Kost's Korner

Plumbing and COVID-19

Covid-19 has changed the world in many ways and has had a unique impact on the plumbing industry. With people staying home 24/7, the pipes in their homes are certainly earning their keep. While unemployment has skyrocketed across the country, many plumbers are busier than ever.

Some have called the Spring of 2020 the Great Toilet Paper Shortage. When news that the Novel Coronavirus had become a global pandemic, the human race started behaving in unpredicted ways. With Covid-19 causing severe flu-like symptoms, one might think everyone would run out and stock up on cold medicines, cough drops, and vapor rub. Instead, the world instantly became obsessed with finding and hoarding toilet paper. And then, when the toilet paper disappeared from the shelves, paper towels became the next best thing. People began displaying strange behavior and videos surfaced of soccer moms fighting in the supermarkets over the last roll of Charmin. Soon there wasn’t a square to spare, as they would say on Seinfeld.

Although we laughed at the cute memes on Facebook, soon, it wasn't long until plumbers were inundated with calls of backed-up toilets and overtaxed pipes. People can be extremely creative when it comes to to...er...their bathroom deeds. Paper Towels, baby wipes, and yes, even socks became everyday objects snaked out of many commodes. It turns out that even if the box says it is flushable, it doesn't always mean that it truly is.

Soon plumbers took to social media, pleading with residents to only flush toilet paper down the pipes. They offered advice on acceptable alternatives and suggested that people throw away their wiping apparatuses instead of flushing them. 

It seems as though the toilet paper panic is leveling off as the world tries to return to some normalcy. Even though this year has been turned upside down, we will one day look back and chuckle that toilet tissue became a hot commodity. Why the world became obsessed with collecting toilet paper may always remain a mystery.

The Dangers of Pinhole Leaks

pinhole leakCopper piping is by far the most widely used material in plumbing systems; however, despite what you might believe, copper piping doesn’t last forever. In the original design of copper piping, the pipes were expected to last up to 25 years but often fail in as little as two years due to changing water chemistry.

Unrelated to water quality, changes in water chemistry have caused the water to become aggressive toward the copper piping resulting in subsequent problems like internal pitting corrosion - leading to what’s known as “pinhole leaks”.

So, why are pinhole leaks dangerous?

Pinhole leaks are a big issue for several reasons. First, they are rarely discovered until they have inflicted significant damage to your home. Pinhole leaks may occur in the ceilings and walls, surrounded by insulation and support beams.

Because they are so small, they don’t cause the telltale signs of lowered water pressure or water damage - giving them plenty of time to rot out the insulation and support beams one small drop at a time. Pair that with the fact that many homeowners believe their copper pipes are durable, and you end up with a mess on your hands.

Given that pinhole leaks are so small and nearly impossible to detect, the only fail-proof way to catch them before they cause extensive damage is to have the plumbing system in your home checked at least once a year by a professional plumber like Kost Plumbing. Serving the Ocala Area.

Quick Tips for Maintaining a Septic System in Central Florida

septic tank floridaFor those of us here in Florida not connected to a municipal sewer system, a septic tank on the property is most likely what you would find. Septic tanks can be a breeze to maintain if you follow a few helpful tips on what and what not to put into the system and how to care for the area around the system.

  • Laundry
    Make sure you are using a septic tank safe detergent. Many soaps contain chemicals that can clog septic systems, and bleach should be used sparingly within the system.
  • Septic Pumping
    Get your system pumped regularly, approximately every 3 -5 years. This will ensure any significant maintenance issues can be serviced by a professional.
  • Rain
    Excessive rain can wreak havoc on a septic system. If the drain field is too saturated, the liquid waste within the system will not be able to be adequately absorbed into the surrounding area. It's important that during times of high rainfall to use rain barrels or other means to direct runoff away from the system.
  • Toilet Trash
    The only type of "trash" that should go into your septic system is toilet paper. No other trash should go into the system.
  • Conserve Water
    This is a great idea anyway for several reasons, but as far as your septic system goes, all water in your house drains into the system, so the less water in the system, the less work the system must do, and the longer the system will last. Fix any leaky toilets and sinks right away!

Call Kost Plumbing today for any help you might need with your septic system.

The Toilet of the Future

Japan has long ruled The Throne when it comes to state-of-the-art toilets. With all the bells and whistles, from bidets to butt buffers, they have turned a simple wee into A Bathroom Experience. Meanwhile, we have been using the same basic toilet design for…ever. Some would argue we’re long overdue for a toilet makeover. After living in Tokyo and using a heated seat in the middle of winter, there’s no going back.

