Archive for Plumbing Tips

Leaky Pipes Lead to Frozen Tundra

With the shivering temperatures this past winter, plumbers have seen homes fill with water and freeze.

What’s the cause of this?

Leaking pipes seeping through walls and ceilings are a major cause. However, it’s not just leaking pipes! Wildlife animals have been searching for homes during this bitter winter. The number one places that little rodents look are plumbing vents. Plumbing vents look warm and cozy, but in actuality, the rodents are breathing in sewer gas. This means that the blocking passage in the pipe is leading to bathroom waste backing up in the home.

Remind clients about the benefits of insulated pipes and putting wide mesh over the plumbing stack on their roofs!


Posted in: Disaster Prevention, Plumbing Tips

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The Damage of Freezing Temperatures

On a day like today, it doesn’t hurt to once again reiterate to homeowners the importance or protecting pipes from freezing. This winter has been wreaking havoc on the US, with average temperatures way below the average. The abnormally cold weather and strong winds combined have been the cause of an increase in water main breaks, electrical line damage, and breaking pipes.

People who are worried about these problems can rest assured there are steps they can take to prevent them from happening. Here are some tips to share with homeowners:

  • Know where the main water shuttoff is in your home. And know how to use it.
  • Disconnect outside water hoses. You probably won’t be needing it anytime soon anyway.
  • Inspect outside faucets. Have a plumber repair any leaks.
  • Shut off separate shut-off valves for outside faucets, if you have any. Drain outside pipes.
  • Invest in faucet insulation. You can find it ay most  hardware or home improvement stores.
  • Keep inside temperatures above 65 degrees Farenheit. The air between walls is a lot colder than interior walls.
  • Let hot and cold water drip in sinks and tubs over night. It might affect the water bill a bit, but you are preventing your pipes from freezing by doing so, which is considerably more expensive to fix.

Posted in: Disaster Prevention, Plumbing Tips

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3 Steps to a Septic System Installation Plan

Septic systems need to be installed in homes that are in areas outside of a municipal system. To make sure this is done without any problems, it’s important to plan every step of the way.

Step 1: Consider the tank size.

This step is usually easy because the PA health department determines size requirements. In Pennsylvania, the minimum liquid septic tank capacity for any installation is 900 gallons. The Pennsylvania CODE provides a table on their website to determine tank capacity, which depends on gallons of sewage flow per day.

Gallons per day Tank capacity (gallons)
0-500 3.5 x flow exceeding 400 gpd + 900
500-5,000 1.5 x flow exceeding 500 gpd + 1,250
5,000 – 7,500 1.45 x flow exceeding 5,000 gpd + 8,000
7,500 – 10,000 1.35 x flow exceeding 7,500 gpd + 11,625
over 10,000 1.50 x the daily flow

You can typically calculate the home’s estimate water usage by the number of bedrooms or people living in the home.

Step 2: Perform a percolation test

A percolation test will test the ability of the soil to absorb water. It involves digging a test hole and recording the needed time for water to be absorbed into the soil. The results will be used to identify the field line amount needed for the septic system.

If the absorption rate is slow, the require field line amount should be larger to install the system.

Step 3: Measure and plan the system layout

Now that you know the size of your tank and the field line amount of the system, the next step is to ensure the requirements are right for the property. Check that:

  • The septic tank sits at least 10 feet from the home’s foundation.
  • Field lines are located in a level area.
  • Field lines are away from shrubs, large trees, and heavy vehicle traffic.
  • If field lines are separated, they are at least 6 feet apart from each other.

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Do or Don’t : Plumbing Checkups

You probably already know what we’re going to say. Do. But why?

Most of us make yearly appointments with our doctors for regular checkups. Like a doctor, a plumber is typically called only when a problem has already happened. So, what if plumbers also gave checkups?

Prevent future problems.

If you had a bacterial infection, you wouldn’t let it go until it became worse. You would want to cure it before it became much worse. It’s good to start thinking this way about plumbing issues. If you let them go, it could cause severe and expensive damage. Particularly mold, water damage, rot and decay. This type of structural damage can cause leaks and rusty pipes.

Water damage is often behind homeowner’s insurance claims, and unfortunately plumbing repair neglect isn’t covered  as it’s seen as routine maintenance.

A plumbing checkup can prevent major problems and solve minor ones, like lack of hot water or weak water pressure.

Make it easier to sell your home.

Plumbing damage can also decrease your home’s value. It can effect both the price you ask for and the prices you are offered. Even if you receive an offer, a buyer could be inclined rescind it or request you pay for any damage found in an inspection before they purchase your home.

Prevent insurance costs from increasing.

Having your home inspected regularly keeps your home insurance low. Signs of water damage in particular can cause rates to go up. Stopping any problems before they happen will ensure this doesn’t happen.

Buying a house is an investment, so think of plumbing inspections as a way of keeping your investment valuable and secure.

Posted in: Home Improvement, Plumbing Tips

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Winter is coming, are you ready?

The seasons are changing quick and soon winter will be here, but are your pipes ready? Here are a few reminders and tips on how to get ready for winter.

