While we at Sutherland Plumbing take pride in our daily hard work & ability to turn our customers’ unfortunate problems into “opportunities for solutions,” we also acknowledge that plumbing can be beautiful, too…
“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.”
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!
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!
“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!
I’m Ti Sutherland, Co-Owner & Master Plumber for Sutherland Plumbing in Portland, Oregon. Here at Sutherland Plumbing, we strive to be the Portland Metro area’s #1 family-owned plumbing service. But that’s not all – 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 a reminder from my column, “Ti’s Tips” :
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! Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
To all of our valued customers: Don’t get us wrong, we love all the work you’re giving us, 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.”
Question: I often hear a sound like dripping water, clicking or tapping inside my walls when the water is on but I never see anything wet or evidence that there’s a leak. Should I be concerned about these noises – is there something that should be done?
Answer: These sounds are more common than you might think! It’s likely what you’re hearing are the water pipes expanding & contracting as the water flowing through them fluctuates in temperature. These sounds are most prevalent when a water pipe is rapidly heated.
When you turn on a hot water faucet, the hot water travels from the water heater, via pipes to the faucet that was just turned on. The rapidly heated pipe expands. That pipe is routed through a series of holes drilled in the wood framing and rubs or “scoots” by these wall studs & floor joists etc., as the pipes expand. Generally speaking, the lower temperatures cause matter to constrict or shrink in size, while higher temperatures result in the opposite effect.
Here’s the good news & the bad news: The good news is that these sounds are more of an annoyance than a serious problem. The bad news is that fixing it permanently can be tricky, labor intensive & expensive. We could get lucky and find the exact place where it’s happening but that probably means tearing out sections of drywall, searching for the culprit and strapping, anchoring, and/or isolating sections of pipe. An unlucky scenario would be that we keep tearing more & more drywall out until we find the exact location of the problem.
I feel it’s worth mentioning as well, there’s a practice used by plumbers when installing water pipes that prevents this from happening. It’s called “isolating,” wherein a hole is drilled for a pipe to route through and then isolated from the wood and/or other material used for framing. The part used is suitably named a “pipe isolator” (see image below). This way, when the pipe expands & contracts it’s never touching the framing or structure, resulting in a much quieter system all together!
Water pipes can generate sound and vibrations just by the water rushing through them as well. These sounds can reverberate through the framing and wallboards.
Unfortunately, these days it’s more & more common for high production expected at lower price points to force plumbing systems to be installed with speed & low-cost, over quality plumbing work. It’s kind of disappointing when you figure it would take around two hours and $50 extra to ensure that all of the water pipes are installed with pipe isolators, in a typical residential new construction home build.
If we wanted to – Sutherland Plumbing could comprise on a very long list of our own installation standards that far exceed today’s “minimum code” requirements. The difference you ask? Quite simply, we don’t like coming back to say sorry! Once again – that’s the Sutherland Plumbing “difference!”