Monthly Archives: February 2017

Tips to find the right high-quality plumber for you

Firstly, like with any other industry, there are always going to be good and bad plumbers. In some cases, price may not be a way in which you can differentiate between low-quality and high-quality labor, and this is why you need to rely on word of mouth and testimonials. But what if you do not know anyone who has transacted with an exceptional plumber recently? The answer is easy: go online!

The Internet provides a truly fantastic resource for all of us, no matter what our demands. Through the use of a handyman directory, you will be able to tailor your search based on the ratings of other consumers – all of whom would have found a plumber and transacted with them through the online service. The caveat here that gives you reassurance is this: following on from the work completed, a consumer who found a plumber is executed to rate their experience with the plumber. Some of the factors they would be asked to consider (as well as you, if you find this idea appealing) include cost and value for money; the quality of the labor and the finished outcome; and the responsiveness of the plumber overall – particularly important if your pending task is urgent and needs attention from an expert quickly.

As the reputations of handymen accumulate online – whether they are good or bad – you will be able to evaluate and judge if you would be happy for them to assist you. If you are in doubt, you can just move onto the next plumber on your list; as it is highly likely you will have several choices to decide upon if you live in a well-populated area. This said, don’t despair if you are a little removed from towns or cities – some plumbers will be more than happy to travel out for a small fee.

If a plumber is on an online directory, it is highly likely that they will have some form of promotional material (or a link to their website) that makes them look professional and reputable. Make sure you take a look at this, as well as their specialist areas of the trade. Even though a lot of this will be quietly optimistic and slightly glossed over, remember this: the decision should lie solely in the hands of past reviews. After all, other prospective consumers will have also looked at a plumber’s website or service description – and if they believe that the resources the plumber provided were not representative of the experience, they will be able to state this during the feedback process.

Top 5 Outdoor Plumbing Problems and How to Solve Them

Plumbing runs through your home, carrying water and gas to your bathroom, kitchen, laundry and living space. But many elements of your backyard living area rely on well-designed, high quality plumbing. Consider these top five outdoor plumbing problems that all homeowners face and find out how to solve them quickly and affordably.

Broken or Leaky Hose Bib

Hose bibs provide the water source for your outdoor hoses. These well-used plumbing connections can break, burst, or fall apart due to age and general wear. Hose bibs are also susceptible to frost damage.

Replacing or repairing a broken hose bib requires some basic plumbing skills. The water source will need to be shut off before old plumbing is cut out and replaced with new pipes. Hose bib replacement is not a DIY job unless you have extensive experience with plumbing installation, including soldering.

Some plumbers install “drop-eared” fittings for simple, fast hose bib replacement. This might be something you consider when replacing an older, soldered design. Always remember to remove your hoses and shut off the water source over winter to avoid frost damage and leaks.

Leaky Sprinkler Pipes or Broken Sprinkler Heads

Sprinkler systems provide worry-free irrigation for urban, suburban and rural properties. But most of these residential systems are quite easy to break or damage. Landscapers often have trouble with sprinkler lines and any digging in the yard could end up cutting a line or breaking a sprinkler head.

With some motivation and hard work homeowners can replace broken lines. Dig up a stretch of the existing line, detach the broken section and replace with a new piece. Test the system and bury the line again, possibly marked to avoid future mishaps.

Broken sprinkler heads are not as simple to repair. Talk to your irrigation specialist and have them quote you a replacement cost. It may make sense to wait until your semi-annual inspection and service to replace the heads, saving you money on labor charges. Otherwise, be sure to avoid using the irrigation system until broken heads can be repaired or replaced.

Avoid broken or leaky irrigation systems by scheduling regular maintenance and inspections with your sprinkler installers. These professionals know how to service your specific system, what type of problems to look for and how to maintain peak performance.

Leaky Natural Gas Line to BBQ or Fire Pit

Natural gas lines provide fuel for your gas grill or outdoor fireplace. These lines are connected to the main gas valve inside your home and must be maintained in top-notch condition for your safety.

Gas leaks present the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and can turn into serious fire hazards. Contact a gas fitter or licensed plumber immediately if you suspect a problem with the gas line, fittings or any other components related to natural gas.

