Your Toilet Is Overflowing - What Now?

dealing with toilet overflow

Toilet overflow is a not uncommon plumbing issue. When this happens, preventing raw sewage from spilling over onto your bathroom floor is a first priority. Solving the problem that is causing the overflow is an immediate second.

Here are some important steps to follow should you run into a toilet overflow:

  1. Locate the water shut off valve near the base of the toilet. Turn the valve until the water shuts off. This should prevent additional overflow. If your toilet does not have a local shut off valve, open the tank and rig the float to stay in its position - preventing water from refilling the tank.
  2. Clean up water spill. For small amounts of overflow water, a few towels should be able to soak up the mess. Otherwise, a shop-vac can help with larger spills, especially where carpet or other fabrics are involved. Be sure to wash and disinfect all surfaces that were dampened by the toilet water.
  3. Determine the cause of the overflow. For foreign objects, you can put on some rubber gloves and try to remove it. For a clog, a toilet plunger will typically do the trick.

Should these steps not resolve the overflow problem, call a professional plumber for assistance.

IS YOUR WATER HEATER TELLING YOU IT’S TIME FOR REPLACEMENT?

does your water heater need to be replaced?

For most of us, on-demand access to hot water isn’t optional -- we count on our water heaters to get us through every shower and sinkful of dishes. But even top-of-the-line water heaters aren’t built to last forever, so unless we want to see our hot water access disrupted, we must preempt water heater failure by replacing units that are nearing the ends of their lives.

Predicting water heater failure isn’t always easy, but these occurrences are most common when a water heater is reaching the end of its useful life.

WATER HEATER AGE

After years of service, lots of things can begin to go wrong with a hot water heater. Parts wear out. Corrosion develops. Tanks crack. For most tank heaters, ten years is a full life.

Knowing the age of your water heater is key to proactive replacement. If you can’t recall when yours was installed or you recently purchased your home, you can verify the date by checking the serial number label. Manufacturers note the month and year each unit is produced within the serial number, but this is often an alphanumeric code. Refer to your water heater manufacturer’s website to learn how to interpret your model’s code and confirm its age.

COMPROMISED HOT WATER SUPPLY

When things aren’t going right with your hot water heater, the first symptom is often one you can feel. The hot water coming from your shower and taps can be either cooler than usual or it may run out noticeably faster than before. 

This could be due to a failing heating element, which a licensed plumber can diagnose and repair. But it could also mean that mineral sediment has coated and hardened on the bottom of your tank, including on the heating element. This tends to happen around or after the ten-year mark, and should be interpreted as a serious indicator of imminent failure.

RUSTY WATER

You’ll get a full life out of your water heater if you routinely check the anode rod and replace it when necessary. This sacrificial rod attracts corrosive elements suspended in your water, gradually rusting away so your water heater tank doesn’t have to. But if you don’t replace this rod before it’s used up, those corrosive agents will begin attacking the entire unit.

Tank corrosion may present itself in the form of rusty water coming from your taps. You can confirm the problem is in your water heater and not your pipe system by flushing your water heater tank, another routine maintenance task, and checking to see if the drained water is rust-colored. If your water heater is rusted out, the time to replace it is now -- before it springs a leak.

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE

Whether due to rust, manufacturing flaws, damage or other causes, tank water heaters will spring a leak on a long enough timeline. The most effective way to address this is usually to check your water heater for leaks regularly and take action at the earliest sign of unexpected dripping or moisture.

KEEP IT DOWN

Even if none of these symptoms are present, you may get the heads-up that your water heater is on the skids if there’s a loud banging sound whenever it’s heating a tank of water. As the aforementioned sediment settles and hardens, it forces your water heater to work harder, and that can lead to rapid expansion of the tank itself. If you hear constant clanking coming from your tank, it’s time to get a new one.

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? If so, call your licensed, local plumbers today for a thorough inspection and no-obligation consultation on replacement options.

