can be a significant investment, so you should consider the pros and cons. Here’s a short list of the reasons for and against having a whole house water filter installed.

Home water filtration system

Water from your faucet should smell and taste better with home water filtration systems. Free photo: Glass, Water, Drink – Free Image on Pixabay – 2619011 : taken from – https://pixabay.com/en/glass-water-drink-2619011/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/

Pro: Drinking water smells and tastes better

The most obvious benefit of having a whole house water filter is that your drinking water will be higher quality. This is the reason why most people choose to have them installed. The reason is that the filter purifies the water that comes from your faucet… Just like regular filters you might have on your faucet, or in a jug you can pour water from.

The reason why your drinking water should smell and taste better is that home water filtration systems remove all sorts of horrible stuff from your water supply. This includes physical debris, like dirt and mud. But, perhaps even more importantly, it includes the chemicals and waste that many people are concerned about.

Now, the jury is still out on exactly what’s wrong with having fluoride in the water supply. Fluoride is a toxic chemical in large doses, there’s no denying that. But people are more concerned about the long term effects of the small doses we consume every day. The same goes for chemical waste from industrial concerns, which can make its way back into the water supply. You only have to hear those words to think of Flint, Michigan which has been and still is going through a water crisis. You can avoid problems like mercury, lead and the like in your water through a whole house water filter.

Pro: Home water filtration systems are highly convenient

But these filters aren’t just useful for purifying your drinking water. They supply water to the whole house, which includes the water you wash with and cook with too. This offers much better convenience than faucet filters. So, if you have a traditional filter on just one tap in your home, that might be great for drinking and washing dishes. But if you want to brush your teeth with nice, pure water, you have to go to the kitchen. Having a water filter that pre-filters all of the water in your home means that you can enjoy that extra convenience.

Con: It costs more as an initial investment

The first, and most obvious drawback of installing an at-source filter is that they tend to be expensive. Even the cheapest, at just around $500, is costly. But the most expensive can demand an amazing price tag of $10,000. The exact cost depends on the features of your water filter, and what it’s designed to filter out. Some only filter dirt and debris, some filter certain chemicals but not others, and some are supposed to filter everything. Others ‘remineralize’ the water, by adding back in beneficial minerals once the bad stuff has been taken out.

This initial investment is daunting when you talk about any sort of home renovation. You might have to pay for both hot water and central heating, an air conditioner, even a dehumidifier, as well as every other cost related to running a home. And the more of these kinds of devices you have, the more you’ll have to have them repaired. There are quite simply dozens of costs you have to think of when you own your own home, and adding in a whole house water filter ‘just’ to purify your water might seem like an additional and unnecessary one.

Home water filtration systems

Home water filtration systems cost a lot to install, but can save you money over individual filters.

Pro: Having a home water filtration system can be cost efficient

Like we said, whole house water filters provide water for everything you need, from washing, to cooking, to bathing, and- of course- drinking. Now, if you don’t want one of these filters, you only really have one other option. You can have faucet filters installed! These attach to, or are a part of, your faucet, and filter the water as it comes through. Now, these are easier to install than whole house water filters. We’ll admit that.

But having two, three or more faucet filters means that you have two, three or more things to repair when things go wrong. If you have a whole house water filter? You only have one thing to repair! That’s more cost effective, in the long run, even despite the initial costs you’ll have to pay.

Con: If all you wanted was clean drinking water…

One of the main draws of having a whole house water filter is that it purifies all your water. This includes drinking water, sure. But it also includes the water you bathe the dog in, and the water you clean your car with. And what about all the water that your washing machine uses? You can have that hooked up to the filter, too. You might want clean drinking water, but you might also feel that you don’t need pure water to mop the floor with. And you have every right to take that view.

If that’s all you’re worried about, far better than having a whole house water filter is just having one or maybe two smaller faucet filters. They give you the same pure water, but don’t (always) need to be installed by a plumber. So, if all you want is pure drinking water, then these might be a better option for you.

Tankless hot water heater cost: What should I expect to pay?

If you’re moving into a new home, and you’re looking at a new water heating system, you may be looking at a tankless hot water heater. So how much should you be paying for a new one? Our guide breaks down the cost into parts and labor, compares the price to other heating solutions, and looks at whether it could actually save you money in the long run. Read on to find out more!

