The short answer is yes, but there are some things to consider. . .
Cheaper is not always better: In many cases you may be able to find a faucet for cheaper online or in a big box store, while the faucet may look the same from the outside and may even have the same model number – it sometimes (not always) is made of cheaper plastic parts on the inside, thus explaining the reason that it can be sold for less. So basically we can’t always guarantee the quality of these products, but we can guarantee the quality of the plumbing products we can get through our suppliers.
It’s not always cheaper to provide your own material: In some cases we are able to provide the material for less than you could get it on your own. Additionally, if we provide the material, we can guarantee that we are bringing everything needed to get the job done. There are certain required items for some faucets or installations that a non-plumber may not be aware of. We make every effort to be as prepared as possible and communicate with our customers, but the best way to ensure that we have everything we need is for us to supply the material. This ultimately reduces the amount of trips we have to take to the supply house, which reduces the cost to the customer. It can also reduce any headaches if there is a problem with the product – it becomes our problem to fix instead of yours.
If we don’t provide it, we can’t provide a warranty on it: We are faced with a myriad of plumbing choices, and some products are exponentially better than others – we have had the opportunity to learn which plumbing products are best through years of experience (some good and some bad, but nonetheless we have learned some valuable lessons about durability and quality). The plumbing products we choose to install are ones with quality workmanship that we can trust and stand behind. We have a 1 year guarantee on our work – and if we provide the material, we can help you if there is a material related issue. If you decide to provide the product you will still receive our 1 year warranty on the labor/installation side of things, but unfortunately we cannot warranty the material.
Use caution on where you buy your material: Make sure that you check the store or website’s return and warranty policies thoroughly. We can tell you from experience that some sites and stores make it next to impossible to resolve any material related issues or returns.
Are they licensed and insured? Plumbers are required to hold a professional license and insurance obtained through the state in which they are working. Many states have this information posted online, where you can search for the individual and see if they hold an active license. Most reputable plumbing companies will be run by a master plumber and insured – if in doubt – don’t hesitate to ask them.
Are they experienced and do they have a good reputation locally? Ask friends or neighbors if they have a recommendation or if it’s company or individual they have heard of. If not, you can do some research on your own. Don’t hesitate to give them a call and ask questions – they should be able to give you any information you need over the phone, or via mail or email. Ask for pictures of their work, or for references. A reputable company or individual should have absolutely no problem answering any questions or concerns. Additionally, just seeing how a company presents themselves either on the internet or by answering the phone can offer some insight into how they may treat their customers.
Do they warranty their work? Most decent plumbers will offer some kind of a warranty. But asking about a warranty is not the only important question – will the person be in business long enough to honor it? Look for established companies or individuals with a good reputation. If it’s a new company be sure to do your homework. If you have a bad feeling, don’t ignore it!
Are they dependable? Look out for the telltale signs that they will not follow through. No one is perfect, but if they are consistently late, or making promises they can’t keep – think twice. Don’t shop on price alone, cheaper is not always better! The cheaper the price, the more questions you should ask. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples on quotes; some plumbers will find ways to cut corners and do things the quicker or cheaperway, with less than quality material. Or they may have neglected to include something in their price and then can up charge you later on.
This is a common question that many homeowners have, and the answer is most definitely yes! Maintaining your home’s plumbing system is a must to keep everything in working condition and prevent larger issues down the road. It can also help to protect your biggest investment (your home!)
Water heaters – Arguably one of the most important appliances in your home (especially on these cold winter days!) Without regular flushes and maintenance, the internal components of your water heater can start to malfunction, or the bottom of the tank can begin to rust out. This can shorten the life of your water heater, leave you without hot water, or even flood your home. Regular maintenance can keep your unit operating properly, prolong its life and also ensure that your manufacturer’s warranty stays valid (they can void it if you haven’t kept up with their recommended maintenance).
