Fun Facts About Plumbing

When you think of plumbing, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?  Oh great, a clogged sink or toilet. That’s no fun! And that’s precisely the point. Because for all the aggravation your plumbing can cause, it does have its lighter side, as you’re about to see.

  1. The word “plumber” dates back to the Roman Empire.  In Rome, pipes where originally made from lead, which is “plumbum” in Latin.  People who worked with lead were called Plumbarius, which was shortened over time to the word we use today.
  2. The world’s most famous plumbers are probably Mario and Luigi of the Nintendo series Super Mario Brothers.
  3. Ozzy Osbourne, a famous and controversial rock star, was a plumber’s apprentice before he got into the music industry.
  4. In Japan, some urinals have voice-activated flushing mechanisms.  The urinals respond to several commands, including “fire.”
  5. In 1956 Sir John Harington was credited with inventing the first flushable toilet, hence the American nickname for it, “the John.”
  6. If a drip from your faucet fills an 8-ounce glass in 15 minutes, it will waste 180 gallons per month and 2,160 gallons per year.
  7. A low flush toilet can save you up to 18,000 gallons of water per year.
  8. Since 1963, more than 28 billion feet or about 5.3 million miles of copper plumbing tube has been installed in U.S. buildings. That’s equivalent to a coil wrapping around the Earth more than 200 times. The current installation rate now exceeds a billion feet per year.
  9. Archeologists have recovered a portion of a water plumbing system from the Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. The evidence of indoor plumbing in palaces dates back to 2500 B.C.E.
  10. The term “plumbers” was a popular name given to the covert White House Special Investigations Unit established during the presidency of Richard Nixon in response to the leaked “Pentagon Papers” documents. Their job was to plug intelligence leaks in the U.S. Government relating to the Vietnam War; hence the term “plumbers.”

Could you stand a little plumbing assistance at your house? If so, you’ve come to exactly the right place: Messmer Mechanical. From routine maintenance to plumbing repair and new installations, we do it all, and always with your satisfaction guaranteed.

How to Buy a New Water Heater

Before 2015, it was fairly common practice to replace a gas water heater with a gas water heater, and electric for electric. Maybe you needed a smaller or larger tank size, but you were happy with what you had, and saw no reason to travel a different road.

Then in April 2015, everything changed. New federal energy conservation measures took effect that had a profound impact on water heater construction and design. And while the result was and continues to be good news for home owners, your choices are now both broader and more complicated than before.

That’s why Messmer Mechanical is offering its services to help you get exactly the new or replacement right water heater you need. Let’s say, for example, you now have an 80-gallon gas storage tank water heater. Those have been replaced by gas condensing water heaters, a more energy efficient version of earlier designs.

Condensing water heaters recapture and re-use the heat of the flue gases. That means less wasted energy and fewer gas emissions. To accomplish that dual feat, they need a larger heat exchanger than previous models, and that means they’re larger in size than traditional gas water heaters.

Do you have enough space to easily accommodate a larger storage tank water heater? If the answer is no, then you might want to take a closer look at a tankless water heater which, by definition, has no storage tank. Instead, the water is heated as you need it in a wall-mounted heat exchanger. With a right-sized tankless water heater, you’ll have all the hot water you need, even during periods of peak demand. Plus, you’ll enjoy added storage space once we remove your old storage tank system.

Yes, there’s a lot that’s new with today’s residential water heaters, and Messmer Mechanical is ready to help you weigh your options and make the best possible choice for your family and budget. To learn more and schedule a free new system proposal, contact is today.

How to Maintain Your Garbage Disposal

You already know your garbage disposal won’t last forever, but what’s wrong with it lasting “longer than expected”?

Absolutely nothing! And because of that, Messmer Mechanical is here to explain how you can accomplish that money-saving goal:

  • Feed your disposal a little at a time. While you’re at it, take care to keep utensils and your hands out of the drain.
  • Keep all fibrous foods out since they’re likely to clog your drain – the disposal can’t properly grind them. That goes for food scraps like corn husks, onion skins, celery, and most soft vegetables.

  • Deodorize the disposal. Cut a lemon into small pieces and drop the fruit into the disposal along with some baking soda or distilled white vinegar. Turn on the cold- water faucet and then the disposal. The unit will clean itself as it grinds up the mixture. Use a strong flow of cold water and keep it running at least 30 seconds after the grinding noise has stopped. This helps to flush food all the way down the drain line.
  • Do not put uncooked meat fat or liquid fats into your disposer.

