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8 Plumbing Mistakes You Should Avoid

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

If you have a problem with any component of your home plumbing system, from leaky pipes to mineral-stained appliances, you may be tempted to take up your tool belt and tackle the problem yourself. And while your dedication and independence are admirable, it’s also risky to DIY plumbing labor. From general oversights to unsafe practices, there are several plumbing mistakes that most amateur plumbers make–8 to be exact.

These are the 8 most common plumbing mistakes that you must avoid to prevent an expensive home plumbing disaster.

1. Using Store-bought Drain Cleaners

A clogged drain seems like the basic DIY plumbing job, the introductory task that initiates you into home handyman status. But this is where most DIY plumbers make their first mistake. Don’t pour drain cleaners into your sink, toilet, or shower drains. They damage pipes with caustic chemicals and are ineffective against pretty much everything but hair and paper in your drains.

2. Over-tightening

Tight connections are essential for leak-proof, healthy plumbing. However, overly tight connections can cause unnecessary internal strain, and actually increase your chances of finding a burst pipe. The instant crack that occurs when you over-tighten can worsen when pipes succumb to the water pressure within. Tighten couplings, fittings, and joints until they’re snug, not until they crack.

3. Forgetting to Turn off the Water

It’s a mistake straight out of a sitcom: working on plumbing without turning off the main water supply valve first. This simple step can save you thousands of dollars in damage, like flooding a floor with pressurized or even hot water.

4. Not Wearing Safety Equipment

Never, ever work on plumbing without the proper hand and body protection. Drain pipes are unsanitary, and certain pipes carry very hot, pressurized water. Always wear gloves, skin protection, and even eye protection, depending on the job at hand.

5. Using the Wrong Tools

There’s no such thing as an all-purpose plumbing tool. If you’re committed to DIY-ing plumbing repairs and installation, then you need an ample cache of pipe cutters, pipe wrenches, various screwdriver sizes and heads, locking pliers, and so much more.

6. Forgetting Assembly Order

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You may feel confident when you take things apart, but how confident are you when it comes to putting them back? Forgetting the order parts go in, and the order in which they need to be assembled, feels horrifying. This is especially common with sink drains. Sure, all of those exposed parts are easy enough to deconstruct, but don’t DIY this job unless you know where to put the Y-fitting, reducer, slip joint, etc.

7. Skipping Maintenance

Being a good amateur plumber doesn’t just require a fixer’s touch, it also demands hard work to prevent problems in the first place. Check your pipes, drains, and appliances for proper operation, good water pressure, low mineral buildup, healthy gaskets, and much more. Do so at least once a year to prolong the lifespan of your plumbing system.

8. Refusing to Ask for Help

There’s no shame in asking for a professional plumber to help you with your home plumbing needs. In fact, you save time and effort, and get guaranteed great service. Next time you need help with your plumbing needs, from annual maintenance to leak repair, feel free to call a professional home plumber near you.

Things to Know about Septic Systems

Monday, October 15th, 2018

While a septic system is an extraordinary way to rid your home of sewage, it can be temperamental if you’re not careful. A septic system is fairly self-sufficient. It contains all of the necessary bacteria required to break down solids. The solids, fluids, scum, and sludge all separate into different layers based on weight. The filtered water and liquid then flow out into a drain field. Even though the process is simple, it can be thrown off. To ensure that your septic system is functioning properly, here’s what you need to know.

What to Flush

Your septic system relies on good bacteria to break down the solids that come through the pipes. If you flush items that aren’t biodegradable, or that throw off the balance of the bacteria, it could affect your system. Feminine products, cleaners, cat litter, and diapers should never be sent through your septic system. Not only will they negatively affect the bacteria, but they could also cause a serious clog.

Detergent

The drain from your washing machine will lead into your septic system. If your drain field begins to look bubbly or frothy, it could be due to your laundry habits. An excess of bleach or laundry detergent often causes bubbles to form. Reducing the amount of soap that you use and ensuring that you run loads of the proper size will eliminate this problem and keep your septic tank healthier.