Solving Water Safety Challenges with Whole House Filtration

how safe is your water?

Water is treated at the municipal level before it is sent to your home. This processing is reflected in your utility bill – including costs for chemical treatments and generic testing. However, municipal water is treated with chlorine to kill harmful micro-organisms and aluminum to clump together particles. The chlorine and aluminum used to treat the water is not stripped before delivery into the water system – despite studies showing overconsumption of chlorine and exposure to aluminum can be harmful.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates tap water in the U.S., but while there are legal limits on many of the contaminants permitted in municipal water supplies, more than half of the 300+ chemicals detected in U.S. drinking water are not regulated at all.  In addition to the added chlorine and aluminum, current treatment does not eliminate common toxins including chloride, lead, iron, arsenic, copper and hydrogen sulfide.

According to Paul Pestano, a research analyst with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), some of the legal limits may also be too lenient for safety. Water utilities spend 19 times more on water treatment chemicals every year than the federal government invests in protecting lakes and rivers from pollution.

For several years, the EWG has argued that the federal government needs to perform a nationwide assessment of drinking water quality, and invest more to protect against water pollution, establish new safety standards and tell consumers about the full range of pollutants in their water.

As the government has not taken action on these initiatives, the EWG has created its own drinking water quality database, covering 48,000 communities in the U.S. Among the top rated water utilities are Arlington, Texas, Providence, Rhode Island, and Forth Worth, Texas. At the bottom of the list are Pensacola, Florida, Riverside, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada.

How Whole House Water Filtration Works

Whole house filtration systems work in several stages – using a series of filters, filtration media and water conditioners to pull damaging chemicals, minerals and toxins from the water as it enters your home water systems. One example is the HALO 5 system.

Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) provides general removal of chlorine, chloramines, gases, dyes, fules, heavy metals, man-made pollutants, disinfectants, pesticides and sodium hypochlorite. This first stage also removes undesirable tastes and odors as well as organic contaminants.

High Activity Carbon (HAC) is designed specifically for the removal of chlorine. This stage captures any chlorine particles that escaped the GAC.

Filter-AG Plus® & High Density Garnet Filter Media is an all-natural, environmentally safe media designed to reduce suspended matter. These stages will eliminate any remaining contaminants down to 10-20 microns in size.

The HALO ION Inline Water Conditioner uses multi-reversing polarity to alter the molecular structure of dissolved calcium and magnesium. The change in charge causes hard water minerals that typically cause lime scale to stay suspended in the water rather than attaching to pipes and appliances.

Safe Water

Whole house filtration systems are designed to pull out damaging pollutants and chemicals before they hit your plumbing – while maintaining the minerals and overall health benefits you require. There are many ways to ensure the water you consume is safe, including bottled water, filter pitchers and under sink solutions. But only a whole house system will protect your plumbing and keep damaging pollutants and chemicals from leaving residue on dishes or soaking into your skin.

Find out more about the safety of your municipality water through the EWG site by clicking here.

Simple Things You Can Do To Prevent Plumbing Problems This Spring

plumbing tips to prevent problems this spring

With so much to do in the spring to get ready for warm weather, it’s easy to neglect the plumbing that we rely on to work every day—usually until there’s a big problem! There are things you can do in and around your home to prevent plumbing issues and to spot small problems before they turn into big problems.

Here are some spring plumbing tips to help you maintain the plumbing elsewhere in and around your home:

