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Monthly Archives: August 2017

Tree roots in plumbing: what’s the harm?

Have you found out that there are tree roots clogging your plumbing? They can be a pain to get rid of. But what’s the harm? Do they have to be removed?

Take it from us: you should deal with the problem as soon as possible. It takes more than regular maintenance to get rid of them, too. Read on to find out more.

Tree roots in plumbing are a sign that there is a pre-existing fault

The first problem with having tree roots in plumbing isn’t actually caused by the roots themselves. Rather, the problem is that the roots are a sign of a problem that already exists. There are a number of faults that can lead to tree roots in plumbing, such as:

  • Leaking pipes: the tree roots are attracted to the leaking water, and colonise the pipe through the gap
  • Blocked pipes: again, blocked pipes provide a ready source of standing water for tree roots to enjoy. Ideally, the water should flow freely, so that the tree roots are discouraged from setting up shop.
  • Deteriorated seals and failed joints: these factors again can attract tree roots with the promise of water. In a closed system, the tree roots would never ‘know’ that there’s water close by. But where the roots are allowed in, or where water is allowed out, tree roots (and plants generally) will thrive.

As you can see, tree roots in plumbing are caused by existing damage to your pipes. It’s actually very rare that tree roots or other plants can break their way in to your plumbing system.

tree roots in plumbing

If your sink or toilet is blocking more frequently than it used to, this could be a sign of roots in your plumbing.File:Kitchen sink drain.jpg – Wikimedia Commons : taken from – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kitchen_sink_drain.jpg https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

What are the warning signs?

There are a number of signs that your plumbing may have been taken over by tree roots. Unfortunately, you can’t always easily see that roots have taken hold in your plumbing, unless you actually break open the pipe and look for yourself. That’s why the problem can go unchecked for a long time before you realise there’s anything wrong. That being said, there are a few warning signs that you’ll have to look out for. In no particular order:

  • Slow flowing drains indicate that the water is being held up by something. Often, that could be limescale caused by hard water. But in this case, there are tree roots in the way!
  • Strange gurgling noises in your pipes can be a sign of many things, tree roots among them. This is because the water is draining erratically- moving through and around the roots in your pipes.
  • Recurring problems with your toilet or other drains clogging is an obvious sign. This is because the water, debris and waste being flushed away can easily get caught among the roots.

Tree roots in plumbing can therefore cause problems in your home. But what exactly do they do to your plumbing system, and why are they a problem?

What’s the harm of tree roots in plumbing?

Letting tree roots colonise your pipes is a problem that only gets worse over time. If you let it keep getting worse, your pipes will suffer extensive damage because of the force of the roots expanding.

If you’ve ever walked down the sidewalk, and there were trees planted on one side, you might have noticed the concrete looking buckled and broken. Why? That’s the force of the tree roots! They can’t move quickly, of course, but over time they can push their way through almost anything. Your pipes included.

Because of the force of their growth, tree roots in plumbing can cause cracks and fractures in your pipes in extreme cases. In turn, that causes leaks and low pressure. But hold on, because it gets worse! The leak from that crack or fracture actually attracts more tree roots and plants to your pipes!

But if you have strong pipes, particularly if they were only recently installed, they’re probably strong enough to withstand tree roots. In that case, the worst problem you’ll encounter will most likely be reduced water flow and increased blockage frequency, especially if you use a garbage disposal.

tree roots in plumbing

Tree roots are sturdy- but not sturdy enough to stand up to us and our professional grade drain clearing equipment! Free photo: Root, Old, Tree Root, Nature, Log – Free Image on Pixabay – 1227266 : taken from – https://pixabay.com/en/root-old-tree-root-nature-log-1227266/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/

So what can I do to fix tree roots in plumbing?

To unblock your drain, you’ll need the help of a professional drain clearing company like ours. We use our skill and experience dealing with problems like these every day, and we can use the top quality equipment at our disposal to clear your drain in no time.

The best way of clearing your drains is by using a method called drain jetting, which is exactly what it sounds like. Basically, a high pressure jet of water is shot straight down the drain. Hopefully, this blast of water will be enough to completely clear your drain, roots and all. This is something that you quite simply can’t do at home, because the water pressure required is extraordinary.

If the tree roots can’t be cleared by drain jetting, or even by physically trying to remove them from the pipe, a full refit may be necessary. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. It also might be preferable, because the damage that actually allowed the roots to take hold might be extensive. In that case, you should have your pipes refitted anyway.

