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Prevent Plumbing Problems – A Home Owner Perspective

At Sal’s Plumbing – Beach Cities we care about our Redondo homeowners and their needs. This is an excerpt from an article that gives a unique perspective on how to care for your home’s plumbing. Not only will it help you be more knowledgeable of your plumbing but also help in keeping the value of your home up!

1. Don’t go galvanic. You often see copper and galvanized-steel plumbing mixed in residential water systems with nothing separating them other than a little thread sealant or Teflon plumbing tape. The galvanic connection (copper to steel) can be trouble-free for years, or the steel plumbing can begin to corrode almost as soon as the connection is tight.

What to do: Use a plumbing fitting called a dielectric union to connect copper pipe to galvanized steel. The fitting uses a steel collar on the steel side and a copper collar on the copper side and isolation bushings to keep the parts separate.

2. Flow out, not back. Back flow occurs in municipal water systems (or within a house) when there’s a sudden and severe drop in water pressure that causes water to flow back through pipes in the opposite direction than it normally flows. When a runaway car severs a fire hydrant, for example, parts of a municipal system will see a flow reversal as water gushes out the hole where the hydrant once stood. The same thing can happen if there’s a massive leak within your house.

What to do: If your house’s water is supplied by a municipal water system and you do a lot of work outside with a garden hose, use a vacuum-breaker fitting threaded onto the end of the hose bib (the valve mounted on the outside of the house). These fittings prevent back flow from a garden hose and attachments in the event of a massive shift in pressure. Some municipalities require their use, and they’re not a bad idea even if you have a well. Suppose you’ve left a garden hose in a bucket of sudsy water and the severed-fire-hydrant scenario occurs. The vacuum breaker prevents water from being pulled out of the hose and bucket and into the municipal water system. If you’re replacing a hose bib, use a freeze-proof type with a built-in vacuum breaker. Common-sense measures apply, too. For example, don’t leave a hose unattended in a bucket and don’t leave a hose in a puddle on the lawn.

Likewise, if you replace or repair the main supply and valves entering the house, you may likely be required to install a back-flow preventer.

3. Use the right connector. Don’t forget, gas lines count as plumbing, too. Connecting a new gas range or dryer to an existing gas line seems simple, but the job can quickly go awry when you try to hook up a flexible gas connector to the line and find that the connector doesn’t fit or you can’t make the connection gas-tight, no matter how tight you make the connection.

What to do: This is a thread-compatibility problem usually brought about by a mismatch between the iron pipe supplying gas and the fitting on the end of the flexible connector you intend to use to bring the fuel to the appliance. The simplest solution is to buy a universal connection kit for a dryer or for a gas range. The kit will come with a variety of adapters to help you make the transition from the pipe and fitting supplying the gas to whatever appliance will be using it.

4. Know where your pipes are.Pounding nails and driving screws is all well and good, until you puncture a copper or plastic supply or drain.

What to do: Buy a stud sensor that also detects pipes and wiring. You can also look around in the attic or the basement (if it’s unfinished) to get a sense of where pipes are hiding. Finally, if the wall will be covered by whatever you’re building or installing, you can always carefully cut a test hatch to find plumbing lurking in the walls.

5. Know the code. Plumbing is a tricky business, with rules that dictate how far you can place a fixture from the home’s drain-waste-vent line based on the pipe diameter and other arcane matters. The only way you can handle a big job yourself is to know the code and what it calls for in pipe sizing, fixture spacing and related matters.

What to do: There’s lots of reference for ambitious do-it-yourselfers. Buy a copy of the International Plumbing Code or the Uniform Plumbing Code. One of the best references that we’ve used here over the years is Code Check, a handbook that’s updated as building codes are updated. One of its best features is that it’s written to cover common problems and things that even professionals get wrong.

6. Cut right, fit tight. You can’t make a neat water or gas connection tight unless the parts are neatly cut.

What to do: Buy pro-level tubing cutters, reciprocating-saw blades, hacksaw blades and a plastic pipe saw. For example, you’ll be amazed by the difference between a professional tubing cutter from Ridgid, say, and the $5 special from the home center. Likewise, it seems silly to spend $20 for a plastic pipe saw when a standard handsaw works pretty well. The thing is, the plastic pipe saw works better and leaves less of a burr, since its teeth have very little set compared with a saw meant for cutting wood.

