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Blog | Classic Plumbing by Reno

Fall Plumbing Tips

October 12th, 2016

spigotWe’re officially into autumn now and that’s a good time to do a little preventive plumbing work. You can avoid a plumbing bill and some headaches by doing just a few simple things around your home while the weather is still moderate.

Close Outside Spigots

Find the valve that shuts off water to our outside spigots and say aloud, “Righty, tighty.” Turn until firmly secure. Now, you won’t have water standing inside that pipe as it sticks out into the frigid winter air. Water that isn’t there can’t freeze and expand, causing a crack that will leak water into your home later, when the temperature rises.

Also, disconnect all outdoor hoses and drain them. If you have them wound on a reel, unwind them and lay them out on the ground. Lift one end and move along the length until the water is out before you rewind the hose. Storing it inside a garage or shed is better but if there is no water inside the hose, then it’s less likely to crack and you won’t need to buy a new one in the spring.

Pump Out Your Septic Tank

Most people don’t think of septic tanks as part of their plumbing system but… it’s where things end up. You should have someone regularly pump out the contents and advise you on how frequently your system needs attention. One that serves a family of five needs more pump outs than one of a family of three.

If you’re on city water and sewer, go to where the systems enter your house. Check for leaks. In the summer, pipes can sweat and it’s difficult to distinguish a leak from condensation. Autumn is less humid and a small leak is easier to fix now than a big one later.

Check Your Sump Pump

If you are using a pump to help keep your basement dry, now is a good time to give it a once-over. Grab a five-gallon bucket and slowly pour water into the sump pit. A float should rise and start the pump before the water level reaches the top of the pit. Make sure water is pumped out of the pit completely. Have a friend or family member check the drain that expels the water during this procedure, to ensure it isn’t blocked.

Clear Aerators

Unscrew the tips of your faucets; this is a little tricky as it’s lefty-loosey but upside down. Run the faucet without the aerator to get rid of grit or dirt that might be in there, and give the aerator a quick rinse. Depending on the amount of material that might get caught there, you can notice a significant improvement in water flow.

Pay Attention

Are areas damp near the sink? Does the shower seem wimpier than before? Is there a puddle under the hot water heater? Take a moment to check around plumbing fixtures and under sinks (move that stuff in the kitchen cabinet below the sink) because a problem detected early is always easier to address than one that can’t be ignored. Also, it’s always better to schedule a plumber when it’s convenient than to scramble for help when it’s an emergency plumbing situation.

Classic Plumbing by Reno is just a phone call away 860-748-7305 to help address potential problems!

Why Does My Drain Get Clogged?

September 17th, 2016

The very, very simple answer to, “Why does my drain get clogged,” is—because you use it.

The reality is, you can avoid a lot of plumbing problems and expensive plumbing bills by being very careful about what you put down your drain but you can’t entirely eliminate clogs from your life.

Don’t Throw That in the Sink

There are a lot of things that don’t belong in the plumbing system but usually end up there, such as food or human hair. With the days of summer dwindling, you’re probably enjoying some native veggies, like corn on the cob. The disposal system in your sink will not do much to chew up corn husks and silk, meaning that these pieces will likely get stuck in the pipes and act as a net to catch more food or soap residue. After that, it’s only a matter of time before the net fills to a solid mass and water won’t move past it. Hello, sink clog!

Make sure your family has a plan for food waste that doesn’t involve your kitchen sink. Many communities are starting compost programs and picking up kitchen scraps with the recycling. If you have your own back yard, consider your own compost pile and the benefits of rich, dark soil that will result, perfect for gardening. Teach all family members to avoid putting food down the drain and you’ll reduce your instances of clogs significantly.

Clean Up After You Use Soap

Soaps and shampoos can leave oil residue and, over time, that film can build up. Throw in some hair and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a clogged sink.

There are two ways to make sure you avoid standing in several inches of soapy water while you shower. First, grab the hair from the drain on a regular basis. A crochet hook is a good way to snag this stuff and just toss it away.

Second, use a non-toxic drain cleaner such as Bio-Clean, which will not harm your pipes. There are plenty of cleaners on the market that will get the job done in an old home with iron pipes but those same cleaners will literally melt PVC pipes commonly used in modern homes or renovated antique homes. If you think a clog is a pain in the neck or an expensive plumbing problem, you really don’t want to deal with a hole in the pipes, leaking sewer water and gases into your home. A skilled plumber might need hours just to find the source of the leak.

Bottom line, you can help keep drains clear by keeping the big stuff from falling into the drain and by regularly cleaning the drains. Good habits and maintenance will mean a free flowing sink drain for a long, long time.

