New Ideas, Strategies and Products in Plumbing: A Plumbing Blog

How to Recognize and Deal with Corrosion in Your Cast Iron Sewer Main

Posted by on Jan 9, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How to Recognize and Deal with Corrosion in Your Cast Iron Sewer Main

If your home was built in the 1970s or later, there’s a good chance your main sewer line is made from cast iron. Iron sewer lines have a lot of advantages over the clay lines that were used prior to the 1970s. They’re less susceptible to tree root growth and less likely to be crushed or bent by shifting soil or freezing/thawing cycles. However, there is one issue that you should be aware of if you have a cast iron sewer main: corrosion. What is corrosion and what problems does it cause? The main type of corrosion that occurs in a cast iron sewer main is rust. However, you can also get deposits of other minerals that settle out of your water as it washes through the pipe. The issue is not really the corrosion itself; the corrosion layer stays rather thin. Rather, the problem is that the corrosion develops a roughened texture and begins to grab onto items like toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, and other solids that make their way through the sewer pipe. Over time, the clog can grow, obstructing the line. This can lead to a number of symptoms including: sewage backups in your home. You may notice raw sewage gurgling up into sinks, tubs, and toilets. smelly, sewage odors coming from your drains. slow drains that operate at a trickle. toilets that don’t flush completely. What should you do if you think your main sewer line may be corroding? This is not really an issue you can address on your own, so a call to the plumber is in order. When they arrive, they will likely start by looking over the rest of your drain pipes to ensure that the sewage backups, odors, and other problems are not caused by a blockage in a smaller pipe. If no smaller blockages are found, the plumber can send a camera down into your main sewer line. The camera allows them to see, in real time, how much corrosion has built up inside your pipe and whether a clog has also begun to form. Note that even with a cast iron pipe, it is possible that the issue is that tree roots are growing into the pipe and contributing to the problem. If tree roots are discovered, your plumber can use a rotating blade to cut them away. He or she may also insert a special herbicide into the pipe to keep the tree roots at bay. In the long-term, removing the tree that’s too blame will be important. How will your plumber remove the corrosion? If corrosion is, in fact, to blame for your sewer issues, your plumber can use a process called pressure jet cleaning to remove the corrosion and associated clog material. This process involves shooting water at the sides of the pipe at a high speed. How can you prevent the corrosion issue from coming back? Once corrosion has been diagnosed in your main sewer line, you’ll typically want to have your plumber come back every year or two to re-treat the line with the pressurized water jet. There are also a few measures you can take at home to keep the problem from recurring: Avoid using chemical drain cleaners, as these tend to enhance corrosion. Do not flush feminine hygiene products down...

read more

How To Change The Heating Element In Your Water Heater

Posted by on Dec 2, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How To Change The Heating Element In Your Water Heater

Most water heaters last a pretty long time. If you have an electric appliance, then you can expect it to stay in good working order for about 10 years. If your water heater is much newer than this and you notice that the device does not produce as much hot water as it should, then there is a possibility that the water heater is experiencing an electrical issue. There are a few electrical components that can be replaced easily and inexpensively. The heating element is one of these parts, so learn how to remove and replace it.  Removing The Heating Element If your water heater seems to produce only warm water for the last several months or if the water seems to get colder and colder over time, then the heating element may be broken. Electric water heaters have heating elements that heat the water instead of a flame or burner. Electricity runs through a heating wire inside the element and this creates heat. The heat travels through the metal part of the device that encases the wire and the heat transfers to the water. Over time, the heating wire in the element will wear and it can sometimes break. You may hear a loud pop coming from your water heater and the breaker attached to the appliance may also trip. In some case, the metal casing may form a hole when the heating wire breaks. You will be able to see this when removing the heating element. Water heater elements are fairly cheap and they are the easiest part to replace, so start with the replacement even if you have not seen any direct signs of the issue. Before you begin, go to your local store and pick up a heating element wrench. If you have a socket wrench, then you can pick up a socket that is specifically made to fit the back side of the element. These tools are needed to replace the element.  Turn off the electricity to the water heater and then locate the control panel. If you have ever adjusted the temperature of the appliance, then the thermostat will be in the same place as the heating element. There will be either one of two elements attached to the thermostat of the device. The element will have a round hexagon protrusion coming out of the tank. Look for two screws on the protrusion. Loosen the screws with your screwdriver. This will allow you to pull the wires away from the heating element.  Replacing The Element Once the wires are disconnected, drain your water tank. You can place the wrench or your new socket attachment over the metal hexagon part of the heating element at this time. Turn it to the left to loosen it. The element will screw out of the water heater. You will need the element to find a replacement. While most heating elements are universal, you will need to know the shape as well as the length of the part. Also, you will need the specific voltage and wattage of the device. Some elements have the specific electrical information printed on the plastic part where the wiring attaches. If you do not see this information, then look on the sticker attached to the front of the heater.  Go to your local home store...