Leaks – Unattended leaks can damage your home and in extreme cases cause mold issues. They can also waste water, leading to higher water bills (in addition to depleting a precious resource!). As a homeowner, there is a lot you can do to prevent leaks:
Make sure any drafty or exposed areas are insulated to prevent freezing pipes
Do a periodic visual inspection of your piping in the crawlspace and your fixtures
Keeping an eye out for these smaller issues, can prevent them from turning into emergencies. In an emergency situation, not only will most plumbers will charge you higher rates, but as a member of our Friends & Family plan, you receive 10% off plumbing service fees, and an annual plumbing inspection.
When cleaning your toilet, beware of in-tank cleaning products and tablets – the harsh chemicals can slowly eat away at the rubber seals on the flapper and the tank-to-bowl bolts. With these components deteriorated, water can flow continuously into the bowl, causing your toilet to run constantly (or leak through the tank-to bowl bolts onto the floor). Not only does this result in wasted water, but it can also cause higher water bills and void any toilet warranties.
Fortunately, there are several other options that don’t go directly into your toilet tank – so you can prevent damage from occurring. Also, for products that claim they are safe, be sure to check the labels for any warnings or harsh chemicals.
The location can vary depending on the house, but the most common places are near your water heater, or in your crawlspace. There is also a shut off valve underground at your water meter pit. If you are on a well system, there should also be one near your well pump. Most fixtures should also have their own individual shut off valves: your sink faucet shut offs should be underneath the sink, a toilet’s shut off valve should be located to the side, and your washing machine shut off valves should be located above the appliance in the washer box recessed in the wall. Showers sometimes do not have their own shut off valves, and if they do they are usually located inside of the wall – so if you believe water may be leaking from a shower fixture it would be best to turn the water off at the main. If all else fails, be sure that you have the emergency number for your water service provider or plumber on hand.
In addition to your water main shut offs, it’s also important to know where your main gas shut offs are located in case of a leak. In most cases there will be a shut off where the gas enters the home. If you have a gas tank on your property, there should as be a shut off valve located at the tank itself.
Being able to turn off your main in the event of a leak can save your home from a substantial amount of damage. If you’re still not sure where your shut-offs are located, just give us a call. We’d be happy to give you a quick overview of your plumbing system, and perform a plumbing evaluation.
If you receive a water bill that is higher than usual, the first thing you should do is call your city or municipal water department and let them know. They can come out to make sure that the meter was read correctly, and also to inspect for any leaks on the city owned side of your water meter.
If everything checks out alright on their end, you should call a plumberto come out and inspect your plumbing system to determine if there is a leak and where it may be coming from. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for in the meantime:
water pooled up in your yard or driveway – this may be indicative of a water main leak underground and you will want to have this addressed sooner rather than later
any visible leaks, drips or signs of water damage
constantly running toilets
A high water bill can stem from a wide range number of issues, it could simply be that your toilet fill or flush valve may need to be replaced, or you could have a break in your water main that may need to be dug up and repaired. Once the issue is identified and corrected, be sure to get a copy of the invoice from your plumber. Some municipalities will give you a break on your water bill if you are able to show them proof that there was a problem.
Garbage disposal problems can be either plumbing or electrical. First things first, never attempt to reach your hand into a garbage disposal for any reason! Serious injury can occur. If you turn on your garbage disposal, and no sound occurs at all (no “hum” or any sound of the cutter wheels turning), your problem could be electrical. Try pushing the red reset button on the bottom of the garbage disposal. If you still get no results, check your electric breaker in your electrical panel to make sure that it is not “tripped.” If this doesn’t resolve the issue, then there may be a physical clog of debris preventing your flywheel from turning. Most units provide you with a wrench that you can insert into the bottom of the garbage disposal to manually “unstick” it. Keep in mind that the electric needs to be turned off to the garbage disposal before you try this step. If your unit does not respond to these actions, then it’s likely that it needs to be replaced.
This is a venting issue. Each fixture drain must have a vent to allow air into the drain and also to let the air displaced by water going down the drain to escape. The noise you hear is the air in the drain escaping into your sink instead of out a vent. It is very important that fixtures are vented correctly to prevent sewer gases from coming into your home. A plumber will be able to make sure the drain is properly vented and to code.
If the bathroom is rarely used – there is a good chance that the water in the trap of the sink, tub or shower has evaporated. Traps are designed to hold water and keep out these foul odors and sewer gases. Running the water down the drain periodically in these rarely used fixtures, will keep water in the trap and eliminate these odors.
