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Winter Weather Plumbing Tips

With cold weather upon us, it is important to know some tips to keep your pipes from freezing. This will help in the long run, and will also help you avoid any plumbing problems during the cold weather season. As temperatures drop, close all air vents and any other openings you may have in the crawl space under your home. It is important to monitor the temperature and open one or two vents in warmer weather for ventilation. When it is cold outside, you should never have your home’s thermostat set below 55 degrees. Insulating your pipes is also a good idea, especially pipes that are prone to freezing. These could be pipes near an outside wall, in unheated areas of your home, or pipes that are exposed, such as outside spigots. In an emergency, layering the pipes with newspapers or rags can be used as a temporary insulation technique.

Always keep the cover of your water meter box securely in place to prevent it from freezing during colder periods. If the temperature is expected to fall below 20 degrees, leave water dripping slowly from the faucets. Also, in extremely cold temperatures, you should leave cabinet doors under sinks open to keep the warm air circulating. It is always a good idea to know where your home’s master valve is located in case of a line breakage. Typically, the master valve is located where the water line from the meter enters the house. This could be located in the crawl space, or in the utility room near the hot-water tank or washer and dryer systems.

If your pipes freeze, you can use a hair dryer with a low setting, a heat lamp or a light bulb to gradually warm and the effected pipe. Be careful while doing this, and make sure that the heat is evenly distributed through the pipe. Too much heat in one spot can cause the pipe to burst. Always be extremely cautious when using any electrical appliance to thaw a pipe. If this appliance becomes wet you run the risk of electrocution. NEVER use a blow torch or any other type of flame to try and thaw a pipe, because this may end up causing a fire. In addition to the danger of flame, extreme heat could thaw the pipe too rapidly, causing it to burst and could result in serious injuries.

If you cannot locate the freeze and no water is coming out of any tap, there is a chance that your service line or your meter is frozen. In that case, you should call your local utilities company to get it fixed. If it is not your meter that is frozen, it is more than likely that the service line to your home is. In the case of a frozen service line, you may need the assistance and services of a plumber.

December Should Be A Busy Month As Temperatures Drop Sharply

An arctic blast of cold air has pushed its way into a large portion of the country from western Montana to the Midwest. With temperatures in Great Falls, Montana overnight at -16 and -9 in International Falls, Minnesota, there’s no doubt that winter is here. This type of bone-chilling cold weather is typically is a product of late winter and is rather unusual at this early stage of the cold weather season. Over three dozen states were in the deep freeze this past weekend and as we move into the new work week, things are not looking all that much better.

Forecasters are telling people living in the Midwest to bundle up this week. Snow and ice are creating hazardous driving conditions in several areas of the Midwest including Michigan. As of Monday morning, there have already been several roadway slide-offs and minor accidents reported across portions of western Michigan. The National Weather Service is warning people in portions of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to be ready for anywhere from between 3 and 8 inches of new snow.

Even parts of the country without any snow on the ground have to deal with icy roads, frozen pipes and other cold weather woes due to the arctic blast of cold air that’s hanging over a large chunk of the nation. Highway officials in many states are warning people to stay off icy roads and if they have to go out to take extra care when driving. People are also being reminded to fill up their gas tanks and to put a few extras into their vehicles such as jumper cables, flashlights, sand and ice scrapers.

In Philadelphia, a heavy snow band dumped 5 to 12 inches of snow Friday. Just as people there were digging themselves out from that snowstorm, another round of moisture returned late Sunday, dropping sleet and freezing rain before changing over to all rain before dawn. Officials in Philly are warning residents to use extreme caution as there is ice accumulation in some areas of the greater metropolitan area. The National Weather Service said early Monday that sleet and freezing rain could fall during the day in some parts of Pennsylvania including the Poconos and the Leigh Valley area making travel slow and dangerous.

Count on the Plumbing Gurus for all of your emergency plumbing repairs due to frozen or broken pipes this month. We are Michigan’s premier provider of emergency plumbing.

How to Choose the Right Toilet for Your Home

If you think that toilets may not flush as well as they used to, than you are right. Because the industry is more focused on efficiency, many toilets cannot flush as well as they used to. You used to be able to flush nearly anything down the toilet and it would not overflow, this is not the case anymore. Here are some simple tips to help you better understand how toilets work, and how to choose the best toilet for your home.

Gravity Toilets:

Gravity toilets can be explained by just looking at its name. These plumbing systems depend upon gravity to pull the waste and water through the toilet. By pushing down on the toilet handle, it forces open the valve to which the water and waste travels through. The result is the water that is in the tank draining into the toilet bowl. From there, the water then drains through a large siphon jet opening and rim openings. With the help of the gravity, the water gains enough speed to clear the air from the internal toilet trap, and pull the water and waste through the drain easily. Old toilet systems worked in essentially the same way, but they used much more water to get the job done. In many toilets, the water level can be adjusted. If the toilet doesn’t flush well, usually the water level can be adjusted to fix the issue.