read more

Three Easy Ways To Get Rid Of The Rotten Egg Smell In Your Hot Water

Posted by on Aug 17, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Three Easy Ways To Get Rid Of The Rotten Egg Smell In Your Hot Water

Jumping in the shower can be an energizing way to start your day or to relax after a hard day’s work. For many it is one of the little joys in life that they take for granted. But, when your hot water suddenly begins to smell like rotten eggs, it can take all the joy out of your shower and leave you feeling stinky. Fortunately, the rotten egg smell is typically harmless and easy to eradicate. Find out where the odor is coming from and how to get rid of it and restore your water to its natural, odorless state. Sources of Smelly Hot Water If your cold water is fine and you only smell the odor of rotten eggs when you turn on the hot water, the culprit is likely hiding out in your hot water heater. When anaerobic (harmless) bacteria in you water come in contact with the metal anode rod, they begin to corrode the rod and release hydrogen sulfide gas, giving rise to the characteristic rotten egg smell. The anode rod is designed to corrode to prevent other parts of your water heater from corroding, so it is actually doing its job, and the odor is just a byproduct. Ways to Get Rid of Rotten Egg Odor in Your Hot Water There are several ways to banish the rotten egg smell in your hot water. Try these solutions. Use Hydrogen Peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is a safe and inexpensive solution that kills the bacteria responsible for creating the odor in your hot water. It isn’t a permanent solution, but it is easy enough to perform that you can use it any time the odor returns. Here’s how to use hydrogen peroxide to rid your hot water of the stench of rotten eggs. Purchase a bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide at your local department store or pharmacy. You will need one cup of hydrogen peroxide per 10 gallons of water. If you have a standard 40-gallon water heater, you will need 4 cups (one quart) of hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide typically comes in pint or quart containers, so you will need two pints or a one-quart bottle to treat your hot water heater. Turn the hot water heater off and allow the tank to sit, without drawing water from your faucets, until the water in the tank cools. You may wish to turn the heater off before going to bed so you can get right to work in the morning. Otherwise allow several hours for the water to cool. Turn off the cold water inlet valve to your water heater. This valve lies between your water source and the heater and is typically located at the top of your water heater. Attach your garden hose to the drain on the bottom of the tank and drain off several gallons of water. Alternately, you can draw water from the hot water heater by turning on your hot water faucet, but it is more difficult to tell how much water you have drawn from the tank, as the reservoir of water in the pipes from the tank to the heater may mislead you. You will need to disconnect the cold water pipe on your water heater and pour the appropriate amount of hydrogen peroxide into the water heater....

read more

Protect Your Pipes From Root Damage With These 3 Tips

Posted by on Feb 16, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Protect Your Pipes From Root Damage With These 3 Tips

