Some of the Craziest Things We Found in a Pipe

Things Found in a PipeA drain pipe backup is typically caused by a combination of soap scum, hair, and grease. Our emergency plumbers, though, have crazy stories about some of the unusual things found in a pipe. It’s perplexing what some people throw down a drain. Here is a fun and OMG list of items that were found either by our own plumbers or relayed from those we worked with.

Our Crazy List of Things Found in a Pipe

Clothing

Clothing is an item we actually find quite often. This includes everything you expect to find in a wardrobe—boxer briefs, t-shirts, sweatpants, and even training bras.

Jewelry

Jewelry is also quite common, especially smaller items such as rings. We have all heard stories of people setting their wedding bands on the soap dish and then accidently knocking them down the drain. Take it from us when we say that this happens more often than you would expect. Continue Reading →

Improve Bathroom Aesthetics with an Escutcheon Installation

Escutcheon InstallationWhat the heck is an escutcheon? It’s certainly a weird name, but it’s a common fixture you likely have in your bathroom. An Escutcheon is a round metallic disc that covers the hole in the wall through which a pipe enters the room. Does it serve a functional purpose? Nope. But your bathroom looks much more appealing with one in place. Our residential plumbers can install an escutcheon for you, though this is a fairly straightforward DIY job.

Installing an Escutcheon Is Easy

If the escutcheon on your toilet pipe or shower head is badly rusted, then it’s time for a replacement. Most can easily be removed with basic or no tools at all. The shower head escutcheon, for example, can usually be removed by simply removing the shower head. Once that’s out of the way, you can simply pull the escutcheon away from the wall and through the shower arm. Slip on the replacement escutcheon and reattach the shower head; easy peasy. Continue Reading →

How to Use a Plunger the Right Way

How to Use a Plunger │ Lynnwood │ South County PlumbingUsing a toilet plunger seems pretty straightforward. In fact, you likely used one yourself on an occasion or two with mixed results. You may think you know how to use a plunger, but there is actually a right way and wrong way to use it. Using it the right way may be the difference between clearing a backup and having to call an emergency plumber.

Plumbing 101: How to Use a Plunger

First of all, you should be sure you’re using the right plunger. Unbeknownst to most people, plungers do come in different types and sizes. There are two types: standard and flange plungers. The former is your run-of-the-mill plunger, while the latter has an extra ring of rubber around the cup. A flange plunger is specifically intended for unclogging toilets.

As for the size, the plunger’s diameter should be just barely larger than the diameter of the drain.

Once you have your weapon of choice, examine the water level. The water level should be deep enough to completely cover the plunger cup. Too little water, and you won’t be able to form a proper seal around the drain.

Here’s another insider tip: plug nearby drains. In other words, if you’re plunging the toilet, then place stoppers on the shower and bathroom sink. This will put more pressure on the clog. Continue Reading →

Does Your Home Insurance Cover Plumbing Problems?

Plumbing & Home InsurancePaying for an emergency plumber to fix a leak doesn’t always have to come out of your pocket. Depending on the nature of the problem, your home insurance may foot the bill. Keep in mind, though, most insurance companies will not cover the cost if they decide you could have prevented the problem. Having worked with many insurers, we have a pretty good idea of the types of plumbing problems covered by home insurance.

Plumbing Problems Your Home Insurance may NOT Cover

Water damage is the most common home insurance claim. Unfortunately, for the homeowner, not all claims will be honored if the cause of the problem was due to your negligence. A typical hidden plumbing leak, for example, is usually not covered by insurance, because such problems could have been prevented by the homeowner with basic maintenance and care.

Other scenarios not covered by insurance include leaks from appliances, such as a washing machine that is way overdue for a repair or replacement.

If your pipes happen to freeze in the winter — which does happen sometimes in the Lynnwood area — then you can forget about insurance covering that. Frozen pipes are easily preventable by keeping the home heated. This is something to consider as summer begins to wind down. Continue Reading →

How to Remove Resin Beads from Your Pipes

Resin Bead RemovalThe Lynnwood area is known for hard water; therefore most homes have a water softener. Most modern systems use resin beads to soften the water. These miniature, pellet-like objects, however, sometimes get lodged in the pipes. Accumulations of beads will eventually clog the pipes. Removing resin beads from the pipes typically requires a residential plumber, though sometimes a DIY fix does the trick.

How Resin Beads Get Trapped in the Pipes

Water softeners use a membrane to contain resin beads. If the membrane breaks, then the beads can make their way inside the pipes. Low water pressure is a telltale sign of a broken water softener membrane. You may also occasionally see a few resin beads come out of the drain during a backup.

Resin Bead Removal

If you suspect resin beads are backing up your pipes, then the first thing to do is to set the water softener on bypass mode. Refer to your system’s user guide for instructions. In most cases, you activate bypass mode by switching the timer-and-valve assembly off. Continue Reading →

The 101 on Tankless Water Heater Condensation

Tankless Water Heater CondensationIf your home utilizes a tankless water heater, then it should have a drainage system in place. Condensation from a tankless water heater can flood the floor without proper drainage. This is something that a residential plumber can install for you if current drainage is inadequate or nonexistent.

