Plumber or Handyman: What’s the Difference?

plumber or handymanWhen you have a leaky pipe, you call a plumbing service; that seems pretty straightforward. However, some homeowners phone a local handyman instead. So, should you choose a plumber or a handyman? What’s the difference, if any, between a plumber and handyman? Are they simply different terms to denote the same profession?

The Difference Between a Plumber and Handyman

The main difference is that a plumber is licensed. A practicing license is required in 46 of the 50 states. Washington is among the states requiring licensure. This is why we highly recommend a plumber for issues ranging from installing a sink to repairing a heater. A plumber has completed vocational training and an apprenticeship program.

What about a handyman? The term is a bit looser and usually describes a general contractor versed in various home repairs. Yes, this might include general plumbing issues, but it also involves other services, such as carpet installation, interior painting, etc.

There are no requirements for becoming a handyman. In Washington, however, a handyman who works as an independent contractor does need to register with the state. Continue Reading →

Summer Heater Maintenance: Why This Is the Best Season for Repairs

summer heater maintenanceThe heater is probably the last appliance on your mind during this time of year. This is precisely why you should address any potential issues. Summer heater maintenance will ensure you have a fully functioning furnace come the cooler seasons of autumn and winter.

Why Maintain the Heater in the Summer?

Even though you’re not using the heater, you’re probably using the AC on full blast. The AC and heater share the same ductwork. The two also share the same thermostat. If this unit is faulty, then it will affect both systems. This means a problem with one can affect the other. The heater and AC are interconnected, forming a single HVAC system.

Save Money

Labor prices fluctuate according to demand; the plumbing and heating industry is no exception. So, heating unit maintenance prices are lower during the summer. The same goes for the AC, where repairs are cheaper in the winter and higher in summer.

The same rule applies for purchasing a new appliance. If your furnace is beyond repair, then you want to purchase a replacement during summer. Most suppliers at this time provide pre-season prices. Cost of installation also tends to be lower. Continue Reading →

Why Flushing Disposable Wipes Down the Toilet is Dangerous?

flushing disposable wipesIf you can throw toilet paper into the toilet, why can’t you do the same for disposable wipes? What’s the harm? While convenient, flushing disposable wipes down the toilet is unwise, even if the wipes are labelled flushable.

What Does “Flushable” Mean?

Disposable wipes with the flushable label simply means the wipes are small enough to fit through the drain pipes. An accumulation of these wipes can still clog drains. As far as “disposable” goes, that means you discard them—in the trash—after a single use.

We can’t tell you the number of times our plumbers have cleared a toilet clog. Want to guess what the primary source of the clog was?

Other Problems with Flushing Disposable Wipes Down Toilet

Disposable wipes are also non-woven. This means the material consists of multiple natural and synthetic fiber types, such as cotton, rayon, and plastic resins. Some of these materials are non-biodegradable or they take an exceptionally long time to fully disintegrate. This contrasts with toilet paper, which manufacturers designed to disintegrate when the material comes into contact with water. Continue Reading →

How to Remove Toilet Bowl Rust Stains

toilet bowl rustThe toilet bowl is probably the most difficult place in the bathroom to keep clean. Rust stains in the toilet bowl are particularly annoying. Fortunately, removing rust is an easy process. You can restore the toilet bowl so it looks almost clean enough to eat out of it.

What Causes Rust Stains in the Toilet Bowl?

Rust stains often appear in a reddish-brown color. They arise due to the presence of iron in hard water. The rust may also appear on other fixtures, such as sinks, bath tubs, and heaters. The air combines with the iron, causing oxidization.

Removing the Rust

The key to rust removal is removing the iron. Many homeowners attempt to remove the rust by scrubbing the surface with bleach. While this seems like an easy DIY fix, the bleach actually causes a chemical reaction with the iron. This hastens the onset of more unsightly rust.

Multiple methods are available for removing rust the natural way. Start by opening all windows and turning on fans for ventilation. Proceed by concocting your own homemade rust remover. Feel free to use any of the following solutions:

  • Salt and lime. Let the solution sit on the rust for two to three hours and scrub with the lime rind.
  • Baking soda with white distilled vinegar. Scrub with aluminum foil or a tennis ball to avoid scratching.
  • Cut a potato in half and dip the cut-end into dish soap. Use the soaked potato to scrub away the rust.

Continue Reading →

Are You Guilty of These Bad Shower Habits?

bad shower habitsDo you follow certain rituals during your showers? Many homeowners engage in bad shower habits without even realizing it. Some of these habits are bad for your health, while others gradually wreak havoc on your plumbing. As plumbers, the latter especially worries us.

