Wooten Plumbing

Why Water Isn’t Always Good For You

Most of us were taught that we should drink at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water every day. That’s basically two liters of the stuff. But what if water isn’t always good for you?

If we could insert a record scratch sound here, we totally would—because that’s probably what just happened in your head: What do you mean water isn’t always good for me?!

Here’s what we mean: Water is only good for you if it’s good-quality water. Like most things, water quality is complex—and a lot can happen to your water on its journey from the natural source to your faucet. 

Where does your water come from?

First things first: Where does your water come from? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), water comes from two sources: surface water and groundwater. 

Surface water comes from actual bodies of water like streams, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. Groundwater is typically run-off that ends up in underground pockets—called aquifers—and is obtained through wells that pump the water to the surface.

Both surface and groundwater are collected by your local public water system, which then transports it to your washing machine, bathtub, and coffee cup. That water may or may not be treated when it reaches you.

Even if the water isn’t treated, it’s still held to standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Safe Drinking Water Act. The EPA tests for 90 different contaminants and regulates all the pre-treatments, filtrations, and disinfectants in your water. Of course, if you have a private well, your water isn’t covered by EPA oversight. In that case, it’s critical to take extra precautions and test your water—at least annually.

What might contaminate your water?

Agriculture, commercial and industrial land uses, residential impacts, and other factors can influence the quality of your water. The most common culprits are:

  • The use and storage of fertilizers
  • Disposal of human and animal waste
  • Landfills
  • Sewer lines
  • Illegal dumping

 This handy chart from the EPA gives a more detailed picture of the factors affecting your water quality outside your home. (Ewwwww, right?) 

Now, what about inside your home? It’s all about the pipes. Pipes can be damaged or clogged with build-up, allowing contaminants into the water. Old pipes and fittings can corrode and lead to serious problems. (This is part of what happened in Flint, Michigan.) 

OK, so how do I know if MY water is safe?

If you’re on a public water system, you should receive a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) every year—usually with your July bill. The CCR can tell you:

  • Your local water source
  • Levels of contaminants in the water
  • Adherence to EPA standards
  • How often your water is tested

Note:  Again, if you  have a private well, you won’t receive a CCR, and you’re responsible for keeping your water safe to drink. We recommend regular testing. 

Your senses can also give you a fairly reliable read on the quality of your water. It may not be safe to consume if:

  • It looks cloudy or discolored.
  • It feels slimy, if your laundry is  stiff, or if you’re experiencing low water pressure.
  • It smells like chlorine, rotten eggs, or fish.
  • It tastes metallic, salty, or earthy.

Finally, if you seem to be constantly battling a stomach bug (you know what we’re talking about here), there’s a chance your water is contaminated by coliform bacteria

What can I do to keep my water safe?

Prevention should be your first priority. In addition to keeping your eye on that CCR, be sure to properly maintain your pipes and faucets.

To be extra safe, many homeowners choose to purchase a water filtration system. They range in size, cost, and point of attachment, and they can be as convenient as a filtered water pitcher or countertop unit. Before installing a whole-house filtration system, have your water professionally tested to ensure you purchase the right unit.
The best policy? Be watchful and ask questions! If you have concerns about your water, we’re here to help. As your Tulsa plumber, the quality of your water and your family’s safety are important to us. Give us a call today!

Worst Plumbing Mistakes DIYers Make

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How to Avoid Costly (and Dangerous) Consequences of Playing Plumber

With the dawn of YouTube and Pinterest, most of us have tried—and failed—at a DIY project or two (or 27). Regardless of our past “nailed it” moments, we’re nevertheless tempted to take DIY to a new level when we think it’ll save us serious cash—plumbing problems included.

OK, maybe you haven’t made that mistake, but plenty of your Tulsa neighbors have—and we’d love to help you avoid doing the same. Here are eight of the worst plumbing mistakes DIYers make.

DIY Plumbing Mistake #1: Lack of Planning

Whether it’s an easy project that’s been on your to-do list for months or a large-scale bathroom renovation, you need to spend sufficient time in the planning phase. And there are a lot of factors to consider. For example:

  • Too many fixtures can lead to low water pressure.
  • Not enough space between the toilet and the bathtub creates some uncomfortable situations or Twister-worthy contortions.
  • Taking something apart without paying attention to how all the pieces fit together can lead to a frustrating jigsaw puzzle on the back end of your project. (Pro planning tip: Take a picture before you start disassembling anything.)

