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Choosing an electric water pump for your home

Monday, April 21st, 2014

Even if you’ve never had flooding problems in the basement of your Cumming home, be proactive and install an electric water pump.

These pumps divert groundwater away from the foundation — water that otherwise would infiltrate your home and flood the basement. Electric water pumps also keep up with rainwater. Homes whose basements routinely smell musty and damp, or even have mold or pools of water on the floor, are ideal candidates for a water pump.

Electric pumps

These are the primary types of water pumps:

  • The motor on a pedestal pump isn’t designed to be submerged in water. Connected by a column, it sits above the basement floor and outside the actual water pump.
  • A submersible pump is submerged in water, employing a motor that is tightly sealed and protected.
  • Water-powered pumps can help you save on energy costs, as they are activated by water. However, your water bills may be higher as a result. If the water pressure in your home isn’t very powerful, the system may not be able to keep up with water disposal.

Other considerations

Selecting and installing an electric water pump is not a DIY job. It’s a complicated process, especially if your home doesn’t already feature a well for the pump. A licensed plumber can help you consider your options and evaluate these factors for selecting a pump:

  • Drainage. Pump capacity depends largely on how much of the home’s drainage system will run through the pump.
  • Groundwater levels. You’ll need a reliable, large-capacity pump if your foundation sits below the water table. If it’s above the water table, it may be safe to go with a water-powered pump.
  • Economy. Pedestal water pumps are economical; however, the basin must be able to accommodate the motor outside of it. These pumps don’t last as long as submersible types, and the motor can be noisy, too.
  • Submersible. These pumps are quiet and unobtrusive, as they rest tucked beneath the basin. If you’re worried about pets or small children interfering with the raised motor of pedestal types, go with a safe submersible pump. Additionally, if you’re installing a water pump in a finished basement, the submersible pump is ideal.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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Does your home maintenance schedule include the plumbing?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Your Alpharetta home maintenance schedule should include tasks such as scheduling heating and cooling maintenance checks, cleaning out gutters, removing old landscaping and cleaning inside the home. One task that’s vital to include on a maintenance schedule is checking the plumbing system.

It’s a good idea to include plumbing on the list of tasks you do before summer arrives. Over time, hair and soap residue can build up inside the pipes, toilets can leak and worn pipes can weaken. What’s worse is that rusted and worn plumbing pipes will eventually burst. They will spray water and flood your basement, damaging any possessions stored there.

Here are some of the tasks homeowners should include on their maintenance checklists for their plumbing systems:

  • Check all the pipes you can access for leaks: It’s important that homeowners periodically check for leaks because even a small drip in one pipe can increase the water bill. You’ll need to hire a plumber to inspect the entire system, however. A professional can access pipes in hidden areas that homeowners can’t reach.
  • Watch your drainage: If you notice that the drains in some sinks or tubs are slowing down, check for debris in the drains. Hair and soap residue can quickly turn into an obstruction, particularly in bathtubs.
  • Clean aerators on sinks and shower heads: Minerals and sediment in the water can build up on the aerators and slow down the flow of water.
  • Evaluate toilets: If a toilet runs, it uses a lot more water than it should. If the fill valve, flush valve, flapper or ball are faulty, the toilet may run nonstop.
  • Clean the kitchen drain: Because of daily activities, such as getting rid of food through the garbage disposal and cleaning up greasy pots and pans, it’s important to maintain the sink’s drain. Cut up a lemon, and run the disposal. You can also pour a cup of vinegar down the drain to keep it fresh and clear.
  • Evaluate water pressure: If, over time, you notice that the pressure is dropping, purchase a low-cost pressure gauge, and test the pressure on an outdoor spigot. HouseLogic states that a healthy water pressure range, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), is between 60 and 75. A lower PSI could be an indication that pipes are clogged.
  • Check the septic system: Include your septic system on your annual home maintenance schedule. A septic system that operates as it should ensures the efficient, safe removal of waste and prevents harm to the environment.

It’s also important that you enlist the help of a professional to inspect the entire plumbing system and clear out the drains to keep it in good working condition. For more information about home plumbing systems, contact RooterPLUS! Take advantage of our special on septic tank pumping or talk to one of our plumbers about our annual plumbing maintenance agreement. We proudly serve homeowners in Alpharetta and the surrounding areas with quality plumbing services.

