The Different Types of Sewer Pipes

Curious about the different kinds of sewer pipes? Well, be curious no longer! This time on the Economy Plumbing Services blog, we’re covering just that. The different types of sewer pipe, when they’re used and more. So let’s talk about that!

Sewer Pipe

Sewer pipe is the workhorse of your plumbing system. It’s what carries all the waste water from your home. For most folks, you won’t know what kind of pipes you have unless you’ve bought your home, just built and that info was provided, or if you have had to do repairs in the past. Digging up your yard, replacing pipes is never a fun time, so we don’t blame ya!

Knowing what kind of pipe you do have however, can make the process of repairs easier, or at least take the sting out a bit as you’ll know ahead of time what kind of pipes are running through your yard and what you’ll need to do when it’s time to repair them.

For the most part, the easiest way to estimate what kind of sewer pipes you have? The age of your house.

Newer Builds –  1970s to Now

Homes built in the 1970s til now are more likely to use plastic sewer pipe. If the home is built in the 70s there may still be older clay or cast iron pipes. Regardless, these new pipes will extend from the home a few yards where they meet with the city sewer main. If the home has been remodeled, or had pipes repaired, there may be some old style sewer pipe that connects the sewer main to the new home pipes.

If you were to have a home built today, you’re likely going to be looking at PVC or ABS plastic pipe. Plastic pipe is infinitely easier to work with (though it may not have as long of lifespans)

Older Builds – Pre-70s

Older buildings, especially those built pre 1950, you may find a few different kinds of sewer pipe. Clay, cast iron, or even a type of pipe called Orangeburg. If you were to do some digging and found clay or cast iron piping, no worries! Both of those pipes can stay in the ground, so long as they’re still working. Orangeburg however is a problem and you should look at replacing it. We’ll get into that more later.

It’s just as possible to find newer plastic sewer pipes in an older home! Over time, the wear and tear on sewer pipes will need replacement and using newer plastic piping is often way easier to install after the fact than older style pipes.

Plastic Sewer Pipes

We talk about plastic pipes all the time here at Economy. When it’s inside the home we’re talking PEX, when we’re looking at the heavy duty sewer pipe we’re talking about PVC and ABS. Both of these sewer pipes have incredibly smooth surfaces to allow for easy carrying of waste to the sewer main, as well as for resisting roots from finding any place to grab ahold.

Cast Iron

Cast iron, while an older staple can sometimes still be used today. Cast iron makes for incredibly strong sewer pipes, able to withstand tons of pressure without breakage. It’s also nonflammable, which while not a problem when it’s buried underground, if you do use it in your home you can feel safe it won’t melt in a fire.

Clay

Clay piping is an old, old style but can still be used today. Clay pipe is inert, meaning it is more resistant to chemical degradation. However, where plastic pipes are smooth, clay sewer pipes are porous, giving tree roots something to grab ahold on and break though.

Orangeburg

Now this is one you probably have never heard of before today! Orangeburg is a type of pipe made up of wood pulp and pitch. It was a water resistant pipe, but it doesn’t have staying power. Back in the day it was used because it was easy to carry and cut, but these pipes won’t last long. Their upper limit is 50 years, could fail in 10. Most building codes have taken it off as an acceptable building material.

There you have it! The four different types of sewer pipe that might be in your hard right now! Remember, start first by looking at the age of your home and that’ll narrow down what to expect when you break ground and start digging.

If you need help running new lines in your home, you know who to call. Economy Plumbing will come out, diagnose the problem and get it sorted – whether or not you know what kind of pipe ya got!

If Water Goes Through It Or To It, We Do It!

What is a Sewer Cleanout?

The name ‘sewer cleanout,’ you would be forgiven if you thought it was a cleaning process. “Oh no, my drains are clogged, I need sewer cleanout!” But that’s not what its! This time on the Economy Plumbing Service blog we’re going to tell you all about this part of your home’s plumbing system!

