Word games have always been popular – crossword puzzles, Jumbles, acrostics, Wheel of Fortune and now, Words with Friends. So, what is your GPF? If you know what GPF means, you win 12 rolls of toilet paper! If you didn’t know what it means, you get um, a catalog.

Your water bill is a total of your water usage for bathing, washing clothes, dish washing (whether by hand or dishwasher), hand washing, flushing toilets, and outside work such as watering your lawn and plants, and washing your vehicles. Oh, and don’t forget kids playing in the sprinkler or filling up swimming pools. Of that list, which one uses the most water? Bathing? Washing clothes? Outside work? Actually, it is the same thing for almost every household. According to the EPA, flushing our toilets accounts for nearly 20% (some say higher) of the total water used in our homes.

Knowing the GPF could help greatly lower your water bill. GPF means ‘gallons per flush. Frankly, most oF us aren’t too concerned with the GPF – we just want to make sure that what is in the bowl, leaves the bowl.

Most toilets made prior to 1970 used over 6 gallons of water in a single flush – a 6.0 GPF. Due to droughts, water shortages, etc, some states began setting water usage standards. In 1978 California enacted legislation that set a 3.5 GPF standard for toilets. Other state soon followed California’s lead. In 1994 the standard was lowered to 1.6 GPF and now, in California, beginning January, 2014, the standard has been lowered to a 1.28 GPF in all newly built homes and in any home being remodeled. As before, once California made their move, others were quick to follow. The lowered water use sounded wonderful; however, consumers were quick to complain. Why? Instead of flushing once, consumers were flushing their toilets multiple times, thus negating any savings on their water bills.   Pressure began to mount on the manufacturers from consumers and legislatures to modify and redesign their toilets to provide what the consumer wanted – one flush per use. Further pressure then came from the EPA when it developed its ‘Water Sense’ program. Under this program, all toilets wanting to earn the ‘Water Sense’ label must have a 1.29 GPF. Manufacturers heard them loud clear, and they responded.

Today you can find a list of over 2000 different toilets that have earned the ‘Water Sense’ label. To earn the label, a toilet is tested by an independent agency using the MaP Testing program. (see prior blog – Not All Toilets Are Created Equal) The testing is voluntary and the manufacturers pay for the testing themselves. There is pressure from all sides for the manufacturers to have their toilets tested.

Do ‘Water Sense’ toilets cost more? Yes, they can; however, with rebate programs that have been offered in some states and the savings on the water bill the extra cost can be recouped in a few years.

If your family is considering replacing a toilet or toilets, may we suggest that you go to the EPA web site to look at the list of toilets (and other plumbing fixtures) that have earned the ‘Water Sense’ label. When shopping, be sure and look for the ‘Water Sense’ label on the product you are considering and choose wisely for the sake of your wallet.   Contact Aaron Kramer Plumbing for further information on ‘Water Sense’ toilets or for any of your plumbing needs such as toilets, faucets, water heaters, garbage disposals, or pipe leaks. (937-898-0008) (Oh, and if you knew what GPF meant, send us your mane and address for your 12 rolls of toilet paper! Quality not guaranteed; use at your own risk.)


Written by Bruce Kramer


Poly what piping?  Never heard of it!  I know what copper piping is, what galvanized piping is, hey, I even know what Pex piping is; but, poly something piping?  What is that?  I can’t even pronounce it, let alone spell it!  Attention class, let’s answer some questions – What is it, What are the potential problems with it, Was there a lawsuit over it, and What should I, as a potential homeowner or existing homeowner, do about it?

What is it?

A polybutylene water piping system is a potable water supply system containing polybutylene pipe and either acetal (plastic) or metal insert fittings.  The piping is usually gray, but can also be silver or black.    The insert fittings used to join the PB piping are either copper or brass, or are made of acetal, a hard, gray or white plastic.  The crimp rings used are either aluminum or copper.  (per the settlement)  Please Note:  Crimp rings used with Qest plastic fittings were only aluminum.

What are the potential problems with it? 

