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Put water hammer to rest – once and for all

Monday, March 10th, 2014

It’s not uncommon for Atlanta homeowners to deal with rattling pipes. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s a pleasant experience. While the noise is a nuisance, the effect that rattling pipes have on your plumbing system can be very damaging. Learn the causes and effects of water hammer, or rattling pipes, and what you can do to resolve the problem.

What is water hammer?

What’s happening behind the scenes when you hear the pipes rattling? Basically, the pressure in the pipes increases due to an adjustment in either the velocity of the water or the direction it’s going. For instance, when you turn off the faucet, the force of the water quickly changes, creating what is similar to shock waves in the water. That is the sound you hear coming from the pipes, which plumbers refer to as “hammering.”

What causes rattling pipes?

Most home plumbing systems employ air chambers designed to buffer the shock waves, in effect softening the noise created. When these chambers fail, or if the plumbing system wasn’t designed with air chambers, a hammering noise starts up. Another common cause of rattling pipes is the pressure-reducing valve, which contains a gasket that can fail.

What are the effects of rattling pipes?

While the noise of rattling pipes alone may not be enough to move you to hire a plumber to resolve the problem, leaving the issue unchecked can cause serious issues like:

  • Damage to appliances
  • Damage to the pipes
  • Higher water bills

How can you resolve the problem?

Unless you’re a savvy DIYer, in most cases you’ll need the help of a plumber to put a stop to the rattling. Experienced plumbers can listen to the noise the pipes are making and know exactly what is causing the problem. Some of the solutions include:

  • Replacing the gasket in the pressure-reducing valve
  • Flushing out the pipes to remove the air
  • Clearing out debris from the section of pipe where the air chamber is located
  • Reducing the pressure of the water
  • Installing air chambers if the system doesn’t currently have them

Get expert advice when you’re plagued by water hammer. The plumbers at RooterPLUS! are happy to help.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons


Why and when to repipe your home

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

At one time or another, many older homes will face the prospect of a home repipe. Older homes, like those in Alpharetta, were generally constructed using galvanized pipes, which are prone to rusting and corrosion. Ignoring problems with old plumbing pipes can be costly. For instance, flakes of rust can damage your water-using appliances and put your home’s water supply at risk.

Repiping a home involves ripping out the entire plumbing system and replacing pipes with new ones made of more durable materials. Sometimes the fixtures leading to sinks and showers will need to be replaced.

When is repiping necessary?

Homeowners should watch for these surefire indications that their plumbing systems needs to be repiped:

  • Decreased water pressure
  • Water that looks rusty
  • Water that tastes funny
  • A dishwasher or clothes washer that fills up slowly
  • Plumbing pipes that are beginning to leak

It’s important to have a reputable plumber inspect the system if you notice any of these signs. One such problem on its own may not indicate failing or corroded pipes, but these signs together warrant an inspection.

Getting by

A total home repiping project is costly, and homeowners who know that their pipes need to be replaced may have to wait a while to get the money together to pay for the project. There are things you can do in the meantime to help keep the plumbing system in good condition:

  • Drink bottled water or purchase a high-quality filtration system
  • Preserve appliances by giving them a rest. Take laundry to the laundromat, for instance, and wash dishes by hand
  • Fix all plumbing leaks immediately, as leaks boost your water bill, place undue stress on the system and lead to bigger leaks when corrosion has already weakened the pipe walls

Enlist the help of a plumber

Choose a plumbing specialist who has extensive experience in replacing residential pipes. The process generally starts off with an inspection of the site. The plumber will establish the pipe layout, prepare the home, install the piping, test the system and repair any walls or floors that the repipe may have damaged.

Image source: Flickr


A water filter gets rid of the junk and improves taste

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Are you thinking about installing a water filter on your kitchen faucet? You may want to go even further than that and opt for a whole-house water filtration system instead. Water quality dictates health, and poor water quality can pose a significant health risk. Rain and snow runoff from roads and roofs can carry toxic chemicals and organisms, and controversial practices such as fracking may exacerbate groundwater pollution. The best way to protect your Atlanta home from contaminants is to use a water filter.

Here’s how you’ll benefit from using filtration:

  • Filtration that operates via reverse osmosis removes harmful contaminants from drinking water, but it can also remove essential minerals too, like calcium. As a result, the water’s pH level decreases. A high-quality filter will include a second step, moving the water through a carbon filter of some sort and raising the pH level.
  • Drinking water with a balanced pH may promote health benefits, improving the absorption of water in the body, helping weight loss and reducing the impact of aging.
  • Installing a filter on your kitchen sink provides immediate access to pure drinking water.
  • Using filtration on other faucets in the home, including the shower, bath and bathroom sinks, provides cleaner water for hygienic purposes.
  • Pure water is not as harsh on the skin. Water that contains chlorine and other chemicals will lead to drier skin.
  • Clean water is easier on hair, too. When bathing with clean water, your hair won’t sustain the damage that comes from washing it with chlorinated and chemical-laden water.
  • Removing chlorine from the home’s water offers significant benefits, as some reports link the use of chlorine with increased cancer risks, heart issues and senility.
  • Filtration systems that address mold and mineral buildup in pipes can aid those who suffer from allergies.
  • When you use filters, your tubs and sinks will be easier to clean because less rust and minerals will be released from the pipes.
  • Using pure water for the entire household prevents contaminants from harming dishwashers, washing machines, coffee makers and any other appliances that use water.

