Bathrooms are one of the most unique rooms in the house, but when it comes to health and safety at home, that’s not always a good thing. An abundance of hard tiles, smooth porcelain, and sleek metal, combined with a lot of water, creates an environment where it’s very easy to slip and fall.
Nobody is exempt from the dangers of a bathroom environment, people of all ages injure themselves in the bathroom every year, a figure that is in the hundreds of thousands. A bathroom can be very dangerous, but it doesn’t have to be!
There are many small ways that you can upgrade your bathroom to make it safer, more practical, and better-looking – none of which have to break the bank. Here are ten excellent ways to lower the risk of slipping in the bathroom, whilst still keeping the beauty of your bathroom intact:
Tip One: Buy A Quality Bath Mat
Buying a bath mat is one of the least expensive and simplest investments that you can make to upgrade your bathroom. The small purchase can make getting in and out of the shower or bath much safer, and make sure that your feet are dry before you step onto your bathroom tiles or laminate flooring. Most types of bath mats will suffice, as long as the mat doesn’t slide around on the floor of the bathroom.
Tip Two: Invest in Shower Mats and Bath Tub Mats
While it’s understandable that you may not want your bathroom to become ‘the room of many mats’, twinning your bath mat with a non-slip mat inside your shower or bath tub is a wise investment.
It can get very slippery inside baths and showers, and a non-slip mat will help to make sure that you can stand and move around a lot safer. Slip resistant bath mats will also making getting out of the bath much easier.
Tip Three: Upgrade to Non-Slip Flooring
A step above a mat outside your shower or bath is to upgrade to non-slip flooring. Bathroom flooring is often made from materials that are easy to clean, to lower home maintenance, and materials that are resistant to water damage. Changing to a specialist non-slip material will still mean that your bathroom is easy to clean and resistant to water damage, but the surface will be a lot safer.
Tip Four: Install Bars in Your Bathroom
It’s often not the actual slip that causes an injury but hitting the hard bathroom floor. Grab bars or hand grips are an incredibly effective way to prevent most types of slipping accidents in the bathroom.
Bars can be installed anywhere in a bathroom, but they can be most effective in places around the bath or shower and around the toilet, where slipping is very common. There are many design styles to choose from for an aesthetically pleasing bar, so you don’t need to alter your bathroom design too drastically.
Tip Five: Keep Water Contained with Shower Curtains
Shower curtains are more than just a design feature, they’re very important for keeping water inside the bath tub and shower where it’s less likely to cause you to slip and fall. Investing in a quality shower curtain will help to prevent those dangerous little puddles forming just outside the tub that can very easily be slipped on.
Tip Six: Make Sure Your Bathroom Has Good Lighting
Being able to see the dangers in your bathroom is one of the best preventive measures that you can take to avoiding them. Good bathroom lighting, that lights up every corner of your bathroom, will help to make sure that you don’t miss any puddles of water or slippery spots on the floor.
Good natural lighting and night lights can be just as helpful as the main artificial lighting, so it’s worth making sure that your bathroom windows are unobstructed and even think about investing in a small bathroom night light.
Tip Seven: Install a Chair in Your Shower
A shower seat is a bigger investment than a bath mat, but it’s an essential if you or one of your family members has trouble standing for prolonged periods in the shower. Being able to sit in the shower can prevent a lot of accidents and make showering easier for many people.
There are different styles of shower seat available, including ones that easily fold up, so the shower can still be used as a standing shower for other members of the family.
Tip Eight: Refinish Your Bath Tub
An alternative to a mat inside your bath is to refinish the bottom of the bath tub. There are a range of textured agents available that transform the bottom of the bath tub into a textured surface. These can make the tub surface much easier to grip without having to add a separate mat to the tub.
Tip Nine: Invest in A Taller Toilet
A taller toilet is a brilliant investment for adult-only homes where there is unlikely to be a child that needs to use the toilet. Taller toilets are easier to use and can lower the risk of falling around the toilet area when sitting down or standing up.
Many general plumbing services in the Westmont, IL area cover the installation of standard and taller toilets, so you shouldn’t have any problem getting one installed in your home.
Tip Ten: Keep Your Bathroom Plumbing Maintained
There is a lot that you can add to your bathroom to make it a safer environment, but there’s also a lot going on behind the scenes that needs to be considered when trying to make sure that your bathroom is as safe as possible.
All that plumbing for your shower, bath, sink, and toilet should be regularly maintained as part of your standard home maintenance. Good plumbing home maintenance will help to prevent leaks that can lead to slippery surfaces and pools of water that may go unnoticed.
Arranging for a Chicago plumber who provides general plumbing services in your area to inspect your plumbing after any installation, or every now and again, will give you a peace of mind about the general safety of your bathroom.