How Condensation on Tankless Water Heaters Form

Condensation forms when water vapor is cooled under dew point temperature and turns back into liquid water (condensate).

Condensation is an issue with many tankless heaters. This is because these systems utilize a second heat exchanger that extracts heat from combusting gas to enhance performance. When the gas rises above the unit’s flue, it cools enough to form condensate inside the heater.

If you notice condensation around the heater, there is no need for alarm. Condensation is actually an indication that everything is operating as it should be. The condensate, however, should not be forming a puddle on the floor. If this is what’s happening, then the drainage system is insufficient and needs to be looked at. Continue Reading →

What Is a Backflow Prevention Device and Why Do You Need It?

south-county-plumbing-6Have you ever noticed water bubbling out of your sink or shower drain? As you’ve likely guessed, it isn’t a good thing. It’s a sign of a pressure imbalance in the plumbing system. To fix the issue, you will need to have a residential plumber install a backflow prevention device.

The Dangers of Backflow

Drain bubbling is a sign of backflow. This is especially the case if the water appears blackish. When the plumbing is operating normally, the water flows in a single direction, from the home to the sewer system. When the plumbing is interrupted, water can flow in the reverse direction, from the sewer to your home. Backflow usually occurs as a result of what is known as a cross-connection hazard. This occurs when a sudden loss in pressure causes a reverse flow of black water from the sewer line end.

Backflow water contaminates the pipes designed to transport only clean water, creating a serious health issue. For this reason, contact an emergency plumber if you detect discolored or clouded water coming out of the drain.

The Backflow Prevention Device

The standard backflow prevention device operates as a one-way valve installed deep in the sewer line. The valve stays open when everything is working normally. When backflow occurs, the valve shuts off before the sewage water has a chance to enter the pipes. Most city ordinances require homes and public facilities to have an operating backflow prevention device in place. Continue Reading →

The Truth About the Conservation Mode on Your Appliance

south-county-plumbingMany appliances these days, like dishwashers and laundry machines, are Energy Star-certified. The conservation mode for these appliances also help cut down on power use. However, the economy setting may not always be the best mode. Over reliance on the economy setting may actually result in more energy wastage.

The Pros and Cons of Conservation Mode

Using an appliance in conservation mode is beneficial in two ways: it uses less water and less electricity. This means less power consumption and less carbon emissions. You’ll also save money on your bills, so energy saving appliances are certainly a worthy investment.

The Risk of Using Conservation Mode

There is a downside, though. Less energy and water use also means a decrease in performance. If those dishes still look greasy or if the clothes still appear soiled, then you might have to run the appliance a second time. That means ultimately using more power and water in the long run.

Also keep in mind that how you use the appliance also plays a role. You shouldn’t, for example, be using conservation mode for a heavy laundry load or when the dishes are exceptionally greasy. Also, be observant of how the appliance generally performs on different settings. If conservation mode often proves to be inadequate, then it may be doing more harm than good. Continue Reading →

The Truth About Toilet Cleaning Tablets

south-county-plumbing-4Sure, those little round toilet cleaner tablets are convenient. Just dump it in the bowl, and it handles the cleaning for you. On top of that, you also get a nice fragrance whenever you flush. However, while those tablets may eliminate a chore you’d rather not do, it may do more harm than good.

Why Toilet Cleaner Tablets are Harmful

The problem with these cleaning tablets is that they contain bleach. The chemical substance contained in bleach can corrode the tank surface. If used regularly, you could very well find yourself with a damaged toilet that needs to be replaced by a residential plumber.

Tablet cleaners are also problematic in the following ways:

  • The tablets can also corrode the flush valve and other rubber parts.
  • The tablet can get lodged against the flapper, thus preventing it from sealing all the way. This causes the water to continuously run, leading to wasted water.
  • The tablets usually also contain chlorine and anionic surfactants. The latter is especially known to be harmful to aquatic organisms. Simply put, the tablets are far from eco-friendly.

Continue Reading →

How to Detect a Slab Leak

south-county-3A slab leak occurs due to a burst pipe below the concrete floor of the home. Slab leaks are not detectible with the visible eye, and are one of the most underdiagnosed plumbing problems. Most homeowners, after all, suspect problems with a pipe behind the wall as opposed to one below the ground. Aside from an inspection from a residential plumber, there are several ways for homeowners to detect a slab leak themselves.

What Causes a Slab Leak?

Hard water is a common issue in many Lynnwood homes. The buildup of lime scale accumulates in the pipes and create a corrosive environment. This is especially true with pipes made from copper or galvanized steel. This corrosion erodes and thins the pipe surface over time.

Slab leaks can also be caused by too much water pressure. When water travels too fast – at a rate of seven feet per second or more – the pressure can strip the copper from the surface. This may cause certain areas of the pipe to thin until a hole eventually forms. Continue Reading →