Tired of Plumbing Leaks? Reduce ‘Pipe Stress’

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Time takes its toll, sure. But stress on the pipes is a big cause of plumbing leaks. Too much stress over time and you’ll have to replace your entire plumbing system, costing you thousands of dollars.

Two things causes plumbing stress:

  • High water pressure
  • Hard water (water filled with high mineral content)

We’ll explain why and what you can do about them.

Why high water pressure causes pipe stress

High water pressure stresses your pipe joints and faucets. And it makes appliance valves work harder, too. To see if your water pressure is too high, attach a hose bib gauge to an outside water spigot and open the water line.

Normal water pressure is 40 and 85 psi. If it’s above that range, your water pressure is too high.

What to do about it: Hire a plumber to install a pressure reducer.

Just to let you know, using low flow shower heads won’t reduce water pressure in the pipes; it only reduces water pressure where the water exits.

Need a professional Seattle plumber?

Whether you want to reduce water pressure or soften your hard water, Plumbing Today can help. Contact us online for help.

3 Signs Your Sewer Line Is Clogged

Not sure if your main sewer line is clogged or if it’s just a regular clog?

Well, if the problem is your main sewer line, you’ll notice these 3 signs:

  1. Multiple drains are backed up
  2. Water overflows into different plumbing fixtures
  3. Drainage in sewer clean out

Let’s take a closer look at each of these signs.

Have you confirmed that you have a clogged sewer line? First, shut off your main water valve then contact us for help. We’ll send over an experienced plumber ASAP.

Sign #1: Multiple backed up lines

You’ll know you have a clog in the main sewer line because it will eventually back up other plumbing fixtures in the home. If it is just an issue with a smaller branch line, it will just be an isolated problem in one appliance.

You see, your home’s sewage system is setup like a tree: there are multiple drain lines from different water appliances that all feed into one main “trunk”. So when there’s a clog in the main trunk, the water draining from the smaller branch lines have nowhere to go, except back.

Not sure if you have multiple backed up lines? Well, do you hear all the following plumbing fixtures making a gurgling noise?

  • Toilets
  • Bathtubs
  • Showers
  • Sinks

Clogged Drain Air Waste Water Blockage

If so, you most likely have a main sewer line clog. As wastewater slowly moves past the clog it hits air pockets, forcing air bubbles to the surface of the water (which creates gurgling sounds). The more water you use, the more pronounced this sound will be. It can also produce a strong sewage smell as the blockage worsens.

Sign #2: Water overflows into different plumbing fixtures

If you have a main sewer line clog, water will back up and start to overflow into different plumbing fixtures. This happens because water from one branch line tries to drain away, but the main sewer clog blocks it and forces it to back up into other smaller drains.

Remember that overflowing water seeks the lowest point, so water fixtures in the basement or lower floors will usually be the first ones to overflow.

Not sure if this is happening in your home? Here are a few easy ways to test for this:

  • Flush your toilet, then check if water gurgles or comes up your tub or shower drain.
  • Use your washing machine, then look for overflow in your shower drain or toilet.
  • Turn on your bathroom sink, and watch if toilet water rises or bubbles up.

See water overflowing after any of these tests? Then you most likely have a sewer line clog.

Sign #3: Drainage in sewer clean out

Sewer Clean Out Home Drainage

Your sewer clean out is marked by a circular plastic or concrete lid labeled “Clean Out”, but if you have a home built before 1978, you may not have one.

Once you find your clean out, remove the cap. If you see sewer water flowing out of the pipe or standing in the pipe, this also indicates you have a sewer line clog.

Have a clogged sewer line? Turn off your main water supply ASAP

Shutting off the main water supply valve will stop excess water or sewage from flooding your home.

To turn off your main water supply, you’ll first need to locate the valve. This is usually located in:

  • The basement or crawlspace
  • An area close to your water heater
  • The garage

Water supply valves can vary by home. Most look like one of the two pictured below. Follow the instructions on the images to shut it off. For the red handle valve, simply turn it horizontally to be in the “Off” position.

