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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.

Don’t Dry Out This Winter: Consider A Whole Home Humidifier

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That time of year is swiftly approaching – the time where dry skin and frequent static electricity shocks become a part of daily life. There isn’t much humidity in the frigid air outside, and there is probably even less indoors.

You may be about to haul out a fleet of humidifiers but, before you do, have you ever considered a whole home humidifier?

Even if you place an individual humidifier in every room, they simply cannot add enough moisture to the air to maintain an ideal humidity level. Not only that, but with individual humidifiers, you’re constantly refilling the water tank and cleaning them out.

Whole home humidifiers are much easier to maintain. They’re made to integrate seamlessly with your heating and cooling system, and can be controlled through the thermostat. An added bonus is that they only need to be cleaned once or twice a year.

All of this talk of humidifiers has probably left you wondering why you shouldn’t just forego one altogether. Why deal with all of the hassle? Well, there are a few compelling reasons why you should try to maintain your home’s humidity at ideal level, usually between 30-50%.

Your Health

Did you know that dry air can wreak havoc on your health? Aside from general discomfort, dry air can cause the following health concerns:

  • Many viruses thrive in low humidity settings, leaving you more likely to fall ill.
  • Dry environments leave people more susceptible to infection.
  • The conditions can aggravate both asthma and allergy symptoms.
  • Dry air can cause sore throats, nosebleeds, and cracked skin.

Home Preservation

When the humidity in your home is low, it can lead to the damage of your wood floors, furniture, artwork, and musical instruments. Because the humidity is so low, the moisture is drawn out of these items.

Energy Savings

Increasing the humidity in your home can lead to increased energy savings. Dry air can often feel colder, meaning you have to turn up the heat. When the air has the correct level of humidity, you will likely be able to turn down the heat a couple degrees. By just turning down the thermostat one degree, you will save an estimated 4% on your entire energy bill.

As you can see, maintaining the proper levels of humidity is important for many reasons. Don’t suffer through the winter with dry, cracked skin – instead, install a whole home humidifier.

3 Problems That Lead To Pipe Replacement

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We all know pipes are integral to your plumbing. Without them, no water could enter or leave your home. Because they are such an important part of modern living, pipes are built to last. Copper pipes generally have a lifespan of 70-80 years, while brass and galvanized steel can last anywhere between 80-100 years.

However, there are several problems that could lead to early replacement. Below are the most common reasons for early pipe replacement.

Corrosion

Nowadays, the majority of pipes are made of copper because of its resistance to rust. While copper doesn’t degrade as easily as iron, it is still susceptible to the elements. Degradation of copper occurs when chlorine and formaldehyde particles in the air and soil react with the pipe.

The particles weaken the pipe by essentially eating through it. When chlorine is the cause of damage, it is referred to as pitted corrosion. When formaldehyde is the perpetrator, it is called formicary corrosion.

Lime Scale

Lime scale is a mineral buildup that is caused by using hard water in your plumbing. Because hard water has more minerals than filtered water, the buildup occurs faster. Lime scale buildup restricts the flow of water through the pipe, decreasing its efficiency. If not caught early on, the lime scale will harden and be nearly impossible to remove without ruining the pipe.

Tree Roots

Tree roots often grow into both the water and sewer mains of homes. Tree roots naturally seek out the nearest source of water, meaning that if you have trees in your yard, they’re almost guaranteed to eventually grow into one or both of your mains.

Tree roots can typically be cut out of the main. However, if left too long, the tree roots will become too entangled with the pipe to cut out. When this occurs, the only option left is to replace the pipes.

No one wants to hear that their pipes need to be replaced. It can be a costly, time-consuming endeavor. It makes much more sense to be aware of what leads to early replacement and attempt to prevent it from happening.
You should have your plumbing examined by a professional once a year. At those yearly visits, your plumber will check to ensure your pipes are working efficiently. Please contact us if you have any questions or need your pipes looked at!

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!