Tankless water heater cost

Tankless water heaters typically cost more than larger boilers and furnaces. SMIMG_0080 | House Updates – Tankless Hot Water Heater | John Eisenschenk | Flickr : taken from – https://www.flickr.com/photos/johne777/5449753272Author: John Eisenschenk https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Tankless hot water heater cost: Heaters come in a range of prices

First things first, the exact cost of your water heater will depend on the kind that you would like to buy. There are two kinds of tankless water heaters. You can buy either electric or gas powered. Gas powered heaters cost less to run, but more to buy. Electric powered is the other way around.

If you want to buy an electric tankless water heater, you can pick one up for as little as $100. Mid range heaters are around $800 to $1500, and the most expensive are north of $2000. The price is a reflection of both quality and the amount of water a heater is able to provide. The cheapest tanks might be able to power just your shower, or no more than your bathroom, and are typically installed at the ‘point of use’. That makes them a great option for anybody who needs that flexibility. For a heater that can provide water for your whole house, you would have to pay $250 minimum for the device.

Gas heaters are a little more expensive. You can find the same smaller PoU units which can power one or two sources for between $150 and $200. But the mid range and top of the range models are more expensive than their electric counterparts, even up to $3000 for heaters that provide water for the whole house.

Tankless hot water heater cost: Installation is typically fairly expensive

You’re welcome to try and save money by buying a mid-range model, or even a model which is only for one source at a time. But if you do, bear in mind that installation is going to cost money too. In fact, since tankless water heaters are not plug-and-play appliances, installation is actually usually more expensive than the cost of the heater itself.

Your HVAC technician can work either for an hourly rate or a flat fee. If you agree a flat fee, this will mean that the cost will still be the same even if you encounter unforeseen difficulties installing the heater. Even so, the cost is expensive. Depending on where you live, you can have a heater installed for anywhere between $300 and $4000. Typically you’ll pay around $1500 to $1700 for installation, not including the cost of parts.

Tankless water heater cost

If your ancient boiler or furnace broke down, your ancient pipes might too. This can add to the cost of having a new system installed. Free photo: Rust, Weathered, Pipes, Rusted – Free Image on Pixabay – 975078 : taken from – https://pixabay.com/en/rust-weathered-pipes-rusted-steel-975078/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/

Tankless hot water heater cost: What about the rest of your plumbing system?

Before you choose to have a tankless water heater installed, you should consider whether your entire plumbing system is up to scratch. What do we mean? Well, if your boiler or furnace has broken down, that doesn’t just mean that the heater itself isn’t up to par. Typically, if your boiler or furnace was clanking, groaning and inefficient because of age then your pipes are probably just as old. And that’s the problem.

There’s no point plugging a brand new water heater into an old or ageing system. If your faucets and pipes are full of limescale and other mineral deposits, if the joints are leaky and corroded, and the seals are worn away, then you should probably think about replacing them too. Your heater will probably work fine even if you don’t, but when the rest of your plumbing fails, you’ll have to call us out again, and again, and again! This can mean that there are still costs to consider even besides the installation and labor for your tankless hot water heater.

Tankless hot water heater cost: How does the price compare?

Tankless hot water heaters are a reasonable price compared to other water heating solutions. Most tank water heaters- which are basically huge barrels filled with water, if you’re completely unfamiliar- cost between $300 and $600. Furnaces on the other hand cost much more, at between $1500 and $3000 for a regular model. But do bear in mind that furnaces can heat both water and your home. Tankless hot water heaters only provide hot water, and can’t heat your home like a furnace can. So you should factor in the cost of home heating, which you’ll have to pay for separately, further increasing your spend.

Moreover, tankless water heaters often require more time to install than the kind of boiler or furnace they’re replacing. If you replace like for like, installation is normally a (relative) breeze. So in terms of both parts and labor, tankless water heaters aren’t the most cost effective option.

Tankless hot water heater cost: Could it save you money in the long run?

Tankless water heaters can save up to (about) 30% of your energy bill. That’s because they only heat the water you absolutely need. Sounds good? Well, you know what they say about things that sound too good to be true.

The first thing to say about the supposed long term savings that a tankless heater could earn is that you now have two appliances that can break down: your water heater and your central heating. They’re also costly to repair, since they’re less common than furnaces and regular tank boilers. So will you save 30%, as advertised? Probably not.

Do I need whole house water filtration?

Whole house water filters are a great solution if you need pure water for both cooking and cleaning. But is that all there is to them? Let’s find out in our guide on whether or not you need a whole house water filter.

