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Control Boards to Keep Your Systems Running

            Throughout the years, more things that we use on a daily basis have become automatic.  We are becoming more used to this automation as it comes.  For example, if I use a bathroom that doesn’t have automatic flushing toilets and I walk away after using the toilet and I don’t hear it flush, I usually turn around and go flush it manually.  This doesn’t happen too often though, because the majority of public restrooms are automated-automatic flushing toilets, automatic faucets, automatic soap dispensers, and even automatic paper towel dispensers!  As more things become automated, there needs to be some way that problems can be detected when these products aren’t working properly.

            Although most homes don’t have automatic fixtures in the bathroom, there are many other automated systems that are related to residential properties.  Central air systems use automated processes to know when to turn the heat on when the temperature drops below what is set on the thermostat or when to start cooling down the house when the temperature is higher than what the AC temperature is set for.  If your home owns a sprinkler system, there are many automated processes to turn on and off the different zones that need to run and to turn them on/off on certain days and times of the week.  Another process that relies on automation is the use of the water heater in your home.  To be able to have hot water to wash dishes, take showers, etc., the gas valve needs to know when to turn on and off so that cold water can be heated to be used as hot water.  In order for any of these processes to work correctly, there is a control board involved that acts like a supervisor for the piece of equipment.

            Just as a supervisor at a job site, a control board checks all the different processes that need to happen and ensures that the different components are doing their assigned tasks.  When on a jobsite or at the workplace, if a person isn’t completing the tasks that they are responsible for doing, the supervisor has to report the problem.  The same can happen for these control boards.  If there is a problem with the equipment and it isn’t doing the job it needs to be doing, the control board can run a diagnostic on itself to detect the problem and report to the user what the problem is.  Like it is said, knowing is half the battle, and once you can figure out what is wrong with your equipment, you will be able to get the right parts to fix it so it will function correctly.  If this function isn’t working at all, chances are that you need a need control system.

            When I need to get a new control board-whether it be for a sprinkler system, gas valve, or cooling/heating system, I go to plumbersstock.com.  They have a wide variety of brands and types of control boards so I know that I can find what I am looking for!

Vcontrols

Dutch Oven Cooking, Close to Home

            My family loves to go camping and a big part of our planning goes toward the meals that we will eat.  As a sort of tradition, we like to cook our dinner in Dutch Ovens (the cast iron, outdoor kind).  Almost every time we have Dutch Oven Potatoes as a side dish and some sort of cobbler for dessert.  That wasn’t the only time that we liked to make Dutch Oven food though.  For some holidays, especially the 4th of July, we liked to cook our food using the different sizes of Dutch Ovens we had.  The biggest problem that we had for a while was finding a place to cook the food.  I had some old steel garbage can lids that I would use, but after a while they were getting old and they would scrape up the cement.

            The area we used to cook food in the Dutch Ovens started to crack and the cement pad needed to be redone.  It wasn’t just from the metal lids, but because of years of use and other things that are hard on cement.  We decided as a part of the new cement pad, we would leave some round spaces open as reservoirs for the Dutch Ovens.  We measured the ones that we owned and made the holes a couple inches bigger so that they could hold the ovens.  It was one of the best decisions that we made!  Now we can enjoy Dutch Oven food in the comfort of our own backyard.

Dutch oven food

Different Sinks for Different Purposes

            After working around the plumbing industry for a while, I start to notice things that people who haven’t worked in the industry wouldn’t notice.  For example, when I first started working and I still had a young family, when we were looking for apartments I would always check out the faucets and other plumbing fixtures that were installed in each of them.  When I went to different places by siblings lived, my friend’s houses, and my visited my in-laws, I found myself looking at all the different types of plumbing they had.  One thing that I noticed a lot was the kitchen sinks (since my wife always encouraged me to help do some dishes when we ate at someone’s house).

            At my parent’s house, they had a double bowl stainless steel sink that was a drop in kitchen sink (the type of sink that goes on top of the counter).  My in-laws had a ceramic sink that was an off white color and had two bowls, but it also was an undermount sink (the type that is mounted underneath the counter).  Then in one of my sibling’s home they had a single bowl stainless steel sink.  One of the most interesting sink designs that I saw was in my grandmother’s house.  It had three separate bowls, the two outside bowls were the same size and depth, but the middle bowl was significantly smaller-both the depth and the size of it.  I could go on for hours describing the different types of sinks that I have seen throughout my life.

Kitchensinks

            I mention all of these different types of sinks to make a point.  That point is that if you are looking for a basic sink or you are looking for some sort of specialty or unique sink, chances are you can find what you want.  There are many different types of sinks on the market made from different materials, that come in different designs, and that range from 1 bowl up to 3 bowl options.  When I’m doing a job that requires buying a kitchen sink, whether it is for a residential or commercial application, I visit this site.  The selection is huge and I can always find the sink I need for the right price.

