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.

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