Why You Should Avoid Store Bought Drain Cleaners

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The water in your sink has been progressively draining slower over the last couple of months until one dreaded day when the water begins to pool. It’s official, you have a clog in your drain and there’s no way you can continue to ignore it any longer. But before you reach for the ever-so convenient store bought drain cleaner, you should read up on the effects they can have on your plumbing.

We know that pouring drain cleaner into your sink is both an easy and cost-effective solution, but they often do more harm than good. Most store bought drain cleaners contain highly corrosive chemicals meant to ‘eat’ through the clog. While they are a great solution in the short-term, they will damage your pipes over time. Years of intermittent use can lead to severe structural damage on your drain pipes, meaning they will need to be replaced sooner than usual.

In addition to damaging your pipes, store bought drain cleaners don’t always remove the entire source of the clog. Often, waste is left behind and acts as a starting point for future clogs. Have you ever noticed that after using drain cleaner to get rid of a clog, another soon forms? The extra waste left in the pipes is exactly why that happens!

Store bought drain cleaners can be very harmful, and even toxic if used incorrectly. The chemicals used in drain cleaners are extremely dangerous – they are meant to corrode metal! Not only are the chemicals dangerous if you come in contact with them, but the fumes can be deadly when mixed. A good rule of thumb is that if you try one drain cleaner and it doesn’t clear the clog, never immediately try a different brand of drain cleaner. There is a chance the chemicals could mix, resulting in toxic fumes.

If you have small children or pets, you should be even more cautious about keeping such dangerous chemicals in your household.

So, what should you do when a drain clogs? You should call a professional to have it removed. Having a professional remedy the problem will help you to avoid costly repairs in the future and will help prevent serious clogs from forming.
If you have any questions about store bought drain cleaners this blog didn’t cover – please don’t hesitate to contact us! That’s what we’re here for.

Common Toilet Issues

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We don’t have to remind you that your toilet is one of the most important appliances in your home. There are a lot of appliances that are nice but not necessary, and the toilet is not one of them. Because it is so important, we think everyone should have a basic understanding of how the toilet works and some of the most common issues people experience with their toilets.

Let’s talk about how the toilet functions. You push the lever and the wastewater magically disappears and is replaced with clean water, right? Not quite. There are five steps that take place each time the toilet is flushed.

When you push the handle to flush, a chain lifts the flapper valve. Water from the tank then flows through the flush valve opening into the toilet bowl. The water from the tank forces the wastewater in the bowl through the trap and into the main drain. Once the tank is empty, the flapper valve closes and the fill valve opens, refilling the tank. Once the tank is full, the float ball shuts off the fill valve.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the toilet’s inner workings, let’s tackle four of the most common problems people encounter with their toilets.

Running toilet

Have you ever heard a toilet that always sounds like it has just been flushed? That’s what a running toilet is. It’s also referred to as a ‘phantom flush’. A running toilet is caused when the flush valve ages and hardens, allowing water to constantly escape into the toilet bowl. This issue is definitely an annoying one, but it can also be quite messy if not repaired properly.

Leaking toilet bowl

A leaking toilet bowl is most often caused by a defective wax ring. In rare cases, it can be caused by a crack in the porcelain of the toilet bowl.

Partial flush

A partial flush is when the toilet flushes, but not all the way. If your toilet isn’t flushing fully, there are generally three potential causes:

  1. There could be too much slack in the lift chain.
  2. There could be too low of a level of water in the tank.
  3. The flapper may not be installed properly or isn’t the correct model.

Strong but partial flush

This issue is very similar to the partial flush, but is signified by the flush seeming to be strong, yet still not flushing all the way. This issue is often related to the flush valve volume. If the valve becomes waterlogged and is dropping too fast, the strong but partial flush will occur. If you take the lid off your tank and watch as you flush the toilet, the flush valve should stay up until about 80% of the water has drained from the tank. If the valve does not stay up that long, it’s time to install a new one.

 
Of course, reading this won’t make you an expert on toilets, so give us a call if you encounter any issues – we’re always happy to help!

Flooded Basement? Here’s What You Need To Do

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No one wants to walk downstairs to find their basement flooded. However, it’s bound to happen at one point in your life, and it’s important to know how to handle the situation. The following steps should help you navigate your flooded basement with ease.