            The thing I like most about kitchen sinks is the fact that many of them come in the same sizes.  This means if one of my customers has a sink that has become damaged in any way, I can find a sink that will fit in the existing hole that was cut out originally.  If there is a size difference, such as the hole being too small, most sinks come with a pattern that can be traced and serves as a template for the new sink.  Recently kitchen sink design has taken off and many optional accessories are available.  Some come with cutting boards that fit right over a smaller sink bowl that is off to the side of the main bowl.  Others have custom racks that are designed to fit perfectly inside the sink bowl.  No matter what your preference is, the possibilities are endless!

Application & Explanation of Funny Pipe

 

            If you have ever thought about installing your own sprinkler system, you may have not realized how complicated the process can actually be.  Although there are many different things that I could talk about in this post, I have chosen to talk about the flex pipe, which is referred to as “funny pipe”.  When dealing with sprinkler systems there are different types of pipes that can be used to water your lawn and other plants your have in your yard.  When using a drip system, there is a roll of pipe that looks similar to funny pipe, but is completely different.  This is the first tip of this post.

            If you get drip tube and try to use it in the same way that you would use funny pipe, you will quickly become frustrated and have many problems with your sprinkler system.  Make sure you are getting the right tubing (this will make more sense later in the post).  An easy way to tell the difference between funny pipe and drip tube is called the squeeze test.  Find the end of the roll of the tubing that you are handling and squeeze that end between your thumb and index finger.  If the piping comes together with little resistance, it means that it is drip tubing.  If the pipe is resistant and more rigid feeling when you try to squeeze it, that means that you have found funny pipe.  Why is this so important?  Let’s see why.

FunnyPoly adapters

            Funny pipe is used to connect sprinkler heads to the piping found in your sprinkler system.  This means that the tubing will be exposed to higher water pressure than drip tubing would be exposed to, this is the reason that the tubing is more rigid.  The fittings that are used with funny pipe are usually barbed, and the tubing will slip onto the barbed part of the fitting which will hold it into place.  Another fitting will be connected to the sprinkler head, giving it a little flexibility to work with when positing the head where it needs to go.  If you were to use drip tubing instead, as soon as you turned the water to your system on, the tubing would get blown right off of the connections and you will have a muddy mess!

            If you decided to install a drip system, it is important not to use funny pipe for that system.  Even though the funny pipe may fit into some of the fittings designed for drip systems, it wasn’t designed for these applications and will cause leaks and other problems.  Funny pipe was designed to make the placement of sprinkler heads easier when they are being installed in the ground.  The alternative would be rigid PVC pipe coming out of the ground that isn’t flexible at all (it cracks when you try to bend it to where you need it).  In some climates, PVC pipe will also freeze during the winter when there is water left in them which cracks it and leaves a spring repair for you to do.  Whether you are looking funny pipe or other types of tubing, visit: https://www.plumbersstock.com/category/151/funny-pipe/ for good prices and selection!

Water Softeners

            In the United States, there are many areas where the water that is used in homes and throughout the city is considered to be hard water.  It is said to be “hard” because there is magnesium, calcium and other minerals that have been dissolved in the water which can make it feel unpleasant.  It can also stain your plumbing fixtures such as bathroom and kitchen faucets as well as tub spouts, shower heads, and shower handles.  It appears as a dry white film, most of the time in a circular pattern.  At first, you may be able to clean this residue off of the outside of the faucet, but over time the stain can become permanent.

            The hard water will also start to collect on the inside of faucets and start to cluster making a mineral deposit that can clog up water supplies or even cause the handles on faucets to stop turning or be difficult to turn on.  The different parts and pieces can be taken out and cleaned off, but eventually, they will get worn down and need to be replaced.  Installing a water softener will remove these minerals that cause the water to be hard and help to make plumbing fixtures last longer than those that have hard water passing through them.

            There are different types of water softeners on the market today,  but for a while the only type of softener available was the ion exchange softener.  This type of unit uses a two tank system, one tank is called the mineral tank, where the ion exchange occurs, and the other is called the brine tank which contains a salt water solution.  The mineral tank contains beads that are negatively charged and so they attract the positive charge that is found on magnesium, calcium, and other minerals found in water. 

Over time the material will collect in the mineral tank and it will need to be flushed out with the water found in the brine tank.  Many tanks come with an automatic time that will flush the system on a regular basis.  When you have this type of softener, you will need to buy salt pellets that need to be added to the system periodically so that it will continue to work properly.  When the water passes through the system, it becomes “softened” and will come out of the taps and other water using appliances, clean and free from minerals.  Since it uses sodium to soften the water, these systems are not recommended for those who are on low-sodium diets.

If you happen to be on a low-sodium diet and want a softener, there has been a development of a new type of system over the past years.  A new system incorporates the use of Citrus instead of sodium to soften the water.  The Citrus is used to make the minerals soluble so that the water will not contain them.  It uses a filter system so for it to work correctly, the filter should be switched out every six months.  No matter which kind of softener you chose, you can be sure that your fixtures will last longer when you have one. 

Softeners

Heating and Cooling Systems

 When most people think of home, they think of a place where they can relax and be comfortable by doing so.  Some of the things that contribute to this comfort are the furniture that we own, the size of different rooms and other simple things like the temperature inside of the house.  If you haven’t ever dealt with installing a heating or cooling system, it may surprise you how much work really goes into making your home comfortable by controlling the temperature inside of it.  Some systems are pretty simple and easy to understand, while other systems are more complex and require more components to them.

