Diagnosing Common Residential Water Heater Issues

An improperly working water heater can make it difficult for you to live comfortably in your home. It makes it harder bathe, wash dishes, and even do laundry. When you’re faced with a broken water heater, you have no other option than to face the situation head on. The first step toward fixing the heater is pinpointing the problem so repairs can be made quicker.

Some water heater problems are easier to identify than others. This quick guide will go through the most common reasons water heaters stop working. At vista-cars.ru Plumbing, we always advocate for professional help, but if you want to troubleshoot before calling a plumber, it’s important that you are safe. Before troubleshooting, make sure you do the following:

  • Electric water heaters – cut power by turning off the electricity at the circuit breaker box.
  • Gas water heaters – Adjust the gas pilot control valve so that it is at the pilot setting.
  • Turn off the water supply.

Not Enough Hot Water

Are you getting hot water, but not enough of it? This may be a thermostat problem. Sometimes thermostats are set too low and the water doesn’t heat to a comfortable temperature.

The heater may have a buildup of sediment. When was the last time you flushed or drained the heater’s tank? Sediment can block the burners and make it difficult for the water to heat properly.

If your tank has been recently flushed, check the dip tube. When a dip tube is damaged, it can cause the hot and cold water to mix. The result is lukewarm water.

No Hot Water at All

If you have a gas heater, the pilot light may have burned out and may need to be relit. Be careful performing this task and make sure you read the instructions in the owner manual that came with the unit. You can find owner manuals online for most major brands if you’ve misplaced yours.

Other problems that gas heaters are known for developing include the following:

  • Poor gas pressure
  • Damaged thermocouple
  • Bad gas pilot
  • Broken gas pilot control valve

Popping Sounds

When you’re taking a shower, do you hear a popping or slapping sound coming from your water heater? This sound can be puzzling and disconcerting. Usually, it is the direct result of too much sediment in the water heater’s tank. Tanks should be flushed every 12 months for optimal performance. If you have hard water, you may need to flush your tank at smaller intervals. You can find instructions online to flush your tank, but we recommend having a licensed plumber do the job to make sure it is done correctly.

Leaky Tanks

Water around the base of the water heater means that water is seeping from the tank. There are a few reasons this may be happening such as a leaky pipe or relief valve. Don’t ignore water leaking from your tank.  If you can see the water leaking from the valve, you can try to tighten it. The best course of action is to call a plumber. There may be a faulty heating element of the tank may be damaged. Rusted tanks can lead to corrosion, which can lead to holes. You need to call a professional right away to access the damage.

vista-cars.ru Plumbing is the leading 24-hour plumbing service throughout metropolitan areas in Arizona, Texas, and Southern California. If you suspect there is a problem with your heater, call us right away and we’ll send a highly-trained plumber to your home today!

How to Choose the Right Plunger for Maximum Results

If you thought all plungers were the same, we’re here to open your eyes to a whole new world of bathroom plumbing solutions. That plunger in your bathroom discreetly hidden behind the toilet may work well for a clogged bowl, but if you need to use it to unclog a bathtub drain or kitchen sink you may be out of luck.

The size and shape of a plunger’s compression container – the suction cup – and the material it is constructed from matters a great deal when attempting to unclog drains. Armed with the correct plunger, you’ll have better success and a lot less frustration.

Sink Plunger

A standard sink plunger is constructed with a bell-shaped compression container made of rubber. The suction cup is attached to a plastic or wooden handle. The design of a sink plunger is the same across the board with the only exception being the suction cup size. This style of plunger works great to unclog a tub or sink because it suctions to a flat surface and can create a powerful enough vacuum to remove the clog. However, if you tried using this kind of plunger for a clogged toilet, you won’t have as good of results.

Best Plunger for Toilets

It’s easy to confuse a sink plunger for a toilet plunger because they look very similar. However, there is one difference. Toilet plungers have a pliable rubber flap that folds out from the main compression container. This seemingly useless piece of rubber is quite important. Without it, it’s virtually impossible to create a tight vacuum on the curved toilet opening.

Another option for dislodging clogs from a toilet is an accordion plunger. This plunger gets its name because of the ribbed design of the suction cup. The accordion plunger suction cup has a smaller compression container and it is made of hard plastic. While highly effective at removing clogs, it can be hard to handle.

Buying a Plunger

Plungers, no matter how clean they may be, can leave a bad impression. Having one plunger is a necessity, but why would you want to have multiple plungers in your home to treat different problems? When purchasing a plunger, we suggest sticking with a regular toilet plunger for a couple of reasons.

