Category Archives: Plumbing Tips

Summer Weather’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 per 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.

 

 

Plumbing Can Be Beautiful!

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…

 

 

Sutherland Plumbing Wishes You a Happy 2019!

Happy New Year from Sutherland Plumbing!

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

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:

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.

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.

Covered Faucet

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

“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!

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 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.”

Courtesy of: Chadwicks.ie

‘Simply Not Flushable’: Thousands of pounds of wipes clog sewer system!

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!

Source: Charleston Water System

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 here: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 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.

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” 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, LLCSink Overflow Hole

 

How to shut-off the main water supply to your home!

“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.Shut-off valve closed2) 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.Shut-off valve open3) 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 – $30.00Meter Key4) 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.”Hand ToolsIt 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.

Ti’s Tips Reminder – Oh no, Clogged Drains!

Hi Everyone!

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” :

Ti’s Tips Reminder – 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!  Don’t say we didn’t warn you!Image

Summer Reminder – How to check your water pressure!

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.”