Running a new gas line or extending an existing line should also be trusted to a licensed professional. Although DIY enthusiasts may be able to install and support the plumbing adhering to all applicable building codes, only a licensed gas fitter should handle the final connection or termination.

Unable to Locate Plumbing Lines for Future Work

Landscaping plans typically evolve over time with new features being added or changed every few seasons. But your outdoor plumbing may be vulnerable when these evolutions involve major changes and excavation.

Are you planning for a new patio, privacy fence or swimming pool? Any project that involves digging, excavation or removal should also involve an inspection of the outdoor plumbing system.

Ensure that sprinkler lines are adequately marked and that cable, telephone, gas and utility lines have been located and marked. It takes just one careless or uninformed move with a shovel or auger to destroy an important part of your property. Whether that part powers your home, fuels your appliances and devices, or feeds water to your irrigation system, repairs are inevitably messy and expensive.

It makes sense to have a sketch or diagram of your outdoor plumbing handy. When you add, change or remove a plumbing element (replace your propane BBQ with a gas grill or add an outdoor tap to your garden shed), mark the appropriate changes to your diagram to keep it accurate and up to date. This drawing can help you avoid problems later on, and also serves as a design tool when making alterations to the landscape.

Roots Interfering With Existing Outdoor Plumbing

Shallow tree and shrub roots can cause problems with plumbing lines running through your yard or along the house. Any location where tree roots and plumbing lines mingle has the potential for disaster. Aggressive and strong, roots move to water sources and can quickly wind around joints and straight runs. As the roots grow and search for moisture these joints and piping crack, bend and break under the stress.

Plastic plumbing is especially vulnerable, and yet remains the most popular choice for sprinkler lines and outdoor plumbing. Attack the problem before it begins by installing root guards when planting trees. These plastic cylinders force roots to delve deeper into the soil, far below any plumbing and well out of harm s way.

The best way to avoid problems with existing roots is to steer clear of them altogether. Whenever possible design your outdoor plumbing to run around trees and shrubs, or use heavy duty plumbing and fewer joints to make the system durable and resistant to breakage.

Issues with your outdoor plumbing can quickly ruin your enjoyment of the season. Avoid leaky hose bibs, broken sprinkler heads and leaky gas lines by ensuring these systems are well maintained, handled by a professional and inspected regularly. It s also a good idea to draw out the plumbing in your backyard and keep that sketch up to date when changes occur. This simple map will help you avoid problems in the future, as will avoiding tree roots or installing root guards to protect your underground plumbing.

Tips on Avoiding Common Winter Plumbing Problems

Subzero temperatures, blistering winds and expanding ice make winter a dangerous time for your plumbing. Burst pipes and frozen systems could result in expensive repairs. Keep an eye out for these common plumbing problems and ensure an enjoyable winter season.

Pipes Installed Within Outer Walls

Your kitchen sink, shower and other plumbing fixtures are often installed on the outer walls of the house. Although builders do this for convenience, it could cause a problem in especially cold winters or in walls that lack sufficient insulation. When temperatures drop well below zero, those pipes can freeze, resulting in a blockage and possible burst pipes.

Pipes that get used on a regular basis are not as likely to freeze up, since water runs through them for a better part of the day. But the overnight hours provide ideal conditions for plumbing problems to take place, and the potential for damage is much higher at night, when a leak would not be noticed right away.

Combat frozen pipes by adding insulation to the wall space or around the pipe where necessary, either blown in, fibreglass or foam insulation that will wrap around the plumbing pipes. Some experts also suggest that warmer interior air can be used to keep the pipes warm. Opening drawers and cabinets around the piping to improve air circulation may help to reduce the risk of frozen pipes.

Consider this problem during the design phase of your home, and allow significant space around plumbing for insulation and air flow, especially pipes that run along the outer walls of your kitchen and bathroom.

Septic Tank Problems

Septic tanks must be emptied on a regular basis, to avoid clogging and dangerous back ups that can destroy your yard and your plumbing systems. In order to pump your septic tank, the lid or lids must be dug out and temporarily removed. This can be a very difficult job in the winter months, when snow cover and freezing temperatures make the task lengthy and challenging.

