Nov 9, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on 10 Tips for Unclogging Sinks and Pipes

10 Tips for Unclogging Sinks and Pipes

10 Tips for Unclogging Sinks and Pipes

A clogged sink and pipe is any homeowner’s nightmare. Its warning signs are obvious; the sink takes longer to drain, there’s water pooling around your feet in the shower and of course, the strange and unpleasant odors! Instead of waiting for the drain to get completely blocked, try these methods of dealing with blockages before finally calling your emergency plumber.


1. Vacuuming

A wet and dry vacuum is a great tool for unclogging drains as you can first set it to vacuum liquids. Just make sure you cover the vent to prevent a possible mess. After creating as tight a seal over the drain as possible, set the vacuum on its highest setting. If you are lucky, it may be powerful enough to draw the clog into the pipe and vacuum bag.


2. Salt and baking soda

Mix together half a cup each of baking soda and table salt and pour down the blocked drain and leave for 10-20 minutes. Then pour some boiling water; together all three produce a chemical reaction which should clear the nastiest blockages.


3. Baking soda and vinegar

Mix a third cup of baking soda and vinegar each in a measuring cup. As it immediately starts fizzing, it has to be poured immediately into the clogged drain as it’s the fizzing action which removes the accumulated gunk, grime and hair in the pipe.

Leave it for an hour or overnight if possible, and flush with hot water. You can also try pouring as much of dry baking soda into the drain first, and then pouring in the vinegar.


4. Flush using boiling water

This is the easiest and perhaps quickest tip for unclogging sinks and pipes. Just boil as much water as the pipe or drain holds and then slowly pour it down. Don’t pour it together; pour in two to three stages so that the water has a few seconds to work in between each pour.

However be careful while using boiling water as while it works best on metal pipes, water over 175 degrees can soften or melt the joints if you have PVC pipes. So if you are not sure which pipes are blocked, just use hot water which your tap is used to.


5. Caustic soda

This is an effective drain unclogging option; but has to be carefully used, while wearing rubber gloves and some eye protection as caustic soda is sodium hydroxide, and can cause bad chemical burns.

Mix 3 cups of caustic soda with � gallon of cold water in a mop bucket, stir well with a wooden spoon as it starts fizzing and heating up, pour it into the clogged drain and leave for 20-30 minutes. Then flush the drain with boiling water and repeat if required.


6. Bent coat wire hanger

This is a simple tool practically every house has. Just take a regular coat wire hanger and straighten it as much as possible. Bend an end to make a small hook and push it past the drain cover and start fishing. Work at pulling out, and not pushing in gunk like hair and nasty stuff from the drain. Once you get as much out as possible, run some hot water to clear things up.


7. Try cleaning the pipe

Cleaning the pipe is not that difficult a job. You need to first place an empty bucket under the U-shaped pipe or trap under the sink to collect any spilt water. Then loosen the slip nuts found at both ends of the pipe using a plumber’s wrench. Once the trap is free, remove and turn it upside down to empty its contents into the bucket.

Look around inside for debris and all the other pipes holding it using the help of an old toothbrush. Then rinse the trap using water and put everything back together. This usually solves most clogged drains.


8. Baking soda, vinegar, pressure and gravity

In case of clogged bath drains, pour the baking soda and vinegar mixture mentioned above into the drain and then place the stopper over it. Fill the bathtub with water after 45-60 minutes and then remove the stopper.

The pressure of the filled 40-60 gallons of water in the bathtub should dislodge the blockage which the baking soda and vinegar already loosened. Some plunging should quicken the draining process too.


9. Using a plunger

A plunger is most effective at clearing the blockage of blocked kitchen sinks. You need to first partially fill the sink with hot water and then place the plunger over the drain. In case of double sinks, stuff a washcloth into the unclogged drain.

This is necessary to ensure the clog gets all of the plunger’s pressure. Then quickly start working the plunger up and down, pull off the drain opening and if you are lucky, the water starts draining. If it doesn’t, continue the same process till the clog is dislodged.

If you don’t have a cup plunger, you can get a similar effect using an empty juice or milk carton. Place it upside down over the blocked drain and squeeze it. It sends a jet of air from the carton into the drain to dislodge anything stuck in the pipe.

However in case of toilets, the cup plunger won’t be the best tool for clearing blocks. You need a flange or toilet plunger which is available at any hardware store. As it’s shaped specifically for use in toilets, it’s much better at clearing clogged drains than anything else. Just ensure you make a good seal between the plungers and drain opening before starting your plunging!


