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Plumbing Tips and Advice

Plumbing Tips and Advice (148)

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.


Thursday, 11 February 2016 01:48

The ABCs of Plumbing – First Hour Rating

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First Hour Rating (also called first hour delivery) is a measurement that calculates the amount of hot water in gallons a full water heater can deliver in the first hour of operation.

The FHR will depend on a number of variables, including the tank capacity, the source of heat (gas or electric), and the burner or element size. Tankless or on-demand water heaters use a different rating system that measures the maximum temperature rise possible at a given flow rate.

Because the First Hour Rating is an important consideration when selecting a tank-style water heater, the EnergyGuide label will list the first hour rating in the top left corner as "Capacity (first hour rating)." You should select a model with a first hour rating that matches within 1 or 2 gallons of your peak hour demand – the daily peak 1-hour hot water demand for your home.

Need help choosing the right water heater for your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help.

For many homeowners the idea of universal design – where the environment and plumbing systems are accessible to everyone, whether young, old, big, small or physically disabled – is an important consideration when designing a bathroom. Creating an accessible shower involves more that just making entry and exit as safe and easy as possible. There are other consideration as well, including:

1. Space - If the shower must be large or accommodate a wheelchair, it should be big enough to safely maneuver around with room to spare. If the bathroom is too small for a large shower, consider creating an open bathroom without walls between the shower, sink and toilet. Instead the bathroom can have a central floor drain and use waterproof materials.

2. Curb-less Stalls - To allow ease of entry and prevent tripping, compressible plastic strips can be installed on the floor to contain water. The strips can be rolled over but won't create a tripping hazard.

3. Non-Slip Surfaces - Tile with a matte finish and wider grout can provide a better gripping surface. Consider adding contrasting accents to tile floors and shower walls, which can help visually impaired occupants.

4. Lighting - Waterproof, compact LED light fixtures are perfect for providing bright light inside shower enclosures.

5. Seating - Consider adding built-in or a fold down seating inside the shower.

6. Storage - Wall niches provide a safe, convenient place to store shower accessories. Having niches at different heights will make them accessible to children and adults.

7. Shower Heads - When it comes to shower heads there is no one-size-fits-all installation height. For the most flexibility consider a rail mounted shower head that can be moved up and down to accommodate everyone from children to tall adults.

8. Grab Bars - Installing grab bars at an angle will make them easier to use at a range of heights.

Need help making your shower more accessible? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help.

Thursday, 04 February 2016 01:48

Tips To Prevent Garbage Disposal Clogs

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When a garbage disposal becomes clogged and stops working there are generally two reasons for the obstruction. First, there is often insufficient water flow down the drain line causing it become filled with debris, creating an obstruction. Second, the material being put down the disposal is not able to effectively run through a disposal.

Four of the biggest culprits in disposals clogging are eggshells, coffee grounds, banana peels and potato peels. Grinding egg shells or coffee grounds creates a gritty debris that attaches to any buildup inside the drain pipe, quickly causing a clog. Being a starchy food, potato peels form a gooey build up that is difficult to rinse out. Banana peels are fibrous and create a stringy sludge that can become tangled in the disposal's impeller.

Besides not putting the above food waste down the disposal, the key to preventing a clogged disposal is to run lots of water during and for 30 seconds after grinding. To keep the disposal clean we also recommend grinding 3 cups of ice cubes with a little dish water.

Need hep with your kitchen disposal? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can unclog your drains quickly.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016 15:45

The ABC's of Plumbing – Water Heater TPR Valve

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A water heater temperature-pressure relief valve (TPR) is designed to turn off when the pre-set temperature is reached. If the water heater thermostat ever fails, the temperature and pressure (from expansion of the water) could continue to rise until the pressure exceeds the capacity of the tank (usually around 300 psi). If this happens, the tank could explode.

To prevent this dangerous situation, water heaters are required to be protected for both excessive temperature and pressure. A temperature-and pressure-relief valve (TPR). Most of these devices are set to operate at a water temperature above 200° F and/or a pressure above 150 psi.

It's important that a TPR valve only be tested by a trained professional. To make sure your water heater is working properly, it should be serviced annually by your plumber. Have questions about your home's plumbing system? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 15:08

The ABC's of Plumbing – Backflow Preventer

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Backflow occurs when there is a pressure change in a plumbing system that causes the dirty water to be siphoned back into the clean water supply. A backflow preventer is an important plumbing device that is designed to prevent this potentially harmful backwards flow into the fresh water supply.

There are several types of backflow preventers, the three most common are pressure vacuum breakers (PVB), reduced pressure zone (RPZ), and double check assemblies (DCA). In the home, backflow devices are required for hand-held showers installed in bathtubs, faucets with pullout spouts and kitchen sprayers.

Have questions about backflow prevention in your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help with all your plumbing needs.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016 15:04

The ABC's of Plumbing – Overflow Tube

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An overflow tube is a vertical tube inside the tank of a toilet. It's purpose is to move water into the bowl in the case where the ballcock malfunctions to prevents water in the tank from overflowing.

When the flush lever is pressed it pulls the chain that opens the flush valve. When the valve opens, water rushes into the toilet bowl. The water level of the tank lowers after a flush. The water leaves quickly and the tank begins to refill. As the tank refills, some of the water goes from your fill valve through the refill tube and in the overflow tube. The job of the overflow tube is to empty the water directly into your toilet bowl.

Have questions about your toilet or other plumbing system in your home? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We are here to help.
 

Tuesday, 05 January 2016 15:01

Should You Have Your Polybutylene Pipes Replaced?

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Polybutylene was a plastic plumbing pipe material manufactured between 1978 and 1995 that was installed in up to 10 million homes in the U.S.. It was a low cost material that was seen as having advantages over other plumbing materials like copper. It was flexible, easy of install, and resistant to freezing.

However, despite its advantages, by 1996 polybutylene pipes were failing and causing damage. Studies in in papers published by the University of Illinois at Chicago demonstrated that certain household chemicals were reacting with the polybutylene and causing it to disintegrate, eventually causing failure. Lawsuits against polybutylene manufacturers were successful and resulted in over $1 billion in settlements with affected homeowners.

If your home still uses polybutylene piping, it should be replaced with more reliable materials like copper, PEX or PVC. Have questions? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help answer all your questions.


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