Shut Off Valve Wall Type TurnMain Water Shutoff Valve Red Handle

Sometimes your main water valve is located in water meter box outside your home near the street. To shut off your main water supply line, follow the instructions on the image below:

Meter Shut Off Water Valve Home

Call a plumbing professional

Next, you should call a professional sewer line cleaner. Most experts use a 2-step process to clear a sewer line clog:

Step 1: The plumber will run a drain auger (also called a “plumber’s snake”) through the sewer clean out to clear the clog.

Step 2: If the auger doesn’t clear the clog, the plumber will use a fiber optic sewer line camera to look down the sewer line. This will identify what caused the clog and determine what needs to be done to clear it. Usually, the plumbers then use water jetting technology to blast through and clear the clog.

Need your sewer line cleaned? Southwestern Plumbing has you covered. Schedule an appointment or call us today (206) 932-1777

This (Gross) Sign Means Your Water Heater Is About to Burst

Imagine this: you wake up one morning and go about your daily morning routine only to get a nasty surprise: Your hot water is a dark brown, rusty color.

So, what does that mean? It means your water heater is rusting from the inside out and is ready to burst at any moment.

Want to avoid this gross and very expensive problem? Then go check your water heater’s anode rod.

Not sure what your anode rod is or why it’s so important? Read on. We’ll cover all of that.

Anode rod: Your water heater’s anti-rusting weapon

Water heaters aren’t made to last forever. They rust away with time. That’s because the tank itself is made of glass-lined steel. And the chemicals and minerals in the water slowly eat away at that steel.

But water heater tanks have a secret anti-rusting weapon: sacrificial anode rods.

Your anode rod is a long, thin metal rod that screws into the top of your water heater and protects your tank from rusting by “attracting” all the corrosive elements in the water.

The anode rod in this electric water heater diagram is the long, metallic rod in the center of the tank.

Basically, anode rods “sacrifice” themselves for the sake of your tank. And because of that, they need to be replaced on a regular basis.

So, how do you know when to replace your anode rod? Let’s take a look…

How to check your anode rod

You’ll want to visually inspect your anode rod every year or so to check for signs of corrosion.

If your anode rod looks like the one to the right, it’s time to replace it.

Unfortunately, checking this yourself can be a difficult task as you’ll need a variety of tools (an air compressor, a 1/2-in.-drive impact wrench and a 1-1/16-in. socket). But if you have all those handy, you can follow these steps to a DIY anode rod inspection and replacement.

Otherwise, your plumber can easily handle the task in just a few minutes.

How often does my anode rod need replacing?

Typically, an anode rod can last anywhere from 3 to 5 years before it starts corroding. But various factors can speed up that corrosion process, such as:

  • The material your anode rod is made of
  • Whether you use a water softener
  • The water temperature
  • The quality of the tank
  • What happens if I don’t replace my anode rod?

If a worn out anode rod isn’t replaced, corrosive elements in the water will turn their attention away from the rod and start eating your tank. And when that happens, you’ll start to see the tell tale signs of a rusting water heater:

  • Rust-colored water
  • Leaks in the tank
  • Metallic taste to your hot water
  • Hot water doesn’t get as hot as it used to

Need professional water heater maintenance? Call us.

Need your anode rod replaced? See the signs of a rusting water heater?

Don’t wait to get either of these fixed. Over 69% of water heater failures are caused by a rusted tank that bursts, costing homeowners over $4,444 on average in water damage.

Whatever your water heater needs, we can help. Just schedule water heater maintenance with our certified plumbers today.

Why Is My Water Softener Sweating?

So you’ve walked into your garage or basement and noticed that your water softener is “sweating”. In fact, you notice water beading up and dripping off the tank as you’re standing there.

So, what’s causing this? Is it normal?

If your water softener is “sweating”, it’s most likely because warm air is condensing on the cool surface of your water softener.

Don’t worry, some condensation is normal (and unavoidable in Florida’s warm, humid climate).

But if that condensation is getting a little out of control, there are a few tricks you can try to manage how much your water softener is sweating.

We’ll give you a solution to stop the sweating. But first, let’s explain exactly why your water softener is producing condensation in the first place.

Some condensation on your water softener is normal

Here’s the secret behind all that condensation on your tank: warm air hitting a cold surface produces moisture.

