Category Archives: Ti’s Tips

Ti’s Tips – All about washing machines & mold!

Question: “I have a HE (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, HE washer, this scenario is far more common than you might realize. While the technology in HE 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 HE 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 & 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!

Don’t throw that down the garbage disposal!

The handy kitchen garbage disposal is useful for getting rid of a variety of food scraps & waste that might otherwise create unpleasant smells in the kitchen. However, many foods can actually damage your disposal or render it useless. These tips can help keep your garbage disposal running smoothly: 

1. Avoid putting fibrous foods or tough-skinned vegetables into the disposal. 

The strings of celery, artichokes, asparagus, lettuce, corn husks, carrots, onion skins and potato peels can wrap around the blades, preventing proper operation of the motor. If you feel you must put fibrous foods into your disposal, do so in very small quantities and run the cold water while you operate the unit.

2. Don’t put extremely hard foods into the garbage disposal. 

Items such as bones and fruit pits can dull and even break the unit’s blades! In a worst-case scenario, hard foods will jam the disposal, preventing blades from turning and causing the motor to burn out.

3. Keep grease and greasy foods out of the disposal. 

Greasy foods will distribute a film over the blades, diminishing their effectiveness. Eventually, the grease will begin to decay, causing an unpleasant odor in the kitchen. Pouring grease into a garbage disposal can result in clogged drains when the grease solidifies.

4. Contrary to popular belief, egg shells have no place in the garbage disposal. 

Some people claim that egg shells sharpen the blades of the unit, but this is not true. The shell’s stringy membrane layer can wrap around the shredder ring and the shell itself will be ground to a sand-like consistency capable of clogging pipes.

5. Avoid putting “expandable” foods such as pasta and rice into the garbage disposal. 

Even small particles of these foods can swell with water and eventually clog the trap.

6. Exercise common sense, and don’t put non-food items into the garbage disposal. 

Avoid the example of homeowners who have placed rubber bands, twist ties, cigarette butts, pull tabs, fabric, sponges and plant clippings into their disposal units! These items cannot break down enough to wash down the drain.

7. Two methods to help tame stubborn garbage disposal odors:

*The first is to freeze white vinegar in ice-cube trays. Put the frozen cubes down the garbage disposal and turn it on. The texture of the hard ice will aid in the removal of odor-causing sludge & grime.

*The second method is “Borax.” This stuff is time-tested and proven to be an effective and inexpensive cleaner & deodorizer. Simply pour a few scoops into the disposal while running the water. I prefer to put the scoops of Borax in the sink and wash it into the disposal with running water.

In order to maximize results, do either of these when you plan on not using the unit for a few hours, like the last thing before bed. This way these products have the best fighting chance to eliminate and neutralize odor!

The garbage disposal is a sturdy kitchen appliance; however, even the best model cannot handle unsuitable items. If you run into any problems with your unit, you should seek the help of Sutherland Plumbing, LLC

Garbage Disposal

Garbage Disposal problems? Call (503) 719-4015 & speak with the pros at Sutherland Plumbing. Call today!!

Facts & Myths about Water Heaters!

Facts & Myths about Water Heaters:

If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve already learned some of the basics about water heaters. Now let’s take a look at some of the facts & myths that are circulating about water heaters:

Myth: A new water heater offers significant savings
The Reality: New water heaters only offer marginal savings, and even replacing a 15 year-old water heater will only save about $6.30 a month in energy costs. These savings don’t take into account the additional cost of the new water heater. What may matter more is how you choose to use hot water in your home.

Myth: Older water heaters = dirty water
The Reality: Water heaters are designed to work for years without accumulating rust buildup.  If you do notice a rust-colored tinge to your hot water or feel it’s taking longer than normal to heat the water, call your local service provider.

Myth: Proactive maintenance improves efficiency
The Reality: Proactive maintenance will improve efficiency only under the most severe conditions of sediment or lime accumulation. Maintenance is best done when homeowners notice a problem, like insufficient hot water or a rust-colored tinge to the hot water.

