Archive for the 'Pipes' Category

Fixing a Leaky Pipe

May. 9th 2013

Just about every home owner has experienced issues with the pipes in their home. It seems like it is just a fact of home ownership. Sooner or later a problem will arise concerning pipes. Home owners usually recognize that there is a problem when they receive a water bill that seems rather high. The first thought is that there must be a leak in the house or someone is taking too many showers. Fixing a leaking pipe begins with making sure that there is a leaking pipe in the home. Let’s take a closer look at the issue.

First, go through the house and turn off all the sources that use water. Make sure all the faucets are off. Turn off the ice maker in the fridge. Next, go to the water meter and take a close look at the dials or digits. Moving digits or a dial that continues to move probably points to a leak in the pipes. Finding the source of the leak might take a bit more time. It is time to put on your detectives’ hat and do some research. Often, it is easy to find the leak by listening to the pipes and following the sound.

Once you’ve discovered the source of the leak it is time to get to work fixing the leaking pipe. Often, it is easy to fix the leak with a few items that you might already have around the house. Homeowners should understand that it is important to tackle that leak as soon as possible. A leaking pipe could cause really serious water damage to the house and surrounding furnishings.

Once you’ve discovered the source of the leak turn off the water supply to stop any further damage. For example, if the leak is in the pipe leading to the tub, turn off the water supply valve on the tub. Perhaps, the leak is to a kitchen sink. Turn off the valve that supplies water to the kitchen sink. The valve should be under the sink. Turn off the main water supply vale if you cannot find the other valves.

There are a number of ways to temporarily fix a leaking pipe. First, let’s tackle the simplest way to fix leaking pipes. Take a length of electrical tape and wrap it securely around the leaking pipe. Make sure that the leak area is fully covered. Wrap a few inches beyond the leak for extra security. Now, the next way to fix a leaking pipe is a bit more complicated and requires a few more items for the repair. This repair will require a piece of rubber gasket that is slightly larger than the leak in the pipes. The repair also requires a worm drive screw clamp. Open up the clamp and slowly slip it over the leak on the pipe. Center the strap on the clamp over the rubber gasket patch which is placed on top of the leak. Next, screw the clamp device tight. This repair should last much longer than the previous repair. Still, it is wise to consult with a plumber about a permanent repair on the pipe.

Of course, there are also leaking pipe repair products on the market that are very good at fixing a minor leak in a pipe system. Many of the products are very reasonably priced. Make sure that you read and follow the instructions very carefully.

Posted by plumber | in DIY, Pipes | No Comments »

Plumbing Vents

Dec. 17th 2012

Plumbing vents are another name for drain-waste-vent systems. These systems help to eliminate waste and a substance known as greywater, or water that is used in household activities such as bathing, washing dishes, or laundry, from a residence. These vents connect to household appliances via internal pipes, and lead outside, sometimes to the roof of the home. The material that travels through these vents can cause illnesses if not properly disposed of, and plumbing vents help to ensure that these materials are removed. These materials include gases and fumes from the sewer, which can be seriously toxic if they manage to seep inside of a residence.

Plumbing vents also help to maintain air pressure in these pipes, which enables the contents to flow much more easily. Because of this regulated air pressure, gravity is able to work on these waste contents and carry it out of the home. These vents must be installed and positioned properly in order for them to be effective. Plumbing vents are important for other reasons, as well, because it is through these systems that oxygen is able to get to the waste inside the pipes. When sewage and wastewater make contact with oxygen, the oxygen helps to break down the waste because the components of these substances are aerobic in nature and rapidly deteriorate in its presence. These types of vents also can help prevent sewage gases from making their way inside the home by maintaining the seals that keep unwanted vapors and substances out of the main area of the residence.

When the air pressure is not maintained by these plumbing vents, it can compress the air in the pipe. This can create suction on the waste that leaves the air with nowhere to go. When this takes place, gases can easily leak into the home, creating a dangerous and toxic situation. In order for these pipes to properly work, each fixture must have a vent close by, within five feet of its placement in the room. These fixtures include sinks, tubs, and toilets. These requirements are often set up by local building codes, and should be maintained and reinforced during installation of plumbing vents.