How to Keep the Toilet Clear:

The honest truth is that no matter how much you adjust the flow of the toilet, you will still encounter a clog. That is why it is always a good idea to be familiar with a plunger and how to use it. This also means that you have to watch what you put in the toilet. This means only the obvious needs to be put in the toilet, and not any diapers, sanitary products, etc. Also, make sure you do not let a lot of toilet paper build up in your toilet. If you are having issues and your gravity toilet doesn’t help, you may want to invest in a power-assist toilet. With a power-assist, compressed air is used to make certain that the wastes go down the drain. The downside of these toilets is that they may be expensive, and they also can be very noisy.

There are other special kinds of toilets, such as toilets with heated seats and other special features that can be specialized for each person. It is your personal choice what kind of toilet you need in your home or business, and you can always call a plumber for tips on what kind of toilet you may want to use.

Checklist To Get Your Home Ready For Cold Weather and Winter Temperatures

With winter approaching us quickly, it is now time to consider winter weatherization for our homes and apartments. Winter weatherization can save you money on your heating bill, and as you probably know, heating your home or apartment in the winter can be quite expensive. In this article we will discuss several low cost home winter home weatherization tips that will save you a lot of money on your seasonal heating bills and make your home more energy efficient. Most of the tips that will be discussed here can be implemented by even the most cost conscious home owner or renter. Keep in mind that some of these tips if you are a renter will need to be run by your landlord if you are a renter.

• Install a door sweep
If you can see underneath your door, this is a major heat loss area for your home. During the winter heat will escape through every opening available, so if you can actually see through the gap under your door, this is one of your major heat loss points. At your local hardware store you can find a door sweep, which is also known as a winter weather strip. It attaches to your door with tape or glue and acts as a buffer or guard against air flow exchange from the outside to the inside.

• Caulk your windows
If your windows are especially drafty, you may have some seals that are not air tight, leading to heat loss and drafts. One simple solution which does not cost more than 20 dollars to do is to simple caulk the windows witch have poor seals. Caulk will cost between $6.00 and $8.00. You will also require a caulk gun, which will run you about $7.00 to $12.00 depending on the model and which store you buy it at. This will prevent cold air from entering your home from your windows and help save on your heating bills. The next tip below will add an extra layer of protection to your windows.

• Plastic over your windows
Windows are one of the leading causes of heat loss in any home or apartment. Windows are generally thin and glass can conduct the cold quite readily. Even with a storm window in place, this is one area of major heat loss for most home owners, unless you have Energy Star–rated windows. The good thing about window plastic is that it is reusable every year if it is properly cared for and stored after the cold season ends, and it is also extremely easy to install, and it is also a low cost method to save on your heating bill, given that a single roll which can cover 3 to 4 windows costs as low as $8.00. You can install this simple winter weatherization method with tape or a hair dryer. Most people can cover all their windows in under 2 hours.

• Thermostat tips.
Many people when they leave the house for work make the mistake of turning the thermostat off, then when they return home they dial the thermostat to max in an attempt to rapidly heat the home. turning the thermostat all the way up will not actually heat your home any quicker, in fact it will stress out your heating system and lead to higher heating bills. Instead of turning the thermostat off during the day, leave it on a low setting such as 65 degrees. Another option is to purchase a “smart thermostat” or a programmable thermostat. These thermostats will begin to rise the heat slowly in your home an hour or two before you are due to return home, allowing you to come home to a warm home without higher heating bills.

Follow these simple tips and you will save a lot of money on your home heating bills and have a warmer home or apartment this winter season. For more energy efficiency, schedule a home energy check up with your local energy star expert professional. You may even qualify for a state or federal grant or low interest loan for winter weatherization improvements to your home.

Cold Weather Plumbing Tips

When it gets colder outside, piping is much more susceptible to cracking, bursting, and freezing. When this happens, you’ll have to call a plumber to come out and fix the issue, which can take a big chunk out of your wallet. It is important that you know the systems in your home and how they work so that if something does happen, than you will know what to do and who to call. There are many things you can do to prevent any breakages, freezing, or any other issues in the home. Read them below!

Pipe Insulation: You should use foam padding or special insulating tape to guard both hot and cold water pipes against freezing. Any exposed pipe or plumbing fixtures should be kept warm with space heaters from a safe distance. Every few days it is a good idea to check pipes that are not used frequently, because they may be accumulating frost which could lead to a breakage.

Don’t Forget About Outdoor Appliances and Hoses:
Always un-attach your garden hoses before freezing temperatures arrive in the fall. Close the shut-off valve on the pipes which lead to your outdoor appliances. You should also drain the water from these hoses or appliances and store them throughout the winter. They will end up freezing if there is any residual water left in the hose and they are left out during colder weather.

