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Sump Pump FAQ: What Is It, and Why Do I Have One?

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

If you’ve ever been in your home’s crawl space, you might have noticed a curious contraption consisting of a small motor and a tall tube. Say hello to your sump pump. Though it may be out of sight, this gadget should not be out of mind: It may be the only thing saving your beloved home from flooding (and your prized possessions from mildew). This is particularly true if your home’s foundation is below the water table.

To help you better understand these mysterious devices, we’ve answered a few frequently asked questions about them. Read on to get the scoop.

What Is a Sump Pump?

Often hardwired directly into your home’s electrical system, this device uses a motor of about 1/2 horsepower to expel dirty water that has accumulated in a basin. You will generally find it in the crawl space or basement where unwanted water accumulates.

Are They All the Same?

No. Sump pumps come in two varieties: pedestal, with the motor elevated above the sump; and submersible, which is completely underwater. Pedestal types are less costly and easier to repair. Submersible models cost more, but they’re better at handling gravel debris that can cause clogs and lead to costly flooding.

Most pumps are automatic. If you do have a manual pump, it needs to be activated at the right time, which can be tricky. For instance, some pumps need to be running before a basin fills, because a full basin can exceed an older model pump’s sump capacity.

Do I Need a Sump Pump?

If you live in a wet area, you certainly do need one. Rain, natural ground water and even the perimeter drains of your home’s waterproofing system can lead to flooding, which a pump can easily prevent. In many towns, including Amherst, New York, all homes must contain functional pumps by law.

Wetness is not just inconvenient. Damp crawl spaces are a favorite nesting ground for roaches, and mildew can also promote respiratory disease. If your basement floods every spring and stays unpleasantly damp year-round, your sump pump could be due for an upgrade.

How Can I Keep It Pumping Properly?

Because sudden flooding is possible, you should have this important device checked before you need its services. They require routine maintenance every six months to a year, but if you live in a damper climate, more frequent tune-ups can’t hurt.

As long as your plumber is performing a tune-up, ask about where exactly all that dirty water is going. When a lot of houses were built, the pumps sent basin water into sanitary water sewers, which is now illegal. In fact, you could be fined for polluting municipal sewers.

When was the last time you had your sump pump checked by a professional? Avoid costly flood repairs by having it inspected and maintained regularly. To schedule an appointment, contact the pros at The Pink Plumber. We’ve been tackling all types of plumbing problems for the past 50 years. These days, we’re also focused on fighting breast cancer, with a portion of every job donated to breast cancer research.

Can I Connect to a City Sewer If I Have a Septic Tank?

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

As formerly rural areas are incorporated into expanding urban centers, many homeowners are connecting their septic tanks to the municipal sewer. Both types of systems have pros and cons. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the reasons people choose to connect their septic tanks to the public utility system.

Septic Tanks Versus Sewers

A septic tank is buried on a homeowner’s property. Bacteria in the tank breaks down waste and sends the detoxified liquid back into the ground water. Homeowners are responsible for septic tank upkeep, including regular pumping. Unfortunately, septic tanks can malfunction. If a problem occurs, the homeowner is responsible for the environmental damage and cleanup — and may even need to pay a fine.

Maintained by the state, the public sewer takes waste and processes out the toxins at sanitation facilities, recycling the clean water back into the environment. For many homeowners, paying for municipal sewage treatment can actually be more expensive over time; however, it removes the hassle and cost of maintaining septic tanks. Increasingly, homeowners are finding that connecting their septic tank to the local shared system provides the best of both worlds.

Making the Connection

If you’re thinking about connecting your septic tank, the first step is to contact the municipal authorities to discern whether a sewer line runs close enough. Next, you need to obtain any necessary building permits. Some cities will pay for the connection; otherwise, loans and grants for septic rehab are often available.

Next, find a reliable plumber to engineer the connection between the nearest sewer line and your tank. It’s a good idea to speak with neighbors about their plumbing, as it may be possible to connect your septic tank through their property. Completing the project can take about a year, depending on the weather. Don’t cut corners by just running a pump to the nearest street drain: the city will assume your septic tank has failed and force you to remove it altogether.

If you have questions about your septic system or are ready to make the leap to the municipal system, get in touch with The Pink Plumber. There’s a reason homeowners have trusted our services for the past 50 years. Our knowledgeable team can guide you through the experience and ensure the project is completed properly and on time.