It is also important for installation and maintenance purposes to remember that these pipes can at times become frozen or clogged. There are various things that can cause this to happen, and they include ice blocking the pipe or dead leaves collecting inside. Anytime homeowners are having trouble getting their sinks or tubs to drain, this is one of the first signs to look for to indicate that somewhere a pipe is clogged. It may also be possible that as a result of this clogging gases will contaminate the indoor air of the home, so calling a plumber if this happens would be the best course of action.

It is vital that every homeowner have plumbing vents properly installed to manage the sewage and wastewater and gases that homeowners are at risk of exposure to just going about their daily lives. Installation can be done as a do-it-yourself project, but for those who are unsure about how to best install these systems, calling a qualified plumber to do the job is a necessary step.

Posted by plumber | in DIY, Pipes | No Comments »

Common Plumbing Tools

Oct. 25th 2012

Plumbing Tools You’ll Want for DIY Plumbing Repairs

The Do-it-yourselfer is the adventurous sort, who always wants to take a crack at a problem before having to call in the pros. Well, that’s a great spirit; why not try to find out if the issue is manageable and save what might be a hefty fee? You can gain a ton of knowledge in the process to equip you for the future. Among other things, one thing you often learn is that you’d be better able to handle the problem if you only had the tool you needed!

Since there is a wide variety of materials in use, depending mainly on when your home was built, and also on the care that has been put into the home over the years, whether you’ve owned it from the start or purchased a used home.

The materials used in your home (and the specific tools designed for use with each) will vary depending on a few factors. What is the climate? Is it a mobile home? Is there a basement level? If so, does it rest on a foundation, or on soil shelves? All of these questions play a part in determining what you are up against when you tackle the problems that will arise in your plumbing system.

Let’s run down the most common tools you will find yourself needing over the course of many of the projects you undertake, and maybe a few of the “would be nice” ones, as well:

Screwdrivers, both cross-tip and straight. Most faucets and drains are held on with a screw. Fixing a leaky faucet will require removing the handle. Some handles, however, may be held on with a small set screw, which may require a small straight screwdriver, or perhaps a hex wrench (commonly referred to as an Allen Wrench). All of these are staples of the home owner’s tool box.

An adjustable wrench will come in handy for nearly every plumbing project you get involved in. In fact, it is good to have 2 sizes – a 6-inch and a 12-inch wrench will be a complete set. These are better known in the vernacular, as “Crescent” wrenches.

And before we get too far away from the basics, let’s talk about the plumber’s helper – the plunger. There are two different types of plungers that will be the most helpful for clearing clogs in drains. The “sink” type plunger is a shallow rubber cup, which forms a seal around the sink or tub drain. If plunging a sink, seal the overflow hole with a piece of duct tape first, in order to enable the creation of a vacuum. A toilet, however, requires a differently shaped plunger, A shallow cup, suitable for a flat sink, could not seal as well on a toilet. This requires a ball type plunger with a flange, that can fit into the drain hole in the toilet.

Looking under the sink and tub brings to mind the next commonly used tools. To easily reach the nuts which hold the water hoses to the underside of the faucet, a basin wrench is an essential. This is a long handle with a set of jaws sticking out to the side such that they will only turn in one direction. To turn the other direction, simply flip the jaws over to the other side of the handle.

A drain snake is a very handy tool for unclogging a drain. A 2-foot snake can reach all the most common clog areas once the drain is uncovered. One of these costs just a few dollars. It might be nice to have a longer one for snaking some areas; a 25-foot snake is fairly inexpensive as well.

Moving into the basement, or the crawl space, whichever applies, we see the supply pipes that will lead upstairs. If your pipes are primarily galvanized steel, you will need a pair of pipe wrenches to deal with them properly. These are a little pricey, so keep an eye out at rummage sales and flea markets if your budget is tight. Probably a pair of 10-inch wrenches would serve well enough, but they come in various sizes. On a really tough joint, slip a steel pipe over the handle to greatly increase your force.

You may find copper pipes in your home, or, more commonly, PVC plastic, both of which are far easier to work with than steel. These must be cut and spliced together again to fix them when they leak. A hacksaw is useful for cutting these pipes. When it comes time to put them back together, though, all that is needed for the PVC is a can of PVC cement and a couple of fittings. For the copper, however, in addition to the coupling fittings, the “glue” that is necessary is solder, (pronounced “sodder”), along with flux. Both of these, when kissed by a propane torch, will form a water-tight seal.