The problems have primarily been with the acetal insert fittings, not necessarily the piping itself.  These acetal insert fittings were made with an acetal resin that, over time, deteriorated due to the reaction of the acetal with the chlorine in the water.  The deterioration in the fittings caused leaking at the joints.  No problems can be detected until the joints and/or piping begins to leak potentially causing major water damage in the home.

Two factors need to be considered in regard to the piping.  One factor is that it is suspected, but not proven, that the chlorine in the water causes internal deterioration of the piping.  The second factor, which is proven, is that sunlight causes internal deterioration of the piping when stored outside by either the wholesaler or the plumber.  Internal pipe deterioration cannot be detected on the outside of the pipe and only becomes evident when the pipe fails, potentially causing major damage to your home.

At this point, there has been no recall of the polybutylene piping itself.  The recall applies only to the acetal insert fittings used with the piping.  (Th1s per Viega-800-976-9819, a former supplier of the piping.)

Was there a lawsuit over using it?

Yes, there was a lawsuit, the Cox vs Shell Oil er all. Settlement.  The Settlement was a national class action settlement involving certain polybutylene plumbing systems and service lines installed between January 1, 1987, through July 31, 1995.  The Settlement provided for a one billion dollar fund to claimants who qualified under the terms of the Settlement Agreement.  The Class Action eligibility was for those homeowners who had this type of system installed between the dates above.  If the system was installed using acetal fittings, the claim was to be filed within 14 years of the installation date; if metal fittings were used, the claim was to be filed within 17 years of the installation date.  All leaks had to be verified with plumbing repair receipts, work orders, and/or submission of the actual part(s) itself.  Filing for the Settlement expired in 2009.  As a result of the lawsuit, this piping was banned in  some municipalities and states; however, it was never banned on a federal level.  Another result is that the polybutylene piping is no longer produced nor is it available in the United States.

What should I, as a potential homeowner or existing homeowner, do about it?

If you are purchasing a home, ask the real estate broker and/or home inspector to inform you of the type of piping installed in the home.  Ask them to be specific and to put it in writing.  “There are currently no laws specifically regarding the disclosure of polybutylene piping on a property, but some real estate brokers have been sued for not disclosing its presence in residences that they sell.”, this quote according to the web site ‘whodoisue.com’.

Should this type of piping system be found in a home you are purchasing or that you own, it is Aaron Kramer Plumbing’s opinion, and our policy, that the entire piping system be replaced.  The unexpected and sometimes undetected leaks could cause so much damage that the cost to make the repairs could supersede the cost to replace the plumbing system.

Aaron Kramer Plumbing suggests and encourages that before making any decisions, the consumer do further research and consult with a local plumber, such as Aaron Kramer Plumbing, who is knowledgeable about polybutylene piping.  An informed consumer is an educated consumer who can make informed and educated decisions.  Thank you, class, for your attention.

Further information concerning polybutylene piping can be found on the internet or by calling any of the numbers below:

1.  Viega – 800-976-9819

2.  Vanguard Plastics – 316-241-6369

3.  Aaron Kramer Plumbing – 937-898-0008

All internet sites pertaining to the Settlement have since been closed.


Written by Bruce Kramer

Not All Toilets are Created Equal

Come on, a toilet is a toilet is a toilet.  They all have a tank, a bowl, a seat, and handle to flush it.  All I’m concerned with is that it works!  I simply want something to function as it should when it should and not give me any problems.  But – have you ever purchased something without putting much planning or research into it?  What do you mean – planning and research?  I just need a new toilet!  Ah, BUT – not all toilets are created equal.

Let’s do some planning and research.  A list of criteria should be made first. Criteria?  For a toilet?  Yes.  First on our list is the MaP Score of the toilet (something most of us have probably not heard of before and that includes this writer, until today); second is the brand, third is the model, and last is the type of toilet.

First, the MaP Score.  Prior to 2003, toilets routinely clogged.  Manufacturers were slow to respond to customer complaints until MaP Testing came on the scene.  Being a part of the testing has always been voluntary; manufacturers choose to be part of it.  The purpose of the test is to see which toilets eliminate the most amount of waste the best.  They use simulated poop made from soybean paste and toilet paper.  They start with a small amount of this simulated poop and paper and keep increasing the amount each flush has to move out of the toilet until the toilet fails.  In your home, that would mean it has reached overflow status.  NO ONE wants to deal with that!