Classic Plumbing by Reno is just a phone call away 860-748-7305 to help answer questions or, if a serious clog forms, get you back up and running in no time.

It’s Back to School Time for Boys, Girls, and Plumbing!

August 9th, 2016

Back to School means several things to families but few associate this annual ritual with plumbing. What have pipes and water got to do with new backpacks filled with blank paper and packs of pens and pencils? Not much. Your plumbing will take the hit mostly from your change in schedule.

Think about when you use the most water in the summer versus the fall, when school starts. You and the kids will take showers after a refreshing dip in the pool at various times during the day versus right before the bus comes. Your family will just grab another towel until there are enough to fill the washer rather than try to clean a sports uniform… er, right before the bus comes.

There’s something magical about the arrival of a school bus. So many tasks become immediately due then and that’s when you don’t want your home plumbing system to let you down.

Try to Control the Mayhem

Instead of trying to get everyone in and out of the shower during the morning, consider staggering evening showers. That’ll give the sleepyheads a few more minutes with the snooze alarm and your hot water heater will be able to recover so everyone gets a comfortable shower.

Same with washes. Getting the kids to deposit dirty clothes in the laundry room may be about as easy as herding cats but if that uniform is tucked deep into a gym bag, you won’t know to wash it until well after it’s needed. Washing machines need time to do their thing, not to mention the drying cycle so get the kids involved in taking responsibility for their own gear. You’ll be surprised at how independent they can be.

Watch Where You Put It

With the school bell comes lunches packed in the morning and afternoon snacks consumed after classes end. That’s also when things go down the drain when they’re better put into a compost pile. Bananas are a great source of nutrition and those peels will mess up your disposal system. Fresh corn on the cob comes with husks that just won’t go through your pipes easily.

It’s just plain old easy to forget what we’re tossing where when the mind is filled with wondering if that cutie in math class is available or how to get four kids to five separate events in three towns. That’s when clogs happen and more than just the sink grinds to a halt.

Get a Check Up

While summer vacation is still in full swing, it’s a good time to call a friendly, trustworthy, local plumber to fix small leaks, check hoses on your washing machine, and give that hot water heater a tune up. Teaching can happen outside the classroom and kids can learn that taking care of the plumbing system can mean the luxury of taking hot and cold running water for granted. Ignoring responsibilities can mean high repair bills and time spent fixing problems that could have been avoided.

Classic Plumbing by Reno is just your trustworthy local plumber and ready at 860-748-7305 to help you get ready for school.

Is it time to remodel your bathroom?

May 12th, 2016

bathroom remodel bristol ctSpring is an interesting time because everything is renewed, even our bank accounts. If you were lucky enough to get a check back from the IRS or are just breathing a little easier because oil prices were low this winter, you may be thinking of how to use that extra cash. U.S. News Money reports you can get 62 percent back on your investment if you do a bathroom remodel.

The trick is to balance financial savvy with what’s on your wish list.

Plan Your Bathroom Remodel

If you only make minor changes, you’ll only get minor returns. At the start of planning, don’t be afraid to think big and list those items you really wish you had—double sinks, more square footage, custom shower, great lighting, and maybe two full baths instead of a bath and a half.

Price out all the options so you know exactly what you can afford. You may be surprised at the results and get the bathroom of your dreams for less money than you feared.

Learn About Quality Bathroom Fixtures

It may be tempting to buy the cheapest faucet out there but do your homework first. Water is a very sneaky thing and can leak or deposit minerals that shorten the lifespan of a cheap fixture. You may end up spending more in repairs or just replacing the fixture soon after you buy it. A quality piece of plumbing will cost a bit more up front but it will save you money and frustration in the long run, providing you with years of carefree hot and cold running water.

Consider Alternative Materials

Browse through the magazines and check out what’s new in bathroom design. You can find an inexpensive dresser and give it a good lick of paint to make a great bathroom vanity. Or, try bamboo flooring instead of tile.

Get creative and look at what you have. If the sink and toilet are in good condition and only need some worn parts replaced or a new faucet to refresh them, then run with it. Paint is a great way to spruce up a bathroom because it can be done in a day. An old ladder can be the perfect towel rack. A few hooks might allow for some hanging plants, which would be happy in the semi-tropical atmosphere you create after a shower.

Whether you can spend a lot or a little, the one thing you should do when remodeling a bathroom is your homework. Call Classic Plumbing by Reno at 860-748-7305 and we’ll guide you with an accurate quote and useful answers to all your questions.

