Plumbing on the Road: Plumbing for RVs and Campers

Getting To The Root Of Your Plumbing Problems: When Tree Roots Set Up Residence In Your Sewer Pipes

Posted by on Nov 13, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Getting To The Root Of Your Plumbing Problems: When Tree Roots Set Up Residence In Your Sewer Pipes

If you have slow or sluggish pipes, you probably assume that the problem lies in your household drains. After all, nearly everyone knows that grease and food particles can stick to the inside of your drains and create clogs. But that is not the only reason for slow and sluggish drains. Sometimes the problem runs much deeper. The roots of nearby trees can work their way into your sewer pipes and block the flow of water as it leaves your home. How do the roots get into the pipes? Tree roots grow deep in the earth and can spread to a wide area. Because the main purpose for tree roots is to seek out water and nutrients, they are well-adapted to finding sources of water. The nutrient-rich water in your sewer pipes is a virtual feast for roots. The tiny root hairs will work their way into fissures or loose joints in the pipe to seek out the water inside. How do a few hair roots cause a problem in the pipes? There are two major ways tree roots cause a problem in your sewer pipes. Clogs: Once inside, the roots begin to grow and expand rapidly as they absorb water and nutrients from your waste water. They often form a mass of fine hair-like roots that trap fat, grease and food particles as they pass through the root mass. This can create a clog in the pipe. Burst Pipes: Over time the roots get larger and reach further. According to a report by KOIN 6 in 2014, tree roots can grow at a rate of 1 inch a day when the tree is thirsty and is actively seeking water. When the roots get too large for the pipe, they will exert pressure on the sides of the pipe and eventually burst the pipe. How do you get rid of tree roots in your sewer pipes? There are several techniques for removing tree roots from drain pipes. The technique used depends on the size of the roots and the location of the problem. Root Killer: Fine hair roots that have not had time to expand and grow into a massive root system can often be treated with chemical root killer. This is typically flushed down the toilet where it goes to work killing the roots. Cutters: Your plumber can often cut larger roots out of your pipes by inserting a special motorized cutter into the pipes and trimming away the roots. Manually: Large roots may need to be manually removed by pulling them out of the pipe. How can you prevent problems with roots in the sewer pipes? There are several things you can do to reduce the risk of tree roots in your pipes. Do not plant trees over the sewer line. Consider moving shrubs, bushes and trees that have been planted too close to your sewer line. Remember trees often have a root system as large as the canopy of the tree. Use a chemical root killer in your sewer pipes regularly. This will kill any new roots on contact, keeping the pipe free of roots. Have your pipes inspected and cleaned regularly. Your plumber can run a camera down the plumbing line to determine if any roots have breached the pipe and take care of them...

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Why Frequently Unoccupied Homes Need Hot Water Heater Flushes & How You Can Perform One

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Why Frequently Unoccupied Homes Need Hot Water Heater Flushes & How You Can Perform One

