Prevent Displaced Tenants with these Plumbing Repairs

Back in April of 2015, a Walmart store in Pico Rivera, CA, closed its doors indefinitely due to plumbing problems that the company says were a result of persistent leaks and clogs. This incident laid off nearly 500 workers and left shoppers inconvenienced. As a commercial property owner, the last thing you want is for an incident like this to happen to your business or to the tenants that rent space in your building. By taking swift action when small problems pop up and making routine maintenance a part of your action plan, you can have a better handle on plumbing issues.

Commercial Drain Cleaning Keeps Water Flowing in the Right Direction

Commercial properties are at a greater risk of developing large obstructions in piping systems because of the sheer amount of usage toilets and sinks are subjected to every day. In California, many of the commercial properties are older buildings with aging pipes. A combination of frequent usage with deteriorating piping is the perfect setup for clogs to form.

The easiest way to address this potential problem is to have the drains and pipes in your building cleaned regularly by a professional plumber. Don’t rely on drain cleaning solution or your janitorial staff to plunge persistent clogs. These are only temporary fixes that don’t address the situation fully. Instead, call a plumber in California like vista-cars.ru Plumbing that offer Scour Jet service.

Our Scour Jet service is a powerful drain cleaning tool. It uses pressurized water to scrape away dirt and debris from the inside of the pipes. As powerful as this method is at eradicating the toughest clogs, it’s surprising to many of our customers that it is the gentlest solution for dirty pipes. Gentle and effective drain cleaning means fewer problems in the future.

You May Need to Consider Re-Piping

Re-piping is considerably more labor intensive and expensive than drain cleaning. It’s a solution to consider if you have pipes that are showing signs of aging or are no longer able to support the usage your plumbing system is experiencing. Re-piping can be a challenge for business owners who want to stay operational during the project, but it’s not impossible. Also, you may not need to re-pipe the entire building.

Plumbers who have experience with commercial re-piping should be able to develop a solution that will work best for all parties involved with as minimal inconvenience as possible.

Encourage Your Tenants to Use the Plumbing Correctly

Sometimes it is plain ignorance that causes plumbing problems such as persistent clogs. Unlike a residential plumbing system, many people believe a commercial plumbing system is designed to handle anything and everything. What does this mean? It means that your tenants, employees, and customers are more likely to flush things down the toilet and pour substances down the drains that they would never think of doing in their homes.

Post signage in bathrooms and break rooms that specifically says what can and cannot be flushed or rinsed down the sink. Maybe even include a friendly reminder in the employee newsletter or in a casual company-wide email. Bathroom business can be uncomfortable to talk about, but it’s better to address it in theory before it becomes a reality.

For more information about commercial plumbing problems, including what your responsibilities are in terms of repairs as a commercial property owner in California, check out our other blog posts or give us a call today.

Do I Need a Permit when Changing My Plumbing?

No matter what kind of home improvement project you’re undertaking, safety should always be the main priority. Plumbing repairs are no exception. Depending on the kind of repair or installation, you may need permission from your local municipality before proceeding.

Why Do I Need a Permit?

Permits are required for all types of construction, repair, and renovation projects as a way to make sure all work is completed safely and accurately by trained, licensed professionals. If you proceed with a project that requires a permit and you fail to obtain one, you could face fines or other penalties. It could even put your entire project in jeopardy of completion or affect the future sale of your home.

For example, if you renovated an attic space and added plumbing without the correct permits, you may not be able to claim that space as usable square footage. That’s the best case scenario. The worst case scenario would be that you would have to redo the entire project with the correct permits in place before listing the house. No one wants to buy a house with spaces that are not up to code or that lower the value of the property.

Where Do I Obtain Permits?

City hall typically issues all permits. Luckily, you won’t have to worry about this part of the project because your plumbing contractor will usually secure these permits for you. It’s part of the professional service.

What Projects Require Permits?

It depends on the particular municipality where your home is located. Here a few circumstances may be required:

• Alterations or installation of concealed piping
• Relocation of plumbing during a renovation
• Sewer installation
• Rain drains

A permit may also be required for water heater installation. Check with your local plumber to find out if this applies to you.

