Plumbing for Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor Kitchen Plumbing for water & propaneAs the summer winds down here in the Pacific Northwest, you might be dreaming about extending the season with an outdoor kitchen right on your patio or deck. Let’s face it, the summers here don’t last long enough, so anything you can do to keep the rain off your head while you’re cooking outside is a plus.

If you’re really serious about starting an outdoor kitchen project, now is the perfect time to get started, so you’re ready for next spring. There are some inexpensive ways to ensure you are able to enjoy you outdoor kitchen most of the year.

First, make sure you plan for water and gas (propane or natural gas) plumbing, even if you don’t have immediate plans to add features that might make use them. You can always use them in the future or list it as a feature when you sell your house.

An obvious feature of any outdoor kitchen is the grill. How many times have you gone out to start the grill, just to find out there’s no propane! DOH!!! Well, with a built in grill or even a gas line to a portable, you have all the fuel you need.

For heat, you can create a very comfortable environment throughout the year, by hanging some heaters from the rafters or ceiling. There are lots of options and they are a great way to keep toasty warm anytime you want. Finally, don’t forget about the water and a sink. Why go to the kitchen every time you need to clean a plate or rinse your barbecue utensils.

Maple Valley Plumbing can help by giving you estimates and contribute to your designs or plans with our expertise for outdoor kitchen plumbing.

Did You Know – Piping Expansion Joints

Expansion Fittings for plumbing - Maple Valley PlumbingExpansion joints are routinely used in plumbing for your home, where expansion and contraction (from heat and cold) or movement (ex. structural settling) could damage connections. Why is this important? Correctly and well designed plumbing can prevent leaks for years to come. Nothing man-made can escape deterioration from use and exposure to the weather, but high quality materials and good design can certainly help extend the life of your plumbing.

There are a few different types of expansion joints that are commonly used:

PVC – By far, the most common expansion joint used for the home is PVC, which is the least expensive option. These expansion joints do the job for most applications, but they are the most rigid and therefore can breakdown faster because of lower tolerance for change.

Metal – This includes copper, brass, galvanized steel, and cast iron. All metal expands (heat) and contracts (cold), so building in some flexibility is key to designing any plumbing system.

Rubber (bellows) – This is a strong bladder type of joint that allows for more movement due to settling of structures and heat expansion / contraction.

Flex – You might see these used around sinks and toilets, but a more heavy duty application can be used in your homes plumbing, where flexibility is needed.

Teflon (PTFE – Polytetrafluoroethylene) – Strictly used for commercial applications and rarely found or needed in residential applications. The Teflon greatly reduces friction and hence wear. It is also very resistant to harsh chemicals and extreme cold or heat exposure.

Maple Valley Plumbing designs and builds residential and commercial plumbing systems that meet the demands of today’s market. Whether you’re building new or remodeling, we can create a plumbing system that will stand the test of time.

Instant Hot Water Anywhere

How many times have you found yourself outside trying to wash the car or clean your barbecue grates off and thinking “Gee, I could really use a hose with hot water!?!?”  Maybe it’s time to consider a energy efficient tankless water heater.  Going “tankless” means you can put hot water where you needed, taking very little space, so you can have hot water whenever you need it.

Rheem Tankless Outdoor Model 95

Rheem Tankless 95 Outdoor Water Heater

Many tankless water heater manufactures make models that are very compact and can fit in small spaces, or even models that are for exterior installations.  If you have a garage or shed where it would be handy to have an instant hot water source, than tankless is a great way to go.

However, convenience is not the only reason to install a tankless water heater.  You should also consider that the life span of a tankless vs. a Storage type tank is twice as long.  They typically last for 20 years.  Additionally, the warrantee is longer.  Some manufactures have 15 year warrantees.

Energy efficiency is also at the top of the list.  According to the US Department of Energy, natural gas tankless water heaters are about 83 percent efficient, while electric heaters are 99 percent efficient.  However, there are usually federal & state rebates for installing Natural Gas tankless heaters.

Maple Valley Plumbing has installed tankless water heaters for many years and fully stands behind the work.  Please give us a call if you are considering one and need an estimate.  We’re happy to talk with you.

Navien Tankless Water Heaters

Navien Tankless Water Heater Installation

Navien Tankless Water Heaters & InstallationMaple Valley Plumbing now offers Navien Tankless Water Heaters for purchase and installation.  We recently installed this tankless water heater for a home owner in Issaquah, WA.  Replacing the old conventional water heater, which was inefficient and costly compared to the Navien tankless.  Now our customer has an “endless” supply of hot water at the temperature they set.

Not only will customers save money on energy, but the convenience is undeniable.  Navien tankless water heaters also have low CO2 producing technology, which means it’s better for the environment.  Please contact Dave or Erin for more information on Navien.  As always we come to your location for free estimates.

Water Main Leak

Residential Water Main Leak Repair - Maple Valley PlumbingBelieve it or not, water main breaks are fairly common, but they are not the kind you see on the news, where rivers of water carry cars down the street. Most main line breaks are leaks that start out small and are not noticed until you have a big muddy spot in your yard.

The picture we have here is a recent repair of a water main at an apartment building in Maple Valley. A grounding rod that was improperly installed by the original building contractors has caused a slow leak. One that finally gave way to a full on break.