  1. Toilets clog more often than sinks or bathtubs. Sometimes you can remove the drain from the sink or bathtub to pull out the obstruction. Most sink and bathtub clogs are just ginormous hairballs. Do you really want to stick your hand down the toilet?
  2. Toilet plungers have the extra flap to make it easier to remove clogs on curved surfaces, but they are also great on flat surfaces.

If you only buy one type of plunger, the pros at vista-cars.ru Plumbing suggest you stick with the traditional toilet plunger.

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that plungers work well when clogs are small in nature and contain organic material that can be broken up during the plunging process. Toys, hardened soap, or other solid objects causing the blockage should not be plunged. In fact, plunging can actually make the problem worse. These kinds of obstructions need professional attention. Call a local plumber to help you fix the problem.

Save Money with these Water Heating Tips

You can lower your energy costs without compromising comfort. Water heating accounts for nearly 18% of your energy bill making it the second biggest utility expensive in your home.

Homeowners that want to save money on monthly water heating costs have four options:

  1. Adjust the unit’s thermostat
  2. Insulate the heater
  3. Use less hot water
  4. Purchase an energy-efficient model

Let’s take a moment to go over each of these choices.

Adjusting the Thermostat

You may not realize that your water heater has an adjustable thermostat that allows you to control the level of heating. Most models have 2-3 temperature settings. If you’re running your heater at the highest setting, consider lowering the thermostat to reduce energy usage.  The only downside with this option is that your water may not reach temperatures you desire or stay at that temperature for a decent period of time. A comfortable setting that achieves energy efficiency is around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Insulate the Heater

Is your water heater installed near an exterior wall or in the middle of a room that is cold and drafty? Water heaters are typically installed in garages, basements, or utility rooms. Garages and basements tend to be cold and could be making your unit work harder than necessary. To overcome this obstacle, consider insulating the heater. Both natural gas and oil hot-water storage tanks can be insulated, but it’s important that you follow manufacturer recommendations for insulation.

We recommend calling a professional plumber to help you insulate your water heater. You don’t want to cover the thermostat, burner compartment of the top and bottom of the heater.  Professional insulation services are affordable and will protect your heater.

Use Less Hot Water

One of the easiest ways to reduce your utility costs is to use less hot water. Although this is an easy, free method, it can be inconvenient. Homeowners like the convenience of hot water and limiting it may not be as easy to adjust to. However, if you’re committed to this change consider the following ways to limit hot water usage:

  • Wash clothing in cold water
  • Turn off the shower when lathering or shaving
  • Put a time limit on showers

Install an Energy-Efficient Water Heater

Older water heaters use a lot more energy to heat water than today’s models. If you’re ready to upgrade your heater, consider an Energy Star-rated model or install a tankless water heater. While tankless water heaters save the most energy because they heat on-demand, these units aren’t everyone’s budget.

You don’t have to spend extra on a tankless water heater to reduce your energy usage. Choosing an Energy Star-rated tank water heater can still save you money. A little research and working with professionals that can provide you with expert guidance will help you choose an energy-saving water heater with a price you can feel comfortable paying.

When you’re ready to discuss replacing your water heater, give vista-cars.ru Plumbing a call. We’ll connect you with a plumber who will be happy to help you find the best replacement for your needs.

How to Unclog a Bathtub Drain

You can save yourself some time and a lot of frustration by learning how to unclog a bathroom drain yourself. If it’s becoming more of a hassle than a pleasure stepping into a nice warm shower because of water pooling at your feet, it’s time to take action.

Here are some tricks for clearing the clog yourself.

Grab a Plunger

That plunger under your bathroom sink isn’t just for nasty toilet clogs. It also alleviates tub clogs. The trick to using a plunger on a bathroom drain is to make sure all overflow drains and other holes connected to the drain are covered to improve suction. Place the plunger over the clogged drain and pump it several times. With any luck, this will take care of the problem.

Use Boiling Water

When plunging doesn’t work, try pouring boiling water into the drain. Stubborn clogs sometimes respond better to boiling water.

But, WAIT!

Before you go this route make sure you know what type of piping you have. PVC pipes should not be treated with boiling water because the high temperatures can damage pipe seams.

Grab a Hanger

Do you still use wire hangers in your closet? If you have one of these contraptions handy, you can take it apart and straighten it out. Very gently push the wire with the hook into the drain and try to dislodge the clog. Hopefully, when you pull the hanger out, you’ll have the source of the clog on the end of the hook.

Purchase a Drain Snake

Local plumbing stores have this usual plumbing tool available at an inexpensive price. The drain snake is placed in the drain and then you’ll use the crank to force the head of the snake further into the pipe. Snaking is a highly effective way of getting rid of tough drain clogs and can even be used for toilet clogs.

