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Apple Blog

Apple Plumbing & Heating VP Ben Scheper Selected to BBJ's '40 Under 40'

Pat Scheper

Westminster, Maryland. August 19, 2015. Ben Scheper, Apple Plumbing & Heating Inc. Vice President, was selected as one of Baltimore Business Journal's “40 Under 40”, a prestigious designation awarded annually to forty up and coming business professionals under the age of forty.ben-scheper Scheper was selected from over 350 nominees ranging in industries from banking, finance, retail, law, non-profits and more. In 2009, Ben graduated from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland with a BA in Finance and began working at Apple that same year. He is responsible for developing and implementing many of the company's current procedures and processes which have led to Apple Plumbing's current success.

For more info about the Baltimore Business Journal's '40 Under 40', visit the web page: http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2015/08/19/here-are-our-2015-40-under-40-honorees.html

Apple Plumbing provides general plumbing, well pump, water treatment, drain cleaning, and water heater services to Carroll, Frederick, Baltimore, and Howard County residents and contractors. The company was founded in 1994 by Pat and Sue Scheper both with strong ties to the community and a keen sense for customer service. The business grew by word-of-mouth and soon moved to their current location on Aileron Court in Westminster, Maryland. Since then, the company has expanded its shop space and now has a full team of seven plumbers and apprentices, three office personnel, five trucks, and one Goldendoodle named Bunker.

Apple Plumbing & Heating has received numerous awards for excellence in service and for business innovation. These include: Carroll’s Best 2012 and 2013, Carroll County Chamber Business of the Year 2012, Maryland Breakthrough Business Award 2013, and Angie’s List Super Service Award 2013 and 2014.

New Water Heaters for The Hill Family Central Y

AdminSheila

YMCA In late June, Apple Plumbing & Heating, Inc. installed a new, high efficient hot water system for The Hill Family Center Y.The following photos and description details the work that was done, the planning that went into it and how this installation helped the Y reduce their carbon footprint.

The old system that the Y of Central Maryland was using consisted of two 80 gallon propane water heaters with a 200 gallon storage tank. This old system had an efficiency of less than 60%.

YMCA WH 1

The Y chose to have us install a new, high efficiency tankless water heating system. This system consists of five 95% efficient propane-fired water heaters with a recirculating pump and integral system controller. We chose Noritz water heaters for their dependability, ease of programming and factory support. Off the bat, we estimate the Hill Family Center Y will burn over 2,500 LESS gallons of propane gas annually. By my research and calculations that is over 31,000 lbs LESS carbon dioxide being emitted into the air each year! The new system has no storage tanks that need to be constantly heated even if no hot water is being used. The heaters only heat water as needed. If no hot water is flowing, the heaters are not burning gas. The system comes with a controller that monitors hot water flow and turns on heaters as needed. If a little hot water is required, only one heater will fire. In addition, each heater modulates its gas usage from 15,000 BTU to 199,000 BTU.

YMCA WH 2

As you can see, the system is compact which reflects its efficiency. Our team of Jordan, Bruce and Luke worked long days for a full week in order to get the Hill Family Center Y back on line with hot water. Jordan spent a full day the week before the job planning out the installation. There was quite a bit of piping installed in a very small space. They had to install gas piping, cold water piping, hot water piping, recirculating piping, condensate piping and flue piping. All in three days. In total, the project took five days. The last two days were spent on electrical wiring and control wiring. Tim Kyle Electric was our subcontractor for the electrical work. His crew was challenged to integrate the new system with old controls and wiring. It took some creative thinking but Tim Kyle Electric, along with Jordan, figured out the sequencing and was able to fire up the system on Friday afternoon to bring the Hill Family Center Y back on line with hot water as promised.

YMCA WH 3

All of us at Apple Plumbing congratulate the Hill Family Canter Y for their commitment to our environment. They chose a system that provides their members with an abundance of hot water while saving energy and decreasing their carbon footprint. Their decision results in a great benefit not only for their organization and members, but to the community they serve. Jordan, Bruce, Luke, and all of us at Apple Plumbing are honored to have been given the responsibility to design and install a high efficient hot water generating system for the Hill Family Center Y. We value the confidence placed in our team and are proud of the product we delivered.