For optimal removal of contaminants, consider a whole-house water filter that works on removing harmful chemicals and minerals the moment that water enters your home. In this way, you’ll protect your home’s plumbing pipes, the water coming out of your sinks for drinking and hygienic purposes will be purified, and your appliances that use water will stay clean, too. For more information about water filtration, contact the plumbing experts at RooterPLUS!

Image source: Flickr


Wondering how to snake a drain? Your plumber can help

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Already tried plunging the stubborn clog in your drain? The next step should be to snake the drain. But before moving forward, take the time to learn how to snake a drain and when to call a pro — otherwise, you could be putting the health of your plumbing system at risk.

Not all clogs are equal. Some succumb to the snake, and the drain clears out. More stubborn clogs, however, require expertise that most homeowners (and their snakes) don’t have.

What is a plumbing snake?

Also referred to as a cable auger, a plumbing snake consists of a long, flexible feed or cable that you lower down or unwind into the drain. The cable “snakes” its way through the pipes and around turns and twists, breaking up any debris or buildup in its path. While the length of the device’s cables vary, it’s a useful device for accessing the depths of the plumbing pipes.

When should you use a snake?

Homeowners can attempt a DIY job to clear out the drain, but if they proceed without knowing what they’re doing, they may compound the problem. Often when you snake the drain, you’ll sense the cable hitting an obstruction. You’ll need to power through these obstructions to break up the debris; however, running a snake can cause damage or perhaps even break the pipe, depending on its age and condition.

Reserve a DIY job for isolated clogs — for example, if just one drain in your home is clogged. For repeated clogs or widespread trouble with drains throughout your home, it’s best to call a plumber.

Why get professional help?

There’s nothing worse than taking the time to learn how to snake a drain only to learn later on that the job didn’t get to the root of the problem, or that you damaged the pipes and now face a costly repair. That’s why it’s always a good idea to enlist professional help. A licensed plumber can address problems comprehensively, and has the specialized diagnostic tools and experience to avoid further damage to the pipes.

If you’ve learned how to snake a drain to no avail, it’s time to call in the Atlanta area’s expert plumbers. Save yourself the time, money and frustration.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons


Got sump pump problems? Get expert solutions

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Have you ever experienced sump pump problems that led to a flooded basement and damaged property? Install a backup sump pump in your Alpharetta home to avoid the operational problems that cause sump pump failure.

Sump pumps are a great resource for keeping water out of the basement. A properly sized and installed pump will keep up with heavy rains and groundwater accumulation. However, it’s not uncommon for a sump pump to stop working — often when you need it most.

  • Power outages. Sump pumps will only work if they’re powered by electricity. If the power goes out in your home and it’s raining heavily, water will quickly accumulate in your basement.
  • Mechanical malfunctions. For example, the float can get stuck on the wall of the well where the pump is installed. Then it will fail to signal the pump to power on and take care of rising water levels.
  • Improper size. A homeowner who installs the pump in do-it-yourself fashion must make sure it has the capacity to deal with the home’s water overflow. If the pump is overwhelmed, it won’t be able to keep up with water disposal. If you installed the sump pump yourself and your pump is running almost continuously — or if your home is in an area with a high water table — you should invest in a larger pump. It’s best to consult a licensed plumber to assess if the pump is the right size.

Prevention is the cure

Face sump pump problems head on and install a backup that will automatically cycle on when the primary pump fails for any reason. Furthermore, battery backup systems don’t rely on electricity, so they are a must-have for any home.

Get expert advice before installing a primary or backup sump pump. For optimal protection, select a pump that’s sized appropriately for your home. For example, a home that’s located in a high water table area might need a dual sump pump to ensure the system can handle the water volume.

A plumber can inspect your Alpharetta home to guarantee that other factors aren’t contributing to basement flooding and to look over the home’s drainage system, the grading of the floor and more.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons


Is a shower valve leak the problem in your bathroom?

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

There are few things as unpleasant as cold water rushing into a shower without warning, but it’s a common sign that either a faucet valve is leaking or the inner parts are broken. If you don’t address the problem right away, you face higher water costs and more uncomfortable moments in the shower.

Here are some tips on how to fix your shower valve problems and get back to enjoying your hot showers in peace.