As of September, 2013, over 2600 toilets have been tested.  Each toilet tested earns a MaP Score, with the highest performing toilets given the distinction of being in the 1000 gram MaP Performance Club!  This means that the toilet in question is able to move 1000 grams of waste and paper per flush.  So, when considering a new toilet, we suggest going to www.map-testing.com web site and using their consumer tool (Map Testing Protocol) for checking out whether nor not the toilet of your choice is in the Performance Club.  (Pictures of the simulated waste and testing equipment are also on their site.  Oh, the simulated waste can also be purchased – for?  We’ll leave that up to you to decide.)

The second criteria for a new toilet is the brand.   While on the MaP Testing web site, you can check out various brands of toilets to see how they rate on their Map Score.  The brand of toilet might change after looking at the rankings.  If the brand or model of a brand toilet is not listed under the MaP Testing Protocol, then that manufacturer has chosen not to have it tested.  Take note.)  Once a brand has been chose, for example American Standard, Gerber, Kohler, etc, the next thing on your list is the model.

When considering the model, you are looking at the décor of the bathroom or your home.  Is your home older and the decor leans toward antiques?  Does it have a country flair?  Modern, or ultra modern?  Check out the models offered by a brand and see which would most fit the décor of your home.  Color is also a consideration and may we offer a note of caution?  We would suggest that you stick with white or an almond/beige.  Installing blue, yellow, pink, etc. limits your ability to alter the color scheme.  At some point, you will probably get tired of the color and want to change it.  Changing the colors of fixtures – toilets, sinks, bathtubs – can be very expensive.  With white or almond/beige, the color scheme can be easily changed without going to a huge expense.  (Pink?  Yes.  This writer used to live in a house where the previous owner’s favorite color was pink.  You guessed it – pink fixtures and floors in both the bathroom and kitchen, including the countertops!)

The next thing on your list is the type of toilet.  When looking at the type you should consider the needs of the family and/or individual.  For most families, a basic white, round front toilet will suffice.  However, more and more families are choosing elongated toilets for comfort and hygiene purposes.  Elongated toilets will fit in most bathrooms, but the distance between the toilet and a wall or the tub should be considered.  What about the height of the toilet?  A standard toilet is approximately 14″, whereas an ADA toilet is 17″ or more in height.  A higher toilet would give that family member who has trouble with their knees or has a bad back greater ease and comfort when using the bathroom.

The MaP Score, the brand, the model, and the type are all things to consider when purchasing a new toilet.  There is an expense with a new toilet and you want to make sure that the one you are choosing will fit your needs and/or the needs of your family.   Remember, not all toilets are created equal.


Written by Bruce Kramer


No, we are not talking about some of our customers, but do these adjectives describe the fixtures in your home?  You’ve looked around your home and have a decided that it is time to update some of your fixtures.  The faucets are tired, drab and out-of-date, and the toilets just don’t seem to flush like they used to.  (Yes, toilets do wear out!)  Where do you start in your search for new fixtures?  Some people may go to the internet and just do a search, wandering from web site to web site, looking at various styles, finishes, etc., with no real direction.

The next step might be to make a trip to the local home center and wander up and down the aisles looking at finishes, styles, brands, and perhaps even asking the clerk some questions.  You may ask them about finishes  the new styles and how they function, etc., but, did you ask them if they have ever installed one of those faucets or toilets?  Are they answering your questions from their own personal experience, or from what they have been told by others?  More than likely, the answer to these questions is ‘no’ – they have never used one, let alone installed one.

