Avoidable Common DIY Plumbing Mistakes

Common DIY plumbing mistakesIf the faucet is leaking or the toilet is clogged, the first instinct may be to try to fix the problem yourself. You’d feel good about correcting a household problem without the cost of bringing in a handyman. However, if something goes wrong, you can exacerbate a problem that would’ve been minor. Always contact a residential plumber to have the issue diagnosed and fixed. However, if you insist on being your own handyman, avoid these common DIY plumbing mistakes for everything to flow smoothly.

Not Shutting Off the Water

Always shut off the main water valve before examining a pipe or water fixture. The main water shutoff valve is usually located in the basement or right outside the house. Bathrooms and kitchens usually have localized valves that shut off the supply to just that area. Continue Reading →

Why You Should Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners

chemical drain cleanersChemical drain cleaners are a double-edge sword. On one hand, they’re a quick-fix solution for the DIYer. On the other hand, they’re notorious for causing long-term damage to pipes. What do our residential plumbers think about drain cleaners for clearing drainage obstructions?

Our Take on Chemical Drain Cleaners

We believe that drain cleaners are quite effective and actually do what they advertise to do. As such, they’re quite effective as a DIY measure for clearing a clogged sink or shower drain. They work because the ingredients include oxidizing chemicals, which break down clogs by removing or adding electrons to the hair, grease, and other debris that make up the obstruction. The liquid indiscriminately burns away whatever it comes into contact with, and therein lies the problem. Continue Reading →

Will a Toilet Tank Brick Reduce Water Use?

toilet tank brickPlacing a brick inside the toilet tank to save water is a time-honored trick. It’s an easy DIY method that doesn’t require a residential plumber’s intervention. The method makes sense when you consider that the toilet itself makes up about a third of indoor water use. However, is this tactic really as useful as it seems? Is it one we recommend?

Does a Toilet Tank Brick Really Save Water?

The short answer is yes. A brick in the toilet tank does curtail water use every time you flush the toilet. Most toilets actually don’t use a lot of water to begin with. Most models manufactured after the early 1990s only use about 1.6 gallons per flush. Some use as little water as 1.28 gallons. Older models, however, use around 3.5 gallons, with some using as much as 6 gallons. That is a lot of water for a single flush.

However, toilets may not flush properly if they don’t use the amount of water they’re designed to use. For sanitary reasons, you want the waste to be flushed properly and not stuck in the sewage line. If waste becomes stuck, you’ll need to bring in an emergency plumber. Toilets require the designated amount of water to shuttle waste along the pipes and prevent clogging.

To save water, we recommend investing in a newer toilet model if you have a pre-90s toilet. If you still insist on using the brick method, then use a plastic bottle filled with sand or rocks. A brick can erode in water. Continue Reading →

Is Your Water Boiler Kettling?

water boiler kettlingThe sound of a kettle boiling is welcoming when you’re preparing tea. You do not, however, want to hear your water boiler kettling. You’ll recognize the sound as a deep rumbling noise when the unit is in operation. It’s not a problem to ignore. Call an emergency plumber to come examine your boiler.

What Causes a Boiler to Kettle?

Kettling occurs due to a lime scale buildup on the heat exchanger. This is the pipe that water travels through while it’s being heated. The buildup restricts water flow and causes it to become trapped in the exchanger. The trapped water continues to heat and eventually turns into vapor. Water expands by about 1600 times as it vaporizes. The expansion places tremendous pressure on the exchanger pipe. Continue Reading →

The Dangers of a Pinhole Leak on Your Copper Plumbing

pinhole leakIn professional plumbing, there is a saying that there is no such thing as a small leak. This is especially true with respect to a pinhole leak. The holes leaking water from the pipes may be small, but they can cause enormous damage over time. We’ll explain what a pinhole leak is and why you need to bring in an emergency plumber if you suspect this type of pipe leakage.

What Are Pinhole Leaks?

The word “pinhole” may lead some to believe a pinhole leak is a minor issue; it is far from minor. This type of leak occurs primarily in copper pipes.

Copper is usually touted as being corrosion resistant, though this isn’t entirely true. It’s actually prone to one type of corrosion called pitting corrosion. This is a form of corrosion believed to result from formaldehyde in the air. Exposure to formaldehyde causes copper to become dull and form grayish patches. Some of these patches give way, forming small holes.

Why Pinhole Leaks Are Problematic

The leak can cause extensive damage to the drywall and wall studs. It can also cause wood rot if the water gets on the floor. The exact location of the leak can also be difficult to locate. This is why it’s essential to leave the diagnoses to a residential plumber. Pinhole leaks are also problematic because the homeowner almost never notices them. Continue Reading →

Bellied Or Channeled Pipes: Two Common Plumbing Issues

bellied or channeled pipesPipe bellies and pipe channelings are two common causes of backup plumbing. It’s not unusual for our emergency plumbers to diagnose a faulty pipe as having one of these two problems. Both are somewhat similar but indicate very different problems with the sewer line.

