Monthly Archives: August 2014

Increased Water Usage Notice – What!?

See the picture below. If you came home to find a notice like this on your door you’ve got questions and understandably some concerns.

Water Usage Notice

If you receive one of these notices at your home and are not sure why – Call (503) 719-4015 and schedule an appointment with the experts at Sutherland Plumbing, LLC.

Relax, this is routine and quite simply the water company attempting to notify you that compared to your average usage it’s gone up exponentially. Although there are many reasons that can factor into this, we’ll share with you here the top three reasons that most likely exist. (Based on 20+ years of field experience). 
1) Your main underground water service pipe leading from the water meter to the home has sprung a leak and is leaking into the earth. Your options are to repair or replace. There are pros & cons to both options and the solution will vary depending on your budget & expectations. Generally speaking: repairs can end up as expensive temporary band aids while a proper replacement will ensure decades of trouble free service. Contributing factors include, but are not limited to: the age & material of the existing pipe and the location & depth of the leak. 
2) The irrigation (sprinkler) system is leaking. If connected properly, your sprinkler system T’s into or off of your main underground water service pipe. The sprinkler system then runs through an approved back-flow preventer and then goes off to serve the various zones or sprinkler heads. 
3) A malfunctioning or “running” toilet is draining excessive amounts of water down the main sewer drain. Second to this is a faucet that is continuously dripping or leaking. This cause of excessive water usage is the least likely prompting a notice of increased water usage. (Again, this based on our experience).  It’s our contention that if a faucet was dripping and/or a toilet was running enough to prompt the notice – you’d probably know it! Generally when a faucet or toilet is broken to that extent people are aware and setting out to get it fixed before a whole billing cycle comes and goes.
You have options and choices either way. Dozens of times we have visited a homeowner expecting to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars only to find that simply turning off the sprinkler system will stop the leak and buy some time to get control of the situation rather than the situation being in control of you.

Thanks to our valued customers for all the great reviews!

“We used Sutherland Plumbing in an emergency situation and Ti was able to get to our place ASAP!  He was very knowledgeable did a GREAT job fixing what needed to be done. PLUS he caulked around my toilet & sink AND cleaned up the bathroom – including vacuuming and shaking out my rugs!  I would definitely recommend Ti and Sutherland Plumbing for any plumbing needs. Thanks Ti!!”

Sarah M – Portland, OR

SP Logo

At Sutherland Plumbing, not only do we serve our customers with top quality plumbing services – but we respect your home & property. Experience the Sutherland Plumbing difference for yourself: Call (503) 719-4015 and schedule an appointment today!

How a Toilet Works – (Anatomy of a Toilet)

“My toilet is clogged or has a weak flush, it doesn’t always empty the bowl when I flush it….”

The above quote is a very common symptom reported by many clients. Would it surprise you to know that about half of the time the toilet isn’t clogged at all! Take a look at the picture below: Notice the spot marked “trap,” this is the place where water & waste travels on its way to the sewer drain pipe. Technically the toilet is only “clogged” when an obstruction exists inside the trap preventing passage. Note the hollow area around the bowl. When a toilet is flushed, water sitting in the tank rushes into and around these hollow chambers and then enters the bowl via water jets. The main water jet (aka “siphon jet”) is usually at the bottom of the toilet bowl.

Anatomy of toilet

An older, poorly performing toilet can have clogged jets and/or obstructed jets preventing the water from entering the bowl as needed. This causes weak flushing toilets & toilet bowls that don’t empty all the way. Additionally, if the water level inside the tank is too low this results in an inadequate amount of water for a proper flush.

An old plumbing trick called “the bucket test” can narrow the possibilities.  Simply fill a 5 gallon bucket of water and pour it into the toilet bowl expeditiously. If the toilet bowl revives the water with no problem or back up – it’s more than likely your toilet is in need of repair or replacement. If this is the case call (503) 719-4015 and speak with the pros at Sutherland Plumbing, LLC. We carry as regular stock: premium, high-efficiency 1.28gpf (gallons per flush) toilets on our trucks!

How to Locate & Read Your Water Meter!

You will gain giant leaps ahead of the average homeowner in preparedness to avoid or deal with plumbing emergencies by simply familiarizing yourself and understanding the information contained in the following link. Click below to view a publication distributed by the Portland Water Bureau:

This is a photo of the actual water meter. In most homes the meter is usually located in the ground near the curb. You should see a metal top marked "Water Meter." If in doubt - call a licensed, qualified plumber to come take a look.