What is a Sewer Cleanout

So a sewer cleanout is a pipe that has a cap that allows for direct access to the sewer line. It allows for blockages in the sewer line to be more easily tackled. The sewer cleanout is usually located along the lateral sewer line, or sewer lateral, is the bit of plumbing that connects your home’s plumbing system with the public sewer system.  Sewer cleanouts might be located in the basement or just outside the home, on the property line, or somewhere inbetween. Many homes will have multiple! 

Do All Homes Have a Sewer Cleanout?

Unfortunately, not all homes have a cleanout for easy access. But they should! If you’re looking for your homes cleanout and can’t find it, it is definitely worth it to hire someone to install. It might cost a little bit of money now, but the headaches it can save are worth it!

Why Do You Need a Sewer Clean Out

The public sewer system is maintained by your local government and your home’s plumbing is obviously your responsibility. When the waste water moves from your home through those lateral lines towards the public sewer system it is still your responsibility, despite being ‘out’ of your home. Should a blockage occur in this stretch of plumbing your whole home will suffer but it won’t yet be a public sewer system problem. Having a sewer cleanout allows you (and your plumber) to have easy access to sort anything out before it becomes worse.

City Sewer Cleanout

While not the focus of this blog, it’s worth mentioning that your public sewer system will have 

The public sewer system that is maintained by your local municipality also has sewer cleanouts, although they are larger, which are located periodically along the municipal sewer line. The city is responsible for cleaning and removing blockages from those lines.

How to Use a Sewer Cleanout

A bad blockage in the sewer line can cause waste water to back up into your home, causing an absolute mess. Sewer cleanouts let you respond to those clogs fast, if you know how. The cap on the cleanout can be removed simply enough either using a wrench or by hand depending on the cap. Once the cap has been removed, a plumbing snake (or auger) can be run into the line to clear it. A plumbing snake is a long cable with an end that is designed to grab ahold of blockages and break them loose. Having access to the line via the sewer cleanout makes the job a whole lot easier for plumbers, and can help prevent any mess from inside your home. 

If you have a sewer line blockage, and need a professional to help – Call Economy Plumbing Services!  We can run some video into the pipe, do a quick inspection and know just what the problem is and how to fix it!

If Water Goes Through It Or To It, We Do It!

The Importance and Power of Drainage

Drainage. It might sound gross, but it is such a crucial component to a healthy, working plumbing system. If your plumbing doesn’t have adequate drainage, or something goes wrong with it you’ll quickly learn just how crucial it is. This time on the Economy Plumbing Services blog, we’re taking a look at half of your plumbing system and as we Explain the Drain(age)!

The Importance of Drainage

Plumbing systems are made up of two key systems: supply and drainage. Supply brings clean water into your home. Drainage takes away all waste water – broadly speaking this is any water that has gone down a drain. Where those systems meet are the fixtures in your home, your faucets, showerheads, and the like.

While supply lines use water pressure and pumps to move the water, drainage systems rely on gravity to carry away waste. All drainage lines will angle downwards, allowing the pipes to carry the waste along to the sewer lines. Sewer lines use this same downward flow to move the waste water from the home lines all the way to the sewage treatment facility, or to a septic tank.

While that might sound obvious, there’s a lot to drainage that helps everything flow smoothly. And believe us, you really want everything to be flowing smoothly! There are vents, traps, and cleans outs, built into the drainage system that keeps everything moving.

Vents

Vents allow fresh air to enter the drainage system. If there wasn’t any air supply from the vents, waste water wouldn’t flow correctly, the water would get stuck in traps and the potential smells that would be filling your house would be no bueno.

Traps

Traps are absolutely crucial to a properly operating drainage system. Look under the sink in your kitchen or bathroom and you’ll see a trap. It is the curved or S-shaped section of pipe below the sink. Water will drain from the sink down these pipes with enough force to go through the trap and out into the drain pipe, leaving some water in the trap. This forms a seal preventing gas from the sewer from backing up into your home. This makes them an absolute necessity for every fixture in your home. Thankfully,  toilets have traps built into their structure, so they don’t require one down the drain. There are a few different kinds of traps out there depending on the situation.