You know that feeling of dread that you get when you flush the toilet, and instead of going down the drain, the water in the bowl rises, threatening to overflow? This could happen because of a simple clog that’s easily dislodged with a plunger, but it could also be the sign of a much more serious problem—tree roots that have grown into your pipes. Knowing how to prevent this problem, or how to deal with it before it gets too serious, can save you a lot of time and money. Take a look at some tips that can help you protect your home’s pipes from root damage. Be Careful When Landscaping One of the most proactive ways to protect your pipes is to be cautious with your landscaping. Start by learning where your underground pipes are located. There are a few ways to find out where these pipes are, if you don’t already know. One way is to contact the previous owners of the house. You can find their contact information on the deed to the house or from municipal tax records. Or you can contact the zoning office in your municipality, where you may be able to look at a property map that has the sewer lines marked. If you have a sewer tank, your pipes should run in as straight a line as possible from your basement to the tank. Once you know where the lines are, it will be easier to position trees and shrubs far enough away from them that you won’t have to worry as much about the roots penetrating your pipes. This isn’t a perfect solution—roots can spread very far away from the tree. Some experts say that the roots can spread to two to four times the diameter of the crown of the tree; others say that it’s more like four to seven times the diameter. A lot depends on the type of tree you’re planting. To make matters worse, tree roots will naturally grow in the direction of areas where the soil is moist and has the most nutrients, so even a small crack in your sewer line can essentially attract tree roots. In general, a root protection zone of one foot for every inch of the trunk’s diameter is recommended. Being cautious about the placement of trees in your yard is a good start and can reduce your risk of root problems. Know the Warning Signs of a Leaking Pipe Because leaky pipes attract tree roots, and because tree roots can only penetrate a pipe if it already has at least a small crack in it, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the signs of an underground leak so that you can have it repaired before tree roots invade and cause a bigger problem. Even though your underground sewer lines aren’t visible, there are still visible signs that should clue you in about a leak. If you notice unusually lush, green patches of grass on your lawn, that’s usually a good sign that you have a leak in that area—the additional water causes the lushness. You may also notice indented spots on the lawn where the soil has softened. You may also notice decreased water pressure inside the home, musty or unpleasant odors on your property, and a higher-than-normal...

read more

Own a Big Parking Lot? How & Why You Should Have Your Storm Drains Cleaned Regularly

Posted by on Jan 15, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Own a Big Parking Lot? How & Why You Should Have Your Storm Drains Cleaned Regularly

Most large parking lots have storm drains placed at regular intervals. When it rains, water flows into these drains and then through pipes leading to the sewer system. This prevents your parking lot from flooding. The drains also collect melting snow in the winter so it does not just sit in place and re-freeze, leading to dangerous conditions. What many parking lot owners fail to realize, however, is that in order to keep functioning properly, these storm drains need to be cleaned out on a regular basis. Here’s a closer look at storm drain cleaning, its benefits, and how to tackle the task. Why is storm drain cleaning necessary? As water rushes into your storm drains, it carries a lot of debris with it. From sand to litter, these items build up in the storm drain over time. If they are allowed to build up to too great a level, eventually they will prevent water from draining through the drain and into the sewer pipe. When a heavy rain comes, your parking lot may flood. By preventing your parking lot from flooding, cleaning out your storm drains also reduces the wear and tear on your lot. Water damages asphalt when it sits in contact with it for long periods of time. This means fewer patch repairs and seal coating treatments, as well as a parking lot that just looks newer and less worn. The soil surrounding your parking lot will also stay in better shape because it will experience less erosion due to runoff that occurs when the drains are full. Cleaning your storm drains also prevents unpleasant odors in your parking lot. Leaves, twigs, and litter that wash into the storm drains start decaying in the moist environment, and they can cause quite the stench if left for too long. How do you clean a storm drain? If you are ambitious and don’t mind encountering some odoriferous debris, you can clean your parking lot storm drains yourself. Put on rubber gloves and perhaps a protective plastic suit to protect yourself from contaminants. Then, use a screwdriver to remove the storm drain cover. Lift the cover off, and place it to the side. Most parking lot drains are deep enough that you will need to clean them out with a shovel. Have a wheelbarrow nearby so you have somewhere to dispose of the debris. Reach down into the drain, being careful to stand far enough from the edge that you don’t risk falling in. Just scoop the debris out, and set it in the wheelbarrow. Once most of the large debris has been removed, hook up a wet vac with a wide nozzle. Use this to suck up any small debris, such as sand or asphalt grit. Finally, fill a bucket of water, and add a splash of household bleach. Dump this down the storm drain. The bleach should help kill any bacteria that are lingering in the drain and also remove foul odors. Put the cover back on the drain, and screw it back in place. Repeat these steps for each storm drain. Experts recommend cleaning your storm drains twice per year—once in the spring and once in the fall. As you can see, cleaning out storm drains can be a bit time consuming, particularly if you have many...

