Category Archives: plumber/ plumbing

4 Must Have Tools for DIY Plumbing Jobs

The average home has plenty of plumbing jobs that creep up and need your attention. Although it s not for the amateur and requires a healthy respect for the craft of plumbing, it is possible to tackle these projects yourself. To be better equipped and ready to handle anything, have these four tools handy when the plumbing calls.

1) Soldering

Many homeowners have a propane torch for soldering and that may be all that you need for smaller jobs. But if you re taking on an extensive plumbing project that requires a lot of soldering you should get your hands on an acetylene torch.

Hotter than propane, this torch will make soldering a breeze. Sourcing out the fuel may be a bit more difficult, but most local welding shops can hook you up with tanks and a fuel supply.

2) Cutting Copper Tubing

Yes, you can use a hacksaw. But if you want a smooth, precise cut that will result in the best fittings and a solid job invest in a quality tube cutter. It s a specialty tool with a hardened steel cutting wheel that fits around the tubing. You tighten the blade and the result is a fine cut that s generally free from the frayed and rough edges your hacksaw delivers.

3) Wrenches

Pipe wrenches are impressive things that look as if they could do genuine damage. You need to have a few different sizes on hand when you re tackling a plumbing project. Be sure to have at least a 14 pipe wrench and look for another one that s adjustable. Getting around that toilet and mastering those tight fits is much easier with good quality wrenches.

4) Laying the Pipe

Besides all of the tools to handle the actual plumbing and fittings, you will need a good reciprocating saw to make a path for the plumbing. Cutting through studs, flooring and ceilings with precision and speed is much easier with a reciprocating saw. The good news is that you ll find plenty of other uses for this tool, from woodworking to drywall repairs and running electrical wiring.

Besides all of these tools you ll also need the usual suspects: a good set of screwdrivers and plenty of pliers on hand; tape measure and levels for the planning and layout stages and marking tools like carpenter s pencils or chalk.

Make sure to invest in the best quality tool you can afford. Even if you will only use it every so often, you will appreciate that the tool is dependable and can take the abuse you re bound to hurl at it. Always clean and dry your tools after use and store them properly. It can be surprising that you need to dry your plumbing tools, but the components and parts will break down and corrode if not taken care of well.

Safety equipment is important when working with the saws and torches you ll need for DIY plumbing projects. Get yourself a pair of steel toed boots and safety goggles or a full mask before you start the planning stage. And don t forget to take out the proper permits.

Tips to Save Money When Hiring a Plumber

Plumbing is a necessity during many different renovation projects. And plumbing repairs will eventually crop up in your home no matter how well maintained it is. Although DIY plumbing projects can save you money, certain tasks, designs and situations are best left to a professional.

Does plumbing always have to be an expensive endeavor? With a little bit of know how and a lot of discernment you can save money when hiring a plumber and still end up with a job well done.

Choose Wisely

Be sure that you contact referred companies when searching for a plumber, those that have done work for friends or family. Go after contractors with a good reputation and a level of expertise that comes with time in the field. You might assume that they will be the most expensive, but when you try saving money with an inexperienced or cut throat contractor you re bound to pay in the end.

Get the Details

Always get the quotation for your plumbing job in writing. A number tossed about in conversation may sound great, but if you have an agreed to cost on paper there will be less surprises and potentially less cost overall.

If the contractor refuses to commit to a price for the job due to potential complications or unknowns, ask them to commit to an hourly rate and record the time spent on your project. In everything, make sure you have a record of what this project will cost you and leave nothing to chance.

Know Your Stuff

Plumbing is a complicated trade and many homeowners panic when water or flooding is an issue. That is when you are particularly vulnerable to being overcharged or charged for something you don t truly need.

Even if you can t complete a plumbing project yourself it pays to know as much as possible about how the systems work and what is necessary to repair them. Pick up a basic plumbing guide for homeowners and read it through. This will allow you to get familiar with the terminology and the use of the main components in plumbing.

If your contractor suggests something that you feel is unnecessary, this information will give you the ammunition you need to object or at the very least, question the plumber s suggestion.

Buy Fixtures Yourself

A simple way to save money when hiring a plumber is by purchasing the fixtures yourself. You ll save money on the markup and may even have a chance to pick up the desired faucet, tap, sink or toilet on sale.

Find out for sure whether the plumber will install a new fixture that they haven t provided and clarify whether their warranty is applicable on any fixtures that you purchase yourself.

Save Time

Many plumbers charge by the hour, meaning that if you can save them time, they will save you money. Try sourcing out a local plumber to cut down on travel costs. Also, while your plumber is on site, have them look after a variety of different plumbing situations at once. In that case, you ll save them having to come back to fix or replace another problem shortly afterward.

Plumbing projects are bound to come up and the services of a qualified plumber are highly valued. Save money where you can by hiring a reputable contractor, asking for the contract in writing, knowing the basics of house plumbing and purchasing your own fixtures. Also, while your preferred contractor is there, have them take care of any other plumbing projects you have, saving both time and money.

Top Five Design Tips for Your Plumbing Project

Most people think that since plumbing is behind the walls there is little value to a good design. But for the most efficient system that costs the least amount of money to install, plumbing design is essential.

