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Plumbing Tips and Advice

Plumbing Tips and Advice (144)

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.


Tuesday, 29 December 2015 22:41

New Bathroom Remodeling Trends For 2016

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If you're planning on remodeling your bathroom this year you may be interested in knowing what are predicted to be popular trends in bathroom design this year.

Traditional design is expected to give way to more contemporary style with more eye-catching designs and high-tech features.

Bathroom Fixtures

One of the simplest ways to update your bathroom is to replace the fixtures. Shower and faucet hardware with interesting textures like oil-rubbed bronze and brushed nickel are two popular options. Even brass tones in a warm-colored copper are making a come back.

Bathroom Lighting

Light fixtures are taking a more prominent design role with more bold and interesting fixtures that are meant to be seen rather than recessed or hidden.

Heated Floors

Heated floors not only add luxury and comfort to a bathroom, they are a great selling point when you list your home. Floor materials like ceramic and porcelain tiles with custom designs are expected to be popular this year.

Hi-Tech Bathrooms

The smart-phone and internet connected home trend is expected to continue moving ahead in 2016. In that bathroom that means water resistant sound systems, video screens and LED lighting systems with mood-enhancing colors all controlled from a smart phone.

For all your bathroom remodeling needs – from plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling – ABC Plumbing and Air Conditioning has you covered.


Tuesday, 15 December 2015 23:27

Preventing Sewer Line Damage

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Reducing the risk of clogged drains means being careful about what goes down the drain. Avoid flushing things like cotton swabs, gauze, tampons, maxi pads, diapers, paper towels and other material that cannot break down easily. Also, “flushable” wipes will not really degrade enough to be flushed down the toilet. Other materials that can cause problems include grease, paint and chemicals, including drain cleaning products.

Preventing Tree Root Damage

One of the most common causes of damage to sewer lines is tree root intrusion. Because roots are always seeking water and nutrients, even a small crack in a sewer line can invite problems. Having a video sewer line inspection is cheap insurance. If a video inspection finds that roots have found their way into a sewer lateral, the damage should be repaired before a sewer line failure occurs.

Have questions about your sewer line? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We offer video sewer line inspections to find the little problems before they lead to major repairs. If repairs are needed, we can use the latest trenchless technology to avoid digging up your yard to fix damaged sewer lines.

Thursday, 10 December 2015 21:49

Kitchen Design Trends For 2016

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If you're considering remodeling your kitchen this year there are some trends that can help you make choices that can improve the value, beauty and functionality of your home.

The trend towards more modern kitchens will continue in 2016 with neutral colors and materials with a classic, timeless look. Contemporary cabinets, thin countertops and grays will be popular this year. Stainless steel will continue to be the top choice for appliances because of their wide appeal and classic style. Black stainless steel is a beautiful new look that will compete with traditional stainless for consumer's attention. Glass will be a popular material with the rich and sleek appearance of mosaic glass tile back-splashes. It’s easy to clean and won’t stain. Sleek metal plumbing fixtures with a modern look will be a continuing trend in 2016.

Kitchen Lighting

Kitchen lighting will be about the details and finishing touches. Fixtures will be used to make a statement that is both stylish and sleek. More lighting options will allow you to adjust for mood and ambiance.

Hi-Tech Kitchens

As with the rest or our homes, smart phones and internet connectivity will continue to make inroads into the kitchen as well. Motion sensing faucets and LED lighting controlled from smart phones are just a couple of the technological conveniences we'll see more of in 2016.

For all your kitchen plumbing installation needs, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning.

Tuesday, 01 December 2015 19:24

When Do You Need a Plumbing Permit?

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Whether or not you need a plumbing permit will usually depend on the city and county that you live in, but there are certain plumbing tasks that almost universally require a permit. These plumbing tasks include:

Water Heater Replacement - Because they deal with gas lines and are must to meet safety regulations, installing a new water heater will almost always require a permit.

Re-piping - Switching out a home's water supply pipes is no small undertaking. Re-pipes should be performed by a professional plumber and will require a permit.

Sewer or Drain Line replacements - Any significant work on a home's sewer or drain line will require a permit to meet meet safety and plumbing codes.

Changing plumbing lines to another location in the home - When moving plumbing lines to another locations, such as when remodeling a kitchen or bath, will require a permit.

Of course, most of the tasks above will involve a professional plumber who will know which jobs require a permit. However, if you're doing a significant plumbing project yourself, chances are there will be building and safety codes that need to be adhered to, so check with your county and city to make sure you have any necessary permits.

Have plumbing questions? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning.

While every home is required to have a shutoff valve inside to turn off water when plumbing work is being performed or in the case of an emergency, the location can vary. Knowing where your shutoff valve is important, so here is how to locate the valve.

Basement Shutoff Valve

Basement shut-off valves are usually located near the front foundation wall. The main water supply will come through the concrete floor or the wall. The valve is typically within 3-5 feet of where the main water enters. In other cases, the main water may enter somewhere else, like a ulitiy room, up through the floor, or near the water heater.

Crawl-space and a Basement

The shut-off valve may be where the water enters the basement or in some older homes, the shut-off may be inside the crawl space.

Crawl-space with no basement

The shut off valve will usually be located near the water heater or under the kitchen sink, but may be in another location. It may be inside the crawl-space; in which case, you may want to consider a secondary valve located up in the living space (near the water heater or under a sink).

Slab-on-grade construction

The shut-off valve will typically be located near the water heater or under the kitchen sink.

Have questions about locating your home's water shutoff valve? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call, we would be happy to help.

Most running water sounds in the home are familiar, but what should you do if you hear unexpected water sounds? When should you be concerned?

First, before you have a plumbing emergency it's important that everyone in the home know where the water shutoff valve is located and how to turn of the water supply.

One of the most common unexpected water noises is running toilets. If a toilet suddenly starts running it is usually caused by a stuck flapper valve.

Bubbling water sounds can be a sign of a water heater that has an excessive amount of sediment that is causing air bubbles and boiling inside the tank. Flushing the tank will remove the sediment.

Trickling water sounds are often made by refrigerators. If it has an icemaker, it is probably the ice tray filling with water. Another sound you may hear is when the freezer is on a timed defrost cycle and causes water to drip from places where ice or frost has built up into an evaporation tray under the unit.

Another common source of water leaks is washing machine hoses, which can wear out over time and burst.

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

Thursday, 19 November 2015 21:41

The ABC of Plumbing - How a Water Softener Works

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A water softener is designed to remove minerals like calcium and magnesium that cause "hard water". These minerals dissolve into the groundwater from surrounding rock. When you have hard water in the home you will find that the mineral scale shows up on glassware and in your tub and shower. When severe enough, hard water scale can harm you home's plumbing system by clogging pipes and reducing the effectiveness of your water heater. It can also make laundering clothes more difficult by reducing the effectiveness of soaps and detergents.

The Answer to Hard Water is a Water Softener

A water softener is a mechanical appliance that is attached to a home's plumbing system. Using a process called ion exchange the minerals in the water are exchanged for sodium. A mineral tank filled with tiny polystyrene beads that create a negative charge. Because the minerals in the water carry a positive charge, they will cling to the beads as the water flows through the mineral tank.

Water softeners have a separate tank with a brine (liquified salt) solution. When the brine is added to the mineral tank the sodium ions, which also have a positive charge, it saturates the beads and displaces the magnesium and calcium "softening" the water.

The sodium attaches to the beads, replacing the calcium and magnesium, which get rinsed down the drain. Once rinsed of minerals, the tank is flushed of brine and refilled.

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

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