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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.

How Basic Plumbing Maintenance Can Prevent Water Leaks

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

change washer supply hoseBasic plumbing maintenance saves both water and money. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, annual plumbing leakage averages out to 10,000 gallons per residence in the U.S. Most leakage is a result of accepting small drips and slow seepage as “normal” and neglecting basic plumbing maintenance.

In addition to higher water bills—and unnecessary waste—minor plumbing leaks can be red flags warning of a major calamity like a potential pipe rupture that can cause expensive water damage and property losses.

Cut your risk and lower your costs by following a few basic plumbing maintenance tips you can do yourself.

  • Replace your washing machine supply hoses now if they are more than five years old. Buy braided stainless steel replacement hoses which have greater reliability and longer service life than the original rubber hoses.
  • Flush your water heater at least once a year. Mineral sediment accumulating inside the tank accelerates corrosion that may trigger a tank rupture and indoor flooding. Flushing the tank is an easy DIY procedure (ample instructions are available online) that requires a garden hose and takes about 30 minutes. Alternatively, a plumber can do it for you.
  • Look for leaks. Go wherever plumbing goes. Look inside cabinets under kitchen and bathroom sinks and other fixtures for drips or wet spots. Remove the kick plate at the front of the dishwasher and look underneath with a flashlight for signs of leakage. Also, check behind the refrigerator for leaks at the ice maker water supply connection.
  • Get your water pressure checked. Residential pressure shouldn’t exceed 80 p.s.i. Higher pressure stresses plumbing and causes leaks and/or increased risk of pipe rupture. A plumber can check the pressure and adjust if needed at the regulator.
  • Insulate exposed pipes. If you live in a climate zone where pipes may freeze and rupture, check the crawl space and anywhere else water supply lines may be routed outside the heated envelope of the home. Use slip-on foam pipe insulation to cover all accessible spans of pipe.

Avoid water waste and water damage with more advice on basic plumbing maintenance from the professionals at Rytech, Inc.

Fall Preventive Maintenance: Avoid Plumbing Problems in the Winter

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Plumbing problems can happen in any season. Winter, however, can be especially hazardous to your household pipes and fixtures. Frigid winter weather is also a particularly unpleasant time to deal with the aftermath of messy plumbing issues, indoors or out. Now’s the time — before that first cold snap hits — to pay attention to plumbing preventive maintenance for winter.

  • plumbing maintenanceInsulate water pipes. If you live in a climate where temps drop below freezing in winter, protect water pipes from freezing and rupture that can cause extensive water damage. Buy slip-on foam insulation sleeves at a local home center and cut them to size. Install the sleeves on all accessible segments of cold or hot water supply pipes, anywhere they are exposed to outdoor cold.
  • Seal out cold air. Look for cracks or gaps where frigid outdoor air can contact water supply lines routed through unconditioned zones like the crawl space, the voids inside exterior walls, and the attic. Seal these openings with exterior caulking or expanding spray foam insulation in a can. For large openings, close the space with a wood patch cut to size.
  • Drain outdoor fixtures. Freezing in outdoor faucets and other fixtures can actually rupture indoor pipes and cause flooding. Before cold weather hits, detach your garden hoses, drain the water out and store them. Drain underground sprinklers if you have them. If you have frost-proof outdoor faucets, shut off the indoor valve that supplies water and drain residual water from the faucet.
  • Be proactive during hard freezes. If temperatures below 28 degrees are forecast for an extended period, take action to prevent pipe freezing and subsequent ruptures. Open indoor taps to allow a trickle of water that prevents pipe breakage due to freezing. Set the furnace thermostat to maintain indoor temperatures of at least 70 degrees and open cabinets and closet doors so heat circulates into wall areas where pipes are present. If you suspect a frozen pipe, don’t wait for it to thaw. Contact a plumber immediately.

For more about avoiding winter plumbing problems that might cause household water damage, ask the professionals at Rytech, Inc.


Prevent Leaks Before They Happen: Basic Plumbing Maintenance Tips

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

Professional water mitigation specialists frequently encounter the results of putting off preventive plumbing maintenance. Very few plumbing issues get better when neglected; most become more complicated and potentially damaging as time passes. By the time on-going leaks can no longer be ignored, the services of water mitigation specialists are frequently required to deal with recovery and restoration as well as long-term after-effects such as toxic mold growth.

Dealing with nagging leaks and other plumbing problems now prevents future consequences like severe household water damage. Here are some areas to focus on:

  • Check beneath sinks, behind toilets and anywhere else water supply lines are visible for evidence of water leaks. Because leaks may occur intermittently, don’t ignore any signs of leakage—past or present. Take action to track down the cause.
  • Annually, drain your water heater to flush out sediment. A hardening layer of mineral sediment in the bottom of the tank not only substantially raises water heating costs, it accelerates tank corrosion that may trigger leakage and a complete tank rupture.
  • Don’t ignore unexplained increases in your monthly water bill. Severe leakage from water supply lines may persist undiscovered for a long time if the pipe is broken underground or in the slab foundation of the house. If your costs keep going up, ask a qualified professional plumber to find out why.
  • Does your washing machine use rubber hot and cold water supply hoses? Replace them with braided stainless steel lines. Rubber hoses have a short expected service life and may rupture without warning, flooding your house with hundreds of gallons of water.
  • Small leaks often precede major damage. A pinhole leak on the exterior of a galvanized steel water supply line frequently “weeps” intermittently, often sealing itself temporarily only to leak again. These tiny leaks can be a red flag warning of severe corrosion lurking inside the pipe that could cause a catastrophic rupture at any time. Pinhole leaks should be brought to the attention of a plumbing professional ASAP.

Contact the professional water mitigation specialists at Rytech Inc. for more tips on preventive plumbing maintenance.

Plumbing Maintenance Tips for Reducing Stress on Pipes & Septic System

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Basic plumbing maintenance helps reduce the risk of home water damage from the most likely source: your own pipes. Dramatic events like floods and hurricanes make headlines, but most damage claims for water damage actually result from mundane causes like ruptured pipes, clogged drains, and sewer backups. Here are some basic plumbing maintenance tips to stay ahead of problems before they turn into issues that require professional water damage recovery.

  • Watch what goes down the drain. Cooking fats pour like a liquid, but solidify into pipe-clogging sludge. Coffee grounds and other insoluble materials also accumulate at low points inside the drain system.
  • Once a month, pour a quarter-cup of baking soda into the kitchen drain, then follow it with 1/2 cup of vinegar. Wait a few minutes, then flush the pipes with hot water.
  • Toilet tissue is the only paper product certain to disintegrate in your sewer line. Any other paper flushed down the toilet may contribute to a sewage backup that contaminates your home with toxic water damage.
  • Even minor leakage from household water lines is a red flag. Inconspicuous pinhole leaks in water supply lines may disguise internal pipe corrosion that could rupture and inundate your home with hundreds of gallons. Seepage at pipe joints is another potentially ominous sign that needs to be evaluated by a professional plumber.
  • Have your pressure checked. Standard municipal water pressure can be too high for your plumbing’s health. If the pressure regulator at the water meter is maladjusted or malfunctioning, your plumbing may be over-stressed. Get a video sewer line inspection every five years. If tree roots are invading the sewer line, or pipe segments failing, the sooner you know about it the better.

For more tips on basic plumbing maintenance to reduce the potential of water damage, contact Rytech.