You will discover as you embark on do-it-yourself plumbing projects, that the tools you will need will present themselves, and you may have, from time to time, to go and get one in order to proceed. But stocking up on these basics in advance will equip you – and embolden you – to begin many repairs that you might not have thought yourself capable of before.

Posted by plumber | in Clogs, DIY, Leaks, Pipes, Tools | No Comments »

Water Filtration Systems

Sep. 28th 2012

Only about 1% of the Earth’s supply of fresh water is available for human and animal consumption at any given time. The United States is blessed with plenty of fresh water, though some major metropolitan centers are forced to transport fresh water from hundreds of miles away.

With the growth of population seemingly straining our resources at times, and with the increase of pollution which accompanies human activity, often our water supplies are less pure than they should be for optimal health. Governments have set quality standards for drinking water, but too often, the combination of contaminants with remedial efforts leaves the water “safe” to drink, but by no means “pure”.

Our public water supplies are tainted with chlorine, fluoride, arsenic and organic toxins, like viruses and parasitic water creatures. There can even be traces of carcinogens in many of our public water supplies, as well as in the water table, from which private wells draw their supply. In up to 1/3 of fresh water sources in the United States, different mineral contaminants have undesirable effects on clothing and human health, and produce unpleasant odors.

Bottled water has been very popular as a supply of drinking water, but it is costly (compared to tap water), and suspicions arise from time to time that these products are not as pure as they purport to be.
Boiling water kills any microorganisms that might contaminate it, and it will remove added chlorine, but it does nothing to remove heavy metals or minerals that may be present. Distilling water will leave you with pure H2O, but is a rather impractical solution. Filtration will help to reduce sediments, rust and other solid particles which can cause an unpleasant appearance – and odors – and which can lead to blockage of plumbing fixtures, such as shower heads, over time.

There are different methods of filtration, depending on your individual needs; a test of your home’s water quality will help determine the best type of filtering. Many filtration vendors will perform such a testfor free. Municipal water utilities will also provide a water quality report for your area upon request. Lead content may not be accurately represented in public water quality estimates, because it may be introduced after it enters the home. If your home or business is older, and it is possible that lead may be found in your pipes, the more reliable test is one that examines the water coming from your tap. Levels of contaminants will vary with the season, or with the weather, so that must be considered when reading a water quality report. Filtration will allow you to maintain a consistent level of purity.

The primary methods of filtration are carbon filtering and reverse osmosis systems. Carbon filters out chlorine, chloroform, pesticides and other organic chemicals. Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems filter out fluoride, iron, nitrates, lead and organic contaminants. It is possible to combine both filtration methods in order to eliminate the widest range of contaminants, and many RO systems include an activated-carbon post filter.
Bear in mind that a reverse-osmosis system discards about 4 gallons of water for every clear gallon produced, though there are various remedies being investigated to reduce this waste. If this option is attractive to you, talk to the vendor about the various waste reduction methods.

There are also different installation methods, ranging widely in price. The least expensive option is to purchase a pitcher which filters drinking water. There are also faucet-mounted filters, which can filter the water from a tap. A more complete – and more expensive – option is to install a system which filters all the water entering the home or business. Chlorine, commonly found in drinking water – aside from being poisonous in large quantities – dries out hair and skin. Filtering this chemical out of the water supply will provide a noticeable improvement when showering. Only an in-line filtering system will provide filtered water for the shower as well.

A faucet-mounted system, while relatively inexpensive, requires more frequent filter changes, while in-line systems can be installed which last several years between filter changes. Indicators can also be included to tell you when the filters are due to be changed. Medical experts suggest that we should drink at least 8 cups of water daily, much more water than most of us drink. 80% of our daily water intake is from what we drink. There is water in many things we eat, but most of our intake is from drinking it.

Water that tastes better will make it more attractive to us, and we might be encouraged to drink more of it if the unpleasant odors and unsightly solids were removed. A whole-house filtering system would also make it more likely that our pets and even our potted plants and gardens get pure water, which would improve their health.

Posted by plumber | in Drinking Water, Filters, Pipes | No Comments »

Solving Low Water Pressure

Aug. 13th 2012

If your home suffers from low water pressure, the most obvious result will be seen in the shower. If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel, you’ll remember that shower every time you step in under the trickle in your own shower. Perhaps you are frustrated that your hose does not reach as far as you feel it should, or have enough pressure to clean off your sidewalk without the help of a broom. These issues can be addressed, and the pressure to your fixtures improved, but you must start by determining the likely cause of the low pressure.