Image source: Flickr

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A plumbing forum to debunk common myths

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Have you ever wondered how much damage you’re really doing by ignoring that slow shower drainage? This plumbing forum provides the truth about the most common plumbing myths plaguing Marietta consumers.

Myth 1: I can let hair and soap residue go down the shower drain and deal with the problem later.

Soap, shampoo, hair and other debris can clog your drains and lead to serious problems later. Over time, the debris will ball together or cling to the pipe walls. It will create blockages that slow down drainage. Eventually, the buildup can become so great that the pipe may back up. You’ll have to deal with a big mess and a potentially costly solution. That leads us to the next myth.

Myth 2: I can safely use over-the-counter drain cleaners to get rid of buildup and clogs.

Repeated use of commercial drain cleaners can degrade your home’s pipes. Most drain cleaners include harmful, eroding chemicals that cause corrosion and weaken the pipes.

Aside from their potential to damage pipes, drain cleaners are only a temporary fix. If a significant problem exists in the depths of your plumbing system, drain cleaners generally don’t have the power to solve it. For example, if tree root infiltration is stopping up your pipes, you need expert help — not a short-term solution.

Myth 3: If it fits in the garbage disposal, the food is safe for the system.

Some foods can cause serious damage to your garbage disposal. Fibrous foods such as celery wrap around the blades and burn out the motor. Foods that swell or expand on contact with water are difficult to break down and can create blockages in the plumbing system. Follow these rules for proper use:

  • Turn on the cold water. Turn on the disposal and let it run until it’s done grinding. Turn off the disposal, and then turn off the water.
  • Only use safe foods in small amounts. Never put bones, eggshells, fruit pits or anything nonbiodegradable down the drain.

Myth 4: My plumbing system doesn’t need maintenance.

Like other home systems, plumbing systems need professional attention from time to time. During a maintenance check, a plumber will perform certain tasks:

  • Check for leaks; make repairs as necessary.
  • Inspect pipes for evidence of corrosion.
  • Check the home’s water pressure; look for factors that are contributing to the problem.
  • Remove and clean shower heads and faucet aerators.
  • Check all drains for proper functioning and look for signs of blockages or problems with the vent pipes.
  • Inspect the toilets to make sure they’re operating correctly.
  • Check the showers and sinks for signs of leakage, wear or other problems.
  • Inspect the water heater.
  • Test the dishwasher and washing machine. Ensure water lines are secure and hoses are connected and in good condition.

Do you still have questions after reading this plumbing forum? Contact RooterPLUS! to speak with one of our plumbing experts in Marietta.

Image source: Flickr

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4 Sure Signs Your Home Needs Drain Cleaning

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Most people do not consider drain cleaning as part of their regular home maintenance routine. The fact is, however, that drains will clog. Without the proper attention, they stop all together.

When it’s necessary to clean a drain, it’s a job best left to the professionals.

There are four sure signs that drain cleaning is in order, all of which mean you should call in a licensed, experienced professional.

  1. Drains begin to slow. Your tub or sink will take much longer to drain than in the recent past. If several drains seem to be slow at the same time across many areas of your home, such as the tub and sink in the bathroom and the powder-room toilet, it could mean that your home’s main drain line needs a cleaning. Obviously, if the water is not draining at all, the drain is already clogged.
  2. The toilet backs up for no apparent reason. A clog that doesn’t clear with a plunger either is too deep for the plunger to be effective or the main drain line from the house is clogged. Whether you have a septic system or you’re on the municipal line, never flush anything down a toilet except toilet paper. The average plumbing system simply is not designed to accept anything other than what is supposed to go down the line.
  3. Water backs up in the drains even after snaking the line. While snaking a line will certainly open it, it is not the same as cleaning the drain. It is subject to backup again at any time.
  4. Bad odors coming from a drain. If this occurs in any drain in the house, a drain line may be clogged. Food, hair or fat deposits from grease could cause the clog, but there is also the possibility that a small rodent is to blame.

Proper drain maintenance can prevent simple annoyances, such as ankle-high water during a shower, and more costly, unhealthy and unpleasant accidents, such as sewage backups into your home. Consult with a drain cleaning professional to decide on a maintenance schedule that suits the demands of your home’s plumbing system.

