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Plumbing Tips and Advice

Plumbing Tips and Advice (144)

Thursday, 15 October 2015 00:22

The ABC's of Plumbing – Water Heater Anode Rod

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Because most water heater tanks are made of steel coated with a thin layer of glass, the lining will eventually crack and begin to rust. To head off corrosion a metal "anode rod" is used to increase the life of the tank. The anode rod is a magnesium or aluminum rod that encapsulates a steel core. The rod is screwed into the top of the tank and suspended in the water. An electrochemical process causes the exposed steel of the rod to react with the corrosive elements in the water. By causing a primary corrosive reaction inside the tank the rod sacrifices itself to help protect the steel tank from corrosion, greatly extending it's life.

Inspecting and Replacing the Anode Rod

One of the most important plumbing maintenance task is to ensure the anode rod is still working inside the tank. The rod can be accessed from the top of the water heater by unscrewing it and sliding it out. If the rod has significantly eroded away it should be replaced with a new rod. Replacing a worn out rod is far less expensive then replacing an entire rusted out water heater!

Need help checking your water heater anode rod? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We're here to help.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015 23:27

What Causes Noisy Pipes in the Home?

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Pipes that are banging, clanking or gurgling, can be more than just an annoyance, they can be the symptom of plumbing problems. If pipes bang while running hot water, the cause is likely copper pipes that are expanding as the hot water runs through the pipe causing it to rub against a stud or joist as it contracts. It is unlikely to cause a leak in all but the most extreme cases.

If you have access to the pipes from a basement or crawlspace adding foam rubber to the holes where the pipes pass through can solve the problem. Replacing metal pipe brackets with quieter plastic ones can also help.

If your pipes are making a banging noise when running both cold and hot water, you are probably hearing what is called "water hammer". Water hammer happens when the water is turned off at a faucet or other valve. Lowering water pressure the the pipes to 60 psi or lower with a pressure-reducing valve will usually reduce the noise. Another option is to have your plumber install air chambers, or water hammer arresters to absorb the energy inside the plumbing system.

Have questions? Call ABC Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.
Thursday, 08 October 2015 20:36

6 Tips to Save On Your Water Heating Bill

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Heating water is one of the most energy intensive tasks in most homes. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to ensure your water heater is working as efficiently as possible and to reduce your hot water usage.

  1. Set the water heater thermostat at 140 degrees or "normal."
  2. Use a water heater blanket to insulate the tank and prevent heat from escaping.
  3. Install energy-saving low-flow shower heads. These will save a significant amount of hot water with little effect on water pressure.
  4. Wash your laundry using a cold water detergent. Many laundry detergents are available that are formulated for cold water.
  5. Fix defective plumbing or dripping faucets. A single dripping hot water faucet can waste 212 gallons of water a month. That not only increases water bills, but also increases the gas or electric bill for heating the water.
  6. Wash only full loads in a dishwasher and use the shortest cycle that will get your dishes clean. If operating instructions allow, turn off the dishwasher before the drying cycle, open the door and let the dishes dry naturally.

It's also a good idea to flush your water heater tank at least once a year. This will remove sediment that can reduce heating efficiency and shorten the life of the water heater. 

Have questions about your water heater? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.


Tuesday, 08 September 2015 18:57

The ABC's of Plumbing – What is PEX?

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PEX is an acronym for cross-linked polyethylene. The invention of PEX piping was one the most important advancements in plumbing. So what exactly is PEX and what makes it better? 

The Advantages of PEX

It's a type of plastic tubing that offers some important advantages over traditional copper piping. First, PEX costs much less than copper and is generally easier to install. Second, installing PEX tubing is generally much faster than copper and, when using a manifold and “home-run” set up, it’s not unlike running a flexible garden hose to fixtures. thirdly, PEX will not corrode like copper piping when it comes in contact with acidic water.

The Disadvantages of PEX

The disadvantages of PEX include it's susceptibility to UV light, which can degrade the material over time. This means PEX should not be used outdoors. Due to its shorter usable material life, PEX cannot be recycled or reused like copper.

Have questions about your home's plumbing? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We're here to help.


Tuesday, 01 September 2015 18:43

4 Signs Your Sewer Line May Be Clogging

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Because sewer lines can back up gradually and then suddenly cause a backup, it's important to know the signs of potential problems. Once a sewer line is completely backed up it can cause extensive damage to your home.

Here are four symptoms that your sewer line may be clogging:

1. More then one plumbing fixture is draining slowly or backed up at once. If multiple drains suddenly start emptying slowly or backing up the cause is often the main line.

2. Toilets are not working correctly. Because toilets empty into the largest drain line, most sewer problems are first noticed when toilets begin overflowing with normal use.

3. Tub or shower drains are backing up. If a sewer line is obstructed backed up water will come back ut the lowest point, which is often a shower or tub drain

4. Strange sounds are heard when using faucets. A clogged sewer line can cause gurgling sounds in pipe.

If you have any of the symptoms above, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. A sewer and drain line specialist can perform a camera inspection to find and repair the problem before the sewer line becomes completely clogged.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015 13:23

Finding Water Leaks Around the Home

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A water leak in your home's plumbing can cost you money not only by increasing your water bill, but also by causing extensive damage to your home and property.