When to get a Second Opinion on Plumbing

April 12th, 2016

bristol ct plumbing repairRecently, we heard a plumbing story that just makes us sad. A plumber was called in to help a homeowner fix a toilet but pronounced the bathroom fixture “too old.” He actually told the homeowner that “they” don’t make parts for that toilet anymore. This plumber recommended getting a new fixture and offered to do the installation.

Now, there are some things in this world that get to a point where they’re too old to fix. However, if you’ve ever taken the top off your toilet tank, you’ll see some pretty basic parts that are easy to replace. Yes, a ball chain sometimes rusts away to the point where it breaks. A flap will degrade to the point where it won’t seal and the water will sneak past, making it sound like the toilet is running all the time. But, if you have a little bit of patience and skill, you can remove these parts and take them with you to the local hardware store, where you’ll find replacements.

However, that’s not the point of this blog. I want to talk today about trusting your local plumber and what makes a good plumber. Once you find the right person, you can stick with him or her and enjoy a long partnership in which you both want to care for the plumbing in your home.

Recommending Extra Work

A good plumber is not interested in getting you to pay for extras you don’t need. We’d rather keep a client happy with smaller bills, regular maintenance, and the occasional piece of free advice than find a few people with big jobs, only to never see them again. So, if your plumber is insisting you need to shell out big bucks, remember that estimates are (or should be) free and come in writing. Go ahead, get a second opinion. The few minutes you spend to get more information could save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

Pushing You

A good plumber should never make you feel manipulated into anything. You should not be asked for cash up front, charged extra for the first hour of work, or coerced into paying before the job is done and you’re satisfied with the work.

Nor should you feel pushed to purchase a bathroom fixture you don’t like. There are likely good fixture showrooms in your area. Feel free to visit them and pick the toilets and sinks you want to use day after day. Realize that price is not the only factor in judging quality so hop onto the Internet and ask questions to determine which name brands and models are going to look good in five or 10 or 15 years. Check warranties, too.

Working without Papers

It seems so obvious that people often just skip this step: ask if the plumber is licensed and insured. Most people are trusting and assume that a plumber has all the necessary paperwork but there can be shady characters out there. You don’t want to find out after an incident that the pluming insurance carrier dropped this joker several jobs back.

Asking around to find out what others say about this plumber is a time honored way of finding out if you can trust this person. Your immediate need for a plumber may be urgent but, if you find the right plumber, then you’ll be able to make just one quick call in the future. In fact, if you are having no problems with your sink or toilet, think about finding the right plumber today. A good plumber will be happy to talk with you and be ready to help when you need it.

Call Classic Plumbing by Reno at 860-748-7305 if haven’t already talked with us. We’re happy to describe our experience, services, and prices and will thank you for considering us as your plumbing partner!

Taking Photos of your Plumbing: Not a Crazy Idea

March 12th, 2016

PipesRemember when taking photos was something you did on special occasions like birthdays, vacations, or weddings? Now, we’re taking photos of our food, ourselves, casual friends, and, yeah, sometimes the big occasion.

So why break out the cell phone or even the real camera for your plumbing pipes? This is one of those things that you aren’t going to do for yourself today. Pictures of plumbing are useful to a future version of you, when there are problems and you need to know what’s behind the walls before you can stop a plumbing leak or relocate a plumbing fixture. Your future self will thank you for saving time and money. You just have to trust this advice today, when you doubt you’ll ever need it.

Truth is, you may never have a water leak in your home. You may never want to move a bathroom sink or convert an unused tub into a luxuriously big shower. However, for the cost of about five minutes and no money, you can record the location and configuration of your water pipes before the drywall covers them up.

Of course, you can’t photograph your home plumbing system while it’s behind a wall. This advice is for when you’re working on your home and have the walls open. If you’re building new or remodeling, you’ll have a chance to see your pipes and learn where they are. You won’t remember how these plumbing pipes look or even where they are but, if you want to tear down a wall in the future, it’d be good to know if you’ll be spending the money to relocate pipes, too. It’s expensive to tear down a wall, find out that you don’t have enough money to move pipes, and then put it all back together again.

There’s no real need to be fancy about your photos. Just point the camera at the wall and shoot. Use a flash if it’s dark so you can see the detail of hot and cold pipes, drainage pipes, and ventilation pipes.

Still not convinced because you think it’s a plumber’s job to know everything there is to know about plumbing or that you have the original blueprints for your home? Well, a professional plumber is experienced and knowledgeable but never psychic. Unless we put in the system, we don’t know the details—including the last minute changes that the blueprints didn’t specify—and saving the plumber some work means paying less for his time!

