Category Archives: Ti’s Tips

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.”

Ti’s Tips – How to Fix a Dripping Hose Faucet!

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…

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 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!Packing Nut

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!

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.

 

 

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!

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.”

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!