You don’t need to completely overhaul your bathroom to make it a safe part of your home. Just taking on board a handful of the top tips here and getting your plumbing regularly checked, will improve your bathroom and make it safer for the whole family to use every day.
Although there are a wide variety of different reasons why pests are attracted to certain households, one of the most common is plumbing leaks and other related issues. This is due to the fact that water and the accessibility of it makes a building or home more appealing to pests and vermin. Even if you are fastidious about emptying and draining the sink after washing the dishes or emptying the bathtub after you’ve washed, rodents and insects can still find other parts of your property where they can find water.
Rodents, bugs and other home invaders can enter your home and find water at any point throughout your plumbing system, whether your garden hose, sewage line or your bathroom and kitchen faucets.
It is often the case that people don’t actually realize their home has a plumbing problem until they actually see signs of pests. There are some very common problems with plumbing though that can actually make it easier for pests such as rodents and insects to infest a property.
Leaks in your plumbing system can happen anywhere, but often they occur in places that you can easily check just by looking. By carrying out routine inspections of these areas you will be able to detect any leaks early and reduce the risk of pests infested your home. If you just see one bug drinking at the little droplets of water you left after your bath or shower, it may not be a sign of an infestation. However, if you regularly catch several bugs in the same place this is more than likely a sign that you have a big pest problem on your hands. While visible leaks are easier to spot, it is not just visible leaks that attract pests.
Some leaks happen in areas of the property that are harder to gain access to, like under your floorboards, behind the walls and even underground. Most commonly though, they do happen in the easier to access places. Worn washers can cause leaky kitchen and bathroom faucets. Rusting water control valves, fixtures or drains are all signs that there is leaking water somewhere.
When inspecting the hardware on sinks and the sinks themselves, check any cabinets you have and below and behind them if you can. Be sure to also check the sink trap or garbage disposal for any signs of moisture. You should contact a plumber if you do spot any as soon as possible, as they will be able to get to the bottom of where the leak is coming from.
Another common area you should regularly check for signs of moisture is underneath your fridge and freezer. If there is space beneath it, side a pan under to collect any water that may be there because of condensation and be sure to empty the pan regularly. For fridges with ice-makers, you need to check the line that runs to the freezer too as these are usually made from plastic and are susceptible to breaks and tears. Even just a minor tear in this line could produce the right volume of water to attract and satisfy a whole colony of pesky pests.
While inspecting your fridge for signs of leaks, you should take the opportunity to look at all other appliances that are connected up to your plumbing systems, such as your dishwasher and washing machine. It is also worth checking plumbing pipe seals where they come in at the walls. There should be some sort of sealant, like insulation, rubber gaskets or metallic plates. This prevents pests from accessing your property. Any gaps in these sealants are an easy way for all kinds of pests to get into your home.
As leaks are possible both inside your household and outside it too, it is vital that you inspect the outside as well. Make sure the spigots on the exterior of the property are free of leaks and inspect any hoses or sprinklers you have for leaks. While inspecting the outside of your house, check your air conditioner for any signs of leaks. If the drainage lines to the air conditioner are blocked there will be a pool of water around your air con unit. Get in contact with an air conditioner repair business if there is any stagnant water close by and do what you can to disperse the water. You need to also ensure that the condensation pans are empty.
We have covered in a lot of detail the type of leaks and moisture issues you should regularly check for to prevent the risk of pest infestation in your home. But, what bugs and other pests are most attracted to water. The answer is that most are in some way attracted to it, therefore, where there are unwanted leaks – eventually, there will be pests. This includes the likes of:
Now that we have covered the kinds of pests that could be attracted to any leaks you may have in your home, visible or hard to spot, you are probably wondering how you check for signs that you may already have a pest invasion in your home. There are a number of different, but common signs of infestations.
Pests like rats, mice, and cockroaches are known to be more active in darker areas of buildings and at night. However, you may still catch a glimpse of them in the light of day. If you do though, it may be a sign that your pest problem is serious. So keep your eyes peeled.
You should also be on the lookout for any dead bodies of pests that might have died after being attracted to a leakage. Check the crawlspace/basement and windowsills for bodies, particularly if you have recently found a leak or it had it repaired. If you find a number of bodies of the same species, this could be an indication that a colony of that pest or bug are living in or on your property.
Mice, rats and other vermin like them will build nests from the materials they find. Therefore, look for any shredded paper or fabric around areas where pests are likely to hide out, such as behind appliances and inside cupboards and cabinets.
Mice and rats have teeth that are constantly growing, which means they are always looking to chew on things. It doesn’t matter if it is sheet-rock, wood, wiring, plastic, insulation or even pipes – rodents will try and gnaw into it all. This means that they will not hesitate to chew on any furniture you have. If you spot any unexplained bite marks on table or chair legs, there is a strong possibility you have a rodent problem. Also be sure to check skirting boards, floorboards and furniture bases too.