Check the valve cartridge 

A corroded valve cartridge is often the cause of leaks and poor water distribution. This should be the first thing you check when you look for a fix. Turn off the water supply and leave the valve open slightly. Remove the screw that keeps the valve in place so that you can check on the state of the cartridge.

You’ll find rubber rings around the cartridge; keep these to put the valve back in place later. If any of the items holding the cartridge or screws in place have rotted or fallen out of place, you may have found the source of your discomfort in the shower.

Debris within the pipe may also be the culprit. Use a wire brush to clean the area, just in case.

The hardware store can help

Take the different parts you removed to a hardware store, where you can find replacements for the valve cartridge or any supporting items. The sales staff should be able to provide tips on handling the job without stripping or otherwise damaging any of the parts.

Weighing the investment vs. DIY

Take this opportunity to check for leaks and any other corroded elements inside your shower fixture. Even the highest-quality fixtures need repairs as time passes. It’s a quick job that requires no new equipment.

If you choose to do it yourself, you may have to buy a special wrench, plumber’s grease and other parts necessary for the job, as ordinary wrenches may damage the hardware.

The time investment required will vary depending on your level of expertise with bathroom plumbing. Experienced homeowners can pull off this complex job if they have the right tools.

That said, it might be best to seek the help of a licensed plumber in Macon, Rosewell or your Atlanta-area town. These professionals will fix the shower valve or any other plumbing problem you might have.

Image source: Stock.xchng


Using leak sealer like a professional plumber

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

A professional touch is essential for plugging water leaks in your home. Plumbers use sophisticated technology to detect and address water leaks, but if you notice your water bills rising, you may be able to handle a basic fix. Here’s how to locate sources of the problem and how to use leak sealer to fix them.

Reading the water meter 

One way professionals identify leaks is by checking a home’s water meter. If you want to see whether water is running somewhere, shut down all water appliances and head outside to the meter box. The leak indicator, a triangular object located in the middle of the meter’s dial face, will be spinning if you have a leak.

However, note the tally of the meter itself. If the leak indicator is stable but you notice your home is consuming water without any appliances in use, you have a leak. Shut off the main water valve and open the faucets in the house. If any continue to let out water, you have a leak.

Identifying the specific pipe leaking 

If you notice water coming from a faucet that is turned off, inspect the pipes that supply water to that location. You may detect a pinhole leak. Discolorations in copper or plastic pipes indicate that there is a tiny amount of water escaping. Even the smallest leaks waste money and can contribute to dampness or mold growth in your home.

Once the water is off, make sure the leaking area is dried. Apply epoxy leak sealer or tape to stop the trickle of water from a metal pipe. If the pipe is made of plastic, you can use an epoxy primer and PVC glue to plug the leak. Only attempt to fix pipes if you have experience, as you may create more damage than you fix.

Checking for foundation and water heater leaks 

A foundation leak may be the most difficult to spot, but a professional plumber has detection equipment that can show what is happening behind the walls of your basement. Dark spots will indicate the presence of running water, but getting to the leaks and fixing them is a complex operation.

Water heater leaks are another trouble spot for homeowners. You may notice a lack of hot water in the shower, which can signal a heater leak. Such leaks can result from rust, corrosion or a faulty drain valve.

Finding the source of leaking water and applying leak sealer may not be as easy as you think. If you have noticed higher water bills for you Atlanta-area home but have trouble identifying or fixing a leak, contact a licensed plumber to do the job and help you avoid water damage.

Image source: Stock.xchng


A drain camera goes where no man can

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Gurgling drains, stopped toilets, slow draining: these are problems that a drain camera can resolve quickly and correctly. When plumbing problems plague your Roswell home, you can hire a professional to provide the diagnosis, but the pro needs the right tools to get the job done. Expertise can go a long way, but nothing beats a drain camera for getting into your home’s plumbing system and seeing just what has gone awry.

A very bad scenario

Consider this scenario: You have a few drains that aren’t working right, and you call in a plumber to remove what you assume to be a blockage. The plumber agrees and sends a snake down the pipes to work away the perceived hunk of gunk stopping up the pipe. You write a check, the plumber goes on his way, and everything’s hunky-dory. Right?

Wrong! While the plumber’s snake will certainly remove a blockage, without visually inspecting the drain or digging up the pipes — which is costly and a huge hassle — you and your plumber have no way of knowing what’s really going on with the plumbing system. If there’s a crack in the pipe causing water to escape or reducing the system’s pressure, pretty soon you’ll notice slow drainage again, and the problem will compound itself. Eventually, you could be looking at a very costly repair and perhaps going weeks without water in your home.