Flushing your water heater once a year can greatly increase the life and efficiency of your water heater. Over time, mineral deposits can build up which can not only damage your water heater, but also affect your water quality. Many manufacturers will not cover damage caused by sediment or mineral build up, and in some cases it can void your warranty. A little preventative maintenance can save you lots of money in the long run, whether you have a tanked water heater or tank-less water heater – both should be routinely flushed and inspected by a licensed professional.
Over time, the tank of a water heater can rust and produce leaks. In some cases the tank can actually burst and flood your home. So, what’s a good rule of thumb for replacing your water heater?
Generally, tanked water heaters have a life expectancy of 10-15 years. However, we have seen some burst at 10 years old, and others have made it to 20 (which we don’t recommend!!). It’s always better to replace it sooner rather than later as a preventative measure, particularly if you are in a condo or apartment building with units beneath you.
Once it hits 10 years old, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on it and to begin to consider replacing it. You will want to visually inspect the water heater regularly, checking for signs of rust at the bottom and listening for strange noises within the water heater. If you find you have rusty water at your fixtures, or less hot water than usual, or most importantly if you see any water or wet areas near the base, call a plumber right away!
Make sure your crawlspace, basement (or any other area where pipes are located) is properly sealed. You want to be sure that no cold drafts are penetrating the area. If you have a well pump that is located in an exterior pump house or exposed area, make sure that the area is sealed properly with no drafts. It’s also a good idea to use a space heater in these areas on a low setting during the colder months.
Have water piping in any exposed or at-risk areas insulated.
Make sure all outside hoses are unhooked from the spigot. Leaving hoses connected can cause water to freeze all the way back into the crawlspace of your home (this is one of the most common causes of frozen pipes and it’s very easy to prevent!)
Let the cold water trickle from any fixture that is fed by exposed pipes – moving water helps prevent water in the pipes from freezing. However, if you find yourself having to do this often to prevent pipes from freezing – these pipes should be insulated. Letting the water trickle is not a full proof method and it results in wasted water.
If you turn on one of your fixtures and very little or no water comes out, you may have a frozen pipe. Additionally, if you hear any running water when no fixtures are on, a pipe could have frozen and burst underneath your home. If you think you have a frozen pipe call us right away! It’s very important to take action immediately to minimize the damage. As always, you can give us a call before the winter season to schedule a plumbing evaluation to identify problem areas.
We recommend a whole home winterization when you plan to be gone most of the winter. If you will be using the home once every few weeks, then a whole winterization isn’t always a cost effective option, because it would have to be re-winterized every time you leave. See ‘Is there anything I can do to protect my home from frozen pipes while I’m out of town?’
Our answer is yes! You’ve already done the right thing by having your home winterized by a professional plumber, but we highly recommend having a licensed plumber de-winterize your home also. Winterization of a plumbing system does not serve as a leak test on your existing piping, so existing issues or leaks could already be present. Additionally, if the water was accidentally turned on over the winter after the home was winterized, there could be potential issues. During the de-winterization process, the plumber will perform an air pressure test on your piping before turning the water back on. This will ensure that any leaks/issues are caught and repaired ahead of time.
If you will be gone for extended periods of time we always recommend a whole home winterization, but if you are away for shorter periods of time here are some things that can help prevent damage to your home. If you have any concerns about pipes freezing, give us a call and we can schedule you for a plumbing evaluation.
Turn your water off at the main
Turn on all faucets to drain all water from the pipes
Do not turn the heat below 60 degrees
Open all sink cabinets to expose pipes (leaving the cabinets closed can cause lower temperatures underneath the sink, which could cause the water in the trap to freeze and crack your pipes)
Turn off the power or gas to your water heater to save on energy costs
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Sustainability is something that is very important to us. We are all so fortunate to have a clean supply of water, it truly is a precious resource – however that supply is severely limited so we all must do our part to reduce water usage. As part of our commitment to sustainability, we want to eliminate all of the old water-guzzling toilets so we will be giving away 4 free low flow toilets every year.