Carpet beetles and garment moths are drawn particularly to things made from natural fabrics, like leather book bindings, upholstery, carpets, curtains, and rugs. However, fabric pests tend to damage woolen carpets the most. Woolen textiles that you dry clean regularly could still be damaged by these kinds of pests, if your home is under attack. The damage usually looks like irregularly shaped holes, in a similar way to leaves that have been eaten by caterpillars.
Furthermore, any new holes in the floors or walls of your home may suggest you have a rodent problem. This is even more likely if you have spotted burrows in sections of your lawn where the grass is longer or around your garbage store.
Rodents tend to use the same pathways to and from their nests, but don’t restrict your search to floors because both mice and rats are excellent climbers. Look for any giveaway signs of urine, droppings, grease marks and footprints.
If you spot any of the above signs of leaks and signs of pests, it is important to deal with them by hiring professionals that can deal with the problems. Failing to do this, could cost you even more money in the long run as well as increasing the amount you will have to spend on repairs.
There are many reasons you should be conserving water at home, the main two being that it will save you a lot of money in the long run and that using too much water is wasteful and harmful to the planet. However, all of us use copious amounts of water and it is sometimes a little tricky to see where we can cut back. Luckily, we’ve got a few sneaky tips on how to save water, even in the busiest of homes!
This may seem a little strange, but trust us, it’s a perfect way to conserve water and one that once you’re in the habit, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start using this sneaky little trick before! Think of all the water you waste at home from tasks such as: rinsing vegetables, rinsing utensils, boiling food (such as eggs and certain vegetables). If you’ve not used a harsh cleaning solution or chemical product, the chances are that you’re throwing away perfectly decent water.
Although you may not want to use this ‘dirty water’, it can be used for so many other things, such as: watering plants and washing the yard. Be creative when using up leftover water, just ensure that it only contains unharmful elements, i.e you’ve not used any harmful products (such as bleach) with it.
Whilst some people have no problem in collecting rainwater to drink and cook with (if you do this, you should first check that the area you live in has safe to drink rainwater. Regardless, you should do your research on how to properly filter and sterilize the rainwater first anyway), many haven’t got the time, nor do they really want to do this method of recycling rainwater. Instead, conserve rainwater to put in birdbaths, wash gardening tools, water the plants, and even flush the toilet!
If you have a habit of turning on the tap and leaving it whilst you do something else, you’re wasting a huge amount of water. Try to only turn on the tap when you actually need water. This means when you’re brushing your teeth, washing your hands, washing the dishes, and more. Just don’t leave the tap running!
Consider washing yourself or other items in a bucket or tub. This will conserve so much water! You can also fill up the wash basin for the same results.
If you love icy cold water to drink, you probably have to leave the tap running for a number of minutes before it’s at the right temperature for you. Instead of doing this, keep a jug, glass or other kind of container in the fridge especially for water. Top it up frequently and you’ll always have a refreshing drink at hand, stopping you from wasting a load of water.
A leak in your home may not seem like a huge deal if it is only small, however, there are so many different reasons as to why you should have it fixed as soon as possible. A small leak will save bucket loads of water in the long run, plus, leaving a leak only runs the risk of future larger problems (such as an even bigger leak, or even worse, mold and water damage in your house). Get leaks fixed quickly to avoid spending even more money on repairs and wasted water further down the line!
We all love to spend a long time washing the stresses of the day away, however, try to keep extremely lengthy showers to a minimum as the amount of water you’re using will build up, as will the price of your water heating bill. For everyday showers, keep them quick and only use up the water you need.
Do you ever try and flush away products down the toilet? Earbuds, sanitary products, excessive tissue paper, cigarette butts and more? If the answer is yes, you need to stop. Flushing away anything other than natural waste increases your water usage. This is because the water needed to clear away the excess junk increases. Instead, have a waste paper basket in your bathroom where cotton pads and buds, extra tissue paper and more can be thrown into instead. This will also reduce the risk of pipes becoming blocked, so it’s an all-round great solution.
Garbage disposals are great but when they are used often, they use up copious amounts of water. Rather than throw everything in the garbage disposal, invest in a compost bin. It will save you money and is a fantastic solution for the earth too.
We understand that everyone wants to have a sparkly and well looked after car. However, there comes a time when it becomes too much. Only give your car a good clean when it really needs some TLC. Better still, take your car to be washed professionally and ask them how they cut back and reuse water for the best environmentally friendly option. If you simply have to wash your car every weekend, use a bucket instead of opting for a hosepipe.