After the work is done, you should schedule regular maintenance, and keep an eye on the trees in your backyard and your neighborhood. They’re always on the lookout for more pipes to colonise!

The history of plumbing in America: 4 facts you might not believe

History of plumbing in America

The Native Americans may have lived in surprisingly big cities and had complex cultures, but they didn’t have plumbing. Public Domain image according to https://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fil:Native_American_Chiefs_1865.jpg

These days, we might be annoyed if we have a leaky faucet.  We might be especially annoyed if our sewer line needs repairing. But what about if we had no plumbing at all? Or we had to use outhouses? Or if the city didn’t even have a sewer for our sewer line to connect to?

We’ve got it pretty good, if you think about it. So let’s get a little perspective with our history of plumbing in America.

The history of plumbing in America: plumbing isn’t as old as you think

You might already know, or may have assumed, but the Native Americans had no plumbing system whatsoever. But what’s more remarkable is that they still lived in cities of up to 40,000 people! The city of Cahokia grew to be one of the biggest in pre-Columbian America, and existed for up to eight hundred years between around 600 and 1400 AD.

In cities like Cahokia, archeological evidence suggests that some communities even lived in condo style apartments over a number of stories. But even so, they never invented or considered inventing running water or plumbing. Instead, the people would collect water from the rivers, lakes and wells in the area.

In fairness to the Native Americans, what you might not realise is that nowhere in the world had plumbing at that point! Not in Europe, not in China. In fact, the first running water systems were only re-invented in the last few hundred years. Why do we say re-invented? Because the Romans actually had running water for heating, washing and waste. It only took us almost two thousand years to think that running water might have been a good idea.

The history of plumbing in America: The pilgrims used hollowed out logs for sewerage

So, before we began to use true running water plumbing systems, what did we use? Well, we relied on nature instead. People would connect their houses to nearby streams using hollowed out logs. Each home would have an individual system, just like how each house was built by hand for (or by) the people who lived there. It’s actually a fairly good system, if you compare it to the alternatives: basic cess pits and dumping waste in rivers and lakes by hand.

The logs would work with simple gravity and a bucket of water. Plumbers- or just general handymen, back then- would install logs at an angle so that any waste could easily run off. The idea was so popular that during Andrew Jackson’s presidency, they plumbed the entire White House with hollowed out logs. The only problem was when it was difficult to achieve the necessary grade for the waste to flow out. The logs would begin to stink fairly quickly, as you can imagine, and would become a haven for germs and all sorts of other nasty things.

History of plumbing in America

They aren’t a myth, or a joke: two story outhouses were used in some places in the U.S. Unforutunately, we couldn’t find any photos of one to share. Free photo: Outhouse, Country, Dry Toilet – Free Image on Pixabay – 1411137 : taken from – https://pixabay.com/en/outhouse-country-dry-toilet-toilet-1411137/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/

The history of plumbing in America: The two story outhouse isn’t a myth

You will have definitely seen two story outhouses in cartoons like the Simpsons and Looney Tunes. You probably assumed that they were a joke: how could someone sit in the lower stall without… Well, you get the picture. But they were real, and people really used them. Any ‘waste’ from the top stall would go back behind the first stall through a separate compartment. It would then join the cess pit underneath, just like a normal outhouse. So you never had to plunge your toilet!

You might ask why- the reason is actually simple. Outhouses like these weren’t necessarily just used by one family living in one house. They might be used by two, three or four houses. Anybody who lives at home with their family knows the pain of waiting for the bathroom while someone shaves or does their hair; well, people back then knew all about that too. But with a two story outhouse, you could both see to your business at the same time.

There are still two story outhouses that you can visit across America. One town called Gays, Illinois is particularly proud of theirs.  So proud, in fact, that they composed a rhyme for a nearby billboard:

In England they have urinals
In Paris bidets
But nowhere on earth
Has an outhouse like Gays.

The history of plumbing in America: Salt Lake City had a population of 45,000 before they built a sewer

Salt Lake City, out in the mid west, sits on the Great Salt Lake basin- hence the name. It was built to order in 1847 by Brigham Young, the spiritual head of the Church of Latter Day Saints, and lies next to what was christened the Jordan River. Unfortunately for Brigham Young, and unfortunately for the people of Salt Lake City, the town planners didn’t think to install a sewerage system before they began building the city!

The first cities to install sewers, like London and Paris, faced the unhappy dilemma of having to build underneath the city that was already there. Salt Lake City had it easy, but still decided it was best to let everything drain into the River Jordan instead. By 1890, the city grew to the population of 45,000. At this point, the sights, sounds and smells of open sewage clogging the river were becoming too much to bear, so the town council decided to finally install a sewerage system.