So, take the advice of someone who likes to keep the water flowing while avoiding problems. Take photos of your plumbing system if you can and then store the files somewhere for the future you. And call Classic Plumbing by Reno at 860-748-7305 if you want help should a leak happen or you want to remodel.

Dealing with Winter Damage

February 15th, 2016

Unseasonably warm temperatures cclassic plumbing damagean be a blessing and a curse for your home’s plumbing system. Imagine you awake to plan your day, rejoicing in the idea of wearing a lighter coat because the weatherman predicted temps above freezing.

Now imagine you pop to your basement to find the carpet sitting under an inch of cold water. You can hear water moving but, for the life of you, have no idea where it’s coming from. You just know it won’t stop until you do something about this problem. Suddenly, your mind races as you try to think of how to take care of the kids and how you’ll take care of work because water damage is expensive.

Take a deep breath and relax. It’s a fact of life that pipes can freeze in winter. Liquids will expand as they change into a solid, pushing at the sides of the container. If you’ve ever forgotten a bottle of wine in the freezer, you’ll discover that instead of chilling your favorite beverage, you’ve broken the glass and the semi-frozen wine is now dripping. (Let’s just hope it wasn’t a red.)

While temps are below zero, you won’t know you have a frozen pipe. It’s when the water returns to a liquid state that it will fit through the cracks that were formed when the solid ice stressed the pipes to a breaking point.

The first thing to do is to shut off the water. In past blogs, I talked about finding your main shut off valve before an emergency occurs. That basement water is going to be cold so grab your rubber boots and get back up the stairs and into warm socks as quickly as possible.

Then, call a professional plumber. It can be a challenge to find the exact location of a leak and plumbers who do this all the time know the tricks to avoid unnecessary damage. You wouldn’t want to tear down drywall to find there the pipes don’t run there. You’ll just add to your expenses and the mess.

Not only will a good professional plumber find the leak and repair it quickly, but we can also recommend professional cleaning services, the kind of people who restore your home after an emergency. You’ll get back to your life faster, cheaper, and easier if you can get the water turned back on and advice from those who’ve seen this sort of thing before. We can give you all the information you need and point out what photos to take so you can have an easy time with your insurance company, too.

As the weather does some crazy things, take a moment to find your shut off valve, make sure you’re checking on all the areas of your home that you may not enter frequently, like a basement or storage area, and keep an eye on your water pressure, which can change when you have a frozen pipe problem.

Put the Classic Plumbing by Reno phone number on your fridge (860-748-7305) and relax. If there is enough fuel to heat your home and your insurance policy is up to date, you are well ahead of Mother Nature.

Start the New Year off with Great Plumbing

January 8th, 2016

Happy New Year!

The idea of a fresh, untouched year is a tempting thing. We want to do whatever we can to make sure the next 12 months are filled with health and prosperity. While you’re making resolutions, take a few minutes to ensure your plumbing system is ready to serve you without leaks, clogs, or catastrophic plumbing failures.

First, be honest about those niggling plumbing problems that you’ve been ignoring. Remember that it’s always less expensive to fix a leak when the amount of water lost is a tiny drop rather than waiting for seals to fail and you hear water rushing. You’ll also save money by fixing a leak now because, no matter how small it is, that amount will add up because leaks are 24/7.

Do a quick evaluation and determine if the leak is due to a bad cartridge. Shut off the cold water then the hot water. The drips should stop without one of the sources of water. If the drip is under the sink, try to determine where it might be starting. The solution could be as simple as tightening a nut.

Leaks inside the house are bad but can be much worse when outside the structure. It’s not too late to shut off those outdoor water spigots if you forgot this simple chore last fall. Temps below freezing can expand water in the pipe and crack it, causing a mess when the pipe thaws and water flows freely again.

Speaking of water and how it moves, is your toilet running? Take the top of the tank off the back and make sure that all is quiet in there between toilet uses. Otherwise, you could be wasting water as the toilet attempts to refill when there is no need. Jiggle the handle and watch what happens. You can usually see where the toilet components might have become worn and fail over time. Most pieces in there are cheap to replace with parts from your local hardware store.

One of the most rewarding things you can do with your plumbing system is to clean your aerators. The tip at the end of the faucet will unscrew easily and a quick tap will dislodge crud. If you’re feeling ambitious, take an old but clean toothbrush and loosen any material left in there. When you put the aerator back, you have more water and feel like you’ve accomplished something really good.

