Winterizing Your Plumbing System
Homeowners who used to simply turn down the thermostat in a vacated house for the winter are now closing down the plumbing system because of prohibitively high energy costs. Winterizing your plumbing is a virtually cost-free alternative to frozen pipes.
What to do about Clogged Drains
- Turn off the main shutoff valve or have the water company turn off service to the house.
- Starting at the top floor, open all faucets, both indoors and outside.
- When the last of the water has dripped from the taps, open the plug at the main shutoff valve if possible (you may have to contact the water company), and let it drain.
- Turn off the power or gas to the water heater and open its drain valve.
- To freeze proof the system, empty toilet bowls and tanks.
- Remove the clean out plugs on all sink traps or remove the traps, if necessary.
- Once emptied, replace them and fill with plumbing antifreeze mixed with water in the proportions specified for car in your climate.
- You won't be able to drain tub and shower taps. Instead, add at least a full quart of antifreeze.
- Don't put antifreeze into a dishwasher or clothes washer.
- If your home has a basement floor drain or a main house trap, fill each with full-strength antifreeze
Before trying any drain-clearing methods on a plugged drain, check that the tub's pop-up stopper is opening fully and is free of hair and debris. If the stopper isn't the problem, then the drainpipe is probably clogged. First, try a plunger or chemical drain cleaner.
If these fail to do the job, you'll have to clear the trap with a snake.
If you can't reach the clog from the trap, it's probably deeper in the main drain. At which point it would be best to have one of our friendly technicians come and take a look.
- Most tubs have a P trap in the drain. In some homes, the tub may have a drum rubber gasket.
- Using a snake in a tub P trap is much like snaking out a sink trap. If you have a drum trap, first try snaking it clear through the tub overflow.
- If that doesn't work, bailout all the standing water from the tub.
- Then, using an adjustable-end wrench, unscrew the trap cover slowly.
- Have rags ready for any water that wells up.
- Remove the cover, bail out and clean the trap.
- If, after this, water does not well up, snake toward the tub; if water does well up, snake toward he main drain.
Pipes Making Noise?
Pipe noises range from loud hammering sounds to high-pitched squeaks. The causes may be loose pipes, water logged air chambers, or water pressure that's too high. Anchoring exposed pipes is a simple solution; other remedies such as anchoring pipes concealed inside walls, floors or ceilings, may call for a professional.
Pipes are usually anchored with pipe straps every 6 to 8 feet for horizontal runs, 8 to 10 feet for vertical.
- If your pipes bang when you turn on the water, you may need to add straps, cushion the pipes with a rubber blanket, or both.
- When you anchor a pipe-especially a plastic one-leave room for expansion.
- Don't use galvanized straps on copper pipes.
Only hot water pipes squeak. As the pipe expands, it moves in its strap, and friction causes the squeak.
- Solution: Cushion it as you would a banging pipe.
This noise occurs when you turn off the water at a faucet or an appliance quickly. The water flowing through the pipes slams to a stop, causing a hammering noise.
- Faulty air chambers. These lengths of pipe, installed behind fixtures and appliances, hold air that cushions the shock when flowing water is shut off. They can get filled with water and lose their effectiveness.
- To restore air to the chambers, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve. Open all the faucets to drain the system. Close the faucets and turn the water on again. The air chambers should fill with air.
- Water pressure that's above 80 psi (pounds per square inch).
Please note: While we have done our best to offer useful information, these tips are only suggestions, and we recommend you contact a licensed plumber.
- To lower the pressure, install a pressure-reducing valve (you can call in a plumber to do the work if this is a job you don't want to do yourself).
Preventing Kitchen Drain Clogs
No plumbing problem is more common or more frustrating than a clogged drain.
- Kitchen sink drains clog most often because of a buildup of grease that traps food particles.
- Hair and soap are often at fault in bathroom drains.
- Drains can usually be cleared easily and inexpensively, but taking some simple precautions will help you avoid stop-ups. Proper disposal of kitchen waste will keep sink drain clogs to a minimum.
- Don't pour grease down the kitchen sink.
- Don't wash coffee grounds down the sink. Throw them out.
- Be sparing with chemical cleaners, particularly if you have brass, steel, or cast-iron traps and drain pipes; some caustic chemicals can corrode metal pipes.
- If used no more than once every few months, cleaners containing sodium hydroxide or sodium nitrate can be safe and effective.
- Clean floor drain strainers. Some tubs, showers, and basement floor drains have strainers that are screwed into the drain opening. You can easily remove these strainers and reach down into the drain with a bent wire to clear out accumulated debris. And be sure to scrub the strainer.
- Clean pop-up stoppers in the bathroom sink and the tub regularly. Lift out sink pop-ups once a week and rinse them off.
- Every few months, remove the overflow plate on a tub and pull up the pop-up assembly to reach the spring or rocker arm. Remove accumulated hair and rinse thoroughly.
- Keep the sewer pipes from the house free of tree roots that may invade them. If roots are a particular problem in your yard, you may need to call in professionals once a year or so to clear the pipes. They'll use an electric auger to cut out the roots.
- Flush the drain-waste and vent systems whenever you go up onto your house roof to clean out downspouts or gutters. Run water from a garden hose into all vents, giving them a minute or two of full flow.
Here are some small changes for around the house to make a BIG difference!
Just to name a few.
- Turn faucet off when brushing teeth, shaving
- Install a faucet aerator on your bathroom sink
- Install a faucet aerator on your kitchen sink
- Install a high efficiency toilet
- Install a water saving shower head
- Rinse dishes, vegetables and fruits in a filled basin, rather than under running water.
- Water your plants with left-over rinse water. (Plants also love fish tank water!)
- Wash only full loads in the dishwasher. Use the "light wash" setting when possible.
- Consider buying a high efficiency dishwasher that will save water and energy. Some water districts and homeowners associations give discounts for this.
- Keep a jug of chilled water in the refrigerator for drinking to avoid running the water until it gets cold.
- Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost vegetable food waste instead and save gallons every time.
- Wash only full loads of clothing.
- Hand wash single garments.
- Consider buying a high efficiency washing machine that will save water and energy. Some water districts and homeowners associations give rebates for this.
Kitchen & Bath Remodel
The decision to remodel your kitchen is one of the best investments you can make. The kitchen is where the people will spend most of their waking hours while they are home. It is where they cook, eat, and gather with the family. It is where they talk share ideas about the latest trends and fashions.
It is no surprise that the remodeling of the kitchen is at the top of the list of home improvement projects!
When remodeling your bathroom, the first step, and the most important, is choosing a expert you can trust. Many companies perform substandard work, overcharge and don't stand behind their work. At Kelly's Plumbing, our commitment is to set the standard for quality of craft and service in bathroom remodel projects such as bathtubs, vanity, and sinks, big or small. Whether you're looking for a sleek modern look, something more traditional and elegant, or anything in between, Kelly's Plumbing can give you a free estimates on bathroom remodeling services for your home.