Friday, December 20, 2013

Stolen Sweets are Sweeter

I didn't actually steal these. These wonderful persimmons were encroaching onto our common area in the wonderful town houses in Fremont California in which I live. If you happen to have a Sunset Western Garden book, or any other reputable garden or landscaping book, you would know that Fremont California lies in climate zones 15 and 16. In addition, if you are looking to grow persimmons, then Fremont California is an excellent choice.  In the West, there are two very well known species of persimmons. There is the Oriental or Japanese persimmon and the American persimmon. Both of these trees are quite hardy and resistant to an oak root fungus. They are very easy to grow, but make sure you only prune the deadwood after the last of the fruit. There was one problem that they have referred to as fruit drop. It's common in young trees. But, if you are consistent in feeding and watering and make sure you have a good irrigation, it should not be a problem. In Fremont, you can probably find a great choice of person and trees at Reagan's nursery on Decoto Road.

You might see in December, a blackish brown tree with large bright orange persimmons left. This is most likely the Hachiya persimon--The Hachiya is the persimmon shown in the photograph above. I am a Fremont real estate agent that looks for not just number of bedrooms and square feet and neighborhood and all the rest, but I take into account the landscaping and what types of trees already exist on the property. I recently sold a home in Fremont that had a wonderful Japanese persimmon tree in the backyard.

The persimmon tree is very popular because it is one of the best fruit trees for ornamental use; good garden or small shadetree use as well. It can be espaliered quite easily to show off it's mature structure. Not to mention, mature trees can produce huge amounts of fruit that can be dried and saved for the rest of the year. If you pick them off of the tree, make sure they fully ripen before you eat them.  These particular persimmons shown in the photograph will be used for Persimon pudding, A slight twist on Christmas pudding. I hope that Charles Dickens would have approved.

By Jeff Pereyda

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fremont CA Water Quality & Low Hot Water Pressure Fix

I found a very inexpensive fix concerning my Fremont hot water pressure or lack there of. Over a period of about 3 to 4 months, my family and I noticed very low hot water pressure. It also felt like there was just not enough hot water to go around. Moreover, dollar signs were appearing in my head because, when I searched the Internet for possible fixes, I found many causes for the same low hot water pressure problem--bad pipes, and bad water heater were to name a few.

Here is what I did for a quick $0 fix. I shut off the water main. Our Fremont Townhomes have a massive 1" water main. As a Fremont real estate agent, I see many homes, and 1" pipe is rare. Point being, there should be no reason why we have low pressure hot or cold. Anyway, after shutting off the main, I opened my kitchen faucet to let out the hot water pressure build up.* I then used 2 pipe wenches and removed the hot water out fitting. This was that flex tubing coming out from the top of the hot water out nipple. What was left on the water heater was the nipple or short piece of pipe. Much to my surprise, I thought I could simply use a coat hanger wire to knock through any hard water deposits. Our hot water heater out pipe was 98% clogged with what looked like rust and calcium deposits. No wire I possess would remedy that significant of a clog. I took out my drill, and started a test drill bit of 5/16 inches. It worked very well to drill through the clogged length of the pipe without damaging the pipe. I then stepped up the drill sizes until I simply drilled out the hot water out nipple using a 1" spade drill bit. I now had a cleaned out pipe. I put everything back together carefully and tested the hot water after closing the kitchen faucet and turning on the main again. It was like having a brand new hot water heater. Now I face a new challenge of trying to prevent my family from using too much hot water. 

I believe that you can also simply replace the nipple on the hot water out as well, but this was my first go at this issue, and it worked beautifully. I will make sure I replace the copper fitting using a dielectric fitting ASAP. Hot water heaters have sediment build up at the bottom of the tank anyway, so another 2 or 3 Tablespoons of sediment that I created from the drilling was not about to hurt. We are due for a water heater replacement soon, but this procedure bought us some time and solved the problem in less than 1 hour.

My installer for the hot water heater back in 2000 used copper nipples and not dielectric ones. When I do replace the hot water heater, I will make sure I have a dielectric fitting.

About the water, the Alameda County Water District has guidelines it must follow from the State of CA and the Federal Government. These standards were set by the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, However, I can taste a huge difference in my water when I drink from the faucet and when I drink the same water filtered through my reverse osmosis filter. So, what am I filtering out, or rather what does the EPA allow CA and Alameda County to leave in?

There are many sources that are updated on a regular basis that will disclose the quality of water in Fremont. Alameda County Water Disctrict provides a thorough five page report on their water quality each year. It is mailed out, but I did not receive mine--I actually downloaded the 2012 Water Quality Report provided on their website to take a look. It is a good report in my opinion. But when you ask around, and you talk to other Fremont residents about their water from a non-scientific point of view, the word is that it is a hard water with a notorious record for leaving hard water deposits where ever it is left to stand or dry out. 

*My kitchen faucet is slightly lower elevation than my hot water heater, so the release of pressure was both initial water pressure release and gravity or siphon pressure release. I did it that way so that I would not have a gush of water after removing my hot water flex pipe from the hot water heater. I only had a manageable trickle.

by Jeff Pereyda
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