Bathroom Design Tips

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dreamstime_7552481

As the Honolulu plumbing experts, Emergency Plumbing & Solar knows a thing or two about quality bathrooms. It takes a combination of sturdy plumbing solutions, budget management, and design vision to create a great bathroom from scratch.

In this blog, our bathroom remodel team will give you a few design tips for an amazing bathroom. With the right strategies, you’ll end up with a practical and beautiful bathroom that you’ll love for a long time!

Consider swapping a tub for a shower.

It’s always nice to lay down in a comfortable bathtub—but how often does that really happen? Most tubs are too short and too shallow—and with most bathroom spaces limiting the area in which you can place a bathtub, and a shower might be a more luxurious, spacious, and affordable option. The average fiberglass tub (which is nothing to get excited about) will cost you anywhere from $400-$800, and it will take up plenty of physical and visual space with very little visual appeal. A beautiful tiled shower will cost land in a similar price range (with door and shower head included, and you’ll give your bathroom an immediate boost in luxury and functionality. Plus, your shower will be incredibly spacious to boot!

To turn up the luxury even further in your shower, opt for a rainfall showerhead and some high-end shower knobs to complete the look. Your bathroom will look more like a spa when it’s all said and done!

Splurge on a few high-end touches.

A bathroom full of luxurious appliances and fixtures looks great—if you can afford it. Most of us don’t have the budget for high-end everything in our bathrooms, but that doesn’t mean we can’t achieve a high-end bathroom look. The key is to pick a few fancy items with a lot of visual appeal that will take the forefront in your bathroom—lighting fixtures, cabinets, countertops, or flooring, for example—that will make give it some luxurious flair. Then, you can fill out your bathroom with some cheaper, less noticeable pieces (like tiles and mirrors) for a bathroom that looks more expensive than it actually is.

Purchase plenty of lighting.

You could have the most beautiful bathroom on the planet—but if it’s not well-lit, some of that beauty might be lost. When it comes to bathroom renovations, it’s important to keep three varieties of lighting in mind: overhead lighting, which will fill your space with light; task lighting, which lights specific areas of your bathroom for adding productivity, like shower lights and mirror lights for doing makeup or brushing teeth; and mood lighting so you can turn down and relax in your luxurious bathroom space.

Lighting is a great place to save money in your bathroom. With so many light fixtures at discount bathroom stores and flea markets, you can find one-of-a-kind lighting pieces for a fraction of the cost of bathroom design stores.

Buy a toilet with some oomph.

If you’re looking for places to save money in your new bathroom, it shouldn’t be with your toilet. A cheap toilet is like a cheap mattress—it’ll work just fine for awhile. But soon enough, it’ll start breaking down and picking up weird stains and you’ll wish you would’ve spent more money on a nicer model at the start.

Approach buying a toilet like buying a car or a refrigerator—check sites like Consumer Reports to see which toilets have the best flushing power, durability, and water efficiency, and pick the highest-performing one that best fits your budget. If there’s one thing we know as plumbers, it’s that a cheap toilet only leads to costly repairs and convoluted plumbing problems. Pick a good toilet, and it’ll be sturdy and steady for years to come.

Hide your toilet.

If you’re like most of us, you want your bathroom to feel as luxurious and spa-like as possible. However, if your toilet is the first thing you see when you walk in the door, it could definitely ruin the mood. Hiding your toilet behind the vanity and away from the door is the most common way to hide your toilet from plain view, and many custom master bathrooms use shelving or faux walls to hide the toilet and provide the toilet user with some added privacy. Hiding your toilet doesn’t just increase the feeling of luxury—you’ll be happy your toilet is tucked away when a guest barges in on you during a dinner party.

Add some windows.

If there’s one thing that scares plumbers, it’s a bathroom with no windows. Bathrooms without ventilation from the natural world can harbor a lot of strange smells, and they’re much more likely to grow mold and mildew that can cause health problems. Plus, natural light makes any room more comfortable—without it, your bathroom could could less like a spa and more like a dungeon.

Adding at least one window in your bathroom will improve lighting and ventilation immediately, and it might even give you some nice views if you’re positioned in a scenic and secluded spot. However, we understand that some people aren’t huge fans of windows in their bathroom for privacy reasons—but there’s another way to add some natural light to your bathroom without sacrificing privacy…

Add some skylights.

Skylights are perfect for someone who doesn’t have the option to add windows (or doesn’t want windows at all) because you still get the natural light that can save your money and make your bathroom more visually appealing. Skylights are no more expensive than a typical window installation, and they’re visually interesting in a way that even windows can’t compete with. You might even get some views of the stars when you’re soaking your brand new bathtub.

Pay attention to the details.