This is a photo of the actual water meter. In most homes the meter is usually located in the ground near the curb. You should see a metal top marked “Water Meter.” If in doubt – call a licensed, qualified plumber to come take a look.


This is a close-up photo of the Water Meter Register. If you have any questions about how to read the register – call Sutherland Plumbing at (503) 719-4015


Toilet Caulking – There’s a right way and a wrong way!

Toilet bowls require caulking at the base to provide a water-tight seal preventing liquid or moisture from getting underneath it and festering.

Often times an installer will skip this step, does it wrong, and/or the caulking simply fails as seen in the image below:

Toilet Caulking - Before

If the caulking beneath your toilet looks like this – you should call a licensed, qualified plumber as soon as possible – before the problem gets worse. The professionals at Sutherland Plumbing are here to take your calls 6 days per week, Sunday – Friday!

The next image is the same toilet re-caulked properly. Caulking of any kind is only as good as the surface we give it to adhere to. It’s important to remove any and all loose debris and clean the surface with a good all-purpose kitchen & bath cleaner – preferably one with a de-greasing agent.

Toilet Caulking  - After

Which toilet would you rather have in your bathroom? Re-caulking is relatively easy, fast & inexpensive. Call Sutherland Plumbing at (503) 719-4015 for an estimate.

A common complaint from our clients is a consistent “skunky” odor coming from the toilet area. Without a proper seal at the floor any liquid that gets on the floor near the toilet can run up to and underneath the toilet bowl including the occasional “miss” by little Johnny!

Ti’s Tips – Water Pressure vs. Water Volume

Water Pressure or PSI (pounds per square inch) is exactly that – a measurement of force. While water volume or GPM (gallons per minute) is a measurement of flow. In most cases, plumbing systems that deliver unsatisfactory performance have a volume problem not a pressure problem. The pressure is most often adequate – it is the pipes that are either undersized, corroded & restricted – or both. In many cases there is excessive water pressure and still symptoms of poor water volume delivery is present. Too much water pressure can cause a host of problems. Similarly, high blood pressure can go undetected or undiagnosed for years while the negative effects and irreversible damage occurs. A simple water pressure measuring device can be purchased at most hardware stores for under $15! Eighty (80) PSI is considered high – anything over and you’re asking for trouble!

Think you may have a problem with water pressure in your home or business? The pressure may be just fine, it could be a volume issue or another undiagnosed plumbing problem. Call Sutherland Plumbing at (503) 719-4015 to get an expert opinion!

Do you think you may have a problem with water pressure in your home or business? The pressure may be just fine, it could be a volume issue or another undiagnosed plumbing problem. Call Sutherland Plumbing at (503) 719-4015 to get an expert opinion!

Sutherland Plumbing – Top notch service from start to finish!

“When I called Sutherland Plumbing, a friendly, helpful person answered the phone & the plumber showed up as promised. Ti explained things slowly and in language I could understand. (I love that!) Before Ti started working I knew how much it was going to cost, and that’s exactly what I was charged!  He made recommendations for areas needing improvement and that I should keep an eye on. I never felt like he was trying to sell more work, it was more like talking with a familiar person. I wish more service people took the time to explain & describe what’s wrong so I don’t feel like I’m making a wrong decision. Ti did great work and was clean.  He didn’t leave any mess behind  – in fact, I think my bathroom was cleaner when he left than it was before he showed up. KUDOS!”

Bret F – Portland, OR

At Sutherland Plumbing, we take care of our customers from the moment you call until the job is complete. Call (503) 719-4015 and experience our top notch service for yourself!

At Sutherland Plumbing, we take care of our customers from the moment you call until the job is complete. Call (503) 719-4015 and experience our top-notch service for yourself!

Ti’s Tips – How to make use of water from leaky faucets!

While you’re waiting for one of Sutherland Plumbing’s top-notch technicians to arrive and repair your leaky faucet – put a bucket under the faucet to catch the drip. There are more than a few things you can use the water for: flushing toilets or watering plants are just a couple. The possibilities are endless.

To flush a toilet with a bucket of water, expeditiously pour its contents straight  into the bowl. Remember – you’ll roughly need as much water in the bucket as is in the tank. So if you have an older non-efficient toilet, it’s likely you’ll need around 3 gallons to empty the toilet bowl of its contents. A newer, more modern water-saver toilet only requires 1.2 – 1.6 gallons or less.

Hey! What are you doing with an old toilet that wastes water and money anyway? When the Sutherland Plumbing technician arrives, remember to tell him that you need an upgrade! We carry as regular stock premium, high-efficiency 1.28gpf (gallons per flush) toilets on our trucks.

