4 Uses for Plumber’s Putty

plumber’s puttyPlumber’s putty is like the Play-Doh you played with as a kid. It’s also a wonder item for DIYers. Indeed, the putty can temporarily fix a lot of problems. The keyword here is “temporary.” We’ll outline where and how you can fix common plumbing issues using plumber’s putty.

What Is Plumber’s Putty?

Plumber’s putty is a clay-like substance that plumbers and homeowners use as a quick-fix for sealing a leaky pipe. The putty is made mostly from clay with additional additives, such as fish oil, limestone, talc, and linseed oil. While the substance is non-toxic, please do not give it to a child as a toy.

Plumber’s Putty Common Uses

1. Pipes

Have a leaky pipe? Use the putty for a watertight seal. This isn’t a foolproof solution, however, as the putty may be ineffective against high-pressure leaks.

2. Sinks

Use putty to create a seal around the edges of a sink for a watertight barrier. Be careful, however, not to apply putty too close to countertops. Some putties contain additives that may lead to staining. Continue Reading →

Should You Be Concerned About a Noisy Water Heater?

noisy water heaterWater heaters tend to operate quietly in the background. At times, though, you may hear a loud banging, popping, or knocking sound. Is this just the appliance settling, or is this a symptom of a more serious problem? We’ll discuss the implications of a noisy water heater and what homeowners should do.

What Causes a Noisy Water Heater?

Hardwater is the most common culprit. The water may contain calcium, magnesium, or other mineral deposits, which sink and collect at the bottom of the tank. Steam bubbles that rise up inside the tank burst as they make their way through the sediment. This creates the popping and crackling noise you may hear from time to time.

A Cause for Concern?

The occasional popping sound is no cause for alarm, at least not yet. The water heater isn’t going to drop dead. However, you should contact a plumbing service at your earliest convenience.

The sediment at the bottom acts as an insulation blanket and prevents the heater from transferring heat to the water. This means the heater has to work harder to produce the same output. This is comparable to an HVAC system that has to work harder to heat/cool a room due to a dirty filter. More energy expenditure means less efficiency and higher utility costs.

A water heater that has to work harder may also overheat and wear away the tank’s protective lining, causing it to rust. This is why it’s important to bring in a technician to flush the heater.

We’ll Fix Your Noisy Water Heater

Don’t ignore the occasional popping and banging coming out of your heater. Call Plumbing & Heating Specialist to flush the system. Our special offers provide savings on select maintenance work. Don’t ignore a noisy water heater; bring in a technician to flush the system.

Edited by Justin Vorhees

Water Heater Flushing and Maintenance

Serving Customers in Snohomish, King & Pierce Counties, including Lynnwood, Mukilteo, Edmonds, Mill Creek, Bothell, Snohomish, Shoreline, Brier, Mountlake Terrace, Maltby, Lake Forest Park, Everett, Marysville, Lake Stevens & Woodway

How to Keep Soap Scum Out of Your Drain Pipes

Soap Scum In the PipesMost homeowners are all too familiar with soap scum. It’s the white chalky residue that appears on the surface of the tub and the shower door. Unbeknownst to most people, soap scum is more than just an eyesore. The substance also collects inside the drain pipes. Here it goes from being a cosmetic issue to being a serious plumbing problem. We’ll go over some simple home adjustments for keeping soap scum out of the drain.

Why It’s a Problem

Soap scum forms when the fatty acid in soap bonds with the water. Soap scum gradually builds up in the drain pipes. This restricts the space water has to exit your shower, tub or sink. Most bathroom drains also contain hair, which traps the soap scum in place.

Soap scum accumulation occurs mainly in the shower drain, but can also appear in kitchen sinks. Soap scum is also prevalent in areas with hard water. Luckily, hard water isn’t too common in Snohomish, though it does turn up in some homes. (Left unchecked, hard water also causes damage to the home heating system.) Continue Reading →

Why You Should Avoid Toilet Tablet Cleaners

Toilet Tablet CleanersWe get the appeal of toilet tablet cleaners. You just drop a blue circular disc in the toilet tank, and it does the rest. No need to worry about any wiping or scrubbing on your end. However, as convenient as these cleaners may be, we must advise you not to use them.

Why Toilet Tablet Cleaners Are Harmful

Tablet cleaners were released in the 90s and got tremendous hype since it relieved homeowners of an undesirable chore. However, plumbing services reported a spike in toilet repairs not long after the cleaner’s release. Further study reveal that the damage was due to the bleach from the tablets. The bleach alkalinized the water, causing corrosion and brittleness to vital components, such as the flapper, flush valve, and any other parts containing rubber and plastic.

Many homeowners simply dropped a tablet in the tank and forgot about it. This meant a slow, consistent, and prolonged release of alkaline into the water, destroying the toilet it was meant to clean.

In-tank tablet cleaners did so much damage that toilet manufacturers even began including a clause in their warranty. The statement warns the warranty will not cover damage from tablet cleaners. Continue Reading →

Is Your Water Bill Increasing? Find Out Why

increasing water billFluctuations in your water bill are normal. However, if you notice a gradual and consistent rise, then you may want to examine your household water use. Some homeowners notice a rise even if they haven’t changed their showering, laundry, or dishwashing habits. We’ll go over potential causes for an increasing water bill.

