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Handling Plumbing Issues During a Pandemic

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020
plumbing issues

Handling plumbing issues during the present pandemic may require giving a little more thought to the household complex system of pipes, drains, heater, and fixtures. It’s an interesting fact that many historians credit modern indoor plumbing as a major factor in improved health and the longer average life expectancy we enjoy today. Fully functional plumbing, as well as handling plumbing issues effectively, supports personal hygiene which, in turn, may prevent the spread of a variety of communicable diseases, including COVID-19.

In these uncertain times we face, here are some hints for handling plumbing issues:

Use the Real Thing

Plumbers report that there’s really no 100% acceptable substitute for toilet paper if your local store runs out. Other possible alternatives—baby wipes, paper towels, paper dinner napkins, and other paper products—do not properly disintegrate in water and may cause a clogged toilet or sewer line. A toilet overflow is an unpleasant reminder not to use these unapproved alternatives. Since store supplies of this irreplaceable necessity still fluctuate during the pandemic, be sure to maintain an abundant stock of toilet paper at all times.

Reduce the Plumbing Load

With more occupants at home all day in this pandemic, showers, baths, toilet usage, and water consumption are unusually higher. This increases the importance of handling plumbing issues properly. For example, the home water heater incurs excess wear and tear when subjected to constant cycling on and off due to continuous hot water demand. This may lead to early water heater tank failure and potential water damage. Where possible, baths, showers, and other hot water use should be widely spaced over the day and night time period to reduce heat-related wear and tear on the water heater.

Check Out Your Plumber

If you need professional help handling plumbing issues, make sure the plumbing company is taking necessary, industry-standard precautions to protect the residents of the home as well as themselves. Specific precautions against the COVID-19 virus are recommended by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials. In many cases, reputable plumbing contractors now feature this information prominently on their websites.

Four Worst In-Home Plumbing Disasters

Thursday, December 19th, 2019
Plumbing Disasters

A plumbing emergency is a special kind of crisis. If leakage is limited to a small pool on the hard surface floor of a single room, without migrating under baseboards or leaking to a lower level, you may be able to handle clean-up yourself. An amount exceeding that—or any amount of toxic sewage—requires the services of water damage recovery professionals.

Here are four plumbing emergency events you’d rather not experience:

Water Supply Line Rupture

Leakage from only a 1/8-inch crack in a typical indoor water supply line can exceed 250 gallons in a day.  Indoor damage may be widespread. Know in advance where and how to turn off the main water valve to the house if a pipe rupture occurs. Apparently “minor” pinhole pipe leaks can be a red flag warning of impending pipe failure. Call a plumber to diagnose and repair all supply line leaks promptly.

Broken Washing Machine Hose

Rubber washing machine supply hoses become brittle over time. Eventually, they are prone to rupture, releasing hundreds of gallons of water, often before you’re aware of it. It’s a good idea to reach behind the machine and turn off the water valves when the unit’s not in use. Even better is to replace rubber washing machine hoses with braided stainless steel lines that are more resilient and reliable.  

Sewage Backup

Sewage reflux into the house is a toxic contamination issue. Category 3 raw sewage, also known as black water, contains biological and chemical contaminants that present an immediate danger to residents. Clean-up and disinfection must be performed by professionals. Residents should avoid any direct contact with sewage and even breathing the air in contaminated rooms may be hazardous.  

Toilet Overflow

It combines a feeling of panic and embarrassment with an often disagreeable clean-up experience. All residents should be familiar with the water shut-off valve usually located behind the tank, near the floor. If a toilet overflow occurs, turn off the valve as quickly as possible to limit spillage. Once or twice a year, test the valve to make sure it still operates easily.

When It Comes to Water Emergencies, Expect the Unexpected

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

Water emergencies usually include an element of surprise. This can make household water damage hard to predict and equally difficult to prevent. Still, paying attention to specific warning signs—and taking preventive measures in a timely manner—can help reduce the probability that you’ll be taken off guard.

These are some of the minor warning signs that may predict a major water emergency:

“Minor” plumbing leaks. Any and all leaks in household water supply lines should be cause for immediate concern. A tiny weeping pinhole in a supply line might appear inconsequential, but it could be external evidence of advanced deterioration inside the pipe that could trigger a catastrophic rupture at any time, flooding your house. Same goes for other apparently innocuous signs such as moist seepage around pipe joints. Call a plumbing professional to resolve all pipe leakage issues—minor and otherwise—before one of them turns into a water emergency.

