Monthly Archives: January 2017

Top 7 Plumbing Problems That Need Immediate Repair

Plumbing is one of the most important systems in your home. What would you do without hot water for washing, clean water for drinking and food prep or a proper sanitary system to get rid of waste? You are bound to face some of the issues on this list of the top ten plumbing problems. Be sure to follow up with immediate action and keep this vital home system operational and safe.

1) Clogged or Plugged Drains The effects of a blocked drainpipe can become very serious, very fast. If the clogged drain is in the path of waste water you may find yourself dealing with unhealthy conditions and nasty odors until the blockage is broken up. Other blockages in your kitchen or bathroom sink are more inconvenient than dangerous, but still need to be looked after right away.

Products to break up clogged drains may work, but many back ups need to be physically located and removed. That s definitely a job for your local plumber.

2) No Hot Water Your hot water heater is responsible for supplying the hot water required for showering and other cleaning processes in your home. When that equipment malfunctions or has been improperly adjusted you could find yourself without the warmth you re used to. Inadequately sized water heaters will continue to be a problem. Have your plumber calculate the needs of your household and recommend a suitable make and model.

3) Leaky Water Heaters Maybe your hot water supply is fine, but there are puddles of water underneath the hot water heater. This is an obvious sign that something is wrong with the equipment. Have it inspected and repaired or arrange for a replacement in order to avoid a complete loss of hot water, as outlined above.

Hire a plumber if you are upgrading or replacing your water heater. They may also be able to dispose of your old equipment as well.

4) Dripping Tap That annoying drip, drip, drip you often see in movies and television shows really is a problem. Not only will this issue add up to a sizable amount of wasted water, it s also a sign that your tap or the fittings around it are in need of immediate repair.

Call your local plumber to stop the drip and have any worn or damaged parts replaced.

5) Pipe Leaks A leaky pipe is a much more serious problem than a leaky faucet. When water gets behind the walls or into the insulation damage can be extensive. Water problems will lead to mold growth and premature deterioration of framing. Even a sporadic leak can result in major damage.

If you see or smell water where it shouldn t be call the plumber right away. Leaky pipes are often a precursor to bursting pipes. And the damage and flooding that can result from that issue are bound to be expensive.

6) Toilet Constantly Running When you consistently hear the thrum of a running toilet what you re really hearing is the water bill going up. A running toilet is generally a result of broken internal components, from valves to the float or chains. It could be a simple problem or a symptom of something larger.

The wisest idea is to shut off the water supply and call your local plumber. Attempting to tackle plumbing problems as a DIY project often results in more extensive damage and expense.

7) Faucet Installation Upgrading your plumbing fixtures is a simple way to redecorate. It may also provide you with better functionality and features a kitchen faucet with a sprayer incorporated is convenient and attractive. New taps and shower heads can completely transform the look and feel of a bathroom as well.

Although some DIY enthusiasts may be comfortable installing a new faucet, many situations require the expertise of an experienced plumber.

7 Most Common Plumbing Mistakes

For many homeowners, a plumbing problem is high on the list of please don’t let it happen to me issues. However, at some point, everybody will experience a plumbing issue, whether it’s something simple like a clog, or something more dire such as a flood. How you approach issues when they occur, and how you repair your plumbing, is crucial to minimizing these unpleasant occurrences.

Common Mistake #1 Hurry-Up Fixes

Whether you have a house full of holiday guests or you’re just in a rush, sometimes it’s easy to think that rushing through a plumbing job is a good idea. The truth is that rushing during plumbing work is never smart, regardless of how pressured you may feel.

The most common mistake in this area is a very simple one…failure to turn off the water. If you know that you should turn the water off, don’t chance it. In addition, when in doubt, turn it off just to be on the safe side. Turning that little knob or valve can mean the difference between a gushing water-fountain nightmare and a calm, quick, tidy job.

Common Mistake #2 Crooked Installation

If you’re skilled enough to take on a task like installing a new toilet or sink, don’t forget the simplest of details…leveling. This is a surprisingly common oversight, and it’s one that can negatively alter the function and appearance of your new project. Using a level takes just seconds, and it can help you avoid irritating and costly repairs down the road.

Common Mistake #3 Leaving Your Hose Connected in Winter

When it comes to devastating indoor floods, a surprisingly large number of them are caused by frozen pipes which have burst. A vital piece of winter home maintenance is disconnecting your garden hose(s) and, if you have a separate control, turning off the water which supplies the outdoor spigots.

