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Home Improvement

Solar water heaters are growing in demand as energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly appliances. Our resident expert offers an overview of how they work and which system may be best for you.

The move to energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly appliances are becoming more commonplace. There’s a huge focus on saving the planet for generations to come, and finding a way to utilize renewable resources to the best of our ability. One way to help with your environmental impact is to turn to solar water heaters. 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar water heaters can be a cost-effective way to generate hot water for your home.

Solar water heaters work by using storage tanks and solar collectors but there are two types of solar water heating systems: active and passive. 

An active solar water heating system has circulating pumps and controls. There are also multiple types of active solar water heating systems. A direct circulation system has pumps that circulate household water through the collectors and into the home. The Department of Energy says that this type of system is better in climates where it rarely freezes. 

There is also a indirect circulation system with pumps that circulate a non-freezing, heat-transfer fluid through the collectors and a heat exchanger. This heats the water that then flows into the home. These types of system sare more popular in climates where there are many days a year with freezing temperatures, like Cincinnati.

The other type of solar water heating system is a passive one. The Department of Energy says that the passive solar water heating system is typically less expensive than an active system and can last longer, but may not always be as efficient.  

There are two types of passive systems, including an integral collector-storage passive system and a thermosyphon system. 

Households with significant daytime and event hot water needs may find that an integral collector-storage passive system works better for them. These systems also work best in areas where the temperature rarely falls below freezing. 

A thermosyphon system allows water to flow through it when warm water rises as cooler water sinks. The collective in this system must be installed below the storage tank so that warm water will rise into the tank. These require more attention to detail during installation, and are more expensive than integral collector-storage passive systems.

When using a solar water heating system, there are more than just the water heaters that are needed. These systems also require a well-insulated storage tank. 

The Department of Energy says that solar storage tanks have an additional outlet and inlet connected to and from the collective. In two-tank systems, the solar water heater preheats water before it enters the conventional water heater. In one-tank systems, the back-up heater is combined with the solar storage in one tank.

There are three types of solar collectors that are used in homes: flat-plate collector, integral collector-storage systems, and evacuated-tube solar collectors.

Once you have chosen and installed the solar water heating system you want, it’s important to make sure that it is properly maintained. Passive systems don’t require much maintenance while active systems need more attention. 

Regular maintenance on these systems are needed every 3-5 years and should be looked at by a solar contractor. Systems with electrical components usually require a replacement part or two after 10 years.

Your local plumbing company can help you when determining which solar water heating system works best for your household and residence.


Have you ever stopped to think about how the City of Cincinnati gets its water and how it's cleaned? Read on as our resident expert offers insight.

Have you ever wondered where Cincinnati’s water comes from? There are plenty of bodies of water that meet here to combine with the Ohio River, but are theses the same waters that we later drink, cook with, and take showers in?

For more than 200 years, the Greater Cincinnati Water Works has treated and provided the Queen City with its water supply. It’s lasted through wars, floods, and fires, and continues to provide safe, quality drinking water for the region. 

The Greater Cincinnati Water Works supplies water from two sources. One source is the Miller Treatment Plant, which treats surface water from the Ohio River and supplies 88 percent of drinking water to Greater Cincinnati Water Works’ customers, including most of the City of Cincinnati. The other source is the Bolton Treatment Plant. This plan treats groundwater from ten wells in the Great Miami Aquifer. It’s located in southern Butler County and is 150-200 feet deep and 2 miles wide. The Bolton Plant supplies about 12 percent of Greater Cincinnati Water Works water.

