PLUMBING TIPS FROM
Commercial plumbing contractors offer a wide range of services, with many dedicated to specific industries such as food service. Are you looking for a regular relationship with a commercial plumbing company? The best offer frequent customer or preferred customer programs that give you priority for emergency services and routine maintenance calls.
Avoid dealing with plumbing services that give you specific quotes for plumbing work without doing an on-site inspection. Commercial plumbing work is subject to many variables and an accurate estimate simply can’t be given over the phone unless the problem has been diagnosed in person. Your plumbing problems may be complicated by issues beyond your basic control; tree roots can penetrate sewer lines, the original installation of pipes or drains could be defective.A commercial plumbing expert can give you sound advice on how to control or repair these issues, and what kind of preventive maintenance the company can help you with. Never pay for an on-site inspection meant to give you an estimate. The commercial plumbing service should offer this for free. When in doubt, ask during the telephone consultation if there is a fee for a specific service.
Do your commercial fixtures and faucets meet requirements set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? To be ADA-compliant, commercial faucets must be operable with one hand using no more than five pounds of force. Some commercial fixtures may be governed by height requirements, allowing proper reach and use for people in wheelchairs or assisted-mobility devices. A quick inspection of your commercial faucets and fixtures with ADA in mind could reveal a lot about how accessible your operation truly is. If you need commercial plumbing help to bring your facility into ADA compliance, call a professional right away for an on-site visit and quote on the work.
Commercial plumbing products cover a wide range of needs. Did you know that there are products specifically for restaurant operations that can help control grease-related plumbing problems? One commercial plumbing solution for grease control is known as BioChoiceES®. This is an auto-injection system designed to keep drains flowing, prevent grease clogging and improve the efficiency of grease traps. BioChoiceES does not emulsify grease, which can violate local regulations; instead, it consumes the grease and converts it to water or carbon dioxide. An aggressive grease control solution such as BioChoiceES can eliminate your need to call on commercial plumbing services later on to handle grease-related issues.
Industrial plumbing problems can create emergencies far different than residential issues. A home plumbing problem can result in a few feet of ruined carpet or some furniture replacement; industrial plumbing problems can result in damaged equipment, lost productivity and even compliance with commercial building codes. Some industrial plumbing issues are a result of failed inspections.
Did you know that old plumbing can sometimes lead to elevated lead levels in drinking water? An old facility may be in need of a plumbing overhaul and a commercial plumbing expert can give advice on how long and how much such an overhaul will cost. If you have an older facility that may need the work, it’s best to show voluntary compliance with federal and local codes. Going on the record with a proactive approach is good for your workers and your public image.
Are you having repeated problems with clogged or slow drains? Your commercial facility may have an issue bigger than a single sink or kitchen area. Video camera inspection is an important commercial plumbing service when dealing with such repeated issues. You may have a problem deep inside the system, far beyond commercial sinks, toilets or other common-use fixtures. A video camera inspection reveals hidden issues including simple clogs, badly aligned pipes or damage to the system.
Commercial and industrial plumbing may need a video camera inspection after natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes to determine if the system has been compromised. Commercial plumbing experts, like Drain Pro, can go to your commercial facility and provide a video camera inspection to identify the damage and provide you with a price before the job starts.
If you are getting ready to modernize an old bathroom with new fixtures, a toilet and luxury bathroom furniture, take a look at your old plumbing first to see if you can make a few upgrades to protect your investment.
Examine the walls and flooring around all fixtures, stop valves and fittings to make sure there are no leaks which need repairing. If you don’t have shut-off valves installed, this is the perfect time to fix that problem. Not having a shut-off valve means turning off the water for the whole house to make plumbing repairs!
Another overlooked upgrade to old plumbing systems is the installation of a pressure-balancing valve in your bathroom plumbing system. Installed in the hot and/or cold water supply lines to your shower, the pressure-balancing valve prevents that scalding hot or freezing cold burst of water in the shower when a toilet is flushed or another faucet is used elsewhere. It may not be a luxury bathroom design, but a scald-free shower is definitely an improvement that should be found in all modern bathrooms.
Your best source for plumbing information in the bathroom is your own two eyes. Plumbing preventive maintenance starts with inspecting your shut-off valves under the sink and toilet. Do you find leaks, drips or cracks in the basin, bowl or pipes? Leaks are often caused by connections which need tightening. Cracks can be sealed with putty.
The next step is lifting the lid on your toilet tank. If your toilet has been constantly running, a quick check of the floater could reveal the source of your problem. Adjust the floater to fix the problem. If there is no problem, check the floater to make sure the fittings are properly adjusted and tightened on the assembly. A loose screw may allow the floater to slip. Bathroom maintenance for toilets includes flushing only paper. Don’t allow any foreign objects to be flushed, and never pour hot liquid into a toilet bowl.