10. Chemical drain cleaners

You can always use chemical drain cleaners to clear clogged drains. However it has its drawbacks as it may at times do more harm than good and if you are an environmentally friendly person, then this is definitely not a green option.

Moreover, chemical drain cleaners are not that effective at clearing clogs which need a snake or plunger to remove. In such cases, you only end up with a sink or toilet which is clogged and full of drain cleaner!

These 10 tips for unclogging sinks and pipes should help clear most blockages. However if none of them help, then it’s definitely time to call a professional plumber to take care of things. You never know; there may be a deep clog somewhere in the walls or somewhere household tools and chemicals will never reach!


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Oct 26, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on DIY Plumbing Projects

DIY Plumbing Projects

DIY Plumbing Projects

Plumbing problems can instill dread in the hearts of many homeowners. Leaky faucets, slow drains, and clogged toilets can result in damage and inconvenience, but hiring a plumber often comes with a hefty bill, especially if you have to call them out after usual business hours. While some jobs should be left to professionals, homeowners who are willing to roll up their sleeves can tackle many plumbing issues on their own for a fraction of the cost of hiring a plumber. Here are three DIY plumbing projects that even the least handy homeowner can complete themselves.


Leaky Compression Faucet Fix

A dripping faucet is one of the most common plumbing problems a homeowner will encounter. Fortunately, it is also one of the easiest to solve. Most dripping compression faucets can be fixed in under an hour with the right tools and parts.

• To stop that annoying drip, start by identifying the source of your leak. This will help you determine what kind of fix you need to perform and the replacement parts you will need. The most common cause for a leaky compression faucets are worn O-rings and washers.

• Next, turn off the water supply to the leaky faucet by shutting off the water supply valves under the sink, or by shutting off the main water supply to your house. Once the supply is closed, turn on your faucet to drain any water remaining in the pipes.

• Using a screwdriver and wrench, carefully disassemble the faucet handles and stems. Pay close attention to the order in which each part is removed so that it will be easier to reassemble them.

• Check each part for damage as you remove them. Replace any damaged pieces that could be causing your leak.

• Once the faucet stem is removed, you should spot the O-ring and washer inside the valve seat. Remove both and insert a replacement O-ring and washer, making sure that they are the correct size and type for your particular faucet. Check the valve seat for signs of corrosion that could also be the source of your leak. Replace if necessary.

• Carefully reassemble the faucet in the proper order. Once completed, turn on the faucet and check to see if you leak has resolved.


Unclog a Toilet

Toilet clogs inevitably happen at the worst possibly moments, like when you’re having a house party and guests are set to arrive at any minute. Before you start panicking, try these DIY tricks for unclogging a toilet.

• To keep a clogged toilet from overflowing, make sure no more water enters the bowl. Take the lid off the tank and close the flapper, which is the circular stopper piece attached to a chain.

• Before employing more drastic measures, look into the toilet and see if you can see the object causing the clog. It may be possible to remove the object by hand. Use rubber gloves to avoid touching the toilet’s unsanitary interior with your bare skin.

• If the clog can’t be reached or removed by hand, use a plunger. Insert the plunger into the bowl and make sure it completely covers the hole, creating a tight seal. Pump the plunger over the hole vigorously to dislodge the clog and allow water to drain. You may need to repeat this action multiple times before the clog is loosened enough to flush the toilet.

If plunging fails, try adding a homemade drain cleaner to soften the clog first.

• Add 1 cup baking soda and 2 cups vinegar into the toilet bowl. The chemical reaction created by combing the baking soda and vinegar helps to dissolves clogs.

• After adding the baking soda and vinegar, pour a bucket of hot water into the bowl to help flush the clog away. Allow the mixture to sit overnight. By morning, the clog should be dissolved and the water drained. Keep in mind that this will only work with organic material clogs and not clogs caused by solid objects like a toy.

If the clog still won’t budge, purchase a tool called a plumbing snake from your nearest hardware store. A plumbing snake is a flexible coil of wire that can be inserted into the bowl and passed through the curves of the drain and piping in order to dislodge a deep, stubborn clog.

• To use a plumbing snake, insert one end of the tool into the toilet, passing it through the drain.

• Continue to pass the snake through the drain pipes until you find the obstruction.

• Push the snake through the clog using a twisting motion in order to break up the clog and allow water to properly drain.