Leaky Faucet

You can temporarily make good use of water from leaky faucets, but it’s best to call the experts at Sutherland Plumbing before the issue gets worse. Call (503) 719-4015 and have the issue resolved as soon as possible!

Reminder! – Tualatin Valley Water District, Residential High-Efficiency Toilet (HET) Rebate.

Tualatin Valley Water District - Residential High-Efficiency Toilet (HET) Rebate Available Only For EPA WaterSense Labeled Toilets.

Tualatin Valley Water District – Residential High-Efficiency Toilet (HET) Rebate – Available for EPA WaterSense Labeled Toilets!

Save Water AND Money!


The single best thing you can do to improve toilet efficiency is to replace an old inefficient toilet with a newer water-efficient model. Toilets are typically the largest indoor water user. Older toilets use between 3.5 and 7 gallons per flush (gpf) while new high-efficiency toilets (HETs) and dual flush toilets use 1.3 gpf or less. This is more than 50% to 75% savings in water per toilet!

Apply for a $75 per HET rebate when you:

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Applicants must live in a single-family residence within the Tualatin Valley Water District; including a house, condominium, duplex/multiplex or manufactured home with a single or master meter. 
  • NOTE: Customers in the Valley View Water District and apartment owners currently DO NOT qualify for these rebates.*
  • The applicant must have a current TVWD water account in good standing or be the owner of the master metered residence within the District as verified by TVWD.

  • Applications must include a copy of a proof of purchase receipt from a retailer or plumbing company that specifies the purchase date, purchase price, manufacturer and model number.

  • The application must be received by TVWD within 90 days of purchase date.

  • Prior to approval, an on-site inspection may be required by TVWD.

  • The total rebate per item will not exceed the receipt amount.

How To Apply For A Rebate

  • After purchasing and installing your HET(s) per the eligibility requirements outlined above, complete the Residential Rebate Application Form (PDF) and attach a copy of the receipt.
  • Choose the most convenient option to submit the application and receipt:
    Mail: TVWD, Attn: Rebates, 1850 SW 170th Ave, Beaverton OR, 97003
    Fax: 503-356-3156

Call or contact the TVWD Conservation Program at (503) 848-3056 for the rebate terms and conditions and with any questions. You can also download the Residential Rebate Brochure or visit the TVWD Residential Rebate Frequently Asked Questions Web page for more information.

Please allow 4-6 weeks for processing.

*Are you an apartment owner or business interested in a rebate or other conservation programs? Visit the TVWD Business, Industry and Government Conservation Web page.

A great Yelp review – from a very satisfied customer!

“I am beyond impressed with Ti and his side-kick intern Sean. They give you 110% of their time, advice and incredible knowledge, with friendly & comfortable company, I might add. This will forever be the only plumbers’ phone number I save. They really, really give superior service, not to just your plumbing needs but to you as well. 5 stars just isn’t enough!

Ti likes Sprite and Sean prefers Coke – they were working in scorching heat. They make you feel very comfortable. As a woman at home alone and at ease, I feel like I just made two new friends! Both were fun to have in my home and did an outstanding job on my current plumbing needs. I live in an older home that was completely remodeled two years ago and the plumbing was not updated very well. But Ti didn’t give up on finding solutions. He kept investigating and fixed my pipes and added new  fixtures outside. I have another project he will be coming back for and I look forward to writing the check and having him around. They are both just sweet as pie!

His pricing was shocking (in a good way) vs. the amount of work they did. I was happy to write that check! It was easily affordable for me. I would have them over for dinner with their great sense of humor yet professionalism. Ti even advised me on a woodworking project I am currently doing. Ti is definitely a top-notch plumber. I learned while he was here that he has been doing plumbing since he was just a kid. Expect excellence and pride in work with some laughs and smiles along the way with Sutherland Plumbing!

Ti and Sean: stop by anytime for a soda! Thank you both for the AWESOME fix, yeahoooo I can water my lawn now! I look forward to the pressure booster system, that’s so cool I didn’t know that it even existed. Take care, thank you again, it was my pleasure meeting the both of you and I will talk to you soon!

Amy N – Gladstone, OR

Sean Sawdust

Here’s Sean – Sutherland Plumbing’s #1 intern! As you can see, he doesn’t ming getting dirty on the job and he loves an ice-cold Coca-Cola! (Although Master Plumber Ti prefers an ice-cold Sprite!)