Plumbing maintenance includes catching small problems before they develop into major hassles. Is your toilet rocking from side to side? Does it lack the stability it once had? You may need to maintain or replace your toilet flange. This is a fitting that lets you connect to the floor underneath, with the rim of the flange resting on the floor. This prevents any weight being transferred to the drainage pipes, which should never be allowed. If you have an old, decrepit toilet flange you can buy an extender ring that fits over the existing flange.
The most important part of toilet maintenance on this part of the system is the airtight seal; follow all installation directions to the letter, and don’t skip the sealing and caulking stages. Toilet flange plumbing maintenance is important for preventing more serious problems later, especially if your current setup is putting weight on the pipes. The last thing you want to deal with is a broken toilet drain pipe.
If you are using bathroom contractors to remodel your bathroom, you’ll need to give them some information to help design and plan your new bathroom plumbing needs. If you already have bathroom design ideas, give them to the contractor in advance, and be sure to include the following information:
- Countertop materials – Do you prefer stone, a solid surface or a laminate?
- Electric outlets and fixtures – Do you want to add or move something?
- Sink, toilet and tub – Do you want a larger size, a different configuration or a new location?• What type of cabinets do you want?
- Do you want new flooring?
If you aren’t sure on any of these bathroom remodelling ideas, check with the sales rep to look through a catalog or see samples of your options. You can look over a wide range of fixtures, toilet diagrams and bathroom design ideas before committing. Always get multiple estimates on your final design with alternative materials and configurations to see how adding or changing fixtures or materials affect the bottom line.
There are four basic types of bathroom faucet drillings. When upgrading your bathroom plumbing, you may choose to buy a bath sink faucet-and-basin combination, but when buying these pieces separately, remember the configuration of the four bathroom faucet types:
- Wall-mounted faucets require a spout long enough to reach your freestanding or counter-mounted basin• Single lever – standard for three-hole, pre-drilled sinks
- Widespread – also made for pre-drilled, three-hole bath sinks
- Centre set – standard for three-hole, pre-drilled basinsIn addition to these four types of faucets for bath sinks, you can get better water flow control and pressure by choosing an aerated spout.
Spouts without aeration may splash more when the water hits the basin. For taller basins, this may not be as much of a problem as it can be with a shallow bath sink. Remember to match sink fixtures properly with the depth and width of the basin if you are buying separately.
Bathroom contractors may not agree on a “standard” height for bathroom sinks and counters, but there are a few considerations to make before finalizing the height of your bathroom plumbing, fixtures and bath sinks. You can find a good height for the bathroom sink by putting a large bowl on a countertop or table and raising the height with a small stack of books until you find the most comfortable bathroom sink height for you. If you have wall-mounted faucets and are replacing a pedestal basin, try to match the height and depth of the original basin if you aren’t sure about a good alternative height.
Remember that on wall-mounted faucets, a long stream and a deep basin can create splashing. How powerful is your stream? A shallow basin may get overwhelmed by too much water. It’s important to balance the height, the force and the volume of water with bath sink capacity and draining speed.
Drains & Sewage
This is a blockage of air in the drain, typically caused by a clog. Removing the clog should fix the problem.
Clogged drains may require a video camera inspection if you have repeated problems. Some clogs can be easily fixed, but if you can’t locate the trouble yourself, you should call Drain Pro professionals to do a complete video camera inspection of your plumbing system.
A company properly equipped for this task, such as Drain Pro, will provide a complete pipe inspection system to determine the source of your problem. If you require a video camera inspection, chances are the clogged drains are being caused deep within the system. Video camera inspection is an important tool in both detection and fixing the problem correctly. Different clogs require different solutions. You may have debris lodged in the system or tree roots growing into your pipes. Video camera inspection is an excellent way to prescribe treatment.
Nothing stops a command performance of singing in the shower faster than a clogged drain. But the following tips from Drain Pro could be music to your ears when it comes to tackling the problem. Most shower clogs can be corrected easily with a minimum of hassle and mess. All you need are a few simple tools and a little common sense. Hair is usually the culprit when a shower fails to drain properly. In fact, checking the strainer cover that fits over the drain in your shower enclosure may be all it takes to solve the problem. If the perforations are stopped up, clean them out and test the flow of water. If the perforations in the strainer cover are not blocked, don’t panic. All you have to do is follow a few simple steps to remove the clog.