1. Long Hot Showers

Who doesn’t love hot showers? We love them, too, but the constant supply of hot water is a strain on your heater. Aside from premature furnace wear, too much hot water also causes wrinkly skin. We recommend sticking to mildly warm water and limiting showers to a maximum of 10 minutes.

2. Not Using a Shower Cap

You should don a shower cap if not washing your hair. Most people don’t realize that hair does fall from the scalp during showers. Even if you have a mesh covering over the drain, some of the hair can still slip through. A single strand here and there may not seem like a big deal. However, the accumulation over several years can eventually lead to a backup. Continue Reading →

How to Retrieve Jewelry from a Drain

retrieve jewelry from drainSome people have a habit of placing their wedding ring or other jewelry on the soap dish while conducting personal hygiene. A minor slip of a finger can cause that invaluable item to fall into the drain. Fear not; you can retrieve jewelry from the drain using simple household items. You do not need to employ any sophisticated MacGyver-like tactics.

Use a Coat Hanger

You may have seen people do this on TV. To the surprise of many, this method actually works to some extent. You may not be able to fetch smaller items like an earring, but you might be able to retrieve a necklace or larger piece of jewelry. Remove the drain catch and bend a metal hanger into an elongated rod with a hook on the end.

Suck It Out

You can also try a wet/dry shop vacuum. Place the hose into the drain if it can fit into the hole. Hopefully, it will have enough suction power to suck your jewelry up. Place a pantyhose over the hose so you don’t suck the jewelry into the vacuum bag. Continue Reading →

Pet Owner Plumbing Tips

pet owner plumbing tipsDo you have a canine or feline among the household? Unbeknownst to some homeowners, pets may affect the plumbing, and vice versa. We’ll outline a few pet owner plumbing tips and what you can do to prevent pet-induced plumbing issues.

Plumbing Tips to Keep in Mind if You’re a Pet Owner

Never Leave the Toilet Seat Up—Does your dog enjoy the occasional sip of water from the toilet bowl? This isn’t a major concern since the water itself isn’t particularly harmful. However, the water and bowl may contain residue from chemical cleaners that pose a health concern if ingested.

Never Flush Kitty Litter—Some cat litter brands are marketed as flushable. Even so, we don’t recommend flushing the contents down the toilet. Your cat may consume foods that are not fully digestible, such as bones. You don’t want this matter ending up in the toilet drain. Continue Reading →

The Various Types of Wastewater Explained

types of wastewaterDid a pipe just burst in the home? Is the bathroom or basement floor flooded? The severity of damage depends largely on the type of wastewater. The filthier the water, the greater the damage and remediation. Regardless of the types of wastewater you encounter, you’ll need to bring in a plumbing service.

The Three Types of Wastewater

1. Clean Water

As you can probably guess, clean water is, well, clean. This doesn’t mean, though, that it’s clean enough for drinking. Clean water is simply free of contaminants. Rain and snow are examples of clean water. Even toilet tank water counts as clean. You can clean a minor flood yourself if dealing with a leaky toilet or heater. You must do so immediately, though, because clean water can turn into greywater within 48 hours. Continue Reading →

Never Flush a Tampon Down the Toilet

flush a tamponFlushing a tampon down the toilet is one of those things people do even though they know they’re not supposed to. This is why we decided to dedicate an entire post to this. This just might prevent an emergency plumbing call down the line for a few homeowners.

Why Flushing a Tampon Down the Toilet Is Bad

Most people know not to flush anything manmade other than toilet paper. What makes flushing a tampon especially bad? Tampons are bad for two reasons: they are not biodegradable, and they can swell to 10 times their size when they’re soaked. This makes them a common cause of toilet backups. We can’t tell you the number of times we have found tampons in the drainage when clearing a clog.

If you’re still tempted to flush used tampons out of habit, then consider this warning from Tampax: According to the popular tampon maker, users should never flush the tampons, the applicator, or wrapper down the toilet. Continue Reading →

What Would Happen If Every Toilet Were Flushed at the Same Time?

flushed same timeWith the year coming to an end, we figured we would talk about a fun “what if” topic. Consider this: what would be the ramifications if every Seattle toilet were flushed at the same time? Would nothing happen? Would residential plumbing clog up? Would the world come to an end?

Flushing Every Toilet at the Same Time: Any Consequences?

Roughly 290,000 installed toilets exist in the city of Seattle. That includes every residential toilet and all the stalls in public facilities. The average toilet uses 3.5 gallons of water per flush. If people flushed every one of those at once, that would be 1,015,000 gallons of water running through the municipal sewer system at the same time. Could the pipes withstand the sudden surge? Continue Reading →