  1. Flush out Exterior Plumbing. Exterior plumbing includes outdoor faucets, hoses, and lawn irrigation systems. We suggest draining and disconnecting each of these fixtures to avoid frozen and bursting pipes.
  2. Insulate Pipes. Insulating exposed basement or crawlspace pipes is an affordable way to prevent pipes form freezing. Pipe insulation also works to keep hot water therefore reducing energy bills.
  3. Get a thorough home inspection done by a pro.  It’s always best to be prepared. We recommend being proactive and taking precautions to protect your home and your family. Have a fully licensed inspector check your entire home to make sure it’s in safe condition and prepared for the rain and cold weather.

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The 3 Most Common Causes of Toilet Problems

Of all the plumbing appliances you want to stay functioning as efficiently as possible, the toilet may be number one. Due to the unsanitary nature of its function and purpose, it’s pretty important that toilet problems be avoided as much as possible like the Bubonic Plague (which might not have ever happened if they had well-functioning toilets).

Some problems with the toilet are minor but annoying, like “phantom flushes” and hissing sounds. Others are more bothersome, like overflows, clogs and leaks. Most of these issues occur because of the following causes. Keep in mind there really is no finite number of possibilities (oh, good).

Foreign objects

There are certain things you never put down a toilet, but people definitely do it anyway. Ask any plumber. They have found things in toilets that you wouldn’t believe. So, it happens. People forget, or they don’t know, or they have small children that find the toilet as a fascinating source of entertainment.

The trusty plunger can release most non-serious clogs. Usually, someone just used a little too much toilet paper. In those cases a regular household force-cup plunger will do the trick. Insert the bulb into the bowl over the drain and pump vigorously.

For more serious clogs, you’re going to need a closet auger to clear the drain hole. Most homeowners don’t have a closet auger readily available, so these are the cases where they tend to call the plumber.

Bad or worn parts

A bad flapper (or flapper seat), when worn, dirty or damaged can allow water to leak into the bowl, causing the dreaded “phantom flush”. Your toilet will run intermittently as if someone had recently flushed it. Drain the tank and bowl, then check and clean the flapper seat. Replace the flapper if it’s too far gone.

If you ever hear a constant hissing sound coming from the toilet, it’s probably a result of water seeping into the tank through the supply line. This is normally caused by the float, refill tube, ballcock and inlet-valve assembly (the “hiss” is usually the sound of water coming through the inlet valve). Sometimes the float is sticking or just needs adjusted a bit. The refill tube might be inserted too far into the overflow tube. If none of those solutions work, you may need to replace the ballcock assembly.

Chlorine helps kill the microbes in the toilet bowl,  just as it does in a swimming pool. However, chlorine is a powerful chemical that can actually eat at or deform rubber parts of the toilet and surface of the seat.

Mineral build-up

This is a particular problem for anyone living in places with hard water. Hard water contains a higher volume of minerals that can build up over time and restrict water flow, causing a blockage that makes the water in the bowl empty very slowly when you flush. Using a curved wire (like coat-hanger wire), just poke gently into each flush hole and siphon jet to clear out the debris. Use a little mirror to help you see under the rim.

Whoever installs the toilet also has to make sure all of the parts are in the correct place. Improper installation can cause many of the above problems and beyond.


So, as you can see, most toilet problems can be avoided by using good parts, cleaning, maintenance, and not flushing random things! By the way, plumbers, we are very interested to hear about some things you have found clogging up customers’ toilets. Feel free to share.

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What Not to Put Down a Garbage Disposal

As wonderful as it would be to have a contraption that got rid of any unwanted food or material, garbage disposals do have some limits. Follow these rules to avoid running into clogs, jams, or completely broken disposals.

This one should be obvious. Bones are the number one culprit for jammed disposals. The blades just aren’t sharp or powerful enough to chop up animal bones. Throwing any down will just jam the machinery.

Fat, Grease and Oil
Yep, just because it’s a liquid doesn’t mean it’s alright to put down the disposal. Fat, grease and oil tend to solidify after a short time and thus end up clogging the drain.

Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds have a “sandy” consistency that can gather into nooks and crannies of the disposal and can also clog pipes.

Egg Shells
The thin membrane of an egg shell can wrap itself around the blades of your disposal. The shell itself can be broken down into too-fine of a product that can cause further problems. And don’t believe the folks tale that egg shells in your disposal will sharpen the blades – not true!

Seeds, pits and kernals in moderate quantities should stay out of the drain because they tend to be too hard (physically) for the machine’s blades to break down – causing the potential for a jam.

Pasta and Rice
These foods are too difficult for the garbage disposal to break down. They also tend to expand when wet, so even the small pieces will be able to get stuck. Anything items that expand should be kept out of the disposal.

Stringy Fruits and Vegetables
Lettuce, celery, potato peels, banana peels, carrots, squash, pumpkin and asparagus are all either stringy or difficult to peal. Their remnants can get tangled in the disposal parts and really create a problem.