Common Causes of Low Water Pressure

Pressure regulators

Your home may be equipped with a pressure regulator, designed to reduce the pressure to safe and manageable levels, if unregulated pressure is too high. While the output pressure of these devices are set by the manufacturer, and is just right for your home when the regulator is working properly, problems arise when the device fails. If it fails, it can restrict water flow enough to reduce water pressure to some or all of your plumbing fixtures.
The best recourse for this problem is to call a professional to repair or replace it. Check with your utility company; it may be that it is owned by the city, and they are responsible for its repair.


Where your house is in relation to the water supply tower effects the pressure to your home. If you have a private water well and storage tank, you may be able to raise its elevation to improve water flow and get higher pressure to the home. If the drop in pressure is sudden, call your utility company during dry spells, to find out if low water supply is the problem, or if there is a broken supply pipe nearby. If your supplied pressure is too low for your needs, it is possible to install a pressure booster in your home.

Home valves

Check that all valves in the home are fully open. If a valve is inadvertently turned – even just a little – it will restrict the flow of water to your fixtures. If your home uses galvanized steel pipes, which are notorious for clogging with minerals over time, the only effective cure is to replace them with a more modern material. Copper is excellent, but is the most expensive commonly used material by far. PVC is very inexpensive, but serves very well, and does not tend to accumulate sediment. PEX is slightly more expensive than PVC, because of the cost of its fittings, but is a new favorite among plumbers and do-it-yourselfers alike, because of its flexibility and the ease with which it is installed.

Leaky PEX joints can be disassembled and reassembled, making it a good choice for the do-it-yourselfer.

Water leaks

Leaky pipes or fixtures diminish the water that is available to other fixtures. Cracked pipes – to include those outside your house owned by the utility company – will reduce home water pressure. A test that you can perform to make sure there is no water being used in the home for a period of two or three hours. Note the reading on the water meter at the start of the test, and see if it has changed at the end of the test period. If it has, water is being used, which means you probably have a leak which, in turn, is reducing your available pressure. Try to isolate the location of the leak using existing valves throughout your plumbing system.

Mineral deposit build-up

Over time, minerals may build up in your plumbing system. Remove your shower head to see if there is a buildup of sediment. Shower heads may be soaked in white vinegar to completely clean them of sediment safely. Faucet aerators can be cleaned the same way. Brush them with a soft brush afterwards and run them under water to wash off what remains.
If pressure from the fixture has improved after cleaning the parts, your next step should be to address the problem of sediment build-up in your plumbing system.
Peak usage periods

In a municipal utility district, you share the water supply with all of your neighbors. There are periods throughout the day when many homes are using the shower, or the washer, or the garden hose, etc.. During these times, pressure will be reduced for everyone in the neighborhood. If your average pressure is marginal, it will be too low during peak times, and some or all of your plumbing fixtures will be noticeably lacking in pressure.

If you have added fixtures, such as an additional lavatory or any fixture that uses water, it may be that your water requirement now exceeds the supply. In this case, it will be necessary to increase the size of the supply line coming from the water main to your home. Alternately, installing a pressure booster can raise the pressure again.

Once you determine the likely cause of the low pressure in your home, maybe with the help of a professional, you can better determine the course needed to correct it.

Posted by plumber | in DIY, Pipes, Sinks | No Comments »

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Jun. 2nd 2012

When, in the dead of winter, water freezes within a pipe, it expands, slowly but surely, until it causes the pipe to burst. When this occurs, you’re in for serious trouble, especially if it’s your heating system that has just bitten the dust. if you have young children in your home who depend on heat to keep them healthy, the dimensions of the disaster are magnified even further.

It may be of interest to some readers to note that that the formation of ice within a pipe is not what normally causes the rupture. Most people will be inclined to think that the expansion of ice within the pipe is what does the damage. But, in fact, when ice forms within the pipe and completely blocks it, the water pressure trapped within that pipe will increase and begin to move downward, trending toward the closed faucet at the end of that pipe.