The only problem with their new system was that it still ran into the Jordan River, which still flowed into the Great Salt Lake. The Great Salt Lake, big as it was and still is, is what’s called a terminal lake: it doesn’t flow anywhere. That’s why it’s so salty. All the collective sewage of 40, then 50 and then 80,000 people was flowing into the lake with nowhere to go. Not good if you were planning a boating trip.

Home heating repair: what to expect when you need help

Has something gone drastically wrong with your home heating system? Are you wondering how on earth you can get it back in working order without a call to your local maintenance man? Well don’t worry- we don’t bite. You can always try DIY home repairs– but the problem might not be as simple as it first appears.

The good news is that there’s always going to be someone out there who can help you. The point of this post is to let you know what to expect from home heating repair.

Diagnosis: what’s wrong with your heating system?

Even if you do your best to save on your water heating bill, and hardly use your heating system at all, problems can still occur, and even if you get regular maintenance. There’s nothing you can do to prevent an Act of God!

The first thing your repairman will do is to actually diagnose what’s wrong with your heating system. Home heating repair is easy if the problem’s obvious- a blown pipe, for instance. But electronic fixtures are less easy to fix. That’s why the first thing we’ll do is to take a look at what might have stopped your heating from working. The service provider should follow a clear, precise and thorough set of guidelines in identifying what’s gone wrong, so that the exact problem can be pinpointed and resolved.

Your repairman may have to check every part of your heating system to find the issue. But once they have, they should be able to offer you a quotation for both parts and labor. If you accept their offer, they can get straight to work, so long as they have the parts- more on that later.

home heating repair

Low hot water pressure is often one of the first signs that your heating system isn’t working properly. Free photo: Shower, Douche, Bathroom, Clean – Free Image on Pixabay – 1027904 : taken from – https://pixabay.com/en/shower-douche-bathroom-clean-water-1027904/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/

What are some common problems with home heating?

There are a number of common home heating accidents that can damage the heating system, or even your entire home. There are also a number of common problems that stop your heating system from working as it should.

  • You’re not getting any hot water. Obviously, if your boiler or furnace isn’t producing hot water, there’s something wrong with it.
  • Your boiler itself is leaking water. This isn’t a healthy sign. A common reason is that some internal component, like a seal or a pressure valve, has either broken or corroded away. The cause could be either ageing or broken components, or it could be that the pressure is too high. Either way, it’s not wise to deal with this problem yourself.
  • Some kind of strange noise, like banging or gurgling, is coming from your heating system. Again, this could be because of a pressure problem, or it could be that there’s air stuck in the pipes.
  • Your heating system turns on and off at random times. If your heating is electronic, well, it’s most likely an electronic problem! But it could also be because of low water pressure, or a thermostat issue.
  • The pressure keeps dropping. Common sense should tell you that if the pressure in your heating system keeps dropping, then there’s a leaky pipe somewhere that needs to be fixed. But it could also be an issue with your pressure gauge, which might be giving an incorrect reading, and forcing your heating to act strangely.  

Furnaces should receive regular maintenance, but even if they do, they can still break down.

Can they fix the problem with my heating there and then?

Some home heating repair jobs can be done straight away. If you have an old fashioned boiler or furnace, one that isn’t even electronic, then your repairman might be able to fix it immediately. Older models more commonly rely on readily available parts like nuts and bolts than chips and circuit boards. That might mean they’re less efficient, but it also means they’re much easier to repair in some cases. Your repairman might have the parts in their truck, or might even be able to source them from a local hardware store.

The main reason why your repairman may not be able to complete a job is because they need to send off for parts. This is especially the case with electronic boilers which sometimes use brand-specific parts. If the model is particularly rare, or has been discontinued for a long time, then your repairman might not have the part to hand. In fact, they may have to replace your boiler or furnace in its entirety. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing: new, modern heating systems are often far more cost-effective than their older counterparts. So you’ll be saving money in the long run, anyway.

Your repair man should clean up after themselves!

Good repairmen are always respectful of the house they’re working in, and the client they’re working with. That’s because most repairmen are sole proprietors, and run their own local business. Word would quickly get around if they aren’t pleasant to work with! So, after the job is done, your repairman shouldn’t leave a huge mess for you to clean up.

