Wooten Plumbing

Traditional vs. Tankless Water Heaters

tulsa water heater tankless

Traditional vs. Tankless Water Heaters

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On a scale from cold coffee to world hunger, running out of hot water is most definitely toward the first-world-problems end of the spectrum. Still, that doesn’t make the experience any less frustrating or any more comfortable. Even the morning-person-est of morning people is likely to scream a swear word or two when the shower turns to sleet. It’s pretty much the worst wake-up call imaginable.

If you’ve had it with cold showers and you’re thinking your water heater’s blame, you’re probably right. And if you’re thinking a tankless, or on-demand, water heater might be the perfect solution to your problem, you might be right. As Tulsa’s most-trusted plumber, we can help you make an informed decision about your water heater. As with most things homeownership, you’ll need to weigh several factors before making the switch from traditional to tankless.

What is a Tankless Water Heater?

As the name implies, tankless water heaters don’t store hot water. Instead, they have heated coils through which water is warmed on demand. When you turn on your shower, water runs through those coils, and you’re treated to an endless supply of hot water—theoretically, anyway. Keep reading.

Hot Water Capacity in Tankless and Traditional Water Heaters

Traditional water heaters, also called storage tank water heaters, hold between 20 and 80 gallons of hot water. When hot water is needed—by your dishwasher, for example—it’s carried through your pipes from the storage tank to that appliance. Then, cold water fills flows into the storage tank and is warmed over time. If you use hot water faster than the cold water can be warmed, you “run out” of hot water. So, if you’re consistently cussing at your shower, it’s likely your water heater is too small for your needs.

If that’s the case, does it make sense to just switch to an on-demand water heater instead? Not necessarily. While tankless water heaters don’t have the capacity problem of traditional heaters, they could pose a different problem: flow rate. Tankless water heaters can have trouble keeping up with simultaneous demands. If you’re running two showers and the washing machine at the same time, something (or someone) is going to suffer. To solve that problem, you can install multiple tankless heaters and enjoy a truly never-ending supply of hot water.  But that brings us to another point of comparison: cost.

Costs of Tankless vs. Traditional Water Heaters

According to Home Advisor, the average purchase and installation cost of a 40- to 50-gallon water heater is just shy of $900. To buy and install a tankless model can cost more than three times that—$3000 on average.

So is on-demand hot water worth it? From a comfort standpoint, yes. From a pocketbook standpoint? Maybe, maybe not. As reported by Energy.gov, tankless units don’t have the standby losses of traditional tanks, and they’re 8-34% more efficient and can last twice as long as storage tank models. Still, if cost is a concern, you should carefully weigh your initial outlay for purchase and installation against the savings you’ll enjoy over time.

Pros and Cons of Tankless vs. Traditional Water Heaters

Here’s an at-a-glance comparison of traditional and tankless water heaters.

Pros of Traditional Water Heaters

  • Relatively low up-front costs.
  • Simple and quick to install.

Cons of Traditional Water Heaters

  • Slightly higher utility bills because water is warmed regardless of your need for it at the time.
  • Takes up more floor space.
  • Hot water supply is limited by the storage tank capacity.
  • Life expectancy of 10-15 years.

Pros of Tankless Water Heaters

  • Smaller units that can be installed anywhere.
  • Deliver up to three gallons of hot water per minute. (See Cons!)
  • Life expectancy of 20+ years.

Cons of Tankless Water Heaters

  • Higher up-front costs.
  • Can take more time to install.
  • Deliver up to three gallons of hot water per minute—which is adequate unless you’re running multiple appliances at once.

Overall

  • Traditional water heaters are typically more affordable but are less energy-efficient.
  • Tankless water heaters are definitely more energy-efficient but can be less cost-effective.

Still Not Sure Which Water Heater is Right for You?

We hate cold showers, too, and we’re happy to help! Give us a call today and we’ll talk through your household size and habits so you can make the best decision for your family.