Your plumbing system brings you hot and cold running water and removes waste so readily and easily, it’s easy to take the system for granted. However, you know if there are things that seem to work less well than they did a few weeks or months ago. Taking the time to find out what’s changed and fixing it can not only improve how you use your sink, toilet, bathtub, or shower, but can save big bucks down the road.

Call Classic Plumbing by Reno at 860-748-7305 if you have questions or want to take care of a small job before it becomes a big job, or worse, a problem that has you dealing with water damage on top of everything else. Take control of 2016 and together, we’ll make it a great year!

What is a P-Trap?

December 14th, 2015

classic plumbingI’m always happy to share information with my customers because then we can both save money and time.

Take the way a sink drains, for example. The building inspector will ensure that every drain uses a P-trap before certifying a house for occupancy. A homeowner doesn’t need to know how a P-trap works to reduce plumbing problems but understanding how clever this little device is can help anyone avoid unpleasantness such as a blocked sink or valuables lost down the drain.

The pipe from the base of the sink basin is attached to the main drain carrying waste away from your house. Whether you have a septic system or are connected to a city sewer pipe, you want that dirty water to go away. If there was a straight pipe from the sink down, then the water would empty quickly; that’s a problem because an empty pipe would allow sewer gases to move from the septic tank or city pipe backward and into the house. That gas is as unpleasant to smell as it is unhealthy to breathe in.

Bending the pipe into a 180° curve or the shape of the letter P allows enough water to collect inside the pipe. The gases cannot move back into the house because that water effectively creates an airtight seal. Simple yet brilliant!

There are a few side benefits to having a P-trap.

I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that you should watch what you throw down the sink to avoid clogging your plumbing system. In a perfect world, that’s what you would do all the time. We’re not perfect so things go down the sink when they shouldn’t go. A clog in the P-trap may be a nuisance but it’s easier to open the P-trap under the sink and reach the material stopping the pipe from doing its job. Certainly, reaching a P-trap is easier and less expensive that addressing a clog farther down the plumbing system, assuming you know exactly where the clog has settled.

Another benefit of the P-trap is what I call a second chance. Jewelry seems to find its way down the drain. I try to tell ladies to avoid placing rings on the side of the sink when washing hands or to close the stopper when using the mirror above a sink to put on earrings. We don’t always listen but a lot of jewelry will rest in the bottom of the P-trap, where it can be retrieved. (Just don’t run the water after you see your grandmother’s wedding ring slide out of view!)

Plumbing systems can be really interesting in the way they take advantage of gravity to move material without energy and there is certainly value in carrying away waste that could make us ill if it remained in the home. Even if you’re not as excited about all this as I can be, now you know that your plumbing system is working with you to help avoid problems like sink clogs and lost family heirlooms.

Call Classic Plumbing by Reno at 860-748-7305 if you ever want to know more or if one of your favorite earrings just went down the drain.

 

What Tub Is Right For You?

November 13th, 2015

If you’re remodeling your bathroom, you have an enviable advantage compared to many homeowners. You can select the tub that is right for you in every way.

Be honest about why you want a tub. Many people don’t give this choice much thought and just rush out to their local plumbing supply store, expecting to select a color. When they walk through the door, they can be overwhelmed by the choices. It’s much easier to face a big selection if you know what you need first.

Do you want a place to relax, float, and soak? Soaking tubs do just that for you, because they provide a deep basin in which you can submerge your entire body and indulge in a good, long rest.

If you want to get more than relaxation from your time in the tub, then perhaps a whirlpool tub is what you need. Many people know these tubs by the brand name, Jacuzzi. Strategically placed jets push water around the body, providing a soothing experience that can be like a good massage, maximizing the heat of the water with the motion provided by the jets.

Of course, the first step in any good bath is, literally, the first step. If your body will have trouble negotiating the high sides of a tub, you will be less likely to use and enjoy this expensive piece of equipment. Walk in tubs allow you to get in and out easily, while still enjoying a bath. Some even provide a bench seat so you don’t need to bend down so far.

Finally, if you never want a bath, you can consider creating a shower enclosure that skips a tub entirely.

Putting your wish list aside, give some practical thought to these options. For example, a whirlpool tub requires access to both water and electricity and you will need to ensure there is a way to reach the mechanical components if they need servicing or repair in the future.

Additional options include chromatherapy, which place colored lights below the water line to create different emotional effects.

As always, if you have any plumbing questions, call Classic Plumbing by Reno at 860-748-7305. I’d be happy to talk about tubs and give you specific answers!

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