Still, even with all the “TLC” in the world, sooner or later you’re bound to run into a problem.  In fact, you probably have one if you hear or see any of the following signs:

  • If the disposal won’t run, check the circuit breaker or fuse and replace or reset/replace as necessary. Also check to see if the disposal’s overload switch has tripped. Locate the reset button at the bottom of the disposal unit and push it.
  • If the motor hums but the disposal doesn’t run, you may have a jammed impeller – that can be fixed.
  • If the disposal runs intermittently, the switch or stopper may be defective. If so, it’s probably time for a replacement unit.
  • A leaky garbage disposal isn’t necessarily a sign of rust. The cause might be as simple as a loose connection, which easily can be tightened.
  • If your disposal starts making a racket, turn it off immediately; chances are, something was being ground up that didn’t belong in there in the first place, like a meat bone. If you stop it in time, no harm.  If not, you could be facing a damaged blade, impeller or motor.

Like all other plumbing fixtures and systems, treat your garbage disposal with care, and it will give you more years of uninterrupted service.  But when the time comes that it requires professional attention, we’ll be here to lend a helping hand, just as we are right now.  Messmer Mechanical:  your friend in the plumbing business. Contact us for service any time.

How to Hire the Right Plumber

When it comes to certain home repairs or maintenance work, going the DIY route can often save you a pretty penny.

Still, if you don’t have the requisite skill, tools, time, and/or patience, sooner or later you’re going to need the services of a professional plumber. But if that were today, would you know the right questions to ask to help ensure your ultimate satisfaction?

If not, you’ll find the following plumber selection criteria extremely useful:

Experience. Whether fixing a cracked water pipe or tackling a bathroom remodel, you want someone with experience and know-how. So ask how long they’ve been in business, what special certifications they carry, and what areas of plumbing they specialize in.

License and Insurance. In a perfect world, your plumbing issue would be resolved swiftly and without any hiccups. In reality, sometimes accidents happen. A licensed and insured plumbing company will be able to protect itself and your home should anything go wrong.

Reasonable rates. Be wary of contractors who grossly underbid their competition. While they may save you a few dollars initially, you could end up paying more the long run.

Warranty. A trustworthy plumbing contractor will stand behind their work and back it up with some type of warranty or quality assurance guarantee.

Written estimates. When your bathroom turns into a swimming pool, the last thing you want is a “ballpark” cost. Choose a plumber who will provide you with a guaranteed written estimate in advance.

Emergency service. Plumbing problems rarely happen when it’s convenient for you. So ask your plumber if they offer after-hours emergency service, and if there is an additional charge for it.

Here at Messmer Mechanical, we’re family owned and operated and with deep roots in all the communities where we live and work. As such, we value our own integrity, and would never do anything knowingly to tarnish it. And that’s just one of the many ways we strive to instill trust and confidence in every customer we serve. For a plumbing, heating, and air conditioning company you can trust, no matter what the need, contact Messmer Mechanical today.

How to Extend the Life of Your AC System

When you buy something that you know won’t last forever, what’s the next best thing? Getting it to last as long as possible, of course. Well, your central air conditioning system falls neatly into that category. Even better, there are numerous ways to help it reach or surpass its average life expectancy of 12 – 15 years. Here are several ways you can participate in its ongoing care and maintenance:

  • Clean or replace the filter at least every 60 days. A clogged filter makes your system work overtime to keep you cool, and that adds significantly to its wear and tear.
  • If you have one thermostat controlling your entire house and certain rooms that don’t get used at certain times of day, you can extend the life of your system by adding one or more zones – each with its own thermostat – to cool only those rooms or areas that are occupied.
  • Keep all vents and registers clear of window treatments and other obstructions so cool are can flow unabated throughout your house.
  • Replace or caulk or weather stripping where you can feel cool air escaping and warm air from outdoors taking its place.
  • Don’t plant any flowers or shrubs too close to your outdoor condensing unit so the heat transfer process can proceed with interference.
  • Cover any windows that receive direct sunlight during the day or have them covered with window film to help limit the amount of cool air needed during the day.
  • Try to avoid cooking and baking as much as possible during the hottest times of day.
  • Install one or more ceiling fans to pull cool air back up so, once again, your AC system doesn’t have to work quite as hard in certain rooms.
  • Replace one or more of your thermostats with a programmable model that also comes with an app you can download to your mobile devices.  That way, you can change temperature settings to conserve even more energy while your away from home and your plans suddenly change.

With a little help from your friends at Messmer Mechanical, you can help your system last even longer. And all it takes is contacting us for annual system maintenance; if fact, and at your request, we can contact you each spring so you never have to worry about having your system professionally cleaned and inspected once a year, just as your system’s manufacturer advises.  Has it been a year or longer since preventative maintenance was last performed?  If so, why contact Messmer Mechanical today!

