Category Archives: Plumbing Tips

Can I flush Disinfecting wipes & “flushable” products down the drain?

Question: “I’ve recently read some articles which say that utility companies, municipal water companies and the treatment plants are “freakin’-out” because folks have started to flush all kinds of pre-moistened towelettes down the toilet. This wasn’t so much of a problem in the past. Apparently these can cause havoc all the way down the plumbing system at the treatment plants. What’s the deal with this? Is it really that bad? Can it affect my plumbing lines or only the municipal systems? Is toilet paper the only thing I should ever flush down the toilet?”

Answer: The short answer is YES the treatment plants are “freaking out!” Unfortunately, this translates into higher rates for everyone because they have to structure & modify their equipment to deal with all of these so-called “flushable” over-the-counter products like wipes, cat litter, sanitary products etc.

The main issue is: this stuff does not macerate well like human waste and toilet paper. (Sorry for the visual!)

Eventually everything makes it to a pump system or means of mechanically moving, sorting & filtering (the raw sewer). Some of these “wipes” are just short of a cloth rag.

“Flushable” in that it will flush and go down but it’s no good for any part of the system down the line. Plumbers joke around the water cooler about how great these products are for keeping us very busy!

The flushable cat litter is just as bad or worse because it absorbs a ton of water & swells-up. This can cause havoc in the plumbing system!

When I walk down the aisle at the supermarket and see a new “flushable” product, I pause to thank the manufacturer for their patronage. This used to bother me more when I lived in a neighborhood forced to pay sewer rates, but now I have a private septic system!

Ti Sutherland, Master Plumber – Sutherland Plumbing, LLC

#COVID #portland #plumber #wipes

 

The Oregon Plumbing Specialty Code addresses this issue: (Oregon plumbing specialty code chapter 3 – 306.1)

Protect your family, is the water pressure too high?

Ensuring Practical, Safe Working Water Pressure:

Municipal and private water companies use pumps & pumping stations to boost water pressure in the supply mains. This enables adequate water supply for fire-fighting and for high-rise buildings to overcome the loss of pressure as elevation increases. These pumps & pumping stations also maintain water supply to water towers and supply tanks. Pressure in water supply mains can exceed 200psi.

Most plumbing codes require water pressure reducing valves on domestic systems where the municipal water main’s pressure exceeds 80psi.

Higher pressures could rupture pipes, damage fixtures and injure the people using them.

Protect your family, have a water pressure reducing valve professionally installed. Call Sutherland Plumbing at (503) 719-4015

Keep your home clean and your family safe!

Keep your home clean and your family safe! If your “Temperature/Pressure safety relief valve” is leaking, Call (503) 719-4015 and speak with the experts at Sutherland Plumbing today!

Is your Water Heater’s “Temperature/Pressure safety relief valve” dripping or leaking?

If so, it’s doing it’s job and trying to tell you, no it’s screaming at you:

“Houston, we have a problem!”

Most often the drain pipe and valve connected to the water heater runs right off the top or side of the heater and is open-ended just above floor level.

Don’t let anybody tell you that simply changing the safety valve will solve the problem. There’s very likely a larger core issue at hand causing the above mentioned symptom. Like excessive water pressure and/or trapped thermal expansion. Thermal expansion refers to a basic law of physics: anything that increases in temperature increases in size. The water inside your plumbing system is no exception. Trapped thermal expansion is a problem. The hot water has nowhere to expand to, so it takes the path of least resistance – you guessed it…leaking out of your safety valve often right onto the floor 😦

Fortunately there are specific remedies that work great to solve the problem and the plumbers at Sutherland Plumbing, LLC are experts at it!

Temp Pressure relief valve

Keep your home clean and your family safe! If your temperature/pressure safety relief valve is leaking – Call (503) 719-4015 and speak with the experts at Sutherland Plumbing today!

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.

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

Winter is upon us! 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: Turn clockwise to shut-off your water valve. Sometimes this can be tricky for two reasons:

First: do you know where the valve is?

Second: the valve may not work so you may 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 (hosebibbs) & irrigation systems.

Remove any garden hoses from the faucets and 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) “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!

“Heat Tape” comes in different shapes, sizes & lengths but basically is a cord 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. However, we do not recommend this step if there are children and/or pets in your home.

Opening cabinet doors is a free way to winterize your home. However, we do not recommend this step if there are children and/or pets in your home.

Ti Sutherland – Master Plumber, Sutherland Plumbing, LLC (CCB#200460)

Don’t have a plumbing nightmare before Christmas!

Now that the Holiday season is in full swing, we at Sutherland Plumbing would like to help our readers avoid a potential plumbing “nightmare before Christmas!” Click on the link below for a great article with some very useful plumbing & other home Holiday tips…

Don’t have a plumbing nightmare before Christmas!

Important information about Lead in drinking water!

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)

Ti’s Tips – “The cheap comes out expensive…”

Ever heard it said: “The cheap comes out expensive in the end?” 

This especially applies in the plumbing trade! 

The image below is of two 1.5″ tubular slip nuts, I haven’t found a house yet without one. They make the seal under your sinks to the drain pipes. 

(Right) is a cheap plastic one, notice the huge crack

This resulted in a damaged wood cabinet, damaged wood floors, stinky, gross drain water all over the place & an unexpected service call from the plumber!

(Left) is a solid metal one.

Note: Sutherland Plumbing only uses the higher quality metal ones!

Had the original plumber invested about .50 cents more – all of this would have been avoided!Tubular Seals

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.”

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 or have the slightest concern your existing one is “on its last legs,” it would do you well to familiarize yourself with some major changes and new efficiency standards which have totally transformed 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, costs you more money! Although more efficient than ever, here are a few reasons why the new heaters cost more:

1) The appliance itself is more expensive right out of the box.

2) Installation can become more labor intensive.

3) The new units are becoming larger in size due to increased amounts of insulation. This means in many cases where space is already limited, options include but are not limited to: completely relocating the appliance, substantial demolition & construction to accommodate the newer larger size and retro-fitting for a tank-less model upgrade. The larger size heaters may also require additional manpower to lift and locate the unit.

4) Newer Energy Star Gas models require 120 volts in order to operate. This means not only might you need plumbing & mechanical work, but an electrician may need to be summoned to run a new electrical circuit. Sutherland Plumbing can provide this service upon request. (https://www.energystar.gov)

All of this means more $$$!

Make no mistake, the new appliances are more efficient – but not by a large margin compared to today’s already energy efficienct 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 25 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?

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.
  • New premium isolation (shut off) valves replaced / installed on Hot outgoing and Cold incoming.
  • Earthquake restraints: industrial grade Seismic restraint kit installed & fastened securely to framing structure with blocking as needed (aka studs).
  • Thermal expansion tank.
  • Solid brass and copper fittings (no steel).
  • COMPLETE 10 year WARRANTY on ALL parts.
  • Sutherland Plumbing’s labor warranty.
  • Required plumbing permit.

http://www.bradfordwhite.com

Call or email us today for a NO COST written estimate for a new water heater installation or to schedule an appointment!

Bradford White 50 Gallon Natural Gas Water Heater – Newly Installed by Sutherland Plumbing!