read more

3 Reasons The Water In Your House Is Not Working

Posted by on Dec 23, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Reasons The Water In Your House Is Not Working

Waking up to find that you have no water at all is a big problem, and you may immediately suspect the problem is your well. While a dry well can lead to no water in a house, there are other things that can also cause this to happen. Here are three common reasons water in a home stops working completely. Well Pump Lost Its Prime For a well pump to work, it must be primed. Priming a pump is a process that involves eliminating the air out of the line and building up pressure to pump the water from the well to the house. When a pump is installed, it is primed; however, a pump can lose its prime. If this happens, you will not have any water in your house, because the pump is not able to pump it. A plumber can determine if this is the problem by inspecting it. If this is the issue, it can be easily resolved by priming the pump once again. Well Pump Is Shot Well pumps do not usually go bad suddenly. They typically wear out slowly and begin to show signs that they are wearing out. Some of these signs include: The pump running more than it should Low water pressure Short cycling of the pump If you have noticed any of these signs in the last few days or weeks, your well pump may be bad. If a well pump is bad, it will not work. To determine if this is the problem you are having, a plumber will need to inspect the pump. The plumber will make sure there is power to the pump, and he or she will make sure the pump is primed. Typically, well pumps last approximately 10 years; however, they can wear out faster than this in some cases. If your well pump had been pumping dry or short cycling, it could easily have burned up from this. To fix this problem, you will need to get a new pump. A plumber can install this for you, and the plumber will prime it once it is in place and hooked up. Pipes Are Frozen Another reason you may not have water could be from frozen pipes. Of course, this is a problem you could only experience in the winter. This problem would also require having pipes that are exposed to extreme temperatures. When the weather is really cold and pipes are exposed to the cold temperatures, the water inside the pipes can freeze. If there is a lot of water in the pipes, they can freeze completely shut. Frozen pipes are similar to clogged pipes. In other words, water cannot flow through a pipe that is frozen solid, and this could prevent your home from having the water it needs. This is not the only problem caused by frozen pipes though. Another issue that can occur is bursting of the pipes. As water freezes, it expands. If it expands too much, it can cause the pipe to break open, and this can create further problems in your home. If you suspect this is the problem, you should hire a plumber to look for the frozen pipes in your home. Once the plumber finds them, he or she can try to thaw them out. If...

read more

Fixing Or Upgrading The Plumbing By Yourself? Avoid These Top 3 DIY Mistakes

Posted by on Sep 24, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Fixing Or Upgrading The Plumbing By Yourself? Avoid These Top 3 DIY Mistakes

From swapping out a light fixture to completely tearing down and replacing a roof, many Americans are taking on home improvement projects – both big and small. However, there is one seemingly-mundane and straightforward chore that many homeowners take on, but often overestimate their abilities: plumbing. Here are three common DIY plumbing mistakes that many homeowners make, and how to avoid them: There Are Right and Wrong Ways to Unclog A Drain If you’re a homeowner suffering from chronic clogged drains, you may utilize anything and everything around the house to solve this annoying issue. However, before you start pouring strange chemicals or jabbing wire coat hangers down your drain, it’s important to learn the right way to unclog your drain. For example, instead of using harsh chemicals to unclog your drain, utilize a combination of boiling water, baking soda and white vinegar. Begin by pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain. Allow the water to slowly eat away at the clog before pouring a combination of one cup white vinegar and one-half cup baking soda. Allow the baking soda and white vinegar to continue eating away at the drain for 10 minutes. If the clog won’t budget, repeat pouring the vinegar and baking soda down the drain. Inexpensive plastic snakes and removing the drain trap and drain pipe are two additional ways you can eliminate the clog without causing damage. However, be aware that these are potentially messy options, and if you don’t want to spend the afternoon pulling apart your drains or cleaning up the resulting water mess, don’t hesitate to contact a professional, like those at Doctor Fix-It, to take on this task. Forgetting the Finishing Touches Did you know that if you join copper and galvanized steel pipes without a specialized fitting called a dielectric union, chances are the resulting mistake will cause both metals to corrode, leading to a nasty leak? This is only one of the many finishing touches to your DIY plumbing jobs that many homeowners overlook. If you’re replacing or repairing the plumbing in your home, there are many finishing touches you shouldn’t overlook or skip. For example, if you’re installing a new toilet, overlooking the smallest steps, such as making sure the closet bolts are aligned or forgetting to wrap the joints between all the pipes with plumber’s tape, can be disastrous. If you’re taking on any plumbing jobs and aren’t sure if you’ve completed the entire job correctly, call in a local professional to prevent any leaks or water damage. Don’t Forget the Permits From adding square footage to your home to building a brand new garage, when it comes to making major changes to your home or property, chances are you will require a building permit. However, did you know that according to Home Tips, depending on where you live, you may require a permit to relocate the sink in your bathroom or kitchen? If you’re tackling a major plumbing project, such as installing a new septic system or replacing your entire plumbing system, you will also require a permit in most states. However, in some states, even a smaller chore, including replacing your water heater or installing a new toilet, requires purchasing a plumbing permit through your local city hall or courthouse. Instead of taking a...

