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Plumbing Tips and Advice

Plumbing Tips and Advice (144)

Because plumbing systems don't last forever and issues with pipes can arise over time, repiping is often necessary at some point in the life of a plumbing system. A key factor in determining whether repiping is necessary is the age and type of pipe material. For supply lines, these materials include:

  • Brass 80-100 year lifespan
  • Copper 70-80 year lifespan
  • Galvanized Steel 80-100 year lifespan

Drain lines are usually made of one of the following materials:

  • Cast iron 80-100 year lifespan
  • PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) 24-40 year lifespan

The symptoms of damaged or deteriorating pipes include:
  • Low or inconsistent water pressure
  • Rust colored water
  • Leaks (higher than usual water bills can be a sign of a water leak)
  • Water hammer or other plumbing noises

If your home has PEX piping, it can be more prone to failure than other materials, and should be replaced.

To determine if repiping is necessary a qualified plumber should inspect the supply and drain lines to determine what materials are used, the age of the pipes and the presence of any leaks or defects. For drain lines, a video camera is often used to get a more complete look at the condition of the pipes.
While pipe bursting may sound like a catastrophic failure of a plumbing system, it's actually one of the least destructive ways to repair a home sewer line as part of a process called trenchless sewer line repair.

Instead of digging up the yard to repair the sewer line, a very strong cable is pulled through the damaged section of piping and attached to a conical pipe bursting head. Behind this head is a new section of piping. As the pipe bursting head is pulled through the old piping it is broken up and the new piping is being pulled through the old pipe bed.

Pipe bursting is an ideal pipe replacement process for clay, steel and concrete piping that ranges in diameter from 75mm up to 300mm and in lengths up to 100 meters. New MDPE or HDPE piping can be installed in short sections or one continuous length.

Have questions about your sewer line? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call. We're here to help.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law, passed in 1990, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. The term "disability" means a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individuals.

Among the provisions in the law are requirements that have a role in how plumbing products are designed to make bathrooms more accessible. ADA-compliant plumbing, when properly installed, is fully compliant with the current requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), as legislated by the ADA.

If your remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, you have no obligation to follow ADA code. However, there are many benefits to doing so, including potential use by aging family members, added resale value, and the fact that you'll be creating a space that can be used by anyone who visits your home, regardless of their range of abilities.

Have questions about ADA compliant or accessible plumbing design? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help.
WaterSense® is a partnership program sponsored by US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which helps to promote water efficiency and enhance the market for water-efficient products, programs, and practices. Similar to the EnergyStar program that helps consumers choose energy-efficient appliances, WaterSense helps consumers to choose water-efficient products by specifying the maximum flow rates and minimum performance levels. Products certified as meeting current WaterSense product specifications are eligible to carry the WaterSense label.

WaterSense makes it easy to find and select water–efficient products that can help your wallet and the environment. Just look for products bearing the WaterSense label at your local retailer.

WaterSense labeled products are backed by independent, third–party testing and certification, and meet EPA’s specifications for water efficiency and performance. When you use these water–saving products in your home or business, you can expect exceptional performance, savings on your water bills, and assurance that you are saving water for future generations.

For a list of products like shower heads, toilets and more that meet Watersense certification, visit the Watersense Products page.
The type of sewer pipe material your home has will depend on its age. Older homes often have clay or cast iron pipes, while newer homes are most likely to use plastic. However, as older sewer lines are replaced, it's becoming more common to find plastic lines in oder homes.

Clay Sewer Pipes

Clay is one of the oldest pipe materials still in use today. It's main advantage is that it's inert and resistant to chemical degradation. The downside of clay sewer pipe is its porous surface, which makes it a magnet for tree roots. It is also more brittle than some other pipe materials.

Cast Iron Sewer Pipes

As with clay pipe, cast-iron sewer pipe is more commonly found in older homes, although it is still commonly used today. The main advantage of cast iron is it's long lifespan and strength. A 4" diameter sewer pipe can withstand almost 5,000 pounds of pressure per linear foot. By comparison, a plastic sewer pipe can be damaged by a person standing on it! Cast iron's main disadvantage is weight.

Plastic Sewer Pipes - PVC and ABS

Plastic sewer pipe is made from either ABS and PVC. Its smooth surface provide excellent carrying capacity of waste and makes it resistant to tree root intrusion. It must be installed carefully however, as plastic is not as strong as other materials and can bend or collapse if not sufficiently supported with sand or gravel.

Orangeburg Sewer Pipes

Orangeburg is a pipe material you're unlikely to encounter these days, and for good reason. Made from wood fiber held together with adhesive and impregnated with liquefied coal tar, Orangeburg pipe was lightweight and easy to work with, but was also weak and prone to failure, which has resulted in many sewer lines being replaced over the years.

Have question about your sewer line? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help.
The Pressure Balancing Valve, also called a pressure-compensating valve, is a plumbing device designed to reduce the likelihood of thermal shock and scalding while showering or bathing. It's a safety device required by code in all localities in the Southwest Florida area.

