How to Troubleshoot Plumbing Problems

If you are wondering why the consumption of your water bill increases when it shouldn’t have to, there might be some mysterious magic that surrounds your house. Small plumbing problems can be wisely treated at home through proper leak detection in Orange County homes. You may follow these steps to help you locate the roots of all the plumbing issues and take a time to resolve it or you can also hire Orange County plumber for plumbing issues that you can’t solve alone.

  1. Be observant. To know the roots of the high consumption of water bills, take your time to observe and to listen on the dripping sounds of every faucet. You may regard this step as a simple one but most of the time, faucets which are always half-open may cause severe consumption that may result to the increase of your water bill. Always remember that “every drop of water, counts!”
  2. Trace where the roots of the leakage is coming from. Most of the time, the leakage can be found on its wall territory.  After you examined the root location of the leakage, you need to focus in the condition of the pipe if it needs an overhauling or need to install a new one. You can also check if it looks rusty and smell awfully. After examining the location of it, you need to do a research first or much better of you immediately contact a plumber before settling it out on your own.
  3. Trace the sinks for drips. You need to use a flashlight for this step. Once you spot the pipes, make sure to follow its path and looks for droplets of water. You may grope underneath the sink and feel if there are wet areas that need to do deal with.
  4. Observe the noise in the toilet’s flushes. Just make sure to check the flushes if it runs well. Try to flush it and see if it runs thoroughly, if it fails, then there’s a problem with it.
  5. Make it a point to check your water meter. You need to learn how to read the water meter system to know the status of the consumed water however, small leaks like the ones in under the pipes is not visibly seen in the meter.

In some cases, the leak and drain waste plumbing problems lies on the typical matters that are present at home:

1.      The slow sink and tub drains. This problem is the most disturbing especially if you are washing the dishes. The water may overflow quickly because of the slow drainage in the kitchen sink. The problem may be found on the sink trap or drain line that carries the debris or other materials which causes the sink to slow. In additional to that, you also need to trace the routes of the main pipe.

2.     You can check the drain it is clearly operating. You can stop the unclogging of pipes by pouring a very hot water into the drain. Fill the sink with hot water from the faucet. It will help to restore the flow of the water and to dissolve the leakage in it.

3.     You should use a drain cleaning product which contains chemicals to dissolve the materials that causes the clogging. It is highly recommended to use Drano or Liquid Plummer. Just always make sure to read the instructions before applying it. Additionally, just be careful and cautious in using the plumber’s snake in removing the cover of the drain.

Always remember to read every chemical instruction carefully to avoid further damages. Thus, if you believe that you cannot resolve these plumbing issues by yourself, do not hesitate to call professional plumbers. Small plumbing dilemmas can lead to a huge problem if not treated quickly and accurately.

Common Symptoms of Root Intrusion

Trees and bushes grow roots over the lawn or underground. Unfortunately, these botanical parts also affect plumbing systems and pose problems because of root intrusion, the growth of roots through pipe openings such as cracks and bad joints.

Remote trees and bushes may reach your residential area and hit the pipes. Plants that are hundreds of yards away can do major damage to old pipes. The older the plumbing system, the more easily it yields to breaks, cracks, and changes in shape. Thus it is more susceptible to root intrusion.

With plumbing systems vulnerable to major blockages caused by root intrusion, it’s vital that you look for signs to avoid this from happening. The lowest plumbing fixtures inside the house often reveal the symptoms.

For example, pay attention to the shower after taking a bath. If the water swirls down the drain, that means you are safe. If not, it may mean a backup or flooding is close at hand. The solution: call a licensed plumber or rooter with an expertise in root intrusion.

A qualified, licensed plumbing technician, independent or from a rooter company, uses a sewer drain camera to check plumbing systems underground. It is an advanced piece of equipment that allows the plumber to determine the problem and find the best solution.

Common Symptoms of Root Intrusion

Water backup usually is the first symptom you will see as indication for pipe repair or upgrade. To confirm this, check if a pool of water is building up in odd places at the backyard; check if the basement is flooded with used water; and check for sewage backup.