Image source: Flickr

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The risks of using a drain unblocker

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Sink, tub and shower clogs are a nuisance. Let’s be honest: If you have a clogged drain, your first inclination is to reach for a drain unblocker. And why not? Advertisers herald the fast-acting, neat and tidy work of drain cleaners. What you may not know about drain unblockers, and what should cause you to carefully consider a better option, is that they’re dangerous to your Alpharetta plumbing and septic systems.

Most drain cleaners contain a harmful substance called sodium hydroxide, a soda component that’s highly caustic. As a result, they’re corrosive to plumbing pipes and can cause significant damage if they come into contact with your body.

Hazardous to your health

Drain cleaners are not only harmful to your plumbing and septic systems, but they are also hazardous to humans if ingested, or if they come into contact with skin or eyes. If you store drain cleaners in your home, make sure they are not accessible to children. Store them away on a high shelf or in a locked cabinet. If someone in your household is exposed to a drain cleaner, call the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 or 911.

The fumes from a drain unblocker alone are hazardous. Opening a can of drain cleaner without sufficient ventilation and inhaling the fumes could lead to respiratory tract damage, compromise lung tissues and, in the worst cases, cause pneumonia.

Hazardous to your plumbing

Plumbing pipes are also prone to damage from these caustic cleaners. Here’s what happens: The chemical reaction in the cleaners generates heat, which helps clear out the debris in the clog but will also eat away at pipes made of metal (often used in older homes) or soften the durability of softer pipes, such as PVC.

Why risk your health and plumbing system to the potential dangers of drain cleaners? The next time you need to unclog a drain, contact a professional who will use safe alternatives to hazardous cleaners, such as a powerful snake or hydro jetting. The experts at RooterPLUS! are happy to help Alpharetta residents with these types of issues.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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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

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When is a sewer line replacement necessary?

Monday, December 16th, 2013

It can be very difficult to tell if it’s time for a sewer line replacement because the signs are not always obvious to the average person. That said, there are a couple of ways you can gauge whether your home needs a sewer line replacement, including:

  • Water levels that change in the toilet bowl. If your water level is normal one moment, then you go into the bathroom again later and the bowl is almost empty or very high, and it keeps doing this, the sewer line may be broken. The water level fluctuates because the line break acts similar to a partial clog. This affects the operation of the trap. Calling in a professional plumber will give you the answers you need.
  • Showers, tubs and toilets back up.
  • Wet spots in the yard without any other explanation. If the yard is soggy, but it hasn’t rained and you have not been running the garden hose, chances are that the sewer line needs to be replaced.

Most homeowners will wait until the sewer line breaks before they will replace it. However, if you know that the line in your home is old, you should consider having it replaced before it breaks so that you can maintain control of the situation — and perhaps save some money on potential damage if the line breaks and backs up into the house. The life-span of a sewer line depends on what it’s made of; cast-iron lines can last 75 to 100 years.

It’s not a DIY job

Replacing a sewer line is not something that the average homeowner should set out to do for a variety of reasons, chief among them being know-how.

When it comes to replacing a sewer line, it must be determined exactly where and how deep underground the sewer line is. The entire area around it must be dug out with a backhoe, and the sides of the trench created must be shored up to prevent it from caving in while the line is being fixed.

Many municipalities also require permits to be pulled for sewer line repair or replacement. Local building codes must be strictly adhered to, as well, to ensure that the installation is done correctly and legally.

With a complicated and potentially dangerous project like a sewer line replacement, it is always best to hire a professional. Otherwise, it may cost you more money in the long run.

Image source: Flickr

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The case for immediate polybutylene pipe replacement

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Between 1978 and 1994, builders used piping made of polybutylene (PB) plastic because of its apparent advantages in cold weather and flexibility in tight-fitting areas, not to mention the low cost of polybutylene pipe material. Unfortunately, polybutylene turned out to be unreliable. Polybutylene pipe failures in millions of homes in communities like Roswell have sparked a huge number of class-action lawsuits. If your home has PB pipes, you may want to consider immediate pipe replacement.

PB pipe failure is common 

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, defective polybutylene piping is among the biggest warning signs for home shoppers.

A quick look at two of the class-action lawsuits against manufacturers of polybutylene material gives an eye-opening idea of the extent of PB piping failures. Somewhere between 6 and 10 million homes had PB pipes installed during the period it was in use, the Baltimore Sun reports.

PB pipe replacement may save you money 

As with any home improvement, the cost of the project must be weighed against the potential damage if it’s ignored. Pipes that burst or cause water to leak inside your home could end up costing you far more than the price of new piping, which is comparable to the cost of roofing improvements or new carpeting.

