Monday, August 29, 2011

Plumbing Problems during Hurricane Season

Hurricane Irene just barreled through the Eastern Seaboard, causing havoc and disaster in its wake. And, that was only the first major hurricane of the season. The tally from Hurricane Irene was at least 18 lives and an estimated economic damage of up to $7 billion. 

The National Hurricane Center is already reporting that a new tropical storm, Jose, is heading toward Bermuda, which means it will now be tracked for its impact on the East Coast or Gulf states. So it begins, and with it, there is the need to think about preparation again whether you are new to the area or you just need a reminder. While there are many things you need to do to prepare your home, commercial structure, pool, vehicles and pets for hurricanes, this article will focus on some of the issues related to plumbing that you can either prepare for or know that you must contend with when the storm passes.

Problems Hurricanes Create
If you live in Georgia, you most likely have experienced the heavy winds and rain that absolutely batter areas in the path of a hurricane. Uprooted trees and fallen power lines are two major problems. Then, of course, there are the heavy rains, especially when multiple inches of rainfall occur in very short time periods. Flooding is the result.

One of the biggest problems is a flooded basement. That’s why it is good to have a sump pump. You’ll want to make sure that it is working properly in order to help minimize damage to your property or business. Consider getting a battery backup for your sump pump as well because the power usually goes off during hurricanes and it can be off for days. If your sump pump fails, it is best to call in a professional plumber to help you. A flooded basement means there is additional risk of electric shock if you don’t know what you are doing.

Sewer backups are another hurricane hazard caused by the heavy rains. This can happen with home septic systems or with municipal sewer system. The excess water, along with debris, can back up these systems and create what can only be described as a mess. If you live in areas where these heavy rains often occur, maintenance is a good idea as regular sewer drain cleaning can help prevent this problem.

Another issue during hurricanes is debris and projectile objects. Make sure that plumbing equipment, along with electrical equipment, structures, flag poles and other items are inspected regularly and strapped down for additional protection during heavy winds. 
While not a plumbing issue, it’s important to note here that trees must be inspected regularly, and those that appear sick or dying should be removed to eliminate the risk of damage to your home and danger to your family.

Professional Help
Whether it is for hurricane prep, sump pump repair, or sewer maintenance or backup, it helps to work with a professional plumber who is adept at understanding how to prepare for hurricanes as well as how to assist with any plumbing issues that result. 

Even after the hurricane has passed, another may be well on its way, so it’s good to partner with your local plumber like the team at Pete’s Plumbing. Let us know your hurricane experiences and how you have prepared for what is often the unexpected.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fall into Good Plumbing – Autumn Plumbing Tips

It’s hard to think about winterizing your home while the temps are still high and the kids have barely gone back to school. However, fall is rapidly approaching and with it comes potential plumbing problems.
Now is the time to prepare your plumbing before freezing temps have a chance to wreak costly havoc on your home. It might be tempting to procrastinate, but a little regular maintenance and preparation now will definitely pay off later.

Look for Leaks
A quick and easy way to begin fall plumbing prep is to simply look for any leaks. A hidden leak that might go unnoticed during warmer months will certainly get your attention in the winter in the form of burst pipes and flooded floors and basements. To look for leaks in your home, simply turn all fixtures and faucets off. Next, watch for any leaks and listen for the sound of running water.
Even if you don’t hear or see any evidence of leaks, it’s still a good idea to call in a plumber to do a more thorough inspection of your plumbing. Consider having a high-tech video inspection done of your pipes to see if anything needs attention now before you find out in the dead of winter.

Home Inspection
Having your home’s plumbing system inspected by professionals is an important step toward preparing your plumbing for the impending cold and freezing weather. Pete’s Plumbing offers winter maintenance inspections and video inspections, which are done by trained, certified, experienced professional technicians.
After the inspection, Pete’s Plumbing’s technicians will advise you on which areas are in need of attention and what type of maintenance or repair is best. A small investment in your plumbing now will prevent you from having to make a much larger one later.

Fall is the time to winterize your home and plumbing. If you wait until winter arrives, it can be too late. 
In addition to having Pete’s Plumbing’s winterizing inspection there are steps homeowners can take now to get ready for winter
  • Check for exposed and un-insulated pipes. Look in areas around your home, such as the attic, crawl spaces, any areas of your home that are unheated and especially outside walls. When you do find exposed pipe, be sure to insulate it.
  • Inspect any outside faucets and make sure they are frost-proof.  If they aren’t, you can either drain the faucet to prevent freezing and bursting or you can choose to upgrade with a frost-proof model.
If you plan on being away from your home for an extended period of time during the winter, be sure to set your thermostat no lower than 55 degrees to prevent your indoor pipes from freezing.