When it comes time to help decide between the benefits of tankless or traditional water heaters in Tulsa, Wooten Plumbing leads the way. We have years of experience that helps us learn which makes and models will be the most cost-efficient for your family or business to own. Call us today to learn more!

tulsa plumbing

By BRIAN WOOTEN

© 2018 by Wooten Plumbing & Utilities, LLC

The Best Ways to Ruin Your Home’s Plumbing

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The Best Ways to Ruin Your Home’s Plumbing

tulsa emergency plumber

As your Tulsa plumber, we typically like to offer preventive maintenance tips and do-it-yourself tricks on our blog. This time, we’re going the opposite direction: We’re going to share some DON’T tips. To be honest, we’ve seen too many homeowners make big mistakes that cost big bucks to fix, and we don’t want to see that happen to you. So, in that spirit, let’s cover-off on the best ways to ruin your home’s plumbing.

Best Way to Ruin Your Plumbing #1: Misuse Your Garbage Disposal

First of all, “garbage” disposal is a terrible name for this appliance. “Food waste” disposal would be a better option. “Food waste that’s not stringy, starchy, or greasy” disposal would be even better. Unless you’re interested in wrecking your disposal and/or creating a massive jam in your kitchen pipes, stop misusing your garbage disposal. Here are some specific don’ts:

  1. Don’t shove food down your drain and then turn on the disposal. That’s the exact wrong order. Instead, turn on the water, turn on the disposal, then carefully push scraps in—with something other than your hand, please. When you’re finished, turn off the disposal and let the water run for a few seconds to push any remaining bits down the pipe.
  2. Don’t use hot water. Hot water can melt what you’re attempting to grind, which then coats your pipes with all matter of goo and makes it more difficult to scraps to make it all the way through.
  3. Don’t try to grind large pieces of food. Cut everything into small chunks before sending it down the drain.

Best Way to Ruin Your Plumbing #2: Flush Non-Flushables

You wouldn’t believe the things we’ve fished out of sewer lines. Sure, accidents happen—particularly in homes with small, curious children. But these things were no accident; these homeowners actually used their toilet as a trash can. If you’re hoping to overflow your toilet and flood your basement, then be our guest: put your leftover dinner down the john. Or if you’re hoping for a sewer backup because you’ve missed talking with your insurance agent, use paper towels instead of toilet paper. Otherwise, the only things that belong in your toilet (other than the obvious) are water and toilet paper. No cotton swabs. No feminine products. And no chemicals. (Keep reading.)

Best Way to Ruin Your Plumbing #3: Use Drain Cleaner

When your sink or toilet clogs up, we know it’s tempting to reach for the drain cleaner. But if you have a major clog that the drain cleaner doesn’t resolve, those chemicals will just sit there, corroding your pipes. It also creates a hazardous situation for our service techs if you end up needing help. If you choose to use the stuff, use it preventively only—and flush plenty of water down the drain afterward to make sure there’s no residue left in your pipes. Here are some alternatives to try instead of using harsh chemicals:

  • Use a drain snake or bend a wire hanger into a hook and see what you can pull up.
  • Mix equal parts vinegar and baking soda, and pour it down the drain. Cover the opening with a damp washcloth, and allow it to steep for at least an hour. Then rinse with hot water. You can also use equal parts salt and baking soda; after letting the mixture soak in the drain for 20 minutes, carefully rinse with boiling water.
  • Clean the trap—the u- or s-shaped pipe under your sink. Put a basin or bucket underneath it to capture any water that comes out, unscrew the trap, turn it upside down to remove any gook, and give it a quick scrub with an old toothbrush. Be sure to replace it when you’re finished; that little pipe makes sure toxic sewer gases don’t escape into your home.

Best Way to Ruin Your Plumbing #4: Leave Your Hose Connected in Freezing Weather

If you’re in a cold climate and your garden hoses are still connected to your hose bibb (outdoor faucet), stop reading, go outside, and fix that. By not disconnecting your hose, you risk freezing the faucet and the pipe it’s connected to. That can lead to burst pipes and flooding.

Best Way to Ruin Your Plumbing #5: Home Decor Projects Gone Bad

Before you drive a nail in the wall or cut through your drywall to create a built-in bookcase, take a moment to determine if there’s a pipe running behind that drywall.