If you own a second home that is frequently unoccupied, then you probably know all too well how things can go wrong when you’re away. Performing preventative maintenance can help keep things running smoothly, but one specific maintenance task you may not have considered is the need to flush the hot water heaters on a regular basis. Below is more information on why hot water heaters need regular flushing, particularly in homes that aren’t occupied, as well as how you can easily flush hot water heaters using a few common tools and materials: Why hot water heaters need to be flushed Hot water heaters accumulate foreign debris that enters via the incoming water supply or precipitates during the heating process. These sediments can build to a level where they insulate the water from the heat source. This increases energy costs as the hot water heater is forced to adjust its heat output in order to adequately warm the water. In addition, collecting sediment may also cause blockages within the hot water heater and pipes, and these blockages can reduce the life of the heater and create dangerous overheating within the device. The problem of accumulating sediment becomes particularly acute when property sits vacant for long periods of time without use of the hot water. Even a hot water heater that is turned off can still accumulate sediment if the cold water supply is still active. Flushing hot water heaters is a simple, straightforward solution to the problem of accumulating sediment. It removes sediments and any other debris that might accumulate in the hot water heater and both prolongs the life of the tank and cuts energy costs. Here is how you can safely flush hot water heaters: Tools and materials needed Garden hose with ¾-inch female hose connector Eye protection Gloves Flat-bladed screwdriver Five-gallon bucket Step-by-step procedure 1. Work safely—Hot water heaters are pressurized vessels that can kill or injure careless persons. That’s why you must disconnect the energy supply to the heater before performing any work, including flushing the tank, and be sure that no one can accidentally turn it back on during maintenance. Always turn off gas supply valves and switch off the appropriate breaker circuit at the main panel. In addition, you should protect your body when working on a hot water heater; sudden water releases can severely scald you. Wear eye protection as well as leather work gloves when performing work on a hot water heater. Allow the hot water inside the tank to cool after turning off the gas or electrical power before conducting maintenance. 2. Connect the garden hose to the water heater drain—Locate the drain on the hot water heater, which will probably be located at the lower end of the tank. Screw a ¾-inch garden hose to the drain outlet and route the other end of the hose to an outdoor location that is lower than the bottom of the water heater. If you aren’t able to route the hose outside, direct the discharge into a bathtub, shower or large bucket. Just keep in mind the need to periodically pause the flushing process so you can empty the bucket. 3. Open the drain valve—After routing the other end of the hose to a safe location and permitting the water inside the...

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Drains Perpetually Clogged? Here’s What It Could Mean And What You Can Do To Fight Future Clogs

Posted by on Jun 23, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Drains Perpetually Clogged? Here’s What It Could Mean And What You Can Do To Fight Future Clogs

Old homes are prone to clogs and other issues if they still have their original plumbing. While this can be a nuisance, many homeowners would rather just deal with the occasional clog than pay for plumbing repairs. If your drains have a tendency to misbehave, it might be good to call a company like Doctor Fix-It or learn how to tell between a clog that indicates a bigger problem and a harmless one, and what you can do to fight clogs more easily. Determine The Source Of The Clogs In some cases drains that clog often can be a sign of a deeper problem that will only worse if ignored, eventually putting your plumbing out of commission. Even if you don’t mind the additional maintenance, it’s a good idea to find out what exactly is causing the clogs. Drain clogs that are clearly caused by hair, grease, or food that have been washed into the pipes are obviously benign, but other types of clogs aren’t. For example, if a clog often forms deep inside a pipe, this could indicate a serious problem with your line, such as tree roots penetrating the plumbing and catching matter as it floats through. This problem needs to be addressed right away, since allowing the roots to keep growing could totally destroy the affected pipes. Another type of clog that indicates a deeper problem is one where water backs up through your pipes from other places in the house or from the sewer line. This can be unsanitary and often means you need serious plumbing repairs done to prevent flooding your home with waste water. Usually it’s a problem with your main line. If your clogs are an innocent nuisance and not a symptom of something worse, here are a couple of things you can do to make life easier without getting repairs done. Invest In A Drum Auger A drum auger is essentially a longer, more powerful drain snake. If snaking your drains when they clog up is too much physical labor for you, a drum auger can make the process much easier. Drum augers also have more strength against clogs, meaning even stubborn grease or hair clogs can be broken up and fished out of the pipe. You’ll need a power drill to operate an auger. As you hold down the trigger, the wire is pushed through the pipes in a spiraling motion, which allows it to more thoroughly clean them. Due to the power of the auger, however, you should never use it directly on a fixture like a sink or toilet. Instead, remove the fixture and run the line down into the pipe itself. Give Your Pipes A Weekly Cleanse If your goal is prevent clogs before they even form, you can give your pipes some help by forming a weekly routine that will break down matter stuck in your drains. A popular solution is to pour a pot of boiling water down each drain to liquefy grease and other gunk and push it further down the line. For good measure, you can chase the boiling water with a cup or two of white vinegar, which will not only eat away stubborn matter in the pipes, but will also disinfect the drain and get rid of any unpleasant odors. For shower...