Frozen pipes can easily burst, since water expands when it freezes and pipes aren’t designed to accommodate this swelling. A burst water pipe can completely ruin a basement, leaving you wading through ankle-deep water as you try to salvage your belongings. Floods like these cause excessive damage to floors, walls and appliances. If a pipe bursts during the night and is not discovered until the next morning, thousands of dollars in damages will already have occurred. If the leak occurs within the flooring or walls of your home, the damage can be even greater, since the leak may go unnoticed for a longer period of time.

Take a few minutes this winter to disconnect outdoor plumbing. You’ll want to do this before the first hard freeze, so determine when that is likely to be in your area and mark your calendar.

Common Mistake #4 Mismatched Pipes

In DIY plumbing, it’s common to reach for the closest pipe of the right size and shape. However, it’s important to pay attention to the pipe’s material, as well. The most common mistakes when it comes to fitting two pipes together have to do with material and size. When fitting two pipes of different sizes together, the proper connecting piece must be used to ensure proper sealing. The pipes aren’t properly fitted just because they hold together.

Another very common mistake is connecting a pipe made of galvanized metal to a pipe made of copper. These materials react to each other and the connection point will corrode very quickly, leading to leaks. A brass or other suitable fitting must be used to connect these materials.

Common Mistake #5 Overuse of Drain Cleaner

One quick look at the warnings on a bottle of drain cleaner will tell you that it’s very heavy-duty stuff. Products designed to keep drains clear and remove clogs often include extremely harsh chemicals. If used periodically, they do their job quite well and with no side effects. However, in the case of a persistent clog in the same pipe, drain cleaners can do more harm than good.

We tend to think of pipes as hard to damage, and they are. They’re not invincible, though. Overuse of something as harsh as clog remover can eat away at the pipe, whether it’s made of metal or PVC. If a toilet or sink drain clogs repeatedly, clog removers just aren’t going to do the trick, and they can damage your pipes as they waste your money.

Persistent clogs are usually caused by something stuck in the pipe, usually way down where you can’t see or even feel with traditional home-use snake tools. It could be a child’s toy, a piece of jewelry, or even a tree root! For clogs that keep occurring, it’s best to call in a professional plumber. They have larger and stronger snake tools, and they also have experience in the situation.

Common Mistake #6 Ignoring Local Laws

While a plumber is likely to know the local laws regarding permits backwards and forwards, the average homeowner simply doesn’t have the need to be so well-acquainted with plumbing regulations. However, if you attempt a DIY project without checking with your city building officials, you may be setting yourself up for a costly surprise.

Depending on the size of the job, many cities and counties require a permit. In some areas installing a toilet requires a permit, while others require permits for only large-scale renovations. Learn about the rules in your area before you tackle a DIY plumbing job.

You may be wondering why it matters…after all, it’s unlikely that the city will stop by to check on your bathroom anytime soon, right? Wrong. While you probably won’t be the focus of a random check, plumbing work done without a permit can cause trouble for you in several different ways.

Unlicensed DIY plumbing is, after all, amateur work. Reading and watching video tutorials simply can’t compete with the knowledge that comes from years of experience. Smaller jobs can be handled just fine by the DIY enthusiast, but larger jobs need true expertise to ensure that each detail is handled correctly.

If a DIY job springs a leak or otherwise fails, you could be facing more trouble than simply calling a plumber. If the leak damages your home severely, which is very possible in the case of structural water damage, insurance might come into play. However, insurance will often refuse a claim if the damage resulted from work done without the proper permits.

Fines are another potentiality of working without the proper permits. Just like parking violations or using your sprinkler on an off day, working without a permit can leave you open to be fined. The amount varies by location.

Common Mistake #7 Tackling Jobs Beyond Your Skill Level

Our last common mistake is also the biggest and most costly of them all. Far too often, homeowners feel that they should be able to fix anything and everything inside their home, regardless of prior experience. Other times, a home handyman feels that he has sufficient experience to take on any type of plumbing job, simply because he’s fixed a few leaky faucets.

Taking on a job which you know (or even suspect) to be beyond your skill level is simply a bad idea. Worse, it’s a bad idea which can cost you literally thousands of dollars in repairs. There is a wide range of difficulty when it comes to plumbing projects, and taking an honest look at where your skills lie before taking on a job is the smartest move you can make.