Clean Outs

A clean out is a bit less consequential all things considered but it makes things work a whole lot easier! A clean out is basically a plug in the drain that will allow easy access to potential clogs. This helps, well, clean out the drain lines and keep them clear and free.

Now, all of this works with gravity to pull waste water away from your home, into sewer lines, and keep your plumbing, clean, clear, and ready to go.

The Power of Gravity

All of this comes down to working smarter, not harder. While supply lines need pumps and such to move the water to your home, up the walls and to fixtures,, the drainage system is built around making gravity’s job easier. Removing any hurdles and streamlining the process for Mother Nature to do her job and pull everything away from your home. In this case Mother (Nature) does know best!

Drainage is just one component of your plumbing system. And if you’re experiencing any troubles with yours call the experts to properly diagnose and treat the problem. Whether it’s a supply line bringing in rusty water or a drain that just won’t, well, drain, Economy Plumbing Service is here to help!

If Water Goes Through It Or To It, We Do It!

Spring Cleaning Your Plumbing

March is here and with the temperatures starting to heat up it’s time to start the yearly tradition of Spring Cleaning! Now, we’re not here to talk about how to rearrange your furniture or the best way to clean your windows but there is plenty you can do yourself to get your plumbing ready for the new season! This time on the Economy Plumbing Services blog – Spring Cleaning Your Plumbing!

Tips to Spring Clean Your Plumbing!

These are the easiest DIY steps you can take to care for your plumbing.

Check Your Pipes

First, take a look at all your pipes in and around your home. You’re looking for leaks and drips, you’d know if you had a burst pipe, that’s for sure. When water freezes it expands and that can cause pipes to crack or their fittings to get loosened when the ice thaws, causing leaks and drips. So grab a flashlight and check out all your pipes, under the sinks, in the cabinets, in the garage, and outside – Wherever they’re immediately visible take a look and if you notice anything that seems off, make a note of it!

Tend to the Toilet

While you’re cleaning your bathrooms as a part of a no doubt much more robust Spring Cleaning process, make sure you give the toilet all the attention it needs! Make sure you clean out behind the toilet and inspect a few areas: the base where it connects to the floor, the wall and the pipes connecting it, the flusher, and inside the tank. If anything is loose, tighten it. A lot of the upkeep and repairs for a toilet are surprisingly doable yourself.

Drain Time

Now drains don’t just need attention when they’re clogged! Like so many things a bit of preventative maintenance can go a long way to keeping your drains working as they should. Use a drain snake or some cleaner to clear away any debris or clogs that might be starting to form. By regularly clearing away anything gathering on the insides of your pipes you’ll prevent clogs from ever developing. Nice!

Start by using a drain snake to clear any immediate clogs. Simply take the snake, insert it into the drain, feeding it as far as it will go. Then slowly but firmly pull it back out of the drain to catch and free any clogs.

After you’ve used the snake, if you’d like to use drain cleaners or white vinegar rinses now is the time. With the biggest problems cleared away, the drain cleaners can break down the more difficult to snake debris.

And hey, drainage is huge. Come back next time to learn more about the power of drainage.

Breakdown Mineral Buildup

While you’re working on all the drains, look up at all of your faucets, including your sinks and the showerheads. When water flows through these fixtures, the minerals that are in your water will gather on the faucets. This can create a buildup that will ruin your water flow and can cause further problems. Thankfully these are pretty easy to handle!

Get yourself some white vinegar, plastic baggies, and rubber bands or tape. Fill a plastic sandwich bag with white vinegar and slide it over the showerhead. Using the rubber bands or tape, secure the bag to the pipe or faucet and allow it to sit. The vinegar will work at the minerals breaking and freeing them up.

While you wait, why not handle the soap scum and other gross gatherings in the tub or shower. Any accumulation like this can cause problems down the line so it’s best to break them down now. The sooner the better!

After the vinegar has had time to work its magic, about 30 minutes, you can remove the baggie, give the showerhead or faucet a quick wipe down and turn the water on. Any lingering mineral build-ups should be blasted away with the water. Nice!