Water Heater Manufacturing Changes for 2015 - What You Need to Know

Ben Scheper

Everyone who has hot, running water in their home today has some type of water heater they depend on. As the name indicates, the water heater’s primary function is to provide a household with hot water in which to bathe, wash dishes, do laundry, and a host of other every day activities. Because water heaters are such important features, the rules, codes and safety regulations surrounding them are constantly being evaluated, updated and improved. The next series of changes will begin early this spring. As a homeowner, it’s important to be aware of any regulation changes that could affect your heater, when the time comes to install a new one. Therefore, Apple Plumbing has done our research and below, we’ve outlined all future changes in manufacturing coming in April 2015. Briefly, the department of Energy (DOE), as part of the National Appliance Energy Association Act (NAECA), issued new energy efficiency mandates in 2010. In 2015, those mandates will be applied and all water heater manufacturers will be required to comply. The update, effective starting April 16, 2015, will require higher Energy Factor (EF) ratings on almost all residential gas, electric, oil and tankless gas water heaters. The Energy Factor is the ratio of useful energy output from the water heater to the total amount of energy delivered to the water heater. The higher the EF is, the more efficient the water heater.

It is important to note that these changes are manufacturer requirements and not homeowner, wholesaler, or plumber requirements. This means, that starting 4/16/15, all water heater manufacturers will have to cease production of heaters designed to comply to current codes, and begin making them to meet the new rules. This does not mean that homeowners must replace their water heaters, or wholesalers have to stop selling all already-manufactured water heaters that don’t comply, nor does it mean that plumbers have to stop installing them. We can continue to install existing inventory until they’re gone, at which time only water heaters meeting the new EF ratings will be available for purchase. Parts for the currently existing models should continue to work for the updated units, as the primary change will be seen in tank sizing and in new, additional equipment.

If you know the type of heater you have, you can review the information for it below and how the changes might affect you.

[expand title="Residential Gas Water Heaters Less than 55 Gallons"]

  • The Energy Factor has been increased from .55 to .675
  • Gas water heaters can no longer have a standing pilot, all water heaters will need to plug into an electrical outlet for electronic ignition
  • Due to the increase in heat output, more insulation will be needed. Because of this, the size of the heater will likely have to expand. It is estimated that the new heaters will be 1”-2” taller, and 2” wider in diameter.
  • How does all this affect you? If your heater is installed in a tight corner, small closet or other narrow space, when it’s time to replace your heater, the technicians performing the work could run into problems trying to fit a larger heater in the small space, and may end up needing to move it to a new location, which would likely require additional work to the piping and water supply. A licensed electrician may be needed to install a new electrical outlet next to your water heater.
  • Other Options
    • Reduce the size of the heater, increase the temperature in the tank, and put a mixing valve to mix cold water in with the hotter water as it comes out of the tank. This increase the effective gallon capacity of the smaller heater to your original size
    • Tankless water heater

[/expand]

[expand title="Residential Gas Water Heaters Greater Than 55 Gallons"]

  • The Energy Factor has been increased from .55 to .8012
  • Gas water heaters can no longer have a standing pilot, all water heaters will need to plug into an electrical outlet for electronic ignition
  • Due to the increase in heat output, more insulation will be needed. Because of this, the size of the heater will likely have to expand. It is estimated that the new heaters will be 1”-2” taller, and 2” wider in diameter.
  • Additional heating tubes, bigger flues, and other venting equipment will be required to heat the water more efficiently
  • A condensate drain would most likely need to be installed to dispose of extra condensate being emitted.
  • How does all this affect you? If your heater is installed in a tight corner, small closet or other narrow space, when it’s time to replace your heater, the technicians performing the work could run into problems trying to fit a larger heater in the small space, and may end up needing to move it to a new location, which would likely require additional work to the piping and water supply. Additional work would also be required to install the necessary venting equipment. A licensed electrician may be needed to install a new electrical outlet next to your water heater.
  • Other Options
    • Reduce the size of the heater to below 55 gallons, increase the temperature in the tank, and put a mixing valve to mix cold water in with the hotter water as it comes out of the tank. This increase the effective gallon capacity of the smaller heater to your original size
    • Tankless water heater