When it’s time to wash a pile of clothes, you should always make sure your load is perfect. This means no overfilling or underfilling your machine! Putting a huge load of clothes into your washing machine will mean that clothes are not washed properly, meaning you will have to wash them again – what a waste of water!
The same goes for loads that are extremely small, yes, your clothes will get washed well but by repeatedly putting in small loads of clothes, you’re wasting a lot of water. Wait until you have a reasonably sized pile of clothes before banging them into the wash. The same applies to colors, fabrics, delicates, etc. Make sure you’re putting the correct clothes together, so that you don’t have to waste water rewashing and/or correcting mistakes.
Sometimes we can all forget to take meat out of the freezer for dinner, resulting in us trying to defrost it quickly and conveniently by placing it in a bowl of water. This is great for a quick fix but if you are stuck in this habit, think of how much water you’re using up unnecessarily every day! Plan ahead and defrost meat and other food overnight by placing it in a covered dish in the refrigerator. It conserves water this way and is actually arguably healthier.
If you have an old-fashioned home, the chances are you have certain old-fashioned appliances that are not energy efficient. The toilet, washing machine and dishwasher are three household appliances that use up a considerable amount of water. Check to see if there are any other models that are more modern and could save you using a lot of water.
Pop a lid on top of your cooking pans to trap water and create steam. Doing this will speed up cooking time (cutting back on gas and/or electricity) and means you will conserve much more in the pan than you would sans lid.
The ways listed above only scratch the surface of ways for you to save water in your household. There are multiple ways you can conserve water and cut back on bills in your own home. It all depends on how you already use water and to what extent you want to cut back. However you decide, if you start to make changes now, water saving habits will soon become second nature to you and will result in heaps of positive results for you and your family in the future.
With the cold winter months fast approaching, you will undoubtedly be interested in learning how you can keep your water heater healthy this winter. As well as ensuring that it does not break down when you really need it, you will probably want to find out tips for improving its efficiency and even reducing those ever-expensive utility bills. Well, you came to the right place. In the following post you will find some great actionable advice that will help you to minimize damage to your water heater, while increasing its efficiency and life-expectancy.
This should go without saying really, but as a lot of people don’t seem to know where their water heater is, if they are renting for instance, it is worth mentioning this first. You should not just know where the water heater is in your home, but should make sure that you have clear and unobstructed access to it. Often water heaters are hidden away in the basement or attic and it can mean the plumbing can be quite tricky to reach. So, find yours and make the pathway to it as clear as possible.
It is crucial that you know exactly what type of water heater you have in your home. Is it tank-less water heater or a storage tank heater? Is it propane, electric or even natural gas? Consult your landlord if you are renting or look at the heater or the manual it came with to find out the information. Failing that speak to the company that supplied your water heater. You should also take a note of the serial number and model number, or at least know how to locate this information on the actual tank, as the gallon capacity and age are coded into it. This is essential if you need to refer to your warranty and is typically one of, if not the first question the water heater repair company or a plumber will ask you.
Another piece of information that can be helpful, especially when you are faced with water heater problems, is how you turn the water off. You should also learn how to switch off the power supply or fuel to your water heater too. This is crucial from a safety point of view, if you smell gas or know your water heater is leaking. There is usually a disconnect switch or a gas valve only a few feet away from the heater. Knowing the breaker that is used for your water heater and where the main shut-off gas for your property’s gas supply is located, are also helpful.
The majority of water shut-off valves are situated on the cold side piping above the water heater. You should be able to locate your water shut-off valve entering your home. If opening the breaker box or turning the valve to the off position requires any specific tools, store these somewhere safely, but easily to find. This will make a whole world of difference in time-sensitive situations when you smell gas or water is leaking allover your house.
One of the problems with where water heaters are normally placed in your home is that they are often places where you store stuff away out of sight, out of mind. While you may not know it, this can not only damage the water heater, but pose health and safety risks.
Therefore, it is wise to keep the area surrounding your water heater clear, for some very good reasons such as:
Items that are stored too close to a water heater pose a fire risk
If the water heater starts to leak, you might not be able to catch it soon enough if you can’t see it clearly. This can not only result in needlessly wasting energy as the heater continues to reheat and reheat the water, but can also cause extensive water damage to your property.
A unit operated by a gas fire requires a considerable amount of oxygen to enable it to burn the gas. If something is smothering your water heater or it just can’t get enough oxygen, it can cause damage to the burner chamber or other important parts and even reduce the efficiency of the heater. This can even lead to serious health risks such as carbon monoxide leakages. Carbon monoxide is particularly dangerous because it is odorless and not easily detected.
Every year, at least once, you should drain at least a few gallons of water from your water heater, using the drain valve. You can do this by using either a garden hose or a 5 gallon bucket. When using a hose, run it to a place where the hot water coming out will not cause any damage. With this in mind, it is best to avoid draining the water onto your lawn or yard as it could kill the grass.