Most home heating repair men are polite, patient and easy to work with. Their business depends on it, after all. So if you do need to call someone out for home heating repair, don’t worry- we’ll be gentle! And in the future, to prevent any more accidents, you should schedule regular ‘tune up’ visits that will keep your heating system in top condition.

What is a whole house water filter?

You may have heard of a new thing called a whole house water filter. You may also have heard that it’s better than having individual water filters, and which you might have already.

But what is a whole house water filter? When was it ‘invented’, and why aren’t they more common? How do they work, and how can you have them installed? Well, let’s find out!

What is a whole house water filter?

A whole house water filter, you’ll be pleased to know, is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a water filter that directly filters water before it reaches the pipes that supply water around your home. If you already have your air purified, or put through an AC, the idea is pretty similar!

whole house water filter

Group of water filter pitchers on table | www.yourbestdigs.c… | Flickr : taken from – https://www.flickr.com/photos/yourbestdigs/27758605502Author: Your Best Digs https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

It’s connected directly to the water supply, and all of the water you use passes through it. If you have one, all of the water you will use is pure. That includes drinking water, the water you use to wash your clothes, the water you use to shower or bathe, even to brush your teeth.

It’s basically a larger version of a smaller filter, which you can install either on your tap or on the spout of a jug. It’s also a smaller version of what water treatment plants use to filter dirty water from residential and industrial areas, before it’s passed back into the water supply. Whole house water filters come in all shapes and sizes. That’s a reflection of cost, space available, and the kind of filter you’re buying. Some whole house water filters work differently to others, too, as we’ll find out soon enough.

How does a whole house water filter work?

A whole house water filter works in the same way as any other water filter. There are two main kinds of filter that you can buy: physical filters, which are basically sieves, and chemical filters which remove impurities through absorption by a chemical or series of chemicals. There is no one kind of chemical used to completely purify water. So, to make up for that, a number are used together.

One example is activated carbon, which is used to absorb chlorine and chlorine derivatives. Chlorine is, of course, quite common in water; it’s also difficult to get out of water, if you don’t like the stuff. But it can be removed using activated carbon, which can be made from coconut shells. Other natural methods of filtering water use sand, charcoal (i.e. activated carbon) and gravel- in that order- to purify water. In fact, that’s the basis of the very oldest water filters, and the general idea hasn’t changed much until today.

Where is the whole house water filter installed?

A whole house water filter is installed where the rising main comes into your property, or in other words, where the mains water actually reaches your domestic plumbing system. This is why you may have heard the term ‘point of entry system’- the filter is attached literally at the point where water enters your property. That’s how it filters the water you use for everything around the home. The point of entry may be either inside or outside your property. It may also be difficult to actually fit a whole house water filter at the point of entry, depending on the amount of space you have available. Make sure you can actually fit one before you’d like to get one installed!

What are the benefits of a whole house water filter system?

Water filters have one central benefit: they remove potentially harmful impurities from the water. These impurities require a range of measures to remove them- take for example distillation. Distillation removes impurities by boiling water, and then collecting the condensation that forms on a surface used to collect it. The idea is that some impurities are heavier than water, so they get left behind when the water condenses. But others aren’t light enough to get left behind.Chlorine, found in bleach and used to clean swimming pools, can be difficult to remove from water. That’s when another method, like filtering water through charcoal/activated carbon, becomes necessary. The good news is that whole house water systems remove impurities through a variety of methods, so nothing (or very little) is left behind.

Whole house water filters also have the added bonus that they filter all of the water you use. If, for instance, you have a water filter jug, you might find yourself running out of purified water fairly often. You can always buy another jug, or a bigger jug; but what about if you’re boiling pasta and need something to drink? Maybe you have one installed on your tap, but then you can only get purified water in one place. Whole house water filters take care of that problem by providing the entire house with filtered water, all the time.

Are there any drawbacks to having a whole house water filter?

There are actually some drawbacks, yes. Depending on the model and the size of your filter, you may experience a drop in water pressure. This will be particularly noticeable when you’re using a lot of water- obviously- like when you’re washing clothes, and your partner is taking a shower. You may have to try and conserve water if you don’t already. Some models are designed to keep water pressure fairly high, but again, these models are generally bigger so you may not be able to get one where you live.

Another drawback is that like any water filter, they will incur a repeated cost. Generally, you should have your filter replaced every year, so it’s a part of general maintenance like having your furnace checked. If you don’t, and you’re free not to, your filter won’t work at maximum efficiency- but there’s no way of making them last longer than they already do. And if it’s not working… What’s the point of having one?