From our neighbors across the river in the City of Vancouver, WA – here’s a primer on lead in drinking water:
“…lead in drinking water comes primarily from materials and components used in household plumbing. The more time water has been sitting in pipes, the more dissolved metals, such as lead, it may contain. Elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially in pregnant women and young children.
To help reduce potential exposure to lead: for any drinking water tap that has not been used for 6 hours or more, flush water through the tap until the water is noticeably colder before using for drinking or for cooking. You can use the flushed water for watering plants, washing dishes or general cleaning.
Use only water from the cold water tap for drinking, cooking and especially for making baby formula. Hot water is likely to contain higher levels of lead. If you are concerned about your water, you may wish to have your water tested.”
Information on lead in drinking water is available from EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791 or www.epa.gov/safewater/lead
Ti Sutherland, Master Plumber – Sutherland Plumbing, LLC (CCB# 200460)
The photo below is the result of using plumbing code-compliant galvanized steel for water connections. Yes, I said code compliant and before you start thinking this is WW2 era – this fitting was installed in 2011! If any of your pipes look like this, they’re living on borrowed time.
Let’s remember: “Code” is a bare minimum set of standards set forth with the intent being to keep people safe and alive. We all know we can exceed minimum standards in almost every aspect of life. At Sutherland Plumbing LLC we don’t even stock this material nor is it allowed on our job sites!
We use brass or stainless steel. The fitting you see in this picture costs about .60¢, the brass replacement about $5.00. This is a microcosm of every single material and installation standard at Sutherland Plumbing LLC.
Let’s remember the old adage: “you’ll get what you pay for!”
Winter is officially here! The weather will inevitably bring freezing temperatures that have the potential to cause havoc on plumbing systems!
Time to “winterize.” “Winterizing” means: to adapt or prepare something for use in cold weather.
Every year around this time, plumbers are called-out to urgent situations resulting from frozen plumbing. If it gets really bad this winter, you may find it more likely to see Santa and his reindeer flying around than a plumber, because every one of us is busy fixing broken plumbing pipes!
Let me assure you, the vast majority of freeze-damaged plumbing is completely avoidable.
Here are a few very basic things that you can do to put you & your home at an advantage:
1) Close or block-off your foundation vents:
The foundation vents are circled in red. Winterizing Tip #1 is to close or block them off.
2) Turn off the water to exterior hose faucets:
Sometimes this one can be tricky for two reasons: First – do you know where the valve is? Second – the valve may not work properly so you might be in a vulnerable position.
Turn clockwise to shut-off your water valve.
3) At the very least – Remember to insulate your outdoor hose-faucets & irrigation systems.
Remove any garden hoses from the faucets & cover the faucet with something that will insulate & protect it from freezing temperatures. Almost every home center and hardware store sells products made specifically for this.
A quick, inexpensive trip to your local hardware store or home center and you can help winterize your home yourself!
4) Any pipes or plumbing fixtures that have the potential to freeze due to exposure should be drained and empty of fluid.
It’s actually not the cold that damages pipes, it’s the liquid inside that freezes, expands & tears the pipe or fixture apart. At thaw, the water or liquid becomes fluid again and: “Houston, we have a problem!”
If you’re not sure or don’t have the ability to evacuate exposed plumbing pipes, then try to find a method of providing a heat source to the fixture. A very common product for this is referred to as ” heat tape”. It comes in different sizes, shapes, lengths & brand names, but basically is a cord of some kind that when energized creates resistance heat. Think of a rope wrapped around pipes that you plug-in like your electric heating blanket.
“Heat Tape” is another inexpensive way you can “winterize” your own home with just a quick trip to your local hardware store or home center!
5) Open cabinet doors where plumbing is located on exterior walls:
This will allow a better chance for the heat from the room to convect to the pipes inside the wall.
Why is “winterizing” your home or business so important?
The average cost per emergency service call during a hard-freeze with broken pipes is $450! That’s assuming you can actually get a plumber to your door!