When the water pressure built up against the closed faucet increases to such a point that the faucet can no longer hold up against that pressure, the pipe will burst, with flooding and freezing as the natural result. The pipe will usually tend to burst precisely at the point where no or very little ice has actually formed – a fact which can puzzle even the most seasoned of winter veterans. The true culprit of pipe rupture and breakage is inadequate insulation, whether within the building the pipes are part of, or within the pipe itself.

The best way to keep pipes in your home from freezing is simply not to expose them to frigid winter temperatures in the first place. If it is at all possible to place them only in spaces which are adequately heated or thickly insulated, by all means do so. Keep your pipes out of your attics and off of your outside walls. If it is possible to reroute or replace altogether older pipes which have served through many past winter seasons, you should do so. The longer a set of pipes has been in service in an area which is vulnerable to freezing temperatures, the more likely they will be to finally give out under the pressure of age and fatigue.

Seal up all the holes and cracks in your walls and foundations and, likewise, plaster up all the holes in your inside walls and window ledges and crevices as well. The less freezing outside air you let into your home, the better. And this goes double for the areas where your water pipes are. If you can install or reroute pipes into kitchen or bathroom cabinets, this will keep frigid winter air from affecting them there. Insulate the insides of your kitchen or bathroom cabinets with a bit of fiberglass coating, to insure that no cold air reaches these precious pipes. The more preventative measures you take before winter comes, the more chance your pipes have to survive the coming ordeal.

If it comes to the worst, and a rupture does occur, the following actions are recommended. The first course of action you should take should be to close off your pipe’s supply line valve (where the water first enters the pipe), and then open the faucet, which you will find at the end of the pipe. This faucet may, in fact, already have been forced open by the water escaping during the breakage. At any rate, you should then examine closely the entire length of the ruptured pipe.

Check carefully for any tell tale cracks, symmetrical breakages, or holes which may have been forced open in the pipe by the escaping water. The best place to look for a broken pipe will most likely be outside of your home, somewhere on the outside walls, or in crawl spaces adjoining your cellar or garage. Upstairs in the attic might be the next logical place to check, as pipes placed in that area tend to get forgotten about, and thus neglected through the years, until such a breakage finally occurs.

Next, you’ll want to thaw out the ruptured pipe. Shut off the supply line valve before you do so, so that as little water as possible can escape out of the pipe once it begins flowing again! Once you’ve managed to positively identify the source of the breakage, and exactly where it took place, grab a hair dryer and use it to thaw out the area that surrounds the ruptured area. This is in order to ascertain whether or not you can manage to get water flowing again through the pipe. If you can get the water flowing, then it’s time to patch up the hole to prevent water leakage from damaging the floor.

Once you have successfully managed to thaw out the ruptured pipe, you can begin to repair it. You’ll need a pipe cutter, or perhaps a hack saw. Regardless of which of these instruments you choose, you’ll also need to have some basic welding skills if you are to perform this task by yourself. If you lack these skills, it might be best to call in a professional who can perform the job, so as to minimize the risk of botching it.

If you do possess these skills, then you will need to use the pipe cutter or hacksaw to remove the section of pipe that has been compromised. Once you’ve done so, you’ll then proceed to replace the damaged section with a new bit of pipe. To do so properly, you’ll need a propane welding torch, as well as the proper soldering gear, to weld the new section of pipe into the existing sections. Once this is done, switch the supply line valve back on, and test the pipe to see if any fresh leakage occurs.

If the join was successful, no further action should be necessary. However, keep in mind that even the best welding patch job is a temporary solution. You will have to replace the entire pipe as soon as possible, in order to ensure that no further breakages occur. Still, this patch up job should hold you and your family through the night, until morning comes and you can venture out to the nearest store to purchase the new pipe. Good luck!

Posted by plumber | in DIY, Leaks, Pipes, Winter | No Comments »

Tankless Water Heater Savings

May. 22nd 2012

When you’re looking to lower your energy bills during a blazing hot summer or a long, frigid, winter, there are always a few tricks of the trade that you can adopt in order to spare yourself an imminent slide into bankruptcy and homelessness. You can keep the air conditioner or heater off as long as possible, by using portable fans or space heaters. You can make sure all the windows in the home are properly sealed to ward off the biting winter cold. You can make sure the drapes in all your rooms are down, in order to reflect back that murderous, searing heat.