Remove burrs from plastic and copper and thoroughly clean both types of plumbing materials before soldering or gluing. Copper is best abraded with plumber’s cloth (aluminum-oxide sandpaper on a spool), and plastic requires material-specific primer that softens the plastic so that the adhesive can create an optimal bond. When pipe feels greasy or dirty, use pipe cleaner before applying primer.

7. Seal the deal. Only a soldered or glued joint doesn’t require sealant; everything else does.

What to do: There are two types of sealant tapes in hardware stores and home centers: tape for sealing water connections, in a blue spool, and tape for sealing gas, in a yellow spool. Yet there’s no need for you to be satisfied with just those choices. Pros often carry brushable sealant, with variations specially formulated for threaded plastic or galvanized steel. Visit a plumbing supply house or shop online to find these varieties. Professional varieties have a higher percentage of gap-filling solids and better ensure a tight joint — no small matter, given the lack of thread engagement that you often find today with badly made plumbing materials, valves and fixtures.

8. Don’t overtighten. If seal is good, really tight must be better, right? Wrong.

What to do: Given what I just said about the hit-or-miss quality of many plumbing components today, you’d think that a generous application of wrench torque is called for. Not so. A clean, properly cut and fitted joint that’s been sealed just doesn’t need to be massively tightened. In many cases, after bringing the parts together firmly hand-tight or using a wrench, often all it takes is another half a turn. Brass–copper gas fittings are particularly vulnerable to wrench damage from over-tightening, while steel pipe is more forgiving.

For more tips on Plumbing and Homecare stay tuned to our blogs & social media outlets on Facebook and Google Plus .  Or simply give us a call in Redondo – (310) 618-8476

Thanks For Reading!

Child Proofing Your Bathroom

Sal’s Plumbing cares about the clients and families that we serve every day here in the South Bay. We wanted to share with you an article we found to be very educational and interesting when it comes to keeping your home (specifically your bathroom) child-proof and safe for you family. This article was written by The Baby Center.com

 

Like the kitchen, the bathroom can be one of the more hazardous rooms in your home for your baby. The following tips will help keep your baby safe and out of mischief:

  • Make sure your baby doesn’t find his way into the bathroom unsupervised by installing a hook-and-eye lock high on the outside of the door or by placing a childproof cover over the doorknob.
  • Remember to keep the toilet lid down, and install a toilet lock to prevent your baby from lifting the lid. Small children are curious, uncoordinated, and extremely top-heavy. If your baby leans over to peer into the toilet bowl, he could easily lose his balance, fall in headfirst, and drown in as little as an inch of water.
  • Put razors, scissors, nail clippers, tweezers, and other sharp utensils in a locked cabinet or high up in a linen closet well out of your baby’s reach.
  • Unplug your blow-dryer, curling iron, and any other appliances that create heat, and put them away after each use to prevent burns.
  • Keep all cosmetics and medications — including prescription drugs, antacids, aspirin, and mouthwash (which contains more alcohol than wine does) — in a high cabinet secured with a child-safety lock. Even medications that have safety caps, which are only child-resistant and not childproof, need to be placed out of reach.
  • Treat all vitamins and other supplements with the same caution you’d use with medications, storing them in a high locked cabinet. Iron pills and multivitamins containing iron are poisonous to young children. Minerals, herbal remedies, and other supplements are hazardous, too.
  • Don’t keep anything plugged in near the sink or bathtub. Water conducts electricity, so if a hair dryer fell into the tub while you were giving your baby a bath, it could electrocute you both. To be extra safe, make sure all electrical outlets near the sink or tub are protected by a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), an inexpensive device that senses a change in the current and quickly stops the flow of electricity. GFCIs are standard in most new homes to comply with construction codes, but if you have an older home, an electrician may need to replace the bathroom outlets.
  • Set your hot water heater no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). A lower water temperature helps ensure safe bathing by reducing the chance of scalding (it takes just three seconds for a child to get a serious burn). You can also install an anti-scalding device on your faucets.
  • Place a nonslip rubber mat in the bathtub and a nonslip bath mat on the floor next to the tub to prevent falls.
  • Put a soft plastic or rubber guard over the tub spout to protect your baby from accidentally bumping his head.
  • Never leave your baby alone in the bathtub, not even for a moment. If the doorbell rings, scoop him up in a towel and take him with you. Bring your cell phone or a cordless phone into the bathroom if you feel you can’t miss a call.
  • Teach your baby to stay seated in the tub at all times. If he’s the active type, you may have to repeat this message many times before it sticks, but his safety makes the effort worth it.”