Pipe Belly

A belly in the pipe basically refers to a sag in the pipeline. The sag causes a dip, which in turn causes water and other debris to accumulate in that area.

A pipe belly is often caused by geological events, such as an earthquake, soil erosion, or foundation settlement. The sag usually occurs right at the fitting and rarely ever in the middle of a solid pipe.

Pipe Channeling

Pipe channeling occurs when a section of the bottom of a pipe has completely eroded away. The erosion leaves an opening for tree roots and insects to make their way into the pipe. This can cause a backup and/or lead to impurities in the water. Pipe channeling is especially common in horizontally positioned cast iron pipes. Cast iron has a lifespan of about 25-30 years before corrosion begins to occur. Continue Reading →

5 Bathroom Renovation Ideas for 2017

Bathroom Renovation ideaHome remodeling is a common New Year’s resolution. While it’s usually the living room and kitchen that receive the most attention, the bathroom can benefit from a facelift of its own. Whether it’s a new bathtub or a water-efficient toilet, our residential plumbers can install any fixture connected to your home’s pipeline. Here is a list of bathroom renovation ideas to help kick start 2017.

Ideas for a Bathroom Renovation

1. Multiple Shower Heads

Many homeowners are adding more than one shower head. This often consists of the main shower head and several body jets located on the side of the shower stall. The jets spray mist, giving you a gentle shower massage.

2. Jacuzzi Tubs

Turn your bathroom into a miniature spa by adding a jacuzzi tub. Jacuzzis are great for alleviating sore muscles. What better way to relax after a long day at work? Jacuzzi tubs are available both as built-in and freestanding units. Continue Reading →

Some of the Craziest Things We Found in a Pipe

Things Found in a PipeA drain pipe backup is typically caused by a combination of soap scum, hair, and grease. Our emergency plumbers, though, have crazy stories about some of the unusual things found in a pipe. It’s perplexing what some people throw down a drain. Here is a fun and OMG list of items that were found either by our own plumbers or relayed from those we worked with.

Our Crazy List of Things Found in a Pipe

Clothing

Clothing is an item we actually find quite often. This includes everything you expect to find in a wardrobe—boxer briefs, t-shirts, sweatpants, and even training bras.

Jewelry

Jewelry is also quite common, especially smaller items such as rings. We have all heard stories of people setting their wedding bands on the soap dish and then accidently knocking them down the drain. Take it from us when we say that this happens more often than you would expect. Continue Reading →

Improve Bathroom Aesthetics with an Escutcheon Installation

Escutcheon InstallationWhat the heck is an escutcheon? It’s certainly a weird name, but it’s a common fixture you likely have in your bathroom. An Escutcheon is a round metallic disc that covers the hole in the wall through which a pipe enters the room. Does it serve a functional purpose? Nope. But your bathroom looks much more appealing with one in place. Our residential plumbers can install an escutcheon for you, though this is a fairly straightforward DIY job.

Installing an Escutcheon Is Easy

If the escutcheon on your toilet pipe or shower head is badly rusted, then it’s time for a replacement. Most can easily be removed with basic or no tools at all. The shower head escutcheon, for example, can usually be removed by simply removing the shower head. Once that’s out of the way, you can simply pull the escutcheon away from the wall and through the shower arm. Slip on the replacement escutcheon and reattach the shower head; easy peasy. Continue Reading →

How to Use a Plunger the Right Way

How to Use a Plunger │ Lynnwood │ South County PlumbingUsing a toilet plunger seems pretty straightforward. In fact, you likely used one yourself on an occasion or two with mixed results. You may think you know how to use a plunger, but there is actually a right way and wrong way to use it. Using it the right way may be the difference between clearing a backup and having to call an emergency plumber.

Plumbing 101: How to Use a Plunger

First of all, you should be sure you’re using the right plunger. Unbeknownst to most people, plungers do come in different types and sizes. There are two types: standard and flange plungers. The former is your run-of-the-mill plunger, while the latter has an extra ring of rubber around the cup. A flange plunger is specifically intended for unclogging toilets.

As for the size, the plunger’s diameter should be just barely larger than the diameter of the drain.

Once you have your weapon of choice, examine the water level. The water level should be deep enough to completely cover the plunger cup. Too little water, and you won’t be able to form a proper seal around the drain.

Here’s another insider tip: plug nearby drains. In other words, if you’re plunging the toilet, then place stoppers on the shower and bathroom sink. This will put more pressure on the clog. Continue Reading →