A&A Plumbing

DIY plumbing

Plumbing Checklist For Home Buyers

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We don’t have to tell you that buying a home is a huge investment – it’s usually the biggest investment you’ve ever made! That’s why we recommend you get a whole home plumbing inspection done by your trusty plumbers (hey, that’s us!).

Sure, the home inspector will go through the home and find a lot of the flaws. But, we’ve seen more than a couple cases where there were plumbing issues that should have been found, but weren’t.

Not only is that scary, who knows what could be going on in those pipes, but it’s a missed opportunity. Knowing what kind of pipes and drains you have, and what condition they’re in can be a very useful negotiation tool.

To avoid any surprises down the road, inspect these three things before purchasing a home.

Main sewer line

It’s always a good idea to have a plumber perform a camera inspection on the main sewer line. Not only will it alert you of any clogs, but it can show you the overall condition of the line. If your line is severely deteriorated, this inspection will make you aware of a hidden, costly issue.

Water heater

The rule of thumb is that a water heater will last about ten years. Granted, that estimate is dependant on the water quality, how the heater is being used, maintenance, and installation. For example, if it heats your home and delivers hot water to all of your faucets, there’s a good chance it won’t make it a full ten years.

Having a plumber inspect the water heater to see what condition it’s in and if it’s a good fit for your water needs is a must. A lot of times, families will downsize their water heater after the kids move out, because they’re using less water. So, it’s important to ensure the home’s water heater will meet your family’s needs.

Toilets

A lot of toilets leak at the base. It’s an insignificant problem most of the time, except for when the issue persists. Over time, it can cause serious damage and in some cases, it can make your floor rot.

Luckily, identifying a leaky toilet base is fairly simple:

  1. Look for discoloration or warping around the toilet base.
  2. With your foot, check if the floor moves or feels soft at the base.
  3. Check to see if the toilet bowl will rock from side to side. If it does, it signals that the seal is bad, the toilet isn’t properly secured to the flange, or the flange itself isn’t secured.

We’re not trying to scare you out of buying a home. In fact, we’re trying to inform and empower you. If you have a house you’d like us to inspect or any additional questions, just give us a call!

Plumbing 101: Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

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Welcome to Plumbing 101! If you’ve resolved to become handier around the house this year, then you’re in luck. We’ve compiled some tips that we think every homeowner should know.

Lesson number one, identify this object:

toilet

  1. Chair
  2. Desk
  3. Toilet
  4. Invention of the future

Just kidding, we know you know what a toilet is. You chose option C, right?

In all seriousness, here are the real Plumbing 101 tips:

When in doubt, shut off the water valve.

The last thing you want is to do while performing maintenance is to make things worse by creating a mess, or worse, causing water damage. If you’re working on your plumbing, shut off the valve to that area of the house as a precaution.

Locate the valve for your toilet before you need to use it.

One of the most common issues we see is the good, ol’ overflowing toilet. If you’re unable to stop the water from sloshing out all over your floor, you may be looking at some pretty costly water damage.

Luckily, every toilet has an emergency shut-off valve near it. Many times, it’s located on the wall near the lower half of your toilet. Find it? Good, now commit it to memory in case you ever need to use it.

Find your home’s main water valve.

This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with what we just said. Ideally, you want to know where these things are before you need to use them.

Know how to fix a dripping faucet.

Often, dripping faucets can be fixed by simply replacing the washer. To do so, remove the faucet handle cap and use a socket wrench to remove the valve from the faucet.

Do you see the faucet washer now? Great, take the old one out of there and replace with a new one. Screw everything on, and you’re good to go.

But wait, did you remember to shut of the water to that area of the house before working on the faucet? If not, you better get in the habit of doing so. Trust us, it will save you in the long run.

These are just a few tips to get you going. Expect to see more posts like this in the future, we have a couple more tips up our sleeves.
We sincerely believe that everyone should know how to do simple plumbing tasks. But don’t worry, we’re always here for the tasks you can’t handle on your own.

Frozen Pipes: What You Need To Know

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We’ve all heard them – horror stories of pipes bursting in winter, causing hundreds of dollars of damage. Those stories are exactly why it’s so important to understand what happens when a pipe freezes and how to prevent it from ever happening in your home.

We’re sure you remember learning that water expands when frozen. It’s a lesson every kid in grade school learns, and remembers when a frozen water bottle bursts in their car years later. When water freezes in a pipe, it expands and causes the pipe to crack, no matter how sturdy the pipe was before.

Generally the most vulnerable pipes are those exposed to the outdoors such as hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and pipes located in higher or unheated areas like attics, garages, crawl spaces, and outside walls.

One of the most noticeable signs of a frozen pipe is a drastic decrease in water pressure. More times than not, if your water pressure suddenly decreases in the winter, it’s probably due to a frozen pipe.

There has to be a way to prevent pipes from freezing though, right? You’re in luck! We’ve compiled a fairly lengthy list below to try and save you the trouble of calling us, even though we love hearing from you.