A full flush is advised if you notice debris and sediment. A full flush involves turning the temperature right down and completely draining the tank until it is empty. You then turn the water back on, with the drain still open and allow the water to flow out for at least a minute to remove any remaining debris or sediment.
You can turn the thermostat back up to your preferred setting once you have completed the task and the tank is full again.
Begin at the top of your water heater and look out for any serious corrosion or leaks on the valves and piping. With gas-powered water heaters, inspect the draft hood and ensure it is installed correctly. There should always be a few inches of air space between the part that connects to the vent and the tank. Also be aware of any wear and tear or corrosion on the piping and gas line. Thoroughly check where the gas chamber is situated and the thermostat and area below it.
If you happen to spot any charred metal, soot or black residue during your inspection; you should contact a professional to assess and service your water heater as this could be a sign of combustion issues. If you smell any hint of gas, switch your gas supply off immediately and call a professional. With electric-powered water heaters, check for signs of any leaking like residue or rust lines around lower and upper panels that cover the tank’s electrical parts. If you ever smell gas, turn off the gas supply and contact a professional.
If you’re lucky enough to live in an apartment or house with a garbage disposal, you will be fully aware of how just how handy these devices can be. Take unwanted leftovers from mealtimes and toss them into your unit to be ground up and whisked away – it couldn’t be any simpler, right?
With Thanksgiving and the Holidays coming, you’re likely to be tempted to shower your garbage disposal with affection for all the labor and time it is set save you as you clean up after the feasts you will be serving your guests. In order to avoid creating a long-term plumbing problem, however, you’ll need to ensure that you treat your appliance with an appropriate level care and respect. That means keeping your device clean and operational, and only dropping suitable waste into it.
This guide will talk you through the essential do’s and don’ts associated with a traditional American garbage disposal. Follow this advice, and you can use your appliance sage in the knowledge that you are not risking clogged pipes, damaged blades, and the need for professional assistance in making your garbage disposal operational again.
There are certain steps that you need to take in order to keep your garbage disposal operating at maximum capacity.
Conventional wisdom suggests that electrical appliances are best used sparingly so as not to be worn out, but this is not the case with your garbage disposal. Even if you have no intention of using the device, turn it on at least every few days and let the blades spin, running a little cold water over them for around thirty seconds.
This will prevent your garbage disposal from seizing up (think of it as a warm-up for the main usage that will follow in time), and will prevent the blades from experiencing any rust or corrosion. What’s more, regular running of your appliance will ensure that any food remnants that may be lingering out of sight will be flushed away and avoid solidifying and causing an unwelcome blockage.
Cleaning your garbage disposal is essential. It will not only prevent any unwelcome foul smells from filling your kitchen, but it will also sharpen the chopping blades and ensure that you enjoy a long and beneficial relationship with your appliance.
Bleach is certainly effective, but you’ll want to avoid constantly pouring harsh chemicals into your garbage disposal. Instead, simply use cold water, run at regular intervals, and toss in some ice cubes. Couple these with salt and baking soda and you have the makings of a very potent DIY method of cleaning the blades and pipes of your tool, or freeze a little vinegar within the ice cubes.
This will sharpen the blades of your garbage disposal too – or you could also include some eggshells for the same purpose, provided they have not been hard-boiled.
Another hugely effective way of cleaning your garbage disposal is to chop up a citrus fruit, such as lemon, and feed this through. Make sure that you include the peel, as this contains the most acid, and you’ll find that your appliance retains optimum performance as well as smelling great.
To finish up the cleaning process, take an old toothbrush and clean around the rim. Use a little soap if necessary, or work with the domestic products that we have just discussed – vinegar, salt and baking soda are all very powerful weapons in the battle against a dirty garbage disposal.
It sounds obvious, but so many of us fall into the trap of expecting too much of our garbage disposal. Don’t just pour an entire plate of waste into the sink and switch on the device, expecting it to do all of the work for you – the blades are only so large and powerful, after all. Instead, sift through what you’re planning on using your garbage disposal for, and use a kitchen knife to chop these leftovers into the smallest possible pieces.
Have you ever tried to cram too many sheets of paper into a shredder at once, and found that they jam the blades of the device? The same will happen if you attempt to squeeze too much food into your garbage disposal – with the main differences being that paper will not begin to smell terrible after a day or two, and attempting to yank a rogue carrot from a garbage disposal is more likely to cost you a finger than wrestling paper from a shredder.
Don’t take any chances. Spend an extra minute or two getting your food waste as small as possible for a fast and efficient service from your appliance.