Garbage Disposal … Disposition

Alright listen, we’re running out of titles I guess! Anyways. While you’re working with your sinks, take a look at your garbage disposals. Most garbage disposals have a pretty tough job, breaking down food waste so that it can get washed down the drain. There are a couple of different at-home garbage disposal cleaning processes, some involving ice and salt, others that use mostly vinegar. Find one you like and get to it.

Now with a freshly cleaned disposal, treat it right and remember what should and shouldn’t go down it in the future. Just because it can handle it, doesn’t mean it should.

Watch the Water Heater

Have you checked your water heater recently? It’s something you should be looking at more regularly than you’d think! For now, check the temperature and make sure it’s sitting at about 120 degrees. If you’ve never drained or flushed your water heater you might want to call in a plumber for the rest.

With all that taken care of your plumbing will be in decent shape! Make sure you stay on top of regular maintenance and if you noted any problems, or need help with more robust repairs, call a professional! 

At Economy Plumbing Services we can help you with any job, from water heater maintenance to repiping a whole home!

If Water Goes Through It Or To It, We Do It!

How to Clean Plumbing Vent

Last time on the Economy Plumbing Services Blog we threw out some quick answers to frequently asked questions, but here’s the thing, not all questions are so easily answered! This time on the blog we are going to walk you through how to clean plumbing vents, how to know if you need to, and why it’s important. If it’s about plumbing vents, this blog should cover it!

How to Clean a Plumbing Vent

How Does a Plumbing Vent Work?

You might not even be aware how a plumbing vent works, so before we go into how to clean one let’s address how they should, ideally, work.

Plumbing vents (sometimes called plumbing vent pipes) are designed to help regulate the air pressure in your plumbing system and remove odors and gas that are common in them. They let fresh air into the system which keeps water flowing smoothly. These vents are located on the roof of your home, they look like pipes sticking vertically straight out of your roof.

The vent pipe is necessary so that the drainage pipes can work correctly. Drainage pipes will carry waste from the home, but if there weren’t vent pipes there wouldn’t be any way for new air to push into the lines. It would create suction that would prevent drainage from flushing/draining correctly.

How to Know if Your Plumbing Vent is Clogged

Is your sink not draining right, but there’s no clog you can find? Does your toilet flush on its own randomly? If you are having troubles that seem to indicate a clog in the sewage lines but there’s no such clog that you can identify, it’s possible that the clog is there just not where you’re looking!  The plumbing vent may be clogged and messing with your plumbing.

What Clogs a Plumbing Vent?

The most common causes of a clogged plumbing vent are:

  • Bird nests
  • Leaves, branches, debris or trash
  • Rodent or bird carcasses
  • Balls

OK, so we know how they work, how you can tell if it’s clogged and what could cause it, it’s time to address…

How to Clean and Unclog Your Plumbing Vent

There’s two paths, you can do it yourself, or call in a professional.

The Do It Yourself

To do the job yourself you’re going to need a ladder, a flashlight, garden hose, someone’s help, and potentially a plumber’s snake to run down the pipe. Climb up on top of your roof and clear any leaves, branches, nests, or other debris that might be built up around the pipe. Then take the flashlight and look down the pipe to see a blockage.  Then get the garden hose, maneuver it into the pipe and have your partner turn it on. This should push the blockage further down the pipe and toward the drain. Should being the key word here.

Call in the Professionals

Not certain it’s a vent issue? Don’t want to climb up on your roof and work? Want to avoid potential injuries (and get the job done quick?) You call in the professionals!

Cleaning a plumbing vent can be easy, but there’s also no reason that you should have to handle it on your own when there are potential challenges and risks. Instead call an experienced plumber out to your home, they can get the clog cleared quick!

If you’re in the Tucson area and you need a plumber, give Economy Plumbing Service a call! No job is too large, no job is too small!

If water goes through it or to it, we do it!

6 FAQs About Plumbing

Welcome back  to another entry here on the Economy Plumbing Services blog! This time we have no overarching angle, we’re just going to answer a bunch of frequently asked questions we see about plumbing that might not need a full blog on their own to answer. So if you found your way here through the ol’ Google, scroll on and you’re sure to find your question answered!