Myth: Older water heaters do not meet safety standards
The reality: As long as the initial installation was completed by a licensed, qualified professional, water heaters are installed according to code at the time of installation.

Myth: Tankless water heaters are right for everyone
The Reality: Tankless water heaters are more energy-efficient than a storage water heater, which could translate into savings of up to $5 per month. (Depending on the age of the water heater being replaced). Because tankless water heaters work differently than consumers may be used to, they should walk through a needs assessment with a reputable provider before investing in a tankless system.

Have questions about replacing or maintaining your water heater? Go to our main website at: www.sutherlandplumbing.com and click on the "Ask the Plumber a Question" link at the top of the page!

Have questions about replacing or maintaining your water heater? Call (503) 719-4015 or go to our main website at: http://www.sutherlandplumbing.com and click on the “Ask the Plumber a Question” link at the top of the page!

 

Increased Water Usage Notice – Now What?

See the picture below. If you came home to find a notice like this on your door you’ve got questions and understandably some concerns.

Water Usage Notice

If you receive one of these notices at your home and are not sure why – Call (503) 719-4015 and schedule an appointment with the experts at Sutherland Plumbing, LLC.

Relax, this is routine and quite simply the water company attempting to notify you that compared to your average usage, it’s gone up exponentially. Although there are many reasons that can factor into this, we’ll share with you here the top three reasons that most likely exist (Based on 20+ years of field experience). 

1) Your main underground water service pipe leading from the water meter to the home has sprung a leak and is leaking into the earth. Your options are to repair or replace. There are pros & cons to both options and the solution will vary depending on your budget & expectations. Generally speaking: repairs can end up as expensive temporary band aids while a proper replacement will ensure decades of trouble-free service. Contributing factors include, but are not limited to: the age & material of the existing pipe and the location & depth of the leak. 

2) The irrigation (sprinkler) system is leaking. If connected properly, your sprinkler system “T’s” into or off of your main underground water service pipe. The sprinkler system then runs through an approved back-flow preventer and then goes off to serve the various zones or sprinkler heads. 

3) A malfunctioning or “running” toilet is draining excessive amounts of water down the main sewer drain. Second to this is a faucet that is continuously dripping or leaking. This cause of excessive water usage is the least likely prompting a notice of increased water usage. (Again, this based on our experience.)  It’s our contention that if a faucet was dripping and/or a toilet was running enough to prompt the notice – you’d probably know about it! Generally when a faucet or toilet is broken to that extent, people are aware & set-out to get it fixed before a whole billing cycle comes and goes!

You have options and choices either way. Dozens of times we have visited a homeowner expecting to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars only to find that simply turning off the sprinkler system will stop the leak and buy some time to get control of the situation rather than the situation being in control of you!

If you receive one of these notices at your home and are not sure why, Call (503) 719-4015 and schedule an appointment with the experts at Sutherland Plumbing, LLC.

Anatomy of a Toilet – (How a Toilet Works!)

“My toilet is clogged or has a weak flush, it doesn’t always empty the bowl when I flush it….”

The above quote is a very common symptom reported by many clients. Would it surprise you to know that about half of the time the toilet isn’t clogged at all! Take a look at the picture below:
Notice the spot marked “trap,” this is the place where water & waste travels on its way to the sewer drain pipe. Technically the toilet is only “clogged” when an obstruction exists inside the trap, preventing passage. Note the hollow area around the bowl. When a toilet is flushed, water sitting in the tank rushes into and around these hollow chambers and then enters the bowl via water jets. The main water jet (aka “siphon jet”) is usually at the bottom of the toilet bowl.

