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Plumbing Tips and Advice

Plumbing Tips and Advice (148)

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.



Many homeowners only think about their sewer line when there's a major problem. When problems occur, there are many questions to consider. Here are some of the most common questions we receive from homeowners about their sewer lines.

Your home's sewer line is probably not something you think about very often until there is a problem. But by knowing some common facts you can be better prepared when you have a sewer line problem. Here are some of the most common sewer line questions we answer.

How long will my sewer line last?

How long a sewer will last depends on a number of factors including the pipe material, proximity to trees, etc. If your sewer line is more than 40 years old, it may need replacing.
Even if the home is newer, its plumbing may be connected to an older sewer pipe.

If the sewer line is damaged, who's responsible for fixing it?

In most municipalities, homeowners are responsible for maintaining the sewer line from the home to the sewer main.

Does homeowner's insurance cover sewer line damage and repair?

Most insurance policies exclude repairs to sewer lines caused by gradual wear and tear. Before problems occur, check your homeowner's insurance policy to see if it covers sewer pipe repair or replacement. Some insurance companies will add a sewer and drain endorsement to your policy to cover losses related to a sewer line backup, to cover damage to your home.

What causes sewer line damage?

The most common problem with older homes built prior to 1980 is damage from tree roots that have invaded the joints of the pipes. Other causes include acts of nature, accidental damage from digging to close to the pipe, and inevitable deterioration to the pipes over time.

How can I prevent expensive damage to my sewer line?

Even if your home is newer, regular video sewer line inspections are good insurance. By inspecting the pipes for bulges, joint failures, cracks and tree root intrusion, you can prevent a costly sewer line backup and extensive repairs.

My sewer line is damaged, what are my options?

In the past, your only option was to dig a trench in your yard to gain access to the damaged section of the pipe. With newer trenchless sewer line repair technology, we can often repair a damaged sewer line from inside the line itself by cleared and the damage section and relining the damage section of the pipe.

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

Tuesday, 14 July 2015 16:38

Water Heater Safety

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Water heaters are energy efficient and provide a reliable source of hot water. What you may not know is they employ numerous safety features to reduce a few common safety hazards, these hazards include:

Excessive Hot Water Pressure

One of the most important parts on a water heater is the temperature and pressure relief valve. If the water pressure or temperature inside the tank get too high, the valve will prevent damage to the unit.

Hot Water Scalding

Preventing scalding is especially important in households with children or elderly. Because the temperature of the water that first flows out of the tap can be very hot, a temping valve is used to reduce the danger of scalding.

Bacterial Infections

When the temperature of the water is kept too low bacteria such as legionella, which causes Legionnaire's disease, can grow in water heaters if the water is not hot enough to kill it. The best way of preventing bacteria from growing in your hot water system is to ensure the temperature stays above 122° F.

Wastewater Backflow

Backflow occurs when drinking water and non-potable wastewater mix. It most often occurs when the pressure in the system changes and waste water is drawn into the supply system. To prevent backflow contamination water heaters use a one-way valve and in some cases a pressure overflow tank to prevent contamination.

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


Thursday, 09 July 2015 18:03

Plumbing Tips For The Hurricane Season

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The Atlantic hurricane season is June to November. Even if your home isn't in the direct path of a hurricane, torrential rains and power outages are still a risk most homeowners in Southwest Florida live with. Here are some tips that can help you and your home's plumbing survive the storm.

  1. Ensure that all storm drains near the home are clear of debris so they can handle the runoff from heavy rains.
  2. Check your sump pump. Fill the sump pit with several gallons of water. It should automatically turn on and start removing the water. If the sump pump has a battery, ensure it has has a sufficient charge.
  3. Know the location of the water shutoff valve. During a hurricane turn off the water supply to prevent contaminated water from entering the home. When you're ready to ration water open a faucet furthest away from the main line so air can enter the system.
  4. Turn off the water heater. Heating and storing water puts extra pressure on your plumbing system, so shut off the gas or electrical supply to the unit. The water heater can be a source of potable water during a hurricane.

Have questions about your home's plumbing system? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call, we're here to help.
Tuesday, 30 June 2015 02:11

Why Is My Plumbing System So Noisy?

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Noisy plumbing in the home are annoying, and in some cases can be a symptom of a plumbing problem.

Banging Pipes

If you hear banging 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.

Unless you are in the process of remodeling or have access to the pipes from a basement or crawlspace, there isn't much that can be done. If you are fortunate enough to have access to the inside of the wall or ceiling, 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 the pipes make 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 about noisy pipes or other plumbing problems? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.

Thursday, 25 June 2015 02:43

Tips For Reducing Hot Water Usage In the Home

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By identifying areas in the home where hot water is being wasted you can often lower your water heating costs significantly. Here are some things check.

Fix Water Leaks

Leaking faucets, shower heads and pipes can waster a lot of hot water over time. Even a seemingly insignificant leak of one drip per second can cost $12 a year. If your water heater tank is leaking, the unit should be replaced.