The ideal scenario

Let’s consider a scenario with a much better outcome: Your plumbing problems eventually lead you to call a pro for help. Your plumber arrives equipped with a drain camera. Weaving the camera down the pipes, the plumber sees everything the camera on the end of the cable can see. This way, the pro can easily identify the root causes of your plumbing woes and apply the right solution. With a camera inspection, your plumber will be able to assess the condition of the pipes accurately and identify problems such as collapsed drains, sewer-line problems, corrosion and more.

For help with all of your plumbing problems, trust the pros at RooterPLUS! Our highly-trained technicians are adept at using all the tools in a plumber’s toolbox, and we’re happy to help our neighbors achieve optimal plumbing health.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons


Drain jetting makes molehills out of mountainous blockages

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Do you experience frequent plumbing problems and stopped drains in your Gainesville home? Drain jetting resolves problems essentially by pressure-washing the pipes and removing buildup. Pipe blockages can lead to dirty water backing up into sinks or tubs. When this occurs, your dishwasher or washing machine could be damaged, and you’ll have to replace the system. Such a situation can be hazardous if the backed-up water contains sewage waste and harmful bacteria.

Any number of scenarios, such as root infiltration or grease, hair and soap residue buildup, can lead to plumbing blockages. A safe way to address blockages involves hiring a plumber to hydro jet the pipes.

How it works

Using up to 4,000 pounds of pressure per minute, a snakelike tool moves through your home’s pipes, applying unstoppable force and clearing out all plumbing issues in its path. With forward-moving and backward-moving streams, the fast-spinning jets clear out all blockages they encounter while scouring the pipe walls of any attached debris.

When do you need hydro jetting?

There are many situations in which professional plumbers generally recommend drain jetting for both homeowners and commercial-building owners:

  • When there is a problem with sewers. Educational facilities, apartment complexes and office buildings can experience problems with sewer lines due to root infiltration, grease and soap buildup, or pipe failure. Instead of excavating to replace pipes where blockages occur, hydro jetting can safely navigate pipe connections and bends to rid the pipes of buildup. Building owners (and homeowners) benefit most when hydro jetting pipes is part of an annual building-maintenance plan.
  • When lateral pipes are involved. Lateral pipes connect a home or building to the city’s main sewer lines. These are generally the responsibility of the homeowner or building owner. A plumber can hydro jet this portion of the line, too.
  • When drains are problematic. Most home-plumbing systems drain into a central location under the home, connecting to the city’s main waste water system. When grease, food or soap residue builds up, drainage slows down. Hydro jetting tools effectively access this area and remove blockages efficiently.
  • When storm drains stop up. Your home or building also has a drain dedicated to dealing with rainwater and water runoff. These drains are susceptible to blockages that hydro jetting can remove.

Get in touch with the pros at RooterPLUS! for professional drain jetting. We’re happy to help our Gainesville and surrounding-area neighbors with expert plumbing services.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons


5 trends that will dominate plumbing news in 2014

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

In 2014, many homeowners may be watching the plumbing news for ideas about how to make their homes more comfortable and efficient. Plumbing innovations continue to make the industry and marketplace better, and there’s no shortage of possibilities on the way.

Here are five plumbing trends likely to impact you in the new year.

  1. Wasted resources will become taboo. More and more homeowners are looking for ways to conserve resources at home. No one likes wasting money or harming the environment, so expect to see a rise in energy audits and changes to the way people use water in Atlanta. Everything from new types of showerheads to green options in toilets and faucets can help save energy and money. Expect wasted water to go out of style. 
  2. Dual-flush toilets will be all the rage. Why waste several gallons of water on every flush? Dual-flush toilets offer two settings, so homeowners can cut down on water usage. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 30 percent of household water use comes from toilets. Dual-flush options help you save while meeting the strict Georgia state water standards.
  3. Tankless water heaters will get their close-up. A survey of available water heaters on the market clearly shows that tankless options are superior. Tankless water heaters provide an endless supply of hot water for showers while increasing efficiency and nearly doubling the life span of traditional water heaters. You will see them gaining in popularity steadily throughout 2014.
  4. Proactive plumbing will become standard. Waiting for polybutylene pipes to burst is a losing strategy for homeowners. These plastic pipes, popular during the 1980s and early 1990s, have become a scourge and a nuisance to homeowners. There is certainly a strong case for being proactive and replacing polybutylene pipes before they wreak havoc upon your home.
  5. DIY plumbing news will yield to “do it right.” During the recession and the slow economic recovery, many people turned to do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement out of necessity. Plumbers and contractors everywhere have had their hands full trying to correct the mistakes made by ambitious people who went beyond their abilities. In 2014, the DIY craze will likely yield to doing it right the first time. And that will mean hiring a trained, professional plumber. There’s better all-around value this way.

To make sure you stay atop the latest trends, stay tuned to the RooterPLUS! blog to find out how to make your home greener, safer and more efficient in 2014.

Image source: morgueFile


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