6 Frequently Asked Questions about Plumbing

How Long Do Copper Pipes Last?

Traditional copper pipes are going to last you about 50 years. That might seem like a long time and goods news but for most homeowners, if your house has copper pipes installed the house and plumbing was constructed decades ago – meaning they might be on their last legs.

Will Baking Soda and Vinegar Damage Pipes?

Ah so you’re looking to do an at home pipe cleaning job huh? For those who don’t know, baking soda and vinegar, when combined, create a chemical reaction that is thought to create pressure that can push out a clog. Most drains are clogged by fats, oils, and greases, and if they’ve built up enough the baking soda and vinegar trick might not be that effective. Ineffective? Maybe. But the baking soda and vinegar wont damage your pipes, no. 

What Are the Different Pipes In my Home?

Chances are your plumbing system at home is made up of a few different types of pipes. The most common are copper, galvanized, PEX, and PVC. It’s not uncommon for a house to have galvanized pipe running to a point, then a system for PEX and PVC to take over. We’ve talked a lot about the differences in pipes in the past.

Will PEX Piping Fail?

All materials can fail but that’s a big difference between can and will. PEX piping or tubing is susceptible to failure when it’s installed incorrectly, if it is exposed to the sun before installation or if it’s used to transport chlorinated water, that sort of thing. For the most part PEX is a perfectly safe and sturdy material to work with.

Can You Drink Water from PVC Pipes?

While you might be thinking ‘I can do anything,’ you really shouldn’t drink water from PVC pipes! PVC pipes aren’t rated for drinking water, meaning that they have a high risk of toxicity for the pipe to leach into the water and thus making it dangerous. 

What Are the Most Common Plumbing Problems?

Not sure if your problem is unique or an easy fix? No worries. The most common plumbing problems plumbers see are leaky faucets, clogged drains and toilets, low water pressure, issues with water heaters, running toilets, and the like. These happen to just about everyone at some point or another so don’t feel too distraught if it happens to you. These are common problems, so any plumber worth their salt should be able to get you sorted out in no time!

Phew, alright we’ll take a break there for the day. We hope this blog has answered any lingering questions you’ve had about plumbing and potential repairs. If you’re suffering from one of those common plumbing problems or worse, give us a call! At Economy Plumbing Services we tackle it all!

If water goes through it or to it, we do it!

How to Become a Plumber

This last year has been a tough one for many folks, and for some it has changed their career prospects, plans, or dreams. Others are still in high school and beginning to make plans for their future. Whatever the reason you’ve found your way here to the Economy Plumbing Services blog to find out how to become a plumber – and we have answers!

How to Become a Plumber

There are two different paths to becoming a plumber: trade school and apprenticeship. Either one will get you where you want to go (to plumbing) but they each have trade offs and benefits!

Step One – Complete a High School Diploma or A GED

That’s right, you don’t need ‘higher’ education, but you do need to have foundational knowledge of maths and science. Subjects like geometry, algebra, and physics will help immensely with understanding plumbing systems. If you’re able, classes in drafting and blueprints are great too.

Step Two – Trade School or Apprenticeship

This is the biggest step of the journey.  Whether in a trade school or a traditional apprenticeship program this is where you’ll begin to actually learn the ins and outs of plumbing. In some combination of classroom and on the job experience, you’ll learn everything you need to know to work as a plumber from pipes, fittings, flow rate, repipes, and a whole lot more. You’ll learn and start to put into practice the skills you’ll rely on for the rest of your life. For hands on learners, a trade will click.

After two to five years, depending on which route you take, you’ll be able to move on from an apprentice to  becoming a licensed plumber!

Step Three – Licensed and Work!

After you have completed your years of learning and studying it’s time to get licensed by the state! It varies state to state, but most all licenses require the same sorts of things: 2-5 years experience and passing an exam that covers the trade and local codes being the most common.

Arizona has two different types of licenses L-37, or commercial plumbing  and C-37R, residential plumbing. To find out more about how Arizona’s licenses work you can visit the Arizona Registrar of Contractors website.

