Category Archives: Plumbing Tips

Plumbing Can Be Beautiful!!!

While we at Sutherland Plumbing take pride in our daily hard work and ability to turn our customers’ unfortunate “problems” into “opportunities for solutions.” We also acknowledge that Plumbing can be beautiful, too…

 

 

17 Emergency Situations When You’ll Be Glad You Know a Plumber!

Check out this great article from Chadwicks:

“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 the 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 torchlight, he emerges some time later – t-shirt soaked with copper-coloured 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 nick.”

Courtesy of: Chadwicks.ie

How to prevent hairballs from clogging your drain!

This is a record holding hairball out of a shower drain! We call it “the wookie.” Hair ClogWhen 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 in the following:

Danco Microban Hair CatcherThese hair traps are a great way to prevent needing a plumber in the first place! I think EVERYONE would agree, $5.81 is well spent to avoid and/or prevent a $200.00 service call from a plumber! Not to mention, drain clogs 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 here.

Ti’s Tips Reminder – How to check your water pressure!

To all of my valued customers: Don’t get me wrong, I love all the work you’re giving me, but if you want to do something proactive to avoid unexpected & costly plumbing breakdowns – check & know what the water pressure in your home is.

Per the plumbing code (not to mention good practice) anything that’s at 80 PSI (pounds per square inch) or higher is excessive and MUST be regulated.

Excessive water pressure is analogous to high blood pressure. The devastating effects & havoc are caused over time. Irreversible damage can (and will) take its toll! High water pressure is one of the most common core problems discovered by plumbers day after day, service call after service call.

I’ll make this as easy as possible. Check the link below. It will take you to Amazon to purchase the very same tool we purchase as professionals to check your water pressure. It’s literally as easy as hooking up a garden hose!

Click here to check-out the “Rain Bird P2A – Pressure Gauge.”

Ti’s Tips, Reminder – Act NOW before it’s too late!!

Ignoring symptoms of a failing plumbing system – i.e. Weird or strange sounds, leaks, drips, loose & wobbly faucets or fittings, slow or clogged drains, or poor water pressure etc. is like ignoring a traffic citation. It can’t magically vanish, it only gets worse over time…………

Don’t ignore symptoms of a failing plumbing system. Call Sutherland Plumbing at (503) 719-4015. Call today!

Ti’s Tips Reminder – How to “winterize” your home!

Winter is almost 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:

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:

Turn clockwise to shut-off your water valve.

Turn clockwise to shut-off your water valve.

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.

At the very least – 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.

Covered Faucet

A quick, inexpensive trip to your local hardware store or home center and you can help winterize your home yourself!

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

“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!

3) 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
$450.00! That’s an average and assumes your paying time-and-a-half or even double-time, travel and service call charges, materials & emergency dispatching fees. That’s also 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 it 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!

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!

Ti’s Tips – How to fix a dripping hose faucet…

As the weather heats up, more and more people are using their garden hoses and outdoor hose faucets. This means many more service calls to fix “dripping” hose faucets. While some of the service calls require some specialized skills and materials to repair – many times all it takes is a basic hand tool like an adjustable wrench…

Adjustable Wrench
…and a few seconds to remedy. Most outdoor hose faucets have what’s called a “packing nut.” It’s common after several dozen times of turning it on and off the packing loosens causing a slight drip. Sometimes if left unattended it worsens over time and drips/leaks profusely. You may be able to save yourself a service call by attempting to tighten the packing nut, just remember right to tight and left to loose. Adjust your wrench or pliers to fit around the packing nut of the faucet, usually no more than a quarter to a half turn does the trick! There, you’re done. Take the money you would have given the plumber (to drive out a big truck full of equipment) to do the same job and go out to a nice dinner. With what plumbers are charging for service calls these days – make it a steak dinner!

Packing Nut

 

Summer’s Here – How to Water Your Lawn!

How to Water Your Lawn:

Knowing how to water a lawn the right way is critical to the overall health of your lawn. The frequency and amount of water you apply to grass may vary – depending on soil, time of year, weather conditions, type of grass, and so on. Follow these tips when watering, and your lawn will shine:

1) Water to the proper depth: Moisture should penetrate to about 6 to 8 inches deep.  Watering less deeply results in a shallow-rooted lawn that dries out quickly.

On the other hand, applying water that penetrates much deeper than 6 to 8 inches is wasteful because most grass roots don’t grow longer than that.

Check how deeply the water penetrates your lawn by probing the ground with a stiff metal rod or long screwdriver. The rod moves easily through wet soil and then stops, or becomes difficult to push, when it reaches dry soil.

2) Allow the lawn to partially dry out between watering: This step creates the good moisture-air relationship that is essential for healthy roots. The lawn shows you when it’s getting dry and needs water: When you walk on the grass, you can look back and see your footprints. The grass also changes color from bright green to a dull, almost smoky, grayish-blue when it is dry.

3) Avoid runoff: If you apply water faster than the lawn can absorb it, which happens with many types of sprinklers, the water runs off into street gutters and into oblivion. That’s wasteful, so don’t do that. Instead, water in short intervals of about 10 to 15 minutes, turn off the water (or move the sprinkler) to let the water soak in, and then turn the sprinkler back on for another 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat this procedure until you get the water down to about 6 to 8 inches deep.