And when it comes to heating up water during those long, miserable, winter months, there is a brand new trick on the market that will do more than any other to put much needed coins back in your purse, whilst simultaneously saving you from turning into an icicle in your own bathtub. The tankless water heater is an invaluable component of every modern, fully furnished home, and you should strive to familiarize yourself with the benefits it can bring to you and your family. Even if your home has already been fitted with a traditional, old fashioned (and obsolete) tank using water heater, no worries! You can remove that wasteful, money guzzling, old Brontosaurus, and have your home fitted with a brand new, twice as efficient, penny pinching new tankless water heater!

One of the very first benefits you’ll notice when you switch to a tankless water heater is also one of the longest lasting ones. You sure can’t miss noticing when you’ve been in the shower for ten or fifteen minutes and the hot water is still going strong, with no sign of cooling off or petering out! The satisfaction you get from a good, relaxing, hot bath or shower, especially in the dead of winter, just can’t be measured in words. And with a tankless heater, that satisfaction can and will be yours!

Consider this: a tankless water heater heats up the water that you need, exactly when you need it. Not before, and not hours later! A tankless heater doesn’t limit you to the amount of water that can be safely and efficiently stored in an old fashioned storage tank heater. A tankless water heater will heat any available source of water at your command, and in a hurry. Whether you need a good supply of hot water for your bath or shower, or for doing the dishes, a tankless water heater simply draws on your home’s supply of water, and heats it up. It’s dependent on the water that can be drawn from your house’s well or neighborhood source of water – NOT from the amount of water that a storage tank can hold!

Simply put, the difference between a conventional old fashioned, storage tank water heater and the new tankless water heater is the difference between an old vinyl long playing record and a digital Ipod. Sure, they both play music, but with the vinyl record, you need a big, clunky, turntable to play it, and you can only get 35-45 minutes of music out of it. With the Ipod, you can have access to an inexhaustible supply of music straight from your computer, and it can store hours upon hours of music.

The same comparison applies to the tankless water heater. As noted above, it draws from your neighborhood’s water supply, not a severely limited storage tank. So, your days of budgeting your time in the shower because you know full well the hot water will soon run out are over, and none too soon! The tankless water heater will heat your bath for as long as you care to remain within it. It will give your dishwasher piping hot water to scrub those dirty dishes clean with. It will do both tasks, and plenty more, simultaneously. Since there is no lack of water to draw upon, there is no time limit during which it can perform its tasks!

Of course, there is another, very large, benefit of switching to a tankless water heater: major savings on your energy bill come winter time! The average tankless water heater has been clinically tested and proven to enable its user to save up to 40% on their average winter heating and energy bills. A large part of this savings is due to the fact that, unlike a traditional water storage heater which runs on a set schedule and sometimes requires hours to power up and off, a tankless water heater will only heat water when it is needed. You determine when it runs and when it doesn’t, simply by switching your hot water tap off and on. So, there’s no more annoying groaning and scraping of rusty old pipes, no more water damage from leaking or broken pipes, and no more huge energy bills!

And here is another huge issue which a tankless water heater neatly cuts down to size: storage space! We all know that the traditional, storage tank, water heaters are big behemoths which can monopolize up to 18 square feet of floor space which could be more profitably employed for other uses. Some of these old Brontosaurs can occupy a whole room by themselves! In contrast, your average tankless water heater measures roughly the same dimensions as a carry on suitcase! Think about it: endless hours of piping hot water, courtesy of a nifty little gadget no larger than the flight bag you took on the plane with you last summer when you flew down to Miami! A tankless water heater is portable as well. Install one on any wall inside your home, and forget about it!

In conclusion, the benefits of owning a tankless water heater far outweigh the uncertainty associated with taking a risk on a new, untested, bit of technology. There simply is no risk! Except, of course, the risk of missing out on an incredible new money saving device which could possibly even save your life one frigid winter night! So, check out a tankless water heater today. Your family, as well as your family’s bank account, will thank you!

Hiring a Plumber

May. 13th 2012

Let’s face it, when things go south with your plumbing, you’re in for a heck of a quandary, not to mention an unholy mess. Plumbing disasters are a subject few of us would broach at the dinner table or in polite conversation. Consequently, when accidents do happen, they tend to find most of us completely unprepared for them. We don’t spend our time conversing over the best plumbing techniques or inquiring even of a plumber friend about the precise details of what he does for a living, so most of us don’t even know how to react to a plumbing disaster when it occurs.