Eliminate Any Drafts in the Home: Check around your home for areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas and take measures to prevent the flow of cold air in these areas. This could be anything like basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, etc. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated. Contrary to what one may think, hot water pipes can freeze just as easily as cold water pipes. It is important to keep water running through these pipes frequently so that they do not freeze up.

Be Careful with Your Holiday Cooking: Cooking grease and oils put a real strain on drains, pipes and garbage disposals. Grease and oil are more likely to collect and clog when your plumbing is colder, so it is best not to pour oil and grease down the drains in your home. You should always run cold water through the disposal for at least 15 seconds before and after each use. Be sure to turn the disposal on before filling it with food debris.

These are just a couple of tips to help you manage your plumbing systems throughout the colder season, if you need further assistance, contact your local plumbing contractors!

What you need to know about your home drain systems

If you have running water in your home, than there are a couple things that you need to know about drains.

First let’s start off with the kitchen sink.

You should always let plenty of water run down the drain by keeping the faucet open for up to a half a minute each day. The reason why sink lines commonly plug is because not enough water is flushed through them, especially after the garbage disposal is used. Run the facet for about five seconds after you turn off the disposal because this will help flush the line out. Never pour hot oil or grease down the sink, whether or not you have a disposal. This will also clog up your drain. About once a month fill the sink to the top with very hot water. Using a fork or other kitchen utensil so you don’t scald your hand, remove the sink’s plug. As the clean, hot water swirls down through the sink line, it takes much of the grease buildup with it.
Here are a few tips on how to keep your toilet from clogging:

Do not put anything down the toilet except toilet paper. Items such as dental floss, Q-Tips, baby wipes, or any other paper product cling to the roots in the sewer and cause an immediate blockage which can be a big hassle to cleanup.

It is never a good idea to rely solely on chemicals. Many people try to use chemicals before they call in a licensed plumber because they believe that it will save them money in the long run. As it turns out, most people end up calling a plumber anyway because the drain still isn’t cleared. Chemicals can solidify in a drain line and aggravate the blockage. If the chemical doesn’t eat through the blockage, therefore not flushing down the drain, the chemical sits in the pipelines of your sink. From there, it begins to crystallize, and there is no easy way to clean that out on your own.

When your sewer is clogged, or you need your septic tank pumped, this is what will begin to happen:
Water backs up out of your tub drain when you flush your toilet. When you empty your bathtub, the water will stop flowing and will bubble in the tub, or even back at you. When you empty your kitchen sink, the sink water backs up into the toilet. When you flush your toilet, sewer water backs up through an outside downspout, patio drain, driveway drain, or the lowest floor drain in your house. When you run a load of laundry, soapy water comes up into a toilet, shower, or floor drain.

These are just a few tips to help you master your plumbing system. If you need the help of a professional licensed plumber, give us a call at 586 501 8010!

Tips For Selecting The Right Size Hot Water Heater For Your Home

The water heater is the most essential element in your home. If you are buying a water heater for the first time or replacing an old one, figuring out the correct size will save you an unneeded extra expanse in the future.

There are some important things to consider when buying a water heater. The space where the heater goes has to fit well and have adequate ventilation. Measure the space, including the height of the room for a perfect fit. Decide on the type of heater you want electric, gas, or propane. No matter, the type, make sure it goes with your energy source. If you want gas or propane, good ventilation is important. Look for an energy saver heater it will save you money in a long run. Please remember the longer the warranty on the water heater the better the quality.

For the right size heater for your home, you need to figure out the first hour rating of the water heater (FHR). You do not want a water heater that is too big this will waste energy-heating water that winds up just sitting in the tank. In addition, you do not want to run out of hot water by purchasing a heater that is too small for your household.

To come up with the FHR numbers consider that the average person uses 12 to 24 gallons a day. Therefore, if you have five people in the home, you would take six times 12 to get an FHR of 72.

Take into account that a twenty-gallon tank is sufficient for one person, two people need a thirty for fourth gallons. Four people in the family need a forty to fifty-gallon tank, and if your family has more than five people, you will need a water heater that uses fifty to eighty gallons a day.

Another method to figuring out first hour rating is to find how much the water heater can deliver within one hour of the busiest time of your home do you use water more in morning or evening. For example, doing laundry uses twenty-five to forty gallons per load. If you have a dishwasher, you will use five to ten gallons per load. Hand washing uses three to four gallons.

Taking a hot bath uses fifteen to twenty-five gallons. A shower uses three gallons per minute. Bathing an infant uses up two gallons. Shaving takes up to three and a half gallons. Shampooing hair goes to five gallons. Washing hands uses up one to two gallons. Cleaning a home takes up to twelve gallons. Preparing food uses from three to six gallons. Adding all of these activities will give you an FHR amount. Take a week to measure your family’s use of water to get an accurate picture of how much water your water heater will use daily.