Unclog a Sink Drain

Clogged or slow-draining sink drains are another common issue encountered by homeowners that often have an easy, inexpensive DIY fix. Some of the same tricks used to unclog a toilet are also useful for unclogging sinks or shower drains.

• Try a homemade drain cleaner first. Measure out a 1/2 cup baking soda and a 1/2 cup vinegar.

• Remove the drain cover and dump the baking soda into the clogged drain first. Next, pour the vinegar into the drain over the baking soda. The chemical reaction created by combining the two will help clear away any grime or gunk clogging the drain. Rinse with hot water.

A cable auger, like a plumbing snake, can also be used to remove clogs from sink drains.

• Start by placing a bucket under the sink pipes to catch any water that may leak.

• Next, detach the curved pipe, called a trap, from under your sink. You may need a pipe wrench to loosen the connections if they are too tight to be loosened by hand. Empty any water left in the trap into the bucket.

• Check the trap to see if the clog is located in the pipe. Clean as necessary and then reattach the trap.

• If the clog is not found in the trap, remove the horizontal pipe that connects the trap to the pipe leading into the wall.

• Insert a cable auger into the pipe that leads into the wall until it meets the obstruction. Dislodge the clog using a twisting motion and then by pulling the cable auger back.

• Reattach the horizontal pipe and the trap. Turn the faucet on and make sure the water now drains properly.


The next time you experience one of these common plumbing issues, try these easy, inexpensive DIY tips for fixing the problems before you hire a plumber. With a little elbow grease, the majority of these issues can be resolved by the homeowner. However, if you’re still experiencing problems after your DIY attempts, it’s a good idea to call in a professional.

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Oct 4, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on Toilet Clog Fixing 101

Toilet Clog Fixing 101

Toilet Clog Fixing 101

Alright, look: there’s nothing pretty about a toilet clog. It’s actually pretty far down on the list of attractive things in your home. But you’ve dealt with them before, and you’ll deal with them again, so it’s worth knowing the best way to handle it on your own. Here are some tips you might not have heard of before.

Stop the Overflow

There are few moments more terrifying than when you flush a toilet full of things you want to get rid of and see that water level creeping slowly toward you, rather than receding to where it should be. If you’re lucky, it stopped just before overflowing, though you still had to deal with a precarious splashing situation when attempting to fix the problem. If you were unlucky, well… our condolences.

There’s a trick to stop overflows, but you need to think fast. As soon as you see you have a clog, remove the lid off the toilet tank in the back of the unit and manually close the toilet flapper inside the tank. This will prevent any more water from entering the bowl and give you a buffer zone between you and the problem – one we’ll use next.

Hot Water

This is a plumber trick for decades that they have managed to keep from the general public with stunning success: before attempting to remove the clog in earnest, add a few cups of hot water from your sink or bathtub to the toilet bowl. Make it as hot as possible and fit in as much as you reasonably can without risking any overflow or splashback. (If you don’t have a bucket around, the bathroom wastebasket might work in a pinch.)

Let the hot water sit for a few minutes. It will help break down the fats in the, uh, clog, loosening it up and making it more likely to clear up.

Add Soap

If the toilet still won’t flush with the hot water, squirt some dish washing liquid or hand soap into the bowl for a few seconds. (Again, in a pinch, you can use some body wash or shampoo from the shower.) This will generally have to sit longer than the hot water before it has an effect, but like the hot water, it will aid in breaking up the clog.

Give it a Plunging

If any of these tips don’t work in isolation, try using the old plunger before moving on to the next. Anything you can do to loosen the clog might help it come free with the vacuum effect of a plunger even if it didn’t break up on its own. And any time you flush to see if you’re successful, be ready to close the flap in the toilet tank again just in case you aren’t!

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Sep 23, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on American Standard Releases a Self-Cleaning Toilet

American Standard Releases a Self-Cleaning Toilet

American Standard Releases a Self-Cleaning Toilet

It’s absolutely no one’s favorite job, but for homeowners who invest in American Standard’s ActiClean self-cleaning toilet, breaking out the toilet brush may be a thing of the past.

The toilet functions via a system that injects cleaning fluid from an installed cartridge through a special water outlet that ensures it contacts the entire inner surface of the bowl. The soap-infused water churns for one minute for a quick clean, or ten minutes if you want it to be pristine, before flushing down like a normal toilet flush.

Since the water churns with a special cleaning solution rather than relying on high pressure water jets like other in-bowl cleaning solutions, it does not use a substantial amount more water than a normal toilet, nor is it subject to problems with low water pressure.