Once you have finished chopping your leftovers, don’t switch off the disposal immediately afterward – leave the water running for an extra fifteen to twenty seconds once you’ve finished. This will help flush away any stubborn food remnants that are clinging to the pipes of your garbage disposal system, just out of your sight.
For every positive step, however, there is an equally essential negative action that must be avoided at all costs. If you find yourself acting against these instructions, you could find yourself in all kinds of trouble with the maintenance of your garbage disposal.
You may be used to washing up with warm or hot water, but cold water is the way to go with a garbage disposal. Hot water will melt down and soften up food remnants, which will help this waste cling to – and clog up – the pipes of your disposal system.
When you have a sink filled with dishes following dinner, it’s easy for things to get mixed up and non-food items can land in the garbage disposal.
This is potentially damaging if it’s a piece of silverware such as a fork or spoon, which will potentially blunt the blades as the continually clash with the utensil, or it could be increasingly dangerous if a glass or porcelain mug or cup ends up in there. Obviously you should also avoid grinding any non-food related item such as paper!
If you are concerned about the possibility of non-food related items ending up in your garbage disposal, consider leaving it switched off until you have cleared the kitchen sink.
We get it, bones are icky and you have plenty left over once you have carved a huge turkey or chicken to feed your hungry family. Don’t be tempted to throw the carcass of your main course into the garbage disposal, though; they will lead to the blades of your appliance becoming dull, and potentially slide straight down the pipe and cause a blockage.
Throw such remnants straight into the trashcan, along with tough pits or seeds from fruits. Your garbage disposal is tough but it’s not invincible, and it won’t be able to slice through anything too small to be captured.
Foods such as pasta or rice will expand once they get wet, so anything that is not sliced and diced by the garbage disposal will later end up blocking pipes. High fiber foods, such as lettuce, the skins of onions or potato peelings, are also to be avoided.
These items can wrap around the blades of your garbage disposal, slowing it down in its work and eventually jamming the blades entirely. Picking them out by hand can be a dangerous business, so don’t put yourself in such a position where that becomes necessary.
Nobody enjoys disposing of hot oils and fats, and the idea of just tossing them into a traditional trash bag is hideous to many. For a start, there’s the smell to deal with, as well as the risk of younger family members burning tiny fingers on the liquid, or family pets being attracted by the strong scent and tearing the bag open.
All the same, throwing oil or fat down the drain is a surefire way of clogging up your garbage disposal. These liquids will solidify and congeal further down the pipes, and it’s likely that no amount of cleaning will deal with that. Wipe down the contents of your pots and pans with some kitchen towel before giving them a good hand wash, or invest in some airtight disposable Tupperware and throw away your grease and fat wastes this way. It’s the safest method in the longer term.
If you follow these steps, you should enjoy a long and fruitful relationship with your garbage disposal – and will understand just how useful these tools can be. Treat yours with the appropriate respect, and it will save you all kinds of effort and expense in the longer term.
What is Hard Water?
You’ve likely heard the term tossed around in your lifetime, but how many of us have the slightest clue what “hard water” really is or what kind of effect it has on us or are homes? We’re envisioning only a small number of hands currently raised in the audience, which means that this is a great chance to address this nuisance of society (When we say society, we don’t just mean modern society. Even the Romans dealt with hard water; they performed regular maintenance on Roman aqueducts to remove the accumulating deposits that hindered water flow).
Hard water is a naturally occurring geological process characterized by the presence of the materials calcium and magnesium in our water. Hard water begins as rainwater, becomes groundwater, then filters through limestone, soil, lakes, and rivers. Along the way, the water picks up like calcium, magnesium, iron, and other elements.
The majority of American households experience some level of hard water. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it is estimated that more than 89% of the water used by consumers in the US can be classified at some level of “hard” water.*
Effects on Humans
There have been a plethora of studies performed over the years on the effects of hard water. As one would expect, there are differing opinions on those effects. The consensus is as follows: There are no serious harmful effects of consuming or interacting with hard water. But the word “serious” is interesting in that sentence. When it comes to hard water, multiple people will define “serious” quite differently.
Skin – The minerals in hard water have a chemical reaction with soap, which makes it more difficult for soap and shampoo to dissolve. The result is soap scum, a nightmare not just for showers, but also skin. That scummy residue blocks pores, choking off the skin’s natural moisture and oils. Irritation follows, and with it, itchy, dry, and flaky skin. And, if individuals already have pre-existing skin problems like psoriasis or eczema, research suggests that they’ll be further irritated by hard water.