Both the Ohio River and the Great Miami Aquifer provide plenty of water supply to the area and a focus on protecting those source waters. That’s why Greater Cincinnati Water Works regularly tests water from the Ohio River before it even enters the treatment plant. Additionally, Greater Cincinnati Water Works also works with an early warning organic detection system, the first of its kind. This system: 

  • Warns treatment plants downstream about spills so that measures can be taken before the spill reaches water intakes
  • Was developed by water utilities along the Ohio River in conjunction with the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission
  • Consists of 13 monitoring stations located along the Ohio River

The state’s Environmental Protection Agency says that the Ohio River is highly susceptible to contamination, like other surface waters, and that makes it even more important that the Ohio EPA and Greater Cincinnati Water Works work together to ensure the safety and protection of the water.

The Bolton Treatment Plant treats groundwater and provides water to the northwestern area of Hamilton County and parts of Warren and Butler counties. And because the Great Miami Aquifer does not have a protective clay layer, it is also susceptible to becoming contaminated. To help keep this water safe, Greater Cincinnati Water Works is part of the Hamilton to New Baltimore Groundwater Consortium to protect the Greater Miami Aquifer.


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From amazing new listings, design ideas and neighborhood spotlights, check out this recap of what's new on our Cincy Home Chic Home site!

Here’s a recap of what you can find on our new site, Cincy Home Chic Home, this month!:

Life Milestones
Introducing Real Estate Podcasts from Build Collective

Building in Madeira? Trust the Experts!

Building a Custom Home in Cincinnati

Listing of the Week
9822 Orchard Trail Drive

Party Hosting

Yard Art Girls


Favorite Home Exterior – Vote For Your Favorite!

Paint the Ceiling?

An Entertaining Dining Room

Stylish Ways to Add Storage, Seating

Four Ways Light Makes a Room

Local news issuing an alert to boil water? Read on as our plumbing columnist offers tips on what to do to keep you and your family safe.

Water boil alerts are becoming more common. They typically scroll across the bottom of the screen on your local news channel to let you know that you need to boil tap water before consuming it or opt for bottled water instead. But do you know what those alerts are really for and what you’re supposed to do?

A water boil alert includes information on what you should do with your water when it comes to preparing food, beverages, or even making ice.

If you’ve ever been under a boil water alert, you’ve most likely been told that you are better off using bottled water. However, bottled water isn’t always an option. If you need to boil water instead, it’s best to do so by bringing the water to a full rolling boil for one minute before allowing it to cool. Be sure not to use ice cubes from your refrigerator so that you aren’t using the contaminated water. Even if you have filtered water, you’ll still want to bring it to a boil, because anything connected to your water line can be contaminated.

Need to wash your hands? In many situations, you can use tap water and soap to wash your hands under a water boil alert. If you aren’t able to use the water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

When it comes to bathing and showering, be sure not to swallow any water while doing so. Oftentimes, littles consume water while they’re in the bath, so it may be best to not put them in the tub when you’re under a boil water alert. If you must bathe your child during this time, you may want to consider a sponge bath to reduce the chance of them swallowing any water. 

Just as you should not consume water without boiling it while under a boil water alert, don’t brush your teeth with tap water that hasn’t been boiled. It’s often impossible to not swallow any water while brushing your teeth, so you can protect yourself from contaminated water when you boil it before brushing. 

If you have to wash dishes while under a boil water alert, make sure that the water used on a final rinse reaches at least 150 degree Fahrenheit, to burn off any contamination. However, it’s better to use disposable plates, cups, and utensils under a boil water alert.

Water boil alerts aren’t just to protect humans, they also help to protect your pets from contaminated water. Pets can get sick by some of the same germs that people get sick from or even spread them like humans. If you’re under a boil water alert, be sure to give your pets bottled water or boiled water. 

While it may seem a little scary to be under a boil water alert, you don’t always need to be cautious about all that you do in the house during this time. You Can wash clothes as usual and even water your houseplants and garden without using boiling water.

Boil water alerts are a public health advisory given by government or health authorities when a community’s drinking water is, or could be, contaminated by pathogens. It’s important to remember that the point of these alerts aren’t to serve as an inconvenience but rather to help keep you safe.

Our plumbing pros say first-time homebuyers can save a lot of time, money and headaches if they know these simple tips!