A foul smell from the sewage means the septic tank is full and has to be pumped out. But if you are using a tank, you most likely have a damaged main sewer pipe. If this is caused by root intrusion, and the roots have passed through the water or sewer pipes, you will see a reduction in water flow. This will only get worse as time progresses.

tree root intrusion under slab

Tree root intrusion under slab. Featured image by BY-YOUR-⌘ / Flickr (CC)

Symptoms like these, especially the damaged sewer pipe, may reveal other problems, so it’s best to consult a qualified plumber before thinking of other solutions. An on-site inspection of the problem allows the plumber to give an educated solution. And oftentimes the source of the problem is not what it seemed to be.

The Video Camera Inspection

A clogged sewer drain often requires a video camera inspection if the problem persists, or if it has occurred before. Most clogs are easy to locate and fix. If you are having a hard time looking for it, call a professional to bring in a video camera and perform a complete inspection on your plumbing.

sewer drain snake

Ridgid SeeSnake, a sewer drain snake with a lighted camera. Featured image by Wonderlane / Flickr (CC)

A competent company has the right equipment for the task. It will do a complete inspection of your plumbing system to sort out the root of the problem. And if the plumber requires a video camera to look for the blocking object, it means the stopping agent lies deep within the pipe.

Using a video camera to detect and fix the problem is the best approach to pinpoint the clog and figure out the best solution. The clog may be caused by root intrusion, but you cannot hire the services of a professional rooter unless a video camera inspection has been performed.

Playing With Figures

People often estimate plumbing fees at discounted rates. Thus they often overlook other services that a plumbing company may provide beyond fixing, installing, or replacing clogged drains and pipes. The company may advise you on other parts of your plumbing: water heaters, water softeners, water chillers, and root intrusion.

changing pipes after root intrusion

Changing the pipes after root intrusion. Featured image by Ben Lucier / Flickr (CC)

Root intrusion probably is the most cumbersome problem for plumbers. Trees and shrubs can grow their roots into a pipe and clog it entirely after some time.

If you are creating an estimate for plumbing fees, make sure that you ask the plumber about your entire plumbing system. You may even get a discount.

The plumber may give you a good advice on the proper specifications for residential and commercial applications. Moreover, the plumber may advise you on budgeting in case some parts need replacements or maintenance, especially for root intrusion.

Commercial Plumbers

Never deal with a commercial plumbing contractor that, or who, directly quotes for plumbing work without even seeing or inspecting your pipes. Plumbing work has many variables involved that it is unethical to provide an estimate over a phone call, unless the qualified plumber has seen and diagnosed the problem.

Plumbing problems may get as complicated as root intrusions, with tree roots penetrating sewer lines, or the old pipes and drains are now defective.

Always ask the contractor what free services are offered. For example, some companies such as Mr. Rooter Plumbing provide free estimates after an on-site inspection.

The Gist

If you are certain that the backup or flooding is caused by root intrusion, call a qualified, licensed plumbing technician.

Basic Tools Included In A Plumbers Supply

Plumbing deals with tubes and pipes, from simple water supply lines to large sewer drains. But only a professional plumber can repair or install entire piping systems, especially when the job requires a plumbers supply.

Through the past few years, the industry has seen an increase in the need of plumbing and heating systems in residential areas. The proper maintenance of drainage systems need it also.

Many hardware shops and online stores now offer a master plumbers supply in low-cost prices. Plumbing has become a necessity in home development that do-it-yourself warriors now study their own houses’ plumbing systems and buy their own tools. Some homeowners who plan their own plumbing projects are now confident enough to check rusty pipes and leaking taps. They even shop for the tools and plumbing materials without the go-ahead of a professional plumber.

As the homeowner, you need to have a plumbers supply to diagnose the problem, or fix it if it’s simple. Knowledge about plumbing tools will help you sort out the issue temporarily, or even permanently.

