Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Is Your Toilet Running?

Denver Water is reminding customers to check their toilets to see if they are running. They say that between 100-250 gallons of water can be wasted daily by one toilet.

Sometimes you can hear the water running constantly, sometimes you hear it refill every once in a while and sometimes a slow leak can’t be heard.

A way to check is to put some food coloring in the tank and don’t flush it for a thirty minutes. If the color appears in the bowl, you have a leak.

So what should you do? Don’t ignore it as that will cost you more in the long run. I have been called on occasion where a customer had a clogged toilet and it was running at the same time. Water is flowing onto the floor and you have an emergency. That doesn’t happen too often. Most of the time the leak get’s worse until you have a constant stream going down the drain.

Toilet repairs are usually easy and inexpensive. You may have $20.00 in parts and around 15 minutes to an hour of labor. It’s not something to put off because of cost.

While you are checking out your toilets, look at your faucets too. Are they dripping? If so, I can guarantee that they will not get better on their own but the drip will soon turn to a steady stream. Faucets can usually be repaired with a new washer or cartridge. If they are left too long then other parts may need to be replaced.

If you have any of these problems, give me a call and I will try to give you an idea over the phone of what it will cost to repair. You may find that it will be easier and less expensive that you thought.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Frozen Pipes

The phone rings; I see that it is 3:30 am. My son Tom is on the phone. I know something bad has happened. A pipe has froze and burst. I feel sick for him. We have had days of sub-zero weather and now at 3:30 am, on a Friday morning, the temperature has risen just enough that the water has started to flow. The blessings in this bad situation quickly become evident. He was up early to go to work and heard the sound of water running within seconds of the spray appearing. Second, the broken pipe is in the garage.

The water is turned off but another problem appears: the broken pipe is part of the heating system. The temperature in the house is starting to drop.

My dad was a plumber and soldered countless thousands of copper pipe fittings in his long career. I watched him as he worked like an artist. Fittings and pipe cleaned, flux applied, the right amount of heat from the torch and the solder flows into the joint. The torch is removed and in a final flourish he wipes the joint. He made it look so easy and in the ideal situation it can be. Repairs on old pipe are something else. Even for an expert they can be difficult.

I worked many summers with my Dad and picked up numerous plumbing skills. Soldering was not one of them. It wasn’t something that I had much practice at and never felt comfortable doing it especially in repair situations. It’s not something I do as a handyman for those and a few other reasons.

With my son Tom’s situation I wished it was a skill I had. I knew we needed a plumber and sooner rather than later. With his heating system shut down I worry that other pipes could be in danger of freezing.

Thankfully, a plumber is located who can come later in the morning. That is a small miracle as many other broken pipes across town are keeping plumbers swamped.

So what can be done in sub-zero times to help avoid broken pipes? Here are some tips from Garvin’s Sewer Service:

Frozen Pipes: What to do if you have them

If you find yourself with frozen pipes, here are some tips to help you out (and hopefully prevent a water emergency and/or needing a plumber).

1. Make sure your heat is turned up to 75 degrees, open cupboard doors.

2. Turn your main water off 95% of the way if you are at home. If you are away, turn it off completely. (Your main shut off valve will most likely be in your basement or crawlspace.)

3. Leave the affected faucets on to allow water to come through and thaw pipes.

4. If you have a space heater, put it under the affected areas to heat the pipes. (a hair-dryer is an alternative option)

5. If your home has a crawlspace, make sure all vents to the outside are CLOSED.

Special notes: If NONE of the water pipes in your home are producing water, than your main water line may be the affected pipe, in which case, you will need to contact a plumber.

These are great tips. Garvin’s is a good company too. I have recommended them many times for sewer cleaning and general plumbing work. I do a lot of plumbing work but there are many times an expert needs to be called.

I hope you don’t ever have to experience a frozen or broken pipe. An interesting fact is that the pipe breaks from freezing but it will usually not leak until it thaws out. Another tip is to always make sure hoses are disconnected from outside faucets in the winter.

If I can ever be of service to you please don’t hesitate to call. You can reach me at 303-232-3347.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Furnace Filter

Have you changed your furnace filter lately? If you haven’t, it would be a good time to do it or get it done.

Depending on who you talk to, it’s recommended to change the filter every six months or as often as every month. I have found that it does vary depending on the house, amount of dust, animal hair, type of filter, etc.

The true way to tell is by looking at the filter when you change it. If it is heavy with dust, etc, then it might be a good idea to change it more often.

If the filter is obstructed, the furnace will not work as well and it will cost you more to operate.

Filters themselves vary in cost from fifty-cents on up. Some of the more expensive ones do work better and may last longer. Depending on what you want to accomplish, such as pollen filtering and allergy reduction the more expensive may be what you want. For those you may be looking at ten to fifteen dollars. Of course you can spend way more than that if you want to.