Looking to Buy an Old House or Fixer-Upper? Talk to Us First.

When it comes to buying an old house or one in dire need of repair, there are pretty much just two kinds: real bargains or money pits.  The question is, how can you tell the difference before laying down you cash?

When it comes to the home’s plumbing, heating and cooling systems, and water quality, Messmer Mechanical can offer you all the advice and assistance you need. But even before you get that far, hiring a qualified inspector will help you determine if certain deal breakers are in place, such termite damage, the presence of radon inside the home, structural damage to the foundation, and rampant mold and mildew.  Other than those, most other issues should prove to manageable, provided the selling price plus the cost for renovations does not add up to an amount that exceeds the market value of the home.

At your request, we conduct our own thorough investigation of the plumbing, heating and cooling systems. No existing cooling system, no duct work, and no place to install the duct work?  No problem.  Because with the advent of ductless air systems, you can enjoy all the benefits of whole-house conditioned heat and air, no ducts needed.

Plumbing-wise, the first thing to consider is the condition of the home’s water and drain pipes.  If none have to be replaced, then we’re way ahead of the game.  After that, it comes down to one system and fixture at a time:  water heater probably being at the top of the list, then toilets, faucets, garbage disposal, and so on.

Ultimately, our first goal is to help you decide if the home is a good investment. If you find that is, even with all the renovations need, we’ll not only determine the plumbing and HVAC “must dos” and “can waits”, but price everything out and show you how to save money every way possible.

Contact us today for the assistance you need in making that older home work for you.

How to Buy a New Air Conditioning System

Is it time to replace your aging central air conditioning system or, perhaps, purchase one for the first time? Either way, you’re in for a whole new world of indoor comfort along with reduced humidity levels and the kind of energy savings that make a difference.

Still, there’s a lot to think about before deciding on the one system that best meets all your needs, so here are some key factors well worth considering in advance.

  1. Bigger is not necessarily better.

A central AC system right-sized to your home is crucial. A unit that is too small might do a fine job keeping you cool on milder days, but won’t be able to hold its own during high heat season. Conversely, an oversized unit will keep you nice and cool but also will drive up your energy costs from constantly turning on and off.  Our experienced HVAC professionals can recommend the perfect size unit for your home, and your budget.

  1. If upgrading, check (or replace) all components.

If you have existing ductwork in your home, it’s important to check for any cracks or gaps that could be resulting in air leaks. And if you’re upgrading your system, it might be tempting to replace only certain components. While this can save a few dollars up front, it could mean higher operating and maintenance costs down the road:  not to mention a decrease in performance and efficiency.

  1. Consider an annual maintenance agreement.

Once an air conditioning system is installed, it’s easy to forget about it until something goes wrong.  Our suggestion?  Don’t wait.  Instead, purchase an annual service agreement as soon as your system is installed, one that includes annual preventative maintenance.  It’s your best assurance of ongoing comfort, fewer repair problems, and a longer system lifespan.

  1. How much energy do you want to save?

When considering your new system options, keep in mind that the higher the SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating), the lower the energy consumption and your monthly utility costs.  SEER ratings range from a low of 13 to a high of 23.

  1. Hire a reputable HVAC company.

Messmer Mechanical has everything you need to ensure your complete satisfaction: the training, experience, commitment to quality, and an annual service plan program that can be custom designed to meet the precise needs of every family we serve.

Contact us today to schedule a free in-home comfort analysis and new system proposal.  And remember:  Messmer Mechanical is rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau.

Creative and Affordable Ways to Clean Your Car

You could spend all day searching for just the right car cleaning products.  But who has all day for something like that?  Instead, spend just a few minutes now reading this blog and you’re likely to find you already have several outstanding – yet unexpected – car cleaning solutions in your possession.

Vodka: This classic alcoholic spirit also doubles as a windshield fluid that doesn’t freeze. In a pinch, you can add it directly to the wiper fluid. You can also use it to clear the windows of frost in the morning. Add a dash of castile soap to the vodka and spray the combined solution on the windshield. Not only will the ice quickly melt away, but the window will take longer to re-ice.

Rubbing Alcohol: Rubbing alcohol breaks down oils and has the added benefit of drying more quickly than plain water. Accordingly, rubbing alcohol makes a great wiper blade cleaner. When the blades start getting streaky, just pour some rubbing alcohol on a clean cloth, wipe the blades several times, and voila! No more streaks!