read more

Choosing The Right Sump Pump For Your Home

Posted by on Sep 11, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Choosing The Right Sump Pump For Your Home

Many people have sump pumps in their basements to help remove water that makes its way into the home. If you do not have one of these pumps and you notice a great deal of water in your basement, then it is wise to purchase a device as part of your home waterproofing plan. You do need to purchase the right pump for your house, and there are hundreds of different options to choose from. If you are not comfortable buying one on your own, then enlist the help of a professional plumber. If you want to get one yourself and have the plumber install it afterwards, then consider the following information. Choose the Right Model One of the most important aspects of installing a sump pump is to buy the right device in the first place. All sump pumps generally work in the same way. Water flows to a central location called the sump basin and a float inside the basin raises as water collects. As the basin becomes half or three-quarters of the way full of water, the water pump inside the sump device activates and forces water through a discharge tube where water drains away from your house. There are two main types of sump pumps to choose from, and these include pedestal and submersible models. Pedestal pumps sit just outside the sump basin, and they are best if you do not have a lot of water coming into your basement. The units are smaller, and the motor is not meant to come into contact with water. This means that if you have larger volumes of water coming into your house, or if the basement sometimes floods entirely, then a submersible unit is best. These devices feature a motor that is sealed inside the sump housing so the entire unit can be placed inside the sump basin below the level of water that moves into the opening.  Consider Capacity Once you decide on the type of sump pump, you will also need to consider the capacity of the unit. Capacity is measured in gallons per minute, and you want a sump pump that will remove water from the home much quicker than it flows into the sump basin. You can measure the water that moves into the basin during a heavy rainfall to figure out the best capacity for your house. Take your measurement by placing a yardstick in the sump pump pit and set a timer for a full minute. Look to see how many inches of water entered the pit within the 60 second period. If your pit is 18 inches wide, then each inch of water will equal a gallon of water. This means that you will need a device that can remove at least 10 gallons of water every minute if your yardstick recorded 10 inches of water entering the pit in one minute. You can also buy a unit that removes around 14 gallons of water every minute if your house is around 1,000 square feet instead of measuring water. If your home is double this size, then double the capacity of the pump as well.  You have the option of purchasing a high capacity sump pump if large volumes of water enter the sump basin during a heavy rainfall. However, these devices are larger, heavier, and...

read more

Replacing Copper Water Pipes – Important Pipe Preparation Tips

Posted by on Jul 28, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Replacing Copper Water Pipes – Important Pipe Preparation Tips