The pressure-balance valve works by sensing the hot and cold water pressures coming in from the supply line and compensates for temperature fluctuations to maintain a consistent water temperature. Without a pressure balancing valve a sudden change in water usage, such as a flushing toilet or clothes washer turning on, could send a burst of hot water to a shower or bath, causing the potential for injury.

If your plumbing system is older and not equipped with a pressure balancing valve, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can upgrade the plumbing system to prevent unsafe temperature fluctuation.
It's a hot, humid summer day in Southwest Florida and you're all ready to fill the kid's inflatable pool with water, but the outside spigot is not working or has low water pressure. There are several possible causes, here are some things to check when the outside faucet stops flowing.

Shut-off valve

If it was turned off during the winter, did you remember to turn the water shut-off valve back on?

Worn Washer

Check to see if the rubber washer has worn out. Sometimes the washer will disintegrate and block the flow of water. Replace the washer if necessary.

Loose Seal

If the seal is not tight, the handle may be too loose to open the valve. The solution is to tighten the collar nut.

Water Leaks

Has your water bill been higher than usual? There may be a leak further up the line. Have a plumber check the system.

Hard Water

High mineral content in the water can eventually build up and block the flow of water. If the clog is near to the opening you may be able to clean it out yourself, but if it’s farther down the line, it's time to call a plumber.

Low Water Pressure

If you have checked the other possible causes above, the problem is likely related to low water pressure. Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help you identify the cause and recommend solutions.



If you notice a smelly sewer odor in your home, there are several possible causes. Here are some things to check:
  1. Check the floor drain trap. Without water to block the sewer gas from escaping, odors will enter the room. Pour water down the drain to refill the trap.
  2. Check the clean-out plug inside the floor drain. Remove the grate that covers the drain and make sure there's a plug inside the drain bowl. If the plug is missing, sewer gas will be able to bypass the water trap. A replacement plug can be bought at most hardware stores.
  3. Check the toilets. When toilets are unused for a long period of time the water in the trap can evaporate. Simply flushing the toilet will refill the trap.
  4. Worn toilet wax ring. The wax ring seals the toilet flange to the toilet base. If the wax ring leaks, sewer gas will escape from under the toilet. If the ring is broken, the toilet will need to be removed and and the wax ring replaced. If the toilet is loose on the base, shims can be used to ensure that a rocking toilet doesn't break the new wax ring.
Other possible causes of sewer odors include a broken or cracked sewer line or, less often, a loose connection joint in an interior wall. If you've checked the other possibilities above, it may be time to contact your plumber to hunt down the cause.

Have sewer and drain line questions? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help.


The first step in selecting a water treatment system for your home is to understand what's in the water by having your home's water tested. You may be experiencing high mineral content, strange odors or have other concerns. A water test will diagnose the cause of the problem and help you select the right water treatment solution for your needs.

Because not all water filters are going to be effective for the same group of contaminants, once you have identified the specific contaminants in your water check the NSF's water filter certification page. The NSF certifies different water treatment systems by the types of contaminants they remove from the water.

There are two basic types of home water filtration systems. Whole house/point-of-entry (POE) systems typically treat all or most of the water entering a residence. They are usually installed after the water meter (municipal) or pressurized storage tank (well water). A water softener is an example of a POE system.

Point-of-use (POU) systems typically treat water at the point of consumption, such as at the kitchen sink, refrigerator or shower head. Some may install inline while others will dispense filtered water through a separate faucet.

Need help choosing a water filtration system? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can test your home's water and help you choose the right water filtration system for your needs.
Most homeowners don't think about their sewer and drain lines until there is a clog or backup that require a professional to clear. However, there are steps you can take to your drain lines working smoothly without snaking the line or using harsh chemical drain cleaners. Natural drain cleaners like Bio-Clean and BioOne offer a safe, effective way to remove buildup in drain lines that can eventually lead to an obstruction. Both use naturally occurring cultures that can be added directly into drain and septic systems. Bacteria get to work immediately on degradation of fat, oil, grease and organic waste build-up through natural biological digestion. Both have earned the EPA's Safer Choice Program certification. Only products that are made of the safest possible ingredients are eligible for the program.

Natural Sewer Line Treatment Products

One of the most common reasons sewer lines fail is tree root intrusion. When a small crack forms in the sewer line tree roots are drawn to the moisture and nutrients inside the pipe. Eventually, tree roots will obstruct the sewer line. One of the most effective biological sewer line cleaners is RootX. RootX kills roots in residential sewer lines, storm pipes and septic systems. A root intrusion left untreated can restrict flow, cause complete blockage and can eventually destroy a sewer or septic system, costing you thousands of dollars to repair or replace.

Need help clearing your sewer or drain lines? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning and Electric. We can help clear the toughest clogs.


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