Whole house water filtration removes physical contaminants

The first thing that whole house water filters do is to remove physical contaminants from your water. This includes large debris like leaves and even worms which can form blockages in your plumbing, if they can access the system. Of course, it’s rare that these kinds of contaminants will actually make it out of your tap and into your sink or- God forbid- your food. But even so, this is one of the many things that whole house water filters can completely prevent. Which brings us onto our next point…

Whole house water filtration removes chemical pollution through reverse osmosis

Not only can they remove physical debris, but whole house water filters can actually remove chemicals which have dissolved into your drinking water. This is through a fairly simple process called reverse osmosis, which sounds more complicated than it really is. Basically, the water is passed through a series of filters which gradually account for and filter out most unwanted chemicals. This can include chemical pollution from factories or waste facilities. But it can also remove the chemicals added to drinking water by municipal and state government.

This includes chlorine, chloramine and fluoride. While research shows that these chemicals are safe at the level found in drinking water, people are nonetheless concerned. With whole house water filters, you can remove these chemicals quickly and easily from your water. When you have a water filter installed, be sure to ask that it removes both chloramine and chlorine. Chlorine is fairly easy to filter, whereas chloramine isn’t- so not all filters can.

Whole house water filtration

Whole house water filters clean all the water that’s used in your home, not just drinking water. Free photo: Shower, Shower Head, Water – Free Image on Pixabay – 1502736 : taken from – https://pixabay.com/en/shower-shower-head-water-1502736/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/

Whole house water filtration means you have clean water for cooking and cleaning

Having a whole house water filter means that all of your water, not just some, is clean. Having a water filter on your kitchen tap is great if you just want water for drinking and cooking. But what about your dishwasher, your washing machine and your shower? So all of the contaminants that you wouldn’t want to drink are fine if you just bathe in them instead!? That doesn’t sound right.

These filters can completely remove contaminants before the water enters your plumbing system at all. That means that all the water used in your home is completely purified.

Whole house water filtration extends the lives of your appliances

Since some whole house water filters can remove minerals from hard water, they can also extend the life of your appliances. If you don’t live in an area with hard water, you might not know what we’re talking about… But in some areas, the water contains what’s known as limescale. Limescale is made from naturally occurring minerals, so your water is perfectly safe to drink. But over time, tiny sediments of limescale stick to the inside of your plumbing. Think of it sort of like fat clogging up an artery! The only difference is that limescale is a lot harder to get rid of.

Whole house water filters stop this problem before it starts. They can remove limescale at source, so that it never enters your plumbing at all. This extends the life of your appliances, since it will be longer before they have to be replaced. Washing machines are a great example of this, since limescale and other minerals can build up in your washing machine, and even stop it from working completely. Filters also get rid of the need of having a separate water softener, which is like a whole house water filter, but specifically for filtering out limescale.

Whole house water filtration

Your glasses should come out of the dishwasher sparkling clean. Whole house water filtration removes the minerals which leave streaky finishes on glass and metal. Free photo: Clean, Clear, Drinking Glasses – Free Image on Pixabay – 2178902 : taken from – https://pixabay.com/en/clean-clear-drinking-glasses-glass-2178902/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/

Whole house water filtration makes cleaning easier

Since whole house water filters remove minerals from your water, they also make cleaning easier. You’ll especially notice the difference on glass, which should no longer look smeared and stained after washing. That’s because the minerals and chemicals, such as limescale, are the cause of imperfections after cleaning. The same goes for your kitchen sink, your taps, your shower head, and any other metal appliances in your home.

There are a few reasons why you might not need one

One reason why you might not need or want whole house water filtration is if you only plan on filtering your drinking water. If you only need water for drinking and cooking, then we recommend a water filter which fits on your tap instead. Or, alternatively, you could buy a water filter jug. The reason why we recommend these options is that they’re cheaper to replace or maintain, since whole house water filters are larger and require a more expensive filter. If you have a whole house water filter, but you don’t care about washing dishes or taking a shower in pure water, then you’re simply wasting money.

Running all of your water through a whole house water filter can also lower the water pressure. This is because the water supply can only run through the filter at a certain speed. So, for instance, if you’re running your shower, your tap and your washing machine at the same time, it might be too much for your filter to handle. This won’t necessarily cause a fault, but it will most definitely lower your water pressure.

What is a steam boiler, and what does one do?

If you’ve Google searched ‘What is a steam boiler?’ then you’re probably thinking of having one installed. But before you do, it’s vitally important that you actually understand how they work and what their advantages and disadvantages are. That’s because steam boilers aren’t all that common here in the U.S., so they can be something of an unknown quantity, unlike furnaces and heat pumps.