Obviously, water main breaks and leaks can cause major damage, but they can also be a drag on the old wallet. If you notice your water bill going up, for unknown reasons (other than teenagers), you may need to investigate for leaks. If the leak is persistent for any length of time, there’s a chance that your water company will tell you. However, if you suspect a leak, here are some symptoms to look for:

  1. Turn off your main water to the house / building. Go watch the water meter at the street. If it’s moving, even slightly, you may have a leak.
  2. Low Water Pressure or Volume – If there has been a noticeable drop in water pressure that is unexplained.
  3. Unusual muddy or wet areas – You may have noticed areas in your lawn that never seem to dry out or where water seeps out.

If you are at all suspicious of a leak, give us a call. We can help you work through some of the symptoms so you know whether it’s a problem or not.

Extending The Life of Your Water Heater

Extending the life of your water heater tips - Maple Valley PlumbingIf you have ever come home from a long day’s work only to find a curious water source flowing from your garage, or even worse, inside your home, then you’ve been through this before. Traditional water heaters typically last up to 7 years, but you can extend that life if you follow some simple steps in maintaining your water heater. It’s summer-time here in the Northwest, and now is the perfect time to perform some annual maintenance on your water heater. Here’s what you can do:
Regular Maintenance

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to extend the life of your water heater is to drain AND flush the tank. You can do this, even if the water heater is inside your home or condo. Here are the steps:

Water Supply – Turn off water supply to the water heater.
Garden Hose – Connect a garden hose to the tanks external faucet and make sure the other end is at a drain or outside run-off area.
Release Water – Turn on the water heater’s faucet to release the water inside the tank.
Turn On Water Supply – once the tank is completely empty, then you are ready to flush the tank, so turn on the water supply to the tank. This will help rinse out the remaining sediment in the bottom of the tank. It typically takes about 2 minutes of running water to clear the tank out.
Turn OFF external faucet – Once the water is clear of sediment, turn off the faucet from the water heater and remove the hose. Be careful when removing the hose, so you don’t spill residual water inside the hose.

Install a Water Softener

The main enemy of any water heater is sediment and corrosion, both of which occur more frequently with hard water. Especially in areas where water is naturally full of minerals like calcium and magnesium sulphates. Typically you can tell if your water is hard when it leaves a colored line around your toilet bowls or faucets. Water Softening units can help alleviate these conditions and also extend the life of your pluming fixtures, like a water heater.

High Water Pressure

If your home has high water pressure, then you might want to consider installing a Pressure Regulation Valve (PRV). High pressure water can create more wear on your water heater than normal. This is because water expands when it is heated, so any extra pressure on the tank may create tiny fractures prematurely as the tank ages. Obviously, any fracture in a water tank is bad news, so it’s important to keep the water pressure within the manufacture’s tolerance.

Maple Valley Plumbing specializes in water heater maintenance and replacement, so if you are in doubt about anything or just have questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call (425) 432-7599.

Burien Town Center Water Feature

Burien Town Center interactive water feature just outside of the City Hall & Library building. All plumbing completed by Maple Valley Plumbing & Pipeworks.

Have you been to Burien lately? If not, you’re missing some very cool changes, and it’s all happening at the Town Center. Maple Valley Plumbing is proud to be part of making the Burien Town Center a creative and beautiful recreation area with the completion of the Interactive Water Feature just outside of the new City Hall & Library building.

The pressurized plumbing system allows kids the chance to interact with the water fountains, running through the water on a hot spring or summer day.

Water Pressure Tank Installation

We just finished a complete design and installation project for a water tank and pressure boosting system. We provided the plumbing engineering and design. We also did all the concrete work for the pad (see photo right), and installed a new water storage tank with a pressure booster pump. The owners of the house were previously only getting 1 gallon per minute flow rate, which was coming directly from a community well system. The newly installed system gives them up to 5 gallons per minute.

We also can install booster systems for city / municipal water supply / systems. If you think your water flow is too low, give us a call and let us come give you a free assessment of your water supply system.

Is Your Water Heater Earthquake Ready?

Water Heater Earthquake Ready - Maple Valley PlumbingTraditional water heater with earthquake straps in place.

If you didn’t already know that Seattle and the surrounding region is in an earthquake zone, well then you must be new the area. 🙂 Even if we were not in that zone, it’s a good idea to put earthquake resistant straps on your water heater. And this isn’t just about keeping it in place. If your water heater is not secure, severe movement, no matter the cause, can create a very hazardous situation with natural gas or propane type heaters. If an earthquake occurs and the water heater is not secure, the gas lines could be compromised or worse yet, if the heating unit is on and a gas leak occurs, you could be in some real trouble.

Obviously, if your existing water heater doesn’t have earthquake straps, you need to have them installed ASAP. Also, if you do have straps, inspect to see that the straps are actually anchored in the studs of the wall and that the unit is tightly held. If not, please give us a call. We will come out to check on your unit for free.

New Sink & Faucet Installed

Remodel bathroom sink and faucet installation

We recently installed this beautiful bathroom sink and faucet for a customer in the Sammamish Plateau area. If you didn’t already know, Maple Valley Plumbing offers fine finish work, such as this sink and faucet installation. We are able to work with new construction sites or your remodel project.