Inspect the Drain Field

Every septic tank needs a drain field. This is where the excess water ends up after it’s been filtered. It’s an integral part to the system. In fact, you can tell a great deal about the health of your septic tank based on the condition of your drain field. Every few weeks, take a walk over your drain field. Pay attention to how your shoes feel as you walk. If you notice that it’s muddy or sludgy, and it hasn’t been raining, your septic tank could be overflowing. A functioning drain field shouldn’t allow liquid to remain near the surface.

Foliage

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Because your septic system is buried deep in the ground, it’s important to pay attention to the foliage that surrounds it. If you’re not careful, the roots of trees and bushes could impact the pipes around your system. In fact, some trees have been known to uproot piping completely. It’s best to keep foliage away from the perimeter of your tank and to keep an eye on any other trees that may be near the drain field and pipes.

Pumping

Even though your septic system filters out the excess liquid as needed, it’s important to have your entire system pumped every three to five years. This removes any solids that have built up and keeps everything working properly. The more you use your septic system, the more frequently you’ll need to have it pumped.

Learning about your septic system is the best way to ensure that it remains healthy. If you have questions regarding your system or maintenance, consult with a professional. With frequent inspections and a bit of care, your septic tank will function properly for years.

 

An Overview of Trenchless Sewer Repair Method

Monday, October 8th, 2018

The Old Way

If you’ve ever had something go wrong with the sewer lines outside your home, you’re familiar with the mess the repair process can bring. Think large trenches, or at the very least, holes with dirt mounds beside them. Even when things are restored, repaired, and covered over, there is still evidence that your backyard was recently torn up. Large, soft dirt spots remain, and when it rains, they become large, slippery mud holes. It’s up to you to overseed with grass to prevent erosion from becoming a problem. But what if things didn’t have to be that way? Enter the trenchless sewer repair method.

How It Works

Pipe failure can come in several forms, from root interference to rusted cast iron. The concept behind trenchless sewer repair essentially transforms the process from a replacement of the entire pipe to a reinforcement of the old pipe using a new insert. Hydrojetting is the first part of this process. Water is forced through the pipe to remove any stray roots or soil buildup. Then a technician views the pipe via a video camera to see where the new lining will need to go and how much of it will be needed.

Epoxy is inserted into the liner. This epoxy is self-heating and allows the liner to harden once it’s in the pipe. First, however, the spots where other pipes (branch lines) connect to the main pipe in question must be accounted for. The camera will have already located them, and spaces must be left for them in the liner. Tape keeps the liner constricted so it can be inserted into the old pipe. It’s then inflated, during which time the tape pops off, and the epoxy can harden.

Benefits and Drawbacks

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One of the only drawbacks is the higher cost involved in this process. Cost varies depending on the amount of initial cleaning that is necessary. The more roots and debris in the old pipe, the longer the cleaning process will be. The length and width of the pipe that needs to be replaced are other factors that need to be taken into consideration. Longer or wider pipes will naturally cost more to line. The cost of digging up the ground in front of your home can be quite costly, as well, however. You might have to foot the bill if city sewer lines or property is involved. You also need to think about the fact that an invasive sewer project near the road could result in bottlenecked traffic in that area.

You’ll also have to pay to restore the area to its original condition, which means filling in the holes, smoothing the dirt back over and replanting any grass or shrubs that had to be temporarily removed for the project to take place. With trenchless pipe replacement, there is typically only one access hole, which makes the restoration process much easier and faster. So, if you need to replace or make a major repair to a sewer line, consider whether trenchless sewer repair is right for you.

Removing Old Caulk from Your Bathroom

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

Caulk can be found in almost every bathroom. It’s in the seams and seals, preventing water from leaking into the drywall and wood that’s behind the sinks, bathtubs, showers, and toilets. Over time, the waterproof seal that caulk provides begins to break down. When this happens, it’s necessary to remove and replace it with new product. You may also find yourself in a situation where you have to remove caulk in order to install a new tub or toilet. No matter the reason, it’s important to remove the caulk properly. Otherwise, you could end up damaging your flooring or bathroom pieces.