First, determine how the strainer cover is attached. Some covers simply snap into place and can be removed from the drain by lifting them with a screwdriver. Other covers are held in place by a couple of screws, which can be easily removed. Once the strainer cover is removed, shine a flashlight into the drain and visually check for a clog. You should see water a few inches below in the drain, but if you spot an obstruction, use a piece of stiff wire – a metal coat hanger crimped to make a hook on the end works fine – to clear the pipe. Gently snag the clog with the wire, being careful not to push the obstruction deeper into the drain. If you do not see a hair clog blocking the pipe, try using a plunger to clear the drain. Commonly known as the “plumber’s friend,” a plunger works best when there is a firm seal around the drain opening. It might help to coat the rim of the rubber force cup with petroleum jelly.
Next, pour enough water into the shower enclosure to cover the lip of the rubber cup on the plunger, and make sure the cup is securely fitted over the drain opening. Then, move the handle of the plunger up and down rapidly. If the plunger fails to force the clog free, the next step is to try a hand snake. This device features a flexible coil of spring steel with a crank at one end for rotating it. Carefully feed the metal cable into the drain pipe until you hit the obstruction. When you feel the cable stop, crank the handle clockwise. The tip of the metal cable will snag the clog as it turns. Keep up the cranking motion as you slowly pull the cable out of the drain line and the clog should pull free.
If all of these steps fail to clear the drain, call a professional plumber, such as Drain Pro. Cleaners can be poured into drains to remove clogs, but these cleaners contain caustic chemicals and should be used only as directed by the manufacturer. Drains should always be flushed thoroughly after a chemical application. Never use a plunger immediately after pouring a chemical into the drain. And remember, if you choose to use a chemical drain cleaner and then summon a plumber, tell him immediately so he can take the proper precautions.
Bathroom maintenance for drains usually starts with the use of a hair trap. Did you know soap and hair combined can create a clog far tougher to deal with than hair alone? A hair trap is one of the best bathroom preventive maintenance tools for bathtub drains.
If you do encounter a slow or clogged bathtub drain, do not pour caustics into the drain to unclog it. Chances are some of the caustic material will backwash into your shower even after the clog has been removed. It’s much safer to use a snake or a bio drain cleaner instead.
For bathroom sink drains, a strainer way seem like a bit of overkill, but if you have an older sink without a built-in stopper, a toothpaste cap falling into your drain can be a big inconvenience. Small hair traps are plumbing maintenance tools which prevent foreign objects from entering the bathroom sink drain including contact lenses, rings or necklaces.
Once you have had plumbing drain cleaning services, there are some preventive maintenance tricks you can try to prevent future clogs and drain issues:
- Install hair traps in your showers and sinks.
- Use a food-grade filter in your kitchen sink to prevent debris from washing down the non-disposal drain.
- Switch to thin, non-quilted toilet paper to avoid clumping in the sewer line.
- Use a monthly BioChoiceES® drain cleaning treatment for all drains.
- Clean all hair, food and grease traps regularly.
Preventive maintenance helps reduce your need for drain cleaning machines or services, reduces odours and extends the life of your drain system. You will notice faster draining time, more efficient garbage disposal in the kitchen sink and reduced toilet clogging.
Your kitchen faucets may experience a problem or two along the way. Home kitchen design is great when it is brand new, but over time your kitchen fixtures may develop some minor issues that need fixing. Is water coming out of the sides of your kitchen faucet instead of the spout? Kitchen faucets with an aerator develop this problem when the aerator needs a good cleaning. Is the water flow slow? Irregular? The aerator may need replacing. A constant drip from your faucet indicates that a washer has worn out and needs replacing. Has your faucet valve locked up? This happens when mineral buildup becomes too great. Spray the valve with a water and vinegar mixture to loosen the valve again. Do you have shut-off valves that won’t work when you try to shut off the water supply to fix your faucet? Spray them down with WD40 or a similar lubricant and try using a wrench or pliers to turn the valves.
Did you know there is an association designed especially for kitchen and bath construction and remodelling? The National Kitchen & Bath Association offers planning guidelines that can help you with designer kitchen ideas.
One important recommendation involves work counter height. Two options are advised. The first option is 28 inches – 36 inches above the finished floor, the second option is 36 inches – 45 inches. Having kitchen countertops and kitchen plumbing fixtures at the right height for you is important for ergonomic reasons. Kitchen countertops that are too high often require some straining to do repetitive tasks like dishwashing or food prep. The same goes for surfaces and kitchen plumbing fixtures which are too low, forcing you to stoop slightly. Over time, this repetitive action can cause discomfort and even pain in some cases. Consult with a kitchen plumbing expert to determine the proper height for your fixtures and counters if you aren’t sure.