Best Way to Ruin Your Plumbing #6: DIY When You Totally Shouldn’t DIY

Some projects are just better left up to a professional. Take, for example, sweating pipes. It might look totally do-able on YouTube, but this task isn’t for the faint of heart. At the very least, you’ll waste a bunch of time trying to get it right and/or you’ll worry that you didn’t.

If you’re wearing a sheepish grin right now because you’ve actually made some of these mistakes, you’re not alone. Plenty of Tulsa-area homeowners are right there with you. Fortunately, we’re here to help! Give us call today for assistance with any plumbing problems you’re having—even the self-inflicted ones.

At Wooten Plumbing, we’ve seen these mistakes (and more). More often than not, it’s usually simpler to call a Tulsa-area plumber to keep you from having to make some really common mistakes. To schedule service, simply click here!

tulsa plumbing

By BRIAN WOOTEN

© 2018 by Wooten Plumbing & Utilities, LLC

Thanksgiving is Awful for Your Plumbing

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Thanksgiving is Awful for Your Plumbing

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From the perfectly roasted turkey and Grandma’s famously lumpy mashed potatoes to the post-lunch snooze and “friendly” flag football contest in the backyard, Thanksgiving is stuffed with long-standing traditions. And then there’s the day after Thanksgiving— leftovers, battling ridiculously long checkout lines for debatably “good” deals, and… calling a plumber.

Yep, calling a plumber is a holiday tradition for a surprising number of households. In fact, Black Friday is the single busiest day of the year for plumbers—so much so that our industry jokingly refers to it as Brown Friday. Gross, right? It sure is. And while we certainly don’t mind the extra business, we’d rather help you avoid a plumbing nightmare. We figure you have enough to worry about trying to mediate political arguments between Uncle Marv and Grandpa Bob. (Or is that just at our house?)

Eight Ways to Protect Your Plumbing on Thanksgiving

  • Prepare your garbage disposal. We cook an impressive amount of food on Thanksgiving, which means we put our garbage disposals to the test. To make sure yours is ready for the overtime, give it a good clean before you get started. Put some ice and rock salt into the disposal, and run it for a couple of minutes. That will help break up any sludge and allow the blades to work more efficiently.
  • Use your disposal correctly. There’s a definite right and wrong way to run a disposal. Unless you want us showing up for leftover turkey sandwiches, be sure to turn the water on then turn on the disposal then (carefully) add scraps.

    Too many people jam food down the sink before hitting the switch, which increases the chances of the impellers getting jammed, which increases the chances of your motor frying. Also, when it sounds like the disposal has finished grinding everything, allow the water to run for a few seconds longer to wash away any debris. Repeat after us: water, power, scraps, water.

  • If your disposal gets clogged, don’t run the dishwasher. Your disposal and dishwasher likely share a drain, so if one’s plugged, that means the other is, too.
  • Be smart about what goes in the disposal. The worst part about Thanksgiving dinner is unquestionably the mess. In their hurry to finish the clean-up process and get to Pie Time, people tend to lose a bit of common sense. You wouldn’t believe the stuff we’ve fished out of kitchen drains. (Or maybe you would.) So, as a reminder, here are some basic disposal do’s and don’ts:
    • Do put potato peels in the garbage can, not the garbage disposal.
    • Don’t pour grease or oil down the kitchen sink.
    • Do cut large food scraps into small bits.
    • Don’t try to grind fibrous vegetables like celery and onions.
    • Don’t use your disposal for pasta and rice. While those scraps won’t hurt the disposal, they could create a gluey clog downline.
    • Don’t grind bones.
    • Do run cold water with your disposal, not hot.
  • Don’t flush food. Speaking of a loss of common sense… Let’s say that despite your best efforts, your disposal calls it quits 15 minutes into your four-hour meal prep. Unless you’re hoping to create a Thanksgiving legend, please avoid the temptation to flush your scraps.
  • Grandpa Joe-proof your toilets. Before your holiday guests arrive, make sure your toilets are in good working order. Check the flush valves and chains, test the water shut-off valves (just in case), and check for leaks in and around the toilets. If you have finicky plumbing, leave a helpful note, such as, “Hold the handle for three seconds, please,” and leave a plunger in full sight. Finally, put a small trash can next to every toilet. That way no one will be tempted to flush things they shouldn’t. (We’re looking at you, guys over at Pittsburgh plumber.)
  • Pre-treat your drains. More people in your house means more activity for your plumbing. If there’s build-up in your drains, they’ll be sluggish, which is inconvenient at best. So before folks arrive, pour ½ cup of baking soda in every drain, followed by ½ cup of vinegar. Cover the draining openings, and let the mixture soak for 20 minutes or so before rinsing with hot water.
  • Prep your showers. Treat your shower drains with baking soda and vinegar, as described above. Also, if you’re having overnight guests, consider protecting the drains with strainers to prevent hair clogs. Finally, space out showers by at least 20 minutes to allow your drains to clear and your hot water heater to recover.

