Bill's Blog

Emergency Water Heater Shutdown

As a premiere San Diego plumbing company for 35 years, we have seen quite a few leaking water heaters, and many times it does not leak at a convenient time. Whether it is in the middle of the night, or during a weekend get together, the last thing you want to have to do is to call random plumbers in San Diego for emergency help, usually at emergency rates!

If you follow a few simple steps, you can save yourself major damage and contact your plumber at your convenience.

  • First, turn off the gas. Your gas valve should be clearly marked and you can simply turn it from the on position to the off position.
  • Water Shut offTurn off the water supply, located at the top of the water heater. It is a lever and should be turned clockwise until it stops. NOTE: The water inside the water heater tank will continue to leak out. There will be no more water coming in, but water damage is still possible if the tank is not drained. Gas shut off
  • At this point, you can drain the water (in case the bottom is compromised) to avoid flooding out and causing damage to your home. Attach a garden hose to the drain faucet on the water heater and drain the water to a safe place.
  • Once the gas and water are off, and the water heater is drained, you can rest easy that the you will not have to deal with untold amounts of damage and concentrate on repairing or replacing the water heater.

Do your research. Now that you might need a new water heater, do you want to continue with the same tank style or have you thought about tankless water heaters and an endless supply of energy efficient water heating? You can also check your local permitting requirements and get estimates from licensed plumbers in San Diego.

When you are ready for an estimate from a premiere San Diego plumbing company, look no further than Bill Howe. For 35 years, we have provided the best in water heater installation by the best plumbers in  San Diego. Call 1-800 Bill Howe (245-5469) for your free estimate today!

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Bill Howe Family of Companies Named as Finalist in 2015 BBB Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics

San Diego plumber receives recognition for industry ethics for fourth consecutive year


December 8, 2014 San Diego, Calif. – Bill Howe Plumbing has a distinguished history of offering the best in services for San Diego plumbing, heating and air conditioning, and restoration and flood customers. They have led the industry in community outreach, customer service excellence and ethics for 35 years and have numerous recognitions to show for their hard work. For the fourth consecutive year, the Bill Howe Family of Companies has received recognition from the San Diego Better Business Bureau at the annual Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics.

The BBB Torch Awards for Market place Ethics is in its 17th year and the ceremony was held on December 2, 2014 at the Town & Country Resort in Mission Valley in San Diego. Plumber and businessman, Bill Howe and his wife Tina were in attendance with their two daughters (prominent leaders in the San Diego plumbing company), operations Manager, General Manager and Marketing Director.  The keynote speaker, Ingrid Croce, delivered an illuminating speech about determination in the face of adversity and the power in fighting for what you want and believe, even when faced with people whose integrity is compromised.

The Torch Award honors companies that make a priority in their daily operations, commitment to ethical practices, integrity and support of the San Diego marketplace.  To be considered for the award, companies must compile a nomination that illustrates their commitment to ethics in categories including management practices, community and stakeholder relations, communications and marketing practices, and industry reputation. A panel of judges reviews the submissions and grades each category on a scale of 1-10. There were two finalists and one winner in the medium category (100-249 employees) in which Bill Howe Family of Companies was chosen. All three companies exhibit the best in San Diego plumbing, heating & air conditioning and remain committed to raising the bar for their industry and community.

“Compiling our award nomination is a reward in itself,” said Tina Howe, Vice President of the Bill Howe Family of Companies. “By revisiting our policies, success and failures, and our commitment to our mission, we are able to improve daily operations. WE are also able to continue to ensure that we are living up to our responsibility to our employees, customers and community.”

The Bill Howe Family of Companies was recognized for their excellence and continued commitment to improving their company and industry to care for their customers in San Diego. They spend a great deal of resources to improve their craft, customer service, and community involvement and their multiple awards in the community are evidence of their great success.

