Five Plumbing Applications You Never Thought About

cern_particle_acceleratorNot many people realize the importance of plumbing for health and sanitation in daily life. Even fewer realize that plumbing is used all around us in ways we don’t even think about. From cars to modern medicine, pipes and valves keep our world flowing when and where it needs to.

1. At the Dentist

Plumbing might not seem like the most obvious item in your dentists tool kit, but without it, many common practices just wouldn’t be possible. With flexible piping attached to various angled nozzles, washing hard to reach areas of your mouth, especially during surgical procedures, becomes extremely easy. And don’t forget that annoying tube they always stick in your mouth that sucks you dry! This specially designed drain tube pulls moisture from your mouth and sends it on it’s way.

2. At the Doctor

Plumbing is a crucial part of modern medicine. Large dialysis machines pump blood out of your body and into a specially plumbed filtration process to remove toxins when the kidneys fail, safely returning the blood into your body afterwards. IVs are another way plumbing helps doctors by delivering nutrients, hydration, or medicine directly into the blood stream.

3. In Your Car

Your car is a very powerful, intricately designed plumbing machine. Besides the motor and wheels, the internal plumbing of any vehicle is the most essential component of the system. By delivering fresh, clean fuel to the engine & circulating engine oil and coolant, your car can do more than just sit in the driveway. Plumbing also helps get fuel from the gas station to your car (and not by flushing your money down the drain…)

4. At the Pool

In the deadly summer scorchers of Northern California, submersing yourself in water is often the only way to avoid certain death by (sun)burning alive. There’s always the streams, creeks, and rivers of our inland country, or you can head to the coast for a dip in the Pacific. However, some like to enjoy cooling off in the comfort of their own backyards. But how exactly does all that water get to your 20,000 gallon swimming pool? It’s plumbed in of course! Water from the main water service to your home branches off towards a jungle of valves, pipes, filters, and pumps, where it is carefully purified and delivered to your pool.

5. In the Lab

You might be surprised to learn that particle physicists have been dabbling into the humble skill of plumbing. Although they still probably jiggle the handle when the toilet runs, scientists are revolutionizing plumbing in some very interesting ways. Large pipes surrounded by a layer of supercooled liquid hydrogen allow electric current to be passed through with 100% efficiency. These large tubes are charged on and off in sync to accelerate particles in circuit until their inevitable fate of smashing together in splendid display.

These are just a few ways plumbing has revolutionized technology. Besides improving the basic quality of life for most people, and eliminating scourges such as the Bubonic plague through sanitation, plumbing has shared the limelight with some worthy industrial and scientific breakthroughs. No matter where you look, plumbing is everywhere.

How Low Can You Flow?

crashing_waveYou may have heard that low flow fixtures, such as faucets, toilets, and shower heads, can reduce the amount of water used and save you money. But just how much of a difference can this simple plumbing adjustment make? You might be surprised to find that with a little initial investment, you’ll quickly recover the cost of upgrading your plumbing fixtures to low flow equivalents.

In a recent article by the San Francisco Examiner on low flow toilets, an average American family would save over 85 gallons of water a year. The estimated savings was $12 a month, or $144 yearly.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Low flow shower heads could save over a thousand gallons yearly according to the EPA’s WaterSense website. In another case study, a low flow upgrade at the LaGuardia Airport in NY will “yield annual water savings of almost $160,000, after an initial capital cost of only $90,000.”

Savings can be found at your toilet, faucet, shower head, and sprinkler system. CalWater has recently teamed up with to provide a free way for residents to enjoy water saving benefits.

Saving water reduces your utility bill, but why all the fuss about low flow? The reality is, even though 70% of the Earth is covered in water, less than 1% is safe and accessible for human use. With increased human population beyond anything in the planet’s history, we’re starting to see the effects of careless water use. There are over 2 billion people worldwide without access to clean water. By reducing our daily usage of water, we can assure that there will be a supply for generations to come.

A Day in the Life of a Plumbing Dispatcher

Sometimes I chuckle when I hear the way others perceive the daily office life here at Earl’s. It’s an interesting balance between the guys in the field doing the dirty work (and you know it’s dirty!) and the pencil pushers making appointments and getting the guys out to the jobs. I thought maybe some of our customers would find it interesting and entertaining to have a little insight on the daily office operations that keep our business running so we can keep your home running.

The day starts quick. I typically arrive at 7:30am with phones already ringing and messages to call back. After a quick hello to the techs I send them out the door towards their first job. A pot of coffee quickly ensues,followed by the morning follow ups – quotes, ordered parts, and anything else that didn’t get finished during the previous evening or weekend. By 8:00 I’ve already spoken with over a dozen people – the day has officially begun!