Permits are not required for minor repairs or adjustments such as faucet repair, toilet installation, water or drain attachments.

For more information about the permit process for your particular project, contact your local vista-cars.ru Plumbing tech for more assistance.

Plumbing Changes You Should Make When Renovating Your Home

Is a home renovation project in your future plans? This can be an exciting time, but it can also be quite overwhelming. Not only can a renovation create chaos in your home for a while, it can also create a financial burden. If you’re remodeling an area of your home that has existing plumbing such as the kitchen, bathroom, or an unfinished basement, here are some plumbing changes that should be addressed when planning the renovation.

Replacing Old Plumbing

An older home has a lot of charm, but it also has the potential for plumbing problems. The reason for this is that many older homes have aging water pipes that should be replaced to avoid leaks and water damage. When the walls are open, ask your plumber to examine the existing pipes for signs of wear and tear, corrosion, and other problems. While re-piping is not the most existing part of a renovation, sometimes it is necessary to avoid problems down the road.

Replacing Outdated Fixtures

Are you updating your bathroom? Whether you’re giving your bathroom a fresh coat of paint or relocating its major components, consider updating old fixtures with energy-efficient fixtures. Bathroom components such as faucets, showerheads, and toilets are now available at reasonable prices and conserve hundreds of gallons of water in a single month. WaterSense fixtures meet EPA standards for low-flow usage without reducing performance. In some communities, you may even be able to get money back in the form of rebates and tax incentives. Your local vista-cars.ru Plumbing technician will be able to help you determine if these incentives are available for your situations.

These are just two plumbing changes you may want to consider when renovating an existing space. For more suggestions, call your friendly plumber before you begin your project. By speaking with a plumber before you begin your project, you can ensure that your expectations of the completed project will be met with as few design hiccups as possible. It will also safeguard the installation and make sure that your renovation is up to current building code requirements.

5 Most Frequently Asked Plumbing Questions

Most people don’t have the time to study the intricacies of all their pipes, fixtures, and appliances, but a little bit of knowledge is both practical and essential for anyone. Homeowners with questions or concerns about the basic functions of their pipes, fixtures and appliances can learn a lot from the answers to these frequently asked questions.

How do I keep my drains running smoothly?

Use hair catchers and schedule regular maintenance for your system. Installing a guard on your drain keeps out hair and other objects that often get stuck in the pipe immediately below the drain hole. They are easy to install, and cleaning them is only a matter of swiping up the hair and tossing it in the garbage.

It’s also a good idea to have your drains professionally cleaned with hydro-jetting and other tools to remove mineral scale, sediment accumulation and tough blockages that you can’t handle on your own. Serious clogs can shut down your entire system or even lead to pipe bursts, so don’t wait too long to deal with them!

Why is my water bill suddenly so high, and how do I lower it?

A sudden increase in your water bill is an indicator of a hidden leak in your system. Toilets are often the source of water leaks, although any pipe or fixture could be to blame. Have your home inspected by a professional plumber with mobile video cameras and other utilities to identify damaged components. If you have consistently high water use, then installing flow-limiters may help curb the costs.

What are simple techniques for making my home more eco-friendly?

Install faucet aerators, smaller toilet tanks or on-demand water heating. Aerators are tiny screens that cap sink faucets, reducing the rate that water comes out without killing the pressure. Reducing toilet tank size also helps cut consumption by using less for each flush. Tankless water heaters can also help conserve energy and provide a more reliable supply of hot water.

How do I stop pipes from freezing in the winter?

Drain pipes connected to the outdoors and others in vulnerable areas should be insulated. Disconnect and completely drain garden hoses, as well as any line that connects to the outdoor faucet. Shut off the valve and let the remaining water flow out. For indoor pipes in basements and crawl spaces, you can wrap them in tube insulation to ward off the cold. You can also leave your faucets dripping slightly overnight to prevent freezing on particularly cold days.