            A simple way of controlling the temperature in our home can be as simple as using a space heater to warm up a room during the winter to using a portable fan to cool a room down during the summer.  These are nice to have if you will only be in one part of your home, but if you want to have your entire house around the same temperature, you need to get a little more complex in your system.  A swamp cooler can cool down a larger area than one room, but still may not be able to reach other areas of the home like the basement (if the swamp cooler is installed upstairs somewhere.

Heater

            The best way to distribute hot air in the winter or cool air in the summer is by having a central heating and air system.  This system may not seem to be something that is complex at all, since it can be controlled by the touch of a button or by the moving of a lever, but if you take a closer look, you will find that it isn’t so simple.  In order for a central air system to work properly, certain parts and components need to be installed.  You first need to have a way in which to distribute the air throughout the home.  This is done by having a duct system installed throughout the walls, floors, and in some cases, the ceilings. 

This duct work is designed so that the air passing through it can be blown out into different rooms in the home through vents.  Some of the vents have the option of controlling the flow that exits them.  The vent can be completely closed so no air is flowing to open all the way that full flow is happening or anywhere in between.  When you set your thermostat to a specific temperature, you expect that the home will be around that temperature.  The air that flows out wouldn’t be useful if there weren’t a way to tell what it has done for the temperature of the home.  This is why central air systems have grills where the return air is brought back into the system.  By having this set-up, the heating or cooling unit can determine whether the system should continue running or if it should shut off.  It is amazing how such a simple convenience in our homes can involve such a complex system!

American Standard Sink Review

While working in the plumbing industry I have come into contact with many different brands and manufacturer’s products, both when doing jobs and in the different apartments and homes that I have lived in.  I have found that I like certain brands for certain applications.  When working in a bathroom, I prefer a specific brand for the separate areas found in it.  For example, I will get a certain brand of toilet that may or may not be the same brand as the lavatory sink.  I do try to stick with the same brand when it comes to installing faucets and tub & shower fixtures, for the most part.

Many times, in half-bathrooms or what some people like to call “mud rooms”, there won’t be a complete vanity with drawers and other storage space.  Instead, a popular choice is to have a pedestal sink, which is a stand-alone sink with a porcelain base.  When I am working on these bathrooms I use the American Standard pedestal sink, for a number of different reasons.  One of these reasons being the variety of shapes of pedestals that they manufacture.  They range from oval, round, or square shape.  Some of them have look like fancy columns that you would find in architecture, which can give a bathroom a fancy appearance and add to its value.

Base

Another reason I like their pedestals is because they are quality construction.  I have purchased more inexpensive pedestals before and they have given me problems.  Many of them seem to be more fragile than the American Standard brand and they also seem to chip more easily when an object knocks into them.  Even the pedestals that are smaller in diameter seem to be more sturdy than some of the bigger pedestals in the cheaper brands.

In addition the company manufactures a pedestal sink that has a towel bar that attaches underneath the basin of the sink.  I installed one in my home and it is a nice feature to have for little children.  It places the towel at their level so when they are done washing their hands (or getting their hands washed) they can easily reach the towel to dry their hands.  This also eliminates the frustration that comes from a towel ring getting loosened or pulled down when it isn’t at the level of that the child can reach easily.  I have had some of my regular customers who have purchased these types of sinks and when I have gone to do other jobs they told me how much they liked this feature.  They also are easy to remove once the children have grown up and they are no longer needed.

Pedestals

When I am looking for a pedestal to install for a job, I know I can count on http://www.plumbersstock.com/category/3236/american-standard/ to find what I am looking for.  They have a great selection of stand-alone pedestal bases, sinks, and the combinations of the base and sink.  The prices are reasonable, the product is shipped to me within days, and extra precautions are taken to ensure that I receive it in one piece.

How to Install Drywall

Whether you are building a new home or you are finishing your basement, chances are that you will have to install drywall.  Here are some steps on how to install it.

When installing drywall, try to have the temperature of the room or rooms that you are working in around 55 degrees F at least two days before you hang it.  When you cut the dry wall it will release dust that can cause irritation in your eyes and throat.  To avoid this, wear safety glasses on your eyes and a mask on over your mouth.

You can hang the first piece of drywall starting in a corner and at the top of the wall.  Mark the places on the drywall that correspond to the studs behind it.  It is also easier to hang dry wall when you have another person helping you, they can hold it up while you screw it into the wall.

Drywall

Starting at the top, put in your screws and then continue down to the middle, then the bottom.  Once this panel is secured  put up the next one until you reach the corner or end of the wall.  Measure the open space at the bottom of the wall so you can cut the next piece to fit in the right place.  Once all your wall is up, use joint tape to cover the cracks that are in between the different panels.  Once everything is covered you can get ready to paint with your choice of colors, etc.

More help and other hints: http://www.diynetwork.com/windows-walls-and-doors/drywall-tools-and-prep/index.html

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