NEVER use or store flammable liquids such as gas, solvents, lighter fluid, mineral spirits, paint thinner or kerosene around water heaters, furnaces or any appliances with the ability for flame or sparks. Keep these products as far way from the appliance as possible, in tightly closed and approved containers. Improperly stored flammable products give off invisible vapors that can travel through the house and be ignited by any number of household appliances. Take precautions when storing flammable items.
Inspections & Permits
Issuing permits and having inspections protects a community by enforcing proper plumbing codes. The permit process lets plumbing inspectors protect consumers by making sure plumbing jobs are done correctly and in accordance with code.
If and when you discover a leaky pipe, shut off the water supply (see "Where and how to shut off water" below) and call us. Water supply systems are under high pressure. Temporary repairs are just that and wrapping the pipe usually fails. Leaks should be given your immediate attention as they can turn into a serious break before you know it.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
Before the freezing weather arrives, disconnect all garden hoses to prevent the hose bib from being damaged. Failing to disconnect hoses from anti freeze hydrants traps water in them and causes them to freeze. Water pipes exposed to cold and drafts can freeze in minutes. Any water pipes exposed to freezing temperature or drafts should be insulated. When possible, drain those exposed pipes if they won't be used in severely cold weather. Smaller water pipes will freeze faster than waste or sewer pipes. Close garage doors in very cold weather if there is plumbing in the garage. When water pipes are laid underground they should be below the frost line to prevent freezing. Also remember to drain underground sprinkler lines in the fall.
They are caused by the condensation of water vapor in the air forming on pipes or fixtures containing cold water. Normally, fixtures will warm to room temperature and the condensation will stop. If it continues to sweat hours after use, it may be a sign that cold water is continuing to flow through it and the fixture may need to have a tank valve adjusted or a leak repaired. Sweating pipes can be wrapped with insulation.
If you have a sump pump, make sure it is always in good condition so it is ready when needed. Make it operate occasionally by tripping the lever after partially filling the basin with water. Doing this every three or four months will help prevent corrosion that could cause the unit to stick when it is really needed.
Clean them often with hot water and soap. If cleaner is needed, use a non abrasive brand. Clean acid or medicine spills immediately and try to avoid using glass or metal jars which may slip and chip the sink.
A hard and durable finish on many plumbing fixtures that requires only the occasional washing with soap and water. When exposed to salt air or other more corrosive atmospheres, wash the fixtures frequently and consider applying furniture wax on the clean, dry fixtures. Green spots may sometimes occur. Prevent rust from spreading by scouring the spots with an abrasive cleaner recommended by the manufacturer. When spots are removed, apply a layer of wax to protect it.
We get more calls to open clogged drains than almost any other service. Many calls can be prevented by greater care in the use of drains. The most used drain is the one in the kitchen sink and that is the drain that clogs most often. You can prevent clogged drains by watching what is emptied into the sink drain and by the regular use of a biodegradable waste digester (call us for more information).
Seat bumpers should be replaced if worn, as they may break the seat or hinges. Stains at the base by the floor may mean that the seal is compromised and should be replaced immediately to prevent water damage to the floor and ceiling below. While the convenience of automatic bowl cleaners is nice, most manufacturers do not recommend them as they accelerate the deterioration of some parts and may cause leaks.
A clogged toilet trap is a tricky problem. Be careful when you try to clear the drain. Most toilets are made of viterous china which could crack if exposed to extremely hot water. A plunger should clear most simple clogs.
Some plumbing codes requires the use of pressure balanced bath and shower valves to prevent scalding in new homes and remodels. There is a better chance of scalding happening if the pressure fluctuates. Older people and young children can be scalded much sooner than adults. A young child can be scalded by 150 degree water in less than a second, but will take more than 4 minutes to scald at 120 degree water.
Tubs and showers are made from the a variety of materials from cast iron to acrylic to marble. Many one piece tub or tub/showers are made from gel coated fiberglass or acrylic. Never use abrasives on your tub! It can scratch the finish. If more than hot water or soap is needed, use a product recommended by the manufacturer. With fiberglass and acrylic tubs, special non abrasive polishes are available to protect the finish by sealing the tub surfaces when working in or around it to prevent scratching from shoes or tools.
Remember to put a heavy cloth in the bottom of the tub so your shoes and tools won't leave scratches. Hold your hand or rag over the waste and overflow plate, cup the plunger over the drain and plunge repeatedly. If that doesn't open it, call us.
If you have a gas or electric water heater, keep the temperature dial at or below the suggested factory setting listed on the water heater. Moving it above that mark means excessive wear on the water heater and the potential for scalding. The burner is easily accessible and should be checked by your plumber periodically to keep it clear of dust or sediment. The flame at full should be a light to dark blue. If the flame is more orange or yellow the gas pressure or air flow needs to be adjusted. Save on your water bills by tempering all hot water as it is used. Letting the hot water run on and on wastes water and fuel.
One way to identify various valves is to tag each one and label its function (for example, master bath). You can ask us to do this for you if we're working at your house. Another option is to create a valve chart of all the basement piping with valves indicated. The valve is usually on the side of the house with the water meter or where the water comes into the house from the well. It usually has a handle like a small wheel and may be hard to turn if it hasn't been used for several years. To make sure it is easy to use in an emergency, it's worthwhile to place a few drops of oil around the valve semi annually.
Changing your furnace filter monthly will help your system run better, longer. Also, change the batteries in your thermostat twice a year when you change them in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Always have a carbon monoxide detector near your gas burning appliances.
When You Call
You can help us help you by telling us, as thoroughly as possible, what is going on. If the toilet is leaking, tell us it's the toilet and not merely a leak in the bathroom. There are thousands of parts used for various plumbing problems and by having as much information as possible before we get there, we will come better prepared for you.