[/expand]

[expand title="Residential Electric Water Heaters Less Than 55 Gallons"]

  • The Energy Factor has been increased from .93 to .96
  • Due to the increase in heat output, more insulation will be needed. Because of this, the size of the heater will likely have to expand. It is estimated that the new heaters will be 1”-2” taller, and 2” wider in diameter.
  • How does all this affect you? If your heater is installed in a tight corner, small closet or other narrow space, when it’s time to replace your heater, the technicians performing the work could run into problems trying to fit a larger heater in the small space, and may end up needing to move it to a new location, which would likely require additional work to the piping and water supply.
  • Other options
    • Reduce the size of the heater, increase the temperature in the tank, and put a mixing valve to mix cold water in with the hotter water as it comes out of the tank. This increase the effective gallon capacity of the smaller heater to your original size

[/expand]

[expand title="Residential Electric Water Heaters Greater Than 55 Gallons"]

  • The biggest Energy Factor change is seen in electric heaters larger than 55 gallons.
    • 65 gallons: Increase from .88 to 1.98
    • 80 gallons: Increase from .86 to 1.97
    • 120 gallons: from 1.00 to 1.92
  • The only current technology to achieve an energy factor over 1.00 is heat pump technology, likely integrated on top of the heater unit. Water heaters with a heat pump use the refrigeration cycle and air in your home to greatly increase the efficiency of the water heater.
    • This will require 700-1,000 cubic feet of space.
    • The ambient room temperature will affect the performance of the pump, as it draws energy from the heat in the air.
      • A cooler room means the heater will take longer to heat the water in the unit, versus a warmer room which will have a greater energy supply from which the pump can draw.
  • The increased heat will create condensate, so a drain will need to be installed for disposal.
    • How does this affect you? The heat pump technology may require regular servicing such as cleaning and changing of filters. The pump can be noisy, so the noise level in the room your water heater is in will increase and consideration as to what rooms are near the water heater may need to be given. Additional work will need to be performed by the technicians installing your new water heater, to also install the heat pump technology and new drain.
  • Other Options
    • Reduce the size of the heater to below 55 gallons, increase the temperature in the tank, and put a mixing valve to mix cold water in with the hotter water as it comes out of the tank. This increase the effective gallon capacity of the smaller heater to your original size
    • Install 2 smaller heaters, such as 40 gallon electrics, that do not require heat pump technology

[/expand]

[expand title="Other Water Heaters"]

  • The Energy Factor will increase from .53 to .62 in the 30 gallon size and increase from .50 to .59 in the 50 gallon size.
  • Due to more heat transfer technology needed for oil-fired heaters because of the Energy Factor increase, there is the possibility the unit will be much heavier than the current standard model.
  • Due to the increase in heat output, more insulation will be needed. Because of this, the size of the heater will likely have to expand. It is estimated that the new heaters will be 1”-2” taller, and 2” wider in diameter.
    • How does this affect you? If your heater is installed in a tight corner, small closet or other narrow space, when it’s time to replace your heater, the technicians performing the work could run into problems trying to fit a larger heater in the small space, and may end up needing to move it to a new location, which would likely require additional work to the piping and water supply.
  • Residential Gas Tankless
    • No Energy Factor requirement exists, so an EF Rating of .82 will be implemented
    • To our knowledge all tankless water heaters currently meet this rating, those few that don’t will undergo technology changes to comply
  • Residential Electric Tankless
    • No Energy Factor requirement exists, so an EF Rating of .93 will be implemented
    • To our knowledge all tankless water heaters currently meet this rating, those few that don’t will undergo technology changes to comply

[/expand]

After reading all the information pertaining to your model of water heater- the changes coming and what it could mean for you, you’ll need to consider what you might do to prepare. The greatest advantage you have in knowing this information ahead of time is that you have the opportunity to be proactive. Rather than waiting for your heater to suddenly spring a leak and have to hire a plumber out right away to take care of the leak and all the possible headaches that could come with moving the heater to a new location, adding in new piping and other necessary technology, you can plan ahead and get the work done before it becomes an emergency.