DIY Plumbing Mistake #2: Unpermitted Work

Sometimes your local government needs to be involved in your planning! Failing to obtain the proper permits for your fix-it adventures can devalue your home and lead to hefty fines. (And weren’t you trying to save money?) Permits help keep your family and your neighbors safe by allowing local building officials to oversee your home improvement projects. If you’re using a contractor, insist they pull permits, too. Cutting corners rarely cuts costs in the long run.

DIY Plumbing Mistake #3: Wrong Tools

So, you wouldn’t try to nail a screw right? (Well, maybe you would, but most people wouldn’t.) Using the wrong tool for a job can cause frustration, at best—and serious damage, at worst. Most plumbing jobs require basic tools like a plumber’s wrench, basin wrench, and plumber’s snake. Hand augers—long, stiff cables to remove clogs—are also a helpful tool. It’s important to do your research before adding these tools to your collection though, because there are various types of augers and snakes for different fixtures. Another pro tip: Some equipment is better rented than owned. Research and rent accordingly, so you get the most for your dollar.

DIY Plumbing Mistake #4: Mismatched Pipes

Many DIYers don’t know what kind of pipes they have, and they end up mixing galvanized and modern copper pipes. This leads to corrosion, leaks, and expensive future repairs. Matching the materials between existing and replacement pipes is necessary for a successful fix-it project. Researching what kind of pipe you need to replace and any needed connections is a good place to start. And don’t try to just “make it work” with tape, silicone, or other sealants. (Pipe corrosion doesn’t care what kind of tape you have.)

DIY Plumbing Mistake #5: Over-Tightening Connections

While you may want to show off your Hercules-like strength, making a tighter connection doesn’t prevent a leaky pipe. It actually creates them. Damaged fittings, broken plastic washers, stripped threads, and cracked fittings create these leaks rather quickly. Save your strength for opening those pesky pickle jars! Begin with hand-tightening your connections, then making small turns just until the connection is secure.

DIY Plumbing Mistake #6: Forgetting to Shut-Off the Water

Before attempting your plumbing project, turn off the water! Skipping this step could result in a surprise indoor swimming pool—and some major water damage. Turn off the water at the local shut off valve or to your entire house via the water main. It’s not a bad idea to drain the pipes, too. Flush water down the drain for a few seconds or give the toilet a final flush to ensure you won’t need floaties in your kitchen or bathroom.

DIY Plumbing Mistake #7: Too Much Drain Cleaner

We know drain cleaner seems like a quick fix for the standing water in your shower. But overusing drain cleaner can severely damage your pipes. Instead of chemicals, try a more natural, less expensive solution: vinegar and baking soda. Or get your hands on a plunger or drain snake. A clean (and non-corroded) drain is a happy drain!

DIY Plumbing Mistake #8: Refusing to Admit Defeat

If you find yourself in over your head, give us a call. We have the knowledge, skills, licenses, tools, and experience to handle your DIY disasters. We’d been Tulsa’s preferred plumber for years, and we’d love to serve you, too! Give us a call today!

Why Are Plumbers So Expensive? (The Answer May Surprise You)

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As a Tulsa homeowner, you want a plumber who’s an expert—someone whom you can trust to get the job right the first time. And also? You’d love to not get ripped off.

Here’s the problem: If you’re in need of plumbing services, you’re in a vulnerable position. Whether you have a burst pipe, a fried water heater, or sludge backing up into your shower, you need someone to make it stop right now. That means you don’t have a lot of leverage when it comes to cost. What’re you going to do—comparison shop for a couple of hours while your tub’s filling with sewage? Not likely.

So you pound out a quick Google search, you make a call, and you hope for a fair price. But you don’t really know what’s “fair,” and, quite frankly, any price feels excessive. There’s just nothing fun about spending money on plumbing services.

Plus, to be perfectly honest, plumbing is an expensive deal. And why is that? Is it because plumbers are just in it for the money, they know how vulnerable homeowners are, and they love taking advantage of people? No, no, and no. Not the good ones, anyway.

Sure, plumbers want to make money—just like everyone else. (Including you, right?) But reputable plumbers, like Wooten Plumbing, don’t jack up their prices just because we can.

Three Reasons Plumbing Is So Expensive

Fair plumbers offer competitive pricing based on three variables: availability, materials, and expertise.

Plumbers Are Always On

Plumbing service calls tend to occur in the evenings or on weekends, when homeowners are able to meet a technician. Otherwise, they happen “as soon as you can get here” because of an emergency. While it may seem unfair to base service call pricing on day, time of day, or urgency, that’s the nature of supply-and-demand economics.

That being said, at Wooten Plumbing we offer flat-rate pricing. We figure it’s not your fault your kid flushed 16 hot wheels on a Sunday morning. And since it doesn’t cost us any more to solve your plumbing problem at 3 am on a Thursday than it does at 2 pm on a Tuesday, there’s really no good reason to charge you more.