Why does my garbage disposal keep getting clogged?

Don’t put grease, fruit waste or meat into your garbage disposal. Fat and grease harden when it cools, so it will coat the inside of your disposal and drain with a layer of waxy residue. Fruit and vegetables are also not plumbing-friendly, so dispose of those in the garbage can instead. Eggshells, pieces of plastic and other objects can also block up your disposal, so be careful about what you toss in the sink!

3 Plumbing Repairs Anyone Can Do

Many people tolerate minor plumbing problems because they don’t feel it’s bad enough to warrant calling a plumber. While they may not be serious enough to cripple your daily routine, these issues are certainly frustrating and can have a long-term impact on your quality of life. Fortunately, homeowners inclined toward do-it-yourself jobs can address several of the most common issues with just a few basic tools.

While some of these repairs are relatively easy, it’s always better to talk to a professional if you have any doubts about the project. Some jobs, like water heater installation and repair, require the skill and certification of a licensed professional plumber.

Common Plumbing Issues that Anyone Can Fix

1. Leaky or Clogged Faucets
Many sink faucets are equipped with aerators, which limit the flow of water to reduce consumption. They are a great way to conserve one of our most precious resources and cut back on bill costs. However, the screen can also act as a sieve that traps debris and sediment carried by the water. You can clean the aerator by unscrewing it from the faucet and brushing it with a tough sponge or brush.

Fixing a leaking faucet is a bit more challenging, but is still within the scope of most homeowners. It’s a good idea to look up instructions online or from the manufacturer beforehand, to learn about the unit’s specifications. Most of these leaks can be remedied by adding a washer or simply tightening some of the joint connections.

2. Removing Minor Clogs
Stepping into a warm shower only to dip your foot into a pool of cold water is rarely a pleasant experience. This is a classic symptom of a drain clog, which can happen in any of your sink or bathroom fixtures. Hair, dirt and other debris can build up into a blockage that restricts water flow and eventually blocks it completely.

Rather than dumping expensive toxic and corrosive chemicals into your system, you can try to dissolve the clogs with a safe solution of baking soda and vinegar. While this won’t melt solid material, it can help clear away some of the buildup inside the lines. You can also bend a coat hanger into a hook to pull out wads of hair or garbage that are obstructing water flow.

3. Aligning Toilet Components
The constant trickle of a running toilet can get on your nerves after a few days, and jiggling the handle will only get you so far. Replacing the balloon and stopper in the toilet tank, or even just bending the mechanism back into place, is an easy fix to this issue. You can also stop your toilet from wobbling when you sit by tightening the screws that fasten the base to the floor. The connectors are usually covered by tiny caps located below the toilet bowl.

Did you know that vista-cars.ru Plumbing has self-help videos on its YouTube channel? Many of these videos are used for training purposes, but we welcome homeowners to view them too!

Are Your Laundry Habits Destroying Your Pipes?

Many people with laundry machines in their basement give in to the temptation of using pipes to hang their clothes. After all, what solution could be simpler when you run out of available rack space?

A few coats and shirts certainly don’t weigh very much, so it may seem harmless to hang them there for a day or two. However, this unfortunate habit can get out of hand very quickly as your gas and water lines become a new form of permanent vertical storage. The negative consequences may not appear at first, but they can spell disaster when they finally develop.

The Hidden Dangers of Hanging Clothes on Pipes

Even prudent homeowners may fail to predict how hanging clothes can actually harm their plumbing lines. The answers are not necessarily obvious, since the pipes appear to be strong and fastened tightly in place. There are several “hidden” risks associated with this bad laundry habit, including pipe corrosion, joint warping and flow interruption.

Metal Corrosion: Copper is a relatively cheap, flexible and sturdy material, which is why it’s the primary material for many pipes and components. However, copper reacts with other metals through direct contact. You won’t see any sparks flying, but the reaction continues as long as the hanger rests on the line. This corrosion compromises the integrity of the pipe over time, forcing you to replace it.