You can avoid runoff in other ways. One way is to use sprinklers that apply water very slowly The other method is to get rid of thatch, a layer of organic crud that builds up near the surface of a lawn and dramatically slows water penetration.

4) Water in the morning: Early morning is the best time to water. The weather is usually cool and calm, humidity is usually high, and water evaporates less. The wind also doesn’t blow the water into the neighbor’s yard. Morning watering gives the lawn a chance to dry off before evening, which can protect your lawn from disease and pests.

5) In midsummer, most lawns need between 1 and 2 inches of water a week: You can apply the whole amount of water once a week, but most people get better results by splitting it into two applications. In sandy soils where the water penetrates quickly, splitting the water into three applications may work better. Watering more frequently than three times a week is verboten.

6) Watch your lawn and make appropriate adjustments: If the lawn doesn’t seem to dry out between waterings, stretch the intervals in between. If the water doesn’t get deep enough, apply a little more at each watering, but water less often. If everything seems fine, try cutting back on the amount you apply anyway and see what happens. Maybe you can conserve some of that valuable resource.

7) Watering newly planted lawns is a whole different ball of wax: You need to water new lawns more often until the grass plants become established.

Watering Lawn

 

 

The time for a new water heater is NOW!

There’s never been a better time to have your storage tank type water heater replaced!

SAVE $$$

If you’re even considering a new water heater and/or have the slightest concerns your existing one is “on its last legs” it would do you well to familiarize yourself with some major changes and new efficiency standards scheduled to totally transform the water heater market as we know it.

Cutting through all the “blah blah blah” – this means purchasing a new water heater after April 16th 2015 as required by state and federal authorities will cost you a lot more money! Although more efficient than ever, here are a few reasons why the new heaters are going to cost more:

1) The appliance itself will be more expensive right out of the box.
2) Installation will become more labor intensive.
3) The new units will become larger in size due to increased amounts of insulation. This means in many cases where space is already limited, options will include and are not limited to: completely relocating the appliance, substantial demolition & construction to accommodate the newer larger size and retro-fitting for a tankless model upgrade. The larger size heaters may also require additional manpower to lift and locate the unit.
4) Newer Gas models will require 120 volts in order to operate.  This means not only might you need pluming & mechanical work, but an electrician may need to be summoned to run a new electrical circuit.

All of this means more $$$.

Make no mistake, the new appliances coming are more efficient but not by a large margin compared to today’s already energy efficiency standards, unless viewed in the grand scheme of things. For example; it is estimated by the U.S. Department of Energy that a staggering 63 billion dollars will be saved in energy costs by 2044.  Now zoom in from there and consider what part of that will be your share of the 63 billion over the course of 29 years. Remember, water heaters only last on average 15 years before requiring replacement.  If you’re tracking the numbers – that’s approximately two brand new water heaters for you and your home.

More money spent by consumers on goods and services as described above improves the economy, while less money spent on utility bills conserves precious energy. You see the win-win situation there?

Much like the well-known fact you can get some pretty amazing deals on new automobiles at year’s end by choosing to purchase the 2014 model over the 2015 – the same goes here for water heaters. Suppliers want to unload inventories to make room for the new models.  Not to mention, come April 16th 2015, water heaters non compliant with the new, higher standards will be prohibited.

This is prime-time to take advantage as lower material costs for the contractor means lower prices to the end-user.

From now until April 16th 2015 Sutherland Plumbing, LLC is offering a $125.00 discount on the installation of a new Bradford White 50 gallon gas or electric water heater. This job includes:

– Removal & disposal of old water heater.
– Install new Bradford White 50 gallon gas or electric water heater.
– Earthquake restraints.
– Thermal expansion tank.
– Solid brass and copper fittings (no steel).
– 10 year tank warranty with 2 years parts and labor warranty.
– Required plumbing permit.

Total  Cost = $1580.00
Less Sutherland Plumbing discount offer of -$125.00
Your cost with Sutherland Plumbing = $1455.00

The following link will provide more details about the coming changes.

http://www.bradfordwhite.com/naeca

Call or email us today to schedule an appointment!

All about sink overflow holes…

Stinky sink? Many times my clients complain of a constant, persistent foul odor in their bathroom that’s reminiscent of a “wadded up wet towel left in the bottom of the hamper for a week or two”. Oh, no!

Most all lavatory sinks have what’s called an “overflow”. By design it allows water to flow down the drain – in the event the sink were to fill too high – and not over the top & onto the floor. Unless of course the drain was plugged or slow draining but that’s an entirely different story.  The image below is a common bathroom sink with the overflow in the back of the sink. Some sinks have the overflow hole in the front of the sink – same thing just different design. Often this overflow area can collect foul mildew smelling bacteria. Simply flood the overflow hole with plain white vinegar to kill the bacteria. Use a funnel, or perhaps simply cup your hand as to divert the Vinegar into the hole or just let it glug out of the bottle into the hole. Nothing fancy, remember plain white vinegar is cheap and it’s hard to use too much.  Repeat as needed!

Sink Overflow Hole