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Tips For Preventing Frozen Pipes In Your Home or Business

Every year thousands of homeowners have their homes ruined and their everyday lives forever changed because of frozen water pipers. It is important to know that cold and freezing nights can quickly turn into expensive damages. Pipes freeze for several reasons such as being poorly insulated, a quick drop in temperature and a thermostat that is kept too low. Keep in mind that even though copper pipes are more vulnerable to bursting, plastic and copper pipes can burst when frozen.

Keep in mind that frozen pipes can cause a great deal of damage. They can flood your home or basement, require a great deal of cleaning and the after effects of mold can be especially dangerous to your health. To prevent frozen pipes from occurring in your home or business, thoroughly insulate your pipes to keep the cold air out. Heat tape, wrapped around pipes, can be used to keep your pipes insulated and protected. In addition, be sure to seal up air leaks inside your home where pipes are located. Places to look for air leaks are around vents, pipes and electrical wiring.

Also, before winter begins, disconnect garden hoses. Another tip that helps when winter weather arrives is to let a trickle of warm water drip throughout the night. Be sure to keep your thermostat at the same temperature setting during day and night. If you lower the heat on your thermostat at night, your pipes may freeze. If you leave for vacation in the winter, keep your thermostat set around 55 degrees, shut off the water main, drain the system and have a friend or neighbor check on your house to ensure that it is not getting too cold inside.

Some also think that draining your pipes is a good way to prevent them from freezing. Another tip to prevent your pipes from freezing is to keep any doors or cabinets open in your home such as the doors underneath your bathroom and kitchen sinks. Before cold weather sets in be sure to find out, if you don’t already know, where the main water valve and the valve on your water heater is located. These two valves are necessary to know especially if an emergency occurs in your home.

There are things you can do if you find a frozen pipe or faucet in your home such as thawing it out with a hair dryer. (Be sure to avoid using a hair dryer if there is water on the floor.) If a pipe bursts, shut off the water at the main valve. In addition, if the break occurs in a hot water pipe, make sure the valve on top of the water heater is closed. Of course, the next thing to do is to call a plumber. Always keep an emergency number for a plumber close to your phone or cell phone.

To conclude, frozen pipes can be prevented. All it takes is some planning, preparation and an emergency number for a plumber nearby.

Tips To Prevent Clogged Drains In Your Home Or Business

Clogged drains are usually caused due to hair, soap scum, and grease. Every home owner will come across the problem of clogged drains at some point in time. You may follow the steps listed below to easily clear the problem of clogged drains:

• Locate the cause of the blockage. Once the cause is known, you can determine whether to seek the services of a plumber or open up the blocked drain on your own.
• Run hot water. Most drains that are not fully blocked can be easily cleared by running hot water through it. Let the hot water run for about 5 to 10 minutes. It will loosen materials that are obstructing the free passage of water through the drain.
• Pour a cup of baking soda into the clogged drain and then follow it up with some vinegar. Let this solution remain in the drain for around five minutes. Then, pour a large jug of boiling water into the drain. Wait for a few minutes. Run water through the drain to confirm any improvement. If yes, then repeat the process till the drain is completely free.
• If issue persists, pour a chemical drain cleaner into the clogged drain. Ensure that you do this after waiting for an hour post the baking soda-vinegar-hot water option. Use the chemical drain cleaner as per instructions on the package to get optimum results.
• If the problem remains unresolved, wait for an hour or more post use of drain cleaner, before using a plunger to clear the clogged drain. Place the plunger above the drain and gradually pump it. The suction action of the pump should open up the drain.
• In case the above steps do not unclog the drain, then drop and clear the drain trap. It is the J or U-shaped pipe present below the sink. Put a bucket underneath the drain trap so as to collect any debris or water. Remove all items that are blocking the drain.
• If the drain remains clogged even after cleaning the drain trap, open the pipe by using a snake or a drain auger. Keep turning the snake till the pipe is cleared of all debris. When you pull out the snake from the pipe, you will find toilet paper, hair, and other substances that were clogging the drain. In most cases, you may not catch all the materials during the first time. Hence, keep repeating the use of the snake till no items come out from the drain.
• Run water and test if the drain has been cleared of all debris. Seek professional help if the problem persists.

Prevention of clogged drains

Follow the below listed preventive measures to avoid clogged drains in the future:
• Remove all strands of hair from the drain after washing your hair.
• Regularly clean the drain using the baking soda-vinegar-hot water procedure at least once every month.
• Install a strainer in kitchen sinks to prevent food and other matter from passing into the drain. Put a hair catcher or a sink guard in bathroom sinks.

The Plumbing Gurus are Metro Detroit’s premier provider of emergency plumbing services, call us day or night for 24 hour emergency service.