For more information about the Bill Howe Family of Companies, visit www.billhowe.com, or to speak with Bill or Tina Howe regarding this announcement, contact Bill Howe Marketing Director, Julie Riddle at Julie@billhowe.com.

About Bill Howe Family of Companies

Bill Howe Family of Companies is comprised of Bill Howe Plumbing, Inc.; Bill Howe Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.; Bill Howe Restoration & Flood Services, Inc. The family-owned and operated company began in 1980 with the plumbing division and has grown into San Diego County’s largest low-cost one-stop-shop for service, repairs and installation, offering both residential and commercial services. 9085 Aero Drive, Suite B, San Diego CA 92123. Call 1-800-BILL-HOWE because We Know Howe!



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Whats a MERV?

In the HVAC world, A MERV is the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. But what does it actually mean? A MERV rating relates to the filter in your heating & air conditioning system and its efficacy in air quality control. MERV ratings are on a scale of 1-20, and the higher the number means the fewer the contaminants that can pass through the filter. The MERV scale was designed by the American Society of Heating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to represent filter’s performance at removing or blocking particles from .3 to 10 microns in size.

A micron (or micrometer) is a unit of measurement approximately one millionth of a meter. To give perspective, wool fibers are considered to be usable for garments and carpets at 25 microns. So yeah, .03-10 is pretty small!

So what does that mean for you?  If you have a air conditioning & heating system in San Diego, the filter is incredibly important in removing particles such as pollen, dust mites, carpet fibers, mold spores, dust, pet dander, bacteria and airborne contaminants. Residential systems will typically remove these airborne contaminants with a MERV rated filter 7-12. MERV ratings of 13 and higher are usually found in hospitals, surgical settings and in even higher ratings clean rooms.

download (1)At Bill Howe heating & air conditioning, all standard filters installed have a MERV rating of 8. We also advise homeowners to regularly clean air ducts to remove impurities from the air and perform a maintenance on their heating and air conditioning system annually (twice a year if you have A/C and heat) in San Diego.

Heating & air conditioning tune-ups include changing out old filters and will extend the life of your HVAC system. To schedule your pre-season heating tune-up in San Diego, call 1-800 Bill Howe (245-5469) today! You’ll be glad you did!


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Common Plumbing Misconceptions & Myths Explained

Do Lemons in the disposal freshen your kitchen and give it that nice lemony fresh scent?

Yes, but and this is a big but, our San Diego plumbers never recommend grinding those rinds in the disposal. Even if they are tiny pieces and grind okay, they eventually end up in your drain line and can cause worse problems later on. Read our blog about lemon peels to find the best way to keep your kitchen drain smelling fresh. Read it here!

Where you see water is where you have a leak (as related to slab leaks)?

Luis Mascareno, Bill Howe Plumbing Slab Leak LocatorOftentimes, when our customers call us for a leak where they can see the water pooling in the floor, they believe it to be located directly under the water. However, it is more complicated than simply removing the flooring and repairing the line. That’s why our San Diego plumbers are also specialized in Slab Leak Location. They use an electronic leak location device because the water that is coming up in one place, could very well be starting at another location. By performing the leak location, our plumbers will verify the exact leak and line to ensure our repair solves your issue.

A sky high water bill indicates a major leak (not necessarily!)

As one of the premiere San Diego plumbing companies, we receive many calls asking for advice when a customer receives a sky high water bill. Many times, our customer service representatives can help eliminate possibilities by walking our customers through possible scenarios in order to determine if a specialty plumber is needed. Often, an unusually high water bill will come with visible symptoms such as leaks evident in the walls or bathroom, warm floors or wet carpets (when it is a slab leak) or irrigation leaks in the yard. Other times, there is no evidence of leaks but the water bill more than doubles. When we come across this scenario, the culprit is generally a toilet with a minor and unseen leak. Did you know that small fixture leaks and toilet leaks can be responsible for more water waste than larger leaks. This is because they go unnoticed and unchecked. It is always a good piece of advice to do regular checks and maintenance on your toilets and other fixtures. If you suspect a mystery toilet leak, you can always perform a test by adding dye (found at your local home store) into the tank. If you see the dye show up in the bowl, you may have an issue that can be easily resolved. This could save money and time chasing down those mystery leaks causing wasted water.