Think of your tank as an ice-cold can of soda sitting outside on a hot day. The more the warm air hits that cold surface, the more water beads up on the outside of the can, right?

And because your water softener is usually located in warmer areas of the home (that is, the basement or garage), it’s bound to produce some condensation.

How much your water softener sweats really just depends on the difference in temperature between the tank itself and the surrounding air. The larger the difference in temperatures, the more condensation you’ll see.

Note: if your water tank is actually producing gallons of water, you most likely have a leak somewhere in the tank or nearby pipes. In which case you’d want to have a professional inspect the tank and offer the best solution.

Now let’s look at some of the ways you can control the condensation levels.

The solution? Insulate the tank to prevent condensation

Adding insulation over the surface of your water softener basically puts a (warmer) barrier between the cold surface of your tank and the warm air. And that means less condensation.

There are lots of insulation options out there, though. We suggest choosing a material that gives you a “skin tight” connection, like foam or neoprene insulation.

Need a short-term option while you’re shopping around for insulation?

Place a pan underneath the water softener tank. This will help catch moisture dripping off the water softener so that there’s no risk of water damage. We suggest placing a small amount of bleach in the pan to prevent mold or bacteria growth.

Have more water softener questions? Ask a SouthWest plumber

Have questions on water softener insulation? Or have other water softener problems?

Whatever your problem, we’re here to help.

Just contact us today. We’re happy to answer your questions.

Appreciate Your Houseplants

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Houseplants are a wonderful addition to any home, adding to the fresh scent of living earth, the subtle fragrance of your favorite flower, or just a bit of the outdoors in the indoors. While some people have difficulty being able to sustain these little treasures, it has been shown to be incredibly therapeutic to have this blush of the natural world inside your home.

There are so many things that houseplants can help with when it comes to enhancing your life. Aloe Vera grows quite well indoors, and is perfect for minor cuts and bruises, helping to moisturize skin, and healing minor burns. A small herb garden in our window sill can bring the delicious taste of fresh herbs to your meals, while catnip can make your cats happy. Though you may want to grow those someplace they can’t get to them.

Bring the joy and pleasure of the houseplant into your home. Whether you decide to start growing a small group of flowering plants of their color and fragrance, or a small herb garden to enhance your kitchen, you can really brighten up your home! If you don’t have a green thumb, then try some of the plants that require very little attention. Fill your home with air plants, Aloe Vera, succulents, bamboo or orchids.

These low-maintenance plants are perfect for beginners. If you prefer something a bit more in the realm of vinery, spider plants are perfect. No, they don’t have anything to do with spiders, they just have long thin vines and delicate leaves that are somewhat reminiscent of insect. For the ambitious gardener, you can dive into creating a small window garden full of beautiful flowers and deliciously savory herbs. Plants give you wonderful rewards for everything you put in. For all the little nooks and crannies in your home, fill them with plants!

Moving Appliances

moving-appliances

Contact the Manufacturer or Dealer
For all major appliances, contact the dealer for specific move instructions or refer to the owner’s manual if you have a copy.

Unplug the Fridge
The refrigerator should be unplugged at least 24 hours prior to the move. Dispose of all perishables and make sure you clean it well. Once the freezer unit has defrosted, thoroughly clean and dry all surfaces and removable containers to prevent mildew and odors from forming. Remove all racks or secure them so they don’t shift during the move. If your unit has an ice maker, disconnect the waterline and make sure it’s completely drained.

Clean and Prep the Stove
The stove should be thoroughly cleaned inside and out with the racks removed or securely fastened. If you have a gas stove, make sure the gas is turned off before you start disconnecting the line and be very careful. Gas lines can be fragile and need special handling. If you’re unsure, call your gas company and ask for help. You may want to consult your gas company or the place where you purchased the stove to find out if it’s okay for you to move it on your own without a professional. Tape down the knobs and elements to ensure no parts are lost during the move.

Empty the Dishwasher
Dishwasher units need to be emptied and the utensil holder/rack removed and packed separately. It’s a good idea to clean the unit if needed. Run a cycle then let the unit dry before you tape the door closed.