Kerosene: To add a no-wax waterproof shine to your car’s exterior, just add a small amount of kerosene to an old rag, and rub onto the car. Your car will shine like new and you’ll get the dual benefit of waterproof protection without the waxy build up or the need for added elbow grease!

Coke and Steel Wool: These two items create a match made in heaven when it comes to removing rust, oil, or getting chrome to sparkle again. For extra challenging spots, just soak a clean rag in the soda and let the rag sit on top of the problem spot. After about 5 minutes you should see the rust or tarnish come right off.

Club soda: Sure, you know that club soda is good for getting stains out of a shirt or a dress, but what about inside the car? Of course! Club soda lifts fabric stains through all that bubbling action. Poor some onto the fabric and when the bubbling subsides, just soak it up with a clean towel. Repeat as needed, and you can gently scrub the fabric, as well, to pull the stain out.

Of course, when it comes to cleaning an obstructed drain line, none of the above remedies are right for the job.  But Messmer Mechanical is, no matter how stubborn that clogged drain appears to be. Contact us today or anytime for our professional drain cleaning assistance.

How to Chase those Winter Blues Away

The dark of winter can make people feel tired, sluggish, depressed, moody, and even hungrier than usual. The good news is that waiting for spring isn’t your only option.  Instead, here are several proven effective ways to brighten your mood until added daylight and warmth combine to do it for you:  

Light: Once we turn the clocks back in early November, people often complain of having difficulty getting up in the morning. To help compensate for fewer hours of daylight, plug a bright full-spectrum or fluorescent light into a timer, and set it to go off about an hour before you wake up. This will simulate an artificial dawn to help put a little bounce in your early morning step.

Exercise: The brain releases dopamine when you exercise and that makes your whole body feel better and more positive. So, get outside for a brisk walk, invest in a treadmill or stationary bike, or head to the mall for some indoor walking if the weather is just too harsh.

Eating light: When the body is tired, it compensates by eating more, and when we are cold we tend to eat heavy, warm, gooey, rich foods. Adding more fruits and veggies to your diet will help you feel better, less moody, and make your body crave more of the same. If it’s too much of a struggle to stay away from that mac and cheese, then eat it! But also have a salad on the side. Eating healthier doesn’t have to mean giving up foods, but your body will benefit just by adding something plant-based to your plate.

Time for yourself: One of the best parts of winter is having more time to enjoy your indoor activities. That book you never got to read in the summer, that project you meant to finish, that hobby you were interested in learning more about – you get the idea. And now, it’s time to get into a whole different rhythm to make the most of your winter at-home time.

Here’s another way to enhance your mood:  don’t let anything bad happen to your heating and plumbing systems.  Easier said than done, you say?  Not when you call Messmer Mechanical for a whole-house plumbing inspection and preventative maintenance for your furnace or boiler.  These services are designed to stop problems from happening which then leads to lower (if any) repair costs, lower utility bills, and longer system lifespan.  Contact Messmer today for services designed to put a smile on your face.  

“My Electric Water Heater is Leaking.”

There are several reasons why your water heater might be leaking.  Most of them require assistance from a professional plumber, but there are a couple of simple fixes you can attempt on your own that hopefully will make the problem go away.

Water Leaking from the Bottom of an Electric Water Heater

Electric water heaters contain a heating element located inside the bottom of the storage tank.  To operate at peak efficiency, it needs to removed and cleaned about every six months.

If you’re the handy type and want to try cleaning or replacing the heating element on your own, follow these simple but crucial steps:

  • Shut off the water heater power and hot water supplies. If you’re not sure where they’re located – even after checking your manufacturer’s guide – stop right there and call your plumber.
  • Once the power and water supplies are off, you next want to drain the storage tank. Attach a hose to the drain valve and then place the other end outdoors or in a sink. Keep it up until the tank is completely empty.
  • Next, remove the heater element by unscrewing it with an element wrench. After that, remove and dispose of the rubber gasket.  Then thoroughly clean the element, paying special attention to sediment that may have formed on the threads of the element or tank.
  • Attach a new gasket and place the heating element back inside the tank, making sure it’s thoroughly tightened.
  • (You’re almost done!) Refill the tank by closing the drain valve, opening the cold-water valve, and opening a hot water faucet to avoid creating a vacuum.
  • Turn the power and water supplies back on.

If the leak is gone, then give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.  On the other hand, if your water heater continues to leak, the heating element wasn’t the problem in first place.  And that’s when you need to call a professional plumber.

At Messmer Mechanical, we service and repair all makes and models of electric, gas, and tankless water heaters.  Which means no matter what the problem might be, we have the experience, know-how, and commitment to fix it right the first time, every time.  We look forward to your call.