Tankless: Instant or endless hot water?

When we want hot water, we want it quick. Not only does it waste water during the time it takes to heat up, but especially for showers, we like to be able to use it on demand. So when we get calls for tankless water heaters, a big misconception is that the water heater will provide that “on demand” hot water instantaneously. Sadly, it is not the case. The tankless water heaters are great at providing efficient cost effective method of heating water, and will provide hot water for as long as you want it, but it still takes relatively the same time to heat up.

Tankless water heaters only heat the water as you need it. Since they do not hold gallons of water (only about the amount of two cups) at any given time, there is no lost energy in continuously heating the water for use. But, as with any water heating system (without a re-circulation system) the water takes some time to heat and the further the tap/fixture, the longer to get hot water.

Any plumber can take care of any problem

Not all San Diego plumbers are created equal, and many will have expertise in different areas. At Bill Howe Plumbing, Inc. we have three different classifications of plumbers: Drain, Plumbing and Combination techs. And even within those classifications, there are varied levels of expert knowledge. There are drain techs that specialize in sewer relining, camera inspections and hydrojetting. There are plumbing technicians that can find and repair slab leaks, gas lines and water heaters, and those who are experts in tankless water heaters.

And then, we have some who really can do it all! But one thing is certain, whatever your issue, we have the right tech for your job. So if you need a professional, you know who to call 1-800 Bill Howe (245-5469).

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Celebrate World Toilet Day: November 19, 2014

Did you know that it is World Toilet Day, today?  Recognized by the United Nations as the founding day of World Toilet Organization, World Toilet Day is about action and awareness. There are approximately 2.5 billion people (a little over a third of the world’s population) who do not have access to improved sanitation. According to the UNWater.org, 1 billion people still defecate in the open.

2014 marks the second annual World Toilet Day. Designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 to officially act as a day to bring awareness and take action to improve the word’s sanitation and ensure everyone has access to the basic right of decent water and sanitation.

We are fortunate to have modern plumbing in San Diego and across America, but the world’s problem is ours as well. Poor sanitation is linked to poor health, disease and death and these problems do not stay in some remote corner of the world. They can reach out and affect everyone as the recent Ebola scare has shown how globally connected we are.

We believe that plumbing, and in turn plumbers, affects the “Health of the Nation” and in the spirit of World Health Day, we hope you will take part in raising awareness. Please visit UNWater.Org and see what you can do to help.

And in the meantime, here is a great infographic “Know Your Toilet” from Water.Org and a few toilet facts!

  • The Scots and the Greeks are the early inventors of the toilet. Drains leading outside of stone huts have been found (and believed to be early bathrooms) in Scotland dating back to 3,000 BCE, and the Palace of Knossos on Crete built around 1,700 BCE has “definite latrines”
  • Medieval England used a system of garderobes, a room that jutted out form the castle with a small opening form which royalty would “do their business.” The opening was generally located above a moat.
  • Although in 1596, Sir John Harrington published the Metamorphosis of Ajax, describing a water closet with a pipe that would run water with a valve, it was a man named Alexander Cummings 200 years later who invented the S-shaped pope underneath that trapped the odors.
  • In the 19th century, a London plumber named Thomas Crapper was hired by Prince Edward to build lavatories in several royal palaces. And while Crapper patented several inventions, he is not the actual inventor of the modern toilet as many believe.
  • During the 20th century, flush valves, water tanks resting directly on top of the bowl and toilet paper on rolls were invented.
  • And, in 1994, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act requiring common flush toilets to use 1.6 gallons of water or less per flush.