Every bathroom needs a toilet, a shower, a sink, and a vanity—but what’s next? Beauty is ultimately in the details—it’s how the bathroom tiles meet the hardwood floor, it’s the frame on your mirror, and it’s the absolutely perfect shade of beige on your walls. If you want the perfect bathroom, every decision must be thoughtful and calculated. You must love every single part of the process and every single part of your bathroom

Trust the right plumbers.

Behind every great bathroom, there is an experienced team of plumbers. That’s where Emergency Plumbing & Solar can help. With decades of experience serving Honolulu and the entire island of Oahu, we’re happy to help you build a bathroom you’ll love for as long as you own your home. Get started with EPS today!

 

Your Bathroom Reonvation Checklist

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dreamstime_xxl_14923206

Emergency Plumbing & Solar is your source for Honolulu plumbing and hot water heater installation—but did you know that we also tackle bathroom renovations? Our experienced team can help you build a bathroom with sound plumbing and beautiful design that meets your needs and your budget. However, it’s up to you to have a bathroom vision—to come up with the design aspects and proper fixtures—to make a bathroom that you’ll love for years to come.

In this blog, our plumbing and bathroom remodel team will give you a blueprint for bathroom remodel success. Follow these steps, and enlist our team for your remodel, and you’ll end up with the bathroom of your dreams.

Find inspiration.

The best bathrooms have a cohesive look and feel, and speak to the style and personality of the homeowner. But how do homeowners (who aren’t professional bathroom designers) accomplish this? Ultimately, it’s all about taking inspiration for your bathroom wherever you can find it, and piece together finishes, flooring, and appliances that you know you’ll love for years to come. If you don’t like your bathroom, then what’s the point?

Some people like to thumb through design books and magazines to find the look they desire, making a collage of bathroom photos that will be the blueprint for their overall bathroom aesthetic. But for the tech savvy folks out there, Pinterest accomplishes the same goal with less papercuts and more bathroom ideas. Search “modern bathrooms” or “rustic bathrooms” to get thousands of bathroom designs, and pin them to your Pinterest boards to save the ideas for later. You can even pull up Pinterest on your phone while you’re at the bathroom design center or hardware store to help you find the supplies you’re looking for. Just be careful—when you’re on Pinterest, hours can fly by before you know it.

Know your budget.

So you’ve found some design inspiration for your bathroom space. That’s great! Now it’s time to come back to reality. If you’re going to have a successful bathroom renovation that meets your expectations, you need to create a budget and stick to it—otherwise, you’ll be left with a bathroom that causes financial strain at the best, and is incomplete at the worst.

There’s a good chance a lot of the design items you see on Pinterest will be out of your price range—but all is not lost. Make a list of bathroom items that are “must-haves”—that amazing clawfoot tub or those granite countertops—and plug them into your budget. Then, find cheaper look-a-likes for some of those items you can’t quite afford. You’ll still get a look that’s similar to what you desire, you won’t miss out on the items that will make you happy, and you’ll still stay right on budget.

Make a shopping list.

You know that feeling when you forget one thing you absolutely needed to buy at the grocery store? Multiply that feeling by 10, and you’ll get what it’s like to overlook a crucial component of your bathroom renovation. You’re probably not going to forget the toilet or the sink, but you might forget less obvious items, like a backsplash for the sink, a showerhead, or towel racks. Forget some of these items, and they might not be available when you need them, which could put your bathroom remodel well behind schedule.

Before you buy anything for your new bathroom, you must make a list and check it twice. Walk in your current bathroom and take a look at the fixtures currently in place—this will give you a better idea of what you need for your space. Next, think about the things that bother you about your current bathroom. Are you lacking storage for all of your beauty products? Is your towel rack too short for all of the towels you need to hang on it?

Trust the right plumbing team.

Beautiful design is only half of the bathroom picture—it takes quality plumbing to keep your bathroom running at its best. That’s where Emergency Plumbing & Solar can help. With decades of experience in plumbing installations and bathroom renovations, your bathroom will be as strong and sturdy as it is beautiful. Don’t wait—schedule a consultation with us today!

 

Removing Toilet Stains

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dreamstime_xxl_16487351

Your toilet works just fine. It’s served you well over the years, flushing with power and precision year after year. However, time can age a toilet—and much like an old man growing crow’s feet and liver spots, your toilet will show signs of age in the form of hard water stains, discoloration, and rust.

This isn’t the end for your toilet. In this blog, the Honolulu plumbers at Emergency Plumbing & Solar will give you a few tips for cleaning up your toilet so it looks as good as it flushes.

Choosing the Right Cleaner

There are thousands of blogs (just like this one) that will give you tips on how to clean a toilet, but most of these blogs will claim to have the inside scoop on the very best toilet cleaner. We hate to break it to you, but there isn’t one. Not all toilet stains are one and the same—they’re made of different organic and inorganic materials. What works for one toilet might not work at all for another. Keeping this in mind, we’ll give you a list of cleaning solutions that might just have the magic touch when it comes to toilet stains.