Shut off the source of the flood as soon as possible.

This seems like an easy enough task unless, of course, the water is coming in because your area is flooded. In order to turn off the source of water, you will likely need to turn off the plumbing in your entire home. Don’t know how to turn off the plumbing? It’s better that you learn now, when you don’t need to know, than wait until disaster strikes.

Oh, and if the source of the water is a sewage backup, it’s imperative you don’t use any appliances that use water, such as the toilet or dishwasher.

Examine the damage from a distance.

You need to assess the damage but do not attempt to wade through the water; there is a very real potential for electric shock. If you must walk through the flooded area, make sure you can complete the following steps, first:

  1. Turn off the power in your home.
  2. Wear protective gear, especially if the flood is from the sewer line.
  3. Ensure there are no gas leaks.
  4. Check for structural damage.

Again, if you cannot complete the steps above, do not attempt to walk through the water. Assessing damage can wait if your safety is in danger.

Call the plumber immediately.

We understand that plumbing emergencies happen at all hours of the day. Never be afraid to call outside of business hours, that’s what we’re here for.

Call your insurance company.

Your very next call after us should be your insurance company. The sooner you call, the more likely they will be to cover the majority of the damage. Taking photos and video of the damage is also a good idea. And don’t forget to save the receipts from any emergency repairs or purchases you make. A lot of times those expenses will be covered by your insurance or at least count toward your deductible.

Prepare for the future.

Your basement flooded and there is a chance it may happen again in the future. To try to avoid this in the future, we’ve provided three preventative measures you can take:

  1. Store valuables in watertight containers.
  2. Install a sump pump.
  3. Upgrade your foundation’s drainage system.

Taking these preventative measures will not only make you more prepared for a flooded basement in the future, but also will make your insurance company more likely to satisfy your claim.

 
Only after completing the steps listed above will you be ready to clean and restore your basement to its former glory. But don’t worry, A&A Plumbing is always just a phone call away if you have any questions or a plumbing emergency.

Dangers of High Water Pressure

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Water pressure is normally referred to when there is a lack of it. You don’t often hear people complaining about their home having too much water pressure, but they should be. Your home’s water pressure is similar to blood pressure in the body. There is a range that is acceptable to keep all other systems running smoothly. When levels drop too low, there is a noticeable change. When levels climb too high, it can be detrimental to every part in the system.

When water pressure levels are too high in your home, it can cause irreversible damage to pipes and appliances, and make your water bill outrageously expensive. High water pressure stresses pipes, leading to tiny pinhole leaks that leak intermittently, meaning they are hard to detect. It can also be damaging to appliances such as your water heater and dishwasher. The damage may not be noticeable at first, but it will significantly decrease the life your appliances.

Now that you know how damaging high water pressure can be, you’re probably wondering how to tell when it’s too high. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to tell by the pressure coming out of your water fixtures. Does the water seem to come out more forcefully in your home than your friends’ homes? Do overnight guests comment how great the water pressure in your shower is? Then you may have high water pressure.

Another tell-tale sign is when you can hear a banging in your pipes. This noise is referred to as a ‘water hammer’ by most plumbers and is caused by high water pressure. Toilets running intermittently when they aren’t in use is another sign of high water pressure.

Still not sure? You can visit your local hardware store and purchase a water pressure gauge. Follow the instructions included and if your water pressure is higher than 80 psi, then you have high water pressure and need to be on the lookout for the signs of wear mentioned above.

Now you may be wondering, why does your home have high water pressure? The most likely culprit is your local water company. Sometimes they have to keep the pressure higher in certain areas to accommodate increased demand, such as fire hydrants and taller buildings. Another likely reason could be because your home is located at the bottom of a hill. Water naturally runs downward, meaning the water picks up momentum coming down the hill from the main water line.

 
If you purchase a water pressure regulator, you can temporarily ensure the pressure in your home is at a safe level. However, you may want to look into having your local plumber come out for a consultation as they will likely have a better idea for a long-term fix. As always, we’re just a phone call or comment away for any questions you may have!