November is here, and soon 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, starting around this time, plumbers are called-out to urgent situations resulting from frozen plumbing. Let me assure you, the vast majority of freeze-damaged plumbing is completely avoidable.
Close or block-off your foundation vents: The foundation vents are circled in red. Winterizing Tip #1 is to close or block them off.
“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.”
Sutherland Plumbing strives to be the Portland Metro area’s #1 family-owned plumbing service. At Sutherland Plumbing we understand the importance for our customers to keep their plumbing systems running smoothly and efficiently all year-round.
So it’s in the spirit of “shared knowledge” that I present my column, “Ti’s Tips”:
Ti’s Tips – Oh no, Clogged Drains!
The use of so-called “liquid drain cleaners” or openers is discouraged! There is NO marvel of design in these products. Most are made of highly caustic acids that only serve to dissolve, eat and destroy anything in their path including your plumbing pipes. Some even go as far as to claim “safe for all pipes” even if the results from using these products are temporary at best. You be the judge.
Drains clog for the most part as a result of grease, fats, oils and other matter accumulating inside the pipe. In order to CLEAN the drain one must scour the inside with proper equipment and knowledge. This is commonly referred to as snaking or “rootering” the drain. There is a big difference between “CLEANING” the drain as opposed to “OPENING” the drain. Baking soda and vinegar? Use at your own risk. Those items work best when baking or cooking food and are wasted when poured down the drain!
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” hole. 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 is 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!
Ti Sutherland, Master Plumber – Sutherland Plumbing, LLC
As the weather heats up, more and more people are using their garden hoses & outdoor hose faucets. This means many more service calls to fix “dripping” hose faucets. While some of these service calls require some specialized skills and materials to repair, many times all it takes is a basic hand tool like an 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 nut loosens causing a slight drip. Sometimes if left unattended it worsens over time and drips or leaks profusely. You may be able to save yourself a service call by attempting to tighten the packing nut, just remember “right to tight & 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!
Question: “I have a high-efficiency front-load clothes washing machine. Lately it seems our clothes come out smelling terrible like moldy mildew or something! Is there something a plumber can do to help this?”
Answer: What’s worse than a mountain of dirty laundry? A mountain of laundry you’ve just cleaned that smells of mildew. Especially towels!
If you have a front-load, high-efficiency washer, this scenario is far more common than you might realize. While the technology in high-efficiency washers is wonderful (they use much less water than traditional top loaders & their spin cycle is truly awesome), over time, humid conditions can lead to mold in two zones: the gasket (that rubber seal on the inside of the door) and the drum.
The Causes of Washer Mold:
Let’s start with the gasket, which is the most common culprit when it comes to washer mold. The reason is simple: the gasket doesn’t get much of a rinse. During a typical wash cycle, only a small amount of water is splashed past the seal, and over time, detergent and gunk accumulate in the folds as the water evaporates. Combine that with the fact that humidity stays trapped in the folds and you’ve got a recipe for the stinky stuff! If you notice a strong moldy odor when you open the door to the washer, pull back the rubber gasket examine the folds for black mold.
The second area in which mold residue forms is the inside of the drum. The main cause here, is humidity combined with residue from laundry detergents & fabric softeners that cling to the inside of the washer.
How to clean your washer to keep it smelling fresh:
If you do have mold in your washer, there’s no need to panic. Getting rid of it is very straightforward and the preventative measure you can take to keep it from coming back is one and the same. I can attest to the ease of dealing with this problem first-hand, as in the past, our washer had a bad mold problem.
Pour plain white vinegar in the bleach reservoir to the very top with each load. Not only does it kill the bacteria causing odor, it softens your clothes as well. I was skeptical of this, at first thinking I would replace the moldy smell for a sharp vinegar stench. NOT the case, everything comes out smelling like laundry mom used to do!
Are you & your family having any issues with your washing machine? If so, call Sutherland Plumbing at (503) 719-4015. Don’t delay, schedule today!
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 1.6 gallons or less.
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 1.28 gallons per flush toilets on our trucks. Call Sutherland Plumbing today!
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!
Check out THIS unbelievable story about the Charleston, SC water system. Then always think twice about flushing any “wipes” even if the packaging claims they’re “flushable.” Not only can these wipes wreak havoc on your home’s plumbing system, they can also create messy, expensive problems for your local municipality!