So you’re a first-time homeowner? A little unsure about what to do when it comes to plumbing? We’re here to help! 

How to fix a running toilet

Does your toilet sound like it’s constantly running or refilling? This kind of sound can occur intermittently or as frequent as every minute and usually means your toilet is losing water. If you are experiencing a running toilet, you may have an internal/external leak or an issue with your flapper. Follow these simple steps towards finding a solution!  

Test if your flapper is leaking by marking the water level of your tank with a pencil. 

Turn your water supply off. Wait for a minimum of 25 minutes. If your water level drops below the pencil mark, you have a leak in your tank. 

Leave the water off for a couple hours and see where the water level drops to. 

Possible Solutions 

If the water level drops to the flapper, your flapper is leaking and needs to be replaced 

If it drops to a point on your overflow tube or your tank drain completely, your flush valve needs to be replaced 

If your tank is not leaking and your toilet is constantly running or water is rising into flush valve overflow tube, your fill valve is malfunctioning and needs to be replaced or serviced 

Tip: Before replacing damaged parts, shut off the water to your toilet by locating the valve in the wall behind it & turning it clockwise. Flush the toilet & remove the part; then take it with you to the store to ensure you buy an exact match. The sound of running water is now a thing of the past — and you’ll have the lower water bill to prove it!

How to clean hair out of a shower drain

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, hair is inevitably going to end up down your shower drain. Long hair, don’t care until you’re standing in a pool of water that just won’t drain. Or even worse, your shower drain begins backing up – talk about an icky mess. When this happens, here are a few tricks to try.

Turn to baking soda before you use harsh chemicals. White vinegar and boiling water are also other options when compared to Drano and Liquid Plumr, which can eat away at your pipes over time. 

If you have easy access to the drain, try to remove the blog by hand or with tweezers. It’s probably ideal to use gloves during this, so you avoid touching any of the clog with your bare hands. If this doesn’t get rid of the clog, you might want to try another method. 

A popular method for removing clogs is a plumbing snake. This trick tends to be one of the most successful at clearing your shower drain. 

You can’t avoid shedding, so you may want to consider brushing your hair before you shower or purchasing a shower drain hair catcher, that way you can prevent the hair from even going down the drain. 

How to unclog a drain
Watching what you put down your sink, toilet, and shower drain is a key way to avoid a clogged drain disaster. An accumulation of food, hair, soap, baby wipes, etc. can all cause a blockage. Tree roots may also bore their way through sewer lines in the right conditions. Sometimes, these things are unavoidable, but a conscious awareness of what goes into your plumbing system can stop a clogged drain in its tracks.

If you find yourself with a clogged drain, try these tips:

The Plunger Method

If you have a sink clog, place the plunger over the drain completely. Run the water for a second while placing the plunger on the drain to make sure you get a good seal. Begin to plunge in succession until you feel the sink unclog. You may have to repeat this cycle several times

Wire Clothes Hanger

The most common cause of a blocked shower drain is the buildup of hair (I’m talking to you, long-haired ladies). A quick and easy solution can usually be found right in your own closet. Straighten a wire hanger out, but make sure to leave the hooked end to grab the clump of hair. Once you remove as much as you can fish out, immediately run hot water down the drain to flush the rest. This method can also be used for stuck food in your sink.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

A run to your local grocery store can also do the trick when it comes to a clogged drain. Always follow exact directions when using chemicals to remove a blockage. This is not only for safety reasons, but also because different types of blocked drains require different solutions. A standing water blockage in a kitchen sink, for example, should be treated differently than a slow draining bath clog.

Remove the P-Trap

No tools are required to remove a clog under your sink as long as you know how to locate the P-trap. P-traps are required in homes to prevent sewer gas from leaking into your air, but they can also be perfect for accumulation of hair, small objects, or that piece of jewelry you can’t find.  Before removing, be sure to turn off the angle stops so no one else in the house can turn on the water and splash you. Place a bucket under the trap to catch water. Unscrew the two nuts carefully while holding the trap and let the water drain into the bucket. Remove the clog with a gloved hand and your blockage problem should be solved!