5 Ways to Clean Your Garbage Disposal

Friday, November 24th, 2017

Having a garbage disposal makes life easier for anyone who cooks. However, these useful devices can be prone to debris, buildup and clogs. In most cases, you can clean your unit easily with ingredients you already have at home. Keep reading to find out our five favorite ways to clean a garbage disposal. (Note: Before trying any of these methods, please ensure that your unit is switched off.)

1. Hot Water

The first method you should try is hot water. For small clogs and accumulated debris, flushing out your garbage disposal with hot water is often enough to properly clean it. Simply fill your sink with five inches of hot soapy water, and then pull the plug and switch the unit on until all the water runs through.

2. Ice Cubes and Salt

A great cleaning tactic for tougher debris is the ice and salt method. First, combine two cups of ice cubes with a cup of rock salt. Run some cold water from the tap, turn on your unit and add the salted ice. This method is ideal for cleaning out stubborn buildup that hot water alone can’t handle.

3. Citrus Fruit

Citrus fruit is excellent for removing foul odors from your disposal. Simply grind peels or wedges of oranges, lemons, limes or other citrus fruit. The citric acid helps clean the machine, and the refreshing fruit is particularly effective for fighting unpleasant smells — especially when combined with another cleaning method.

4. Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar is a tried-and-true method for a number of household cleaning jobs. Our recommended method is adding 1/3 cup of baking soda to your drain, pouring in the white vinegar and allowing the mixture to sit for 10 minutes. Afterward, rinse the whole area thoroughly with warm water.

5. Liquid Bleach

For a unit in need of serious cleaning, liquid chlorine bleach is your go-to cleanser. Add a tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of cold water, and then pour this mixture slowly into the garbage disposal. Avoid using more bleach than our advised amount, because bleach can harden built-up grease, and too much can make your original problem even worse.

These handy cleaning tips can go a long way, but If your garbage disposal becomes badly clogged or fully blocked, please don’t try to fix it yourself. Contact The Pink Plumber for efficient, friendly service, available 24/7 by calling toll-free at 855-866-7465. With over 50 years of combined experience, our acclaimed plumbers work out of our locations in the U.S., including Atlanta, Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg, Dallas and Fort Worth.

Grey Water Collection: A Smart Way to Save Water and Money

Friday, November 24th, 2017

Fresh water is a precious and limited resource, and most of us are glad to learn tactics to better preserve it. Collecting and using grey water is an excellent way to save water (and money) at home. Are you picturing hoses and buckets strewn around your house? Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a hassle. Keep reading to get more details about this innovative and Earth-friendly practice.

What Exactly Is Grey Water?

Simply put, it is the “leftover” water that drains from sinks, bathtubs, showers and washing machines. This water can actually be used twice. Landscaping irrigation is the most common use, but you can also water houseplants with this recycled water.

It’s important to understand the difference between grey water and black water. Black water, which includes water from your toilet, is not safe to reuse. Kitchen sink water may also be considered black water due to the potential for pathogens. Be sure to consult a qualified plumber before you decide to start saving and reusing water.

DIY Grey Water Collection

On a small scale, you can take some simple steps to collect a bit of recycled water from your home. For example, use a bowl or cup to catch the water that is wasted as you wait for the tap to warm up, or bail out your bathwater and pour it on outdoor plants. These are both good ways to get started with water conservation. However, in order to get substantial benefits you’ll need to have your plumbing reconfigured.

Getting Serious About Saving Water

If you truly want to harness the money and water-saving benefits of grey water collection, a bit of plumbing work will be in order. Talk to a trusted plumber about installing a grey water system. With the right setup, you can make much more efficient use of the water in your home and save money along the way. You can also add filtration systems to help purify the water before it reaches its destination, so that you don’t have to play any guessing games when it comes to health and sanitation.

If you’re curious about safely and efficiently reusing water at your home, contact the experts at The Pink Plumber to learn more. We are just as much about people as we are the Earth, so a portion of our jobs are donated to breast cancer research. Our team is happy to help with any plumbing problems, large or small.

3 Easy Ways to Combat Bathroom Smells

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

The fixtures gleam, the shower sparkles, yet you still encounter unpleasant bathroom smells. No matter how busy your bathroom gets, you shouldn’t have to endure the annoyance and awkwardness of chronic odors. Besides being unpleasant for you and your family, odors can be particularly embarrassing when you have visitors.