There are three main elements needed in every plumbing system incoming water source, drainage for waste water and ventilation. Water obviously needs to come in and go out of your home through a path that makes sense. You must also include ventilation for the gases that accumulate in your plumbing system. When all of these come together you have yourself a well designed plumbing project.

Top Five Plumbing Design Tips

1) Codes Are Your Friends

Building codes provide a framework for construction projects within and around your home. Plumbing codes are no exception and allow you the freedom to design and build safe, efficient plumbing systems within the guidelines.

When you ignore the codes you run the risk of putting your own family in danger, as well as increasing the chance of property and environmental damage.

2) Plan For the Future

When you are taking on a large plumbing project (whether DIY or with the help of a plumber) it s best to design for your future needs as well as the necessities of today. Maybe you ve always wanted an ice maker in your fridge, but haven t purchased the appliance yet. By incorporating that plumbing need into your design the process will be much smoother when you do make that refrigerator purchase.

3) Inspections Must Be Passed

Just as following codes are important, the plumbing project in your home must pass an inspection. It is not enough to simply read up on the codes and follow them while you are working with waste water and ventilation systems. Without a properly designed plumbing project that follows all of the codes and passes the thorough inspection of a qualified (and certified) professional, there is a danger of serious and even fatal diseases occurring within the walls of your home.

4) Plumbing Materials Are Often a Matter of Preference

Whether you should opt for copper, galvanized, ABS or PEX pipe in your plumbing project is difficult to say. Most often ABS is used for waste water and ventilation, but copper is a popular choice for incoming water. More plumbers are choosing PEX, but this type of pipe is harder to work with and may cause headaches for the DIY crowd. Once you have your plumbing design layout you can price out the different types of plumbing material to help you make a decision. Be sure to ask what types of specialty tools and components may be needed for each particular type of piping.

5) Provide Plenty of Drainage and Easy Clean Ups

The general rule is that for every foot a horizontal pipe travels, it must drop 1/4″ to provide decent drainage. Plumbing design involves a lot of calculations in order to come up with the most efficient system. You can also go over and above those bare minimum requirements with handy features like a gravity hot water loop that re-circulates and provides heated water almost instantly at any fixture in your home. Also be sure to include plenty of clean outs along your plumbing lines to make clog removal easier.

Good plumbing design is achieved through education and experience. A plumber or plumbing consultant should be able to guide you through your project and provide an efficient design that covers the three main elements of incoming water, outgoing waste and ventilation. Follow the local building codes, book your inspection and decide which materials are best suited for your project. Don t forget to include future plumbing needs into your design and provide for decent drainage and easy clean outs. Your hard work will produce a top notch job when these plumbing design tips are put into practice.

Top Plumbing Repairs Best Left to the Professionals

Most people don t pay any attention to their plumbing until there is a problem. Then, depending on the scope of the issue, the condition of your plumbing will take center stage in your home. Plumbing repairs range from small issues like a leaky faucet to major problems like a burst valve. And the damage from faulty plumbing can be disastrous to your home and your wallet.

It pays to have the knowledge of a professional plumber on your side. But that knowledge comes at a price and many homeowners are attempting plumbing repairs on there own, taking the DIY route.

As with any specialty, there are certain things in plumbing that a novice or amateur can do and certain things best left to the professionals. If you run across these top plumbing repairs, don t hesitate call a pro before one problem turns into many.

Installing a Garbage Disposal System

Under the sink garbage disposals are a wonderful addition to your kitchen. They are convenient, cut down on waste headed for the landfill and help keep your home tidy. But they are also not something you want to attempt to install on your own.

Garbage disposals involve both plumbing and electrical work. The removal of the old disposal can get complicated and fitting in the flange is a tricky job that will require at least two sets of hands (for a beginner). In certain systems, the dishwasher is connected to the garbage disposal as well, making it an even more involved project.

Do the smart thing – when looking to have a new garbage disposal installed or when replacing your existing model, call a plumber for a fast, reliable job.

Gas Fittings and Running Gas Lines

Whether you are installing a gas BBQ or a new gas fireplace, running gas lines is a highly specialized skill. Natural gas is a dangerous fuel that can cause serious injuries when not installed properly and may even result in a fatality. Although you may be able to run the copper plumbing up to whatever appliance your connecting, only licensed plumbers and gas fitters should be handling valves and connections.

Gas lines need to be properly marked and run a certain way for safety. Having a gas line or gas appliance installed by a professional ensures that your family is protected from major accidents and dangerous levels of poisonous gas.

Fixing a Toilet That Leaks

Toilets are funny things. Although most of the time they operate well, a toilet in need of repair is generally useless. If your toilet is running constantly, a simple repair in the tank is often all that s needed. But when there is water seepage or leakage at the base of the toilet you will need the help of a pro to diagnose and repair.

Water should only be on the inside of your toilet, but when problems arise it will collect at the base and eventually cause mold, mildew and even rot to occur. Toilets that leak may be repairable. For example, adding insulation to the inside of a tank to stop the toilet from sweating is a simple fix. No matter what the problem, plumbers can steer you in the right direction when it comes to a leaky toilet and have your system back up and running in no time.

DIY plumbing is possible with the right tools and a little bit of know-how. But for garbage disposal installation, gas fittings and leaky toilets, as well as many other serious and urgent plumbing repairs, calling in a professional is the smartest thing to do.

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.

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.