We know this is a lot of information to take in. We want to reassure you that Apple Plumbing is here for you when the time does come, and that we are keeping ahead of the curve by studying all changes and being ready to answer any questions you may have. Come April 16 and in the months to follow, we will be knowledgeable and equipped to do what is necessary in replacing your heater to ensure it fits well, is installed properly, and will continue giving you and your home the hot water you need.

Apple Plumbing & Heating Adds Sixth Licensed Plumber to the Team!

Ben Scheper

Westminster, Maryland. January 5, 2015. Apple Plumbing & Heating Inc., a full service plumbing company located in Westminster, Maryland is pleased to announce that licensed Journeyman Jason Winstead has joined the Apple Plumbing Team. Jason has over seven years’ experience in the plumbing industry with expertise includes drain cleaning, well systems, and water heaters. Jason also served in the United States Air Force from 1997-1999 and currently lives in New Freedom, PA.

Apple Plumbing provides general plumbing, well pump, water treatment, drain cleaning, and water heater services to Carroll, Frederick, Baltimore, and Howard County residents and contractors. The company was founded in 1994 by Pat and Sue Scheper both with strong ties to the community and a keen sense for customer service. The business grew by word-of-mouth and by 2009, son Ben Scheper came on board and the company soon moved to their current location on Aileron Court in Westminster, Maryland. Since then, the company has expanded its shop space and now has a full team of six plumbers, two apprentices, three office personnel, five trucks, and one Goldendoodle named Bunker.

Apple Plumbing & Heating has received numerous awards for excellence in service and for business innovation. These include: Carroll’s Best 2012, 2013 and 2014, Carroll County Chamber Business of the Year 2012, Maryland Breakthrough Business Award 2013, and Angie’s List Super Service Award 2013.

Getting Ready for Winter!

Pat Scheper

Remember the Polar Vortex last winter? During the week of January 6-10, we did well over 100 frozen pipe emergency calls!! Sub zero tempBy Wednesday afternoon that week, all of our techs had put in 40 hours and were into overtime. I’ve been in the plumbing service business 46 years and I have NEVER seen anything like that. And it continued on for weeks. Weather forecasters are predicting a “colder than average” winter for the East Coast this year. Because of an early snow in the Siberian Dessert we stand a good chance for another Polar Vortex. Dang! So, there are a few things you need to consider with your plumbing system to prepare for the possible frigid weather this winter:

Outside hoses and faucets. I suggest removing your hoses from your hose bibs and drain them completely. Coil them up and store them in a safe place. Outside hose bibs should be winterized too. If you have frost free hose bibs, all you generally need to do is disconnect your hose. These faucets are self-draining….for the most part. In some situations the frost free feature has been compromised through faulty installation or interior changes in your house such as a basement finish. Check it out. Traditional hose bibs do not have a frost free feature and must be shut off with an interior valve and the pipe drained.

Overhangs.ice If you have plumbing on an overhang, you need to make sure the piping in the overhang is properly insulated, that the building insulation is properly installed, and that any cracks or openings in your siding and exterior finish are sealed.

Well pits. Last winter we had more than one customer with an old time well pit in their yard. This is basically a cinderblock pit anywhere from 3’-6’ deep and 5’-6’ squared with a concrete lit and an access opening. We had such a prolonged sub-freezing period that the pipes in the pits would freeze. In most cases a portable heater will keep the pipes from freezing. Be aware that well pits are very moist environments so protect yourself from electrical shock. You may want to have a licensed electrician take a look for you.

Pipes in exterior walls. Many people last winter experience frozen pipes in exterior walls that, fortunately, froze but didn’t burst. They were lucky!! If you had this situation, you should investigate your situation and look for cracks or openings in your wall and make sure you have sufficient insulation. Barring that, what you can do is when frigid weather is predicted is open a faucet in the affected sink or bathtub and let water trickle out. The moving water generally keeps pipes from freezing.

Sump pumps. Make sure your sump pump discharge pipe is clear and the outlet is not blocked by snow and ice. Many people have water treatment and/or condensing furnaces that discharge into the sump pump pit. If the sump pump pipe is blocked and your water treatment regenerates, you could have a mess in your basement. So find your sump pump discharge pipe outside now when there is no snow hiding it.

Power Outages. This has not much to do with plumbing as with life safety. Many people don’t have the luxury of an emergency generator. So, what to do when the power goes out and it’s cold outside? We lost our power twice last winter and, boy howdy, did it get cold in the house. We are fortunate enough to have a fireplace in our family room. So, we built a fire, lit some candles, shut the door and hunkered down for a cold night. There is one plumbing task I did before I turned in: I shut off my main water valve and drained the pipes. I also shut off the electric to the water heater. I opened every faucet in the house and let the pipes drain down to the laundry tub (the lowest fixture in my house). I you experience a prolonged outage in sub-freezing temperatures, your pipes will freeze….and possibly burst.

Sprinkler pipes. Many houses now have a fire sprinkler system. Some older ones also. In many of those sprinkled houses there are sprinkler pipes in the attic. Over time, attic insulation can settle and exposed the sprinkler pipes. Also, homeowners store items in their attics and can disturb the insulation. Sprinkler pipes can freeze, burst, and cause severe property damage. We had a customer in Hampstead last winter who experienced this very situation. As best we can tell, her attic sprinkler pipe burst shortly after everyone left for work in the morning and water flowed for about 10 hours. The entire house had to be gutted and redone. New kitchen cabinets, new carpet, new hardwood floors, new furniture, all clothing had to be dry cleaned and the family had to live in a hotel for months. If you have a sprinkler system, check your attic insulation. Even with homeowners insurance, the disruption can be overwhelming.

That’s about it. The best advice I can give is “Be Prepared”. Frozen and busted water pipes can cause quite a bit of property damage….especially if they burst while no one is home.

 

Apple Plumbing & Heating Welcomes New Technician

Ben Scheper

Westminster, Maryland. August 27, 2014. Apple Plumbing & Heating Inc., a full service plumbing company located in Westminster, Maryland is pleased to announce that licensed Journeyman Chris Mills has joined the Apple Plumbing Team. Chris has over twenty years’ experience in the plumbing industry and has been licensed since 1996. Chris’s expertise includes water treatment systems, well pumps, constant pressure systems, and water heaters.

Apple Plumbing provides general plumbing, well pump, water treatment, drain cleaning, and water heater services to Carroll, Frederick, Baltimore, and Howard County residents and contractors. The company was founded in 1994 by Pat and Sue Scheper both with strong ties to the community and a keen sense for customer service. The business grew by word-of-mouth and by 2009, son Ben Scheper came on board and the company soon moved to their current location on Aileron Court in Westminster, Maryland. Since then, the company has expanded its shop space and now has a full team of plumbers and apprentices, three office personnel, five trucks, and one Goldendoodle named Bunker.

Apple Plumbing & Heating has received numerous awards for excellence in service and for business innovation. These include: Carroll’s Best 2012 and 2013, Carroll County Chamber Business of the Year 2012, Maryland Breakthrough Business Award 2013, and Angie’s List Super Service Award 2013.

Apple Plumbing & Heating Adds Two Plumbers to the Team

Ben Scheper

Westminster, Maryland. June 12, 2014. Apple Plumbing & Heating Inc., a full service plumbing company located in Westminster, Maryland recently added two plumbers to the Apple Plumbing Team. Apple Plumbing welcomes Master Plumber Jeremy Mason of Mount Airy with 19 years plumbing experience and Journeyman Plumber Bruce Edwards of Finksburg with 20 years plumbing experience. Apple Plumbing provides general plumbing, well pump, water treatment, drain cleaning, and water heater services to Carroll, Frederick, Baltimore, and Howard County residents and contractors. The company was founded in 1994 by Pat and Sue Scheper both with strong ties to the community and a keen sense for customer service. The business grew by word-of-mouth and by 2009, son Ben Scheper came on board and the company soon moved to their current location on Aileron Court in Westminster, Maryland. Since then, the company has expanded its shop space and now has a full team of seven plumbers and apprentices, three office personnel, five trucks, and one Goldendoodle named Bunker.