Call the Plumber

Sometimes, no matter what you do, that clog just won’t go away. If you’ve tried the methods mentioned above with little success, it’s time to call a licensed plumber. The clog may be too big for DIY methods. You may need to have the drain hydro-jetted or, in some cases, there may be something more serious going on.

A licensed plumber will perform a thorough inspection and make suggestions for repairs.

vista-cars.ru Plumbing offers drain cleaning services 24 hours a day, seven days a week for residents in parts of Arizona, California, and Texas. Call us today to find out if we service your community.

How to Prevent and Thaw Frozen Pipes

Preparation and a little bit of education can go a long way toward helping you avoid the mess and expense that frozen pipes can cause. Even in warmer climates like Southern California, Arizona, and Texas (areas that vista-cars.ru Plumbing serves), cold spells do occur and when they do they can take unprepared homeowners by surprise.

Here are some tips for preventing frozen water pipes and what to do if they do freeze.

Why Pipes Freeze

When water freezes it expands and can put pressure on piping. This pressure is quite powerful and even metal pipes are not strong enough to withstand the water’s expansion. Usually, pipes that freeze are those that are exposed to the cold because they are exterior pipes. These kinds of pipes may include any of the following:

  • Outdoor hose bids
  • Irrigation lines
  • Swimming pool supply lines

However, interior pipes can also be subjected to cold temperatures if they are in unheated areas such as garages, basements, crawl spaces, attics, or in kitchen cabinets that are placed along walls that are not insulated and exposed to the outside.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

During colder weather, it’s important to take certain measures to protect your home’s piping.

  • Drain all supply lines to swimming pools and irrigation systems when closing for the season.
  • Turn off and drain outdoor hose bibs.
  • Disconnect hoses from outdoor faucets.
  • Insulate piping that is exposed to exterior elements.
  • Keep the temperature in your house at a steady temperature. Some people choose to lower the thermostat during the day when no one is at home. In colder temperatures, suspend this tactic.
  • If you’re planning to be away from your home for a long period of time during colder temperatures, make sure your heating is still running at regular temperatures.
  • Open cabinet doors in kitchens and bathrooms when plumbing is up against an exterior wall to keep warm air moving over the pipes.

Thawing Frozen Pipes

If your pipes do freeze, don’t panic. Take a moment to collect your thoughts and do the following:

  • Apply heat to the section of the pipe you suspect is frozen. You can use a hot compress, hair dryer, or heating pad. Portable space heaters can also be used with caution.
  • Open the faucet to prevent it bursting when the water starts to flow again.
  • Keep applying heat until the pipes thaw.

Never use a blowtorch, gasoline, or kerosene. If you’ve tried everything you can do on your own and the situation is not remedied, call a licensed plumber for professional service.

If your pipes freeze frequently when temperatures drop, it may be necessary to relocate piping to a warmer, insulated place.  Also, adding insulation to basements, attics, crawl spaces, and exterior walls that are poorly insulated can also keep the problem at bay.

For more information, contact your local vista-cars.ru Plumbing pro today. Don’t let warm Western temperatures trick you into thinking that your pipes can’t freeze. It only takes a quick burst of cold air to cause expensive problems.

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!

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.

Tips for Hiring Outstanding Plumbers

When selecting a plumbing service to take care of repairs, maintenance or installation for your home, it pays to hire experienced professionals. While you can request estimates and get information from multiple plumbers, you will ultimately have to decide on a single service that you feel will best fulfill your needs.

What to Look for in Your Plumber

If you aren’t sure how to judge your options, consider these tips for hiring the best plumber for your job:

  1. Licensing and Insurance

This is perhaps the most important qualification of an outstanding plumber. Licensing proves that the technician is certified and skilled enough to handle the demands of your project. Insurance, also known as bonding, protects both you and the service provider from damages resulting from the installation or repair work.

  1. Honesty and Transparency

Working with an ambiguous or flaky plumber is a frustrating experience. When possible, ask for specifics regarding the project, especially the timetable. If you need something done a certain way or within a fixed timeframe, you should communicate that clearly and affirm that the plumber understands your conditions before hiring them.

  1. Price versus Value

It’s tempting to go with the cheapest option available, but this is not always the best choice. Basing your decision solely on price can cost you a lot more than you realize. It’s generally a good idea to get multiple estimates, especially if you suspect a certain provider is overcharging. However, expect to pay a little more to get quality results from a real professional.

  1. Experience and Reputation

While there’s nothing wrong with trying out a new plumbing service, you may not get the results you would expect from a seasoned pro. When looking for the best plumber in town, do a little research to figure out how long they’ve been in business. Plumbers that have been around for a decade or two are more likely to have the experience needed to provide excellent service.

