Plumbing Winter Maintenance Chores

It’s that time of year again,  old man winter is showing his face.  Time to shut off the water feed to your outside faucet.  It is also a must to disconnect the garden hose from the spigot.  Not only will bringing in you hose for the winter prolong the life of the hose, but it is essential to a frost proof type hydrant.  In many case’s I see people leaving there hose connected to there outside faucet because they are told it is the type that doesn’t  need to be winterized.  Yes there are faucets for which they have a long stem and shut off inside where it is warm.  However if the hose is still attached the water can not drain out of the hydrant.  If the hose is removed yes there is no reason to shut off the water to this specific type hose faucet.  Any other type of outside hose valve should be shut off at the water feed to it inside the home.  If there is a problem with the valve it may need to be replaced.

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How To Fix A Chipped Sink Or Bathtub

 

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Porcelain and enamel sinks and bathtubs are some of the most resilient fixtures in the typical home, but they’re not invincible. If you accidentally drop something hard and heavy like a cast iron skillet, you could easily chip the surface. Fortunately, the repair job is easy, too.

First Aid

Your DIY sink or bathtub repair starts at your local hardware store, where you’re likely to find a selection of epoxy repair kits. You’ll need one of these repair kits and a sheet of fine-grit sandpaper, if you don’t already have some at home.

Before you can begin repairs, you should clean and dry the chipped area thoroughly, then give it a few passes with the sandpaper. This will remove any small particles that remain and give the chipped surface a rough texture that will make it easier for the epoxy to form a strong bond.

Epoxy consists of two separate solutions. Mix the solutions according to the directions on the package, but don’t mix the entire quantity at once. If you have a large or deep chip, you’ll need to apply the epoxy in multiple thin layers that will need to dry in between, so it’s best to work with small batches.

Many kits include a small applicator brush, but you can also use a fine paintbrush or toothpick to apply the epoxy. Perform this step carefully and be sure to adhere to the package’s directions about drying times. After you’ve applied the final coat, leave the area untouched for at least 24 hours.

If the final product leaves an uneven surface, you can use sandpaper to carefully flatten it out after the epoxy has fully hardened. Wait at least a week before attempting this or any harsh scrubbing of the area.

A Perfect Match

Because most sinks and tubs are white, most of the repair epoxies you’ll find are also white. Some have a single tone, while others can be mixed at various proportions to allow for a range of shades and a closer match. Read the packaging carefully if you’re concerned about this.

If the shade match isn’t exact, you can always touch up the area after the epoxy has fully hardened by using enamel paint. Finding the right shade of enamel paint isn’t necessarily easy either, but there are a few ways you can accomplish this.

Try contacting the manufacturer of the sink or bathtub to ask about color swatches or codes. If that doesn’t provide any clues, move on to your local paint store. If you have the chip that originally broke off, bring it with you to help with color matching. If you don’t, take some paint color samples so you can make your own comparisons at home. Be sure to inquire about enamel paint and the range of available colors. Sometimes nail polish can be a better match, and also will do.

With a little luck, your chipped sink or tub will be easy to fix. But if you find that the damage is too severe, or if you decide you’re ready for a change, call John Schoeffling Plumbing to learn more about your options for replacement.

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Plumbing And Landscaping

Think before you plant.   Planting trees and shrubbery is something that should be done with thought and consideration of your plumbing.   Planting a tree near your main drain may cause root infestation into your pipes.  This will require annual drain cleaning or replacement in the future.   That little tree you plant can cost thousand of dollars to get rid of when it grows up.   Also planting shrubs and plants near  your gas meter or electric meter or especially your A/C compressor  can be very detrimental to the workings and repairs to those mentioned.   Getting to these pieces of equipment is always going to be necessary for maintenance and repairs.   Blocking them will escalate the cost of operation and services to keep them working properly.   So before you try and disguise that ugly unit or pipe, think about how ugly it is when it doesn’t provide the service it is there to perform.