Should your tank overflow or the pipes running between the tank and septic bed burst, repairs are messy and expensive. Tackling these repairs in winter is almost unthinkable. The easiest way to combat this problem is to schedule a pumping in the fall.

Several products on the market claim to speed up the breakdown of waste in your septic system. You can use additives to reduce the build up in winter, but remember that these products do not replace the pumping process, which physically removes the solids and extends the life and efficiency of your septic system.

Ask the septic company to inspect your system, and make a note of any issues. Adding bathrooms and upgrading your plumbing fixtures could overload the existing system, and age takes a toll on the quality of your tank, pipes and septic bed.

Water Heater Breakdown

You need a hot water heater all rear round, but this equipment works especially hard in the winter months. Sediment build up is one of the most common causes of default in hot water heaters. Take a look inside the tank on an annual basis, or hire a plumber to inspect the equipment. Sediment can be removed by flushing the tank, although your system will need to be shut down for a short time.

Pilot lights often blow out during the drafty months of winter, shutting off gas hot water heaters. Power outages or surges can also result in electrical faults within the equipment. Whether you need to call a plumber or an electrician, have these faults looked after quickly to ensure your family has access to hot water for bathing, cleaning and laundry.

Exterior Plumbing Fixtures

You may not notice the problem until springtime, but wintery conditions can damage and even destroy exterior plumbing fixtures. Hose bibs, water valves and sprinkler systems that are not properly prepared for winter deteriorate quickly under the pressure and strength of severe cold.

Any exposed plumbing and pipes need to be completely wrapped for insulation value. Harsh winds and wet weather take a toll on pipes, valves and connections. Keep these areas protected with screens, pipe wrap, even inexpensive burlap sheets often used on trees and shrubs. Consider boxing around exposed plumbing to allow space for insulation and keep out the biting wind.

Always drain your hose bib completely and bring any detachable components into the house or garage for winter. Have an experienced irrigation specialist or landscaper service your sprinkler system to get it ready for the cold weather. This process differs, depending on the type of sprinkler heads involved.

Once the piping and tanks used for exterior plumbing fixtures have been drained, detach the P-trap and drain interior components. Reinstall the P-trap for the winter months and use anti-freeze in the system if you re still worried about problems caused by cold temperatures.

Think about all of the potential problem areas, not just those directly connected to your main plumbing systems. Issues with hose bibs and sprinkler systems can result in serious water damage, but winterizing your rain barrel, outdoor toilets and stand-alone irrigation systems also reduces the risk of problems. Rain barrels and rain basins should be drained, as well as any piping and valves connected to this equipment. If possible, store them out of the weather (in your shed or garage). Permanent rain barrels and water collection basins can be covered for the winter, to protect from cracking, splitting and other damage that often arises in the extreme temperatures of December to March.

Several issues can arise over the winter months, causing serious damage to your plumbing system, both inside and outside the house. Be sure to take care of maintenance issues in the fall, such as scheduling a septic tank pump and draining exterior plumbing fixtures. Have your water heater inspected and repaired on a regular basis and add insulation to any pipes installed within exterior walls. These tips will help you avoid common winter plumbing problems and keep your home running smoothly all year round.

4 Plumbing Projects to Improve Water Quality in Your Home

Water quality remains a vital issue around the world. Canadians have access to clean, safe water, but there are several plumbing upgrades and home improvement projects that provide your family with good tasting, safe and clean water in a convenient way. Check these out and consider how to enhance your home.

Install a Drinking Water Filter

No matter where your water comes from, municipal supply or a well, adding a filter helps to improve quality and taste. Modern innovations have made residential water filtration systems even better, moving from simple pitcher filters to in-faucet filters and those incorporated directly into your plumbing. Choose the best type for your family, depending on budget and supply needs.