Non-food Items
Other items that are best left thrown in your trash or recycle bin include:
Rubber bands, fabric, string, rags, sponges, cigarette butts, twist ties, glass, screws / nails, utensils, bottle caps, paper, plants / flowers, or hair.

Posted in: Disaster Prevention, Plumbing Tips

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How to Prepare for Freezing Temperatures

The number one plumbing problem during the winter time is – you guessed it – freezing pipes. Luckily, this inconvenient problem is pretty rare, and they tend to only happen especially if your lines are not used as readily as they used to be. However it is still a very good idea to take the proper measures to prevent it from happening. Because trust us, you don’t want it to happen.

So, be sure to clear your sewer lines and drains. This should be done at least once per year. Lots of people think there is no need to maintain sewer lines and drains unless there is a blockage, but it’s important to do so preventably too. Try to do this before the weather gets too cold (right now would be a good time!).

A number of problems can occur in these lines. The most common problem related to drains is a clog due to debris such as food and grease passing through the sinks into the drains. This reduces the space inside that fluid has to get through.

A tree’s roots can also venture into a pipe. It can break into the line of your main drain as well, and if this happens can lead to a pretty bad leak. Cleaning out the system can lessen the chance of a bigger problem in the future.

If a pipe has too much material inside, the material can freeze as temperatures drop. This can lead to complications such as a pipe bursting.

Professionals can clean these lines most efficiently because they can flush out the material very thoroughly with their equipment. Once everything is cleared you won’t have to worry about freezing or bursting. The cost to prevent these problems is much less than the cost to fix them.

The good news is that these preventative measures does not have to be expensive and can be done fairly quickly. So it’s best to do it soon, before the snow comes!

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When DIY Should Be Avoided

Owning a home can be expensive, so we understand the tendency to try and make repairs yourself. It is completely doable in certain situations, but in others it is best to call a pro. When it comes to plumbing, it’s alright to clean your own drain and plunge your own toilet, but there are a number of instances where you should put the DIY book away and call a professional plumber.

Gas-Related Issues

Natural gas is a great way to provide energy to your home. It can be a suitable substitute for electricity for appliances such as your hot water heater and your stove. When problems arise, be aware that natural gas and the items that use it must absolutely be handled properly. Do not attempt to work on gas lines in or around your home, because a small unexpected mistake can make it a very dangerous place to be.

Main Sewer Line Problems

This is a job you probably wouldn’t want to look into yourself anyway. Licensed plumbers are trained to handle this sort of thing and use the proper heavy machinery that is required to access the sewer lines deep within the ground. They are also aware of the problems that can occur, such as running into large tree roots, and know what to do in such an event. Finally, they understand all of the permits required to begin such a project.

Hot Water Heater Installation

Hot water heaters have plenty of lines that must be hooked up. Hooking them up incorrectly can be a very expensive mistake. It also needs to be connected to a power source to make sure it is heated efficiently. Plumbing contracters are trained in many types of installations, including hot water heater installation.

For these situations and more, calling a plumber can save your equipment, your money and your sanity! When it doubt, pick up the phone. Trust us — Even if you found a video on YouTub, a plumber will always do it better.


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4 Plumbing Myths Debunked

We have heard plenty of advice when it comes to housekeeping, and unfortunately some of this advice actually does more harm than good. Plumbing is no exception. The following myths are just a few that we have heard.


MYTH 1: Turning on the water while running the garbage disposal will prevent clogs.

If you turn on the water while the disposal is running, the water just gets smacked away from the waste by the blades. As a result, the food is still intact and more difficult to blend. The best way to prevent clogs in the garbage disposal is to turn on the water before you turn on the disposal. Let the water run for a few seconds to first let it break down and soften the waste. Turn the faucet off. Wait a few minutes, then turn on the disposal.

MYTH 2: Using an in-tank toilet cleaner will eliminate the need to clean the toilet.

In-tank toilet cleaners use bleach to make the toilet bowl appear clean. There is still plenty of buildup leftover that needs to be cleaned up regularly. Many people are unknowingly ruining their toilets because they don’t think they have to clean them anymore, thanks to their in-tank cleaner. We know it stinks, but the best way to clean the toilet is with a good old-fashioned brush and toilet cleaner. Pour some vinegar down the overflow tube to reduce funk.

MYTH 3: You should use soap and water to clean the bathroom faucet.

Soap and water can corrode the faucet fixture over time, eventually leaving you no choice but to replace them. To keep your faucets lasting as long as possible, keep them dry and soap-free.

MYTH 4: Adding lemons to your garbage disposal will keep it from getting rank.

Lemons are rather acidic. Too many lemons going into the disposal could damage the blades over time due to its corrosive chemistry. Ever hear a dentist warn you about acids from citrus fruits? Eating too many can corrode the enamel on your teeth. Considering lemons can so easily damage enamel, one of the hardest materials on Earth, it’s probably best to keep them out of the disposal as well.


Anytime you are given some advice, be somewhat skeptical. Always check the facts and see if the tip you’ve been given is legitimate, before something gets ruined!

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