Warped Joints: The pipes running along the basement ceiling are connected to other line segments, appliances and fixtures through a system of joints. The extra weight of laundry pulls down on the pipe, which transfers stress to the nearest joint on either end. Over the course of weeks or months, this stress warps the material around the joint and creates an opening for water to leak out.

Flow Interruption: If you trace the pipes that carry water throughout your home, you’ll be amazed at how far it has to travel. Consistent flow is mostly due to gravity and momentum, which is why many lines are installed at a slight incline. Even minor bending of the pipe can interrupt this, allowing debris to accumulate and eventually cause a clog.

Don’t Give In, There are Other Ways!

All of the pipes in your home are vital to the safe and reliable performance of the entire system, whether they carry hot water, natural gas or sewage. Damage to these pipes can cause a catastrophic flood in your basement or allow toxic fumes to escape into air. Misusing them exposes your home to the risk of a fire, water damage and biological hazards.

If you find your running out of space for clothes, then it may be time to install a few rods to do the job. You can mount them on the walls or on the rafters if space is extremely limited. Inform everyone living in the home of the risks of hanging laundry and pipes to knock out bad laundry habits before they cause a disaster.

Tips for Preventing Frozen Pipes this Winter

If the weather outside is frightful, a fire may not be enough to keep your home a delightful place to live. As you tune the thermostat to compensate for the falling temperatures in December and January, it’s easy to forget that the living areas aren’t the only places in your house that need temperature control.

Basements, crawl spaces and other remote spaces of the home may be almost as cold as the air outside. Unfortunately, many important pipes and plumbing components are stored in these areas. While a little bit of cool air won’t do much harm, temperatures below the freezing point can have disastrous effects on your plumbing system.
Water expands in volume as it freezes, so pipes and tanks can crack or burst completely when the temperature is low enough. Even hard metal and concrete gives way to this natural force.

Easy Ways to Stop the Frost from Breaking your Plumbing

1. Drain exposed water lines
As you may have guessed, the most vulnerable parts of your plumbing are the components outside the building. Protect drain hose connections and other exposed pipes by shutting off the supply valve and running the faucet until the flow ebbs. Remove and drain all hoses before storing them.
2. Prepare for long vacations or trips
If the structure will be vacant for an extended period of time during the winter, you can take the precaution of shutting off the water supply throughout the home. Closing the main valve limits the risk of flooding while the building is empty. Drain water heaters before turning them off to prevent damage to the appliance.
3. Insulate vulnerable areas
It’s a good idea to poke around your home to find all the areas that contain important pipes and components of your system. Take note of the spaces that might fall to sub-freezing temperatures in your climate. Wrap all vulnerable pipes with a layer of tube insulation to help keep them warm, or consider insulating the entire crawl space or basement.
4. Leave faucets dripping
While this may seem like a waste of water, it can help you avoid a much larger loss from a pipe burst. Leaving sink and tub faucets on a steady drip during the night keeps the water moving through the lines, so it doesn’t have time to sit and freeze.
5. Open the door or cabinet
You also reduce the risk of frozen pipes by opening up the crawlspace door or cabinet to allow heat from the home to hit the water lines. This may result in higher energy consumption from your heater, but the little bit of extra cost could save you a lot of time and money in the days ahead.

When in Doubt, Consult with a Plumbing Professional

If you aren’t sure how to identify vulnerable areas of your plumbing system, talk to a local professional plumber. Many contractors can analyze your entire system and recommend strategies to avoid damage during the winter. Of course, you should also contact them if you are facing a burst pipe or other serious issue.

Safeguard Your Home or Business: The Importance of Plumbing Codes

Even if you are the sole owner of the property, there are still limitations on modifications you can make to the building. In the United States, all habitable structures must adhere to a set of legal standards called building codes. They apply to many aspects of your home or business, including your plumbing and electrical system.

They Exist for a Reason!

Plumbing codes are designed by committees of industry experts and officials to ensure that all residential and commercial structures are sound and sanitary. Improper sewage disposal can have a significant impact on other members of the community, and a poorly installed water heater could present a dangerous fire hazard.