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How To Fix Some Of The Most Common Bathroom And Kitchen Plumbing Clogs

Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How To Fix Some Of The Most Common Bathroom And Kitchen Plumbing Clogs

Functioning plumbing in your home is necessary to give you the convenience of such things as running water, sink disposals, and flushing toilets. Plumbing problems can make you realize how much you rely on modern plumbing and the urgency in which you need to get it fixed. Because not all plumbing problems require the services of a professional plumber right away, you can use these plumbing hacks to do your own plumbing system repairs. Clean Your Shower Head When you shower every day, you may not notice the build-up that begins to collect on your shower head’s sprayer holes. Over time, these holes become lined with hard water deposits, altering the water’s trajectory. After several months, the water can stop spraying out of the clogged holes altogether.  You can fix this type of issue by yourself, at home, with a product you most likely already have in your kitchen. A solution of vinegar and water will soak the hard water deposits from off your shower head. If your shower head is detachable, place the shower head inside a bowl full of one part white vinegar and one part water. Make sure the mixture completely submerges your shower head. For an attached shower head, fill a gallon plastic bag with the mixture and attach it around your shower head with a tightly-wound elastic. Let this sit overnight, then the next morning wipe down the shower’s sprayers to remove any particles still remaining. Remove a Toy Clogging the Toilet If you have small children in your home, there is a chance a child will flush a toy down your toilet. If the toy is large enough, it won’t go into your sewer pipes, but will remain inside the toilet’s main pipe. A toy in the pipe will prevent waste from flushing, so you will need to get it out. Don’t use a toilet plunger on the toy because it will only push it further into your plumbing. Instead, get a wet/dry vacuum and place the nozzle into the toilet’s pipe to suck out the water and the toy from the toilet plumbing. Most wet/dry vacs have anywhere from two to six motor horsepower and several can suck up two gallons of water in under two seconds. Prevent Sink Drain Clogs It is better to do preventative maintenance on your sink drains to keep them draining freely than to wait until they are clogged to clean them out. Most sink and tub drains get clogged with hairs and soap scum that collect inside the drain. If you can clean the gunk out of the drain every couple of months, you will prevent the buildup from accumulating and causing a clog. You will also avoid using harsh chemicals to dissolve drain clogs. To maintain your drain’s cleanliness, remove the drain stopper and scrub it clean with a scrub brush. Then, using needle-nosed pliers, pull out any clogs of hair down inside the drain. Once you have removed all the soap scum and hair clogs, use a pipe cleaning brush and scrub out the inside of your drain to remove all gunk and build up from inside. Rinse the area clean and replace the sink stopper. You can do this to your bathtub and shower as well. Fix a Jammed Garbage Disposal When your...

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Refrigerant Leaks In Air Conditioning Units And Systems: 3 Common Detection Methods