Although plumbing service providers have dedicated plumbers who can repair all problems related to tubing and pipes, these companies’ employees are also human beings. They have to rest. You cannot rely on most of them in the middle of the night.

First Line of Defense – A Service Provider

Large hardware manufacturers and service providers that sell plumbing materials and tools to customers are not always available when you need them. Thus you need independent experts to help with upgrades to your plumbing system such as grand shower systems, high quality toilets, and bathroom renovations in general.

Plumbing undoubtedly adds value to your house, and so do boilers and hot water systems. It can be a problem though, as plumbing issues sometimes arise when you least expect it. In the blink of an eye, and without your intervention, pipes will break and sewer drains will clog up.

On a lighter note, companies and independent plumbers will take full responsibility of repair and maintenance. So you don’t have to worry about warranties, in case some items were modified.

Modern Americans entrust their plumbing systems to service providers, and technology has made it easier for them. They can simply apply or register online to a company of their liking.

Cyclic household incidents can be avoided with the help of a reliable plumber, or a complete set of plumbers supply. But choosing the right company would still be the best way to solve the problem.

Online Shopping To The Rescue

If your local company or service provider has a knack of destroying plumbing systems, or you do not have the budget to pay for it, many online stores nationwide sell products with free deliveries and guides to help you.

Online stores also have customer service representatives and online communities that are willing to help fix your problem once and for all.

To find a cost-effective plumbers supply is not as hard as it was in the olden days. And registered plumbers have also gone online, with their resumes, licenses, and portfolios to prove their worth.

A Plumbers Supply

Plumbing is never an issue for homeowners who are nifty and have a flair for fixing things. They can easily determine the root of a plumbing issue without the help of professionals.

While expert DIYers can perform the job neatly, as if they are licensed plumbers, they also need the right tools and equipments to repair cracked pipes and clogged drains.

A plumbers supply may include plastic and metal tube cutters, hacksaws, torches, and wrenches, all stored in case of emergencies.

Tube cutters and hacksaws can cut plumbing materials made of plastic or metal. These tools come in different sizes, types, and blades. The blade you will use depends on the type of pipe to cut.

pipe cutter

A pipe cutter (for 15mm copper pipe). Featured image by Andrew Fogg / Flickr (CC)

pipe cutter

Ridgid TC-40 Multilayer Pipe Cutter. Featured image by Mark Hunter / Flickr (CC)

pipe cutter

Ridgid P-Tec 3240 Pipe Slicer. Featured image by Mark Hunter / Flickr (CC)

When you have plumbing problems, there’s no need to panic. Another set of plumbing parts that may help you alleviate the problem is copper and brass fittings, and copper pipes. This is where your metal cutters will come in good use. Copper pipes are very hard to cut without a tubing cutter. And sometimes you need to cut down these solid pipes into pieces.

An addition to your plumbers supply are files. These tools help plumbers smoothen rough edges after cutting copper pipes.

Backflow preventers are one of the must-haves on a plumbing system, but so are the several types of wrenches such as basin wrench, pipe wrench, spud wrench, along with many other tools with similar purposes. A backflow preventer problem cannot be fixed without a wrench.

No doubt pliers are key pieces of equipments in any plumbers supply or toolkit. This tools have metal levers joined at a fulcrum; the longer side acts as the handle, while the shorter side acts as the jaw that offers accurate grips.

Jaws are grippers, fitters, and cutters. It cuts and fits small objects normally hard to manipulate only with fingers or hands. The first thig that comes to mind is a pex crimp tool, used in carpentry to extract or pound nails.

A plumbers supply have to include these simple machines to complete a plumbing toolkit. And we live at a time when purchasing these items are just one click away.

The History of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering

Homeowners face common problems such as flooded basements due to excess water from their plumbing and heating systems. Usually, they fix the problem by searching for a plumbing and heating supplier and hiring an expert plumber or heating engineer with knowledge on boilers, furnaces, and heating systems in general.

