5 Common Summer Plumbing Problems

Protect Your Property From Serious Summer Plumbing Problems

When we think of potential problems for homeowners in the summer, plumbing issues may not readily come to mind. However, the warmer months are a prime time for plumbing problems that may not occur at other 5 Common Summer Plumbing Problems - Horizon Comfort Zone Blogtimes of the year. How can homeowners protect their property from serious summer plumbing problems and what particular issues should they be careful to avoid? Here are five of the most common plumbing problems that arise during the summer.

1. Clogged Disposal

Are you having plenty of cookouts this summer? If so, you will need be careful of how you dispose of waste food. While produce may be organic, it is generally not good for your in-sink garbage disposal, particularly if you are getting rid of hard fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon or corn. These types of produce can damage the blades in your disposal unit or lead to stubborn clogs. Used cooking oils are also damaging to garbage disposal systems, so avoid pouring the dirty grease down the drain after grilling out. It is also a good idea to run cold water through your disposal for a few seconds before and after you use it to clear any remaining bits of food.

2. Sewer Line Backups

Certain areas of the country may be prone to summer rain showers or thunderstorms, especially as the air heats up in the afternoon. Excessive rain can get into sewer pipes through cracks and cause the sewer line to back up. You might also experience trouble if tree roots spread underground and crack the pipes. If you see any signs of sewer line trouble such as water from the toilet backing up into the bathtub drain, call a qualified plumber right away. He or she may recommend a sewer line replacement if the damage is extensive.

3. Washing Machine Maintenance

Your washing machine may get more of a workout during the summer, especially if you have children that are out of school. Spending days at the pool or the beach results in more laundry to wash, which can put additional stress on your washing machine. It is best to stay at home while the machine is running, so that if a problem arises you can stop the cycle immediately and call a professional if needed. You should also move the machine out from the wall a little to prevent the hose from kinking.

4. Clogged Toilets

Household toilets are also used more regularly in the summer, thanks to children using the bathroom during the day. Teach your kids to use a modest amount of toilet paper and to flush only after they actually use the bathroom. Common clogs are fairly simple to clear with a plunger, but if you need additional help, call in a professional.

5. Sprinkler Issues

If you have sprinklers embedded in your lawn, be sure to inspect and clean the heads before the season begins. When you are mowing the lawn, be careful to do so when the sprinkler heads are lowered, in order to avoid damaging them.

PEX or Copper?

Which Pipes Are More Likely to Freeze: PEX or Copper?

 Winter is a season rife with pros and cons. While the biggest upside might be spending time with your family around the holidays, a big, potential downside is frozen pipes. Many homes have copper or PEX piping, but which is better suited to stand up to the harsh weather?

Frank Bauer, owner of Walter Hill Plumbing in Murfreesboro, Tennessee., says both types of piping are susceptible to freezing, but copper poses the bigger risk. “PEX will still freeze, but they won’t burst,” he says.

PEX and other plastic piping are superior to copper. “It [plastic piping] is less expensive and works great,” he says.

Frank agrees that PEX is the ideal piping system. He says it delivers cleaner water than copper pipes do because it doesn’t carry any traces of metal. He also says it’s easy to bend, meaning there’s less time spent fitting pipes into difficult areas.

PEX piping

PEX piping is flexible so plumbers often install it in hard-to-reach areas.

Frank also adds that PEX is cheaper than copper. He says that as the size of the pipe increases, copper can rise to about triple the price of PEX piping.

However, there are some advantages to using copper pipes. Frank says if your home uses city water, copper won’t rust and should last for decades. Ward says PEX doesn’t look very appealing in rooms with exposed pipes. “For mechanical rooms, you can square the copper and make it look pretty,” he says.

If your home has copper piping, Frank recommends walking around the outside of your home to make sure there are no gaps or holes near pipes in your siding. If you have had a certain faucet freeze in the past, turn the water on to a slight drip because running water doesn’t freeze.

If you are planning on traveling for an extended period of time, Frank says you may want to consider shutting the main water off and opening some faucets. He says there is nothing worse than coming home to a burst pipe.

Frank says in Tennessee, building codes have changed to make frozen pipes less common. He says you can no longer put a water line on an outside wall. Pipes are required to come up through the floor or a false wall. However, he says if you do experience a freeze, the most important thing to do is figure out why it occurred and try to prevent it from happening again.

How to find frozen pipes in your home

How to Find Frozen Pipes in Your Home

Winter can cause many problems for homes, and one of the most common is frozen pipes. The difficult part isn’t heating the pipes to get water flowing again; it’s finding the spot that’s frozen.

So many water pipes

Your home is crisscrossed with water pipes. Every sink and shower has its own piping, plus there are pipes that come in from the outside to supply your home. There can be hundreds of feet of pipe inside, and somewhere in that web of metal or PVC is a section filled with ice.

The frozen part can be anywhere from near a single faucet to where the main feeder pipe enters the house.