Pipe failure doesn’t give warnings 

Many homeowners who have PB piping report no problems, but it may just be a matter of time. PB plastic was manufactured for more than 15 years, which suggests that it may take a decade or more before trouble arises. Even if you don’t see a problem, you may be rolling the dice by leaving these pipes installed.

If you are shopping for a new home, find out if the property has PB pipes. Home inspectors are not required to note the presence of polybutylene in reports, so take it upon yourself to ask. The presence of these plastic pipes would reduce a home’s value.

Identifying PB pipes 

If you are wondering whether you have PB pipes in your home, check around the basement and attic and near the water heater. The plastic piping is usually gray, but it may be blue or black, as well. The initials PB often precede serial numbers on the actual piping.

Homeowners who experience damage from these pipes may qualify for part of the lawsuit settlement funds. Otherwise, contact an experienced plumber to discuss your options for inspecting a home or beginning a repiping project.

Image source: morgueFile

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Hiring a drain cleaning professional? Here’s what you need to know

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

A sewage backup, clogged sink or shower full of water often requires a professional plumber to provide drain cleaning services. You may not always know when a job is do-it-yourself and when to hire a pro. Here’s a guide to help you decide when professional cleaning is the best solution.

  • Tools. A professional drain cleaning service has access to commercial equipment that homeowners, DIYers and lone plumbers generally don’t. A reputable plumber will snake a high-tech video camera throughout the plumbing system and accurately locate the source of the drainage problem. Vet professionals by inquiring about the tools they utilize for diagnosing and remedying plumbing issues.
  • Experience. In addition, the pros have experience and training, so they know when to implement solutions without harming the pipes. While access to tools is important, so is knowing how to use those tools. A reputable plumber should have extensive experience implementing various tools and know how to respond to the unique needs of your plumbing system. For instance, home plumbing pipes can vary in size by as much as several inches. Therefore, it’s critical that the plumber select tools of the right size for your home’s pipes. Ask the plumber about the various scenarios he or she has encountered in the field and why certain solutions or tools are preferred over others.
  • Reputation. If you don’t already have an established relationship with a plumber, you’ve likely asked friends and family about their own experiences with drain service professionals. Go a step further and extend your search to include reputable websites and the Better Business Bureau, and ask the company for several valid references.
  • Cost. This factor should be the last consideration for a job like drain cleaning. Many new plumbers offer low prices, but that comes at the cost of know-how. An experienced plumber may charge higher prices, but you’ll get more value for your dollar. Weigh cost as one among many when considering hiring a drain cleaner, and remember that a plumber who has more experience, better training and state-of-the-art tools may charge more.

Work with a professional to safeguard your home’s plumbing system and get the job done right the first time around.

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How do sump pumps work?

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Ever find yourself wondering, how do sump pumps work? If you’re like one of our many customers this question has probably been on your mind!

Contrary to what many homeowners might think, sump pumps don’t mitigate floods. They are, however, a great first step toward maintaining a dry and healthy basement. Learn exactly how a sump pump operates to ward off rising ground-water levels inside your home.

The basics

Sump pumps access water from one place — a basement, for example — and pump it to another, typically the home’s drainage system. To achieve this, the pump must be powerful enough to move the water, and it must be reliable. For instance, if the pump stops, gets clogged, or doesn’t have power to run during heavy rains, a basement will surely fill up with water.

Location

Sump pumps are often installed in the basement in the lowest graded area, over or in a deep hole that has access to ground water.

Drainage

The sump pump moves water out through the local sewage drains. However, some local codes may not regulate sump pump drainage. In this case, the pump may drain the water away from the home, preferably downhill.

The components

The basic sump pump has a “float” that hovers above the water that naturally rests in the hole in which the pump’s installed. Once the float reaches a preset level, its rising position activates the sump pump. In this “on” mode, the system’s pump starts working to move water from the hole to the drainage pipes and away from your home.

Power

As you may have guessed, a sump pump needs power to run. Most pumps run on electricity, so power outages will affect reliability. Ideally, homeowners should also install a battery-powered backup system to ensure that the pump will run even without power.

An experienced and licensed plumber can advise you about primary and backup sump pumps for your home, and will ensure that they’re installed correctly.

Now the next time someone asks you how do sump pumps work, you’ll be able to give them the 411!

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