Granted that plumbing is the last thing we tend to concern ourselves with (at least when everything is flowing smoothly), there are a few do’s and don’ts which it is wise to bear in mind well before a possible breakdown (or backup) occurs. For one, when your toilet overflows and leaves unspeakable substances all over the floor, don’t just call the first person in the phone book or the first name that pops up after a fifteen second internet search.

Remember, plumbers are licensed, fully trained, professionals that don’t just get hired and go to work, learning as they go. The average American plumber serves an apprenticeship of anywhere from six months to a year. Some inherit the job, training with their fathers. Others go to specialized industrial schools to learn their trade. Regardless, make sure the person you hire is fully qualified for the job. Ask a friend or a relative for the name of an excellent plumber who they have dealt with in the past. This is one trade in which a man’s reputation counts for everything. Bad reputation? Bad service. It’s as simple as that.

Search the internet to see if your local plumber or plumbing service has any customer service reviews on the internet or, better yet, is listed with the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau. Again, reputation counts for everything in the plumbing business. Don’t get stuck with a crooked, incompetent, dunce, who will overcharge you and leave the job botched or half finished!

When you make that phone call to the plumber you’ve chosen for the job, make sure to give him as accurate a picture of your problem as you possibly can. Don’t leave out even the tiniest little detail. Make sure before you pay for him to come out to your home that he knows more than he could possibly ever forget about every last little feature of your current emergency. The more details you give him, the better informed he’ll be about the precise nature of your problem. And, furthermore, the more knowledge he has in advance of the issue, the less he’ll have to “guesstimate” concerning that problem when he gets to your home. The better prepared he is to put out the fire, the more efficiently he’ll labor – and the sooner he’ll be through.

Which brings us to the next issue: make sure to inquire of your potential plumber well in advance whether there is a minimum charge for the time he spends at your house. After all, you certainly don’t want to pay for an hour’s worth of work if he only spends five minutes fixing your problem. Make sure you know in advance whether there is such a minimum charge, as well as what his precise charges for his time are. For example, if he spends two or three hours fixing your problem, you ought to be informed by him well in advance of just exactly how much money you are going to owe him for his services once he has completed the job. Don’t fall victim to “special fix” fees and “overtime” charges! Work all of the details ought before he lifts his wrench to start the job!

Speaking of wrenches, does he have on hand all the tools of the trade that he’ll need for the job? It’s one thing to make a few trips out to the truck to get a tool that he didn’t think he’d need when he first got started. However, it’s a whole other thing to suddenly announce that he’ll have to make a special trip to a parts store to buy a specific tool that the job requires. How bad does he really need this tool, and will he charge you to buy it? And will he add the gas he used to go to the store to your bill as well? These are all questions you should have worked out between you well in advance of him starting any work in your house.

Suppose he injures himself on the job? Has he got insurance which covers him in such events? If the answer is no, it’s a bad sign. For all you know, he could be a crook who merely masquerades as a plumber, then “injures” himself on the job in order to sue you for every penny you’ve got. Make sure he’s covered by his employer’s or his own personal insurance plan before you trust him to labor on your behalf. The last thing you need is to be held liable for a fat five figure fee that this charlatan has racked up in hospital time!

Maybe the real issue here is not so much your potential, but you. Perhaps you’re…a cheapskate, pure and simple, and don’t care to pay big bills to get your problem fixed. Maybe you’ve got a friend or a friend of a friend who’s a plumber, and wouldn’t mind earning a few extra bucks under the counter, off the clock, and off the company radar? Why not make that call, get connected, and let a few bucks change hands outside the IRS’s jurisdiction? He makes a few extra bucks, and you save a few!

Regardless of how you do it, be careful when you bring an unknown individual into your home. Make sure he’s fully vetted, and understands exactly what he needs to do. Make doubly sure that you understand how much the job will cost you! Good luck, and happy plumbing!

Posted by plumber | in Pipes, Plumbers | No Comments »

How Does Drano Work?

May. 1st 2012

Drano works for both bathtubs, sinks, dish disposal units and bathtubs to remove debris clogging up the piping. The product was created in 1923 by Harry Drackett when he merged aluminum, sodium nitrate, sodium chloride and sodium hydroxide in a unique chemical combination. Basically, the hydroxide heats up the compound as the sodium dissolve as a mixture. Drain cluttering items from hair to soap and other residue are then removed once the heat is sufficient to dissolve them.