That’s it! Ok, it might be underselling it but really, in just two years time you could be working as a plumber in a needed trade!

Why Become a Plumber?

The benefits of working as a plumber are many, and they might not be what you realize!

Job Security and Opportunity

There’s always going to be a need for plumbers! And due to the hands on nature of the trade, it’ll never be outsourced or removed. Plumbers and their skills are necessary for our towns, cities, suburbs to operate! 

Licensed plumbers can also find work for a company or strike out on their own and operate their own business!

Work Variety

Don’t want to spend every day stuck behind a desk? We don’t blame you! Plumbers get to get out of the office, all around town visiting different businesses and homes to solve different plumbing puzzles. Every day might not be completely unique, but there’s a lot of variety there! 

No Student Loan Debt

This is a huge one for many people. Plumbers can learn their trade on the job through apprenticing or at affordable trade schools. This means you can complete your education and get right to work with no crippling debt.

Great PaY

Last but certainly not least, good plumbers can earn a comfortable living, whether they’re running their own business or working as a part of another company. There are union benefits, health and life insurance, retirement plans, and more. Trades pay well for those who are talented at them!

Hopefully this blog has laid out everything you were curious about when it comes to how to become a plumber! We love what we do, and if you have the right attitude and skills you will too!

Slow Draining Toilet? Here’s What is Going On

No, you’re not crazy, your toilet really is not working like it’s supposed to! A slow draining toilet is a common problem for many folks and there are a few potential causes for this problem. Let’s talk about it, get it fixed up sooner than later so you can stop worrying! This time on the Economy Plumbing Services blog, we’re answering what causes a slow draining toilet.

When a toilet isn’t draining correctly, it isn’t operating as effectively and efficiently as it should be. This can cause a whole mess of problems down the line (pun intended). So let’s address it now before it gets worse.

There are a number of different reasons for why your toilet might be draining or flushing slowly, not all of them terribly complex, but not all easy either. But there is always a reason. And when there’s a reason, there’s a fix.

Four Most Common Reasons for a Slow Draining Toilet

Not Enough Water

When you press the flusher on the toilet, you’re opening up a flapper that allows water to flow from the back tank into the bowl itself. This creates downward suction in the flush. If, for whatever reason, there’s not enough water in that tank it won’t create the right amount of suction.

So, what do you do?

You’ll want to make sure your tank is filling up with water, up to about an inch, an inch and a half below the drain pipe. Lower than that and your flush will be weak. You might also have low water pressure, valves that aren’t fitting correctly or assemblies that aren’t keeping a seal can all mess with the water available. If your components aren’t fitting quite right your friendly neighborhood plumber can take care of it for you! (*ahem* that’s us!)

Mineral Build-Up

Specifically mineral build-up around the ol’ jet holes! Jet holes are the holes on the underside of the toilet’s rim. During a flush, water is shot through the holes. Because of their location (underside of the toilet rim and out of sight) and their relatively small size they are easy to forget about when it comes to cleaning! Over time minerals can build up around the holes and causing a blockage, slowing down the flush.

The jet holes are the holes on the underside of your toilet’s rim. Water shoots out of the jet holes during a flush. Toilet jet holes are small and out-of-sight, which means they tend to be very easy to forget about. They’re also easy to forget to clean. If you don’t clean your toilets’ jet holes frequently enough, minerals can build-up around them. Over time, these mineral build-ups could block water flow–and slow down your flush.  

Use distilled white vinegar and a small stiff bristle toilet brush to break up the buildup around jet holes. First, spray the build-up with the white vinegar. Let the vinegar sit for thirty minutes. Then,  simply use the brush to scrub the build-up away. Make sure to wear gloves while you do this!

Flapper Valve Troubles

The flapper valve is the rubber stopper located at the bottom of the toilet bowl. It covers the passage that leads from the toilet tank to the toilet bowl. Whenever you depress the toilet handle, you’re lifting the flapper and uncovering this passage. Water flows from the tank to the bowl through the passage you’ve just uncovered, triggering the flush.