  • Check the supply hoses that carry water to your ice maker, washing machine and dishwasher. If you find any signs of leaks or bulges, these should be replaced as soon as possible.
  • Give the valves under your sinks and those that supply the water to your appliances a turn one way and then the other to prevent them from sticking.
  • Check the cabinet under your kitchen sink for dampness or water stains that could signal a leak.
  • Clean any lint or other debris from the lint trap on your washing machine, as this could potentially prevent your machine from draining properly.
  • Check the settings on your hot water heater to make sure you aren’t wasting energy to heat water hotter than it needs to be. We recommend, as do most experts, that the temperature be no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This will not only save money on your energy bill, but will also reduce the risk of scalding, especially for small children. If your hot water heater is 15 years or older, spring is also an excellent time of year to go ahead and replace it with an energy-efficient model. If you do, you could see savings on your utility bills right away and with each month to come.
  • Clean gutters, downspouts and yard drains by removing all leaves and other debris. A lot of water lying around your home’s foundation is a warning sign that your gutters or drain spouts are clogged and need attention.
  • Check outdoor faucets for leaks. If any water leaks inside the home when you turn on an outside faucet, it could mean that a pipe froze during the winter. Turn off the water line that supplies the outdoor faucet, or if you are unsure of where that’s located, turn off the main water valve to your home to prevent water damage. Then call Same Day Service Plumbing, Heating & Air immediately to take a look.

While there are many things you can do around your home this spring to maintain and inspect your plumbing, we’re more than happy to do these for you. Consider having one of our professionals do a walk-through to make sure everything is working properly.

Plumbing Cameras Offer a View from the Inside

plumbing pipe camera inspection

Not long ago, there was a lot of guesswork involved in household plumbing repairs. That's because it was impossible to definitively know what was going on inside a pipe without exposing and removing it, which had to be weighed against the cost and hassle of doing so. Rather than spend thousands of dollars and digging up an entire lawn, it often made sense to snake a sewer pipe repeatedly and hope for the best.

Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue in the form of plumbing cameras. Just like a plumbing snake, these devices can be fed into plumbing systems and flexed around corners with ease. But unlike a standard snake, plumbing cameras let you see the inside of a pipe in real time, showing the exact location and severity of clogs, leaks and other problems.

Sure You're Sure

While it doesn't make sense to deploy a plumbing camera for every issue, it's the most reliable way to be absolutely sure your plumber knows what's going on before a single turn of the wrench. When it comes to planning a repair, no method is faster, cheaper, safer or less invasive.

Not only is the plumbing camera the optimal way to diagnose a problem, it's often the best way to confirm that a repair was performed properly. One follow-up glance with the camera can save you and your plumber a lot of time and uncertainty.

Worth a Thousand Words

Here are just a few situations where a plumbing camera inspection can spare you time and hassle:

  • When you need to know how big the problem is. Because most household plumbing is hidden, what begins as a small job can often develop into a major ordeal. A camera inspection won't make a huge project more manageable, but it can let you know exactly what you're getting into.
  • When you're buying a home. A thorough home inspection is a standard part of any home buying process, but not every home inspector is equipped with a plumbing camera. If you really want to be sure of what you're buying, arrange for a plumber to seek out the visual evidence.
  • When you can't find a leak. Your water bill is too high, there's a musty odor -- all the telltale signs of a leak are present, but you still don't know where it's coming from. With a camera on the lookout, pinpointing the leak is just a matter of searching.
  • When you're remodeling. If your plans involve moving or installing a tub, toilet or sink, you'll need to know exactly where your pipes are. When detailed blueprints are unavailable, a camera inspection can show the way.
  • When something goes down the drain. If you've accidentally washed away a beloved piece of jewelry, there's always a chance you can spot and retrieve it with the help of a plumbing camera.

Could you use a camera inspection of your pipes? Reach out to your local, licensed, experienced plumbers today.

How Does Trenchless Pipe Repair Work?

Digging a trench across your lawn can be time consuming, messy and cause future lawn problems. Fortunately, trenchless pipe repair is a viable option for many situations where pipe repair is required.