The good news is that banishing bathroom smells often doesn’t take much effort, though it’s sometimes tricky to locate the culprit. Read on for three easy tips to eradicate your bathroom’s unpleasant odors. If these methods don’t work, you may have an underlying plumbing issue — in which case, it’s time to call in the professionals.

1. Clean Regularly

If you haven’t given your restroom a deep cleaning recently, we recommend you start there. Over time, mildew and mold buildup can cause foul bathroom smells. Pay special attention to hard-to-reach places, including the area behind the toilet. Bath mats should go into the wash on a regular basis, and towels should be changed frequently. If you notice a buildup on your vinyl shower curtain, throw it into wash with some chlorine bleach to get it in shipshape. While you wash the floor, pay extra attention to the tiles around the toilet. Also clean inside the tank with vinegar or your favorite bowl cleaner and a bristle brush weekly.

2. Improve Ventilation

Poor air circulation can lead to stinky bathroom smells. After all, if the air isn’t moving around, the odors aren’t budging either. Install an overhead fan to prevent mildew buildup from steamy showers and minimize toilet odors. You may be surprised at how quickly proper ventilation sends bathroom smells on their way.

3. Air Fresheners

For tackling everyday bathroom smells, air fresheners are a lifesaver. While air fresheners don’t eliminate the odors, they do mask them, which allows an unpleasant smells to dissipate naturally. Air fresheners come in many shapes and sizes, from spray cans to plug-in devices. If you’re sensitive to chemicals, create your own air mist from purified water and a few drops of essential oils, such as sandalwood, lavender or wild orange.

If you suspect a plumbing issue is causing your bathroom smells, contact The Pink Plumber today. With over 50 years of combined experience, our expert staff will quickly diagnose and treat any problems with your home’s plumbing. Call us toll-free at 855-866-7465 for our 24/7 emergency service. We operate out of four locations in the U.S., including Atlanta, Tampa/St. Petersburg and Dallas, and we donate a portion of every job to breast cancer research.

Hard and Soft Water: What’s the Difference?

Friday, November 10th, 2017

Drinking. Watering plants. Cooking. Bathing. Although we use water continually for a number of purposes, not everyone is clear on the difference between hard and soft water. Here’s an easy way to remember: Rainwater is soft. Hard water, on the other hand, contains more minerals. As soft water picks up calcium and magnesium from rocks and earth, it becomes harder. Hard and soft water have different characteristics. Do you know which type of water is best for your household? And do you know if the water at your house is hard or soft? Let’s take a closer look at this sometimes confusing subject.

The Benefits of Hard and Soft Water

Hard water can be tough to handle in your home. If you have hard water, you might notice filmy kitchen and bathroom fixtures, soap scum on your skin and shampoo residue in your hair. Buildup from hard water can also damage water heaters and cause clogged pipes. Hard water is also difficult on your dishes and clothes. Residue and smudges on your dishes and freshly washed clothes that look dingy are sure signs of hard water. The minerals in hard water counteract soap, which greatly increases residue buildup in your appliances and doesn’t do the job as well. However, when you’re pouring yourself a cool glass of water, hard water isn’t necessarily bad news. The minerals in hard water can be beneficial for magnesium and calcium intake in your diet. Meanwhile, very soft water can taste salty due to high levels of sodium.

How Hard Is Your Water?

The difference between hard and soft water is hardly binary. There are gradients of softness for water, depending on how many minerals have been absorbed. A colorimeter uses a laser to measure the relative hardness or softness of your water. You likely don’t keep a colorimeter at home, so your plumber can determine whether your water is hard or soft.

According to the Water Quality Association (WQA), this scale can help you determine how hard or soft your water is:

  • Hard Water: Over 10 Grains Per Gallon (g.p.g.) expressed as calcium carbonate equivalent

  • Less Hard: 7 to 10 g.p.g.

  • Neither Hard, Nor Soft: 3.5 to 7 g.p.g.

  • Slightly Soft: 1 to 3.5 g.p.g.

  • Soft Water: less than 1 g.p.g.

How to Deal With Hard Water

Unless you are collecting rainwater, your water is probably hard — particularly if you use a well. How can you soften hard water? Installing a water softner and a filtration system is a good way to soften the water in you home.

Worried about that residue building up in your appliances? Consult your manuals for instructions, such as special rinsing aids, and ask your plumber about hard and soft water in your home. You can have your pipes and fixtures regularly inspected and your water heater regularly flushed to improve your peace of mind.