Bleach

Bleach is the biggest and baddest of all standard household cleaners—and it can do some major damage to stains in your toilet bowl. We’d recommend a bleach powder for this job—just pour some powder right into the bowl, let it eat away at the stains in your toilet overnight, flush it down in the morning, and give your bowl a good scrub to polish things up.

Baking Soda & Vinegar

For those who aren’t fans of bleach stinging the nostrils, baking soda and vinegar could be the sneaky killers you need to remove toilet stains. Pour a half-cup of baking soda in the bowl first, and add a liberal amount of vinegar next. Let the mixture effervesce for 20-30 minutes, then give it a scrub and flush away the evidence.

Borax & Vinegar

Borax sounds like the cheesy name of a powerful chemical cleaning product, but it’s actually a natural mineral formally known as sodium borate (a compound of the boron family). Teamed up with some vinegar, borax could be just the right cleaner for your stubborn stains. First, add a half-cup of vinegar to the bowl, and let it sit for about an hour. Once that hour is over, give your toilet a light scrub with a toilet brush before flushing the vinegar down. Next, add a half-cup of borax to the toilet bowl, stir it around a bit, and let it sit overnight. In the morning, put your back into it and scrub your stains away for good.

Coca-Cola

A little Coke can go a long way—all those sugars and fizz and other things you probably shouldn’t put in your body can do an excellent job of lifting stains. It’s simple: Pour a bottle of coke in the toilet, let it sit for a few hours, flush, and scrub to remove stains. Now that’s refreshing.

It’s Your Own Fault

Yeah, we said it! If you would’ve cleaned your toilet once a week, you wouldn’t be pouring your precious Coke in the toilet or buying bleach by the bucket. Good thing Emergency Plumbing & Solar is here to give you toilet cleaning tips and provide you with the best Honolulu plumbing services.

 

Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters

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dreamstime_xxl_62802393

Tankless water heaters have been a popular choice in Europe and Asia for years now because of their space-saving and energy saving nature—and it’s no surprise that these innovative water heaters are becoming more and more popular in the states. However, tankless water heaters aren’t right for every home.

In this blog, the Honolulu plumbers at Emergency Plumbing & Solar will help you weigh the pros and cons of tankless water heaters so you can make the right decision for you, your family, and your home.

THE PROS

Tankless water heaters save space.

Tankless water heaters are a fraction of the size of standard water heaters—no more large water tank closets needed. You can keep these tankless heaters right underneath the sink, near the shower, or anywhere that it’s convenient for you. Plus, these water heaters won’t end up as rusty scraps of metal in a landfill when it’s all said and done. The best part is that there’s no need to wait for your water to heat up—you always have instant hot water whenever you need it, wherever you need it.

Tankless water heaters usually have longer warranties.

Tankless water heaters usually last around 20 years—around twice the lifespan of standard tank heaters. That means you get longer warranties and better water heater performance in your home. Plus, you’ll avoid water heater tank breakdowns that leave water all over your floors.

Tankless water heaters save money.

…In the long run, anyway. Tankless water heaters have a much higher upfront cost, but will ultimately save you money in the long run in terms of energy and water usage.

THE CONS

Tankless water heaters are more expensive upfront.

You’ll save money in the long run, but tankless water heaters can come at a hefty price—especially if you need to rewire your home to accommodate them. An electric tankless water heater can cost you over $1000, with gas tankless heaters breaking the bank at around $3000. Add in the need for rewiring (which could cost you up to $5000), and you’re looking at an expensive home addition that’ll take years of energy savings to pay off.

They might not work during power outages.

While your tank water heater will usually have an initial reserve of hot water when the power goes out, tankless water heaters do not have that luxury, which could leave you without any hot water as long as the power is out.

You’ll occasionally have to wait for hot water.

Even with “instant on” tankless heaters, there might be a slight delay to receive your hot water—especially if you recently turned off the hot water from a recent task. Some tankless models need a minute to boot up if you’re using them again right after you’ve turned them off—and that can leave you in a classic “cold sandwich” situation. A little bit of hot water followed by a few minutes of cold water followed by more water can be inconvenient at best and torturous at worst.

Is a tankless heater right for you?

There are a lot of factors to weigh when deciding to go with a tankless water heater or to opt for the traditional route. Those who think they’ll spend quite a few years in their home, have solid electrical infrastructure, and have the money to pay for the upfront costs should definitely consider a tankless heater system. However, if you’re stretching your budget just to rewire your home and get a tankless system in place, it might be better to stick with the big old tank in the broom closet.

Regardless of your water heater choice, remember that Emergency Plumbing & Solar can help you find the right solution for your home and your budget. We install water heater tanks as well as tankless heaters, and offer other hybridized options that could be exactly what you need. If you have any questions about water heaters, or would like to set up an appointment, get in touch with Emergency Plumbing & Solar today.