For more tips on Plumbing and Home Care stay tuned to our plumbing articles, tips and strategies.

Thank You !

Sal’s Plumbing – South Bay’s Family Plumber

Apartment Dwellers: Reduce your Plumbing costs and overall Utilities

Sals Plumbing serves lot of Aprtment dwellers in the Southbay areas. They always inquire if we have and advice or tips on how to reduce thier utility costs; check out these simple tips.

Turn Off the Faucet: people leave the faucet running when washing dishes or when brushing their teeth. Turning the faucet off in intervals when the faucet is not needed results in big savings in water and big savings on the water bill. Only turn on the faucet when you are wetting your toothbrush and again when you finish and rinse out your mouth. Clean dirty dishes instead of using water to push the excess scraps into the drain. Also when wetting a paper towl use a water bottle instead of turning on the sink.

Flush Less: Two to eight gallons of water are lost on average every time a toilet is flushed so save water by only flushing the toilet when necessary. While excrement should not usually be left sitting in the toilet, urine can be flushed the next time the toilet is used. Saving flushes even once or twice a day can result in savings on your plumbing costs while also helping the environment by saving approximately 3,000 gallons of water a year.

Leaks: A dripping faucet can waste gallons of water over the course of a month and these gallons add up to a lot of financial waste annually. Shut off each faucet completely when you are done using it and also inspect your pipes for water leaks. The apartment owner needs to pay for repairs as long as you didn’t cause the damage so have any leaks fixed immediately ( and preferably before you move into the apartment) to prevent getting charged for wasted water.

Showers are good…Taking baths bad: It takes significantly more water to fill up a bathtub than it does to take a shower on a daily basis. Baths waste a lot more water and are therefore a lot more expensive than showers are. Limit your bath-taking and only take one five-minute shower a day to reduce water usage and cost. This is the most well known way to save water and the cost of utilites but there are other ways as well.

Get a list our our services and for for more tips Please visit our Facebook page, we post new ones every week. If you would like us to help with your home plumbing issues please call us at (310) 692-4183.

Tips to Keeping a Clean and Happy Home

-Sals Plumbing wants everyone to have a clean happy home. Here are some tips for home care! Use safe, non-toxic cleaners throughout the home. This includes bathrooms, kitchens and those shiny wood floors you have. You can either make them yourself, as I have posted about before, or buy over-the-counter cleaners from companies like Method or Seventh Generation.

– Be sure to use low or VOC paints and glues. These can be found anywhere paint is sold, and the quality is exactly the same as regular old toxic paint. Paint fumes can be a killer, and they off-gas for quite some time after going up.

– Avoid synthetic carpets, furnishings and clothing. This one is harder to do, as it is difficult sometimes to find these things at reasonable prices. But it is easy to find organic cotton mattresses, for example, or organic cotton jeans, like the ones I purchased the other day.

– Keep your home clean and mess-free. I know in our house we are constantly chasing dust bunnies everywhere, especially since our cat has been shedding like mad lately with summer coming. The more stuff you don’t have floating around, the cleaner your air will be.

– Open windows and/or skylights often. Some people will tell you NOT to do this as it lets in dirty air from outside, but nothing could be worse than trapping any bad air inside the house and not airing it out. Imagine sitting in a freshly painted room – you would not be able to breathe. So open up your house!

-Make sure your bathroom has a window you can open while showering, or at least a fan that pulls the steam out of the air. Wet, humid bathrooms make a good home for mold, which while in small amounts probably won’t hurt you, a build up can be very dangerous.

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Plumbing Tools Everyone needs in thier home


As Plumbers, we constantly see our customers not have the proper Plumbing tools in thier homes. We encourage them to have the tools just in case they need to stop a leak while waiting for thier plumber to come out.