Anatomy of toilet

An older, poorly performing toilet can have clogged jets and/or obstructed jets preventing the water from entering the bowl as needed. This causes weak flushing toilets & toilet bowls that don’t empty all the way. Additionally, if the water level inside the tank is too low this results in an inadequate amount of water for a proper flush.
An old plumbing trick called “the bucket test” can narrow the possibilities.  Simply fill a 5 gallon bucket of water and pour it into the toilet bowl expeditiously. If the toilet bowl revives the water with no problem or back up – it’s more than likely your toilet is in need of repair or replacement.
If this is the case, call (503) 719-4015 and speak with the pros at Sutherland PlumbingWe carry as regular stock: premium, high-efficiency 1.28 gallons per flush toilets on our trucks!

Water Pressure vs. Water Volume – Ti’s Tips!

Water Pressure or “PSI” (pounds per square inch) is exactly that – a measurement of force. While water volume or “GPM” (gallons per minute) is a measurement of flow.

In most cases, plumbing systems that deliver unsatisfactory performance have a volume problem not a pressure problem. The pressure is most often adequate – it is the pipes that are either undersized, corroded & restricted – or both. In many cases there is excessive water pressure and still symptoms of poor water volume delivery is present.

Too much water pressure can cause a host of problems. Similarly, high blood pressure can go undetected or undiagnosed for years while the negative effects and irreversible damage occurs.

A simple water pressure measuring device can be purchased at most hardware stores for under $15! Eighty (80) “PSI” is considered high – anything over and you’re asking for trouble!

Think you may have a problem with water pressure in your home or business? The pressure may be just fine, it could be a volume issue or another undiagnosed plumbing problem. Call Sutherland Plumbing at (503) 719-4015 to get an expert opinion!

Do you think you may have a problem with water pressure in your home or business? The pressure may be just fine, it could be a volume issue or another undiagnosed plumbing problem. Call Sutherland Plumbing at (503) 719-4015 to get an expert opinion!

How to make use of water from leaky faucets – Ti’s Tips!

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!

Leaky Faucet

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!

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

Q: I’ve recently read some articles which say that utility companies, municipal water companies and the treatment plants etc., 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?

A: 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, female 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!

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

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

Why the CCB is Important – Ti’s Tips!

The Oregon CCB “Oregon Construction Contractors Board” is responsible for safeguarding the security & property of Oregonians by preventing and resolving construction & contracting problems and by ensuring contractors’ compliance with the law. The Board administers the Oregon Contractors’ Law that provides for the licensing of residential & commercial construction contractors, subcontractors and home inspectors; investigation and adjudication of complaints filed against licensees; and assessment of sanctions against unlawful contractors. In this sense they are the contractor police.

http://www.oregon.gov/ccb

Think: If you were planning to buy a car, it’s conceivable that most people spend hours reading reviews, researching & comparing options and perhaps even asking the opinions of people with first hand experience. Of course, you wouldn’t want to end up with something falling short of expectations, costing too much or breaking down on you, right? All this becomes exponentially risky when choosing to purchase from an unknown or an un-reputable source.

Ironically, everyday consumers find themselves in an unfavorable position & out thousands of dollars because they hired a contractor or somebody posing as a contractor, while at the same time unknowingly forgoing some or all of their consumer rights.

This doesn’t have to happen to you !

Check-out these 16 ways to avoid remodeling, repair & construction problems:

The document in this link is the instruction manual for hiring a contractor and/or planning a construction, remodel or repair project that requires a contractor governed by the CCB. In short, that’s ANYBODY that promises, advertises, delivers or performs improvements, repairs or alterations to, (but not limited to) real estate, structures property and/or land.

http://ccbed.ccb.state.or.us/WebPDF/CCB/Publications/16-ways.pdf

Sutherland Plumbing LLC: CCB# 200460

Easy Way to Avoid a Bathroom Flood – Ti’s Tips

Look inside your toilet tank.  If there are bolts in the bottom that look like the picture below (corroded & rusty) – then it’s only a matter of time before they break off and water leaks and floods all over the bathroom floor!

Toilet tank bolts

Avoid a messy toilet flood in your bathroom! Call Sutherland Plumbing at (503) 719-4015.