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Plumbing Tips and Advice

Plumbing Tips and Advice (148)

5 Plumbing Systems To Check When Buying a Home

Plumbing ChecklistBuying a home is a big investment. Older homes in particular can present risks when it comes to plumbing systems.  By doing your research and ensuring that the plumbing system is functioning correctly, you can avoid making costly mistakes. Here's what to check.

1. Hot Water System

Ask the realtor or homeowner the age of the water heater. A water heater will typically last 10-15 years. Inspect the water heater for leaks, excessive rust and other signs of age and deterioration.

2. Water Leaks

Check taps, pipes, appliances (including dishwashers, clothes washers, ice makers) for signs of leaks. Check for stains or signs of mildew that could indicate a hidden water leak. Because many leaks go undetected and can get worse over time, have a plumer check the system and repair any leaks prior to closing.

3. Check the Sump Pump

A inoperable sump pump can lead to serios water damage. Slowly fill the sump pump pit with water. It should turn on and remove the water.

4. Water Saving Toilets

Check toilets to see if they are newer, low-flow models. Toilets manufactured since the last 90's are mandated to use less than 1.6 gallons per flush.

5. Sewer and Drain Lines

Ask about the current age of the sewer line and whether it has been inspected within the last two years. Ensure that all drains empty quickly. A video sewer line inspection is .cheap insurance that will help find potential trouble like tree root intrusion, cracks, blockages and other problems

Need a plumbing inspection before your next home purchase? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help ensure everything is working as it should be.

6 Signs You Should Call a Plumber

Hidden water leak

Some plumbing problems are easy to spot – a dripping faucet, an overflowing toilet, while others can be more subtle. Here are some signs to look for that could indicate a serious plumbing, sewer or drain problem.

1. Water is draining slowly out all sinks, tubs, toilets, dishwasher etc.
This usually indicates a blockage in the main line rather than a localized blockage. A plumber should inspect the main line for blockage.

2. You hear water running but nothing is on.
While a running toilet is a fairly common plumbing noise, if you hear dripping or running water and you can't determine the source, call a plumber to have the cause identified and to ensure there isn't a damaging water leak.

3. You see signs of a leak.
If you see mildew or mold, dark surfaces or puddles of water it could be a sign of a water leak behind the wall.

4.Your water bill has unexpectedly jumped.
This could indicate a hidden water leak. Check your water meter to see that amount of water used.

5. Your Toilet is gurgling or bubbling after flushing.
This could be a sign of a backed up sewer line. A video inspection can find the cause of sewer line stoppages.

6. Water pressure has dropped.
If the water pressure has only dropped for a single source, such as a faucet or shower head. Try cleaning the aerator with vinegar to remove mineral deposits. Ensure that all supply valves are completely open. If the water pressure has dropped throughout the entire home, have a plumber inspect the plumbing.

Have plumbing problems? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help.
Sarasota Florida PlumberFamily gathering and lots of cooking can put a lot of demands on your home's plumbing system. Unfortunately, if you have been having sewer or drain problems, the holidays are the most common time when serious clogs and backups will occur. Here are some tips to prevent drain problems during the holidays.

1. Have your sewer and drain lines inspected. An ounce of inspection is worth a pound of clogged drain debris. A video sewer and drain line inspection will give you the peas of mind that your sewer and drain lines are in top condition and ready to deal with the extra demands of holiday guests this season.

2. Don't put grease down the drain. What do you do with all that oil from the deep fryer are cooking your turkey this year? Never pour the grease down the kitchen drain or even a floor drain. Instead, put it in a sealed container and freeze it. Then put it in the trash can.

3. Put coffee grinds in the garbage.  Coffee grounds should not go in the disposal or down the drain.

4. Use strainers in drains. Make sure your kitchen and bath drains have a grate or screen to prevent debris from entering the drain pipe.

5. Rinse the drains regularly with hot water. This will help prevent oil and grease from accumulating.

6. Use safe drain products. If your drains are prone to clogging, consider a safe, environmentally friendly option for keeping your plumbing system working smoothly. Bio-Clean is a safe blend of bacteria and enzymes. The friendly bacteria actually eat away the build up, leaving behind only water, carbon dioxide and mineral ash. The bacteria continue to multiply, thriving on their natural food source . . . that gunky build up in your pipes and drains, completely cleaning your home’s entire plumbing system.

Have a clogged drain?

First, try physically clearing the drain with a plunger. We recommend avoiding the use of chemical drain cleaning products. They can be hazardous to use and store in the home. If all else fails, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help fix your plumbing problems, so you can keep your holiday guests happy.
One of the most common causes of catastrophic water leaks is a burst washing machine hose. If the washer is on the second or first level of the home, it can lead to a major flood and tens of thousands of dollars of damage – an expense that may not be covered by homeowner's insurance.

If the hoses are plain rubber, it's recommended that you replace them with braided stainless hoses for extra strength. There's also a simple device that can provide some peace of mind: a water alarm. A water alarm can detect even the smallest water leak. When water is detected the device sends a signal to shut off the hot and cold water supply valves to the washing machine.

Another place where water alarms can prevent a disaster is with water heaters. When the bottom of the tank ruptures, the amount of water released at once quickly flood a basement. A water alarm is cheap insurance against major water damage.
If you're planning on remodeling your bathroom and plan on updating your shower, tub, vanity and other features, it's important to ensure that your home's plumbing is up to the job and can handle the upgraded fixtures. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Do your supply and drain pipes need to be updated?