Are You Ready?
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about preparing for fall and winterizing your plumbing, please feel free to post them below.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Keep Your Plumbing Ship Shape and Avoid Summer Plumbing Let-Downs

The weather is perfect, hot and clear. The kiddie pool is all blown up and ready for water. The BBQ is smoking hot and ready for burgers, chicken, and hot dogs. Then, your plumbing clogs. Great. What a way to end the fun of a perfect summer day. How can you avoid problems like clogged kitchen plumbing or bathroom overflows? Simple.

Planning for Plumbing Issues
Think ahead just a little bit. It’s a real temptation to stuff every bit of chopped kitchen debris down the old garbage disposer, but most in-sink disposers are rated for specific amounts. Here’s what to do:

  • Keeping an eye on the amount and content of what you put in the disposer can save you plumbing bills and reduce the water flowing in your kitchen sink.
  • Composting the heavy peels and bigger chopped bits, whenever possible for a bit of green living, will help your garden as well as your sink.
 In the bathroom, make sure that all the facilities are in good working order before the guests arrive. Here are some ideas:
  • Be sure that there is plenty of toilet paper available so guests don’t resort to tissues or moist wipes that can clog your toilet.
  • Monitor water flow usage in the bathroom sinks when little ones are washing hands for lunch or dinner barbecue.
  • Remember that kids love to watch things go down the sink or toilet, so checking those facilities occasionally might be a good idea. Just in case, though, keep standard plumbing tools handy for those little problems that might crop up. A good plunger can save the day.
Outdoor Plumbing Checks
Checked your outdoor faucets lately? Summer prep involves the following:
  •  Inspect all your outdoor water faucets and sprinklers to make sure that they are in good working order.
  • Hoses and other water-related equipment should also be checked for leaks or needed repairs. When you turn on the water to fill that kiddie pool, you don’t want to be surprised unpleasantly with dirty or unsanitary water or a flood of water in the face.

Make your garden and yard a summer oasis by utilizing your outdoor plumbing appropriately and efficiently. Here’s how:
  • Water during the late night or early morning hours to maximize the benefit to lawn and garden. Watering during the heat of the day can damage plants and lawns.
  •  Check the sprinklers to make sure that they cover the entire yard. If you find a sprinkler that doesn’t work properly, make certain that it is the sprinkler and not the pipe that is at fault.
  • Make repairs when necessary and give your plumber a call when the repairs are beyond your ability.

Your Plumbing Plan
Are you ready to finish the summer out without these types of plumbing issues? Have any ideas to share or questions to ask? Be sure to let us know.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Gray Area in Green Living – Gray Water Recycling

Every day, potable water – water good enough to drink or bathe in – is used in toilets, urinals, and for subsurface irrigation. In a time when conserving water, reducing water usage, and finding ways to even re-use water are more important than ever, it might be time to consider the risks and benefits of gray water recycling. Around the world, this conservation strategy is already in full effect, including Australia and Canada.

Defining Gray Water
What is gray water? According to Georgia Gray Water Recycling Systems Guidelines, gray water is defined as “wastewater generated by water-using fixtures and appliances. Common gray water sources include bathtubs, showers, lavatories, and clothes washers or laundry trays.”
For specific information on gray water in Georgia, including specific recommendations on gray water harvesting and gray water recycling, there are many online sites to read more about this developing water conservation strategy.

Risks and Benefits of Gray Water Recycling
At first glance, the idea of recycling water from clothes washers or from the shower seems like a good one. However, gray water poses many potential hazards that must be taken into consideration. The usage of gray water has the potential to greatly benefit municipal sewage treatment facilities by reducing sewer flows and in turn, the need to expand those treatment facilities. 

The downside is the reduced sewers flows may become insufficient to carry waste to sewer treatment facilities. This increases the possibility of corrosion and odor problems.

Depending on a great number of variables, such as the overall health of the members of the household and the various products they use (including shampoos and conditioners, soaps, cleaning products and laundry detergents), gray water can contain everything from chemicals, nitrates, and bleach to organic matter, suspended solids, and bacteria. These are all clearly things that most people would rather not expose themselves to let alone their lawns and gardens.

However, there are ways to manage the risks presented by gray water usage. A well-designed and maintained gray water treatment system can filter and disinfect the gray water, rendering it usable for toilets and subsurface irrigation. This can go a long way toward helping conserve potable water.

Professional Help
Because of the potential health hazards posed by gray water recycling, it is imperative any gray water system, including such components as collection, makeup water (from potable water), storage, filtration, disinfection, coloration, distribution, and identification. It is of the utmost importance that gray water must never, under any circumstances, contaminate a potable water system. Because of this and the intricacy of the plumbing involved, a qualified professional plumber who is intimately familiar with gray water systems must install and maintain the system.

Your Experiences
Do you have a gray water plumbing system? If so, what are your thoughts on its effectiveness? Are you thinking about installing one but have questions? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.