Problem solved, right? No, it’s not all easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

Homeowners are advised to hire a licensed plumber or heating engineer to evaluate the water-damaged plumbing and heating system. These professionals ensure its safety of operation and its tweaking according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

In the U.K., the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, or CIPHE, is the professional organization in charge of the country’s plumbing and heating industry and its standards.

CIPHE, Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering

The logo of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, or CIPHE. Featured image by the CIPHE.

The CIPHE, founded in 1906, now includes 12,000 consultants, designers, lecturers, practitioners, public health engineers, specifiers, trainers, and trainees. Most members live in the U.K., 750 members live in Hong Kong, and 300 members are distributed in more than 30 countries.

In 1907 the National Association of Master Plumbers incorporated the Institute of Plumbers, first name of the CIPHE, as a company with limited guarantee. The initial objectives were to develop the industrial and technical aspects of plumbing trade. All members were practitioners of the profession.

Now known as the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors, the APHC launched in 1925 to assume the industrial and commercial facets. Thus the Institute was left with the educational and technical concerns of the organization. The APHC now is a trade association that covers England’s and Wales’ plumbing and heating industries, comprising about 1,500 businesses that house more than 60,000 specialist engineers who are either employed by big companies or sole traders for domestic items.

After the Institute shifted to education, training, and technical aspects, it revised in 1957 its constitution and title – the Institute of Plumbers became the Institute of Plumbing. This time members included individuals with technical qualifications regardless of the posts in the industry.

The late 60′s saw the Institute talking to the Registered Plumbers Association about their merger. Under the agreement, the RPA would manage the Register of Plumbers from 1886 on behalf of the Worshipful Company of Plumbers from 1365.

The Institute and the RPA merged on January 10, 1970. The emerging Institute was tasked to develop educational and technical work, the recognition of qualified plumbing professionals, and the quest of improved standards.

In 1979 the Institute received recognition for its work in the public’s interest and became a registered educational charity organization.

The Register of Plumbers had its centennial celebration in 1986. The Worshipful Company founded the association on July 21, 1886. The Register helped determine who the qualified – competent and responsible – plumbers were, without any statutory regulation in the country.

The Institute received an Arms by the College of Heralds in 2000 to mark the new millennium.

On June 4, 2004, the Institute announced that most of its corporate members voted to change its title again. This time from the Institute of Plumbing to the Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering. IPHE members saw it fit that their new name reflect their scope of work and firmly define plumbing and heating as a discipline of engineering.

Renowned writer Nigel Watson published in 2005 the paper titled ‘Competence and Commitment – an illustrated history of the Institute’ for the IPHE. The presentation was held during a press conference at the City & Guilds headquarters on December 8.

In 2006 the IPHE marked its centenary with a special conference in Torquay, to be held each year, and several other events within that year as part of its centennial celebration. That same year the IPHE started the initial steps in the pursuit for a Royal Charter.

The IPHE received the Charter of Incorporation from the Queen on February 12, 2008. News about it was kept secret until its official announcement at the President’s Dinner on March 5. On July 1 the IPHE was formally renamed to the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering. In celebration of this achievement, the CIPHE held the ‘Tea on the Terrace’ at the House of Commons on July 10 of that year.

The CIPHE is a member of the Construction Industry Council and the Engineering Council.

If you live in the U.K., and your plumbing and heating system is damaged, it is highly suggested that you hire a registered plumber, or heating engineer, who is a member of the CIPHE. If you’re one of those DIY warriors living in the U.K., check out the CIPHE website.

The Usual and Unusual Signs of a Clogged Sewer Drain

A sewer drain is not fail-safe against plumbing problems. It often falls victim to one very serious issue: clogs.

Clogs obstruct the passage of liquids, such as water, out of the house. Without an outlet for used water, waste materials will come back up the pipes and into your household’s drainage system. Until you, or a professional plumber, can determine what the blockage is and how to remove it, you have a quandary in your hands.