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Water Heaters of Today

Many times I see water heater’s installed by unqualified handy men, or home owners that don’t realize the mechanical and technical aspects of heating water.  First off your water heater’s  of today in  most homes are required to have an expansion tank.  The only time this is not required is if you have well water with a pressure tank.  All other water heater’s need an expansion tank.  This tank is needed to take up thermal expansion that takes place when your water heater is doing it’s job, heating water.  Many times I see water heaters installed without one of these,  this will cause your relief valve to drip or even let large amounts of water out to relieve the unsafe pressure build up.  This extra pressure is also putting a great deal of stress on your water heater tank it self.  Many times home owners call and say “I need a new water heater, it’s leaking”  but the relief valve is just blowing off leading them to believe it’s the tank leaking.  After replacing the water heater doing this, the new one may also leak if the problem is not diagnosed properly.  The temperature and pressure relief valves job is to let you know you have a problem with pressure or temperature that is not safe.  So make sure you have an expansion tank on you cold water supply line preferably above the water heater.  If you don’t get one installed it will save you in the end.  And if your relief valve is leaking find out why.

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Lawn Mowing Landscapers and Plumbing

It’s  that time of year again, landscapers are out mowing lawns.  Every year we seem to get a call or so for a clogged main drain and find that the vent pipe was hit by a mower.  It is wise to let your  landscaper,husband, son, daughter, wife or whom ever is responsible for the mowing of your lawn, know that this pipe is not to be run over or hit in any way.  Marking it is very wise, you can simply place a flag or stick next to the pipe.  Maybe paint it with a bright color to make it more visible.  This pipe connects directly with you home’s main drainage system, if it is damaged it can be very expensive to repair.  And having a main drain back up is certainly no day at the beach.

 Shown here is what a typical vent pipe looks like.  

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The Wife of A Plumber

… every year you rush through opening the Christmas presents, hoping to finish before the first clogged drain or burst pipe call comes in.
… you don’t get jealous when he says he is going out for some nipples.
… you run your hand down his back, and his spine feels like a relief map of the Rocky Mountains. The wife of a plumber has a husband with a compromised back.
… a broken anything is never cause for worry, because he can fix anything. Even if he says he can’t, what he really means is that he doesn’t want to. Because he really can fix anything.

… he knows deep, dark secrets about everyone in town – from your Dentist to the movie star. After all, he’s been in their basement.
… he never tells.
… you leave him alone for an hour, and return to find an 80 gallon water heater  fully installed and mounted from the ceiling. When you ask how he did it, he responds, “You can learn a lot from the Egyptians.”
… he wasn’t the slightest bit grossed out at the worst of your kids’ diapers.
… he has never been to a family function without being asked to 1) look at the furnace; 2) look down the drain; or 3) smell the smell coming from the shower.
… the hostess at the neighborhood open house hugs your husband long and hard. With tears in her eyes, she thanks him for his help. You see, last week her husband was recovering from surgery. It snowed and snowed and she was trapped in her house. And your husband took a few passes with the snow blower and made sure the main drain was clear. And you never knew about it until the open house
… he travels with his own showerhead and a crescent wrench.
… you’ve pretended not to be insulted when he is presented with yet another plunger-wielding-butt-crack-showing-plumber-on-a-birthday card from a well-meaning friend
… he always knows where the bathrooms are in any building because he noticed the placement of the vent stacks on the way in.
… you’ve seen your child sporting electric tape where a bandage should be.
…you’ve ever been awarded a free nights stay in a beach house because he fixed the toilet
… at least once a week, he gets a call from Mrs. Butterworth. She is old, and cares for her disabled son all by herself. And there is nothing really wrong with her plumbing, but she calls once a week to report some symptom or another. You know she’s just lonely. But your husband always takes the call, and sometimes stops by to make her feel better. And this has been going on for years.
… you’ve learned that few mistakes are as serious as improperly uncoiling a roll of PEX pipe.
… it hurts when someone complains about what your husband charges for his services. You know it’s a bargain because you know how much it costs to know what he knows and be able to do what he does.
… you know you’re going to get lucky if he’s been threading pipe.
… you’ve watched him dismantle a perfectly good toaster because it wasn’t working as well as he thought it should.
… he put the toaster back together again, only now it’s activated by a tekmar outdoor reset control.
…he has ever replaced a perfectly good water heater in your home because he “sensed” it was about to go. Of course he also cut it in half to see if he was right.
…he has ever made enormous “mouse-trap” games out of pvc and marbles
…your sons favorite presents are pretend tools
…you have a hot spigot on the outside of your house………….all four sides
…you are not allowed to use your own garbage disposal
…Cheap import fixtures are as repulsive to him as a foreign car.