In 1965 Drackett’s company was acquired by Bristol-Myers, who was in turn bought out by SC Johnson in 1992. Brand extension has since diversified Drano’s action to unclog a drain into five different product lines. The five include Kitchen Crystals clog remover, Liquid clog remover, Dual Force Foamer clog remover, Build Up remover and Max Jell clog remover. There is a different type of clogged pipe served by each distinct product.

 How it functions

All material blocking a pipe gets dissolved by Dual Force Foamer clog remover, as the sole codes the entire wall by filling the whole pipe. As the clogging arterial is broken down by the heat created by the product, the force and heat of hot water flowing through the pipe flushes out the remainder of the debris. The operation of the Max Jell clog remover, by contrast, is to cling to the clog itself, law enough for the clog to be cleared. Since this jell operates with water within the drain, it’s best to use it in a sink filled with water. Every type of pipe is safe for use of this product.

For less intense clogs, Drano has sold a cheaper version called Liquid clog remover over the last two decades, which is helpful for minor clog problems. Build up remover is also safe for each drain in the house, and is designed to be used to prevent clog issues if used once each month. Its ingredients include bacteria and natural enzymes. It is designed to be safe for toilet use, making it the only Drano line product safe for that application. If a whole lacks a garbage disposal in the kitchen, kitchen crystals clog remover is the best match. Coldwater works best with it to get rid of grease clogging and other material.


Trap A is the bend in the pipe where most clogs begin to build, and the primary debris material is hair. Stubborn hair clogs are best dealt with using Max Jell clog remover. A foreign and miscellaneous object usually settles into trap B towards the middle of the drain. Drano can only work partially in moving out that material, but complete removal will require a plumber. A snaking device is the best option for plumber to use when there is a continued buildup of the clog in the drain.

Handle Drano products with care, and avoid having me contact with the eyes. If ingesting the product, seek a doctor’s assistance to address the situation.

Posted by plumber | in Clogs, DIY, Pipes | No Comments »

Unclogging Your Drain Without Using Chemicals

Apr. 20th 2012

You don’t have to use harsh chemicals once you encounter a clogged drain. In exchange for the short-term fix of unclogging the drain, the chemical agent may enter the water system or septic tank and badly affect the septic system, as well as the environment around you. In fact, chemicals usually don’t work when there is a completely stopped up drain, or no drainage situation. A clogged drain may be best serviced using a solution that is chemical free.


1) Use baking soda if the drain is slowly draining, in order to make it drain faster, and apply until it clogs by coming up from the drain. Pour in vinegar slowly at that point. The two ingredients will wash away the baking soda as it creates foam. When baking soda no longer bubbles, stop pouring. Debris and other junk should be cleaned from the pipe this way.

2) Unblocking clogs is best done with a plunger. Once the sink is filled with water, the plunger to be placed above the drain, pushed down in order to begin producing a suction action, then firmly up. The cost will go down the drain in most cases because the suction action causes it to get pulled backwards through the pipe in order to dislodge it. The drain should flow freely once the plunger’s suction action is repeated

3) Snake the drain. You can go to any hardware store to pick up the same kind of snake device that plumbers utilize. The snake should be pushed into the drain pipe once the basin is filled with water. This action should be done while turning the handle of the device. Once it reaches the clog as a result of feeding out the device into the drain, it should bore through the clog in order to clear it. Pull out the snake once the sink is draining, and a clog free pipe should be the result.

Precautions and pointers

  • Devices like the drain king increase the apparent pressure of the water by expanding within the drain, thus pushing the clog out of the blocked area and through the piping.
  • If there are cross beams or a basket that keep clogging material from going through the drain, the kitchen sink or drain cannot be serviced using a drain king.
  •  Hot water can be run through the drain king after you dislodge the blockage, and this allows grease to be cleaned from the pipes.

If using a drain king, being mindful of other open parts of the piping. The toilet, other sinks, etc., should be observed by yourself or someone else. Excess pressure in some cases can cause water to spew out from another opening, as result of the pressure pushing the clog out through those openings, particularly the toilet.


Posted by plumber | in Clogs, DIY, Pipes | No Comments »

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