Things pick up throughout the morning. More appointments are being scheduled, technicians are calling in for their next job, and things continue along smoothly. With a service area from Yuba City to Redding and over 90% same day service rate, sometimes we have to come up with creative solutions so we can deliver the best possible service in a timely manner. All jobs are scheduled based on the severity of the issue and the proximity to the next available technician. Our service agreement customers get preferential scheduling, so if two times clash, they will get service sooner.

By 11:00 things start to slow down a bit, allowing time to focus on data entry, billing, filing, and other mundane office tasks. Some days I have a helper in the office to help answer the phones and do office work, which is really nice because the rest of the time I’m pretty much by myself. By noon most of the busy work for the office is done, the schedule is pretty static, and I can head to lunch knowing everything is taken care of.

If not much has changed by the time I return from lunch, I’ll jump right into more creative tasks – touching up the website, posting blogs, doing market research, and trying to not get distracted on Facebook long enough to make a quick post. This is usually the most productive time for getting office work done, and usually things continue along smoothly.

Sometimes I get a curve ball. As the head of the office, I’m the actual first impression anyone has of our company on a personal level. I’m also the first line of contact in the rare instance of a customer complaint. I actually enjoy dealing with upset customers because many times they think we’re trying to work one over on them, and the joy and relief in their voice when we explain our 100% satisfaction guarantee (and actually deliver it) is absolutely wonderful. Many people feel like the world is less personal than in recent past, so building a real, trusting relationship is extremely important to all of us here at Earl’s Plumbing, and I bring that intention into every conversation I have.

By the end of the day things are pretty quiet now, most if not all of our appointments are taken care of, and I start preparing the office for the morning. The schedule is analyzed to make sure the morning jobs line up properly, all technicians are dispatched their first job for the morning, and any remaining appointments are sent to the on-call technician. If its unusually busy (like during a freeze that causes many homes to have pipes that freeze and burst), I might stay an extra half hour to make sure everything is taken care of. Usually though I’m home at the same time each night, which is more than I can say for our dedicated technicians, who might get stuck working until midnight (or later) if a job goes bad.

As I lock up the office I reflect on the accomplishments of the day. I remember all the customers I’ve spoken with and how I may have changed their life, albeit in a small way. I think of tomorrow’s goals and aspirations and how we’ve come further in providing the best customer service possible. I’m so thankful to be part of an awesome team of honest, devoted, and talented individuals who have come together to make this world a better place, one plumbing issue at a time. And our faithful leader, THE Earl (ok, his first name is Clinton), who has dedicated and invested so much time and energy over the last 14 years to provide excellent plumbing service, an unbeatable work environment, all with the strength and support of his family behind him – thanks Earl for making today an awesome day.

World Water Week (and Why You Should Care)

flowing_waterMonday, August 27th kicked off the 2012 annual World Water Week hosted in Stockholm. The event seeks to bring the world together to solve issues regarding resource management, filtration, and transportation for clean water. This year focused heavily on the impacts of climate change and how we can adapt to changing global and local weather patterns. There was also an abundance of seminars regarding sustainable farming practices for developing (and developed) nations.

According to their official website, World Water Week has been hosted in Sweden’s capital since 1991 with the ultimate goal of taking these discussions “beyond rhetoric to provide real answers to the world’s water, environment and development challenges”. By joining together the best and brightest scientists, politicians, environmentalists, and business owners in an environment of equal and open discussion, unique and forward-thinking answers to age-old dilemmas can foster and grow into applicable solutions.


It’s important that we realize the importance of water in our world and the responsibility we have as American’s to responsibly manage this delicate resource, especially considering the US Drought Monitor’s website clearly showswell over half of the United States is experiencing “moderate” to “severe” drought. This is an alarming and under-reported statistic, and it brings home the reality of climate change, whatever the source or method of occurrence.

garbage_patchAnother startling (and under-reported) artifact of human impact is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vortex of trash, chemical sludge, and invisible, nano sized particles of plastic, with size estimates ranging from twice the size of Hawaii to larger than the continental US. The major mass of this island of pollution cannot be see by the naked eye because plastic breaks down into tiny pieces, often containing toxins such as BPA, that are eventually absorbed by smaller ocean life that effects the entire food chain, including humans.