Posted by on Apr 9, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Depending on the age of your air conditioner, it either uses R-22, Freon coolant or R410-A, which is a more environmentally friendly option, as a refrigerant. All of these refrigerants contain chemicals harmful to the environment, and to your health if it is inhaled. In addition, a 10% loss in refrigerant volume can result in an increase in electricity cost of about 20%. If you suspect there is a refrigerant leak, contact a repair technician in your area immediately. There are 3 common detection methods that can confirm whether there is a leak and also identify the location of the leak so you can do an air conditioning repair. Keeping It Old School — Using Bubble Solution The old school method of determining whether there is a leak and the location of the leak is to use a bubble solution. This cost-efficient method can be performed by experienced homeowners as well. It basically involves applying a soap solution at suspected leak points. If there is a leak, the refrigerant will produce bubbles that will ooze out from the leak site. It is a very visible method. Although simple and cost efficient, the bubble solution is not very effective in identifying small leaks, and may also not be the best solution for windy conditions.  Sniffing Out the Leaks with an Electronic Detector Changes in the conductivity of gas or detecting electrodes after breaking apart molecules in the refrigerant can also be an effective detection method. There are two different types of electronic detectors: Corona-suppression detectors and heated-diode detectors. Both are considered as one of the most accurate detection methods available at the moment although they do require some technology, and tend to be a bit more time-consuming and expensive. Corona-suppression detectors measure changes in the conductivity of gases that pass through two electrodes. Air conditioning repair technicians will be looking for a drop in current between two points, as it indicates that insulating gas is present. You can expect a greater current drop to be correlated to a higher concentration of gas. The heated-diode detectors function quite differently. These detectors will heat up the refrigerant and break the molecules apart. This will cause different charges to be allocated throughout the refrigerant with chlorine or fluorine ions within the solution becoming positively charged. Heated-diode detectors will look for areas with a high concentration of positive ions. If you’re interested in electronic detectors, most experts would recommend heated-diode detectors because they are less likely to trigger false alarms than Corona-suppression detectors. Using Fluorescent Dyes for Fluorescent Leak Detection Last but not least, you can use fluorescent dyes to determine whether there are any leaks. Fluorescent dyes will be added into the air conditioning system by being mixed in with the refrigerant through the lubricant. If the refrigerant is leaking, then so will the dye. Once the fluorescent dyes are added into the system, the repair technicians will allow your air conditioning units and systems to run for a bit before using an ultraviolet or blue light lamp to scan for the presence of a bright dye. Fluorescent leak detection methods are the most popular nowadays because it easily shows where the leaks are. If you’re interested in this detection method, you want to make sure the repair technician chooses a fluorescent dye compatible with...

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Maintaining Your Water Heater: Tips For Preventing Burns And Possible Infections

Posted by on Mar 31, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Your trusty water heater has always been there when you desperately needed a shower after a long day at work, or had a sink full of dirty dishes you were finally ready to tackle! However, did you know that although the water coming from your taps seems safe, it might accidentally scald or even sicken your family members? If you’ve never taken the time to maintain, adjust or flush your water heater, here are two reasons why it’s vital to pay attention to this often-overlooked appliance: The Dangers of Hot Water Burns Nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing your child in pain, which is why it’s important to prevent needless accidents, especially around the home. One of the best places to start is with the water heater. According to the Burn Foundation, setting the temperature on your water heater to between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Not only is this temperature sufficient to enjoy a hot shower and get your dishes clean, turning down the heat can save you big money on your electric bill! Adjusting the temperature on your water heater isn’t as complicated as you might think, either. According to The Family Handyman, here is how to ensure your water heater’s temperature is ideal for your whole family: Locate the temperature dial, which on most models is on the side of the heater. In some cases, adjusting the temperature will be as simple as turning the dial to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, in other cases, you will need to adjust the dial from “hot” to “warm.” If you don’t have numbers on your dial, you must check the water temperature until its between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the Family Handyman, the best way to do this is to run the tap and test the water with a meat or candy thermometer. Continue to adjust the dial as needed until you reach the temperature you’re after. If you’re not able to reach the ideal temperature, or just can’t seem to figure out how to adjust your water heater, don’t hesitate to contact a professional for help! Water Heaters and the Threat of Bacteria Having a water softener is a great way to combat hard water, but did you know that all those minerals and sediment can still build up inside your water heater? Aside from causing a nasty clog in your pipes, this build up can potentially make your family sick. Mixed in with the lime and other types of sediment are two potentially dangerous substances: calcium carbonate and a variety of different bacteria, including Legionella. Although calcium carbonate is safe for humans in small quantities, when it’s consumed in large quantities over a period of time, it can cause some nasty symptoms, including: Nausea and vomiting Kidney stones A severe loss of appetite The Legionella bacteria can also thrive inside your water heater because the water and sediment inside provides the ideal environment. Turning your water heater’s temperature to between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit can kill most of this bacteria, but unfortunately, it can still find its way into your family’s drinking water. If you’re worried about exposing your loved ones to calcium carbonate and the different germs that might be living inside your hot water heater, the best way to...