  • Installing your pipes in either an insulated or heated area can help to keep them warm.
  • If your pipes are already installed in an uninsulated area, you can fit them with insulation sleeves or wrapping. You can also install a heating cable to run alongside pipes.
  • Burying outdoor pipes lower in the ground, specifically below the frost line, can be very effective.
  • This one seems obvious, but turning up the heat indoors can help. We know you want to save money on your heating bill, but is a few dollars of savings worth hundreds in repair?
  • Believe it or not, opening cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathroom can help the heat reach pipes nestled in the wall behind them.
  • If you have pipes in your garage, make sure to keep the garage door closed at all times to help retain as much heat as possible.
  • Never let your thermostat reach below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, this even applies when you’re going out of town.
  • In extremely cold conditions, and we mean extremely cold, letting a faucet drip can help prevent a pipe from freezing or a frozen pipe from bursting.
  • Outdoor winterization is extremely important. Before the first freeze, make sure to remove, drain, and store all outdoor hoses. Close the inside valves supplying water to the hose bib and then open the outside bib to allow any remaining water to drain. You can even leave the outside bib open throughout the winter. That way, if there is any water still in there, pressure is never able to build and cause a pipe to burst.

We know it’s a lot to take in, but taking five minutes to learn about frozen pipes can really save you a lot of hassle in the long run. If you suspect a frozen pipe, please call us immediately! Acting quickly can help to prevent any further damage.

Common Winter Plumbing Problems

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It’s that time of year again – the holiday season! A time to welcome long days and nights spent with friends and family. What you don’t want to welcome are plumbing emergencies.

However, more times than not, plumbing emergencies tend to occur at the most inopportune times. If your home is the hub of holiday activity, your plumbing system is left vulnerable. The added guests using your sinks, toilets, and tubs can seriously strain your plumbing system.

Below are some of the most common winter plumbing issues and how to avoid them. The last thing anyone wants is for their holiday season to be tarnished by a plumbing emergency.

Clogged Kitchen Sinks

The holidays are often accompanied by plate after plate of delicious foods. It is important to be careful when preparing and disposing of those foods. Don’t ever pour grease, oil, or coffee grounds into your sink. Also, avoid disposing of fibrous foods with the garbage disposal. Instead, just toss them into the trash.

Water isn’t able to rinse these types of liquids and foods down the drain, leading to buildup in your pipes and an inevitable clog.

To learn more about keeping your pipes clear this holiday season, read this blog we previously wrote on the subject. And, if a clog does occur, please call us instead of using an over-the-counter drain cleaner – you’ll thank us in the long run.

Water Line Leaks/Breaks

Winterizing your plumbing is a lengthy but necessary process. If you fail to winterize correctly, it can lead to a lot of time and money down the road.

One of the most important things you can do to prepare is to completely drain all garden hoses and shut off the valves leading to them. If an undrained hose is left connected after a freeze, the ice in the hose gradually builds pressure in your home’s water lines. This could lead to either a break or a leak.

Broken Hot Water Heater

Like we mentioned above, emergencies always occur at the worst times. That’s exactly why your hot water heater is liable to quit as soon as there’s a chill in the air. The cold air takes a toll on the heater, but with proper maintenance, your water heater should continue functioning correctly.

It is important to never let your water heater’s temperature gauge surpass 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If your gauge is set at that or below and your water isn’t very hot, it’s time to give us a call.

As you can see, there are a lot of plumbing issues that can arise in the winter months. We firmly believe that knowing what the issues are and the symptoms of each is half the battle – the other half is a simple phone call to your friendly plumbing guys!

Handle Your Plumbing Emergency Like A Professional

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No one likes to think about what they would do in emergencies, especially plumbing emergencies. But situations arise and you need to be equipped to deal with them.

If handled incorrectly, a plumbing emergency could result in hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs. The number one threat in most plumbing emergencies is water damage, which can cause irreversible damage to your home and be pricey to repair.

So, what is considered a plumbing emergency? A plumbing emergency is any situation that cannot wait until a scheduled appointment. Some examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Extremely hot water coming from faucet could mean your water heater is overheating.
  • Frozen pipes could lead to major pipe damage and leaks.
  • A leaking hot water heater could lead to a major flood.

What do you do in a plumbing emergency? Since the damage has already been done, your goal is to prevent further damage from occurring. The following four steps are a great start to handling any plumbing emergency.

Turn Off Water

The first thing you should do in any plumbing emergency is shut off the water. It’s helpful to know how to do so before emergency strikes, just like we discussed in our blog about flooded basements. If you cannot turn off the water directly to the affected area, you’ll need to turn off the water to your entire home. The valve to do so is generally located near the water meter.

Clear Area

After turning off the water, you should clear the area. This means moving furniture and valuables, and mopping up any standing water on the floor. Not only will clearing the area make it easier for the plumber to maneuver, but it will also prevent your possessions from incurring further damage.

Assess Damage

After clearing the area, take a moment to calmly survey to the damage. It is now that you decide whether your emergency warrants an immediate visit from your plumber or if it can wait for a scheduled appointment.