  1. References

One of the best ways to determine the quality of a plumber is to talk to some of their previous clients. Professional plumbers usually keep a list of references on hand and are willing to share contact information with prospective clients.

  1. Get a Guarantee

Always get a written guarantee from your plumber. If they claim they can perform a certain repair or installation project, having that agreement in writing can protect you in the event of an unforeseen problem. Outstanding plumbers will stand behind their work.

vista-cars.ru Plumbing believes everyone deserves the best plumbing repairs and replacement available.

DIY Tips: How to Install a Kitchen Sink Faucet

Whether you want to upgrade to a newer model with extra features or simply replace the existing fixture with the same type, kitchen sink faucet installation is a relatively easy process if you have the right information and tools. Be sure to read any product descriptions and instructions that accompany your new faucet before you proceed.

The majority of kitchen sinks have one to four holes on the base where it connects with the countertop. The availability of openings dictates the type of faucet that can be installed, as well as the number of extra features that can be added.

You can always use less than the maximum number of holes by putting a metal plate over the unused ones. However, you may need to replace the entire fixture if you want to use more features than the current model can handle.

How to Remove the Current Faucet

Shut off the water supply to the sink before attempting to remove or install any part of the sink system. You should also terminate power to garbage disposals or other electronic accessories associated with the sink. Take note of the current arrangement of lines and connections, so you can set the sink back to its original state if necessary.

Once you’ve taken the necessary safety precautions, you can use a screwdriver to loosen the bolts that fasten the faucet to the sink plate. It’s a good idea to have an extra person to support the faucet as you work underneath.

Installing the New Faucet in Your Kitchen Sink

Step 1: Follow setup instructions that accompany your new faucet to prepare for installation.

Step 2: Place the gasket or ring over the holes and attach them as instructed by the manufacturer, which may recommend a specific adhesive agent. Once the seals are in place, place the deck plate over the holes.

Step 3: Feed the faucet lines through the hole as you align the faucet. Snap the faucet into place by rocking it gently back and forth. If possible, have an assistant hold the faucet in place as you complete the installation.

Step 4: Thread bolts through their appropriate holes as determined by the type and design of your sink fixture. Add washers and tighten nuts by hand before completing the final rotations with a wrench to firmly attach the faucet.

Step 5: Attach the water supply lines to the faucet lines, with red marking hot water and blue indicating cold water supply. Tighten the compression fitting to firmly connect the two hoses. You may need to use an adapter if the supply lines are not compatible.

Step 6: Turn the water supply on and run the sink for several minutes. Check the entire system for signs of leaks or other problems.

If you run into problems during the install, don’t hesitate to call your local plumber. At vista-cars.ru Plumbing, we help homeowners every day with simple jobs like installing a new kitchen faucet.

DIY Tips: How to Tighten a Loose Toilet

Sick of feeling like you might fall off the toilet every time you sit down?

There are several connections between the toilet seat, the fixture itself and the floor that are likely to loosen over time, especially with frequent use. Once you identify the connection that needs to be fastened, it is usually a simple matter of tightening a few bolts and replacing broken parts.

It’s recommended that you consult a licensed plumber if you notice a leak, strange sounds or other unusual problems with your toilet. Water damage can be expensive to repair, especially if it is not addressed quickly.

How to Steady a Wobbling Toilet at Home

Step 1: Check the base of your toilet for bolts connecting it to the floor. Many toilets have small domes or coverings that hide the bolts, which need to be removed with a flat instrument. The nut and washer should be visible.

Step 2: Turn the nut clockwise with your hand to make sure it turns easily. Do not try to forcefully twist the nuts, as this could break the bolt or another part of the connection. Continue turning until you feel resistance, and then use a wrench to make a few more rotations to create a sound seal.  Repeat this step for all bolts on either side of the toilet as needed.

Step 3: Rock the toilet to test the results. If it still moves, then you should check around the base of the toilet for signs of damage that could cause the instability.

Fixing a Loose Toilet Seat

Your toilet is likely to see at least several different seats during its lifespan. Seats are connected to the toilet fixture by two or more hinges on the tank-side of the basin, which may be hidden by a removable cover. The first step is to test and tightens the bolts as described above. If the seat itself is broken, it can be removed and replaced by removing the bolts.

What Causes Toilets to Wobble?

Exposure to high levels of moisture in bathrooms with a tub or shower and frequently bearing various weight loads eventually causes parts to give out. In many cases, replacement of the bolts or other components of the toilet floor flange can solve problems caused by “normal wear and tear. “

It is also possible that the toilet was not installed correct initially, causing immediate or hidden issues that destabilize the entire fixture. Talk to a plumber about your options for repairing or replacing the toilet. Re-installation is a common solution to issues stemming from oversights in the initial placement.