Use a Caulk Remover

While you can scrape away caulk, it takes a while. If you don’t have the time to chip away at it, consider using a caulk remover. This chemical compound is a simple and easy way to loosen the caulk, making it easy to remove. Typically you can find caulk remover at any hardware store. Once purchased, simply apply the caulk remover all over the old caulk. Depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, you may need to let the product set overnight before proceeding.

Utilizing a Putty Knife

After the caulk remover has properly set, it should be fairly easy to remove the caulk. Using either a putty knife or a caulk-removing tool, scrape away the caulk. If the product has set up completely, the caulk will begin to come away in chunks. You may even be able to peel large strips of it away. Be sure to get all of the caulk out of the seams using the knife or caulk-removing tool.

Cleaning the Seams

Once the caulk has been removed, there’s one more step to complete before applying new product. Saturate an old rag with rubbing alcohol. Then, use the rag to completely clean the seams where the old caulk was. This will remove any remaining debris and particles, leaving you with a clean surface to apply new caulk.

Applying New Caulk

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Completely clearing out the old caulk is absolutely vital. If you choose to caulk over old caulk or neglect to remove it completely, your new product won’t adhere nearly as well. Eventually you’ll end up with leaks or peeling caulk. Once the site is completely free of old caulk, you’re ready to begin applying the new caulk. Make sure that the caulk you’re using is specifically designed for the area that you’re applying it. Some caulks are best used on specific surfaces. By utilizing the right caulk, you’ll create an effective waterproof seal.

Whether you’re removing caulk for a plumbing project or simply because it’s starting to leak, having patience is key to the removal process. Without patience, you could end up chipping tile, your tub surround, or your dry wall. Take the time needed to allow your caulk remover to set up and be gentle when using the caulk removal tool. With these tips and a little bit of patience, the seams of your bathroom will be stripped of that old caulk and ready for new product in no time.

Do I Have a Sewer Line Problem?

Friday, September 28th, 2018

No one wants to be told they have problems with their sewer line. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize they have sewer line issues until raw sewage is flooding their backyard or home. Don’t let this happen to you. The good news is that you are not at the mercy of your home’s sewer system. The even better news is that your sewer system gives you warnings before it breaks down. Stay alert for the following signs of sewer line problems and get ahead of disaster.

1. Frequently Clogged Drains

Have the drains in your home started clogging more often? Are you experiencing toilet clogs for no apparent reason? If you’re constantly plunging, consider what’s going on. It’s highly likely that a blockage has formed in the sewer line and is making it harder and harder for you to flush your toilets.

Also, pay attention to slow drains. Sometimes a slow drain is nothing more than a shallow clog that has made its way deep into the pipe. These types of clogs usually respond well to plunging. So, if you plunge and the water still drains slowly, it might be something deeper in the pipe or in the sewer line.

2. Sinks and Bathtubs Backing Up When Toilet Is Flushed

When a single pipe is affected with a clog, only the drain attached to that line will back up. On the other hand, when a main line is affected, it’s very likely that more than one drain will back up at one time. For example, when you flush the toilet and the bathroom or kitchen sink backs up, this means that the main line is affected. There’s no wiggle room here. Call a licensed plumber to come out and take a look at the problem right away.

3. Raw Sewage Smells

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Do your household drains emit a smell that resembles rotten eggs? This is not normal, and it’s a very strong indication that there’s a clog in the sewer line. The reason drains smell when this happens is that the sewer odors have nowhere to go, but back up and out of the interior drains. If you smell this rotten egg smell, don’t try to mask it with air freshener. Instead, call a plumber right away. When sewer lines clog, sewer gas gets pushed up into the house. That’s what you’re smelling. When this gas stays in the house for too long, it can make you sick and lead to explosive situations.

4. Wet Spots in the Yard

Have you noticed soggy areas of your yard around the sewer line? It’s likely that the line has a leak and is oozing sewage into the soil. Another sign that this is happening is when the grass is greener along the line than other parts of your yard.