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From amazing new listings, design ideas and neighborhood spotlights, check out this recap of what's new on our Cincy Home Chic Home site!

Here’s a recap of what you can find on our new site, Cincy Home Chic Home, this month!:

Life Milestones
Kensington of Mason! Final Phase Now Open

Looking to Choose a Builder? Do Your Research!

Looking To Build in Madeira?

Four New Homes on Orchard Trail

A Floor Plan That Has It All!

Everything You Need To Know About Living In Montgomery

Party Hosting

Review: The At Home Chef

Z Place for Wine In Montgomery

Queen City Mobile Bar

Cincy Bartiste

Empty Nester

Empty Nester Lifestyle


Patterned Walls

Dining Room Decor

Escape to Your Master Bath

Ceiling Design Ideas


From efficiency and cost-savings to high-tech and luxury upgrades, our new columnist shares the coolest plumbing trends pouring into the market.

If you’re thinking of making plumbing upgrades to your home, there are a lot of options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for something that better suits your lifestyle or want to make an environmental impact on making the globe healthier for future generations, the options are nearly endless. 

However, as with most household things, there are plumbing trends out there now that may help you reduce your environmental footprint while improving your plumbing system’s performance. 

Here’s a rundown of the top plumbing trends:

Smart toilets
Smart toilets are pricey, but really nice. Many of them are self-cleaning, air sanitizing, offer washing and drying functions, and even have heated seats. Additionally, many smart toilets also have automatic-raising and lowering lids, you know, for when the men of the house forget to put the lid back down. It may sound like it’s a little overboard, but once you get one you can’t go back. 

Solar water heaters
Those big hot water tanks are a thing of the past when it comes to today’s technology. Many people have made the switch to much more energy efficient tankless water heaters, but there’s a new kind of trend out there, especially in southern states where the sun is always shining. Solar water heaters are trending like crazy, and it’s a much more cost efficient way to heat your water. 

Rain collection
Are you trying to grow your own fruits and vegetables? Struggle with keeping up on watering them or don’t like how much your water bill goes up to ensure their health? Rain collection is a new trend in plumbing that allows you to water your garden without the timed sprinklers or standing out in the heat with a hose as you water your own garden. 

Recirculation pumps
A growing trend in plumbing today is recirculation pumps. Basically, they continuously move hot water throughout your home plumbing system so that you always have hot water right when you turn on the sink. It’s a way to reduce your water waste without sacrificing your hot water. 

Smart showers
Many high-income areas have seen an increase in the demand for smart showers. Smart showers can give you a variety of elements including water, steam, lighting, and music, giving you a multi-sensory showering experience. These experiences are customizable with the tap of a finger and can change the way you get ready for work in the mornings or relax when you get home at night.

Homeowners and businesses alike are looking for more touchless options to curb the spread of germs. Read on as our new columnist shares insight.

Sanitation and proper personal hygiene have never been more important than during the COVID-19 outbreak. One of the ways that you can ensure better sanitation is through touchless faucets. 

Touchless faucets have been around in public restrooms for decades. However, in the midst of the public health crisis, touchless faucets are becoming more desirable. 

When you go into a public restroom, you frequently find that the faucets don’t need to be touched in order to push out water. This helps to cut back on the number of people who are putting their dirty hands on a faucet, thus helping to reduce the spread of germs. 

This seems like a bigger deal now more than ever, as we continually try to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Some areas have seen an increase in the sale of touchless faucets, as more people and companies shift to offer this more hygienic option. 

About a year ago, touchless faucets weren’t really an option for homes. Now, there are hundreds to choose from and the tech is both good and cheap.

As homeowners upgrade their homes and companies look for ways to keep both employees and customers safe, touchless faucets are the hygenic option for the future.