If you have questions about your water, contact The Pink Plumber. Our team of experts can also help you with a variety of plumbing problems. We offer a dedicated staff and 24/7 emergency service, plus a portion of every job goes to support breast cancer research.

3 Ways to Prevent Hair from Clogging Your Drains

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Many bathroom drain clogs share the same culprit: hair. As we shampoo and condition, a surprising number of strands can come out and slip down the drain. Over time, the hair forms a clump that prevents the shower from draining properly. Eventually, the clogged drain becomes completely backed up — talk about a nuisance!

But what can you do? Chemical cleaners can make the problem worse. Trying to fish the hairy clog out yourself isn’t just unpleasant, you could damage your pipes. Perhaps give up showers? Not a chance. Your best bet is to call a plumber to unclog your drain. After that, follow these three steps to minimize the chance of another clogged drain caused by hair.

1. Cover Your Head

If you’re taking a shower or bath but not planning to wash your hair, consider wearing a shower cap to keep it out of the water altogether. This will help keep your ‘do intact while protecting your drain from an onslaught of stray hairs. Pulling it back into a bun, braid or ponytail is a good alternative if you don’t have a shower cap.

2. Brush Before You Bathe

People with long hair and those with hair loss issues are most likely to lose hair in the shower. If you have long hair, brushing it before you get in the shower may help prevent a clogged drain. Brush thoroughly to remove dead hairs before they slough off in the shower. If clumps of hair tend to come out after you shampoo, try to gather these and set them outside the shower rather than allowing them to go down the drain.

3. Use a Catcher

Make sure your tub or shower drain has some kind of cover that catches the majority of hair so it won’t slip down the drain. This is the best and most reliable way to prevent a clogged drain. Be sure the catcher fits your drain opening properly and has small enough holes to catch your hair sufficiently. If you have an old-fashioned catcher, you may want to consider one of the newer clog-preventing models available today. Remember to clean the hair off the top of the catcher after each shower.

Perpetually-clogged shower drains are inconvenient, and the cost of having them fixed can add up fast. For help preventing and fixing clogged rains as well as answers to all of your plumbing questions, contact the trusted experts at The Pink Plumber today.

The Best New Water Heater for a Large Family

Monday, November 6th, 2017

An inadequate water heater can be a real inconvenience. You may find yourself soaking in a cool tub, telling family members and guests to keep their showers short or running out of hot water while doing dishes or laundry.

While water heaters generally have a lifespan of eight to 12 years, you might find your current unit simply can’t handle the demands of your growing family. The system that worked back when you had an infant may not meet your needs when several family members want a warm shower every morning.

Consider our advice for deciding on the best new system for large families (and avoiding those early-morning shower fights).

A Smart Strategy for Hot Water

Many people think that a big family needs a big water heater. However, simply putting a larger tank in the basement may yield disappointing results. Think about it, all that hot water still has to travel throughout your house, which is highly inefficient.

These days, the best water heating strategy is to divide and conquer. Have a smaller model installed in a central location, and place a tankless heater at any location you’ll need the extra heat.

Pros and Cons of a Tankless Water Heater

Are you considering a tankless model? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks.

The good:

  • You’ll never run out of hot water again.

  • It’s energy efficient.

  • The wall-mounted unit is inconspicuous.

The bad:

  • You may need additional units for multiple tasks that require hot water.

  • It requires annual maintenance.

  • Installation can be complicated and requires involving electrical, gas and plumbing professionals.

Time for an Upgrade?

Sure, your old water heater might last a few years after its warranty, but why settle for yesterday’s technology when today’s units are so efficient? Around 20 percent of your home’s energy costs go toward heating water. Your utility bills could actually be cut in half thanks to new regulations in the industry. From a comfort standpoint, a tankless model can ensure hot showers for the whole family, enough warm water for dishes and laundry and a restful soak in a warm bath after a long day at work.

However, if you want the best of both worlds, consider a combined tank and tankless system to minimize maintenance costs. Tankless heaters alone can lag if you need hot water for showers and dishes at the same time. The tank backup jumpstarts every shower. Tankless system installation may seem complicated, but if you leave that to the professionals, it may be a small price to pay for your family’s comfort.

If you have questions about your water heater or need a hand with any plumbing issues, turn to The Pink Plumber. Thanks to five decades of experience, our experts can tackle any plumbing problem large or small. In addition, we donate a portion of every job to breast cancer research.

5 Questions to Ask Your Plumber

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

If you need a plumber, there’s probably no shortage of them in your area. However, not all plumbing companies are the same.