Who should you go to for answers and advice based on first-hand knowledge and experience?  Why not start with your local plumber?  Your local plumber has installed many different brands of faucets and toilets, and can give you advice and direction based on that experience and knowledge.  One of the first things that he will tell you is that there is a difference in what a consumer can purchase at the home centers and what the plumber can provide you from a plumbing supply house.  All faucets and toilets of the same brand are not made the same.  The faucets that the plumber will provide have more metal parts than plastic.  Metal parts are more durable and have a longer life span than plastic parts.  All toilets flush, so why worry about the brand?  Believe it or not, some brands provide a better flush than others, eliminating more with one flush, where another toilet might take two flushes.  What type of toilet will work in your bathroom?  Will only a round front fit, or will an elongated fit in your bathroom?  Do you want to consider a higher toilet?  What ‘rough in’ is your toilet?  All of these are questions to consider when in the market for new fixtures.

The person to start with when replacing your tired, drab and old fixtures is not the clerk in the home center; and though the internet can give you some ideas, it cannot address your particular needs and desires.  The person to call is your local plumber.  Might we make a suggestion as to which plumber to call?  Aaron Kramer Plumbing has the first-hand knowledge and experience to give you the advice and guidance you need in dealing with brands, warranties, styles, and finishes.  Give us a call today at 937-898-0008 and schedule a consultation.


Written by Bruce Kramer


When someone would meet my Dad for the first time, Dad was probably either wearing a suit and tie (he was a pastor) or, his work overalls.  Born in 1914, he was of the old school – if something broke, you fixed it yourself.  He would round up the repair manual he needed whether it was for a lawn mower, washing machine, clothes dryer, car, TV set, or our plumbing.  He would do the reading, buy the tools and set to work (sometimes with his oldest daughter as his helper).  The words repairman, electrician, plumber, etc., were not in his vocabulary.   I never saw what any of these people looked like, until I was married.   That is NOT a slam against my husband (who learned a lot from his father-in-law); but, we live in a different era and time.  With the advancements in technology in all areas of our lives, hiring individuals with specialized training is, more often than not, an absolute must.

We often take things for granted – that we will get hot water from that faucet, that the toilet will flush, and that the water will go down the drain.  But, what if you don’t get hot water, or no water at all, from that faucet?  What if that toilet doesn’t flush and go down, but instead, comes back up?  What if you have a leak from your bathroom into the kitchen below?  Who are you going to call?  Your neighbor, your son, your brother-in-law?  A better idea would be to call your local, Master Plumber.

Why hire a Master Plumber?  This individual has earned the title of ‘Master Plumber’ by applying to the Ohio Construction Industry Examining Board to take the state licensure exam.  Upon applying for the exam, the applicant must show that they have five years of experience in plumbing.  Once the license is earned, it must be maintained with ten hours of continuing education every year to keep abreast of new innovations and technology in the plumbing field.

When faced with plumbing repairs, make that call to a local company.  By hiring a Master Plumber, who is licensed, bonded and insured, you are giving yourself the peace of mind knowing that THIS plumber is knowledgeable in the plumbing code requirements, has the ability to obtain permits, and has the experience and expertise to help you protect your home and belongings from water damage.  When you call a company, ask if they are licensed (ask for the number), bonded, and insured, and put your repair needs in the hands of a Master Plumber.

Need a suggestion?  Call Aaron Kramer Plumbing, owned and operated by Master Plumber (State of Ohio, #10901), Bruce Aaron Kramer.  He would like to be YOUR local plumber.  Call 937-898-0008 today!

Ruthanne, Secretary, Aaron Kramer Plumbing


Written by Bruce Kramer

Melting Snow, Spring Rains and Your Sump Pump

Has it been a while since you have heard your sump pump come on?  With all of the melting snow and the spring rains, is it ready to handle all of that water?  Now is the time to make sure that the sump pump is in working order.

Routine maintenance on your sump pump will go a long way in protecting your home from water damage.  As part of that routine maintenance, we suggest cleaning the sump pit at least once a year to prevent your sump pump from becoming clogged with debris, and we suggest that it be run manually periodically to make sure the internal parts stay lubricated and in working order.  Simply add water to the pit using your garden hose and let the pump run for a few minutes. If your basement has been turned into useable living space, a battery back-up pump may be of consideration to prevent flooding.  It doesn’t take much water to cause extensive and expensive damage to your home.  A battery back-up pump can give you peace of mind knowing that your home is protected from water damage. The time to be concerned about your sump pump is NOW.  Give Aaron Kramer Plumbing a call today to find out more information about either a primary pump or about the installation of a battery back-up system. Aaron Kramer Plumbing will also repair, replace or install water heaters, faucets, garbage disposals, ice maker lines, sinks, toilets and clear clogged interior drains. Please see our coupon section for money saving offers on our plumbing services. Our customers in the North may call 937-898-0008 and our customers in the South, may call 937-434-7074.


Written by Bruce Kramer


You have a squalling baby who wants that bottle NOW! You fill the bottle with hot water from the tap, and add formula. Happy baby, and both of you now have settled nerves. Question – did you ever wonder if it is safe to use hot water directly from the tap to make that bottle?

Many of our older homes contain lead pipes and/or fixtures, especially if the house was built prior to 1986. Even newer homes may have been built with piping that may contain lead. Hot water can dissolve contaminants such as lead, and carry them straight to your tap. Using the hot water from the tap can put lead into the baby’s bottle, and into your cooking and/or drinking water. Lead has been proven to cause damage to the brain and nervous system, especially in young children.

How can you guard against this contamination? The EPS recommends that only cold water be used for cooking and drinking. If the faucet has not been used for over six hours, flush the piping by opening up the faucet and let the water run until it is cold. It is also recommended that you consider replacing plumbing fixtures that may contain lead. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SWDA) states that only lead-free pipe, solder, or flux be used for the installation or repair of water systems used by the public. “Lead-free” means that the solders and flux that are used may not have more than 0.2 percent lead, and that pipe, pipe fittings, and well pumps contain no more than 8.0 percent lead. There are also SDWA standards set for kitchen and bathroom faucets. Beginning January, 2014, the SDWA standards will change to 0.25 percent, further lowering the amount of allowable lead content in the pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures used in the industry.

If may take a little more time to settle that unhappy baby, and it may take more time to boil water, but using hot water directly from the tap is not a good idea. The risk is small; yet, to be on the safe side, the EPA states that cold tap water should always be used for baby formulas, in cooking, and for drinking. Further information may be found at www.epa.gov/lead or you may call (800) 424-5323.


Written by Bruce Kramer


Let’s take a psychology quiz.  When you hear the word ‘basement’, what descriptive words come to mind?  Dark?  Damp?  Cellar?  Storage?  Old coal bin?  Grandma’s house?  These are just a few that might come to mind.  Today, basements are not just, well – basements.  Frequently they are now being turned into usable living space – fully finished and furnished.   Keeping that basement dry is a high priority because the repairs to the basement and replacement of those furnishings could be both extensive and expensive.

The job of the sump pump is to keep water from backing up into the basement.  There are times, however, when the electric primary pump could fail – the power goes out, the float stops working – any number of things could happen.  The result will be rising water in that finished and furnished basement.  Having a back up pump will give the homeowner peace of mind, knowing that the basement will stay dry.  There are various types of back up pumps and they are powered by different means – gas generators, deep cycle marine batteries, or water.

WATER?  Yes, the water powered back up pump is powered by -WATER!  Water from your city is used to create a suction that pulls the sump water up a discharge pipe.  The dirty and clean water then discharge into your yard or street.   No worry about batteries being depleted or the generator running out of gas.  There is wide range of prices, depending on the brand.

On the surface, these pumps seem ideal!  No generator, no gas or batteries to buy!  WOW!  But – what about the water?  The water used is clean, drinkable water that you, as the homeowner, will be billed for.  The water is NOT free.  Depending on the manufacturer, these pumps will use one gallon of clean water for approximately every three gallons of sump water pumped out at 60 PSI and between an 8/10 ten foot head.  (These ratios are examples from one of the better manufacturer’s; however, the ratios could get worse with cheaper pumps.)  For example, a Zoeller M53 electric primary pump will pump 2,040 gallons per hour at a ten foot head.   For the average home, this pump would keep up during a rainstorm.  Should the homeowner wish to install a water powered back up pump, and if a Zoeller is chosen (which is one of the better brands, in our opinion) this pump at 60 PSI and at an 8/10 head will pump approximately 1,140 gallons per hour.  Regardless of our opinion of water powered back up pumps, the 1,140 gallons per hour of the Zoeller 503 is less than the 2,040 gallons of the M53 and is not enough to keep the basement from flooding.