The toilet is available for only a MSRP of $399. Compared to a bum-standard toilet model of about $199, it’s a relatively small price to pay for never having to clean the toilet again, wouldn’t you agree?

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Sep 12, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on Microorganisms An Oft-Forgotten Plumbing Scourge

Microorganisms An Oft-Forgotten Plumbing Scourge

Microorganisms An Oft-Forgotten Plumbing Scourge

Your plumbing system is having some problems. Water is a little off-color, and there’s an unfortunate, if mild, smell coming from the faucet. You call your plumber and he replaces the anode rod in your storage tank, heavily corroded, with a new one, thinking the problem is taken care of. But only a few months later, the new rod has years worth of corrosion already set in.

The problem isn’t normal plumbing corrosion: it’s microorganisms that have infested the plumbing system. While sacrificial anode rods in hot water storage tanks are designed to corrode, attracting electrons that would otherwise do their work on the rest of the piping, they should still last a good long while before needing replacement. When microorganisms find their way into the tank, they exude protective chemicals around themselves; in large colonies, this combination of bacteria and protective enzymes are called a “biofilm.” This biofilm corrodes pipes far faster than normal plumbing concerns.

Once you’ve got microorganisms in your plumbing system, very little can be done. High-velocity water flushes won’t work because water can’t reach the required speed in normal home plumbing, and modern pipes aren’t able to withstand the high amounts of disinfectant required. Any repairs are very time-consuming and expensive. Your best bet, then, is always preventative at the plumbing design level.

Microorganisms are able to set in and cause damage when water is stagnant too long or when the native levels of disinfectant are too low. The chances are also increased if surface area is unusually high, giving the bacteria places to rest. It’s particularly problematic in homes with large bathtubs or Jacuzzi systems; often these homes feature large hot water tanks to facilitate filling the tubs, giving the microorganisms are greater chance of taking root. Apartment buildings usually have water circulation systems in an attempt to prevent stagnation to go along with oversized hot water storage tanks, but if microorganisms do find their way in, the circulation can quickly spread them to the whole building.

Bacterial infection of plumbing pipes is a rare problem, but one worth being aware if, as the consequences of becoming complacent can be painful.

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Sep 7, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on California Law Exposing Names of Excessive Water Users

California Law Exposing Names of Excessive Water Users

California Law Exposing Names of Excessive Water Users


California’s ongoing drought has left many counties and cities imposing water restrictions and launching continuing campaigns advocating water conservation. Now, a new state law could see the names of those guzzling excessive amounts of water publicized for the first time.

The law does not explicitly force the publication of names of those using excessive water, but rather achieves its goal in a roundabout way. Specifically, it requires retail urban water providers of all sizes and serving all types of residential area to create rules defining “excessive water use” and enforcing those rules during times of drought. Any water service company with more than 3,000 clients is included in the provision.

One particular zone, the East Bay Municipal City District, established its own rules about excessive water use last year: any amount more than 984 gallons per day, or four times the average household use in their area. For anyone breaking that limit, a fine of $2 per 748 gallons above the limit is imposed on the customer.

As you might expect, this does not result in excessively high fines for the perpetrators. But the legal trappings around imposing such a fine for a public utility, specifically the Public Records Act, means that the names of those fined have to be made public. Newspapers and individuals are thus able to figure out which of their neighbors are cheating on water restrictions imposed on all of them.

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Aug 29, 2016

Posted by | Comments Off on California City Forces Settlement For Uncertified Water Heaters

California City Forces Settlement For Uncertified Water Heaters

California City Forces Settlement For Uncertified Water Heaters

California, long the biggest legislator and regulator for all sorts of issues, is forcing an Oakley plumbing firm to pay a settlement of over three hundred thousand dollars after hundreds of uncertified water heaters were installed in homes throughout the Bay Area.

Value Plumbing Company, Inc. installed heaters that did not meet the county’s nitrous oxide limits, some of the most stringent in the nation. The emissions are limited due to the nitrous oxide converting to smog when present in high amounts and combined with high levels of sun and heat. All water heaters installed in the area must be low nitrous oxide variants.

The company’s fee is composed of $100,000 in civil penalties, $100,000 to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, and $110,000 to pay for clean air projects in the county. The laws violated include both air quality and unfair competition regulations.

The water heaters installed pose no risk whatsoever to the customers who received them, and similar water heaters are installed in other homes throughout the nation where regulations are not as strict. Value Plumbing sold the heaters from 2008 to 2013.

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