Just like everything else,  flapper valves wear out over time. If the flapper wears out, it may not be able to cover the passage between the tank and bowl. Some water will leak from the tank to the bowl constantly, which will weaken the flush. It’s relatively easy to replace a flapper yourself, or you could have your plumber do it.

And of Course… Clogged Drains

Clogged drains affect all the water-using appliances in your home, including your toilet. A backup in any pipe or drain will slow the movement of water throughout your home. The easiest way to fix this (and avoid it long term) is to invest in regular professional drain cleaning.

Clogged drains often happen when someone accidentally flushes something down a drain that they shouldn’t. Pay close attention to what you’re flushing down your drains. Don’t treat your drains like a garbage can–especially your toilets.

How to Keep Your Pipes From Freezing

Welcome back to another entry here at the Economy Plumbing Services blog! Winter is well and truly here! We may have thought that last month but these past few weeks is when the temperatures really started to dip, and just in time! The winter holidays are just around the corner. If you’re planning on going on any trips this winter, perhaps to a family cabin, you might want to take some steps to keep your pipes from freezing!

How to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing with a Few Easy Tips

Insulate Pipes

The number one thing you can to do keep your pipes from freezing this winter is to insulate those bad boys!

Despite what you might think at first, pipe insulation is relatively inexpensive – especially if you compare it to the repairs costs of a burst pipe! Keep a particularly close eye on spaces where pipes are in unheated and interior spaces of your home. Places like the attic, garage, basement are all places where the pipes are exposed to ambient temperature. 

Most pipe insulation is made up of fiberglass, foam, polyethylene. If you’re expecting a cold front to blow in and you don’t have anything on hand, you can even use newspaper and duct tape if you’re in a fix. But, regardless, insulating your pipes is a huge first step to keep your pipes from freezing!

Keep Garage Doors Closed

For many homeowners, their plumbing runs through the garage in a number of ways and the water heater might be there as well. This is unfortunate because the garage is kind of perfectly built to let things get cooold. Garages have lots of smooth concrete that keeps the place cold. If you keep the door open and let the cold air in well you’re just turbocharging those freezing conditions. 

Open Doors & Cabinets

While we’re on the subject of keeping doors closed, there’s also power in keeping things open inside.  Here’s why! Keeping interior doors open, helps your home regulate and keep a consistent temperature. Now as for cabinets…

Pipes are often exposed in your bathroom and kitchens, well ok not exposed, but they’re outside of the walls in these locations, usually tucked into a cabinet. These cabinets, if left closed can trap cold air in them, and keep your pipes cold.

By going about your home and opening doors and cabinets you keep the warm air circulating around and warming the plumbing. 

Leave Faucet Running

This might surprise you, but if you leave a faucet dripping, ever so slightly, just a drip you’ll help prevent your pipes from freezing over. Here’s why. 

Running water, even just a tiny amount, has more energy than standing water, this energy, this friction created by the movement of water produces the tiniest amount of heat, making the water harder to freeze over. So by allowing a faucet to drip, especially one that is fed through exterior or exposed pipes, you’re opening up a pipe for water to flow through.

The other benefit? Opening a faucet releases pressure from building up in the cold pipes. This will keep the pipe from bursting as the combination of pressure and solidifying water overwhelms the space. 

Thermostat Consistency

Just like the thought process behind opening doors & cabinets, keeping your thermostat at a consistent temperature will help keep your pipes from freezing over and potentially bursting. If you’re using your heater during the day, don’t turn it off at night in an attempt to save energy as you could risk the temperature dropping drastically and the water in your pipes responding.

Seal Cracks and Openings

Really, this should go up there next to insulating pipes as one of the best things you can do to keep your pipes from freezing over and bursting! Look around your home for any holes, gaps, cracks, or openings that can allow cold air to find its way into your home and walls. Look for cracks around windows and doors, look at the holes that utility wires for cables run through. Look at the places where your plumbing comes out of exterior walls. If there any cracks at all, caulk them up to keep warm air in, and cold air out. This helps your home’s insulation in a big way!