Call Plumber

Believe it or not, in their frantic states of dealing with an emergency, a lot of people forget to actually call the plumber. When you do call the emergency plumber, it is best to give as much detail as possible. Make sure to include what fixture is affected and what you have done to temporarily stop the problem.

Often times, the more you can describe over the phone, the quicker the issue will be resolved.

We wholeheartedly believe the most important thing to do in an emergency is to act rationally. While it is an extremely stressful time, acting irrationally will neither solve the problem nor resolve it quicker. In any emergency, feel free to contact us day or night – that’s what we’re here for.

3 Ways To Maintain Your Water Heater

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We don’t think we need to tell you just how important your water heater is to living comfortably. Let’s be realistic, no one likes taking a cold shower. That is why we believe you should know how to perform these three tasks to maintain your water heater. It is important to note the tasks below refer to traditional electric or gas heaters, not the newer tankless versions.

Checking Anode Rod

Every water heater has an anode rod. It is a long metal rod that is inserted into the water heater tank. The anode rod serves one function: to ensure no rust accumulates on the tank. Because the rod is attached to the tank, it collects all of the rust instead.

The anode rod will degrade over time, sometimes wearing down to the wire at its core. Once it reaches that point of degradation, it won’t be able to protect the tank anymore. The rule of thumb is to replace the anode rod once it’s less than ½ inch thick or is completely coated with calcium.

Checking Pressure Valve

Pressure valves are safety features. In the event the tank over pressurizes, the valve opens to relieve the pressure. If the valve is unable to function correctly, the overpressurization in the tank builds, sometimes resulting in an explosion.

Follow the steps below to ensure your pressure valve is functioning correctly:

  • Turn off the electricity or gas to your water heater, as well as the cold water inlet into the tank.
  • Then place a bucket under the pressure valve and pull the trip lever. You should hear a slight rush of air or see vapor escape the valve. If you do not hear or see anything, drain the tank and replace the pressure valve.
  • Don’t forget to turn back on the cold water inlet and the electricity or gas.

Flushing the Tank

It is normal for sediment to build in your water tank over time, especially if you use hard water in your plumbing. If the sediment is left undisturbed, it can completely insulate the bottom of your tank. The buildup affects your heater’s efficiency and can lead to clogs in your water line.

Follow the steps below to properly drain your water heater:

  • Turn off the electricity or gas to your water heater, and the cold water inlet into the tank.
  • Connect a garden hose to the tank’s drain valve and place the other end of the hose in an area where the hot water can drain without harming anything.
  • Ensuring the pressure relief valve is open, open the drain valve and allow the tank to drain completely.
  • Close the tank’s drain valve, disconnect the hose, and close the pressure relief valve. Then, proceed to open all of the hot water spigots in your home and turn back on the cold water inlet to the tank.
  • Close the spigots as water begins to flow to them. After all have been shut off, turn back on the electricity or gas to your water heater.

By mastering these three maintenance tasks, you should be able to keep your hot water heater functioning properly. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Five Tips For Maintaining Your Home’s Plumbing

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Your plumbing is one of the most underappreciated functions in your home. Without it, most of your favorite appliances wouldn’t run, nor would you be able to complete general household tasks. Even being without plumbing for a day would throw a wrench in your life. Just think of the dishes that would pile in the sink, the inconvenience of not being able to shower, or even just the inability to wash your hands!

We think every homeowner should be able to maintain their home’s plumbing to a certain extent. Below are our five tips for maintaining your plumbing.

Get to know your plumbing.

No, we don’t mean you need to buy it dinner, just figure out where everything is. Not only is it important to know where the pipes are in case of future leaks, but also you need to be wary of them when making other renovations.

In addition, you should always know where the shut off valve is for your home’s plumbing. It’s best to locate the valve before you need it, like we discussed in this post about flooded basements.

Check for leaks.

Leaks in your plumbing aren’t always obvious so it is important to check for them regularly. If left for long periods of time, a leak can waste a lot of money and water. So, for your wallet’s sake, and the environment, make it a habit to check for leaks.

A great way to check for plumbing leaks is to monitor the water meter on your property. To do so, check the meter at night when everyone is using water and again in the morning before anyone wakes up. If the meter is higher in the morning, you most likely have a leak.

Maintain your hot water heater.

We know we’ve already talked to you about your hot water heater, but it’s so important we felt the need to bring it up again. It is important to check your heater every six months for signs of wear. And remember, hot water heaters last an average of ten years, so if yours is nearing that mark, it’s important to be more vigilant in monitoring its function.

Maintain the drains in your home.

It’s easy to forget about your drains until there is something wrong, such as a clog, but it is important to have them inspected and cleaned annually by a professional. Trust us, maintaining your drains is more cost effective than having to pay for an excavation to replace them.

Know your limits.

We get it, you like to do the work yourself. You’re a DIY kind of person. But remember when we covered the most common DIY plumbing mistakes? Don’t let that be you. Sometimes the simplest of jobs can turn catastrophic if not handled properly.
As always, contact us at A&A Plumbing with any questions you may have!