Category Archives: Ti’s Tips

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.

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.

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.

Ti’s Tips Reminder – 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

Ti’s Tips Reminder – “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

Sutherland Plumbing Wishes You a Happy 2018!

Happy New Year from Sutherland Plumbing.

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:

Turn clockwise to shut-off your water valve.

Turn clockwise to shut-off your water valve.

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.

At the very least – 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!

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!

3) 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
$450.00!  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 it 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!