Underground Leaks

Old and damaged plumbing can lead to a significant amount of water loss in a short duration. If you notice weak water pressure, water sputtering from the faucet, or wet patches on your lawn, then you might want to call in a plumber to check on the pipeline.

Leaky Toilet

A leaky toilet is less obvious than a leaky faucet, since the drip isn’t out in the open. Phantom flushing, which we discussed in a previous post, may cause the tank to leak water and automatically refill. Continue Reading →

Furnace Vs Heat Pump: Which Is Right for Your Home?

furnace vs heat pumpA heater can be a rather broad term that describes any type of home-installed appliance that provides heat. Two primary types of heating appliances compete for your business: It’s furnace vs heat pump. We’ll go through the difference to help you decide which is best for your home.

Furnace

Many furnaces burn fuel (usually natural gas in modern homes) to create heat. The heat is circulated through air vents to warm individual rooms. Some furnaces operate completely on electricity, including induction furnaces. These create heat through a reaction of electricity against metal.

With a typical gas furnace, you can expect high energy efficiency. Most modern models have a 97% Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating, meaning that 97% of the gas it consumes is converted into heat.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps are essentially air conditioners that work in reverse. Instead of creating heat like a furnace does, it shuttles heat from one location to another. In the winter, heat is moved into the home, whereas in the summer it shuttles away indoor heat and deposits it outside. Continue Reading →

Phantom Flushing: What Causes Your Toilet to Self-Flush?

phantom flushingDo you regularly hear your toilet flushing and the tank refilling on its own? If so, no need to call the Ghostbusters. This is a common plumbing problem and not the work of a ghostly entity. This phenomenon is known as phantom flushing, and we’ll explain what it is and why it occurs.

How Phantom Flushing Occurs

Phantom flushing is actually just a fancy term for a leaking toilet. A leak may occur in the tank, causing it to automatically refill with water. The problem is often attributed to a faulty flapper. Over time, the rubber in the flapper begins to deteriorate, affecting its seal. As the seal disintegrates, the toilet leaks more and more.

Why Is Phantom Flushing a Problem?

A leaky toilet means you’re wasting water at a rapid rate. If the toilet is leaking non-stop, you could be wasting as much as 200 gallons of water every 24 hours. That is bad for the environment AND your monthly water bill.

The Food Dye Test

You can do an easy DIY test to determine if the toilet tank is leaking water. Place a few droplets of food dye into the toilet tank and wait 20 to 30 minutes. If remnants of the dye appear in the toilet bowl, then you have a leaky toilet. Continue Reading →

Do You Have Hard Water Coming Out of Your Faucets?

hard waterHard water is a regional problem. The worst area are in the Upper Midwest and in North Texas. However, some areas in and around Snohomish have this issue. How do you know if you have hard water coming from your faucets, and what can you do about it?

What Is Hard Water?

Hard water is simply tap water with heavy mineral deposits. This is often due to the water coming into contact with natural geological features, such as limestone. Other common deposits which cause this phenomenon include calcium, iron, magnesium, and even aluminum. The water collects some of the minerals before reaching residential pipelines.

Hard water usually tastes bad. Also, it leaves deposits which can build up in your heater, washer, and garbage disposal. These deposits can cause major problems. Continue Reading →

What Happens When You Pour Grease Down a Drain?

grease down a drainMost people know better than to pour grease down a drain. We even discussed this briefly in our previous post. However, most homeowners don’t know why this is bad. Nor do they know precisely what happens once the grease enters the drains and pipes.

Why Pouring Grease Down the Drain Is a No-no

Grease undergoes chemical alterations under temperature fluctuations. Grease also mixes with other debris and chemicals in the pipeline and sewers, forming a conglomeration of chemical sludge. The solid mass ends up blocking the pipes that shuttle out wastewater.

One study revealed that 47% of sewer backups in the U.S. occur due to grease buildup. We can attest to this; roughly half of our plumbing service work involves some form of blockage removal.

As grease travels through the pipes, it begins breaking down into its molecular components—glycerol and fatty acids. These bind with calcium deposits resting in the sewers to form a glob-like compound that clings to the upper portion of the pipes when water levels rise. Plumbers even have an informal name for this glob—fatberg. Continue Reading →

Winter Plumbing Protection

winter plumbing protectionWinter is in full swing in the Snohomish area. Granted, the pacific northwest isn’t the most frigid place in the country. But it may still be frosty enough to cause frozen pipes. We outline here a few tips for winter plumbing protection.

Plumbing Tips for the Kitchen

Winter is said to be the time when homeowners prepare delicious and fatty meals. This is fine and all, but be careful not to pour any resulting grease down the drain. The same goes for fibrous waste, such as carrot peels and pumpkin pulp. These should never go into the garbage disposal.

Our plumbing services are often called to treat a kitchen sink backup during this time of year. Do you know what we almost always find? Solidified grease and vegetable remnants in drains and disposals. Continue Reading →