Some homeowners regard building codes as a frustrating byproduct of modern bureaucracy, but they have actually been a part of civilized society for thousands of years. In fact, the ancient Code of Hammurabi included several clauses that compelled “builders” to create safe and steadfast homes or risk fatal punishment. The penalties for breaking modern codes aren’t quite as deadly as they were in ancient Babylon, but they can still be severe for the party at fault.

Why Everyone Should Follow Building Codes

The purpose of plumbing codes is to create structures that are safe, efficient and reliable. Anyone living or working in your building deserves a secure environment with the basic essentials of fresh water and sanitary sewage disposal. Codes also protect property owners who hire contractors to perform professional services on their property by ensuring minimum quality.

Failing to follow building codes or neglecting to pull the proper permits can end up costing a lot of money and wasting valuable time. Businesses must be inspected regularly by an impartial official, so compliance failures will be noticed eventually. Homeowners may also run into issues collecting from insurance companies or selling their home if their projects are not up to code.

Individuals or companies caught violating building codes may face severe fines as well as an end to the project. In these cases, renovations and other work are delayed until the legal issues are sorted out. The exact penalties for breaking building standards are determined by local legislation.

Staying on the Right Side of the Law

Plumbing codes are created on a local level rather than a national one, which can make things a bit confusing. These rules may be created and enforced on the state, county and city level, and even some individual communities have their own rules regarding building projects. These codes may also be changed and updated regularly.

While it may take some time and money to pull the proper permits, it’s well worth the cost. Following building codes protects everyone involved, from homeowner to contractor. Certain types of work require licensing to perform, so hiring a certified professional may be the only way to perform the task properly. Contact your local city or county department for information about permits and current building codes in your area.

For more questions about building codes pertaining to your plumbing project, give vista-cars.ru Plumbing a call. We work with several communities throughout Arizona, California, and Texas.

Tips for Saving for Money on Your Water Bill

Reducing water usage has many benefits. Saving money on your monthly water bill is one of those advantages. You may be familiar with water-saving tips such as turning the water off when you brush your teeth or collecting shower water to water your garden, but there are other ways to conserve water without even thinking about it. By switching out old fixtures like faucets, showerheads, and toilets for high-efficiency ones you can save a great deal of energy, which, ultimately, saves you money.

Here’s a surprising statistic. Did you know, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that if every household in the country used water-efficient appliances and fixtures the savings could equal $18 billion U.S. dollars each year? That equates to 3 trillion gallons of water.

Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, many households opt out of upgrading or retrofitting their fixtures because they aren’t sure what products to purchase or they are concerned about the costs to change out these appliances. Let’s take a moment to talk about the terminology, cost, and what fixtures are best to upgrade.

Low-Flow Fixtures

When shopping for new plumbing fixtures, you want to look for the term low-flow. Ultra-low-flow fixtures use upwards of 20% less water without compromising performance.

Cost to Upgrade

Over the past several years, it’s become less expensive to upgrade to water-saving fixtures. Low-flow faucets, toilets, and showerheads are surprisingly affordable. Most households don’t have the ability to upgrade every fixture in the home immediately. They must make these changes a little at a time. So, which fixtures should you purchase first?

Ideally, you’ll want to upgrade the fixture costing you the most money to operate. Toilets, generally, waste the most water. It is estimated by the EPA that toilets make up 30% of a home’s total water consumption. Most toilets manufactured before 1994 use well over the recommend 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) threshold. If you have older toilets in your home, spend your money upgrading these fixtures first.

Also, many municipalities offer incentives in the form of rebates to households that upgrade to WaterSense fixtures.

Top 3 Plumbing Upgrades

Let’s break down the three plumbing upgrades you can make today to give you the best return on your investment.

Toilets

We’ve already determined these necessary fixtures use an obscene amount of water. But, which kind of toilet should you buy? Here’s a quick overview of water-efficient models available.