 

Toilet Talk V: Buying The Right Toilet

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It’s a sad day in your household—the day that you must say goodbye to a trusted companion you’ve known for years. You two have spent a lot of time together and had many memorable experiences—you’ve been through the good, the bad, and the ugly. It was an intimate and productive relationship you’ll never forget. In sickness and in health, your friend was there for you, helping you with both business and personal affairs, taking your problems and washing them away, and offering you a safe and loving place to rest your butt.

It’s time to lay your toilet to rest.

But with loss comes a new beginning—a chance to meet a new toilet. In this blog, the Honolulu plumbers at Emergency Plumbing will give you a few tips for finding a special new toilet in life. A great toilet can save you money, make your bathroom luxurious, and flush with fervent force.

Find a low-flow model.

Low-flow toilets have been around since the early ‘90s—but unfortunately, they developed a poor reputation because they just couldn’t get the job done. However, today’s low-flow toilets practically have the horsepower of a Chevy Camaro—they’ll handle your business with ease at a measly 1.6 gallons per flush. That’s a stat that would make the guys at Top Gear blush. You’ll save hundreds of gallons of water per year—that’s good for the environment and your wallet.

Don’t penny-pinch.

How many times a day do you use your toilet? Wait, don’t answer that question. Toilets get a lot of use throughout their lifetimes, and they might be the most important part of a home in terms of hygiene and public health—so why would you penny-pinch on a porcelain throne? Spending an extra $100 or $200 can go a long way in the toilet world—it can provide you with improved flushing power and fewer toilet repair headaches. Buy the deluxe model with all the bells and whistles, and that investment will pay for itself one flush at a time.   

Do your research.

You wouldn’t buy a car without learning about its safety ratings and performance stats, would you? The best consumer is an informed consumer—so do your toilet research before you make a purchase. Yes, there are many guides out there that compare and contrast the attributes of toilets in varying price ranges, so get out on the internet and find the right loo for you.

Check out bathroom showrooms.

Standard hardware and home supply stores only carry a select number of mass-market toilets—so if you’re looking for a wider selection of top-performing toilets, you need to head to more toilet-centric stores. Check out your local bathroom showroom for a better toilet selection—you can get some great deals on closeout toilets, and find specialty toilets that could better meet the needs of the people who live in your home (for example, many toilet manufacturers offer “comfort height” toilets for older folks with limited mobility).

Have your new toilet professionally installed.

Installing a new toilet isn’t as easy as it seems—if you skip any steps or make any mistakes, you could cause damage your new toilet and your home. That’s where Emergency Plumbing & Solar can help. We’re happy to help you install your new toilet and make sure your plumbing system is ready for the new loo in your life. Schedule an appointment with Emergency Plumbing & Solar today!

 

Things Your Plumber Wishes You Would Stop Doing

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Your Honolulu emergency plumber at Emergency Plumbing & Solar doesn’t mind fixing your mistakes, cleaning up your messes, or unclogging your clogs—that’s just a part of the job. But there are certain things that grind the proverbial gears of plumbers across the world—things that make our jobs and your lives more difficult.

In this blog, we’ll give you a list of a few things that make your plumbers cringe. It’s not just that these plumber pet peeves cause us frustration—they can actually do a great deal of damage to your home.

You’re a Drano user.

We get it—there’s something oddly satisfying about incinerating a nasty clog with powerful chemicals. Unfortunately, these chemicals (like the ones in Drano and similar products) can do a great deal of damage to your pipes, and create environmental hazards for animals and plant life down the line.

Using a fire extinguisher is one way to put out a fire, but the best way to put out a fire is to not start one in the first place. To avoid the need for Drano, avoid a clogged drain altogether—that means using a stopper to keep hair and gunk from entering your plumbing system.

You flush EVERYTHING down the toilet.

Tampons, baby wipes, makeup remover pads, cat litter—if you can think of it, somebody flushes it down the toilet regularly. Unfortunately, items like this—even the ones that are labeled as “flushable”—can clog your toilet drain and cause problems for your plumber.

If you’re the one throwing anything but toilet paper and “the goods” down the toilet… SHAME. There are perfectly sturdy garbage cans that will take care of all of your paper products without wreaking havoc on your plumbing system.

You throw EVERYTHING down your garbage disposal.

There’s a time and place for everything. But it’s not the time to place potato peels, bacon grease, pasta, chicken bones, or coffee grounds down your garbage disposal. Your garbage disposal is an amazing invention, but it’s not invincible—throwing too many scraps of harder, stickier food items down your disposal can jam and overheat your system.

If you call a plumber about a jammed or clogged garbage disposal, you can bet they’re going to lecture you about proper garbage disposal practices. Good thing you read this blog and all the hassle can be avoided… right?

You use toilet pucks.

While we’d all love nothing more than to have a perpetually clean toilet, those toilet tank pucks that “freshen” your toilet can actually do more harm than good. These pucks contain chemicals that can wear out the inner components of your toilet and prevent flushing altogether.