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Cold Spot Conundrums: How To Balance Your Heating System

Posted by on Mar 13, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Few things can leave your home feeling uncomfortable all winter long like cold spots. If you’ve found that the average temperature from room to room varies in your house, it’s time to start focusing on where all of that warm air is going. The best way to do that is to assess and balance the heating system so that the heated air is distributed equally throughout the house. The process of balancing your HVAC system will allow you to measure the air distribution and then adjust the system as needed. Check the Ambient Temperature Walk through your house from room to room and evaluate the temperature in each room. Make note of the rooms that feel colder or warmer than the rest of the house. Rooms where the temperature is markedly different may need some adjustment to the air flow in the room. If it’s particularly cold, check the air vent to see if there might be a blockage preventing air from flowing into the room. Adjust the Air Registers Inspect the air registers in each room of the house to make sure that they are open and allowing air to travel through the ducts into the room. Each air register should be fitted with a lever for adjusting the fins so that you can control the air flow. Start the process by making sure that all of the levers are open as far as they’ll go. Once you have maximized the air flow, let the system run for a bit and then inspect the room temperatures again. Make a note of any that seem to be more balanced than before. If some of the rooms that were cold now feel consistent with the rest of the house, the problem was in the position of the vents. For rooms that are too hot, you may be able to control the temperature by closing the vents slightly to limit the warm air distributed into the room. Smaller rooms may need less warm air than larger ones for the same benefit. Inspect the Air Ducts Another potential problem area is the air ducts in your HVAC system. Look at each air duct individually, inspecting them all closely for any holes or damage. If there are any holes or other damage in the air ducts, it will lead to a reduced air supply throughout the house. Depending on where the damage is, it could be progressive from room to room or it could be isolated to a single room. The more you know about where the damage is, the easier it will be to address it and eliminate that as a source of fluctuation in your air flow. Wrap holes with sealant tape to keep the air in, or replace the air ducts with new ones. Clean the Filter Check and clean the air filter that fits in the furnace. If the filter is disposable, replace it. Remember that air filters need to be replaced every few months to keep air flowing properly in the system. The more air that flows through the furnace, the more effectively it will heat your home. Control the Dampers Adjust the manual balance dampers along the air ducts to help regulate the air pressure that flows through the ducts. Most systems are fitted with these dampers...

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An Alternative To Downpipes: Enhance Your Home With Rain Chains