Toilet Leaks

One of the most common water leaks in the home is a worn out toilet flapper, also called a valve seal.
If you think your toilet is leaking water, add a couple of drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the toilet bowl after several minutes, you have a leak. Flappers are inexpensive rubber parts that can build up minerals or decay over time. Replacing the flapper is inexpensive and can save hundreds of gallons a year from leaking out.

Faucet and Shower Leaks

The most common cause of leaking faucets are old, worn faucet washers and gaskets. Often a leaky shower head can be fixed by tightening the connection between the shower head and the pipe and by using pipe tape (Teflon type) to secure the connection.

Leaking Water Heaters

Worn out water heater tanks can rust and start leaking over time. Inspect the area around the water heater tank for signs of water leaks or staining.

If you are still experiencing water loss after checking the plumbing fixtures around your home, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can can help you solve the more difficult water leak problems.


If your old disposal is no longer working, or your remodeling your kitchen and want to upgrade to a better disposal, there are a few things to consider.

Disposal Power and Size

It's important to consider the size of the unit when replacing an existing disposal under your sink. While it makes some sense to look for a unit that fits the same space, a larger capacity unit will be able to handle a larger amount of waste more quickly. For best results we recommend at least 1/3 horsepower. For busy kitchens, some models are available with up to 1 horsepower.

Disposal Feeds and Grinders

There are two main types of feed designed to improve efficiency: batch or continuous. With a batch feed you just fill the machine, then turn it on. With a continuous feed you turn the unit on, run the water and put waste in. The main advantage of batch disposals is safety; it's difficult to break the blades by accidentally dropping cutlery into the unit. We recommend continuous feed models for their flexibility and greater convenience.

Features and Functions

Other features to look for include a cover, auto-reverse (for clearing jams) and a standard electrical cable so it can be plugged into an outlet rather than hard wired.

Need a new disposal for your kitchen. Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call, we're here to help.

Universal Design is a concept that aims to make living spaces accessible for the elderly, people with disabilities and everyone else. The goal is to create an environment that is accessible and does not create barriers to persons with physical limitations.

Universal design features isn't just for older individuals or the disabled — it's a sensible approach that makes living spaces better and safer for everyone. If you’re remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, adding Universal Design features will ensure that your home can adapt to your families needs down the road.

Accessible Kitchens and Bathrooms

The goal of designing an accessible kitchen or bathroom is to make it serve the broad needs and activities of families as they grow and change. These features include: curbless showers, space for seating under sinks, hand-held showers, comfort height toilets, wider doors, slip resistant surface and more. In addition, many plumbing fixtures are ADA compliant and offer features like motion detectors or wider handles for easier operation.

Have questions about making your kitchen and bathroom more accessible? Give us a call, we're here to help.

Thursday, 30 July 2015 23:37

5 Common Toilet Problems

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1. Overflowing toilet bowl - Just about all of us have experienced the panic that sets in when you flush and the water level starts to rise... and rise. If you suspect the toilet drain is clogged, don't take chances. Clear the clog before flushing. If the toilet has been flushed and the water level is rising, you can remove the toilet tank cover and press down on the flapper. The flapper seals the hole that allows the water to go into the toilet bowl, stopping the rising water.

2. Clogged toilet bowl - If the toilet bowl is filled and you know that it's clogged, try a toilet plunger. Do not flush if the toilet if the bowl is full. You will only cause the bowl to overflow run all over the floor. Chances are that there it is paper that is obstructing the pipe.

3. Flapper valve - If your toilet keeps a running and doesn't stop, it may be time to replace the flapper valve.

4. Water supply valve - Sometimes sand or grit can cause the water supply inside the tank to stay on. So you hear that running noise. Replaceing the valve can solve the problem.

5. Not enough flushing power - Newer toilets use a gallon and a half of water. Older toilets used almost twice as much. With so little water available to force the waste down the drain, you often end up flushing more than once. If you have an older toilet with a higher flushing volume, consider keeping it rather than replacing it. By replacing the internal parts you will eliminate the need to buy a newer toilet that may not have sufficient flushing force.

Have toilet problems? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We're here to help.


Remodeling your bathroom?  There are many plumbing upgrades to consider that can add value and efficiency to your home, here are just a few:

New Faucets

New faucets are an inexpensive way to bring bathrooms and kitchens up to date. Adding low-flow faucet aerators will also save you money on your water bill. To cut down on germs and add additional convenience, no-touch faucets have motion detectors that turn water on and off by moving your hand in front of the fixture.

New Shower Heads

Shower heads come a wide range of styles and finishes. A new trend is to install multiple shower heads rather than a single wall-mount shower head for a spa-like experience. The shower heads can be adjusted to produce a spray that ranges from fine to coarse and a water pressure that ranges from gentle mist to strong massage.

Top-mount or ceiling-mounted shower heads spray from directly overhead, life rainfall. Some top-mount heads can be installed flush with the ceiling in situations where the ceiling is too low to install a wall-mount head.

Sliding bar shower heads are mounted on a rail system to accommodate a wide range of heights.

Consider installing low-flow shower heads when possible. They use only around 2.5 gpm while maintaining an effective spray of water.

New Toilets

Installing a high efficiency toilets is one of the best plumbing upgrades you can make. If your home is older and has its original plumbing fixtures, you could save up to 3.5 gallons of water per flush!

Comfort height toilets are another popular option for older homeowners or homeowners with disabilities.

For all your bathroom plumbing needs, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We are here to help.
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