Behold, the Smart toilet. America has arrived! Consider a Smart toilet for these eight great reasons:

  1. You’ll see a difference in your water consumption. Smart toilets sense how much water is needed and flush using just the right amount. The smaller flushes can use as little as 0.6 gallons per flush (GPF). A basic toilet that doesn't have smart flush technology uses around 1.6 - 2 gallons, so Smart toilets save quite a bit of water. In places like Florida and California, where water restrictions are standard, and freshwater is costly, this would be a huge benefit.
  2. No-touch flush! If you're germophobic, good news! The Smart toilet flushes without being touched due to a sensor. This is also ideal for family members who forget to flush.
  3. Overflow protection. Happy parents aren’t mopping up poopy floors. The Smart toilet stops us from flushing if the toilet is clogged, which keeps water levels in the bowl low.
  4. Eco-friendly. If you have a bidet and an air dryer, you don’t need as much toilet paper. That means you’re saving trees. And money. And you're gentle to your hemorrhoids.
  5. Cool Features! Heated seating! A massaging bidet and air dryer! Oh, yes…the bidet finally comes to America! Smart toilets also feature a nightlight, deodorizing, slow-closing lid, foot warmer, self-cleaning features, tank leak alert sensors, Bluetooth, and MP3 capability.
  6. Hygiene. Most Smart toilets are self-sanitizing. They’re also self-deodorizing. The automatic deodorization system should kick at the moment you sit on the toilet and stop after you get up from the seat. So, throughout your pooping session, the surrounding air is kept fresh and odorless. That’s so smart, right.
  7. Remote control. Guess what’s controlled on the remote? The seat. Whether you prefer the seat up or down, it’ll be ready for you when you get there! Everything is controlled on the remote, but pointing that lid thing out first seemed to be a priority.
  8. Size Matters! Are you working with a tiny space, or would you prefer an XXL size toilet? Either way, there's a Smart toilet for you!

Smart toilets can range in price, but the fully-loaded version comes with fantastic options that might even make the Japanese a little jealous. Don’t be too obsessed about finding the lowest price. The more significant aspects to consider are the service support and replacement parts. And you’ve got to understand that a typical plumber won’t have the expertise to service your broken toilet. You’ll need to go back to the manufacturer or the official distributor(s) for any service/support. So, bear these things in mind as you search for the perfect Smart toilet that will change your life and spoil you rotten.

Plumber Tools Every Homeowner Should Have Handy

plumber toolsIt's, and you hear water running. You jump out of bed and run to the bathroom only to find that that water that's supposed to be in your toilet tank is now all over your floor! Do you grab your phone and call an incredibly expensive 24-hour emergency plumber who may or may not be able to make it in time before there's more damage? Or do you take a deep breath and remember your tool kit tucked away for just this type of disaster? Don't let this happen to you! There are a few plumbing tools that every homeowner should have tucked away, only in case of this sort of problem! Here you will find the top plumbing tools everyone should own (but hopefully don't have to use often!).

  1. Basin wrench. We'll start with the basics, and this is a wrench that is in every plumber's toolkit. This type of wrench is made for tough to reach and tight spots and works perfectly on nuts and bolts for under sinks.
  2. Adjustable wrench. Another handy wrench to have since this wrench can tackle those hexagonal bolts. They don't slip on wet bolts (so if it's a leak under the sink you're tackling you won't lose your grip) and have an adjustable jaw to fit various widths.
  3. Hacksaw. If you know what you're doing, sometimes some cutting is involved. A hacksaw can tackle metal and plastic pipes as well as nuts and bolts and other types of hardware. Make sure to also keep a supply of extra blades handy just in case your current one has become dull in between uses.
  4. Thread seal tape (Plumber's Tape). Spot a leak and need a super quick fix? This tape is an inexpensive way to wrap up a leaky pipe or a squirting showerhead. The threading in the tape prevents leaks from escaping and is a great temporary fix.
  5. Toilet plunger. Toilet plungers are probably the most critical item on the list and something you more than likely already have. But do you have the correct one? Most homes usually have the standard cup plunger, but a more effective one is the flange plunger. The flange plunger has a specific shape that's made to clear toilets, but a cup plunger is still good for sink and shower clogs.

Having these tools on hand will help you if you find yourself with a backed-up toilet or a leaky sink. Or at the very least, buy you a little more time before you call a professional in to help fix the problem entirely and permanently!