Preventing Sewer Line Problems

The best way to prevent costly sewer line repair and replacement is to have your outdoor plumbing inspected regularly. Get regular sewer line cleaning and inspection to identify potential problems before they get out of control and wreck your home.

Why Choose Professional Water Heater Installation?

Monday, September 24th, 2018

Is it time to replace your water heater? If so, make sure you connect with a plumber for professional water heater installation. While it’s tempting to save money and try to install your new tankless or conventional water heater yourself, it’s a gamble that isn’t worth the risk. Keep reading to learn more about the reasons every plumber wants you to say no to DIY water heater installation.

Skip the DIY Videos and Choose Professional Water Heater Installation

The Internet is a great source of information. However, there’s also a lot of misinformation and smoke and mirrors. Watching a 20-minute YouTube video is not the best way to go about installing your new water heater. Most homeowners don’t have the plumbing knowledge or skills to do this type of job or the tools to complete it correctly. Let professional plumbers handle this installation job.

Size Considerations

So, you went out and bought a new water heater. You’ve brought it back to your place and you suddenly realize you bought the wrong size. Now what? Luckily, when you opt for professional installation services, you won’t have these problems. That’s because licensed plumbers direct homeowners toward appliances that meet their home’s size requirements.

Another thing homeowners need to consider is that, due to federal government changes that regulate water heaters and energy consumption, it’s not always a direct swap when buying a new water heater. These regulations that went into effect in April of 2015 required water heater manufacturers to make their appliances more efficient. Many older models no longer exist, and you might need different parts or more space to hook up the new water heater. A plumber knows what you need to make the switch as seamless as possible.

Protect Your Purchase

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Water heaters aren’t cheap purchases. These appliances can cost several thousand dollars depending on the size, the model, and its features. Forgoing professional installation can cost you a lot of money if you don’t install the heater correctly. Too many homeowners learn this the hard way when their new water heater starts leaking or topples over because it wasn’t secured well.

It’s also worth mentioning that new water heaters come with warranties that have specific installation and maintenance requirements. If any of these requirements aren’t met, then the warranty becomes void. Once this happens, you’re no longer covered and might have to shell out big bucks to make future repairs that would have normally been covered under warranty.

Take the Safe Bet

The takeaway from this article is simple and straightforward. Always call a residential plumbing company for professional water heater installation. It not only saves you money, but time and frustration. Who wants to spend an entire day installing a water heater? A licensed plumber makes these installations in no time at all and you can get on with your day. Whether you’re installing a tankless water heater, a tank heater, a hybrid model, or something else, contact a local plumber to do this job.

How Often Should I Flush My Water Heater?

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

Water heater flushing is all part of maintenance and helps increase this essential plumbing appliance’s lifespan. The better you take care of your water heater and fix small problems as they arise, the more money you save. Most homeowners realize this, but very few understand the importance of flushing their water heater once a year. Keep reading to learn more about why you need this service.

Flushing Protects Your Appliance

Water contains trace amounts of minerals and calcium deposits commonly called sediment. While sediment isn’t harmful to you, it’s not great for water heaters. Most people believe that sediment is only present when there is hard water in the home. While it’s true that hard water causes an increase in sediment issues, mineral and calcium deposits can occur in any appliance that water touches. Flushing your water heater once a year gets rid of sediment, which can have a huge impact on the performance of your water heater.

Flushing Saves Energy

When water heater tanks have too much sediment inside, this causes mechanical parts to break down faster. It also makes these parts work harder to achieve the same results. In turn, the extra work your water heater must do to keep your showers warm uses more energy. This added energy adds up over time and results in higher utility bills.

Flushing Keeps Your Water Heater Lasting Longer

Water heaters are not inexpensive appliances. They can cost thousands of dollars depending on the type of heater you purchase and install. Therefore, it makes sense that you want to get as many years out of your water heater as possible. By getting rid of sediment, you extend the life of the mechanical parts and avoid unnecessary repairs. You also avoid premature water heater replacement. Too much sediment in the tank can lead to rusting, which leads to cracks and holes. Once this happens, there’s nothing you can do to save your water heater. Who wants to replace a 5-year-old water heater? Certainly not you.