So before you go ahead and have a steam boiler installed, go ahead and read our ‘What is a steam boiler?’ guide first! Here’s everything you could possibly need to know about steam boilers. Starting with…

What is a steam boiler?

There’s no better place to start than jumping right in. What is a steam boiler?

A steam boiler is basically a larger version of a steam kettle. The idea is so basic and easy to understand that it’s been around for a couple of hundred years already. Steam boilers were actually one of the first home heating solutions! The boiler heats water to higher than its boiling point, so that it produces steam. But where a steam kettle would release steam into the atmosphere, a steam boiler doesn’t. Instead, the steam is routed around the home, and released through convection heaters- also know as radiators.

A steam boiler is therefore not so different to a common furnace. But whereas the furnace releases warm air directly into your home, steam boilers normally don’t. The hot steam is always kept contained inside the pipes and radiators used to distribute the heat around your home. Well, that’s a lie- it’s vented outside through an outlet. If it wasn’t, the pressure would keep building and your boiler would explode. But what we’re trying to say is that the steam is never released into your home, so no, it won’t be like having your own sauna. If you don’t have an outlet outside your home, you may have release valves on each of your radiators, which work periodically and automatically.

What is a steam boiler

Steam boilers are really simple to understand. The same mechanism for producing power and heat was used in all sorts of applications, from steam trains to factories. Free photo: Steam Locomotive, Passenger Train – Free Image on Pixabay – 1352338 : taken from – https://pixabay.com/en/steam-locomotive-passenger-train-1352338/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/

How does a steam boiler heat your home and water?

Like we said, steam boilers heat your home through a system of pipes and radiators. The pipes are simple for a technician to install around your home. There are two kinds of piping system: one pipe and two pipe. In a one pipe system, one pipe delivers steam to the radiator and also collects condensed water. Two pipe systems use two pipes to do the same thing.

Steam boilers were a common solution to home heating in older houses. So, if you do have an older house, you may already have had them installed when you moved in. But for more modern houses, you would have to install both pipes and radiators so that a steam boiler could heat your home.

Is a steam boiler a safe option?

Alright, now that we’ve covered ‘What is a steam boiler’, we can move on to ‘How can I control my steam boiler, and is it safe?’ Well, aside from being able to set the temperature, there isn’t much you can do to control your boiler. Or, perhaps more accurately, there isn’t much that we recommend non-experts trying to do. But there are four basic safety controls which make boilers as safe home heating option.

  1. A pressure gauge and a pressure regulator, which monitor the amount of pressure in your system. It will shut of the supply of fuel to your boiler if it detects too much pressure.
  2. A pressure relief valve, which is separate to the regulator, and is intended as a fail safe. If the gauge and regulator fail, the relief valve will release pressure once it gets dangerously high.
  3. A water level sight glass, which will allow you to check the water level inside the boiler, to see if it’s too high or too low.
  4. A low water cutoff system which will stop your boiler from burning fuel once the water level is too low.
What is a steam boiler

Steam boilers need radiators in order to spread heat around the house. The radiator itself is heated by the movement of steam. Ornate Cast Iron Radiator – Brian Eno Speaker Flowers Sound Installation | Flickr : taken from – https://www.flickr.com/photos/dominicspics/4626123560 Author: Dominic Alves https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ 

What are the advantages of having a steam boiler installed?

‘What is a steam boiler’ was easy, but now we should think about why you should actually have one. Well, there are a few reasons why steam boilers are better for your home than furnaces. The first is that boilers are generally safer than furnaces, especially when it comes to carbon monoxide and other toxic fumes.

Boilers are also less likely to break down. There are very few moving parts in a steam boiler, and there is no fan or pump which can break down like in a furnace.

Are there any common problems with steam boilers?

There are a few reasons why boilers aren’t perfect. Starting with:

  1. It takes longer to raise or lower the temperature in your house using a steam boiler. That’s because the water which turns to steam can hold onto heat for a long time.
  2. Steam boilers are typically more expensive to install and maintain than furnaces. That’s because most plumbers aren’t used to dealing with them (although we are!), and parts can be more difficult to obtain. They are also more expensive to run, since boilers operate at a higher temperature than furnaces.
  3. This might not be too important to you… But boilers can be noisy! Unless you have a modern and well maintained system, your radiators and pipes will occasionally decide to clank. This can be the case if your boiler isn’t in full working order.