Hair – In its quest to aggravate you as much as possible, hard water even wants a piece of your lovely hair. Our hair follicles consist of a system of scales that run down the length of each strand. In healthy hair, the scales are smooth and cohesive. With hard water, the minerals interact with shampoo and lift the scales, leading to:
Rougher, tangled hair
Hair that is more difficult to wash
Eczema of the scalp in some cases
Hard Water’s Effects on Equipment and Plumbing
Hardwater is an equal opportunity nuisance, and its effects go beyond wrecking your hair and making your skin feel like sandpaper. Anything in your home that deals with water can turn into a scummy, scaly victim.
As you know, the minerals in hard water interact chemically with soap, the result of which is “scale” or calcium deposits. Scale is the chalky, off-white substance that remains after the water in your shower has evaporated. You’ll notice the appearance of rampant scale and soap scum more often than you should, meaning that you’ll find yourself in your bathroom or kitchen frequently throwing elbow grease at the problem.
Scale makes messy nightmares of bathtubs, showers, tiles, and fixtures. In the kitchen, hard water deposits produce a spotty and dingy look that appears on drinking glasses, pots, pans, dishes, and silverware. And soap isn’t always necessary to see the effects of hard water. Combine a runny toilet or a dripping faucet with hard water and you’re in for some unsightly rust stains.
The water-related technology in your home also pays the price. Hard water wears out and reduces the efficiency of dishwashers, icemakers, washing machines, and water heaters. And through the gradual buildup of mineral sediments, less water flows through these machines. Professionals estimate that these machines wear out 30% faster, prompting replacement before necessary.
But what about the piping running water into those machines? Your homes pipes are one of the hardest hit aspects of hard water. Scale builds up inside the pipes over time, eventually choking off the flow of water, which opens the door to a host of serious and expensive plumbing issues.
Laundry – Washing clothes in hard water is less than optimal. It’s difficult for soap and clothing to properly interact due to the added minerals in the water. Hard water decreases detergent’s lathering ability and makes it less likely that detergent will properly wash away. As a result, residue accumulates on clothing the same way soap scum accumulates on skin and shower surfaces. Freshness, softness, fragrance are all sacrificed in addition to appearance: washing over time results in a gray/yellowish tint that robs clothes of brightness. And it’s even worse for towels.
How Can You Fix Hard Water?
The first step is to address how “hard” the water is, which you can discover by purchasing one of the DIY kits on the market. If you discover that the problem is substantial, look into the various filtration systems available to consumers.
For drinking and cooking purposes, consider installing an ion exchange filter, either a pitcher or faucet model (experts recommend that you look for a model that allows you to switch between filtered and nonfiltered water. Ion filtered water doesn’t work as well for plant watering, for example, because of the high sodium content).
When it comes to laundry, you can purchase non-precipitating water condition, which arrests the minerals in hard water, prevents the minerals from interacting with soap and clothing, and allows detergent to function properly.
For your entire home, there are several methodologies from which to choose. The technology behind how these options work can get a little sticky, so we’ll give you a brief overview which you can use as a springboard into conducting your own research.
The main options are salt-based water softeners, salt-free softeners, and filters.
Also referred to as ion-exchange softener
Uses salt/sodium to change the chemistry of the calcium/magnesium in the water, thus removing changing the elements
Leverages a filtration tank system that cleans water before releasing into your home
Less ideal for drinking/cooking water and watering plants
Salt-based models are better at providing the real, slick feeling of natural water.
Salt-free Water Softener
With no salt present, calcium and magnesium are not removed or washed out.
Instead, the water is conditioned so that these elements lose their ability to bind to things like soaps and surfaces
The unwanted elements are still present, so water is not actually “softened”
Leverages an actual filter that allows water molecules through but blocks others, including calcium and magnesium
Softens water, removes any funny tastes/smells
Wastes significant amount of water in the process, making it very inefficient for some homeowners
These methods can also be used on a smaller scale on specific faucets and incoming pipes. Finally, as you research the best method for you, consider cost, maintenance, and installation.
Hard water creates serious problems for millions of Americans. Luckily, there are ways to curtail its effects, reducing it from a major problem to a minor inconvenience. If you’re experiencing some of the harmful effects of hard water and it’s ruining items in your home like your pipes, faucets, and water heater, call the Arco team. Whether replacing damaged parts or giving you the best advice to help you work through your problem, we’ve got your back.
You’ve fallen in love with a new apartment or home; it’s everything your heart desires. Except for one thing…it’s got a bathroom the size of a broom closet. You find yourself opening the door, half anxious, half determined, as you imagine a redesign that will bring the petite washroom to life.
But where does one begin? Working with a small bathroom presents its own set of design, decorative, and plumbing challenges as you seek to merge functionality and beauty in the same small space. Recognizing some of these challenges, the team at ARCO has outlined a series of small bathroom hacks that’ll help you turn your own small bathroom into one of the most commanding spaces in your home.