Looking for clues

Odds are you discovered the issue when you turned on a faucet and either nothing came out or it was just a trickle. You now get to become a detective and begin looking for that pesky frozen pipe.

Find everything that’s not working

With so much piping, you need to narrow where it could be. Turn on all the faucets and see which ones are not working. If all the ones in a single room don’t work, the frozen pipe is between the split from the main line. If all the faucets on the floor don’t work, it’s between where the first and second floor pipes separate.

If no faucets work, it’s likely somewhere near where the main water pipe enters the house. Frozen pipes tend to be located along exterior walls that are not well insulated.

Identify the right spot

With the area narrowed down, it’s time to find the specific section of pipe that is frozen. If the pipe isn’t the main feeder pipe, it’s probably within the walls and probably difficult to get to. If you’re lucky, it’s an exposed part of the pipe near a faucet.

If it’s the main feeder pipe, your best bet is to look in the basement or crawlspace and try to find the exposed pipes there.

How to tell

Visually, the frozen pipe may have a layer of condensation on it or even a white area where the condensation froze. If you see that, you’ve likely caught your culprit.

If there isn’t a visual cue, you’ll need to touch the pipe and check for a temperature difference. A frozen area will be colder than everywhere else. It’s not an exact science, but it’s one way to find the general area you need to heat up.

Heating the pipe

Once you find the area, wrap it in an electric heating pad or towel doused in hot water. Keep the faucet open, so you know when the pipe begins to thaw.

Do not use a blowtorch or other open flame device as it may end up super heating the pipe or causing an injury.

Still can’t find the pipe?

If you can’t find the pipe or if it is in an inaccessible area, call Walter Hill Plumbing Inc. !

15 Simple Tasks To Winterize Your Vacant Home

With summer a distant memory and winter quickly closing in on fall, many snow birds are preparing to head south for the coldest months of the year.

If you’re planning to close up your vacation, rental or primary home for the winter, don’t leave before winterizing your home. Before you close the door on another season of fun, take care to button up the empty house before leaving it vacant for the winter chill ahead.

What should you do to winterize your home?

1. Adjust your thermostat. If you have been running the AC all summer long, you are going to want to flip it over to the heat setting. You don’t need to keep your home cozy and livable temperature, but you do need it to stay around 50 – 55 degrees or so to prevent pipes from freezing.

2. Shut off the water at the main shut off valve in your house. The last thing you want to come back to next spring is a flooded home from a leaky or burst pipe. It is a good idea to open up all your faucets and drain your toilets of water — also keep the faucets open to prevent pressure buildup from the little bit of water that remains in your pipes. This will help prevent a burst pipe as the water expands with changing temperatures. A plumber can help you with winterizing if you are unsure how to prepare your pipes for winter.

3. Turn off your gas line to prevent a gas leak or other gas related incident.

4. Bundle the house up tight! If you are in an area prone to nasty storms, put storm windows on, close shutters, secure plywood over windows, store all outside décor or furniture indoors for the season, too. Make sure that all the windows are closed and locked. Check each one because any window that is open even a tiny crack can let snow and rain into your home.

5. Unplug everything. Not only will this save you money as your unused appliances will not be using phantom energy, it also protects the house from an appliance shorting out and causing a fire or a surge of energy ruining your appliances.

6. Tell your neighbors. Make sure they’re aware of your move, so they can keep an eye on your property — just be sure to let them know if someone will be stopping by to check on the place, so they don’t think you are being robbed!

7. Stop the mail. If you have been receiving mail at this location, be sure to forward it on or change your mailing address to the residence you will be moving to.

8. Check your sump pump. Make sure it functions properly. A wet basement will make for a bad start to next season’s fun!

9. Close the damper or flue on your fireplace. This will prevent snow, rain or animals from finding a way into your home.

10. Double check your gutters. Don’t leave the gutters clogged. Drain spouts should be secured to take heavy rain away from your house.

11. Take any live plants you have with you. Unless you have a house sitter coming to water them, you would come back to a house full of dead plants!

12. Clean out your fridge and pantry of all perishable items. Wipe your fridge down, unplug it and be sure to keep the door to your refrigerator and freezer open. Closing it up will lead to a stinky fridge and promote mold and mildew growth from residual moisture.

13. Put any non-perishable food in air-tight containers. Any food you do leave behind should be in air-tight containers to prevent pests from feeding off it all winter long. If bugs and rodents are a concern, place traps or use insecticides to keep them away.

14. Clean thoroughly before you leave. Make sure your — or a housecleaner — vacuum, wash bedding, wipe down surfaces and remove all trash from the house before closing up.

15. Arm your security alarm. If you have a security system ensure that is working and engaged when you leave, otherwise double check that all door locks are in working order — and be sure not to leave any valuables behind!

Now you’re ready to enjoy the long winter without worrying about the house you left behind for the season.