Monday, February 16, 2015

Prevent Frozen Water Lines - Tips from Plumbing 911

It seems that old Jack Frost has bitten North East Ohio again, as hundreds of homeowners have dealt with frozen water lines from the weekend's freeze. Unfortunately, the forecast for the next few days are calling for even colder temperatures with no relent on homeowner's plumbing disasters. 

While we want you to know that Plumbing 911 is there when you need us, (for pipe thawing, leaking/burst water lines and flood/water cleanup and drying) we hope that these tips from our Master Plumber and Owner, Keith Miller helps you melt Jack Frosts' nasty attempt to freeze your home and your budget.

Frozen Water Line Tips and Tricks:
  1. Insulate It: Check your insulation in both crawl spaces and attics where piping meets. Typically, frozen lines occur near exposed piping against walls of your home. For example, if your water lines in your basement are exposed and are lying against the cold concrete blocking wall and also your basement is cold, this may result in a frozen line. 
  2. Air Leaks: Look for air leaks where pipes are located. For example, if your basement is naturally cold but also has a window or window well and dryer vent allowing air to creep near pipes, see if you can use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out. 
  3. Shut Off Valves: Ensure that for each faucet or waterline in your home, that it has it's own shut off valve. In case of a leak, you will then be able to shut water off to that direct source, instead of shutting the water off to your whole property. Also, make sure that the main water shut off to your whole home works in case of a major water leak issue, to curb off any flood situation.
  4. Outside Hoses: Remove all hoses from outside hose faucets and make sure the faucet is turned all the way off with no leaks. If you have an indoor valve you can also shut off and drain water from the pipes leading to outside faucets to help reduce the chance of freezing in the short span of this pipe.
  5. Let it Drip: At night time, when there is below zero temperatures, we recommend allowing a trickle of hot and cold water through your faucets to keep your pipes from freezing. Let the water drip (a slight stream) overnight, it's okay to do this and this tip can potentially save you thousands from a pipe/flooding nightmare.
  6. Keep the Thermostat Set: Very important - Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during both day and night. Some people turn their thermostat down overnight, because they have warm blankets to sleep in; however, do this on severe winter nights can allow your pipes to freeze. Guard your pipes; give them a little heat blanket with keeping the temperature up at night.
  7. Open Cabinets: Another very important tip: open your cabinet doors to bathroom and kitchen sink plumbing to ensure there is a source of heat wrapping your pipes through the night. Even though this may ruin your fun

If your pipes do freeze, you will notice that nothing comes out of faucets when turned on. 
Here are some tips of what we recommend you do, if this happens at your home.

  1. Shut off the water to the particular faucet that has no water. If you do not have a shut off valve for this specific faucet, then keep an eye out for signs of leaking around the area including walls and ceilings. If you notice a leak, immediately shut the water off to the whole house to prevent flooding.
  2. Some people try thawing pipes with a hair dryer, but we haven't seen success with this method. There are heat guns and other techniques that a professional plumber can help with to thaw your pipes in hope of ensuring they do not burst, leak and cause serious plumbing issues.  
  3. We recommend everyone living in the home knows where the main water shut off valve is located. Most people don't understand that a flood situation can be just as serious as having a fire at your home. Likely places for the shut off valve to be located are running against exterior walls where water service enters a home through the foundation. 
Remember, if you do need help, call Plumbing 911 today - We're There When You Need Us!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

What Water Leakage Around the Boiler Means

Running a boiler can require more maintenance and diligence than some other home heating options. Older boilers develop problems which can sometimes be quite complicated, and depending up the different types of boiler, a water leak which would cause concern in one type of hot water system can be very little to worry about in another. If you find a lot of water around the base of your boiler when you examine it, there may be a number of causes, some serious, some very easy to fix.

Boiler Pressure Issues

All boilers are fitted with a special pressure outlet pipe. This looks like a small pipe connection point in the side of your boiler, but with no fittings, and this outlet will occasionally drip water. People sometimes worry that this excess piece of pipe has developed a leak, and actually cap it off, but this is completely the wrong thing to do. The purpose of this device is to allow pressure inside the boiler to escape. Without this outlet pipe, your boiler could explode or collapse. If you find water directly below the boiler on a daily basis, this may suggest that you need to reduce the pressure inside the tank. Check the pressure gauge on the side of the tank to make sure that this is the problem.

Damage to the Boiler Seals

Another cause of water leaks around the boiler can be damage to the boiler seals. This can allow water to escape, and the boiler pump may also be pushing water out through the seals. If this is the case, then it is a good idea to replace both seals and pump in order to correct the problem. Examine the sides and bottom of the tank to see if water is actually leaking from the seal.

Cracks in the Body

As your boiler ages, the metal may develop stress fatigues and damage. Repeated warming and cooling will expand and contract the metal pieces, much like they do on an airplane, and this will eventually lead to a failure such as a crack or split. A crack in one of these sections is a serious problem, and the repair can be expensive. If your boiler is old, consider replacing it with a completely new one, rather than repairing a section of a boiler that might need to be scrapped in a year or two.

Loose Joints

A problem which is easier to fix is a loose connection. This can often cause a leak around the boiler during hot and cold contraction and expansion, so you should check all the fittings of the boiler and all the pipes and tubes which go into and out of the boiler. While you are checking this, look at the blowdown valve, and ensure that this is not loose or damaged. This can cause quite a pool of water to build up.
If you still cannot find a cause for your water leak, then you should call your boiler supplier. Arrange for one of their engineers to come and examine your hot water system.

Plumbing 911 Can Help - Free Boiler Inspection

If you have reason to believe that you are having issues with your Boiler system, we have experts that can help. Give us a call for a free inspection on your Boiler system by one of our Boiler professionals. 

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