These are just some of the ways you can prevent your home’s pipes from freezing over.  For us here in Tucson we are pretty fortunate that the temperatures don’t dip that deep too often so usually following these precautions are more than enough to ensure our plumbing stays in tip-top shape. If you’re worried about the state of your pipes heading into the winter, give Economy Plumbing a call! We’ll do a plumbing inspection that will sort you right out!

Fixing Leaky Sinks and Toilets

The leak has been identified, found, and marked. Your enemy is clear, this loose gasket, this punctured piece of PEX tubing. Now it’s time to take matters into your own hands and fix it. Luckily you’ve come to the right place! Read on for more info on how to fix leaky toilets, sinks, and more!

Fixing a Leaky Toilet

The Toilet

Toilets have two main pieces. The bowl that sits on the floor and the tank, or ‘back’ of the toilet that holds the water. Either of these can be the place for leaks to crop up.

Fixing a Running Toilet

Hands down, the most common problem toilets have is running. It’s not a typical leak but it is still wasting water nonetheless. This is an easy fix though, and you can handle it right now at home!

A toilet is running likely because of two possible errors. The flapper isn’t sealing itself correctly or the water level is too high. If the water level is too high, the excess water will constantly be forced to flow into the overflow tube, creating the appearance of constantly running water. 

Either way, these are easy enough fixes for most folks to handle on their own. You can adjust the refill valve in the tank to reset the water level. As for the flapper you may just need to work with the chain that connects the flapper and the flush lever. If it’s too short the flapper won’t sit just right, too long and the flush won’t work right. Make sure it’s just the right length and you’ll be golden.

Fixing Leaks at the Toilet Base

Toilets can also leak at the base, where water might leak out onto the floor. 

First things first, if you are experiencing a leak around the base of your toilet it is most likely dirty water. Stop using the toilet right away, until the leak is repaired.

A leaky base is most often caused by a defect or problem with the seal between the toilet and the drain opening in the floor. This seal is made with a wax ring which, over time, can degrade and leave gaps for water to leak through. To repair this you’ll need to remove the toilet to get to the wax ring.

First, shut off the water to the toilet and flush the water, emptying out the bowl and tank. Then you can use a tool to remove the bolts and nuts that secure the toilet to the floor. With these removed the wax ring is easy to access, simply swapping it with a new one and working backward, securing the bulls then turning the water back on and letting it refill.

Fixing a Leaky Sink

Like toilets, there are two places where a leak is most likely to occur: the water supply and the drain. Left unchecked, leaky sinks can do a lot of damage so make sure you take care of them as soon as you notice.

Fixing Water Supply Leaks

Water supply leaks are usually because of fittings that aren’t secure and since the water coming into the sink from the supply is under pressure these leaks might be a spray or an active drip. 

So first, look to the shut off valve and see if it needs tightening. With two wrenches, hold the valve in one and tighten the nut with the other. Sometimes all it takes is a little tightening and the leak disappears. 

While you are tightening things, check the faucet fixtures too. These can get loosened over time and allow water to leak out. Use locking or adjustable pliers to get in close and tighten.

Fixing Drain Leaks

Drain leaks can be caused by a number of different problems, so get ready to do some testing to figure it out. These leaks can be caused by loose connections, corrosion, or blockages. 

First, let’s address the connections and see if that clears up the leak. If your trap is plastic, you can usually tighten these by hand simply enough. Metal nuts you’ll need a tool to get the proper force and grip to tighten it. If you notice that the metal fittings aren’t tightening despite how much you’re twisting it’s likely they are corroded and need to be replaced. 

If after tightening there’s still a leak, you’ll probably want to remove the trap completely and give it a good cleaning. Clear the line of any blockages you can reach while you’re at it. Reassemble and test for a leak. Good? Good!

If any of these steps seem just a bit beyond your paygrade or amateur DIY abilities, don’t sweat it! Economy Plumbing Service is here to help! Give us a call and we’ll take care of anything, whether it’s replacing a toilet’s wax ring or repiping your whole house – we’re your guys!

If water goes through it or to it, we do it!