Bonus tip: If you suspect plumbing issues today, don’t take a wait-and-see approach over the holidays. As your Tulsa plumber, we’d be happy to do a preventive maintenance check-up so you can avoid any extra Thanksgiving drama. Give us a call today!

The last thing you want to have to worry about on Thanksgiving is your plumbing system. With some simple tweaks, you can make sure you don’t have to call a pro plumber like me. But, if Brown Friday strikes back with a vengeance, we’re happy to bail you out!

tulsa plumbing

By BRIAN WOOTEN

© 2018 by Wooten Plumbing & Utilities, LLC

How to Prepare Your Plumbing for the Winter

winter plumbing tips

How to Prepare Your Plumbing for the Winter

winter plumbing tips

And just like that, temps are going from “Hooray for jeans and hoodies” to “Where’d I put those dang earmuffs?” If you’re like most homeowners, you’ve likely tested your furnace a time or two. But have you shown your plumbing system any TLC yet? As your Tulsa plumbing experts, we recommend doing some quick DIY preventive maintenance to avoid a Midwinter Night’s Nightmare (with our apologies to William Shakespeare).

A few weeks ago, we offered a basic fall plumbing maintenance checklist. To recap:

  1. Clean out your drains and gutters.
  2. Inspect your water heater and water heater pressure relief valve.
  3. Check for leaks and drips.
  4. Insulate exposed pipes.
  5. Store your garden hoses.
  6. Turn off your outdoor faucets.
  7. Use your water shut off valve if you’ll be traveling.

If you’re nice and cozy in your favorite recliner right now and you aren’t terribly enthused at the thought of heading to the basement or the backyard, we get it. But here’s the thing: Water damage related to burst pipes is the second most-filed insurance claim in the country—at an average of $10,000 per claim. And, by the way, most insurance companies are picky about what they will—and won’t—cover in these situations. So you’re right: Draining and storing your garden hoses is no fun. But neither is a flooded basement on Christmas Eve.

After you’ve checked those seven basic maintenance tasks off your list, here are some other winter plumbing tips to follow:

  • Open the faucets a tiny bit. In extremely cold weather, in areas of your home that get much colder than others, or if you live in a mobile home, consider allowing a trickle of water to run through the faucets. Yes, that is a waste of water. But it also relieves pressure if standing water in your pipes does freeze. Note: If the drain for a particular faucet is on an exterior wall, don’t let that one trickle. The water in the drain could freeze, which would overflow the sink.
  • Open cabinets under your sinks. Consider leaving bathroom vanity doors open so warm air from the room can circulate around the pipes. In extreme temperatures, point a portable heater inside the cabinet.
  • Get a professional’s opinion. Ask a professional for advice about how to best winterize pipes in freeze-prone areas. It could be that a good heat tape may be sufficient, but in some cases, re-routing the pipes may be the most efficient solution. Pipes most likely to freeze include those located in your attic, unheated floors, unheated crawl spaces, unheated garages, well pits, under porches, and along the perimeter of your basement (even if it’s heated).
  • Check for drafts. On a particularly windy day, feel for drafts blowing on uninsulated pipes. One obvious place to check is where pipes, cables, and wires enter your home. If you feel drafts in those spots, use expandable foam to prevent cold air from seeping in.
  • Look for bulging sections of pipe. If you have any exposed pipes, inspect them for bulges—points where water has frozen in the past and pushed against the pipe. If you find any, you’re lucky they didn’t burst last year. It’s likely they will this year, though, so that’s something to call us about immediately.
  • Insulate your garage door. If you have plumbing running through an unheated garage, insulate the door to keep that area as warm as possible.
  • If you leave for vacation, don’t turn off your furnace. You don’t need to leave your furnace running full blast, of course, but if you turn the system completely off and temperatures plummet, your plumbing will be in serious jeopardy.