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Simple Care For Your Dishwasher

There are few things that can simultaneously  save you time and money, but your dishwasher does.  It not only saves you time by washing your dishes, but does it less expensively by not over working your water heater like hand washing .  Over time how ever you may find your dishwasher is not performing the way it use to or developing an odor.  A little TLC can help you with these problems.

Inspect the seal at the door- Wipe away any minerals that may have built up on it.  A little white vinegar and a cloth is all it takes.

Cleaning the screen-Located in the bottom of your dishwasher you most likely have a screen to catch food and silverware that may fall there.  Simply clean the openings or remove it and clean it in your sink with soap and water.

Fight mold and mildew- Simply pour two cups of apple cider or white vinegar in the bottom of your dishwasher and run it on the heaviest setting to clean things up.

Make sure of a high loop- Your drain hose that is ran under your sink and connected to your plumbing should always go up and then into the connection.  Simple visual inspection and this can be determined.

Check the level- Make sure your dishwasher is level.  An off dishwasher can perform badly.  By simply adjusting the legs this can be corrected.

If you need help with any of these tasks call your plumber, we can help assist you with this.

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Undiscovered Leaks And A Way to Find Them Faster

An inexpensive way to discover a leak is to have a flood alarm.  A flood alarm is a very easy to install.  As a matter of fact anyone can install one.  It is easier than a smoke detector,  just put a battery in one and place it on the floor.  If your water heater, sump pump, ac unit or water softener are located in an area of your home where you don’t necessarily have to frequent.  You may want to place one in that space.  This device will let out a siren type sound when water hits the bottom of it’s contacts.  That way you know something is wrong before it causes major damage.

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Install a new toilet and save water.

If you have a really old toilet it might be costing you money.  Older toilets typically used more water per flush than modern ones.  Over twenty years ago toilets were only to use a gallon and a half of water per flush.  These toilets early on in there existence were bad flushing, would leave debris behind and so on.  This would cause double flushing or other actions to clear and is a waste of water and money.  Not to mention a huge hassle.  The new toilets that are available today are much better at both saving water and creating a strong flush.  Also they are offered in many shapes and heights to accommodate everyone.  One toilet I recommend is a Kohler Cimmeron,  Kohler has a very good product line of water saving toilets all together.

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Tankless Water Heaters VS. Traditional Tank Water Heaters

This debate comes down to initial installation cost in most case’s.  Let’s face it when the cost of replacing a 10 to 20 year old water heater is going to be in some case’s twice as much, the decision is swift.   “I’ll stay with my regular water heater that for the most I forgot what it looked like till it leaked”.  As far as efficiency goes hands down the tankless option wins.   It only heats the water as it is in demand.  But how much does it save you on a daily basis?   Is it enough to warrant the investment?   You also have maintenance to perform semi annually or annually depending on the quality of your water.   A water softener is highly recommended with a tankless system.   Granted I like soft water and feel everyone should have one, but selling a tankless system is hard enough.  Tell someone they also should spend a bit more coin on a softener is a bit of a task.   In my opinion new construction homes should go with a tankless.  That is if they are gas or propane,  electric systems should stay tank, but should be hybrid type.

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