With the toilet paper shortage, there’s been a lot of talk about bidets recently. Our new columnist shares how to choose the right one for you.

A lot of buzz about bidets recently, many would say due to a toilet paper shortage in the midst of COVID-19. 

What is a bidet in the first place? Simply put, a bidet is a bathroom fixture designed to clean your nether regions after you use the toilet. You sit, you turn on the faucet, and a stream of water does what you would otherwise take care of with toilet paper.

Bidets are extremely popular throughout much of Europe, but they’ve been slow to catch on in the U.S. That is, until recently where we’ve seen a big spike in interest and new installations.

If you’re thinking about installing a bidet, there are several options out there on the market. For example, at 1-Tom-Plumber, we offer several different bidet options – ranging from the C-100 and the C-550. The basic features stay the same across the board, but the bells and whistles increase as you go up in models. They go from good to better to the best in their models. 

But even the most basic level is packed with features. The C-100 model comes with a heater seat, front and rear bidet washing, a blow dryer, an energy setting, and a tank to store the water. The tank on the back of the C-100 bidet holds 1 gallon of warm water to rinse. 

The seat, water, and blow dryer on the C-100 model come with an adjustable remote that is attached to the bidet.

The C-200 model is the same as the C-100, but the remote is separate from the bidet. 

The top-of-the-line C-550 model is a different seat design than the previous models. The C-550 includes the seat warmer, the bidet washer, the blow dryer, and electrolyzed water (also called “E-water”). Additionally, the toilet seat pre-mists the bowl and the lid closes automatically so that the bowl can be washed again with E-water. 

According to this helpful article on, bidets offer considerable cost savings too. Did you know the average American uses 50 pounds of toilet paper a year? Bidet maker Brondell calculates that a person spends $243 a year on toilet paper, but with a bidet you’ll save about $182 a year.

Looking for ways to make your home’s plumbing system more efficient and eco-friendly? Our new columnist has five helpful tips!

New homes are being built and new systems are being installed. Updates are being made to electrical, HVAC, and plumbing systems so that we can all do our part to be more eco-friendly and save the planet. Your plumbing system is something that you may not really give much thought to. After all, as long as your water is running, toilets are flushing, and dishwashers are working, you may not think there are any problems. It’s more of a in-the-back-of-your-mind system compared to electrical and heating issues. 

Whether you’re building a new home or wanting to make some updates to your current home, there are things that you can do to help make your home’s plumbing system efficient and eco-friendly. 

Here are five things you can do to help make your home’s plumbing system more green:

  1. Tankless water heater – We’ve all seen the trend moving toward tankless water heaters – and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Tankless water heaters save space and can heat water more quickly and efficiently than traditional water heaters, which tend to lose efficiency as they age because of failing parts and leaks. 

  2. Dual flush toilets – Dual flush toilets can not only help to protect the environment but they can also reduce your water bill – using significantly less water than traditional toilets. These dual functions will allow you to select the amount of water flow that you need. 

  3. Dye test your toilets to make sure they are not running – Having a running toilet is not only a water of water, it also means an increase in your water bill. A dye test can help you to determine if your toilet is running and needs to be repaired or replaced. To complete a dye test, all you need to do is put a dye tablet or food coloring in the tank of your toilet. Do not flush and come back 10 minutes after to check the toilet. If there is color in your toilet bowl then there is a leak. It’s also not a bad idea to do a dye test every so often just to be sure that you don’t have a running toilet.

  4. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and shaving – Turning off your water while brushing your teeth and shaving is something our parents have been telling us our entire lives, and most likely what we also tell our children. Save water and your plumbing system by turning off the water when you brush your teeth and shave.

  5. Only run full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher – Save your plumbing system the potential of overload by running your washing machine and dishwasher when you have full loads. You can save several thousand gallons of water by only running these when they are full. Full loads also take the pressure off your plumbing system.