Aging water heaters. Nearly half of all water heaters will develop a tank leak due to internal corrosion before they are ten years old. Early warning signs (if there are any) are minor puddles on the floor around the unit—easy enough to mop up and put off further action. However, small leakage often indicates that total tank failure, including significant indoor flooding, is only a matter of time. Consider preventive replacement of a water heater before it reaches the 10-year average service life, whether it’s leaking yet or not.

Ruptured washer hoses. Many residential washing machines are installed with reinforced rubber hot and cold water supply hoses connected to valves on the wall behind the unit. In as little as three years, rubber supply hoses may become brittle and unexpectedly rupture with no advance warning. A burst washer hose will typically release over 650 gallons of water into your house every hour until water is turned off. If no one is home at the time, water damage can be extensive. To avoid the unexpected, don’t wait until rubber washer hoses exceed their safe service life. Replace with braided stainless steel lines that will reliably extend the service life.

A Decluttered Home Is More Prepared for Emergencies

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

Excessive clutter inside a home is not simply a housekeeping issue, it’s also a major disadvantage in certain emergency scenarios. Everyone knows how surplus “stuff” tends to accumulate over a period of time.  Though it’s almost always a routine annoyance, during a household crisis, clutter can make a bad situation far worse. Here are a few examples of how clutter complicates emergencies and makes recovery and repair more difficult:

Fire Hazards

When a house is disarrayed and over-filled with stored items, adding fire to the picture is the setting for potential disaster. Clutter often blocks normal routes of escape through doors, windows or other rooms. It may also conceal a fire in its early stages, delaying the call for help and increasing the potential for injury or death. First responders to the fire may find it difficult to access parts of the home to rescue residents as well as get water where it is needed to extinguish flames.

Water Damage

A plumbing emergency such as a ruptured pipe may be hidden by boxes or stacks of possessions in a cluttered home. Water damage may therefore be far advanced by the time occupants realize there’s a problem and the origin of the water may be hard to track down. Stored items may themselves become saturated, heavy and unstable, greatly complicating the extraction of water from the house for water damage remediation crews.

Mold Growth

Clutter can also be a point of origin for toxic mold growth, which can pose a long-term health threat. Mold can be difficult to pinpoint and identify in interior disarray. It feeds on organic material including cardboard and paper, then releases airborne spores that spread throughout the house. The lack of proper air circulation in a cluttered room stacked with possessions also supports the growth of mold that thrives in a musty, stale environment.

Physical Hazards

Items arranged haphazardly in the house can make trip and fall injuries more likely, particularly when attempting to quickly evacuate a house during an emergency. Also stacks of heavy items may be unstable and collapse.

What Is A Water Alarm System And How Can It Help Me?

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

water leak alarmA serious water leak inside your home can be a crisis if it happens when you’re asleep or in another part of the house. If it happens while you’re away from home, it can be a catastrophe. Plumbing supply system failures are the number one cause of indoor water damage. Even a tiny 1/8-inch crack in a supply line can release 250 gallons per day. A basic water alarm system alerts you to leaks occurring inside the home by sounding an audio alarm. Higher-tech systems, however, now take leak detection to the next level. Here’s what’s available today from the simplest to the more sophisticated water alarm systems.

  • Wireless audio alerts. These basic, battery-powered units can be placed at strategic spots where water leakage may occur: behind the washing machine, under the water heater and beneath kitchen and bathroom sinks, for example. The basement floor is another common location. If water is detected, a piercing audio alarm similar to a smoke detector sounds. Occupants inside the home are alerted to take action to prevent further damage.
  • Wi-fi connected water alarms. Increasingly common, these detectors are placed in vulnerable locations for water leakage and wirelessly connect to your home network. If water is detected, the system emits an audio alarm plus sends a text alert. With a smartphone app, the homeowner is immediately informed that leakage has been detected and also the exact location inside the house where it occurred.
  • Auto-shutoff systems. If a serious leak happens while you’re not home, simply receiving an alert on your phone may not be enough to avoid expensive consequences. By the time you can get home (or have a third party go shut off the water) considerable damage is done. Water alarm systems with auto-shutoff function detect leakage, alert you via smartphone app, and then automatically shut off the main household water valve, too—all within seconds. This system combines both instant alert and proactive damage control, providing the most comprehensive protection.

For more advice about water alarm systems from the industry leader in water damage recovery, contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc.



If a Leak Occurs, Do You Know Where to Find Your Plumbing Shut-Off Valve?

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

leaky plumbingWhen a serious plumbing leak strikes, knowing the location of the household water shut-off valve and how to operate it quickly can make the difference between a small mop-up and major water damage recovery. A ruptured supply line can pour hundreds of gallons of water into your home, and when this is happening, time is of the essence. Shutting off the water at the water shut-off valve should be your first priority.