If thinking about prepping your plumbing for winter leaves you cold, we’re happy to help. We can do it all! From inspections to repairs and installations, we’re the Tulsa plumber to trust.

We work hard for our reputation as one of the best plumbers in Tulsa. If you have any issues with your home’s plumbing system this winter, give us a call! I’m a third-generation plumber… and I’ve learned a thing or two about how to save folks money.

tulsa plumbing

By BRIAN WOOTEN

© 2018 by Wooten Plumbing & Utilities, LLC

Fall Plumbing Maintenance Checklist

Fall plumbing checklist

Fall Plumbing Maintenance Checklist

Fall plumbing checklist

There’s so much to love about fall in Tulsa. At Wooten Plumbing we’re especially fond of the crisp air and colorful trees. Of course, as refreshing and beautiful as those things are, they can create headaches for homeowners—expensive ones.

Use our Fall Plumbing Maintenance Checklist to make sure your home’s ready for those falling temps and falling leaves.

  1. Clean out your drains and gutters. Inside your gutters and drains, those stunning red, yellow, and orange leaves quickly turn into brown sludge. And when that builds up over time, it creates a dam—preventing water from going down and away from your home. All of that debris can also affect your sewer lines, and a swampy, stinky home isn’t the best environment for your annual Thanksgiving gathering.
  2. Inspect your water heater and water heater pressure relief valve. Water heaters should be inspected and cleaned at least annually, but they rarely get the preventive care they require. If you want to avoid a cold shower the morning of the first hard freeze, it’s a good idea to check this chore off your list. Head to your water heater manufacturer’s website for specific instructions, or give us a call at 918.241.3900.
  3. Check for leaks and drips. Temperatures will stay above freezing for a few weeks yet, which makes this the perfect time to check for drips and leaks. If you wait until it gets really cold, you may find a leak the hard way—through a plumbing disaster caused by a burst pipe. How so? When water freezes, it expands and pushes against the inside of your plumbing pipes. If there’s any vulnerability, the pipe will shatter or split.
  4. Insulate exposed pipes. If you have plumbing pipes and fixtures in unheated areas of your home, such as your garage, basement, or crawlspace, it’s wise to insulate them. Home improvement stores carry affordable insulation kits.
  5. Store your garden hoses. One of our favorite perks of fall is getting a break from lawn maintenance. Just be sure your mowing season wrap-up includes wrapping up your garden hoses. Disconnect each hose and drain it to protect it from bursting over the winter.
  6. Turn off your outdoor faucets. Outdoor faucets, or hose bibbs, can create serious plumbing problems in colder temps if you don’t prepare them properly. Turn off the inside water supply line, and then open the hose bibbs to allow excess water to drain out. If your home doesn’t have frost-free hose bibbs, consider swapping them out before winter hits or insulating them.
    Use your water shut off valve if you’ll be traveling. If you plan to be away for a few days, go ahead and turn off your water. Then, drain the pipes by turning on faucets in your basement and on the top floor of your home. These are good precautions to take any time you’re traveling, but they’re especially important during colder weather.

We know you want to take good care of your home, but sometimes even preventive maintenance can feel a little intimidating—which means it doesn’t always get done. We get it! For years, Wooten Plumbing has helped Tulsa-area homeowners protect their investment. Give us a call to schedule an appointment, and one of our friendly, professional technicians will be happy to help you experience peace of mind about your plumbing.

We work hard for our reputation as one of the best plumbers in Tulsa. If you have any issues with your home’s plumbing system this fall, give us a call! I’m a third-generation plumber… and I’ve learned a thing or two about how to save folks money.

tulsa plumbing

By BRIAN WOOTEN

© 2018 by Wooten Plumbing & Utilities, LLC