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Stupid Things that Ruin Plumbing – Worcester, Boston

25 Mar 2014

We will always need plumbing, or more specifically, working plumbing, but unfortunately people will always do stupid things that causes plumbing problems and stops it from working. Here are the top 10 stupid things that people do to ruin their plumbing.

1: Leaving hoses connected during winter.

This is a classic plumbing error that one must assume is caused most often by extreme laziness. Hoses can cause damage when left out all year: they can lead to freezing of the outdoor faucet or its water supply pipe. It’s terrible for your hose, too.

2: Using vent pipes for anything other than venting.

There are reports of homeowners running things like TV cables down the plumbing vent pipes that come up through their roofs. Seems like a tempting solution to getting into the house, but vent pipes aren’t just there for their bad looks. They not only provide air to drains inside the house, to prevent a suction effect that inhibits drainage; they also get rid of sewer gases that come up from the city’s sewer main. If you cut a hole in your vent inside the house to run a cable through, you’re tapping into an endless supply of your neighborhood’s sewer air.

3. Using too much drain cleaner.

When used judiciously and as directed on the right kind of clog, drain cleaners can be effective and relatively safe for drains. When used with abandon, they can corrode some drain materials, and they can actually make clogs worse. It’s also not very nice for the plumber who eventually comes out to clear that clog.

4. Pouring chemicals (and other bad stuff) into a septic system.

If you’re used to living with a “private” sewage system, you probably know how to take care of it. But if you just bought a house with septic you might not think twice about using chemicals like drain cleaner, chlorine bleach, paint and even anti-bacterial soaps. These chemicals kill the essential waste-eating bacteria in the septic tank, and you can guess the result.

5: Screwing, nailing or cutting into a wall with hidden plumbing pipes.

This kind of speaks for itself.

6: Joining two different metals in piping.

DIY plumbers beware: When dissimilar metals, such as copper and steel, are touching, a process called galvanic action leads to corrosion. Corrosion leads to leaking pipes. Such joints must be made with a dielectric union or other approved fitting.

7: Pouring grease down the kitchen drain.

If you’re in the habit of pouring bacon grease down the kitchen-sink drain, you might as well try to stuff the whole pig down there. Grease is one of the best things for clogging drains.

8: Putting everything else down the kitchen drain.

A garbage disposal does very little to stop the following from clogging your drain: flour, rice, potato peels (and some other veggie peels) and many fibrous foods such as asparagus and chard.

9: Removing a sink drain.

This is not a common stupid mistake, but it warrants mention here. Some very well-meaning folks who want to green their everyday lives have been known to remove the P-trap and other drain parts underneath their bathroom sink so that the wastewater could be collected in a bucket and used to water plants outdoors. While the use of gray water is the jurisdiction of the local health department, the issue in this humble missive is the 1 1/2-INCH HOLE PUMPING SEWER GAS INTO THE BATHROOM. You have to plug that drain pipe.

10: Using the toilet as a trash can.

It’s as though, at the back of our minds, each of us believes that if we can just get it to flush away, it will be magically out of our lives forever. Unfortunately, the toilet leads to a 3-inch drain pipe that leads into another drain pipe, which is THE drain pipe to your entire house. In other words, flushing one improper item down the toilet ultimately can stop up everything in the house. The bottom line is, if it isn’t toilet paper or waste, don’t flush it.

For plumbing help, contact Greater Boston Plumbing and Heating.

Leaking Plumbing Costs Money, Fix it Fast – Worcester, Boston

20 Mar 2014

Leaking plumbing can wreak havoc on your wallet. Next time you get your water bill, take a look at your usage. If it’s more than 12,000 gallons a month for a family of four, you’ve got some leaks. That means you’re paying for water that’s going right down the drain. The EPA recommends checking your home for the most common causes of leaks. Here are some tips.

Before checking for individual leaks, check your overall water usage by monitoring your water meter over a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter keeps inching up, you probably have a leak. The good news is that many common leaks are easy and inexpensive to fix.

Toilets. Typically, toilets begin leaking when the toilet flapper or valve seal becomes old or worn out. A good way to check is to put some food coloring in the toilet tank and wait 15 minutes to see if it color shows up in the toilet bowl. If it does, you’ll need to fix the leaky toilet.