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How Often Should I Schedule Water Heating Flushing?

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Ideally, you should have your water heater flushed annually. If you have hard water, consider flushing the tank twice a year – once every six months. Speaking of hard water, it is a good idea to learn more about water softening and conditioning treatments. As mentioned earlier, hard water is harmful, but it does age your home’s plumbing appliances, pipes, and fixtures quicker. Installing a whole-house water filtration system or a water softener can fix water quality issues and reduce the need for frequent water heater flushing.

How to Flush Your Water Heater

Is this a job for homeowners with few DIY skills? Yes, you can flush your residential water heater yourself. However, it’s always recommended to contact licensed Plumbers for this plumbing maintenance job. Not only do you know the procedure was done correctly, but the plumber has the chance to inspect the entire water heating system. During these inspections, any minor problems can be fixed and set right before any additional damage takes place. Contact your local plumber to schedule water heating services today.

5 Easy Ways to Avoid Septic Tank Problems

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Your septic tank is most likely something that you don’t give much thought. For the most part, your septic tank works without any supervision and usually doesn’t require much maintenance. However, whether as a result of mistreatment or natural degradation, there will come a time where your septic tank will inevitably need to be serviced. Luckily, there are easy ways to avoid septic tank problems that require hardly any effort. Here are five ways in which you can avoid problems surfacing with your septic tank.

1. Watch What You Flush

Your toilet is meant to only flush two things; bodily waste and toilet paper. These two things can be easily broken down within the septic tank and will naturally diminish over time. However, flushing non-biodegradable products can lead to major problems arising with your septic tank. Things like gum, q-tips and paper towels should never be flushed down your toilet, as these items could lead to the clogging of your drainage system.

2. Monitor Your Kitchen Drain

You should also be conscious of what you’re putting down your kitchen sink drain. While putting things like oil, grease, and bits of food down your kitchen drain may seem logical, they can have a negative effect on the efficiency of your septic tank. By only putting water and biodegradable products down your kitchen drain, your septic tank will have a much easier time doing its intended job.

3. Avoid Using Excess Water

Whether you’re living alone or with your family, it’s important to keep in mind how much water you’re using on any given day. Excess water usage will limit the amount of time your septic tank has to break down solid wastes. If your septic tank takes on too much water before all solid wastes have been broken down, the solid matter will funnel into your distribution system. Your distribution pumps are intended only for liquid matter, and having solid matter put into them can lead to them becoming clogged. You can avoid this problem by always turning off faucets fully, shortening your showers, and using your sink water more efficiently.

4. Properly Cover Your Drain Field

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Treating your septic tank right isn’t just limited to your actions within your home. An important measure to take to ensure your septic tank is running smoothly is to plant grass over your septic tank and drain field. A nice, lush lawn over your drain field will allow oxygen to penetrate the soil above your septic tank and help break down solid matter. On the other hand, having pavement or asphalt above your drain field will essentially close off your septic tank to the outside world, thus making it more difficult to break down solid waste.

5. Have Your Septic Tank Inspected

The surest way to know that your septic tank isn’t heading for disaster is to have it inspected by a licensed professional. While you can perform the inspection yourself, you’re likely not too familiar with the ins and outs of your septic tank. You can also be exposed to harmful chemicals by performing the inspection yourself. Your best bet is to leave the inspection to certified, trained professionals, who will be able to let you know if your septic tank is functioning properly or in need of repair.

5 Common Drain Field Problems

Friday, September 14th, 2018

Your septic system is one of the most important parts of your home. Not only is it vital to maintaining a healthy living environment, it’s a very complex system that requires every element to be working properly. Nowhere is this clearer than with your drain field. If it’s not working the way it should, you’ll have to pump your tank more frequently, and the costs can really start to add up. Here are 5 common drain field problems you should be aware of.