The best way to clean a toilet? You guessed it—toilet cleaner and some good ol’ elbow grease.

You don’t know where the main water valve is.

Would you rather (a) call your plumber about a leaky dishwasher or (b) call your plumber about a foot-high flood in your basement? The latter probably could’ve been avoided if it didn’t take you 20 minutes to find out where your water shutoff valve is.

Sometimes, preventing extensive, house-wide water damage is as simple as turning off your water before before things get out of control. Learn where your main water valve is, and tell your whole family about it—this can help you prevent flooding disasters, even when the kids are the only ones at home.

You tried to DIY.

Good effort, DIY Dad. You tried to fix a complex plumbing problem—and the effort and determination were clearly there—but you only made things worse in the end. Leave things to the professionals—call Emergency Plumbing & Solar for your next plumbing problem!

 

Toilet Talk IV: History of The Toilet

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dreamstime_xxl_4790837

According to bladderandbowel.org, a self-proclaimed voice of the bladder and bowel community (???), the average human uses a toilet six to seven times in a 24-hour period. That’s a lot of toilet time. But do humans every stop to think about why they can relieve themselves with relative ease? We might be too busy tweeting on the toilet to notice how important toilets are to the development of the modern world.

In this blog, Honolulu’s premier plumbers will give you a brief history of the flushing toilet, and how its evolution has changed how we go to the bathroom today.

Let’s define what a toilet is real quick.

Anything can be a toilet if you try hard enough—but for the sake of this toilet timeline, we’ll say that a true toilet performs two basic functions:

  1. It provides the user with some sort of seat—a throne, per se—that makes use of the toilet easy.
  2. It allows for waste to be carried away from the area, with a manual, mechanical, or gravitational “flush.” No waterless pit toilets here.

With this in mind, it’s time to learn about the history of toilets. We’re going to give you the highlight reel of toilet innovations here—we wouldn’t want to “waste” too much of your time. Also, sorry for the toilet humor.

Toilets of the Ancient World

The first signs of functional toilet systems can be traced back to around 2500 BC—the height of the Egyptian empire. With a rapidly expanding population and a growing amount of human waste to deal with, the Egyptians needed ways to dispose of waste efficiently to avoid widespread disease and general squalor—which is when they created a the world’s first known “sewage system.” Egyptians built simple, sit-down latrines that were “flushed” manually with buckets of water. The waste was carried from the latrine into earthenware pipes that directed the waste into underground water channels directed away from populated areas. The best part of this toilet system? It’s still in working order today.

Ancient Romans (starting around 500 BC) built the “flush” into the sewer system itself, creating comfortable stone latrines with a hole at the bottom—much like a traditional toilet siphon we see today. Waste from the toilet was then dropped directly into water channels below—a highly complex grid of running water directing waste traffic where it needed to go. The Romans had no choice but to develop these systems further over time—as the population outgrew these systems, the streets would fill with water and human waste during rainstorms.

With both of these civilizations, we see a similar pattern—toilets start as a luxury for the wealthy and powerful, and once the technology becomes scalable, toilets become more accessible to the general public. But it’s not always that easy, and we’ll find out over 1000 years after the fall of the Roman Empire.

England’s Toilet Troubles

Fast forward to 1200 AD, and London is in shambles. The current garderobe system in place, a series of public toilets that drained into the nearby Thames River, were causing the river to stink of feces—and because London relied on the Thames as its primary water source, the city was struck by widespread sickness and disease. In order to solve this city-wide problem, the city phased out garderobes by the 1500s. Londoners opted to use relatively old-school technology to replace it—a series of personal chamber pots (essentially large bowls) that were used and then transported to be emptied.

Unfortunately, there was one problem with this plan—chamber pots were available for people of all socioeconomic classes, but only the rich and royal has designated areas to “flush” their chamberpots. So where did the common people dispose of their chamberpot waste?

They took their waste exactly where it shouldn’t go—to the streets. Oppressed by a powerful and occasionally corrupt government for generations, London’s commoners weren’t willing to pay taxes to their leaders to develop public sewage systems—so they threw their excrement into the streets and lived amongst that excrement… for almost 300 years.

“Gardez l’eau” (watch out for the water) was the phrase of the day. Have a chamberpot full of waste? Just yell this classic phrase and throw the contents of your chamberpot right out your window and into the streets, hoping you don’t hit passersby below. Now that’s a crappy situation.

It wasn’t until the 1800s that public plumbing and full-scale toilet infrastructure became a priority for the English population (no wonder some Brits wanted to start a new world in the Americas). Building off privy inspiration from Sir John Harrington and Leonardo Da Vinci, two Englishmen emerged as toilet innovators of the time: Alexander Cummings, a resident watchmaker and toilet enthusiast, and Thomas Crapper (we know you just laughed), a self-proclaimed mad toilet scientist.

Cummings was the first to receive a patent for the modern flushing toilet—and this time, the flush was fully automatic. Using basic physics and some copper artistry, Cummings and his team crafted a toilet that flushed mechanically, and returned fresh water to the bowl after every flush. It was the start of something beautiful, but it wasn’t perfect yet—these toilets often had faulty seals between the toilet and the sewer line below, which would allow noxious sewer fumes to enter the home.

This issue wasn’t completely until Mr. Crapper—a seasoned plumber with a 250-gallon water tank on top of his workshop—developed powerful, airtight seals between the toilet and the sewer line, as well as between the toilet and the floor, ensuring all those nuclear smells remained in the sewer. Crapper was also responsible for mainstream toilet production in England. He teamed up with pottery maker Thomas Twyford, who made the transition from tableware to toilets and began turning porcelain toilets into mass-produced commodities—but he also turned them into works of art. Twyford was well-known for his incredible toilet artistry, making toilets that were shaped like dolphins and angels.

Meanwhile in America, people were still doing their business in pit-style outhouses, where they would lean over the back of a bench, exposed to an open pit, to relieve themselves. This might be surprising to our younger readers—but it wasn’t until after World War I that flushing toilets became culturally relevant in the US. When American soldiers came back from England after the war, they couldn’t stop talking about a revolutionary new bathroom device. They called it “The Crapper.”

Toilets Today

There have been many advances in toilet technology over the past five or six decades—we’ve seen a dramatic increase in flushing power, water efficiency, and throne comfort. We’ve seen toilets with bluetooth that jam high-fidelity music. We’ve seen toilets that could pass for art in in the MoMA. We’ve even seen a $19 million toilet on the American side of the International Space Station—and the Americans wouldn’t even let the Russians use it.

In today’s day and age, it’s easy to take our toilets for granted. Do you even know where the goods go after you flush? Probably not. But something as simple as a toilet and its plumbing infrastructure has saved the developed world from widespread disease, filth, and a long list of other crappy problems. That’s why the toilet is worth talking about.

 

To Emergency Plumber… Or Not Emergency Plumber?

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As Honolulu’s emergency plumbers of choice, Emergency Plumbing & Solar knows that plumbing emergencies can come in many forms. As a homeowner, you may not know the reason for the problem, but you certainly know the symptoms: an overflowing toilet, a backed up shower drain, an ice-cold shower, a kitchen flood—you name it, and you’ve seen it happen or heard about it at some point.

When these problems arise, it’s almost a reflex to call an emergency plumber—especially if your plumbing mishap occurs in the middle of the night. But should that always be your go-to strategy for your plumbing problems?

Before you panic and call your 24-hour emergency plumber, go through your plumbing emergency checklist. It could lessen damage from plumbing issues, and it could save you money, too!

1. Shut off the water.

Especially when you have water spewing across your home, this is always your first step—whether you’re going to call the emergency plumber or not. You should always know where your emergency shutoff valve is for your water supply as this will cut off the water at its source. Find it, know it, and teach your kids where it is and how to use it—you never know when plumbing emergencies will arise.

2. Evaluate the intensity of the plumbing problem.

Can it wait until regular business hours? This is a question you should always ask yourself when evaluating a potential plumbing emergency. Much of the time, turning your water supply off can stop damage from an overflowing toilet. For problems that aren’t causing immediate water damage, you might be able to make due until the next business day by using your bathroom sink instead of your kitchen sink, or using another toilet or shower in your home.

The quicker you are to pick up the phone to call the 24-hour plumber, the more you’ll pay for plumbing services. If repairs can wait, it’s best to hold tight and call a non-emergency plumber first thing in the morning.

3. Call your water company.

Sometimes, plumbing problems go well beyond the scope of your home. Your plumbing issues could be a result of a serious municipal plumbing issue, like a sewer blockage, broken mainline, or manhole problems. Before you pay for an emergency plumber to make it out to your home, give your water company a call. If they see a problem with the plumbing system around your home, they’ll inform of the situation as well as their plans to fix it. But if they don’t see any issues, it’s time to give your emergency plumber a call.

4. Give your emergency plumber a call.

If all else fails and you just can’t wait for a 24-hour plumber, it’s time to make the call. But it’s not as easy as dialing the number and following instructions. If you don’t ask the right questions, your emergency could come out to your place, fix your problem, and hit you with a whopping repair bill (it’s not a rip-off, it’s what it costs for emergency plumbing services).

Before you invite the plumber to your home, ask a few questions while you’re on the phone. If a receptionist picks up, ask to speak directly to a plumber on duty—they’ll have a better idea of what repairs will cost. Next, ask them what their service charge is—plumbers cost money, even if all they do is show up and take a look at your plumbing disaster. Finally, if you have an inkling of what your plumbing problem is, ask the plumber what a typical repair of that kind would cost. This will be the most important information you’ll need in deciding whether to get the repair done right then and there, or to wait until regular business hours.