Earl’s Plumbing has the stated mission of providing excellent plumbing service with 100% satisfaction guaranteed. But our creed as plumbers goes far beyond simple repairs and clogged toilets: running water is essential to life, and a limited commodity at that. Many populations around the world don’t enjoy the same benefit of clean water that flows on demand, is filtered by municipal (or private) filtration technology, and can be heated to comfortable cleaning and bathing temperatures at will. We’re doing our duty for this year’s World Water Week by sharing a few topics of interest for the community, as well as providing that same, excellent service we mentioned.

If you’re concerned about your water usage, the quality of your drinking and bathing water, or the efficiency of your fixtures and appliances, call or schedule online and we’ll set up a free home inspection to analyze your home water system and point you in the right direction.

Brief History of Plumbing

plumbing_blueprintsPlumbing is the system of pipes and drains installed in a building for the distribution of water for drinking, heating and washing, and the removal of waterborne wastes, and the skilled trade of working with pipes, tubing and plumbing fixtures in such systems. A plumber is someone who installs or repairs piping systems, plumbing fixtures and equipment such as water heaters.

The plumbing industry is a basic and substantial part of every developed economy due to the need for clean water, and proper collection and transport of wastes. The word “plumbing” comes from the Latin plumbum for lead, as pipes were once made from lead.

Plumbing originated during ancient civilizations such as the Greek, Roman, Persian, Indian, and Chinese cities as they developed public baths and needed to provide potable water and drainage of wastes, for larger numbers of people. Standardized earthen plumbing pipes with broad flanges making use of asphalt for preventing leakages appeared in the urban settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization by 2700 B.C. The Romans used lead pipe inscriptions to prevent water theft.

Plumbing was extremely rare until the growth of modern densely-populated cities in the 1800s.

For potable water use, galvanized iron piping was commonplace in the United States from the late 1800s until around 1960. After that period, copper piping took over, first soft copper with flared fittings, then with rigid copper tubing utilizing soldered fittings.

The use of lead for potable water declined sharply after World War II because of increased awareness of the dangers of lead poisoning. At this time, copper piping was introduced as a better and safer alternative to lead pipes.

Present-day water-supply systems use a network of high-pressure pumps, and pipes in buildings are now made of copper, brass, plastic, or other nontoxic material. Drain and vent lines are made of plastic, steel, cast-iron, or lead.

The straight sections of plumbing systems are called “pipes” or “tubes”. A pipe is typically formed via casting or welding, whereas a tube is made through extrusion. Pipe normally has thicker walls and may be threaded or welded, while tubing is thinner-walled and requires special joining techniques such as brazing, compression fitting, crimping, or for plastics, solvent welding.

In addition to lengths of pipe or tubing, pipe fittings are used in plumbing systems, such as valves, elbows, tees, and unions. Pipe and fittings are held in place with pipe hangers and strapping.

Plumbing fixtures are exchangeable devices using water that can be connected to a building’s plumbing system. Plumbing fixtures are seen by and designed for the end-users. Some examples of fixtures include water closets (also known as toilets), urinals, bidets, showers, bathtubs, utility and kitchen sinks, drinking fountains, ice makers, humidifiers, air washers, fountains, and eye wash stations.

Plumbing equipment includes devices often hidden behind walls or in utility spaces which are not seen by the general public. It includes water filters, UV sterilization lights, water softeners, water heaters, heat exchangers, gauges, and control systems.

Much of the plumbing work in populated areas is regulated by government or quasi-government agencies due to the direct impact on the public’s health, safety, and welfare. Plumbing installation and repair work on residences and other buildings generally must be done according to plumbing and building codes to protect the inhabitants of the buildings and to ensure safe, quality construction to future buyers. If permits are required for work, plumbing contractors typically secure them from the authorities on behalf of home or building owners.

A Few Quick Lawn Care Tips

It’s still hot (and getting hotter), and the stress can be felt everywhere, including your lawn and home garden. Many folks take their lawns for granted, but your grass will appreciate some TLC if you know the right tricks. We’ve compiled three tips for keeping your grass in the green throughout the summer.

lush_green_grass1. Water Less Frequently

This is a simple but tricky tip many home owners don’t know. Of course grass needs water to stay healthy, but over watering can do more harm than good. The rule of thumb: water heavily and infrequently for maximum health.

2. Mindful Mowing

Mowing frequently and keeping about 2-3 inches of height is the key to allowing great water absorption. It also allows roots to grow deeper and keep out weeds.

3. Eliminate Standing Water

Standing water can lead to contamination from bacteria and fungi, and can also cause damage to the underlying root system. If you see standing water, there’s either a natural dip in the ground or and underground plumbing leak. Be sure to investigate any strange pooling before it starts to kill your grass.

P.S. – Earl’s specializes in leak detection and line locating, so don’t hesitate to call for help!