Anyone can claim to be able to fix your plumbing issues, but that doesn’t mean you should let them work on your home. To ensure you choose a reputable plumbing professional, it’s important to ask the right questions. Here are five facts you need to know about any plumber you’re thinking of hiring.

1. Are You Licensed And Insured?

This is one of the most important questions to ask a plumber because hiring an unlicensed plumbers is risky and may be dangerous. Always use a plumber who holds the proper licensing for your state. Otherwise, you could end up with an unfinished project or shoddy work that doesn’t pass inspection. And if it’s not up to code, it will need to be redone. In addition, an uninsured plumber carries no protection for issues that could arise. Protect yourself by insisting that any plumber who works in or around your home is licensed and insured.

2. Do You Have References?

It’s perfectly fine to ask a plumber for references to help you get an idea of how experienced and qualified they are. Reputable plumbers will be glad to provide references from past or current customers. You can also look online for ratings and reviews about the plumber you’re considering.

3. What Are Your Fees?

As with any kind of business, beware of companies that aren’t upfront about how much their services cost. Many of us have hired a service that was advertised at a certain rate, only to see a much different number on the bill later on. Ask your plumber questions to pinpoint the exact charge for a given service. Could it cost more if the job takes longer than expected? Will there be additional fees and taxes? Know what the job is going to cost before hiring a plumber.

4. Do You Offer Emergency Services?

Plumbing problems, especially major ones, tend to happen at the least convenient time. You don’t want to find out that your plumber isn’t available when you’ve got a plumbing emergency such as a sewage backup or major leak in the middle of the night. Find a service that can be on call in an emergency, and keep their phone number on hand.

5. Do You Offer a Warranty?

One critical question that sometimes gets overlooked is whether the plumber’s work carries some kind of guarantee, just in case there are any problems after the job is completed. Products you may purchase from a plumber, such as a toilet or water heater, should carry some type of warranty. Make sure you understand what kind of protection you’ll have before you agree to anything.

If you want a professional you can depend on, look no further than The Pink Plumber. We meet all the criteria in the five questions above, offering licensed experts, 24/7 emergency service and even financing options. If you have questions or are dealing with a plumbing problem, contact The Pink Plumber today.

Is Your Leaking Hose Costing You Money?

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

A leaking hose may not seem like a big deal. After all, what’s a little damp mulch or moist grass? However, over time, even the smallest leak can add up to a big waste of water.

Depending on various factors, such as the size of the leak, a leaky garden hose or irrigation system can waste up to 30,000 gallons of water per month. That’s around twice as much waste as a leaking toilet and three times as much as a dripping faucet.

Along with wasting one of the planet’s precious resources, a leaking hose can send your water bill skyrocketing by as much as $300 per month. In addition, puddling water can damage your home’s foundation and attract termites, which will end up costing even more in the end. Here are three tips for stopping drips so they don’t drain your bank account.

Prevent Leaks Before They Start

Ideally, you can prevent problems before they start. Remember to coil your hose and empty it after each use. Keep it out of the sun whenever possible. You might be able to avoid that leaking hose altogether if you have the washers in your outdoor faucet replaced every spring.

How to Find a Leak

If you are dealing with a leak, you first need to play detective and pinpoint the source of the problem. Carefully examine the entire hose: sometimes a hose will spring a leak along its body, producing an effect reminiscent of a sprinkler.

However, more often, the leak is located at the bib connecting the hose to an outdoor faucet. One reason is that many hose bibs freeze during the winter months. Look closely at the connections. Is water dripping from the handle? Is there a problem with spigot or the fitting? These clues can help you understand what you’re dealing with.

Solutions for a Leaking Hose

Before you try to inspect or repair your hose bib, always turn off the waterline. You can try to tighten the hose to bib connection with pliers, although this can result in spraying. Be careful not to worsen the leak by warping the bib — more likely than not, your outdoor faucet has an internal issue.

Outdoor faucets can be costly to replace, but it’s possible that yours can be fixed with a few nuts and bolts. You may be able to use electrical tape to minimize your tube punctures. Be wary of superficial applications, though, because concealing a leak could only exacerbate the problem.

If you’re unsure how to turn off your water supply or not sure how to fix your leak, it’s time to contact The Pink Plumber. Our expert team can inspect your faucet and hose for leaks and take care of the problem before you waste too much water. You can find us in four locations in the United States, including all of Atlanta’s metro area, Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas and Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida.