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Plumbing tips

PLUMBING TIPS FROM OUR EXPERTS

Drain Pro has dedicated this page to answer your questions with knowledge that comes from years of experience.

You can browse the tips whether you're just curious or you’re looking for something specific, in which case each topic is arranged alphabetically by subject matter.

All about Commercial Plumbing Contractors

Commercial plumbing contractors offer a wide range of services, with many dedicated to specific industries such as food service. Are you looking for a regular relationship with a commercial plumbing company? The best offer frequent customer or preferred customer programs that give you priority for emergency services and routine maintenance calls.


Avoid dealing with plumbing services that give you specific quotes for plumbing work without doing an on-site inspection. Commercial plumbing work is subject to many variables and an accurate estimate simply can't be given over the phone unless the problem has been diagnosed in person. Your plumbing problems may be complicated by issues beyond your basic control; tree roots can penetrate sewer lines, the original installation of pipes or drains could be defective.

A commercial plumbing expert can give you sound advice on how to control or repair these issues, and what kind of preventive maintenance the company can help you with. Never pay for an on-site inspection meant to give you an estimate. The commercial plumbing service should offer this for free. When in doubt, ask during the telephone consultation if there is a fee for a specific service.



American Indoor Plumbing

American indoor plumbing engineering has brought amazing advances in convenience for homeowners, but also created environmentally-friendly designs for sustainable living. The availability of tankless water heaters, water-efficient design and other technology have given thousands of new types of jobs for plumbers, as well as customized options for home improvement. A tankless water heater configuration can add value to a home placed on the market, and the presence of low flow technology can be very tempting to an environmentally-aware buyer.

American indoor plumbing is improving as the old infrastructure is gradually updated with new materials and modern plumbing design techniques. Today's plumbing industry trends include plumbing technology aimed at sustainable living, water conservation and energy efficiency. If you are examining jobs in plumbing, it's a very good idea to pay close attention to evolving plumbing technology and how it addresses green living concerns.



Bathrooms, Modern Bathrooms & Old Plumbing

If you are getting ready to modernize an old bathroom with new fixtures, a toilet and luxury bathroom furniture, take a look at your old plumbing first to see if you can make a few upgrades to protect your investment.

Examine the walls and flooring around all fixtures, stop valves and fittings to make sure there are no leaks which need repairing. If you don't have shut-off valves installed, this is the perfect time to fix that problem. Not having a shut-off valve means turning off the water for the whole house to make plumbing repairs!

Another overlooked upgrade to old plumbing systems is the installation of a pressure balancing valve in your bathroom plumbing system. Installed in the hot and/or cold water supply lines to your shower, the pressure balancing valve prevents that scalding hot or freezing cold burst of water in the shower when a toilet is flushed or another faucet is used elsewhere. It may not be a luxury bathroom design, but a scald-free shower is definitely an improvement that should be found in all modern bathrooms.



Bathrooms, Preventive Maintenance (Part One)

Your best source for plumbing information in the bathroom is your own two eyes. Plumbing preventive maintenance starts with inspecting your shut-off valves under the sink and toilet. Do you find leaks, drips or cracks in the basin, bowl or pipes? Leaks are often caused by connections which need tightening. Cracks can be sealed with putty.

The next step is lifting the lid on your toilet tank. If your toilet has been constantly running, a quick check of the floater could reveal the source of your problem. Adjust the floater to fix the problem. If there is no problem, check the floater to make sure the fittings are properly adjusted and tightened on the assembly. A loose screw may allow the floater to slip. Bathroom maintenance for toilets includes flushing only paper. Don't allow any foreign objects to be flushed, and never pour hot liquid into a toilet bowl.

Plumbing maintenance includes catching small problems before they develop into major hassles. Is your toilet rocking from side to side? Does it lack the stability it once had? You may need to maintain or replace your toilet flange. This is a fitting that lets you connect to the floor underneath, with the rim of the flange resting on the floor. This prevents any weight being transferred to the drainage pipes, which should never be allowed. If you have an old, decrepit toilet flange you can buy an extender ring that fits over the existing flange.

The most important part of toilet maintenance on this part of the system is the airtight seal; follow all installation directions to the letter, and don't skip the sealing and caulking stages. Toilet flange plumbing maintenance is important for preventing more serious problems later, especially if your current setup is putting weight on the pipes. The last thing you want to deal with is a broken toilet drain pipe.



Career Paths in Plumbing

Today's plumbing jobs offer more opportunities than ever, including jobs with large construction companies, national plumbing chains and government contractors. There are also self-employment options after plumbers have completed apprenticeship programs.

Female plumbers are discovering unique opportunities with some companies that specialize in "women-only" services. One example is the U.K. based company Plumb-Hers, which advertises itself as an alternative service for those who feel intimidated by inviting a stranger into the home for plumbing services.

Whether you are seeking a specialized niche career as a steamfitter, pipe layer or residential plumber, the demand for plumbers and plumbing technology far exceeds the supply of qualified people. Career prospects for future plumbers are very bright.



Commercial Faucets & Fixtures

Do your commercial fixtures and faucets meet requirements set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? To be ADA-compliant, commercial faucets must be operable with one hand using no more than five pounds of force. Some commercial fixtures may be governed by height requirements, allowing proper reach and use for people in wheelchairs or assisted-mobility devices. A quick inspection of your commercial faucets and fixtures with ADA in mind could reveal a lot about how accessible your operation truly is. If you need commercial plumbing help to bring your facility into ADA compliance, call a professional right away for an on-site visit and quote on the work.



Commercial Plumbing Products

Commercial plumbing products cover a wide range of needs. Did you know that there are products specifically for restaurant operations that can help control grease-related plumbing problems? One commercial plumbing solution for grease control is known as BioChoiceES®. This is an auto injection system designed to keep drains flowing, prevent grease clogging and improve the efficiency of grease traps. BioChoiceES does not emulsify grease, which can violate local regulations; instead it consumes the grease and converts it to water or carbon dioxide. An aggressive grease control solution such as BioChoiceES can eliminate your need to call on commercial plumbing services later on to handle grease-related issues.



Commercial Plumbing Services & Industrial Plumbing

Industrial plumbing problems can create emergencies far different than residential issues. A home plumbing problem can result in a few feet of ruined carpet or some furniture replacement; industrial plumbing problems can result in damaged equipment, lost productivity and even compliance with commercial building codes. Some industrial plumbing issues are a result of failed inspections.

Did you know that old plumbing can sometimes lead to elevated lead levels in drinking water? An old facility may be in need of a plumbing overhaul and a commercial plumbing expert can give advice on how long and how much such an overhaul will cost. If you have an older facility that may need the work, it's best to show voluntary compliance with federal and local codes. Going on the record with a proactive approach is good for your workers and your public image.



Commercial Plumbing Services: The Video Camera Inspection

Are you having repeated problems with clogged or slow drains? Your commercial facility may have an issue bigger than a single sink or kitchen area. Video camera inspection is an important commercial plumbing service when dealing with such repeated issues. You may have a problem deep inside the system, far beyond commercial sinks, toilets or other common-use fixtures. A video camera inspection reveals hidden issues including simple clogs, badly aligned pipes or damage to the system.

Commercial and industrial plumbing may need a video camera inspection after natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes to determine if the system has been compromised. Commercial plumbing experts, like Drain Pro, can go to your commercial facility and provide a video camera inspection to identify the damage and provide you with a price before the job starts.



Contractors (Bathroom), Design Options & Planning

If you are using bathroom contractors to remodel your bathroom, you'll need to give them some information to help design and plan your new bathroom plumbing needs. If you already have bathroom design ideas, give them to the contractor in advance, and be sure to include the following information:

• Countertop materials - Do you prefer stone, a solid surface or a laminate?
• Electric outlets and fixtures - Do you want to add or move something?
• Sink, toilet and tub - Do you want a larger size, a different configuration or a new location?
• What type of cabinets do you want?
• Do you want new flooring?

If you aren't sure on any of these bathroom remodelling ideas, check with the sales rep to look through a catalog or see samples of your options. You can look over a wide range of fixtures, toilet diagrams and bathroom design ideas before committing. Always get multiple estimates on your final design with alternative materials and configurations to see how adding or changing fixtures or materials affect the bottom line.



Drain Cleaning 101

If you are cleaning sink drains, you can help speed the job along by remembering a few simple things:

• Foreign objects need to be manually removed. Flushing them out usually isn't an option, otherwise they wouldn't be clogging up your drain.
• Never pour a chemical or biological drain cleaner into the drain first. If you need to snake out a pipe or otherwise manually clear it, do that first instead. Always pour your cleaning agent last.
• Wear face protection when snaking out a drain to avoid getting bacteria near your eyes, nose and mouth.

When pouring any cleaning agent, check the packaging to learn proper rinse timing. Some drain cleaning products need to sit inside the pipes for a period of time to be effective. Don't let anyone run the water until the cleaning period is over and you have completely rinsed the drain cleaning products away.



Drain Gurgling

This is a blockage of air in the drain, typically caused by a clog. Removing the clog should fix the problem.



Drains, Clogged Drains & Video Camera Inspection

Clogged drains may require a video camera inspection if you have repeated problems. Some clogs can be easily fixed, but if you can't locate the trouble yourself, you should call Drain Pro professionals to do a complete video camera inspection of your plumbing system.

A company properly equipped for this task, such as Drain Pro, will provide a complete pipe inspection system to determine the source of your problem. If you require a video camera inspection, chances are the clogged drains are being caused deep within the system. Video camera inspection is an important tool in both detection and fixing the problem correctly. Different clogs require different solutions. You may have debris lodged in the system or tree roots growing into your pipes. Video camera inspection is an excellent way to prescribe treatment.



Drains, Clogged Shower Drains

Nothing stops a command performance of singing in the shower faster than a clogged drain. But the following tips from Drain Pro could be music to your ears when it comes to tackling the problem. Most shower clogs can be corrected easily with a minimum of hassle and mess. All you need are a few simple tools and a little common sense. Hair is usually the culprit when a shower fails to drain properly. In fact, checking the strainer cover that fits over the drain in your shower enclosure may be all it takes to solve the problem. If the perforations are stopped up, clean them out and test the flow of water. If the perforations in the strainer cover are not blocked, don’t panic. All you have to do is follow a few simple steps to remove the clog.

First, determine how the strainer cover is attached. Some covers simply snap into place and can be removed from the drain by lifting them with a screwdriver. Other covers are held in place by a couple of screws, which can be easily removed. Once the strainer cover is removed, shine a flashlight into the drain and visually check for a clog. You should see water a few inches below in the drain, but if you spot an obstruction, use a piece of stiff wire – a metal coat hanger crimped to make a hook on the end works fine – to clear the pipe. Gently snag the clog with the wire, being careful not to push the obstruction deeper into the drain. If you do not see a hair clog blocking the pipe, try using a plunger to clear the drain. Commonly known as the “plumber’s friend,” a plunger works best when there is a firm seal around the drain opening. It might help to coat the rim of the rubber force cup with petroleum jelly.

Next, pour enough water into the shower enclosure to cover the lip of the rubber cup on the plunger, and make sure the cup is securely fitted over the drain opening. Then, move the handle of the plunger up and down rapidly. If the plunger fails to force the clog free, the next step is to try a hand snake. This device features a flexible coil of spring steel with a crank at one end for rotating it. Carefully feed the metal cable into the drain pipe until you hit the obstruction. When you feel the cable stop, crank the handle clockwise. The tip of the metal cable will snag the clog as it turns. Keep up the cranking motion as you slowly pull the cable out of the drain line and the clog should pull free.

If all of these steps fail to clear the drain, call a professional plumber, such as Drain Pro. Cleaners can be poured into drains to remove clogs, but these cleaners contain caustic chemicals and should be used only as directed by the manufacturer. Drains should always be flushed thoroughly after a chemical application. Never use a plunger immediately after pouring a chemical into the drain. And remember, if you choose to use a chemical drain cleaner and then summon a plumber, tell him immediately so he can take the proper precautions.



Drains, Preventive Maintenance

Bathroom maintenance for drains usually starts with the use of a hair trap. Did you know soap and hair combined can create a clog far tougher to deal with than hair alone? A hair trap is one of the best bathroom preventive maintenance tools for bathtub drains.

If you do encounter a slow or clogged bathtub drain, do not pour caustics into the drain to unclog it. Chances are some of the caustic material will backwash into your shower even after the clog has been removed. It's much safer to use a snake or a bio drain cleaner instead.

For bathroom sink drains, a strainer way seem like a bit of overkill, but if you have an older sink without a built-in stopper, a toothpaste cap falling into your drain can be a big inconvenience. Small hair traps are plumbing maintenance tools which prevent foreign objects from entering the bathroom sink drain including contact lenses, rings or necklaces.



Drains, Preventive Tips & Tricks after Drain Cleaning Service

Once you have had plumbing drain cleaning services, there are some preventive maintenance tricks you can try to prevent future clogs and drain issues:

• Install hair traps in your showers and sinks.
• Use a food-grade filter in your kitchen sink to prevent debris from washing down the non-disposal drain.
• Switch to thin, non-quilted toilet paper to avoid clumping in the sewer line.
• Use a monthly BioChoiceES® drain cleaning treatment for all drains.
• Clean all hair, food and grease traps regularly.

Preventive maintenance helps reduce your need for drain cleaning machines or services, reduces odours and extends the life of your drain system. You will notice faster draining time, more efficient garbage disposal in the kitchen sink and reduced toilet clogging.



Emergency Plumber Service, Why You Need It

If you have severe water problems after a storm or flood, you will need to find a plumber to diagnose problems with your plumbing. You may have debris or tree branches clogging up your pipes, causing overflowing drains or stopped up toilets. You may also have broken water mains or other issues affecting your pipes. Don't hesitate to call a plumbing service in cases like these; finding the source of the problem may require a video inspection of your system or other options beyond your do-it-yourself skills.

Fixing broken pipes and clearing tree branches or other debris requires special equipment and it's best to leave these emergency plumbing services to the professionals. If you experience flooding, ask the plumber how to get emergency water shut-off accomplished and request an estimate on repairs and how long it may take to get basic water service turned back on and running properly.



Environmentally-Friendly Drain Care

Many plumbing services now recommend environmentally-friendly drain care such as BioChoiceES® or other natural alternatives. There are many reasons to use these biodegradable, "green" cleaners in your drains, but the most important is safety. While you may have a sink maintenance situation that you feel justifies a chemical drain cleaner, these chemicals may leave residue that can wash back into your sink, tub or toilet.

Ever notice a slight burning sensation when using a tub or sink after a chemical treatment? Chemicals also may create fumes that can be harmful unless you work in a well-ventilated area. Environmentally-friendly drain care can also be caustic to exposed skin or your eyes, but these cleaners do not affect the composition of your drains themselves. Some chemical cleaners may damage your pipes. A good part of plumbing preventive maintenance is regular use of a drain cleaner; knowing those cleaners won't hurt the pipes is just as important.



Estimates, Getting an Estimate

Most people think of discount plumbing estimates, they often overlook some of the services a plumbing company can provide beyond fixing clogged pipes, installing discount plumbing fixtures or replacing them. Did you know you can have your plumbing company advise you on water heaters, water softener systems and tree root removal? Tree roots are especially problematic for plumbing systems because they can grow into the pipes and clog them completely, given enough time.

When asking your plumbing questions, don't forget to ask about the whole plumbing system. Do you need a water softener system or grease control? Your discount plumber can give you sound advice on what is appropriate for residential or commercial applications, plus advise you on budgeting issues related to replacement parts, chemicals or maintenance of these additions to your plumbing system.



Faucets: Centre Set, Single Lever, Widespread & Wall-Mounted

There are four basic types of bathroom faucet drillings. When upgrading your bathroom plumbing, you may choose to buy a bath sink faucet-and-basin combination, but when buying these pieces separately, remember the configuration of the four bathroom faucet types:

• Wall-mounted faucets require a spout long enough to reach your freestanding or counter-mounted basin
• Single lever - standard for three-hole, pre-drilled sinks
• Widespread - also made for pre-drilled, three-hole bath sinks
• Centre set - standard for three-hole, pre-drilled basins

In addition to these four types of faucets for bath sinks, you can get better water flow control and pressure by choosing an aerated spout. Spouts without aeration may splash more when the water hits the basin. For taller basins, this may not be as much of a problem as it can be with a shallow bath sink. Remember to match sink fixtures properly with the depth and width of the basin if you are buying separately.



Faucets, Troubleshooting Kitchen Faucets

Your kitchen faucets may experience a problem or two along the way. Home kitchen design is great when it is brand new, but over time your kitchen fixtures may develop some minor issues that need fixing. Is water coming out of the sides of your kitchen faucet instead of the spout? Kitchen faucets with an aerator develop this problem when the aerator needs a good cleaning. Is the water flow slow? Irregular? The aerator may need replacing. A constant drip from your faucet indicates that a washer has worn out and needs replacing. Has your faucet valve locked up? This happens when mineral buildup becomes too great. Spray the valve with a water and vinegar mixture to loosen the valve again. Do you have shut-off valves that won't work when you try to shut off the water supply to fix your faucet? Spray them down with WD40 or a similar lubricant and try using a wrench or pliers to turn the valves.



Garbage Disposal Tips

Young children often huddle under the covers in their bedrooms, certain that a monster prowls in the closet or under the bed. Most parents will open the closet door or peek under the bed to remind them that the coast is clear. But if your children accused your kitchen sink of harbouring a shady presence, would you be able to deny it? Something foul may be lurking in your sink. Your garbage disposal may start to smell when food debris builds up. It may be a lingering odour or an overpowering stench, but a good dose of cleaning can clear the air.

Place a handful of ice cubes and citrus peels – lemons, oranges or limes – in the disposal. Turn on cold water and then turn on the disposal for 15 to 30 seconds. Then turn off the disposal and continue to rinse with cold water for 15 more seconds. If you have grease buildup, turn on hot water and then turn on the disposal. Squeeze a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid in the disposal. Run hot water for 15 to 30 seconds while the disposal is running.

Finally, turn the disposal off and continue to let hot water run until the suds are gone. Of course, the best way to ensure an odour-free kitchen is to prevent the smell before it starts. Never put bones, celery stalks and shrimp or onion peels down the garbage disposal. If you have large amounts of food to dispose of, scrape the scraps into the trash and just rinse the dishes off.

Don’t let food “reek” havoc in the sink, and your entire family will thank you!



Kitchen Plumbing Fixtures & Counter Height

Did you know there is an association designed especially for kitchen and bath construction and remodelling? The National Kitchen & Bath Association offers planning guidelines that can help you with designer kitchen ideas.

One important recommendation involves work counter height. Two options are advised. The first option is 28 inches - 36 inches above the finished floor, the second option is 36 inches - 45 inches. Having kitchen countertops and kitchen plumbing fixtures at the right height for you is important for ergonomic reasons. Kitchen countertops that are too high often require some straining to do repetitive tasks like dishwashing or food prep. The same goes for surfaces and kitchen plumbing fixtures which are too low, forcing you to stoop slightly. Over time, this repetitive action can cause discomfort and even pain in some cases. Consult with a kitchen plumbing expert to determine the proper height for your fixtures and counters if you aren't sure.



Laundry Room Plumbing Issues: Flood Prevention

Some laundry room plumbing issues don't have anything to do with frozen or broken water pipes, blockages or defective stackable laundry centres. Sometimes the cause of a flooded laundry room is much simpler. Good plumbers know that cheaply-made hose connections from the washing machine to the residential plumbing system can fail after only five years of use. That's one of the reasons an automatic washing machine shut-off valve can be an important addition to your laundry centre. This shut-off valve is installed between the water source and the washing machine, and automatically shuts off the supply of water when it detects the washing machine has shut off. A burst hot or cold water hose can send hundreds of gallons an hour into your laundry centre, so installing a shut-off valve is excellent preventive maintenance.



Laundry Room Plumbing Issues: Bad Odours from Plumbing Pipes

Some basement laundry room layouts include an adjoining bathroom. Because these are seldom used, some homeowners report a bad odour coming from the laundry room, which is sometimes blamed on the laundry itself, the laundry room floor drain, or another source.

Before you call a plumber, try a simple experiment by pouring water into the toilet, sinks and shower stall in the adjoining bathroom. Flush the toilet, let the water drain in the sinks and the bath and check back in a day to see if you still detect a bad smell. The water in your "u-bend pipe" or sink trap will evaporate over time if the plumbing isn't used regularly, allowing odours to seep into the laundry room. Running water in the adjoining bathroom should cure your laundry room odour problem if dry pipes are to blame.



Laundry Room Remodelling

When planning a laundry room remodelling job, consider installing a utility sink and a ventilation fan if you don't have them already. These renovations add value to the room and give you a place to deal with soiled laundry from spills and other mishaps. You may have a laundry room vent, but adding a fan can help cut down on mould and mildew in your laundry room in a major way. When adding a laundry room faucet, avoid zinc alloy faucets. These are fine in other parts of the house, but since zinc corrodes in regular contact with water, installing them in the laundry room (which tends to have more humidity and condensation than other parts of the house in some cases) means you'll be replacing them more often. Also, plan to install a shut-off valve under the sink in case you need to do a quick residential plumbing job, such as fixing a leaky faucet. This will keep you from having to shut off the water supply to the whole house to fix one sink.



Pipe Problems, Symptoms

Sometimes the first symptom people notice when in need of pipe repair is water backup. Do you have water in your backyard where it shouldn't be? Do you have a flooding basement? Sewage backup?

If you notice foul sewage odours, you could be facing a septic system that needs to be pumped out, but if you aren't using a septic tank, you could have a damaged sewer pipe. In cases where tree roots have invaded water or sewer pipes, you may notice reduced water flow which gets gradually worse as time goes by. These symptoms can also point to other problems, and it's best to ask a qualified expert before calling for trenchless technology or other solutions. Get an on-site inspection of your problem and let the plumber advise you on the right solution. You may be surprised at the source of the trouble.



Plumbing, Low Cost Plumbing, Estimates & Long-Term Planning

If you would rather use a plumbing company than attempt a do-it-yourself plumbing job, you can get a number of plumbing questions answered with a plumbing estimate. Tell the discount plumber you'd like an evaluation of your home plumbing system to see what issues you might face in the next six months to three years.

If your home is typical, you may only need routine maintenance or the occasional emergency service in case of a storm or other plumbing problem. If your discount plumbing estimate reveals more serious issues, signing up for an advantage plan or frequent customer plan may be a good money-saving move. Any situation that could involve semi-regular visits from a discount plumber or a contractor is worth a long-term discount plan.



Plumbing Problems & Washing Machines

Are you having problems with a washing machine that won't fill up with water? Before you call for plumbing services, make sure the problem is actually with your plumbing and not a washing machine maintenance issue:

• A washing machine that does not fill up with water, but otherwise runs normally may have a problem with the water pressure system that controls the amount of water in the machine.
• A machine that won't empty water may have a bad water pump.
• Compartments for fabric conditioner or soap that are always full of water may have a blocked drain.
• A washing machine that delivers still-dirty clothes may have a partially blocked water pump.
The machine will operate as usual until the blockage prevents any water from coming
through.

It is important to rule out washing machine maintenance problems before calling a plumber. Most plumbers will rule out an actual plumbing issue quickly once determining there is no blockage in your water lines or washing machine hose, then refer you to a washing machine maintenance expert. Plumbing maintenance ends where the machine's problems begin.



Plumbing Products, Discount

There are three low cost basic plumbing products new DIY plumbers should have in a toolkit. Always keep a tube of plumber's putty, which is used for sealing up small cracks or holes. Do you have a cracked toilet bowl? If it is a small crack, putty can cure the problem until you can buy a replacement. Another plumbing product you should have is a snake for clearing out blocked drains. The snake is an excellent DIY plumbing tool, but sometimes the snake isn't enough to unclog a drain, which is why you should also keep a wrench handy for opening up lengths of pipe to get at the obstruction. If the blockage is deep inside your system, then it may be time to call Drain Pro in for additional help.



Plumbing Questions for the DIY Plumber

If you are new to DIY plumbing, ask yourself these plumbing questions before starting a new project:

• How complicated is my new project?
• Do I have the right tools for the job?
• How long will my new project take?

Simple tasks like replacing a discount sink or fixing a leaky faucet don't require specialized tools, but more complex jobs like toilet replacement and installing an under-sink filtration system are best saved for after you have experience with simpler tasks. If you have an urgent repair, don't hesitate to call a plumbing company, like Drain Pro.

If you are preparing for DIY plumbing projects, ask yourself the following questions to prepare for the job:

• Do I need to shut water off to the whole house for the project, or does my sink/toilet/shower have a shut-off valve?
• If there are no shut-off valves, how long will the entire house water supply need to be off?
• Can I finish the job in one session?
• Do I have enough plumbing products? Check your putty, rubber hose, clamps, grease and other DIY plumbing supplies.
• Do I need any diagrams, schematics or floor plans of my plumbing layout to properly plan the job?

You can turn fixture replacement into a low cost plumbing job by inspecting the original equipment first. A rotating ball faucet may simply need replacement seals, and a faulty shower head may simply be clogged with lime buildup. You may be able to delay purchasing a discount sink by replacing the sink stopper mechanism or switching to a temporary rubber stopper.



Plumbing Service, What to Do Once You’ve Found a Plumber for Emergency Repair

Some plumbing repairs require some direct action from you, even if you have called for plumbing service. There are some actions you can take before emergency plumbing services to help minimize potential damage to your floors, walls or carpets. Do you have an overflowing toilet? Try turning off the flow of water with the shut-off valve, usually located below the water tank. The same goes for a leaking sink pipe, or a burst washing machine hose. If you have a water emergency in the basement, try controlling or containing the water by creating a barrier with garbage bags. This may not work if there is a strong flow of water. It's very important to shut off the electricity to any area affected by a water emergency. Do not stand in water and touch a fuse box or power main, but you should throw the shut-off switch if it is in a safe, dry area.



Preventive Maintenance after Plumbing Repair

The emergency plumbers have come and gone, and the plumbing repairs are finished. What can you do to prevent another visit from your plumber? You may not have a major emergency next time, but you can delay another plumbing bill with some preventive maintenance:

• Avoid flushing anything down the toilet besides toilet paper. You should especially avoid flushing facial tissue, which does not break apart the same way toilet paper does.
• Use a water softener to avoid lime or mineral deposit buildup in your drinking water system.
• Install hair traps or filters in your shower drains.
• Never dispose of grease down your kitchen sinks.
• Treat all drains with a bio cleaner, like BioChoiceES®, on a monthly basis.

You can avoid additional plumbing repair by doing these preventive maintenance tips. You may not be able to control when your pipes spring a leak or freeze in winter, but you can keep them clear of debris and grease with a few simple precautions.



Preventive Plumbing Tips

One of the most important plumbing preventive maintenance steps you can take is to share the plumbing information you know with everyone else in the house. Do your family or house mates know where the shut-off valves are located in case of a plumbing emergency? Do they know how to operate a backflow valve? You may need to give those in your house a crash course in plumbing preventive maintenance to cover your bases when you are on vacation or out of town.

Teaching non-plumbers to let the taps trickle during a freeze warning, operate the shut-off valves in case of leaks, or adjust the toilet float to fix a constantly running toilet can save you a visit from the plumber and prevent damage to your plumbing system.



Remodelling & Laundry Room Plumbing

Laundry room remodelling sometimes means laundry room relocation. If you need to temporarily relocate the washer and dryer, consider using a solid pipe to connect the washer to your residential plumbing system. Laundry plumbing should be treated with the same respect with flooding as any other room in the house. The longer a flexible hose is, the more likely it can be tripped over, accidentally punctured or pulled right off the fittings. Flexible pipe or hose is also subject to bends and kinks and can reduce the flow of water to your compact laundry room. A solid pipe connected to your plumbing system will make the remodelling process safer by reducing the potential for an accidental flood, and keep your electric laundry room working properly during the remodelling.



Root Intrusion

It’s surprising, but true – roots from a tree or bush several hundred yards and several houses away can damage your home’s plumbing system if they break into your pipes. It’s called root intrusion, and it can create major blockage in your line. “Trees and shrubs seek water to grow, and pipes provide the perfect environment,” says Mary Kennedy Thompson, president of the Mr. Rooter Corporation. “Roots are even drawn to unbroken pipes because of condensation and will grow alongside and around the pipe to lap up the moisture.”

There is a misconception that roots are the problem, but Thompson says the problem is actually the pipe because the roots cannot get in the pipe unless there is a crack or bad joint. The older the pipe, the more susceptible it is to cracks, breaks and deformations. A possible sign of root intrusion is a sudden backup or flooding of the lowest plumbing fixture in the house. When you fill a bathtub or shower with water and let it drain, look for this warning signal:

• If you don’t see the water exiting in a swirling, cyclonic action, it might be a good time to call a qualified, licensed plumber.

Drain Pro utilizes the most current technology to specialize in sewer and drain maintenance, repair and replacement. “Those who suspect root intrusion need information to make the best decision to protect their homes,” Thompson explains. “We offer our drain cleaning customers sewer camera inspections to properly identify the problem and provide solutions.”



Septic System, Alternatives

Alternative septic systems are often installed in "difficult" sites with conventional methods, but if you find water in your backyard from your septic system, you may need to upgrade or switch from a conventional septic system to something better suited to your area. There are many alternative septic systems that can accommodate sewer line plumbing, treat wastewater and dispose of it properly. Alternative septic systems include raised bed and septic mound systems, aerobic systems, disinfection and even waterless systems.

The first indicator that you need to switch from a conventional septic system may be that you experience flooding or unusual water gathering in a backyard or field. If you find your conventional septic system is not adequate, it is important to act quickly to avoid being cited or fined for non-compliance.



Septic System, How a Septic System Works

When considering septic tank cleaning or other maintenance chores, it's important to know how a septic system works. A conventional septic system consists of two parts: a septic tank and a drainfield. The tank may be a concrete septic tank, but can also be built of fibreglass or polyethylene. The tank holds all wastewater from your home. Solids sink to the bottom and are decomposed over time. Liquids flow through an outlet system into the drainfield pipe system, where the liquid is treated and broken down by organisms in the soil. It is against the law to dump septic tank fluids onto topsoil or in other areas without proper treatment. Codes vary from place to place, so double check the laws in your area to know what you must do to stay in compliance with your septic system design.



Septic Tank Maintenance

One of the most important parts of septic tank maintenance is septic tank cleaning. Septic tanks do not automatically empty solid waste. The solids rest at the bottom of the tank, and an additional "scum layer" forms as the water moves through the system from the sewer line plumbing to the tank and out to the drainfield. These solids will need to be emptied at least once every three years or so, but if you have a garbage disposal you may need to empty it more often. Use these guidelines to help determine how often you should empty the tank:

• The storage volume of your septic tank
• The amount of wastewater you generate per day, per person
• The volume of solid waste from garbage disposals and toilets per day

Garbage disposals often double the amount of solids in your septic tank. You should also be careful to use only septic-approved toilet paper in your system. Never pour oil or grease into drains as they can damage your system and make septic tank cleaning more difficult.



Sewer Line Plumbing 101

Have you ever seen a diagram of your sewer line plumbing? The sewage system starts with a simple bent section of pipe. The bend prevents odours from your septic system from entering your home. When you flush the toilet, the water travels down the bent pipe into the sewer line plumbing system, which goes in a straight line to the concrete septic tank (or other approved storage tank). Another sewer line goes from the tank to the drainfield where it is treated by microbes in the soil.

It is very important to keep vehicles off the drainfield area of your septic system, as the weight can damage the pipes installed in the field and prevent your septic system from working properly. The same goes for building on the drainfield site; your septic drain system may be damaged by the weight of the structure.



Sink Height & Water Splash

Bathroom contractors may not agree on a "standard" height for bathroom sinks and counters, but there are a few considerations to make before finalizing the height of your bathroom plumbing, fixtures and bath sinks. You can find a good height for the bathroom sink by putting a large bowl on a countertop or table and raising the height with a small stack of books until you find the most comfortable bathroom sink height for you. If you have wall-mounted faucets and are replacing a pedestal basin, try to match the height and depth of the original basin if you aren't sure about a good alternative height.

Remember that on wall-mounted faucets, a long stream and a deep basin can create splashing. How powerful is your stream? A shallow basin may get overwhelmed by too much water. It's important to balance the height, the force and the volume of water with bath sink capacity and draining speed.



Sink Maintenance 101

Plenty of little preventive sink maintenance jobs can be done in your spare time to keep your system working properly. Try these plumbing tips:

• Clean your faucet aerators every two months; unscrew the aerator, remove it from the faucet and soak it in vinegar for about an hour. This keeps your aerator free from mineral buildup.
• Avoid overloading the under-sink storage area. This can knock loose a fitting or connection, causing leaks.
• Check the fittings under your sink every six months for leaks or loose connections.
• Use a trap in your sink to prevent hair, clumps or foreign objects from clogging up the pipes.

Plumbing maintenance is a combination of prevention and correcting the small problems, such as loose fittings or slow leaks before they turn into bigger problems later.



Sinks, Bath Sink Options

If you are planning to replace or improve your bathroom plumbing, you have a wide range of options when it comes to bath sinks. A wall-mounted sink is an excellent alternative for modern bathrooms, but if you are after a more traditional look, try a pedestal sink. Regardless of the style and mounting, make sure you have enough elbow room for comfortable sink use. Install your new sink at least a foot away from the closest wall or the toilet to avoid banging your elbows when washing or brushing.

Your bathroom sink construction options include porcelain, marble and vitreous china. When using china or porcelain, beware of dropping items onto these surfaces as they tend to chip. Metal and fibreglass surfaces are also easily chipped or scratched in the right circumstances. Busy bathroom sinks used by children and teenagers are often better off with durable surfaces, such as enameled iron or steel.



Sinks, Bath Sinks & Faucets 101: Replacing Faucets Only

If you want a luxury bathroom design, but don't want to do a compete remodel; there are ways to create the perfect modern bathroom or use traditional bathroom design ideas to upgrade one piece at a time. Sometimes you can change the look of a bath sink simply by replacing the faucets, but keeping the sink itself. Sinks and faucets should be matched carefully since they come in a variety of hole drillings and basins. There's no such thing as a universal fit. There are four basic types of faucets and their respective drillings:

• Wall-mounted - with a long spout to reach from the wall to the basin plus one or two handles
• Single lever - has a spout and a single handle to mix hot and cold
• Widespread - with a spout and two handles, all mounted as individual pieces
• Centre set - a spout and two handles mounted in a centre plate

Use the configuration of your original faucet as a guide to buying a replacement; bring the original with you when shopping for the replacement to compare if you aren't sure. When removing the old faucet, be sure to turn off the water and remove the water supply connection from the faucet before dismantling it.



Sinks, Common Laundry Room Sink Plumbing Problems

Do you notice damp walls or floors around your laundry room sink? Check the pipes and fittings for leaks. Are there loose joints in your pipe connections? Tighten loose connections and you may stop an incidental leak without the need to call a plumber. You can also deal with small leaks from holes in a pipe by wrapping the pipe in rubber hose and applying clamps at the top, bottom and at the source of the leak. Use plumber’s epoxy in small holes designed specifically for these types of leaks.

Another laundry centre problem comes from clogs. If you have a buildup of soap, lint or hair in your laundry room sink drain or floor drain, eventually a clog will form. If you have a water shut-off valve installed on your laundry room sink, turn off the water and remove the u-shaped pipe and look for the clog. You may need to inspect the straight ends of the pipe on either side to find the clumped hair and soap. Once the clog is removed, your drains will work normally again.



Spa Plumbing & Health

There's an important reason why some spa retailers recommend using a rigid PVC pipe as the connection between the spa and the home plumbing system; a sagging hose or soft PVC pipe may allow water to stagnate and collect bacteria. A rigid, straight pipe drains completely, and does not trap water or bacteria.

In addition to using the right kind of connection to your home plumbing system, spa baths require spa maintenance to prevent bacteria growth. Poorly maintained spas can lead to a condition called Hot Tub Folliculitis. Symptoms include an itchy rash appearing within two days of hot tub use. While this sounds serious, it is completely preventable with regular use of spa chemicals. The water entering your tub through a rigid-pipe spa plumbing connection is clean, and with proper treatment, it will stay that way.



Spa Wiring

Some new spa owners prefer to have a professional determine their home plumbing solutions for spas and jacuzzis, but do-it-yourselfers are perfectly capable of installing a home spa with the right know-how. If you are installing a home spa yourself, remember that wiring safety is one of the most important issues connected to your spa.

Every home spa should have a cutoff switch in case of emergencies. The cutoff switch stops pumps and jets, which can save a life in the event of trapped hair or a limb that could keep someone's head underwater due to the suction.

Do-it-yourselfers should also be aware a device called a ground fault circuit interrupter or GFCI, which de-energizes a circuit if there is an imbalance caused by electrocution. The GFCI should be built into your home spa wiring system as the first device on the circuit. Never connect your home plumbing to a "live" hot tub or spa. Always make your electrical connections after you are done hooking up to the home plumbing system, being careful to let the area completely dry before working with the wiring.



Tankless Hot Water Heaters, How Tankless Hot Water Heaters Work

Some people worry that their gas meter may start to give much higher readings when using a gas tankless water heater, but when you compare tankless water heaters to conventional tank heaters, the energy savings is obvious. Tankless water heaters do not maintain a supply of pre-heater water, they are considered "always off" devices that operate only when needed. It takes about two seconds for the average tankless water heater to start providing hot water at the correct temperature once it starts operating. Depending on the capacity, your tankless hot water heater may be able to handle multiple showers, dishwashers and other hot water demands at the same time. Because the unit only functions when it is actually used, much less energy is used than with a tank water heater.



Tankless Water Heater Installation 101 (Part One)

Tankless water heaters come in electric, natural gas and propane models. Gas tankless water heaters use sensors that control the flow of water, creating hot water as needed. Gas tankless water heaters don't contain a supply of hot water, so you will never run out of hot water the way conventional water heaters do.

When installing a tankless water heater, you have many more location options than with a conventional water heater. You can install in the garage, attic or build it into a recess in a wall so long, but it is very important to insure the unit has proper venting to the outside. If you choose to install a gas tankless water heater in the garage, you need to install a collision prevention device, such as a large iron pole or other sturdy barricade to prevent a vehicle from touching the heater.

When installing a tankless water heater, it's important to consider how long the water will take to travel from your gas tankless water heater to the faucet. How far away from the shower do you want to install the water heater?

As a rule of thumb, closer is always better. If you install far enough away, you may need to include a recirculating system to make sure the water can get from heater to faucet quickly and easily. Another consideration comes when installing a gas tankless water heater outside. Be sure to use insulated pipes and consider using a recessed box to prevent the water pipes from being directly exposed to outside air. You should also consider installing heating cable on your pipes to keep the pipes from freezing in the worst parts of winter.



Tankless Water Heaters: Gas vs. Electric

Tankless water heaters come in electric, natural gas and propane models. Electric tankless water heaters don't have the carbon monoxide issues that gas-fired water heaters do, but electric models are often smaller and may require multiple units for a larger house to serve all hot water needs. Gas or propane tankless water heaters require additional care to deal with carbon monoxide issues, but often have larger capacity. You may also require a gas meter if you aren't using one currently. If you aren't sure what your capacity needs are; ask the advice of a Drain Pro plumber; find out how many gallons per day your current household may require and ask the plumber what unit he or she would install in a home of your size.



Toilet Leaks

You may be flushing your money down the toilet and not even know it. Twenty percent of all toilets leak, which secretly raises homeowners’ water and wastewater bills. But other problems — like a toilet that won’t flush completely or runs continuously — aren’t secret at all. Take a whirl at inspecting your toilet. It’s more convenient and less expensive to systematically check the plumbing yourself, before you have to call in the professionals to take care of a plumbing emergency.

First, check your toilet for silent leaks by putting several drops of dark food colouring into your toilet tank. If the dye appears in the bowl, you need to replace the valve seal ball or flapper at the bottom of the tank or adjust or replace the fill valve.

Next, replace flappers and fill valves every couple of years to prevent a running toilet. A new flapper will seal properly, and a new fill valve will prevent overfilling or filling too slowly. Also, lift the tank lid to fix the problem if water continues to flow after flushing – don’t just jiggle the handle. Adjust the chain if the flush valve flapper is hung up and not sitting down properly. If that doesn’t work, adjust the float ball so it doesn’t go down as far.

Last, it is not advisable to use chlorine tablets or any other chemical cleaner in the toilet tank. Chemicals corrode the metals and destroy the rubber seals. They could also kill the active bacteria that keep the septic tank working properly.



Trenchless Pipe Replacement Questions

Many people have plumbing questions about trenchless or no-dig pipe repair. Will the procedure damage my trees? Can I increase the size of my pipes? How much will the job cost? The answers are fairly simple. Because trenchless technology uses the existing pipe system as a guide, your trees should not be damaged by the new pipes. They are placed into the same location and attached to the plumbing system. You can choose a wider pipe option to increase the capacity of your plumbing system, but be sure to let the company know up front about your desire for larger pipes. Trenchless technology and no dig pipe repairs are priced according to a variety of factors and you will need to request a Drain Pro plumber to come to your location.



Trenchless Technology 101

Trenchless technology varies depending on who you direct your plumbing questions to, but trenchless pipe replacement technology has three basic steps. The first is the dig itself. The two small holes may be dug out using a backhoe or other mechanized gear. Once the pipe system is exposed on either end of the damaged section, part two of the work begins, with an installation head inserted into the original pipe.

This installation head is the key to trenchless pipe repair; the cone clears a path through the original pipe, pulling the replacement pipe along with it. This "pipe-inside-a-pipe" system uses the old pipe as an installation guide so the replacement can be properly connected to your plumbing. These replacement pipes are fully code-compliant and last a century. Once the pipe repair is complete, the installation head is removed, and the plumbers will begin putting the finishing touches on the job.



Troubleshooting Discount Plumbing Fixtures

There are three basic plumbing problems: leaks, drips and clogs or obstructed water flow. If you are interested in DIY plumbing, learning to troubleshoot these three problems will keep you busy, especially when faced with a few plumbing surprises. Discount plumbing fixtures and luxury fixtures alike suffer from a variety of simple problems over time. Ask any plumbing company rep: clogs, leaks and drips happen in some unexpected places.

Clogs can occur in discount faucets, shower heads and kitchen sink sprayers because of mineral buildup. These need to be taken apart and cleaned. Toilets can develop leaks or other problems that you don't notice until your utility bills come in. Did you know that a toilet float that sits too high can cause higher water bills because of the extra water consumption? An improperly sealed toilet flapper can let water leak out of the tank and also increase your water use. If you notice water damage on walls or on floors around your DIY plumbing projects, check your seals, the caulking and re-tighten all screws and fittings.



Valves, Emergency Shut-Off

You probably don’t think about your plumbing system very often. After all, it’s not a very exciting subject and as long as it is working, there is really nothing to think about, right? Wrong! Understanding a few basic facts about how your plumbing system works and what to do in case of a pipe break or system backup can prevent plumbing headaches and even property loss in the future.

First, the location of the main water shut-off is important to know. If a pipe breaks and is flooding your house, the main water supply may be the fastest way to shut off the flow of water. As your plumbing system enters your home either through a municipal water supply or private well you will find a main shut-off at the municipal water supply meter or the pressure tank of a private well. You should also find shut-off valves inside your home. Newer homes will have emergency shut-off valves for every fixture and appliance. However, in some cases older homes do not have these shut-offs and owners should plan to have them installed by their local Drain Pro.



Video Camera Inspection Use to Verify Condition of Your Sewer Pipe

If you have purchased a home or office building, you may wish to use video camera inspection to view the condition of your new building's plumbing system. Doing this may be good idea if you are planning renovations; should the remodelling extend to modifications of you existing plumbing? Or should you leave well enough alone? Hiring a crew to use a video camera inspection may reveal areas where you can make the plumbing more efficient or help prevent potential problems over long-term use. Video camera inspection may be a very useful tool when deciding what to fix when you are renovating other parts of the building.



Water Softener Installation

If you want to add a water softener system to your kitchen plumbing, there are a few things to keep in mind before deciding to install it yourself or have it done by a professional. The softener systems referred to here are not the type installed on a kitchen sink faucet, but connected to your plumbing system. Water softeners are installed on the main water supply line, so the entire water supply to your home is treated. The only faucet not affected by the softener system is your outdoor faucet used to run a garden hose or sprinkler system.

Most building codes require installation of a bypass valve so that your faucets can dispense non-treated water if a problem develops with the water softener system. Your kitchen faucets will dispense non-treated water only when the bypass is activated. Some people prefer a bypass line that supplies drinking water or a connection to a refrigerator ice machine.

One important consideration when installing a water softener is where to store the softener unit. Some prefer installing the softener equipment in the garage, while others use the laundry room. Wherever you store the unit, you will need the right length pipe or tubing to connect the unit to your plumbing system.



Water Softeners & Your Septic System

Some people wonder if the use of water softeners will damage their septic system. The real concern over water softeners is not with the water itself, but with the by-product of the softening process. Brine water is created as water softeners do their job of removing minerals from the water. This brine water (also known as water softener regeneration discharge) goes into your septic system.

Experts disagree on whether the brine water can negatively affect the decomposition of solid matter in a conventional septic system. Some believe it can contribute to drainfield failures and other problems. If you are concerned about the briney by-products of your water softeners, consider investing in a softener system with a large mineral tank. This will allow the brine water to be stored in the tank longer, cutting down on the number of times brine is discharged into your septic system.

You can also use a water softener system that is not timer-based, but on a periodic schedule. This can also help control brine in your septic system, but limiting the number of times per year it is introduced into the septic tank.



Whistling Noise

It could be a broken faucet washer or extremely high water pressure.

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