If you think something is blocking your sewer drain, find someone who knows how to confirm and clear it immediately. Another more second of waiting may only speed up the water’s filling up the plumbing system.

The Usual Suspects – Clogged Fixtures

A sewer drain clogs up when plumbing fixtures choke at the same time. Clogged fixtures are common in toilets, but other fixtures may also experience the plight. If you suspect a clogged sewer drain inside the house, start checking the fixtures in the right order, as presented below.

1. Toilet

Plumbing fixture for defecation and urination. It has the most direct route and the biggest sewer drain pipe in the house. A search for the problem with the sewer’s plumbing usually starts here. It is rare to have a perfectly working toilet with a clogged main-line sewer drain.

2. Tub and Shower

Main line stoppage often affects the tub and shower because both fixtures are lower down than other fixtures such as a sink drain. Check the tub and shower if the toilet plumbing is not responsible for the clogged sewer drain.

Unusual Responses From A Fixture

Now that you know where to look for a clogged sewer drain, it’s time to determine if your hunches are true. Check for unexpected reactions from the plumbing fixtures.

Follow these steps:

1. Flush The Toilet

Monitor how the toilet will react after you flush it. If this results to water coming back up into the tub or shower, this often means a clogged sewer drain. This means the flushed, used water that cannot pass through the sewer drain flows back into the plumbing and comes out at the lowest point – the shower drain.

2. Run The Water In The Sink

clogged sewer drain

A clogged sewer drain blocks the path of water from the sink. Featured image by Bailey Weaver / Flickr (CC)

Air may be trapped in the plumbing, so you have to confirm if it is there. Run the water in the sink closest to the toilet for more than a minute. If bubbles appear in the toilet bowl, or the water level rises, the stoppage is highly likely in the main sewer drain, not in the toilet.

3. Run The Washing Machine

washing machine

A Japanese washing machine. Featured image by jim212jim / Flickr (CC)

A clogged sewer drain may reveal itself through an unusual reaction after running the washing machine. If the water draining from the washing machine makes the toilet overflow or flow into the tub or shower, the stoppage may be in the main sewer drain.

But this issue may be a problem related to the washing machine itself or the shower, and not the sewer drain. If the toilet still flushes without any hiccups, the problem is likely because of a stoppage in the washing machine, not the main sewer line.

The Sewer Clean Out

If you have tried all the tips above and the problem persists, another way to confirm a clogged sewer drain is through a main clean out line.

You have to find the sewer clean out, unscrew or pull to remove its cap, and check for any waste material or used water that may have caused the stoppage. If water is not coming up the clean out pipe, you are safe. Water flowing up from and out of the clean out pipe means a stoppage in the main line sewer drain.

After The Diagnosis

sewer drain snake

Ridgid SeeSnake, a sewer drain snake with a lighted camera. Featured image by Wonderlane / Flickr (CC)

Now that you have identified the cause and nature of the clogged sewer drain, it’s time to take a step further by clearing it. But this requires a sewer drain snake that may not be immediately available to you. Do-it-yourself warriors, or DIYers, often rent the machine and clean the sewer drain on their own. People who do not want to get their hands dirty, or are too busy with other tasks, usually hire the services of a professional plumber. Both ways of handling the situation should be enough to clear the clogged sewer drain post-haste.

The Three Common Types of Plumbing Pipes for Home Use

Plumbing pipes help supply water and natural gas to residential areas and carry off waste materials from these same houses. These pipelines may also serve as water channels to irrigation and drainage systems outside your home. But with all the types of piping materials sold in the market such as those found at The Home Depot and Lowes, homeowners often hit a blind alley in choosing the best plumbing pipes for their needs.

This guide introduces you to the world of pipe systems, provides basic knowledge of its installation, and offers a sneak preview on the three common types of plumbing pipes for home use. By the end of this reading material, you will gain a good understanding on piping materials in general and determine the right one for your next project.

Get Ready

The United States government requires each homeowner to consult building codes and ordinances in their local areas before they can replace an old pipe with a new one. Some U.S. cities strictly require professional services for pipe installation, and other local governments regulate the type of materials needed for a specific piping system.