5. Trust the professionals.

Emergency Plumbing & Solar is Honolulu’s 24-hour plumber of choice, helping you with the messiest and most time-sensitive plumbing problems. Whether you need our services right away, or you’d rather save money and wait until our daytime plumbers are on duty, we’re always happy to help. Give us a call today!

 

Toilet Talk, Part 3: Toilet Tune-up Time

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dreamstime_9956210

In part 1 and part 2 of our Toilet Talk series, Honolulu’s emergency plumbers discussed how toilets work, and signs that it’s time for a new toilet. In part 3 of the series, we’ll give you a cheat sheet to a toilet tune-up—ideas and strategies that can extend the life of your toilet, and keep things flushing. These tips are so easy, DIYers of any skill level can handle them!

Step 1: Check Your Toilet Flapper

Does your toilet flush when nobody is around? While some people might chalk it up to a possessed toilet or a ghost with bowel issues, chances are that your toilet flapper is damaged or broken.

Flappers are very inexpensive, and can be replaced in three simple steps. First, disconnect the chain that attaches the flapper and the toilet handle, and remove the old flapper. Next, check that the flapper valve is smooth and intact so you can have a proper seal with your new flapper. Finally, place the new flapper and attach the chain back to your toilet handle.

Step 2: Check Your Flush Handle

Your toilet handle is usually fastened to the wall of your toilet by a single nut, which can come loose over time. Tighten the nut if necessary, and check to see if the chain between the handle and the flapper is structurally sound and not too loose or too tight.

New toilet handles and chains are very inexpensive, and can be purchased at your local hardware or plumbing supply store. If your handle and chain are due for a replacement, just pull the old ones out, and put the new ones in. It’s really that easy.

Step 3: Examine Your Toilet For Base Leaks

If you’re experiencing leaks on the floor near the base of your toilet, there’s a very good chance your wax ring is broken or deteriorating. This is another DIY project that can be solved in a few simple steps.

First, turn off the water in your home, and flush your toilet a few times to remove water from your toilet bowl. Wait for your toilet to dry out a bit before continuing. Next, use large pliers to disconnect your water supply pipe from the bottom of your toilet. Use a wrench to loosen the bolts that hold your toilet down at the base. Next, lift the toilet upwards to expose the wax ring. Remove the wax ring, rinse it off, and take it to the hardware store with you so you can buy an appropriately sized replacement ring; this should only cost you a few bucks. Finally, place the new wax ring, reattach the water supply, have someone sit on the toilet to hold it in proper position, then bolt it back down.

Step 4: Take A Look At The Fill Valve

Your fill valve, also known as the ballcock, is one of the most important mechanical pieces of your toilet. If it’s not working properly, you could experience weak flushing, no flushing, and even frequent toilet overflows.

These issues could be caused by a broken or damaged fill valve, but it’s more likely that these issues are caused by an improperly placed fill valve. To fix these issues, take off your toilet lid, and watch your fill valve do its work. The fill valve should stop the flow of water right before it reaches the overflow tube. Adjust your fill valve accordingly to make sure your toilet isn’t overflowing or underflowing.

Step 5: Inspect The Bowl

Take a look around your bowl, and remove any buildup that is obstructing the main channel or the rim channels underneath the rim of your toilet. Blockages of the rim channels are very common, especially if you’re not thoroughly cleaning underneath the rim with your toilet brush.

The success of your toilet bowl is also based upon what you put into it—so avoid flushing baby wipes, cotton balls, paper towels, disinfecting wipes, or basically anything that isn’t toilet paper. If you have children, educate them on things they shouldn’t flush down the toilet. If there’s one thing our emergency plumbers know too much about, it’s the ways kids can clog a toilet and flood an entire bathroom space. Stuffed animals, action figures, household items, you name it—if a kid can reach it, there’s a possibility they will flush it down the toilet out of curiosity or the need for entertainment.

Step 6: Give Your Toilet A Good Cleaning

Cleaning your toilet is critical for keeping it clean, functional, and germ-free, so it’s important that you clean your toilet thoroughly and regularly. You don’t need harsh and toxic chemicals to give your toilet a good cleaning—all you need are some rubber gloves, a two-liter bottle of Coca Cola, and some vinegar!

First, carefully pour some Coke under the rim of your toilet bowl, letting it stick to the surface and soak into the grime of your rim channel. Continue to pour the Coke into the toilet, working downwards from the rim to the bowl. Save some Coke for later. Grab a toilet brush, and begin to scrub under the rim—don’t stop until every bit of gunk is gone. Finally, apply Coke to your rim channel once more, and pour your remaining Coke straight into the toilet bowl so your toilet water scumline is completely submerged. Close your toilet lid, and let the Coke do its shockingly effective work for about a half hour.