Faucets. Old and worn washers and gaskets are frequently the cause of faucet leaks. If you attempt to fix this leak yourself, remember to turn the water off under the sink before you start. You should also close the drain and cover the bottom of the sink or bathtub with a cloth so you don’t lose any of the small parts. If you have no plumbing experience, you may be better off calling a licensed plumber.

Showerheads. Some leaky showerheads are easy to fix while others may need professional attention. Make sure there is a tight connection between the showerhead and pipe stem. The washer may also need to be replaced.  If you suspect a valve leak, that’s the time to call the plumber.

Outdoor faucets. Check your garden hose for leaks at the connection to the spigot. If it leaks, try replacing the washer to ensure a tight connection to the spigot. You can also use pipe tape and a wrench. If you have in-ground irrigation, you should to check to make sure it wasn’t damaged by frost or freezing during winter. If it leaks, you most likely need help from a professional plumber.

Top-rated replacement fixtures

If these simple fixes don’t work, it may be time to replace your toilet, faucet, or showerhead. Replacing your old fixtures with WaterSense models not only saves water but money too. WaterSense models, including toilets from American Standard, AquaSource, Toto, and Kohler. Check these out and get a toilet that will save you water for years to come.

Recommend models for low-flow showerheads from Moen, American Standard, and Waterpik  have very good or better shower feel and hot water delivery.

For more information on fixing leaky plumbing, contact Greater Boston Plumbing and Heating.

Consumer Reports

Gas Water Heater Repairs – Boston, Worcester

12 Mar 2014

Home plumbing systems need maintenance, repairs and upgrades periodically. This is less challenging than a bathroom or kitchen upgrade, but in many cases, these types of jobs often require a plumber.

Most repairs to a gas water heater are made at the burner control. If your heater leaks, the tank is rusted through and the entire unit must be replaced. Call a plumber to replace a gas water heater.

Below is a quick troubleshooting guide to gas water heater problems:

  • If the unit suddenly stops heating water, try relighting the pilot. If it does not stay lit, the thermocouple probably needs to be replaced. If that does not solve the problem, you may need to clean the burner.
  • If the flame is mostly yellow rather than mostly blue, clean the burner.
  • If water isn't heating sufficiently even though the thermostat is turned up and the flames are blue, drain the tank and refill it.
  • If you have hard water, unscrew and remove the anode rod once a year. Look for a 1-inch nut in the top of the heater. Loosen the nut; the anode rod will be attached. If it's encrusted with minerals, replace it to get more efficient operation.

Pressure-Relief Valve

A temperature- and pressure-relief (TPR) valve is a safety device that provides an outlet for water in case the unit overheats. To test that it's working, pull up on the little lever; water should flow out. If not, or if water drips from the valve, the temperature- and pressure-relief valve needs to be replaced. .

For any of the above tasks, if you are uncomfortable, contact Greater Boston Plumbing and Heating.

Bathroom Remodels with Licensed Plumbers Save You Time and Money – Boston, Worcester

05 Mar 2014

It is finally time to remodel the bathroom! Whether you want more space or you want to stop looking at outdated tiles and fixtures, bathroom remodeling can give you a great ROI when you sell your home.

But, hiring a professional plumber for a bathroom remodeling project is a must. They can handle all of the needs associated with remodeling your bathroom. It does not matter if you  are merely upgrading the fixtures, or doing a full bathroom remodel.

While DIYers may help you save money on labor, plumbing companies with professional designers and licensed plumbers will be able to better help you maximize your space and stay on budget. Ultimately, hiring professionals may save you time and money.

Greater Boston Plumbing & Heating can help you with custom designs and we will always provide a full detailed estimate as part of our bid process. We will also help you select any new fixtures like faucets, sinks, showers, doors, tubs, etc.

We have experienced bathroom remodeling experts with the product knowledge and design ideas you are looking for in order to upgrade your bathroom. If you want help designing and remodeling your bathrooms, contact Greater Boston Plumbing & Heating. We are happy to provide any references.

We look forward to making your dream bathroom come to life in your home!