Install Low-Flow Plumbing Fixtures

Quality low-flow shower heads and faucets can be purchased for between $10-20. For optimum water efficiency, choose a shower head with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute). New EPA regulations mandate that new showerhead flow rates cannot exceed 2.5 gpm at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi).

Upgrade to Energy Efficient Appliances

One of the biggest expenses of cleaning dishes and clothes comes from the energy needed to heat the water. Before buying a new dishwasher or clothes washer Check the EnergyGuide label to see how much energy it will consume annually. Choosing a dishwasher with a booster heater will also save energy by increasing the temperature of the water entering the dishwasher to the 140ºF recommended for cleaning.

Use Cold Water When Possible

When washing clothes choose the cold water clean cycle when possible. Some special laundry detergents are designed to clean more effectively with cold water.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015 02:29

Preventing Root Damage To Your Sewer Line

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One of the most common causes of sewer line damage is from tree root intrusion. It's not difficult to understand why tree roots find sewer lines so attractive, as a leaking sewer line can provide a great source of water, nutrients and oxygen. Once a tree root finds its way into the pipe it's only a matter of time before it grows inside and inhibits the flow of waste causing blockages, broken pipes and a major damage. You can avoid costly tree root damage by taking a few preventative measures.

Remember, before doing any digging in your yard always call your local public works department or the national 811 "Call Before You Dig" number to find the location of underground utilities.
Sewer Line Barriers

Barriers are available that can prevent root growth into sewer lines. Chemicals like copper sulfate and potassium hydroxide are commonly used for this purpose. Spread these chemicals near the sewer line to prevent root growth. Metal or thick wood barriers buried vertically and deeper than the sewer pipe can also prevent tree roots from reaching pipes.

Sewer Line Safe Landscaping

The best way to prevent problems down the road is to be smart about what you plant near sewer lines. If you are planting near sewer lines, select slow-growing trees with a small root area. Larger trees should be kept well away from the sewer line.
Warning Signs

Signs of root damage to sewer lines leads include frequent unexplained clogs, overflowing and slow drains, and gurgling sounds coming from toilets.

Sewer Line Video Camera Inspections

The best way to ensure that your sewer line is free of tree root intrusion and other obstructions is to have regular video camera inspections of your sewer line. A small camera is run through the lateral and helps your plumber find any potential problems. If tree roots or clogs are found, a cable can be run through the sewer pipe to clear clogs and cut through tree roots while cleaning the inner walls of the pipe.

Have questions about your home's sewer line? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can answer all your questions.

New toilets sold in Florida must meet federal WaterSense standards. WaterSense certification provides that plumbing fixtures use at least 20 percent less water. For toilets, that means using 1.28 gallons of water or less per flush, as opposed to the federally mandated maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush.

While low-flow toilets will save up to billions of gallons a year in Florida alone, they can present a few problems. With less water to work with, you may find yourself flushing the toilet more than once because of their lower flushing power. This of course defeats the purpose of having a low flow toilet and should be avoided.

Often the problem is caused by an under-filled toilet tank. Check the manufacturer's instructions for setting the fill valve to ensure the water is at the correct level. Some tanks will have a fill line, but if there is no line a good rule of thumb is to keep the water level about a half inch below the top of the overflow tube inside the tank.

Second, open the tank and adjust the tension on the flapper chain. The chain should only have a little slack, if it's too loose the flapper won't open all the way when the toilet is flushed and water in the tank won't empty completely.

Have plumbing questions? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call, we're here to help.

Thursday, 04 June 2015 12:03

Water Heater Technology For The Home

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Water heater technology has advanced the last 10 years with several options to consider besides the conventional electric or gas tank water heater. Tank water heaters store 20-80 gallons of hot water and are relatively inexpensive to purchase and install. However, because they must maintain a large volume of heated water, they can be more costly to operate. Newer technology is designed to address some of the shortcomings of the traditional water heater.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless or demand-type water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. A gas burner or electric element heats the cold water as it passes through the water heater. Households that require a lot of hot water can benefit the from a virtually endless supply of hot water. One downside to tankless water heaters is they typically cost more to purchase and install, although they can last longer than conventional tank water heaters if properly maintained. Another disadvantage of tankless water heaters is they can take longer to heat the water initially when the tap is first turned on.

Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid water heaters are designed to combine the benefits of a conventional tank water heater and a tankless water heater. They have a small storage tank that provides an initial supply of hot water, then heats cold water on demand with a heating element similar to a tankless water heater.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Heat pump water heaters distribute heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly to providing hot water.

Solar Water Heaters

Solar water heaters use the sun's heat to heat water. A roof-mounted solar collector absorbs the sun's heat and stores it in a special fluid that circulates in a closed-loop system that heats water in a tank.

Have questions about which water heater is right for your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We're here to help.

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