Sources for this Blog came from the following:

Springer, Jon. (2014, November 18). Why World Toilet Day Should Matter to You. Forbes.com. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonspringer/2014/11/18/why-world-toilet-day-should-matter-to-you/

Suddath, Claire (2009, November 19). A Brief History of Toilets. Time.Com http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1940525,00.html




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“Howe” to Clean Your Showerhead

You don’t need plumbers in San Diego to tell you how hard the counties water can be. In fact, we have one of the worst ranking water in the country (coming in at 9th) which can cause many issues with your homes plumbing. One of the more annoying, but easily resolved, issues is that of a clogged shower head.

Hard Water Buildup On Showerhead

Showerhead with hard water scale build up.

If you are experiencing slow streams of water, or trickling out of the shower head, your first inclination might be to call your nearest plumbers in San Diego. However, you should first check to see if it is simple hard water scale build up and mineral deposits that are slowing your water pressure. This problem can easily be cleaned with household items.


You will need a few items that can easily be gathered from your arsenal of household items: Pliers, a towel, a container (Tupperware bowls work perfect, white vinegar, a paperclip and an old toothbrush).

Step one: Remove the showerhead. It should twist off with a little pressure, but if it is a little stuck, you can try using pliers. But be careful not to scratch the showerhead. Once the showerhead is removed, the rest is easy!

Step two: Place the showerhead in the container filled with white distilled vinegar and leave submersed for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour, depending on the level of buildup.

Step Three: Remove the showerhead and place on a towel. Use the paperclip to unclog the holes (gently) and the toothbrush to gently brush away scale build up and mineral deposits.

Step Four: You can then rinse the showerhead in warm water and reattach it in your shower. Turn the shower on and let it run warm water for several minutes and you should now be able to enjoy full pressure!


Showerhead after cleaning.

For quick cleaning and regular maintenance (and to avoid calling on your San Diego plumbers when the problem becomes too difficult), you can also fill a plastic bag with the vinegar and place around the showerhead without detaching it. Simply secure a tie around the neck, and allow the showerhead to soak. Remove the bag and you can brush the buildup off.



If you notice a loss of pressure in multiple fixtures, or your showerhead seems to have a deeper issue, you can always call one of Bill Howe’s San Diego plumbers at 1-800 Bill Howe (245-5469) for a free on site assessment.

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What is an Air Gap, Exactly?

According to the Wikipedia, an air gap is an “unobstructed vertical space between the water outlet and the flood level of a fixture.” What does that even mean? And, did you know that having an air gap installed with any dishwasher is now required by Uniform Plumbing Code?

The most common use of the term “air gap” refers to the plumbing fixture that provides back flow prevention for your dishwasher. But, what does it do, exactly? A properly maintained and installed air gap prevents drain water backing up into the dishwasher and causing possible contamination.

The code for plumbing in San Diego requires all dishwashers be installed with an air gap because of the possible contamination factor. Although it is a small chance, the possibility for dirty water to be siphoned into the dishwasher drain line and then into the main water supply line is still a possibility and an air gap will prevent this. Some people might advise that you can go with a “High Loop” method of bringing the dishwasher drain up to the highest point under the sink before connecting to the sink drain. However, in San Diego, plumbers (licensed and by the book) and appliance installation crews will not install or hook up a dishwasher using this method, nor will it pass inspection from the city. It is best to follow all safety codes.

Air Gap-01

The air gap is the cylinder like fixture located next to the sink faucet.The drain pipe of the dishwasher feeds to the top of the air gap, and the bottom of the air gap is plumbed into the sink drain below the basket or into the garbage disposal. If at any time, water flows from the fixture into the sink, it might be time to call out your local San Diego plumbers for maintenance or repair.

If you are thinking about installing a new dishwasher, and do not have an air gap, call Bill Howe Plumbing in San Diego for a free estimate. You’ll save time and be fully prepared when your new dishwasher arrives! Call 1-800 Bill Howe (245-5469).