Most times when I meet people to repair their emergency freeze-damaged pipes, I tell them: “Had it been winterized, that wouldn’t have happened.” The most common response is: “I didn’t even know I was supposed to do that!”
I’ve seen many winters where every plumber in town has an extremely long list, full of customers with emergencies, with many thousands of dollars in property damage. I’ll bet at that moment the nominal fee to have a professional plumber check things out before the freeze would seem like small potatoes!
Not sure if your Home or Business is ready for winter? Call the pros at Sutherland Plumbing and we’ll come and take a look for you. Call (503) 719-4015. Don’t delay this important call!
“We’ve all been there. The water tank is emitting a strange gurgling sound and we know something’s not right. We call the plumber and pray that the house hasn’t become Niagara Falls by the time he arrives. We wait on tenterhooks, anxiously watching the clock. Finally, the doorbell rings and there he is. We’re so relieved we want to kiss him.
Instead we get a hold of ourselves and usher him up to the attic. Using wrenches and pliers and working by flashlight, he emerges some time later, t-shirt soaked with copper-colored grime, and pronounces the job done. Oh the joy of having running water once more!
We take a look at 17 Emergency Situations When You’ll be Glad You Know a Plumber – and express our gratitude to all those nifty plumbers who keep our modern conveniences in good shape.”
This is a record holding hairball out of a shower drain! We call it “the Wookie.”When we do service calls for this sort of thing, we not only clean the drain properly to restore service but we also recommend and sometimes (depending on the style & type of drain) give the client a tub/shower hair trap as seen here:These hair traps are a great way to prevent needing a plumber in the first place! I think EVERYONE would agree, $5 is well spent to prevent a $200 service call from a plumber! Not to mention, clogged drains don’t care that it’s Friday afternoon and the in-laws are due to arrive any minute!
You can find one of these hair traps for just a few dollars here.
“Do you know how, or more importantly where to shut-off the main water supply to your home?”
After 20 years it still surprises me that many (in fact most) clients don’t know how to go about turning-off the main water supply to their homes!
Every home should have a readily accessible, functional main water shut-off valve. The fact is, many times the valve is concealed, not easily accessible, non-functional, all of the above or missing altogether! Regardless, here’s a pretty sure-fire way and backup plan to get your water shut-off quickly in the event of an emergency:
1) Locate and know where your water meter is located, typically you can find it near the curb or sidewalk in front of your house.2) Open the lid to look inside. Not all lids are the same. Sometimes it’s necessary to remove the entire cover to see the meter or to access the shut off valve inside.3) There are a couple of ways to turn the valve. Ultimately you’re trying to line up the two circles, about a 1/2 turn clockwise. There’s a tool made that goes by a few different names, the most common of which is “Meter Key” sold at just about every home center and hardware store. Expect to pay somewhere between $10.00 – $30.004) You might have some hand tools laying around that may work in a pinch. Namely a crescent wrench and something long, narrow & ridged like a screwdriver. See the illustration below on how to use these common hand tools to do the job in place of a “Meter Key.”It would do you well to familiarize yourself with the “how to” described here.
I can usually tell if a client has lived through a plumbing emergency or catastrophe by their knowledge of where & how to turn-off the main water supply. One family I met recently had a bright red meter key conspicuously hanging on two nails in the garage. My client told me about a nightmare experience they had in the past, wherein a toilet supply line had ruptured and nobody knew the first thing about getting the water shut-off! The water line leaked several hundred, maybe thousands of gallons of water into the house before the water was shut-off by a responding emergency plumber. Besides the expense of the emergency service call, they now faced not only the repair of the broken toilet line (the least of their worries), but thousands of dollars in restoration repairs and a hefty insurance claim. The client went on to say that now everyone who lives in the house (including their 7 year-old) knows what the meter key is and how & when to use it!
Ti Sutherland – Master Plumber,Sutherland Plumbing.