Relatively simple jobs such as installing a new faucet, replacing a section of pipe or even installing certain types of pre-made tub and shower surrounds can be done by most handy homeowners with a bit of self-education. However, the smart homeowner knows where to draw the line.

Any job which involves the disconnection of major pipes, working on pipes which are hidden within floors or walls, or the reconfiguration of your bathroom plumbing absolutely calls for the expertise of an experienced plumber. In most cases, these larger jobs require work permits, and part of the reason is that they are complicated, require knowledge of the industry and have a high potential for error. Play it safe and call in the professionals if you feel that you can’t handle every aspect of a plumbing project. It’s a much safer and smarter proposition to pay a plumber now than to call one in later for repairs after the damage has occurred.

Simple Ways to Avoid Plumbing Nightmares

There are few things more frightening than the thought of having your plumbing fail during the night and waking to discover that an entire floor of your home has become a morass of raw sewage. The trouble is, most people just don’t know to prevent such a nightmare from becoming a reality. Some simple rules can help avert disaster before your home becomes a scene of horror only Wes Craven could dream up.

Be materialistic

The material from which pipes and fixtures are made has a certain life expectancy, although this can be influenced by a number of factors. Proper maintenance can increase the lifespan of your existing plumbing considerably. Hard water (high mineral content) however, can wreak havoc on your home. If you are unsure of the type of plumbing used in your home, your best bet is to bring in a certified plumber to do an inspection. PVC drain lines have a comparatively short life expectancy at 25-40 years. Copper supply pipes may last 70-80 years, depending on past maintenance. Brass and cast iron pipes and fixtures may serve their intended purpose for a century or longer.

Look out for leaching

Pipes constructed of lead or polybutylene need to go no matter what their age. Lead pipes can leach harmful lead into your drinking water, causing severe and long-lasting health problems. Polybutylene pipes were a cheap alternative often installed between the 1970s and 1990s, but have caused homeowners a myriad of problems related to unexpected breakage.

Beware of the brown stuff

Does the water in your tub or sink basin appear unattractively brown or yellow in color? If it does, rust may be eating away at your pipes. This will most evident when you have been away from home for a period of time because water sitting dormant in pipes will have time to collect a greater number of rust particulates. If you see signs of rust, consider replacing effected pipes ASAP.

Kill two birds with one stone

If you are conducting a remodel, be sure to have a plumber check to see if your system in that area of the home needs to be replaced. Because you may already be tearing away at things, or even expect to have a plumber on site for a time, costs can be considerably less.

Flex your PEX

If an $8000 to $10,000 bill for new copper piping falls outside your home improvement budget, consider using cross-linked polyethylene tubing (a.k.a PEX). PEX can eliminate the need to rip into walls it is flexible enough to snake into position where it is needed. Substituting PEX for copper in a 1,500 sq ft home can save you as much as a whopping $4000 in parts and labor!

Avoid a corrosion explosion

Always be on the lookout for leaks and signs of corrosion such as discoloration and dimpling, which might indicate that your plumbing system is on its last legs. Flaking and stains are also strong indicators that fixture failure may be imminent. Leaks in one area are often predictors that you will soon have then in other places as well. Your best bet is to have them inspected, repaired, and if need be, replaced, before you have to in figure the cost of new walls and flooring.

Get Cozy with a fantastic plumber

(We’re talking so cozy you could date them). Find the wrong one and you could be in for big problems down the road. A plumber who is in and out and handing you the bill before you have the chance to blink may be doing a shod job. Your best bet is someone who guarantees both materials and workmanship against future mishaps. Be sure to secure the services of apreferred plumber who offers a 100% guarantee.

Keep a watchful eye on water bills

Watch your water bills closely to see if you detect any unexpected increases. An unexpected uptick in water usage (when your actual usage patterns haven’t really increased) can be an indication of a leak (or leaks) somewhere in your plumbing system. Another way to detect possible leaks is to see if water is pooling below fixtures. In addition to leaks, thinks clogged drains and pipes can lead to unexpected bill changes, so if you have a curious toddler who hasn’t seen their favorite stuffed cat Chu Chu in a while, it may be time to seek professional help.

Protect your pipes

Even the greediest garbage disposals can be overwhelmed and contribute to clogs if too much of something is thrown in all at once. If you have a large quantity of gunky foodstuffs to dispose of, be sure to do it in your household trash. Better yet, start a compost pile if you don’t have one already. Plumbers receive thousands of calls each year to venture out and solve problems caused by once-tasty leftovers clogging up the works.