Plumbing Requires Parts

Unless you’re calling us over to simply unclog a drain, we’ll need some “stuff” to fix your plumbing problem: pipe, fittings, hardware, appliances (like a garbage disposal), putty, valves, and so on. The costs of parts and materials get factored in to your bill.

Fun fact: as a flat-rate shop, we save our customers additional money by not needing to collect sales takes on the parts we put in your home. If we operated on time-and-materials only, we’d be required by state law to also collect additional sales tax from you.

Plumbing Requires Experience and Expertise

Plumbing requires precise, technical knowledge. We could cut expenses (and therefore costs to you) by hiring less-knowledgeable team members, but that’s simply not our model. Rather, we hire only the most skilled technicians—plumbers who will treat your home like their own and do their absolute best work, every time. These guys have gone through hundreds of hours of training and licensing exams to be certain they know the safest way to vent your water heater, for instance, without threatening your family’s safety. (It happens with unlicensed handymen. all. the. time.)

Bonus Reason: Insurance Is Expensive

You don’t just want anyone in your home or business without knowing they can cover the risk of things that could happen on your property, or on the way to your property. Most people would be shocked if they realized how much it costs a business to have adequate insurance coverage for the myriad of services we provide. Sure, you could save a buck by choosing a plumber with less-than-adequate insurance, but when the crap literally hits the fan, is that a problem you want on your hands? No. Us, too. That’s why we’re bonded and insured as a point of best-practice.

To Save Money, Leave Plumbing Fixes to the Experts

Homeowners typically don’t budget for plumbing emergencies, which means they’re often tempted to find a YouTube video and take a first swing at their repair themselves. We understand the temptation, but we can tell you, with authority, that’s rarely a good idea. Almost never, in fact.

Most of the time, DIY repairs cause more damage, which means you’ll end up calling a Tulsa plumber anyway–to fix the original problem and to fix your (attempted) fix. It’s always better to bring in an expert from the get-go.

Need a plumbing expert? Give us a call today!

Thinking About a Tankless Water Heater? Read this First.

Oh, hot water, we adore you. The steamy showers, the sanitized dishes, the miraculously-white-again t-shirts. But here’s the deal: We’re starting to think our love is unrequited. After all, you tend to disappear quickly. Sure, we just started both the dishwasher and a load of towels—but is that really an excuse to run out on our kids’ bubble bath? Don’t their chattering teeth make you feel a tiny bit guilty? Really, hot water! What’s your problem, anyway?

OK, OK—that’s a little ridiculous. When you “run out” of hot water when you really, really, really wanted it, we’re guessing your internal dialogue sounds a bit more… heated (buh-dum-dum-tss).

If you’re that frustrated with your hot water situation, you may have been talking with Google quite a bit, trying to come up with a solution. Sooner than later, you’ll find yourself wondering about switching from a traditional tank-style water heater to a tankless water heater.

That’s a terrific “I wonder” to entertain. We’ve installed hundreds of tankless water heaters for our Tulsa plumbing customers, and they’re often (but not always) a fantastic fix. Before you start tearing out that big silver cylinder in your basement, let’s just cover some tankless water heater basics. (And, regardless, please do NOT attempt a DIY water heater removal. Way too many things can go wrong!)

How Tankless Water Heaters Work

Unlike traditional water heaters that keep many gallons of water hot at all times—even when you don’t need it—tankless models heat water on demand.

Here’s how it works: When you turn on a faucet, a sensor registers the flow of water. It responds by sending a signal to a control panel that it’s time to start pulling in and warming up some air. As water flows through the unit, a heat exchanger transfers the warmth from the air to the water. (Yes, that’s a simplified explanation, but we thought we’d spare you the mechanical engineering/thermodynamics lecture.)

Poof! Hot water—when and where you need. Sounds dreamy, right? There’s more!

Benefits of Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters have a couple of drawbacks, which we’ll get to in a minute. But first, let’s talk about why they’re great.

  • Speed. Tankless units produce hot water at a rate of 2-5 gallons per minute, and the hot water never “runs out.”
  • Cost-saving. Tankless water heaters are pricey (again, we’ll get to that in a minute), but over time the unit may pay for itself in energy savings. Typically, tankless units save homeowners between 8% and 24% on utility bills, according to energy.gov. You may also score a tax rebate for installing an energy-efficient appliance.
  • Shelf-life. Gas-powered tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years—twice that of traditional models.
  • No flooding. Tankless heaters don’t have… tanks. So, you’ll never have to worry about 50 gallons of water swallowing up your college momentos and those boxes of clothing you swear you’ll be able to get back into one of these days.
  • Energy-saving. Unlike traditional water heaters, the tankless versions use energy to heat water only when you need it.
  • Small footprint. Tankless units won’t gobble up a bunch of floorspace. In fact, most of them are wall-mounted.
  • Smart. Newer tankless water heaters allow you to adjust water temperature via a mobile app and will notify you when they need service.