When old fixtures are taken out and the floor and walls are ripped open to expose the pipes, take a moment to assess the condition and size of the pipes. It's a good idea to ensure that supply pipes are ¾” in order to have good water flow to several fixtures, such as multiple shower heads or sprayers in the shower.

2. Will there be enough hot water?

Large soaking tubs and showers with multiple spraying heads are a nice luxury, but can also put greater demand on your water heater. Will you need a larger water heater tank to meet additional demand?

3. Water and Energy Conservation

Spa-like bathroom can use a lot of hot water. Thankfully, many new plumbing fixtures are designed with efficiency in mind. Dual-flush toilets and low-flow shower heads can save many hundreds of gallons of water over the course of a year. Tankless water heaters, while initially more expensive than conventional water heaters, heat water only when it's needed, conserving energy while providing a virtually endless supply of hot water.

Need help with your bathroom plumbing? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning.
Do you have bathroom drains that gurgle for a while after use? In older homes, it's not uncommon for water to take longer to drain. The reason is that pipes used in the past were smaller in diameter than they are today. In addition, the home may not a have sufficient numer of vent pipes in the roof to aid in drain flow. When the systen is starved of outside airflow, the result is often gurgling sounds.

A professional plumber should clean out the drains with a drain snake or a high pressure drain cleaning machine. In many cases it's not the floor drain that causes the problem, so be sure to have the upper reaches of the plumbing system inspected, including the vent pipes.

Have plumbing or drain problems? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help diagnose the problems and offer effective solutions.



Backflow is, as the name implies, a condition where water flows in the opposite direction than it was intended to. It is caused by a change in pressure in the system and it can allow contaminants to taint a home's drinking water.

One of the most common culprits of backflow is garden hoses. When the pressure drops, the contents of the hose and anything it is connected to, like a muddy puddle or bucket of waste water, can potentially flow backwards into the home's plumbing system and contaminate the drinking water.

Thankfully, there is an effective way to prevent this kind of siphoning backflow by using a simple hose-bib vacuum breaker. Check that all taps (faucets, spigots) that a hose may be connected to are fitted with a hose bib vacuum breaker. An even more effective backflow prevention device, called an atmospheric vacuum breaker can also be installed by your plumber.

Even in the warm climate of Southwest Florida, heating water takes up a big part of the average home's utility bill. One inexpensive way to conserve hot water is to install a water heater blanket. Available at most home improvement stores for $15-$20, water heater blankets are simple to install and can pay for itself in less than a year.

You may be asking, can a blanket help when the tank feels cool to the touch? Yes. Because it takes more energy to heat water than air, so insulation will help. Still not convinced? Once the blanket is installed for a day or so, put your hand under the blanket and you'll notice that it's nice and warm. That's heat that will keep the tank warmer for a longer period of time rather than radiating out.

A word of caution on water heater blankets – some manufacturers advise against them because if they are not installed properly they can block controls and valves. So be sure to cut away around controls and the pressure relief valve.
In Southwest Florida, tropical storms and hurricanes are always a threat during the late summer months. By taking a few simple precautions, and having a plan in place before severe storm season, you will be able to better protect your plumbing system and home from damage.

Before Hurricane Season

  • To prevent water damage to your foundation make sure gutters are clean and firmly attached.
  • Ensure downspouts are properly installed to direct water away from the house.
  • Make sure everyone in home knows the location of the main water shut-off valve.
  • If the home has a sump pump, test it regularly to ensure it is working. Because hurricanes bring power outages, we recommend installing a battery backup sump pump.
  • Have your sewer lines and drains inspected and repaired if needed to reduce the risk of sewer line backups during heavy rains.

During a Hurricane

  • Turn off the main water valve before the storm arrives. This will prevent potential contamination of your plumbing system.
  • Only if it is safe to do so, check the storm drains around your property and clear away any debris or other obstructions to ensure the drains can handle a high volume of water.

After a Hurricane

If you experience problems such as low water pressure, drains that are slow to empty, strange noises or other concerns, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we are here to help.
If your plumbing system suddenly makes a loud banging sound, you likely have have a plumbing problem known as "water hammer". When water suddenly changes momentum under pressure, such as when a faucet valve is closed suddenly, a hydraulic shockwave is sent through the pipe, resulting in bang as the energy is released. If the pressure change is severe enough it can lead to damaged fittings or even burst pipes.

Water Hammer

Preventing Water Hammer

A properly installed plumbing system has air compartments that compress to absorb sudden changes in water pressure. In some cases these compartments can fail to work if the water has gradually absorbed air or the compartments have become filled with water.

If you are experiencing water hammer you can restore the plumbing system's air chambers by opening the faucet that caused the noise and allowing the water to completely drain out. Air will then replace the water and restore the shock absorbing capability inside the pipes. If the air compartment is below the fixture, you may have to drain the main supply lines to restore the air in the lines.

If the above steps do not cure the problem, the plumbing system may not have the necessary air chambers installed, or they may have become clogged over time. Your plumber can inspect the system to identify any problems and recommend solutions.

Have questions about water hammer or other plumbing problems? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We are here to help.
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