Should the water pressure drop during an emergency, the water powered pump could not keep up with the water coming into your home.  The result?  A flooded basement.  Not only will you have expensive repairs to make and furnishings to replace, but there will also be a HIGH water bill.  A drop in water pressure could also allow dirty water to siphon back into the clean water supply.  Some of these back up pumps do have a built in check valve that prevents this siphoning from happening;  however, in the state of Ohio, a backflow device must also be installed.  After the backflow has been installed, it then must be certified and then recertified each year after that.  Permits must also be taken out for the installation of the backflow.  This installation of the backflow can be done by a licensed plumber.

As a homeowner, you now have two main issues – 1.  You have a system that is not keeping up with the water coming into the pit; and 2.  If you are an environmentalist. Clean, drinkable water is being wasted to get rid of dirty, sump water.  Hum.  The choice is yours.  Other factors to consider are – what is the cost of the pump, how many gallons of clean, city water per hour will be used, how high could my water bill go, how easily can it be installed, and what is the cost of the backflow installation, certification and recertification.


Some manufacturers require a wye strainer on the water line to keep minerals and debris from clogging up the water powered sump pump; and, if there is a water softener, some manufacturers specify running the water line for the water powered sump pump from the hard water side of the water softener.   (Most manufacturers do not recommend using these particular pumps with a well system.)

Perhaps the best place to start when considering a back up sump pump, is with Aaron Kramer Plumping, your local plumbing professional.  We can give you sound advice and guide you in the best application for your home.  We are licensed, bonded and insured; state license #10901.  Give us a call today.  North – 937-898-0008 or South – 937-434-7074


Written by Bruce Kramer


Thank You, Sir Thomas Crapper

One of the most marvelous inventions of the last few thousand years is the toilet.  The toilet?  Thousands of years?  Yes, the toilet and yes, thousands of years.   We all take it for granted – until it doesn’t work, overflows or we have to use an outhouse or port-a-potty.  The toilet is truly one of the great marvels of the plumbing industry.

Erroneously, a gentleman by the name of Sir Thomas (not Sir John) Crapper (no joke – that is his real name) has been given credit for the invention of the toilet.   Though Sir Thomas was a real person and was a plumber, he did not invent the toilet though he did contribute to the toilet’s improved functionality.

The basic inner working of a toilet has changed little.   What has changed are the prices, styles, colors, types and heights of toilets available.  Choices range  from an inexpensive simple, white, round front toilet to the 24 carat solid gold toilet made by Hang Fung Gold Technology Group in Hong Kong.  (A truly added conversation piece to your ‘throne’ room!  Orders, please?)  No matter what toilet you chose, the height of the toilet is one thing that has changed for the better – no matter what price, style, color, etc. that you want.

As we progress in years (that is polite lingo for ‘getting older’) we sometimes feel like a one-man (or woman) band – SNAP! CRACKLE! POP! – sounds that are made by aging knees and hips.  Restroom visits can become harder because of the pain;  but the difference in your comfort level can be truly amazing, simply by increasing the height of your toilet just a few inches. To help make your visits more ‘comfy’, Aaron Kramer Plumbing recommends the Gerber Viper ‘ Ergoheight’ ADA compliant toilet.   The Gerber Viper ‘Ergoheight’ model uses 1.6 gallons of water per flush and provides a powerful, vigorous flush each and every time.  This model has an elongated bowl, comes in white or ten other colors, and has a limited five year warranty.  (Some colors must be special ordered.)

For further information concerning the Gerber Viper ‘Ergoheight’ toilet, or to inquire about any of our other services such as faucets, sinks, water heaters, garbage disposals, sump pumps, clearing clogged drains, leaking pipes or slab leaks,  please call Aaron Kramer Plumbing at either 937-898-0008 or 937-434-7074.


Written by Bruce Kramer