Prepare the Washer and Dryer 
Washer and dryer units need special handling. It’s a good idea to consult the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer before you disconnect and start preparing for your move. Remove all hoses and pack separately in a box or place them in the washer or driver cavity for safe keeping. For the washer, you’ll need to secure the drum so there isn’t any damage during the move. Again, consult the manual for thorough instructions or ask a professional for help.

Secure Cords
For all appliances, unplug each unit and secure the plug to the back using packing tape. Don’t let cords dangle or come loose.

Pack Up
For all appliances, if you choose, pack lightweight, unbreakable items in empty caverns, such as in the refrigerator crisper or the oven. Blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, chair cushions or clothing can be stored and moved this way. Simply protect the items by wrapping them in a plastic garbage bag before you use them to stuff into empty spaces.

Tape all Doors and Lids Shut
Make sure all doors, cords, extra nuts or screws are taped and secured before moving.

Get Rid of Carpet Stains

get-rid-of-carpet-stains

If company’s coming and your carpet is looking a little worse for wear, here are six easy steps you can take to remove telltale stains and restore its appearance.

1. Mix up a solution of 1/4 teaspoon plain dishwashing liquid and one cup warm water in a spray bottle. Make sure the detergent you select doesn’t contain any skin-moisturizing ingredients, as they can cause additional staining. Fill another spray bottle with clear cool water for rinsing.

2. Lightly spritz the stain with the detergent solution. By using a spray bottle rather than just pouring on the solution, you keep the carpet, the backing, the padding, and even the floor underneath from becoming saturated and damaged. Remember, a little goes a long way so only give it a squirt or two at a time.

3. Gently blot the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel, turning it to a clean area as it absorbs the stain. For stains that are set deep into the carpet, work the cleaner into the fibers with your fingers, but don’t aggressively rub the stain or you’ll distort and untwist the pile and cause the stain to spread. Continue spraying and blotting until the stain is gone or no longer comes up into your towel.

4. Spritz the carpet with the clear water to rinse, then blot with a clean, dry towel until all traces of the soap mixture are removed. Leftover soap only attracts more soil, so it’s important to completely rinse and blot it out.

5. Place a stack of three or four clean, dry paper towels on top of the wet carpet and weigh them down with a heavy vase or stockpot. Leave it overnight so any residual stain will wick from the carpet to the paper towels. Omit this step and the stain will just reappear the next day as the carpet dries.

6. Toss the towels, then fluff the carpet fibers with your fingers. Let the area air dry and admire!

If your entire carpet needs a cleaning, check out which machines to buy or rent did best in our tests.

Get Organized Month

get-organized-monthAre you organized? It’s an important question. There are many ways to being organized, but some of us certainly have better organizational skills than others. A bit of organization can make even the most chaotic of spaces relatively manageable. Sometimes being organized is actually a safety issue. Think about the job of a safety issue. Think about the job of a surgeon – if something were misplaced, that could be a serious problem. Not everyone finds themselves in such high-pressure situations, but anyone could use a bit of organization in their life. After all, when was the last time that you spent an hour looking for something in the closet and had to dig through the mess only to have to put it all back? Some of us even keep bedrooms where the floor itself Is an obstacle course to navigate around. Still, others keep their cars in such disarray with a collection of fast-food containers and cups haphazardly thrown in the back along with all of their candy wrappers. Yeah, we’re sure that you’re award of just how bad it can get.

How to Celebrate the Month
We suggest that you take the whole month to truly consider whether you’re organized and the things that you should focus on. Perhaps you keep both your personal and work spaces perfectly tidy. Nevertheless, forget dates; take note of them so you don’t forget. Perhaps you have cupboards and drawers at home that you can’t even close because there’s so much random stuff just crammed inside. Even then, take the time to take everything out and figure out its rightful place. Don’t sweat it because you have a whole month to organize everything. Perhaps there’s just too much clutter and disorganization at work. If so, do what you can to remedy that. If you’ve got kids, this is a good time to tach them why it’s important not to keep their room a mess and then help them clean it up. There are also various tools that you can employ to help you stay organized, everything from apps to professional organizers to old-fashioned label makers. This month is the perfect time to think about investing in those things.