Choosing the Right Plumber

As with any service professional, choosing the right plumber can be a difficult task. Plumbing work is never cheap, and when you need a plumber, you often find yourself in a negative mood. Still, when the pipes are clogged, the toilet overflows, and the shower just won’t work, you need someone to turn to.

Ideally, a homeowner would have a go to plumber before ever needing one, but in reality this is usually not the case. When you do find the need for a plumber though, take your time and don’t let emotion influence your choice. If you examine your decision thoughtfully, you can get the best value possible and not feel like you were completely taken advantage of.

Price

Of course, price is one of the most important considerations for any major project. For some people, this is the only thought that comes to mind, which can lead to more trouble down the road. The old adage that “you get what you pay for” often rings true in the plumbing world. Just hiring someone based on having the lowest price will often result in more and more plumbing bills down the road. If you hired based on other factors, you might have avoided all these future problems.

Quality

Where price ends, quality begins. Having a low price is great, and when you are sure quality is equal, you definitely want to go with the price. On the other hand, quality needs to be your number one concern when dealing with a plumber. The reason for this is that low-price, low-quality plumbers are just going to cost more in the long run.

You are better off paying a plumber once to do the job right than hiring a cheap plumber ten times to get the job done. When looking for a plumber, look for someone who is a professional in their industry, not someone who just comes out, fixes the issue and leaves. Usually, a short conversation with a potential candidate can tell you enough to judge the quality of his work.

Punctuality

Sometimes not considered, having a punctual plumber can be a very important deciding factor. If you call a plumber, leave a message, and don’t get a response until the next day, it can be very off-putting. Similarly, if you call a plumber and he tells you he’ll be there between 1 and 2 but doesn’t show up until 3, that is simply unacceptable.

Before making a major plumbing decision, make sure you are working with someone who is punctual. If you want to really get great service, go beyond just having that person be on time. A really exceptional plumber will tell you what time he’ll be there and get there 10 minutes early. When you call a company and they give you a 6 hour window, you may want to reconsider.

Reviews

Knowing you’ve found someone you can trust can be tough, but the best place to start is to look at reviews. The internet is full of great places to get reviews, and if you used the internet to find the plumber in the first place, the site you found them on probably had reviews to begin with. Rather than just trusting one site though, look at various reviews from different websites that have a good reputation of screening reviews – like TrustedPros :).

Get a real measure of what the company represents and how their cost versus their quality of work. Remember to look for details in a review, as vague reviews just saying something like “The best plumber ever!” can often be manufactured. When a review includes personal details and some real thought, you’ll know it is real.

Compare the positive and negative reviews. Unhappy people are twice as likely to post a review online, so keep this in mind if you are unsure. Sometimes a negative review is not negative towards the company, but just shows the buyer’s frustration over the situation. After all, no one wants to need a plumber.

Warranties & Certifications

For plumbers, there are a few key certifications to consider when looking at their materials. Plumbers themselves should have specific certificates they have earned, but also consider the fixtures they are installing. Some of these include: water sense, CSA, cUPC, NSF 14, UL Plumbing Mark, and WQA Certification Mark. Make sure that whatever materials are being used for your plumbing work passes Canadian standards.

Also, make sure that whoever you are looking at has warranties and guaranties. If someone is not willing to back his work, that person is not someone worth working with.

Overall Value

Once you have assessed all of these variables, you can really put together an idea of what the overall value of this plumber is. Remember not to leave out any variables, and to really assess the skills and costs of a plumber before choosing to hire him. Upon successfully determining a company’s overall value, you can begin to compare and make the best informed decision.

Compare

The last step to assessing a plumber and deciding whether he is the right one for you is to compare him to other plumbers. The best prepared home owner is one that has a go to plumber, electrician, handyman, tree guy, lawn care expert, etc. With that in mind, pick out a plumber that you can use for the rest of your time in that home.

Look at multiple options and consider their advantages and disadvantages. Look at the positive and negative reviews, consider how quickly they responded and how exact a time they gave you, consider the quality of their work, and then consider price. Once everything is sorted out, really examine the different options side by side.

Plumbing is a service industry, so don’t be afraid to be a harsh critic. With the cost of plumbing repairs, it pays to know you can consistently have someone to trust with your plumbing needs. Once you have evaluated all options, make the choice and stick to it. Long term relationships with service professionals can have unspoken perks.