Call Benjamin Franklin Plumbing today to find out more about qualifications and quotes for trenchless pipe repair.

how does trenchless pipe repair work

Extending the Life of Your Hot Water Heater

The majority of water heaters are designed to last between ten to fifteen years. However, nearly three quarters of water heaters have failed by the thirteenth year, according to the California Energy Commission. These failures are typically unexpected, because water heaters wear from the inside out, and often result in insurance claims due to water damage. Fortunately, there are ways to help extend the life of your water heater and keep your home safe from water heater related issues.

hot water heater deterioration

Sacrificial Anode Rods

Conventional water heaters are glass-lined and use a sacrificial anode rod to “slow” the deterioration process down. This rod is made of magnesium or aluminum that’s formed around a steel core wire and is screwed into the top of the tank. When two metals are physically connected in water, one will corrode away to protect the other. When the water heater tank is filled with water, an electrochemical process begins whereby sacrificial anodes are consumed to protect a small amount of exposed steel. Replacing an anode rod before it fails can slow down corrosion inside the tank and extend the life of the water heater.

The Issue is Sedimentary

Another issue for conventional water heaters is sediment build-up. Heating up water can cause minerals, such as calcium carbonate, to precipitate out. Buildup of this sediment slows heat transfer and overheats the bottom of the tank. In the case of an electric water heater, sediment can bury the lower element, causing it to burn out. In order to avoid this issue and extend the life of the appliance, water heaters should be drained twice a year to help clear the sediment from the system.

Check Your Pressure Release

Water heaters need their temperature-pressure-release valve checked on occasion. To test the valve, shut off the power and cold water supply, place a bucket under the pipe connected to the release valve and lift the valve’s tab to let some water out, then let it go. If water keeps flowing once the valve is released, a new valve will need to be installed.

While all of these tasks can be performed by the homeowner, yearly professional maintenance is also recommended to ensure the integrity of the tank and prevent unplanned problems. Should your water heater begin making noise, leaking or stop producing hot water, it may be time to think about replacement...and calling a pro.

Simple Care for Your Dishwasher

simple care for your dishwasher

There are few things more satisfying than saving time and money simultaneously, and your dishwasher is one appliance that makes this possible. Not only do you get your dishes clean in a fraction of the time, dishwashers generally use less water and less water heater energy than washing dishes by hand.

But over the course of time, you may notice that your dishwasher doesn’t deliver the performance you’re used to, or it might start to develop an odor. A little TLC from time to time can help you avoid these issues.

To keep your appliance in shipshape, observe these essential maintenance steps:

Inspect the seals. Your dishwasher may well outlive the rubber gasket that forms a watertight seal around the door. If this happens, the gasket can crack and leak water onto your floor or into your cabinets. Contact your dishwasher’s manufacturer for a suitable replacement, or just call your local plumbing professional for repairs.

Clean the screen. At the bottom of your dishwasher, you’ll likely find a screen designed to catch large chunks of food or fallen silverware. This screen should be removed and cleaned regularly to ensure proper flow and avoid unpleasant odors.

Clear the spray arm nozzles. While dishwasher designs vary, most feature at least two removable, rotating arms lined with spray nozzles. Periodically remove these arms in accordance with your manufacturer’s instructions. Soak them in warm, soapy water and use a small bottle brush to clean each spray nozzle individually.

Fight mold and mildew. It’s not uncommon for mold or mildew to develop in a dishwasher, but fortunately, it’s easy to treat this problem. Simply pour about two cups of white or apple cider vinegar into an empty dishwasher and run it on the heaviest setting to clean things up.

Check the level. Use a bubble level on the floor of the dishwasher to ensure that it’s sitting flat, and adjust the dishwasher’s legs if it’s not. An off-kilter dishwasher can result in diminished performance and drainage issues.

Confirm proper drain line design. Most household plumbing drains feature a drain trap -- a u-shaped section of pipe close to the drain opening. This trap can not only save your dropped wedding ring, it can help contain odors by creating a watertight seal between the sewer line and the appliance. But if your dishwasher drain line was accidentally installed on the wrong side of the drain trap, nasty odors could come wafting into your kitchen.

By taking a few minutes each week to observe these simple steps, you can prolong the life of your dishwasher and make your kitchen a more pleasant place to be. If you need any additional help with the dishwasher in your home, reach out to your local plumbing pros.