Some furnaces make filter changing very easy; others can be a little more complicated. I will be glad to help you decide on what you need and if it is a job that you can do yourself. Give me a call and you will breathe easier.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Washing Machine Hose Failure

Washing machine fill hose failure could flood your house and cause thousands of dollars in damage. State Farm says about 150 million dollars damage in the US and Canada every year.

Do you know the condition of the hoses behind your washing machine? Many people don’t and have never thought about it. If your hoses are the old black rubber type or are more than five years old, it’s time to get some new ones. Inspect them regularly for leaking, bulging or cracking. Also make sure there are no kinks.

You can get a new set of braided stainless steel hoses for around twenty dollars. It’s usually easy to replace them.

For very little cost, you will gain peace of mind. Imagine what it would be like to come home and find water spraying from the back of your washer. Think about the damage it would cause. New hoses installed properly will make those thoughts unnecessary.

If you need new hoses or are not sure, give me a call and I will be glad to help you.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fluidmaster Duo Flush

I saw a product recently that promised to save up to 15,000 gallons of water a year. It is a retrofit flush valve for a toilet that allows two flush modes - one for liquid and one for solids – if you get what I’m saying. Lift the handle for liquid and push down for solids.

I had installed a similar valve by a different company in our home toilet a couple of years ago. It was somewhat difficult to adjust to get a proper flush. I didn’t feel I could recommend it to my customers.

When I saw the Fluidmaster Duo Flush I contacted the company and they sent me the Duo Flush System to try out. The system has the Duo Flush valve and a ballcock with some water saving features of its own.

The installation was fairly simple for someone used to installing toilet parts. As I always say, having the right tools always makes a job easier. Taking out the old parts and installing the new took about 30 minutes. The adjustment to get the proper flush on both liquids and solids was easy.

I am very happy with how the system works. It’s especially nice for old style toilets that use much more water per flush than the new ones.

Well, sad news to report. The product didn't pass long term testing. The handle became hard to use. The company sent out a replacement and after a month or so, the new one started sticking open - wasting more water than it would save. So, I can't recommend this product. Hopefully these problems can be worked out in the future.


Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fence Repair

The wind has been howling all day. It’s been a beautiful day but I know for those with weak fence posts, it has not been a happy day.

I do a lot of fence repair where sections of fence have fallen down or posts are weak. Many times new posts can be set next to the old rotted posts and the fence is as strong as new. The advantage of this type of repair is that it takes less time than digging out the old post and concrete.

Give me a call at 303-232-3347 and we can get your fence back together.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sewer Line Backup

One of the worst things for me is to wake up at night to a plumbing problem. That happened Tuesday. From my bleariness I hear the words that water is coming from the bottom of the basement toilet. I soon figure out that our main sewer line is backed up.

I know the history of the house we have and this is the first time since it was built in 1955 that the sewer has backed up. My dad who had it before us was a plumber. He intentionally didn’t plant trees in the front yard to avoid roots getting into the sewer line.

As a handyman I fix most of our plumbing problems around the house. At the house we moved from six years ago, tree roots caused sewer backups about every six months to a year. Cleaning the sewer was a familiar ritual that I don’t miss.

When one of my customers call with a sewer backup I refer them to Garvin’s Sewer Service. Garvin’s is also a full service plumbing company. They have been around since 1940. I decided to have Garvin’s clean our sewer line because my work day was packed and I couldn’t reschedule the job. I called them around 11:30 pm and was told they could come in about an hour. Their charge is the same night or day. I decided to wait until morning as the line, though backed up, was still draining although very slow.

I have always had good feedback when I refer Garvin’s but this would be the first time I would be using them personally. The plumber arrived around 8 am. My wife reported to me how things went and was well informed by the plumber of what he found. He even told her ahead of time that the bolts holding the toilet down may break when he removed them. Thankfully they didn’t. He even suggested that we should replace the downstairs toilet as it is a style doesn’t flush as well as other types. It was information and not a sales pitch.

When our house was built, the sewer lines were made of a clay material. My dad called it tile pipe. It is very common for the pipe to be damaged by tree roots and settling or other environmental problems can also damage the pipe. The plumber said it was possible that something like this is going on with our line. He said that if the problem persisted we could run a camera through the line to inspect it. He said we didn’t need to do that at this time. I was glad to hear that. Many other companies try to sell the camera inspection with every sewer cleaning job. It is expensive and only needed at certain times.

Garvin’s motto is: We Clean Drains NOT Bank Accounts! I appreciate that in a company. Many sewer cleaning companies have all kinds of hidden charges and are always trying to make the job more expensive. You won’t get that with Garvin’s. I was very happy with their service.

Here is a link to Garvin’s.

Please keep me in mind for your home maintenance and repair jobs. I am fair in my pricing and will never do a job beyond my ability. Call me at 303-232-3347.

I also appreciate referrals. If you like my work, please tell your friends.

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