1. Excessive Rainfall

If you’re in an area that gets a lot of rain, or that is prone to flooding, you’ll need to protect your drain field from the effects of excessive rain. Make sure your home’s gutters are working properly, and that they’re diverted away from your drain field. The permeability of your soil is essential for maintaining the health of your septic system. Having rain water saturate the drain field prevents the system from functioning properly.

2. Tree Roots

Roots can interfere with the flow and integrity of your septic system. If you’re worried about any nearby trees disrupting your drain field, you can have root barriers installed. They may not be necessary, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

3. Parking

It should go without saying: please don’t park on your drain field. However, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to be unsure exactly where their drain field is. When you purchase a home, or have a septic tank installed, be sure you know precisely the location of your drain field. Parking or storing cars, 4-wheelers, boats, trailers, or any other vehicles can compact the soil and damage the permeability of your drain field and can lead to costly repairs.

4. Hydraulic Overloading

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Septic systems are designed to withstand a steady, estimated water use. When you run too many water-heavy appliances at the same time, you can overload the system. Doing several loads of laundry while you take a shower, and your spouse washes the car can cause serious issues with your septic system. Furthermore, the regular release of water that comes with leaking faucets and drains can lead to flooding in your drain field, so leaks should be repaired as soon as they’re discovered.

5. Biological Overloading

Septic systems are designs to accept only certain types of waste. When you overload your garbage disposal, flush sanitary napkins, or wash grease down the drain, you’re altering the biology of the water that heads into your septic tank, disrupting the natural biological process that’s supposed to take place. The introduction of foreign material into the septic system can lead to clogging, further damaging the drain field.

Your septic system can only work effectively if it’s properly maintained, so it’s important you not tax the system with things it wasn’t designed to process, like foreign material and excess water. Protecting and keeping a close eye on your home’s drain field is instrumental to your septic system functioning properly for years to come.

 

Do I Need My Water Heater Repaired? 4 Signs Point to, ‘Yes’.

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

Not sure what’s going on with your home’s water heater? If you’re experiencing intermittent problems with your water heater’s performance, it might be time for water heater repair or replacement. Here are some indications that it’s time to stop fighting your water heater and call a plumber.

1. Inconsistent Heating

Has it been too long since you’ve been able to rely on your water heater to provide you with a hot shower for longer than a few minutes? If you’re having problems getting the water to stay heated, you might have an issue with the burners. The burning elements heat the water and when they become damaged or clogged with sediment, it makes it harder for water in tank water heaters to stay heated.

2. Clunking or Popping Noises

All water heaters make noises when they start up. That is part of normal operations. What isn’t normal are unusual sounds like hissing, clicking, or popping. If you have a gas water heater and hear hissing, turn off the gas to the hot water heater and call for service immediately. There’s likely a leak in the gas line.

Another common noise that homeowners hear is popping coming from the water heater when someone is using the hot water. This usually happens when a person is taking a shower and, after about five minutes, other members of the household hear a pop come from the water heater. This is a good sign that sediment has built up in the tank of the heater. The popping is the sediment heating. Flushing the water heater should take care of this problem. You can flush the water heater yourself or call for professional services.

3. Rusty Water

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When you turn on the hot water, is the water rust colored? Does this happen when you turn on the cold water? If it happens regardless of the water’s temperature, this is usually a sign that you have hard water. It’s not going to affect your health, but it does lead to mineral deposit build-up in your hot water heater.

Now, if only the hot water is this color, then that’s a bigger problem. This indicates that there’s corrosion inside of the tank. Have this checked out by a licensed plumber. In many cases, this is a sign that you need to replace the water heater. A rusted tank is eventually going to fail and may even form leaks.

4. Leaky Water Heaters

There are two kinds of water heater leaks. There’s the kind that comes from the tank itself and the kind that come from the hose or from the valve. If the hose or pressure relief valve is leaking, these parts need replacement. When the tank leaks, that’s when you need to start shopping for a new water heater. Holes in water heater tanks cannot be repaired. The only option here is replacement.

If you have questions about your water heater’s performance, contact a qualified plumber near you for a complete inspection. It’s the only way to know for sure what’s exactly going on.