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Jessica Kalloch of Bill Howe Plumbing, Inc. Named as Finalist in Local Business Award

Multi-award winning San Diego heating & air conditioning, restoration and plumbing company proud to support Business Development Director

October 22, 2014 San Diego, Calif. – Bill Howe Plumbing, one of the largest family-owned and operated companies has been providing the best San Diego plumbers since 1980. And in the past 34 years, they have also added to the company by adding divisions in San Diego heating & air conditioning and restoration and flood services further building on the successful business model that has kept them thriving in the local community. Part of that success is the result of listening to customers and delivering the highest quality customer care in the industry.

On November 5, 2014, Jessica Kalloch, the Business Development  will attend the 21st Annual Women Who Mean Business (WWMB) Awards Ceremony, and is honored with a nomination and finalist status for the first time. Jessica joined the plumbers in March 2010 as the first of her kind in the industry. She developed her role from the ground up, creating a niche in the plumbing and HVAC trade. Her success has added value to Bill Howe across divisions by creating a concierge style customer relationship for all account customers and has improved the overall customer service policies within the company.

Jessica was nominated, and chosen as a finalist, because of her dedication and hard work. She has made numerous improvements to Bill Howe and the industry, including an email work flow, appointing direct representatives for account customers, new and existing, and strengthened the communication between office, technician and customer. Jessica acts as liaison personally connecting with every customer, listening to their needs and delivering 100 percent of the time. Additionally, she sits on several industry boards including being elected to the Executive Board of Building Owners and Managers Association for the 2015 year.

“I am so honored by the show of support from my company and to be chosen as a finalist,” said Jessica Kalloch, Business Development Director of Bill Howe Plumbing. “I love what I do and finding solutions to continue the Bill Howe Family of Companies growth and success.”

Jessica was nominated By Tina Howe, Vice President of Bill Howe Plumbing, Inc. and  recipient of the WWMB award herself in 2010 and 2013. Operations Manager, Amber Baynard was also chosen as a finalist in 2011.

For more information about the Bill Howe’s San Diego plumbers or other services offered, visit www.billhowe.com, or to speak with Bill or Tina Howe regarding this announcement, contact Bill Howe Marketing Director, Julie Riddle at Julie@billhowe.com.

About Bill Howe Family of Companies

Bill Howe Family of Companies is comprised of Bill Howe Plumbing, Inc.; Bill Howe Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.; Bill Howe Restoration & Flood Services, Inc. The family-owned and operated company began in 1980 with the plumbing division and has grown into San Diego County’s largest low-cost one-stop-shop for service, repairs and installation, offering both residential and commercial services. 9085 Aero Drive, Suite B, San Diego CA 92123. Call 1-800-BILL-HOWE because We Know Howe!


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What customers are saying about our plumbers!

We have some of the best plumbers in San Diego. They attend rigorous training, education and technology advancement seminars on a regular basis to stay up to date to provide the best in San Diego plumbing for our customers.

In turn, we also have the best customers in San Diego. Many have been with us since the very beginning, in 1980 when we first opened our doors as AM/PM Sewer & Drain Cleaning (link). And it is no wonder when we built our company on a simple three-part mission:

  • Ensure each of our employees are happy, healthy and have all the skill and tools necessary to flourish in their careers
  • Provide every customer with the highest level of work and service, always aiming for 100 percent satisfaction
  • Give back to the San Diego community who has been giving us business since 1980

And though we have grown from a one-truck San Diego plumbing company to a one-stop shop for plumbing, heating & air conditioning, water treatment, sewer relining, restoration and reconstruction services, we have maintained our dedication to those three tenants, and it shows.

Every day, our customer service representative’s follow up on each service call to see “Howe” we are doing. We want to know that our HVAC techs, water damage specialists and plumbers in San Diego are upholding our high standards and taking care of our customers.

And, while we are not surprised by the positive response, we are very proud of what our customers are saying. Here’s what we are asking and how  they’re answering!!

How would you rate our technician’s service on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best? Did the plumber make your aware of our other services in San Diego? Did the plumber wear his booties to protect your home? How did we provide exceptional service? What can we do to exceed your expectations? And lastly, we ask for comments (read examples below).

It was great! Nothing that could have been done better.” Robert B. (Tech: RJ Bolas)

Very efficient and thorough.” Gene T. (Tech: Gilbert Baca)

Very happy, Super nice, Happy with their work, very professional and hardworking [and] remembered them by name!” Joann C. (Techs: Igor Sachakov & Estimator Eric Johnson)

Sweetheart! Young but knowledgeable.” Margie C. (Tech: Ryan Cook)

Outstanding technician, did an outstanding job, double his wages! Loves [my] new thermostat!” Mr. G. (Tech: Wayne Ulm)

Very Good Experience!! Very Excellent service!! Great uniform & tidiness!!” Jennifer B. (Tech: Tristram Coffin)

And it goes on! So next time you’re in need of one of Bill Howe’s a professional HVAC Experts, Restoration Specialists or plumbers in San Diego,  you know who to call! 1-800-Bill Howe (245-5469).

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Bill Howe Family of Companies Focuses on Safety for Drivers

San Diego plumbers get a lesson in safe driving practices

October 15, 2014, 2014 San Diego, Calif. – Bill Howe Plumbing has a distinguished history of offering high quality services in San Diego plumbing, heating and air conditioning, and restoration and flood services. For over 30 years, they have been industry leaders and set the precedence for service companies in their community. Not only focused on delivering the highest quality of services, the company focuses on continued training and education for their San Diego plumbers and employees to ensure that they help to protect the local community.

The Bill Howe Family of Companies has a zero tolerance for unsafe driving among its employees in San Diego. Plumbers, HVAC techs and remediation specialists comprise over 80 drivers for the local company and are held to the highest standards when driving company vehicles. Each employee with a company vehicle must keep a clean DMV driving record and adhere to all California traffic laws, including the use of mobile phones and electronic devices while driving. All employees have signed the policy and even the office staff is disallowed from calling the drivers while their vehicles are in motion.

“We use our GPS tracking system to ensure that when we reach out to our technicians in the field, we can determine if they are driving,” said Tina Howe, Vice President of the Bill Howe Family of Companies. “We are also in the process of installing applications that will disable the phones while in motion to further ensure our drivers are focused on safety at all times.”

The company continually offers education events, as well as safety training and reminders company wide. As part of their October company meeting, they hosted the TRED (Training, Research and Education for Driving Safety) from the University of California, San Diego and the California Highway Patrol to present an hour long safe driving seminar “Just Drive” to the company.

The presentation is part of the effort to reduce distracted driving in San Diego and is offered free to companies. The class covers the definitions of distracted driving, dangers of distracted driving; California Vehicle Code and legal requirements as well as actions employees can take to reduce distracted driving. The team of speakers, including two CHP officers, illuminated and educated the Bill Howe Family of Companies and helped to raise awareness about the dangers and responsibility employees have to keep the roads safe.

Bill Howe Family of Companies asks San Diego to join in the move to reduce distracted driving. For more information or to schedule a class, contact treds@ucsd.edu, or call 858-534-8524.

For more information about the San Diego plumbing company,  visit www.billhowe.com, or to speak with Bill or Tina Howe regarding this announcement, contact Bill Howe Marketing Director, Julie Riddle at Julie@billhowe.com.

About Bill Howe Family of Companies

Bill Howe Family of Companies is comprised of Bill Howe Plumbing, Inc.; Bill Howe Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.; Bill Howe Restoration & Flood Services, Inc. The family-owned and operated company began in 1980 with the plumbing division and has grown into San Diego County’s largest low-cost one-stop-shop for service, repairs and installation, offering both residential and commercial services. 9085 Aero Drive, Suite B, San Diego CA 92123. Call 1-800-BILL-HOWE because We Know Howe!



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