Apple Plumbing & Heating has received numerous awards for excellence in service and for business innovation. These include: Carroll’s Best 2012 and 2013, Carroll County Chamber Business of the Year 2012, Maryland Breakthrough Business Award 2013, and Angie’s List Super Service Award 2013.

For more information, contact Ben Scheper at 410.840.8118, ben@appleplumbing.com. ####

Important Reminder!

Pat Scheper

Well well well, the winter snows are officially here! Messy and inconvenient at times, but they sure do make everything look beautiful. Have a sump pump? It may be a good idea to fill it up with buckets of water until it turns on, to ensure it’s working. The last thing you need is for your sump pump to fail in the midst of all this precipitation (melting snow can build up faster than you think!).

Better to proactively check the pump than wait until you need it to find out it doesn't work!

melting-snow-1910

Plumbing and the Holidays

Pat Scheper

Can you believe it? The holiday season is upon us. There are holiday displays going up in stores, Christmas themed music being played by a few excited folks, and holiday gatherings are in the process of being planned. If you’re the designated person in your family to host the Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years Eve or any other holiday get-together this year, we’ve got a few reminders for you in helping you get your house holiday-ready!

With an influx of people in and out of your house, some perhaps staying for a few days, here’s some things that may prevent you from having an unexpected, holiday charge to fix something you could take care of now:

  • Drop some dye tablets into your toilets tanks (especially ones that are used led frequently) and let them sit for 2 minutes. The dyed water will color the water in the bowl if you have any leaks. Have any faucets that aren’t used regularly, like in a guest bedroom? Turn them on/off and make sure hot comes out of hot and cold out of cold to be sure those are running properly! Similarly, running water through unused drains will help you avoid a surprise leak or clog.
  • If you know that you have roots on or near your main drain line make sure to treat your drains with root killer.
  • Have a septic system? Make sure it’s not overdue to be pumped out!
  • To see if your water heater is heating correctly, turn on a faucet all the way to hot, and with a thermometer check the water temperature. Factory settings are around 120 degrees if you haven’t manually adjusted the settings.

Well, those are just a few of our tips on avoiding plumbing disasters during the holidays. And note, “plumbing disaster” could refer to anything from losing hot water to having your mother-in-law point out that her bathroom sink faucet is dripping. We’ll help you out with both of those problems and anything in between!

Holiday Help: What Not To Put Down Your Kitchen Drain

Pat Scheper

With the holidays, family visits and lots of cooking coming up we stop our “Hump Day Pump Day” theme we’ve been loosely following to look at some common problems our customers typically run into when it comes to clogged drains through the holidays. We’ll call it “Hump Day: The Holidays Edition”. cloggedkitchensinkNot only are clogged drains on a holiday inconvenient (and yes we come out on holidays to unclog drains for the unfortunate few!) but they can be damaging and frustrating. So without further delay, here are a few tips about kitchen drains during the holidays:

- Never put grease down a kitchen drain. Sure there are tricks/theories on how to get grease safely to the sewer or septic, but drain systems are stressed enough with the increased activity from visitors and extra cooking. Grease further stresses the system and is the number one cause of clogged kitchen drains for our customers during the holidays.

- Garbage disposals are for tiny particles of food stuck on plates after scraping them off into the trash. Just because the disposal chops it up doesn’t mean a drain is meant to handle all food. Heavier, denser foods sink in water and are outrun by water, causing them to sit on the bottom of the drain and catch other solid waste until the drain clogs. Large amounts of food also stress disposal motors and breaks them, so scrape it off!

- If you notice a drain running slow, don’t use store bought chemicals. Cleaners such as Drain-O and Liquid Plumber don’t always work on a clogged drain and our plumber’s still have to come out. Unfortunately those chemicals eat through our cables and cause them to snap so our techs will have to clean out the chemicals before we can clean the drain. Instead, if you notice a slow drain, pour vinegar or baking soda into the drain followed by a large pot of boiling water.