Water supply lines sometimes form cracks and leaks due to general wear and stress. The freezing and thawing of water within the lines as well as the slow degradation of the metal in the pipes can cause issues. Most water lines installed in residences are made from copper, and the pipes can be replaced fairly easily. If you feel as though you have the know-how and the skills to replace the pipes on your own, then you will need to solder the new ones in place. Soldering needs to occur at every joint or connection, so be prepared to spend some time using your soldering skills. Of course, there are many steps that need to be taken before you can solder. Read on to learn about some tips to complete these steps properly. Work in Sections If a longer piping section in your home needs to be replaced, then you will likely need to add a variety of connections to the piping pieces to rebuild the water line. Elbows, t-connectors, bends, and straight connectors are a few examples of the hardware you may need, and the ends of the new pipes will fit into these connectors. Depending on the size of the fitting and your copper pipes, the fitting will overlap over the pipe one-eighth, one-quarter, or one-half an inch. This type of overlap needs to be taken into account when measuring and cutting lengths of pipe. This can be difficult, especially if multiple bends and angled pipes will be added. This is one reason why it is wise to work in sections and to dry fit pipes and connectors along the way. Once the pipes are dry fitted correctly, you can solder them in place. Cut the Pipe To begin the pipe fitting process, you will need to take measurements. To make your measurements, set your tape measure against the flange or wide opening of the last fitting secured. Drag the tape out to where you want the pipe to end. With this measurement in mind, add one-eighth, one-quarter, or one-half an inch to represent the overlap where the next connector is added. Measure your copper pipe afterwards and use a pipe cutting tool to cut the pipe to length. Saws and scissor-like cutting tools are not appropriate for the job, because they rarely make clean cuts and they can crimp ends and leave burrs. This can damage the metal and lead to weak connections. A proper metal pipe cutter is your best option, and there are several varieties you can choose from. These devices use a cylindrical metal blade to scour through the pipe. Adjustable pipe cutters with a tightening knob are a good choice, so you can see the pipe as you make the cut. If you lack the hand strength to tighten the knob or if you are afraid of making angled cuts, then think about a power pipe cutter instead. This device uses a small motor to power the cutting wheel or blade.  Prepare the Ends Properly After you make your cuts, you may see a few slight burrs or uneven edges. These edges can be removed with a piece of fine grit sandpaper. Think about buying some 120 or 180 grit paper and begin by running it along the rough edge of the cut pipe. Afterwards, use...

read more

Bad Smell From Your Heating System? How A Specialist Will Fix The Problem

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

Detecting a strange or bad smell from your heating system is not unusual, but it could be a sign that there is a problem. You may want to hire a plumber or HVAC company to inspect your system to find out what is causing the smell and how it can be fixed. When the company arrives, they are likely to look into three things to find when fixing the problem. Where The Smell Is Coming From The first thing the plumber will want to know is where the smell is coming from. A heating system is made up of a furnace and vents or radiators. Do you notice the smell right be the furnace itself, or is the smell coming from your air vents? Where the smell is coming from will help the contractor determine potential problems that may be causing the odor, and narrowing down what is causing the problem will help determine whether it is a dangerous problem or just an annoying one. Potential Problems That Cause Odors There are numerous things that can cause problems like this to happen. If the smell is coming from the furnace itself, there is a good chance that there is a gas leak somewhere. It is completely normal to smell small traces of gas when standing near your furnace; however, it is not normal to smell sulfur or rotten eggs. Both of these particular scents can signal the contractor to look for a gas leak. Finding a gas leak is not horribly difficult for a contractor. He will generally begin the process by ensuring that all connections are connected properly. After that, he may use a gas detection tool to look for the leak. If the leak is not discovered inside the house, it could be located in the main gas line, which is most likely found underground outside of your home. If the odors are coming from your air vents, it is probably not a gas leak causing the smells, but it could be something trapped inside your air ducts, such as: Bacteria Mold or mildew Dead rodents or animals Allergens In many cases, bad smells coming from air ducts will go away naturally after the furnace runs for a while. If they do not go away on their own, you may want to consider having your air ducts cleaned. During duct cleaning, anything trapped in the ducts will be removed with a high-pressure vacuum designed for this purpose. Ways To Prevent Additional Problems If you problem is caused by a gas leak, fixing the leak will take care of the odors. If the problem is because your air ducts are dirty, getting them cleaned can help eliminate the problem, but there are steps you can take that may prevent this problem in the future, including: Change your air filter regularly – By checking your air filter every month or two, you can ensure that it is replaced when dirty. This will keep the air in your home cleaner and fresher. Wash the air vents – You may also want to remove the vent covers in your home and wash them periodically. When you do this, you can also sweep out the register vents with an attachment on your vacuum. This will help eliminate some of the dust and...

read more