When it comes to the bathroom, the vanity is typically the focal point of the room, and in a small bathroom, it’s important to find the right model for size and look. If feasible, have a custom vanity built, or search for a unit with some space beneath, a great strategy for holding necessary bathroom items in lieu of closet space and/or shelving. A few trips to your local hardware or furniture store and some online searching will reveal a number of optional heights, depths, and widths that will be perfect for your needs.
Sink, Shower & Toilet
Like the vanity, there are a variety of sinks that will aid you in your quest for the perfect mix of size and appearance. Common to small bathrooms are pedestal sinks, which only require a few inches of floor space and do wonders for making small bathrooms appear larger. You’ll lose some countertop space, a sacrifice to some, but pair the pedestal sink with a deep medicine cabinet or awesome shelving and charming jars to house everyday bathroom items.
If you’re working with an extremely small space, take a page from well-designed restaurants and opt for a wall mounted sink. What you lose in storage, you’ll gain in added space in the bathroom overall. This technique works especially well if you’re designing a guest bathroom that has no need for the additional storage necessary in full bathrooms.
Additionally, if your bathroom is ridiculously small, you’ll need to be even more clever in your approach. How about shifting your sink to the corner? There are a plethora of beautiful styles made just for this purpose that are either wall mounted or come with a pedestal or vanity. Of course, with the vanity beneath, you can try an open model that you can leverage for more storage. And for those of you with long, skinny bathrooms, consider a corresponding long and skinny sink that flows nicely with the pre-existing shape of the room.
When looking for accent or functional furniture pieces, search for wiry or thin-legged furniture, which takes up less space and contributes to the illusion of more space overall.
If you’re lucky enough to build a shower from scratch, try installing an indented shelf within the tiling to remove the need for bathroom shelving that juts out from the tiles. As well, if your shower is exposed, make use of the ledge space looking out to your window: instead of using this space for shower accouterments, add decorative items.
When considering toilets, there are a plethora of new, modern styles available. Not only are these newer models beautifully designed, some have slimmer tanks that rise vertically to compensate for the lost horizontal space. You can easily find an inexpensive model to install in your small bathroom and reap the rewards of additional space and striking style.
Storage – Shelving
How you leverage shelving will be one of the most important parts of working with a small bathroom. Without a linen closet to rely on, the shelving in your bathroom could be very important. Design and decorate your shelving for beauty and functionality: try something industrial with dark pipes and reclaimed wood, or go with something sleek and modern like painted blocks or reflective surfaces.
Once you’ve got those shelves up, try to avoid clutter, which will detract from the aesthetic of the room. Add wicker baskets for an added pop. Face your baskets forward and tuck inside rolled towels, the way they present towels in hotels, gyms, and spas.
Similarly, if you’ve opted for a vanity with open space beneath, add metal or wire baskets—the look tidies up the storage area beneath and adds a cool industrial vibe so popular in the design space at the moment.
Another trick is to use the full length of your bathroom walls when mounting your shelving. Keeping the shelves in the eye-level range can crowd the visual, but if you leverage more height when planning your shelving, the spacing between shelves will give your bathroom the illusion of height.
As far as towels go, take advantage of the length of your door. Set a towel rack near the top of the door and another in the middle. With two towels now hidden behind the door, your walls are free for shelving and art.
Have you ever walked into a gym or restaurant lined with mirrors and had your eyes tricked by the illusion of added space? Installing a large or long mirror in your bathroom above or across your vanity will have the same effect of making your small bathroom feel larger than it is.
Clever use of color plays a big role in highlighting certain details of your small bathroom and contributing to a sense of greater size. For example, opposing color schemes can create an illusion of depth and space. Try pairing together white tiles with dark floors (or the opposite if you’re so bold). The same technique can be beautiful if your bathroom’s walls are halved by a chair rail or a wainscoat. Pair white on the bottom with a darker color up top—maybe a chocolate or beautiful gray—to create a contrast that makes the room look beautiful, dramatic, and more spacious.
On the contrary, there’s nothing like an all white bathroom to further the illusion of size. With furniture and bathroom pieces in pure white, it’s difficult for the eye to discern where spaces and shapes end and begin.
When it comes using of patterns and color, beautiful and unique patterns in your wallpaper, tiling, and shower curtains can work wonders. Create depth and intrigue with bold tile selections. Consider a stylish backsplash over the sink. Or, try contrasting one large and one small related pattern on your floors and walls to break up a small space. If you’ve still got extra space after shelving, hooks, and tiling, hang art pieces that add pop to the walls or try a set of pieces above your toilet.
Now that you’ve got a million hacks for your small bathroom, you’ll want to make sure you welcome the right team to help turn your dream bathroom into a reality. When it comes to vanities, fixtures, plumbing, and showers, keep the team at ARCO plumbing in mind.