Drawbacks of Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are a great investment for many homeowners, but there are a couple of cons to consider.  And you can probably guess the first one.

  • Cost.  Tank-style water heaters run about $400; tankless models can be three times that. Sure, you’ll save some money on your energy bills—but it’ll take a good amount of time to recoup your investment. If you’re considering tankless to save money alone, you’ll likely be disappointed.
  • Installation. Whether you’re replacing your water heater with a traditional or tankless model, you should absolutely involve a professional Tulsa plumber. Installing a tankless water heater tends to be a bit pricier, especially if you need upgraded gas or electrical connections.
  • Capacity. Although you technically won’t “run out” of hot water, tankless water heaters still have some capacity considerations. They typically can’t support multiple hot water uses at once, but they’re compact enough to be installed at multiple places in your home.
  • Flow rate sensitivity. If you don’t have consistent water pressure, the temperature of hot water produced by tankless units may be inconsistent.

We Can Help With Your Decision

Considering making the switch to a tankless water heater? We’d love to offer a free estimate. Call us today to get started.

How to Hire a Plumber on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace Spoiler Alert: Don’t. Don’t do that.

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We know you want to be a responsible homeowner who takes good care of your investment. But we know something else, too: When your garbage disposal’s on the fritz or there’s a mysterious water stain on your family room ceiling, you’d really rather not pay a gazillion dollars to have someone fix the problem. You especially don’t want to pay a gazillion dollars if the job should’ve only cost half that much.

We get it. Feeling ripped off and taken advantage of is no fun. And even when a contractor’s price is totally fair, it’s still no fun to write that check. Quite frankly, even we—professional Tulsa plumbers—would rather spend our money on 632 other things.

Unfortunately, the desire to save money on plumbing repairs tempts many people to turn to places like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to find a not-so-expensive plumber. The problem is not-so-expensive plumbers are far too often not-exactly-plumbers. And that can lead to disastrous—even dangerous—results.

Here’s how this usually goes down: Someone’s water heater goes kaput. After the initial cussing, the homeowner does a bit of research and decides “real” plumbers are too expensive. So, they go scanning Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for “handyman” ads. They find someone who says, “Yeah, man. I can install a water heater.” And they can. But not correctly. So, the job costs far more than they guessed it would, and it’s done wrong. At best, the homeowner ends up with a leak. At worst—and we see this frighteningly often—it’s the wrong unit and/or it’s vented improperly, creating a deadly build-up of carbon monoxide.

To be clear, the chances of you finding a handyman who is intentionally trying to hurt someone are pretty slim. But if your primary concern is saving a little money, you’ll easily find someone whose primary concern is making a little money—doing things they’re absolutely not qualified to do.

You might luck out. Or, you might pay someone to make a repair—and then have to pay another someone to repair the repair. And, most importantly, you might be putting your family at risk along the way. It’s not worth it.

Four Ways to Identify a Qualified Tulsa Plumber

There’s no doubt you’ll pay more for your repair by hiring a real plumber than by going with a random guy you found online. But that extra expense is well worth the money. A qualified plumber will be:

  1. Licensed. States regulate plumbing licenses, and it’s not easy to get one. New plumbers spend several years as an apprentice and take an exam before they’re granted their own license. If someone’s not licensed, there’s no guarantee they know what they’re doing and, without the accountability of a licensing body, they may be more willing to engage in unethical business practices. You wouldn’t hire a doctor without a medical degree; why would you hire an unlicensed plumber?
  2. Insured. Don’t hesitate to ask for proof of insurance before signing a repair agreement. If a contractor gets hurt in your home, you want their deductible to apply, not yours.
  3. Bonded. While a contractor’s insurance covers them and their company, a surety bond covers you, the homeowner. For example, if a plumber causes damage to your home, a surety bond would take care of repairs, rather than your homeowners’ insurance. Also, only trustworthy companies can get bonded, so hiring a bonded plumber is just another layer of protection for you.
  4. Well-reviewed. A qualified plumber won’t hesitate to provide references, but it’s just as easy for you to do your own research. Visit the Better Business Bureau. Google the company and look for reviews. Do the same on Facebook.

Yes, of course Wooten Plumbing is licensed, insured, and bonded.

Using Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to find a plumber just isn’t worth the risk to your home, family, and wallet. Give us a call today.