Posted by on Mar 11, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Ever since the 1998 Winter Olympics was hosted in Nagano, Japan, Americans have an aesthetically pleasing and energy efficient alternative to downpipes — rain chains. Rain chains incorporate links and pots that are linked up in a chain to redirect water from the roof to a rain barrel, cistern, into a rain garden, or just about anywhere of your choice. You just want to make sure that the rain does not get redirected to an area where it will pool and remain stagnant, as this attracts pests, like mosquitoes.  Installation of Rain Chains Rain chains are relatively easy to install, and normally simply replace where the downpipes are to be located. Once you have found a design and style that you like, use a hole saw to drill a hole in the gutter where you would like the rain chain to be placed. You can even use the hole where an existing downspout may be located if you would like to save money and time. Next, remove the downspout from the roofing area and paint any exposed coupling to match the gutter for aesthetic purposes. Finally, you want to place the hanging bracket of the rain chain overtop the hole that you have drilled, making sure that the hook hangs through the hole. The rain chain can then be attached to the hook. You do not necessarily have to purchase pre-linked rain chains. There are many manufacturers that offer various links and pots that can be linked together for the design and style that you want. Some homeowners have even incorporated various metal designs and ornaments into their rain chain. You want to place a heavy weight at the end of the chain to prevent it from being whipped around by the wind during extreme weather conditions. It is important to make sure that the metals that you use are properly treated to be corrosion and rust resistant. For example, rain chains made from galvanized steel tend to rust frequently, and will need to be painted over with a special finish to protect the underlying metal from rusting. A Great Tool for Rain Harvesting Did you know that households in the U.S. use about 29 billion gallons of water on a daily basis? Of which, 8.5 billion gallons of water is devoted solely to outdoor use. Your household could save a lot of money on your water bills by harvesting rainwater and reusing it for outdoor purposes, such as watering your lawn, the bushes, and other plants. Rain chains with pots in them tend to be better at harvesting rain. You can periodically dump out the rainwater that has been collected into a rain barrel for irrigation purposes. Aesthetic Enhancement to Your Home Rain chains are particularly popular due to the aesthetic enhancement that they add to your home. Not only do most rain chains offer a more rustic and nostalgic appearance that helps to enhance the home, as downspouts and downpipes look quite boring, but they also add a acoustic component. Listening to the rainwater drip down the chains can be quite relaxing, especially at night when you are trying to sleep. Conclusion Rain chains are simple, beautiful and easy to make with several simple tools and materials. There are many different styles and designs that can be customized to better accommodate...

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Three Elements Your Construction Site Porta Potty Should Have

Posted by on Mar 3, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

It is necessary to have portable bathrooms available for use on construction work sites. The construction employees need a private space to do their business and the portable toilets keep the work site clean and hygienic. Because using a dirty toilet is not pleasant, some may avoid using it. For that reason, it is important for your portable potties to have these three characteristics to provide a positive bathroom experience and a healthy work environment. Deodorizers Having the right deodorizers in your bathroom can make the space appear cleaner. When you walk into a stinky bathroom, you immediately recognize the bad smell and judge the space’s cleanliness. Consumer research has found that for a space to be perceived as clean, it needs to smell like cleaning products. When a bathroom has a pleasant or clean scent, it will appear that something has been done to the space to clean it. Whether the space is spotlessly clean and void of bacteria or the space just smells clean, it does not matter. In your brain you recognize this smell as the space being clean. Aside from making a porta potty smell clean, deodorizers can actually treat the bacteria inside the waste collection unit. Deodorizers in a portable bathroom are necessary to neutralize the bacteria of human waste inside the toilet so the bacteria does not spread and infect anyone. Porta potty toilets are treated with deodorizers that bind with the bacteria to also prevent the stink from coming up from the waste collection bin. Soap and Hand Sanitizer Hand sanitizer and soap and water available in a portable toilet will provide two options to wash your hands after using the toilet. Not all construction employees may take the time to wash their hands with soap and water. So, a hand sanitizer with 60% to 95% alcohol concentration provides a similar cleaning solution in the porta potty. A recent study has found that only two out of three people use soap to wash their hands and one out of ten people don’t wash their hands at all. So, providing the convenience of hand sanitizer in a portable toilet is better than providing only soap and water that may not get used. Hand sanitizer can still kill a majority of viruses and bacteria. Cleanliness is important on a work site as sanitizing your hands can cut down on spreading infectious diseases. With more employees washing their hands or using hand sanitizer after using the bathroom, illnesses and sick days can be minimized. Large Space Over the last 150 years the average height of people has increased by four inches. As people are naturally taller and fatter, you will need a portable toilet that has enough space inside and a larger doorway. This gives you the convenience of using the toilet without feeling uncomfortable and cramped. The size of the porta potty matters because no one likes to squeeze into a small space, especially when you are wearing bulky work clothing and carrying tools. Construction employees wear overalls and work coveralls and need more space to maneuver and undress when they visit the porta potty. Additionally, construction employees who are responsible for expensive tools may choose to take them into the bathroom with them. This tool will take up space inside the portable bathroom...

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