Next, open your toilet bowl, and spray a vinegar-water blend on all inner surfaces of the toilet. Follow up with another scrub of your toilet bowl, then flush the whole mess out of sight and out of mind.

If this process doesn’t clean your toilet, you might need to loosen things up before you really get to cleaning. Boil a pot of hot water, and pour it directly into your toilet bowl, filling it up as high as you can. Close the bowl and let the boiling water sit for a half hour or so. The heat will loosen months (or sadly, years) of gunk, allowing you to scrub this clean much more efficiently.  

Still Having Toilet Troubles?

If you’ve followed these steps and your toilet is still having trouble, it’s time to call the professionals. That’s where Emergency Plumbing & Solar can help! It’s better to call us sooner rather than later to fix your toilet issues—you’d rather be in need of one of our regular plumbers instead of one emergency plumbers, wouldn’t you? No matter the situation, we can take care of your toilet problems. Schedule an appointment, or call us for help with your plumbing emergencies today!

 

Toilet Talk, Part 2: Signs It’s Time for a New Toilet

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dreamstime_xxl_13874459

Your toilet is your safe space, your luxurious lavatory—your judicious john. You two have spent a lot of time together over the years, comforting each other in the good times, bad times, and unspeakable times. But in the words of the great Geoffrey Chaucer, “All good things must come to an end.” Your withering water closet will eventually lose its power, its mechanical integrity, and its will to flush—and you’ll have no choice but to send your beloved bog to privy purgatory (not all toilets go to heaven).

In this edition of Toilet Talk, we’ll discuss the signs that your toilet needs to be laid to rest, and replaced with a newer, younger model.

Your toilet constantly clogs and overflows.

If your child is constantly curious about which of his toys will actually flush down the toilet, then you’re probably used to clogs, overflows, and bathroom floods on a frequent basis. But if your toilet keeps clogging due to “regular” business instead of funny business, there’s a chance your toilet is doomed. If you’re absolutely sure you know what keeps causing clogs, Honolulu’s emergency plumbers can diagnose and treat your toilet. But if your clogs and overflows seem random and unpredictable, then your best bet is to trade in your toilet.

Your toilet is always running.

Then why don’t you chase after it? If your toilet is constantly running—or more specifically, spitting water and spontaneously refilling—it can be a sign of damage to your flapper or flapper valve. Flappers are very inexpensive, and replacing them is a reasonable DIY project even for the least handy of folks. But if a cracked ball float is the problem, it could be causing your toilet to fill with too much water, run constantly, and ultimately, spike your utility bill. If you don’t deal with “running” problems sooner rather than later, you might as well flush your money straight down the toilet.

A one-time flapper or float problem is nothing to worry about—but if you keep experiencing malfunctions or displacement of these parts, then it might be time to kiss your commode goodbye.

Your toilet flushes poorly (or not at all).

There are approximately 8,675,309 different reasons why your toilet might be flushing poorly—or even worse, not flushing at all. Whatever the case, it’s important to have your system checked in these situations by a plumbing professional—flushing problems can manifest themselves anywhere between your toilet bowl and your subterranean sewer line. But there’s more that can go wrong with a toilet than a sewer line, so if your plumber finds issues with your toilet’s flushing ability, a toilet replacement might be in order.  

Your toilet is leaking at the seams.

It’s all fun and games until the floor around your toilet is spongy and soggy. Toilets, just like a ceramic pot or your grandma’s china, can crack, and with cracks comes leaks. This is an emergency plumbing situation; leaks that aren’t taken care of immediately can cause mold, mildew, rotting, and even structural damage to your home.

It’s not just cracks that cause these problems—deteriorating seals within your toilet can allow water to flow where it shouldn’t. These are unmistakable signs of an old, tired toilet. Get a new one before money starts leaking out of your wallet.

Your toilet looks old.

Sometimes, there’s not enough bleach and elbow grease in the world to fully clean your dingy, unnaturally off-white toilet. And in a room where cleanliness is next to godliness, an old, dirty toilet can produce some ungodly sights and smells.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with replacing your toilet because it looks irreparably old and dirty—we replace old couches and chairs all the time for the same reason. Plus, there’s nothing like that new toilet smell (or lack thereof).

The Benefits of a New Toilet

So you’ve finally decided to replace your toilet—but you’re not convinced about the new loo just yet. However, rest assured knowing your new toilet will be much more reliable, will have more flushing power, and will save you money, too. Powerful, water-efficient toilets can reduce your water usage by up to 20 percent compared to a standard toilet of the times. But if your toilet was manufactured before 1994, you could be cutting water usage by nearly 60 percent—or over 4,000 gallons of water, per person in your household, per year. That’s enough water to do over 100 loads of laundry!
Do you really need any more convincing to get a new toilet? We didn’t think so. Now go buy a brand new latrine and flush your toilet problems away!

 

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