Composting toilet: This is a dry toilet. It uses no water, but it is not suitable for indoor use. The majority of people who purchase these toilets use them in areas where water supplies are limited or a septic or sewer system is not available.

Dual-flush toilet: If you’ve traveled to Europe or Australia, you may be familiar with these toilets as they are very popular in these areas of the world. They are also becoming increasingly popular in commercial restrooms in the United States. The dual-flush toilet gives you two flush options: one for liquid waste and one for solid waste. The liquid waste flushing option uses significantly less water than the solid waste option.

High-efficiency toilets: This is the most popular residential option that meets the current EPA WaterSense standard, which is 1.28 gpf. There are numerous models available that cost less than $200. Some even cost less than $100.

Showerheads

Showerheads come in second to toilets as water-guzzling offenders. The average showerhead contributes to 20% of a home’s water usage. You may be turned off to low-flow showerheads because you’ve heard that the water stream is significantly lower. Technology has changed and responded to homeowners’ concerns. Today’s low-flow showerheads are much better and the water stream is not affected at all just your water bill.

Faucets

There are plenty of options available for low-flow faucets. Some households are actually going a step further and installing touch-free faucets. Not only do these fixtures save money, they are also quite sanitary.

If you’re ready to make the switch and still have questions, give us a call. Our vista-cars.ru Plumbing technicians are always happy to help you determine the best products for your home, lifestyle, and budget.

The Cold Hard Truth about Your Clogged Drains

It’s time to get serious and down to business. Let’s talk about those clogged drains in your home. Are you fed up with the way your toilets and sinks drain? It’s quite possible if these components of your plumbing system could talk that they would tell you that you’re part of the problem.

Your toilets and sinks are not being rude, and neither are we. The cold hard truth about common drainage problems is that homeowners’ habits are to blame the majority of the time. While age and incorrectly installed pipes can be reasons for slow-flow drains, leaks, and frequent backups, most clogged drains are the direct result of flushing the wrong items down the toilet and putting things in sinks and garbage disposals that belong in the trash.

What Not to Flush

Let’s talk about your household toilets first. A backed-up toilet is frustrating and unpleasant. Sometimes problems with sewer pipes like tree roots growing around the line can cause clogs, but more likely than not the problem is with what is being flushed.

Toilets are not trash receptacles. The toilet itself as well as the drain and pipes that move waste water out of the home are not designed to handle non-organic material. Here are common items that our plumbers find in pipes that cause a lot of problems:

  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Q-tips
  • Facial tissue
  • Washcloths
  • Children’s toys

So, what can you flush? Toilet paper is the only item that is acceptable to flush. And, you need to be mindful of how much toilet paper you flush. Without getting too personal, if you need to use large quantities, flush a little at time. Also, if you have a septic system, make sure the toilet paper you purchase is septic-approved. Most major brands of toilet paper meet the criteria for septic tanks, but generic, off-brands may not.

Using the Sink

After the toilet, household sinks are the other plumbing component that is frequently misused. While most households are careful about putting so-called garbage like wrappers and paper products in the sink, they aren’t so careful when it comes to rinsing substances that harden as they cool.

Cooking oil, butter, fat, and even fatty and greasy food bits should also be thrown in the garbage. Rinsing these down the sink or even placing them in the garbage disposal can lead to problems. These kinds of substances harden as they cool. Even though you may run hot water while rinsing or grinding them, they can still exist further in the pipes and will eventually cool creating a small clog. You may not notice a problem right away, but the more you continue this habit the larger the clog will become until it makes it impossible for water to pass.

Routine Drain Cleaning Catches Problems Early

Save money and avoid potential plumbing nightmares by investing in routine drain cleaning services. Most residential drain cleaning is under $100 dollars and can give you peace of mind. If you’re not ready to commit to yearly drain cleaning, at the very least consider the service if you’ve hosted a large party or a holiday get-together. Plumbing systems can be put to the test with the increased usage.

Want more tips on keeping your home’s plumbing system in top condition? Check out our other blog articles or give a vista-cars.ru Plumbing associate a call to learn more about our drain cleaning services.