Laundry & Water
Some laundry room plumbing issues don’t have anything to do with frozen or broken water pipes, blockages or defective stackable laundry centres. Sometimes the cause of a flooded laundry room is much simpler. Good plumbers know that cheaply-made hose connections from the washing machine to the residential plumbing system can fail after only five years of use. That’s one of the reasons an automatic washing machine shut-off valve can be an important addition to your laundry centre. This shut-off valve is installed between the water source and the washing machine, and automatically shuts off the supply of water when it detects the washing machine has shut off. A burst hot or cold water hose can send hundreds of gallons an hour into your laundry centre, so installing a shut-off valve is excellent preventive maintenance.
Some basement laundry room layouts include an adjoining bathroom. Because these are seldom used, some homeowners report a bad odour coming from the laundry room, which is sometimes blamed on the laundry itself, the laundry room floor drain, or another source.
Before you call a plumber, try a simple experiment by pouring water into the toilet, sinks and shower stall in the adjoining bathroom. Flush the toilet, let the water drain in the sinks and the bath and check back in a day to see if you still detect a bad smell. The water in your “u-bend pipe” or sink trap will evaporate over time if the plumbing isn’t used regularly, allowing odours to seep into the laundry room. Running water in the adjoining bathroom should cure your laundry room odour problem if dry pipes are to blame.
Alternative septic systems are often installed in “difficult” sites with conventional methods, but if you find water in your backyard from your septic system, you may need to upgrade or switch from a conventional septic system to something better suited to your area. There are many alternative septic systems that can accommodate sewer line plumbing, treat wastewater and dispose of it properly. Alternative septic systems include raised bed and septic mound systems, aerobic systems, disinfection and even waterless systems.
The first indicator that you need to switch from a conventional septic system may be that you experience flooding or unusual water gathering in a backyard or field. If you find your conventional septic system is not adequate, it is important to act quickly to avoid being cited or fined for non-compliance.
If you want to add a water softener system to your kitchen plumbing, there are a few things to keep in mind before deciding to install it yourself or have it done by a professional. The softener systems referred to here are not the type installed on a kitchen sink faucet, but connected to your plumbing system. Water softeners are installed on the main water supply line, so the entire water supply to your home is treated. The only faucet not affected by the softener system is your outdoor faucet used to run a garden hose or sprinkler system.
Most building codes require installation of a bypass valve so that your faucets can dispense non-treated water if a problem develops with the water softener system. Your kitchen faucets will dispense non-treated water only when the bypass is activated. Some people prefer a bypass line that supplies drinking water or a connection to a refrigerator ice machine.
One important consideration when installing a water softener is where to store the softener unit. Some prefer installing the softener equipment in the garage, while others use the laundry room. Wherever you store the unit, you will need the right length pipe or tubing to connect the unit to your plumbing system.
Some people wonder if the use of water softeners will damage their septic system. The real concern over water softeners is not with the water itself, but with the by-product of the softening process. Brine water is created as water softeners do their job of removing minerals from the water. This brine water (also known as water softener regeneration discharge) goes into your septic system.
Experts disagree on whether the brine water can negatively affect the decomposition of solid matter in a conventional septic system. Some believe it can contribute to drainfield failures and other problems. If you are concerned about the briney by-products of your water softeners, consider investing in a softener system with a large mineral tank. This will allow the brine water to be stored in the tank longer, cutting down on the number of times brine is discharged into your septic system.
You can also use a water softener system that is not timer-based, but on a periodic schedule. This can also help control brine in your septic system, but limiting the number of times per year it is introduced into the septic tank.
Other Plumbing Tips
American indoor plumbing engineering has brought amazing advances in convenience for homeowners, but also created environmentally-friendly designs for sustainable living. The availability of tankless water heaters, water-efficient design and other technology have given thousands of new types of jobs for plumbers, as well as customized options for home improvement. A tankless water heater configuration can add value to a home placed on the market, and the presence of low flow technology can be very tempting to an environmentally-aware buyer.
American indoor plumbing is improving as the old infrastructure is gradually updated with new materials and modern plumbing design techniques. Today’s plumbing industry trends include plumbing technology aimed at sustainable living, water conservation and energy efficiency. If you are examining jobs in plumbing, it’s a very good idea to pay close attention to evolving plumbing technology and how it addresses green living concerns.
Today’s plumbing jobs offer more opportunities than ever, including jobs with large construction companies, national plumbing chains and government contractors. There are also self-employment options after plumbers have completed apprenticeship programs.
Female plumbers are discovering unique opportunities with some companies that specialize in “women-only” services. One example is the U.K. based company Plumb-Hers, which advertises itself as an alternative service for those who feel intimidated by inviting a stranger into the home for plumbing services.
Whether you are seeking a specialized niche career as a steamfitter, pipe layer or residential plumber, the demand for plumbers and plumbing technology far exceeds the supply of qualified people. Career prospects for future plumbers are very bright.