  • Faucet Filters – these products screw into your existing faucet and act much like the pitcher systems made widely popular by companies like Brita. With a more convenient design, faucet filters allow you to fill your drinking water glass directly from this faucet, with several key contaminants eliminated from the water. Maintenance includes filter changes and typical costs are affordable.
  • Single Stage Filters – a larger, more advanced version of the faucet filter, single stage water filters are installed at your kitchen sink by a licensed plumber and often come with a drinking water tap for easy visual reference. The filter removes dirt, sediment and contaminants such as copper, lead and chlorine. Maintenance includes filter changes and typical costs range from $100 to $300, depending on the brand and installation costs.
  • Reverse Osmosis Filters – the ideal home water filtration system, this design uses carbon filters and various membranes to eliminate nearly all of the contaminants present in our drinking water. The unit is mounted within your plumbing system and may have a separate tap, depending on the brand. Several manufacturers offer reverse osmosis systems, including General Electric, Kohler and Culligan. Maintenance includes filter changes and typical costs range from $500 and up, based on the brand and installation fees.

Water filters allow for tastier, healthier drinking water but do not have the capability to purify water, in case of contamination after a storm. Always stay on top of your regular maintenance and keep track of filter performance to ensure your family receives the cleanest water possible.

Replace Rusted Plumbing

Old galvanized plumbing rusts, creating a mess in your appliances and resulting in premature wear and damage. Rust in the dishwasher or washing machine is a common sign of this problem. Although rusting pipes may not affect drinking water, this condition often shows up in your hot water, affecting bathing and showering, as well as the washing machine and dishwasher.

Some plumbers recommend installing a filter on the hot water pipe. This could be a temporary solution, but eventually decay will eat away at your plumbing and a full replacement becomes necessary.

Replace the pipes with copper or high quality PVC. Your plumber can provide a cost estimate for both options. Any connections made with the aged galvanized plumbing require copper piping and dialectic unions to prevent further corrosion.

Are you planning any other home improvement projects in the near future? Bathroom renovations, kitchen remodels, finishing the basement, replacing trim or patching up old drywall provide an opportunity to upgrade the existing plumbing before rust becomes a problem. Avoid rust stains on your clothing and dishes by planning to replace older pipes before corrosion sets in.

Install a Water Softener

Water softeners deal with hard water issues naturally present in many areas of Canada. Supplying hot and cold softened water to your plumbing system and appliances, this equipment allows for a more comfortable lifestyle. Hard water creates staining and often makes it difficult to get completely clean during a bath or shower. Your family will appreciate the function and results of a quality water softener.

Water softeners improve efficiency in your home. Soft water heats faster, cutting down on the energy needs of your water heater, and soft water creates less strain on your appliances. Experts state that using soft water in your hot water system cuts down energy usage by at least 20 percent for both electric and gas-powered hot water heaters.

Minerals and metals found in hard water are deposited in pipes, valves and other components of your plumbing system, resulting in premature wear and back ups. Avoid excessive repairs and clogged pipes by installing a quality water softener. Several manufacturers offer models of various sizes, including General Electric, Kinetico and Pelican.

Although you may be tempted to install a water softener yourself, DIY plumbing presents several challenges. You must have the right tools and a decent amount of plumbing knowledge. Hire a professional for this project to ensure your family realizes all of the benefits this plumbing project presents.

Have Your Well Water Tested

Well water testing is a vital maintenance step for those properties using a private or semi-private well. DIY test kits can be found at your local hardware store, but a thorough, professional test allows for trusted results. Invest in professional testing on a regular basis and become familiar with the rules for drinkable water, as per government resources.

Industry experts provide two types of water well testing, including:

  • Bacteriological testing for the presence of bacteria that commonly exists when a well has been contaminated with fecal matter
  • Chemical testing for the amount of naturally occurring chemicals to ensure a proper, healthy balance in your drinking water

Bacteriological testing should be done 2 to 4 times per year, depending on the well depth. Shallow wells require more frequent testing. Chemical analysis can be done every few years. These processes ensure a safe, potable water supply.

Whether you live in an urban center, the suburbs or a rural area, water quality remains important to your overall health and lifestyle. Consider how these four plumbing projects can help to ensure safer, cleaner water and a more efficient home. From water filters to water softeners, pipe replacement and water well testing, each of these projects provide valuable benefits to your family.