1. Propane Torch: Required if you’re going to sweat copper pipe and fittings. Spend the extra money for a self-igniting torch head ($30-$60) that lights at the squeeze of a trigger. You’ll find it much more convenient than using a striker or matches.
2. Tongue-and-Groove Pliers: Commonly called by the brand name Channellocks, these pliers are the first tool plumbers reach for when they need to grab, pull, twist, hold, tighten or loosen something. Be sure to get two sizes: 10-in. ($10-$15) and 12-in. ($20-$25).
3. Hacksaw: Use this versatile saw ($15-$25) to cut through metal pipe, hardware, screws, nuts and bolts and plastic pipe. Make sure the blade is tense in the frame for tough cuts, and be sure to keep extra blades on hand. In tight spots, wrap one end of a loose blade in a cloth to create a handle to slip the blade in for the cut.
4. Metal File: This tool removes burrs and smooths the edges of metal pipes after cutting. It’s best to have two files on hand: half-round ($10), which has both rounded and flat surfaces, and a rat-tail file ($8), which is round and tapered.
5. Basin Wrench: An invaluable tool ($10-$20) for tightening and loosening nuts that hold sink faucets in place. The tool’s long shaft and swiveling jaw can reach up and into the deep, narrow space behind a sink and lock onto the nuts. There’s no other tool that can do what this one does.
6. Pipe Wrench: These large, heavy wrenches are used to tighten and loosen threaded pipes, fittings and nuts. You’ll need two–one for turning and one for gripping and holding. The serrated teeth help the wrench hold its grip but can damage a fixture’s finish.
7. Hand Auger: Sometimes called a plumber’s snake, this hand-cranked drain-clearing tool ($20-$30) has a 25-ft.-long flexible steel cable that’s effective at clearing obstructions from tubs, showers, sinks, toilets and drain lines. Use it when the plunger fails.
8. Plunger: This indispensable tool ($5-$10) isn’t called the plumber’s best friend for nothing. It’s the first tool to grab when you need to dislodge clogs from sinks, tubs, toilets, showers and floor drains. When using it in a toilet, press down, create a firm seal around the drain, and pull upward. The idea is to vacuum the clog out, not push it deeper.

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Where do I find the most Qualified Plumber?

Hire the Right Plumber

Homeowners face all sorts of major and minor plumbing problems in their house. The problem could be anything from a simple tap leakage to a complicated drain clogging issue. But, you should not take any problem lightly and always look for professional plumbers who will do flawless repair work.

Use a reputable plumbing directory!

There are certain steps one should follow when searching for an experienced plumber to tackle your household plumbing needs.

1. Choosing a Plumber in Los Angeles or any major city.

There is no shortage of plumbers in the market, which makes it even more difficult to choose the right one for the job. Do a little digging and remember that the extra effort always pays off.

2. Discussing the Problem with Plumbers
If you describe the actual problem in the house, it will save you a lot of time and money. The right plumber will come prepared with the proper tools if you can give him an idea of what he will be dealing with. Some plumbers may also suggest a simple solution over the phone that will save you from having the plumber come out, or having to call another plumbing service.

Inquire About the Plumber
It is important to find out if the plumber has a work license approved by the Contractors License Board. Also look for any kind of feedback given by previous customers about the plumbers work.

3. Talk to Different Plumbers
Talking to several plumbers always works. Ask a handful of plumbers about their work quality, machines they use, and price quotes. This will give you a fair idea of what to expect from a good plumber and how much you will be charged for the service. You should also ask the plumber to give you a plumbing estimate in writing before starting the work. Make sure that he includes on the written estimate, the plumbing work, pricing, and a time frame for the completion. Read theirplumbing blog to get more information.

4. Reviewing the Service Provider
It is important that you check the job done by the plumber and make sure you get the kind of service that was expected before making the final payment.

5. Know Your Rights
Consumers do enjoy special rights that are granted by the Contractors License Board. In case of a dispute with the plumber, check for your rights.

The last point to keep in mind is that you should not settle for a bad plumbing job or high prices. It is very important that you get what you paid for and the repair work done by the plumber is a lasting one. In case the problem re-emerges, your plumber should be willing to return and fix it without charging any additional fees.

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