Oftentimes securing a permit is not required for repair or simple pipe replacement, but you will need it for running pipe in a different location. Make sure you comply with the requirements of the local building inspection department before taking a step further.

Identify The Types of Plumbing Pipes

After the paperwork, you have to determine the type of plumbing pipe according to function: water supply, waste outlet, or gas supply. Water supply lines carry water, or sometimes other liquids, from a source to fixtures such as faucets and showers. Drain-Waste-Vent lines, or DWVs, carry waste materials, such as used water and gas, away from residential areas. Gas supply lines channel gas from a source to appliances such as ovens.

Choose The Piping Material

If you already have ascertained the use of the pipe, it’s time to choose the right piping material. Plumbing pipes are made of plastic or metal, and each type serves a specific purpose.

Water Supply Lines

a. CPVC – Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride. Mainly used for hot and cold water fixtures. It is often preferred over copper pipe in interiors.

b. PEX – Cross-linked Polyethylene. Mainly used for hot and cold water interior pipes in homes. It is easy to steer and evade obstructions, even without an elbow.

c. PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride. Used only for cold water fixtures. It is also used for irrigation systems.

pvc pipe

PVC pipes for cold and hot water supply. Featured image by Jeremy Noble / Flickr (CC)

d. Copper – Used for hot and cold water applications in residences. It is lightweight, durable, and easily fits through tight places.

Drain-Waste-Vent (DWV) Lines

a. PVC – DWV pipes of this type are 1.5 inches or larger in diameter, while water supply pipes measure 0.5 to 2 inches.

b. ABS – Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene. Used in mobile homes, commercial and residential sanitary systems. It is light but strong and easy to cut.

ABS pipe

A 2-inch ABS pipe with Quagga Mussels. Featured image by Dan Bennett / Flickr (CC)

c. Cast Iron – Easily joins to plastic pipe with transition fittings. It is strong and durable.

cast iron pipe

A cast-iron pipe painted yellow. Featured image by ntcrwler / Flickr (CC)

Gas Supply Lines

a. Black Malleable – Black, malleable, galvanized iron or cast iron. Used to carry natural and propane gas from a source, such as the street or a tank, to the home.

b. Copper – Used to transport gas and indoor gas distribution. It is not recommended for natural gas in some areas, because its sulfur content may peel off the interior.

c. PVC – Used as main gas supply to homes. It is used only for underground applications and may come with wires that metal detectors can detect for repairs.

d. Polyethylene – Easily installs with minimal joints. It is durable and offers long resistance to the environment.

Know The Common Pipe Sizes

Plumbing pipes come in several sizing standards. The most common are cast iron soil pipe, copper tube size (CTS), sewer main or sewer and drain, schedule 40, schedule 80, and Standard Dimensional Ratio (SDR).

You have to know the exact dimensions of the pipe you need. Remember to check the local code requirements and verify if the materials you picked meet the standards.

Make The Job Easier

Plumbing is not an easy task for do-it-yourself, or DIY, warriors. It is always convenient to have handy tools that will lessen the load for you.

A tube cutter makes short work of plastic pipe, while a cast-iron cutter easily cuts through cast-iron pipe.

You have to support a horizontal pipe every 4 to 6 feet with a hanger. Hangers include copper two-hole straps, plastic hangers, plumber’s straps, and wire hooks.

Dubbed as a muffler because of its noise reduction property, a water hammer arrestor dampens the banging of valves on appliances such as dishwashers, faucets and washing machines. It also prevents damage to faucets and pipes.

A vent filters the gas that runs out of pipes and provides air to aid the flow of water, while a trap, the one you find below the sink, keeps harmful gases outside of the house.

Use a cap to temporarily seal the end of a pipe against leakage and turn the water back on.

Just Do It

By now you have a basic understanding of how plumbing pipes work. And when dealing with piping systems, never forget to check the local code and regulations for standard requirements.