While you’re having a good time in the backyard with your guests and the kids, your plumbing may be suffering under all the extra wear and tear.
The heat is on! Summer’s rising temperatures often coincide with an increase of water usage, both indoors and outdoors.
Frozen pipes are one of the most distressing problems a homeowner can encounter. Here’s how to prevent freezing pipes and how to un-freeze pipes if you’re in a fix.
Freezing can create leaks because the frozen water expands and cracks the copper tubing. Not only do you have little to no water supply, but when the pipes do thaw out, you can have some serious leaks to repair.
Rules to Prevent Frozen Pipes
- Keep all water-supply piping away from outside walls, where it could be exposed to cold winter weather.
- If it is imperative to have pipes located on an outside wall, they must be well-insulated. Piping insulation is sold in both rubber and fiberglass.
- Insulate pipes in all other unheated areas as well, such as crawl spaces, basement, attic, and garage. Fix the source of any drafts (such as near cables, dryer vents, bathroom fan vents, windows) and insulate pipes at risk.
- Before winter, close the water shut-off valve inside your home that provides water to outside spigots, and then drain each line by opening its spigot until it no longer drips. Close the spigot.
What To Do During Subfreezing Temperatures
- Keep garage doors and outside doors closed, and plug up drafts.
- Open all faucets, both hot and cold water, to just a trickle, to keep water moving in the pipes to help to prevent icing.
- Set the thermostat to at least 55 degrees F both day and night–no lower. Higher is even better, especially if your home is not well-insulated.
- Keep doors to all rooms open to allow heat to flow to all areas, which helps to warm the pipes in the walls.
- Open the cabinets under kitchen and bathroom sinks so that the warmer air temperature of each room can flow around the plumbing. (Be sure to keep cleaners and other hazardous chemicals away from children and pets.)
Tips to Fixing Frozen Pipes
- If no water comes out of a faucet, or it comes out slowly, suspect a frozen pipe. Check all faucets in the house to determine if the situation is widespread. If it is, open all faucets, turn off the main water to the house, and call a plumber.
- If only one pipe is frozen, turn on the appropriate faucet to help get the water moving in the pipe once it thaws. Locate your nearest water shut-off valve to the break. Don’t turn the water off at this point, unless you find that the pipe has actually burst.
- Try the hair-dryer trick. Locate the area where the pipe has frozen. Then, starting at the faucet and working backward along the pipe line until you reach the frozen section, work the dryer up and down the pipe. Continue warming the pipe until full water pressure returns to the open faucet. Then reduce the faucet flow to a trickle until the cold snap has ended. Caution: When using a hair dryer, be sure that it and its cord will not be near any water that might start to flow through a crack in a burst pipe.
- If water starts to gush out of the pipe while you are warming it, unplug the hair dryer and close the nearest water shut-off valve immediately. Keep the faucet open. Call a plumber to fix the burst pipe.
- If you can not reach a frozen pipe to warm it, call a plumber and shut off the water supply to the pipe. Keep the faucet open.
- If you have any questions or concerns feel free to call your friends at Green Apple Plumbing NJ toll free at 888-315-5564
With a blast of Arctic air set to sweep into New Jersey this weekend, now is the time to make sure furnaces are in working order and your home’s pipes are protected.
Low temperatures on Saturday night into early Sunday morning will approach zero and could slip below zero in our area, according to the National Weather Service.
“The combination of wind and cold will make for dangerous conditions for the homeless and those not properly dressed this weekend,” according to AccuWeather.
Dressing for cold weather is both an art and a science. Think layers and choose the right fabrics.
Recognizing the warning signs of cold exposure — hypothermia — could save your life.
Here are some tips on what to do to keep pipes from freezing — and what to do if it happens anyway.
How to prepare:
- Know what areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.
- Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.
- Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.
- Protect your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical heat tracing wire; newspaper or fabric might also work. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation, so don’t disturb it.
When temperatures are consistently at or below freezing:
- If you have pipes that are vulnerable to freezing, allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe.
- Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.
If your pipes freeze:
- Shut off the water immediately. Don’t attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.
- Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it, or by applying heat directly to a pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended, and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.
- Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.
Who to call for help:
- If pipes inside the home are frozen, call us at (973) 943-0927.
- If there is no water or low pressure, and neighbors are experiencing the same situation, it could be a water main break, and customers should call the 24-hour customer service line at 1-800-652-6987.
When you are away:
- Have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check your property to ensure that the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen.
- A freeze alarm can be purchased for less than $100 and will call a user-selected phone number if the inside temperature drops below 45 degrees.
- Residents are also reminded to clear snow from hydrants. Substantial snow accumulations combined with the after-effects of plowing roads and parking lots can leave fire hydrants partially or completely buried in snow.In these conditions, extra precautions should be taken to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning. Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of carbon monoxide-related deaths in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Being a home owner is a very rewarding experience. Owning property and not having to pay a landlord is very freeing. However, it is also a huge responsibility and comes at a cost in the form of repairs. Rather than calling a landlord, it is on the home owner to take care of any issues and they can add up fast! It is best to budget and save money to cover these small disasters when they occur.
One thing someone does not want to live without is plumbing. If something were to go awry, a home owner would want to fix it immediately so it is good to have money saved to handle these repairs. Toilets, sinks, and laundry lines can all experience issues that will alter day-to-day life. Clogged lines, leaky faucets and valves and blocked toilets can all require a few hours of labor from a plumber in addition to materials. These repairs can cost hundreds of dollars depending on the severity of the issue.
Two plumbing issues that may prove to be quite costly are water heater and well replacements. Paying for repairs like this puts stress on finances, but that burden may be eased with the help of savings. Without savings, home owners may need to take out a loan or borrow money from family to cover costs.
Replacing a water heater starts at a few hundred dollars and planning ahead to cover this cost is the best way to stay in hot water.
Even more painful is a well pump replacement or a full well replacement. Replacing an old well can cost several thousand dollars which most people cannot pay out of pocket.
Electrical fixes may seem small, but it is best to hire a professional and not try any do-it-yourself repairs when it comes to anything with electricity because of the high risk of injury.
Small issues can occur requiring an electrician such as replacing a ceiling fan, fixing a faulty switch or broken outlets. Most electricians charge by the hour and while these repairs should not take long, it is better to have the costs covered with money from a savings account rather than cut into the monthly budget.
An expensive electrical repair is replacing the breaker box on a home, which can run a few thousand dollars. Older breaker boxes can be faulty and may not trip correctly resulting in a fire. A general contractor or electrician can determine if a breaker box needs to be replaced to decrease risk. Another reason to replace the breaker box is with a big renovation. Adding central air to a home may require breaker box replacement in order to power the new feature. Also, when selling a home, if the box does not comply with local codes, a replacement could be necessary before a sale can happen.
The last thing a Michigander wants during the winter is a broken furnace. The furnace is a complex unit and should be regularly maintained to prevent many repairs. However, even regular check-ups can not prevent everything. The ignition or pilot light could break and need to be replaced or a mechanical problem may arise. Hopefully a full replacement is not necessary but if it is, savings will be crucial as it is several thousand dollars to replace a furnace.
Remember, it is always better to overestimate a cost than underestimate and not have enough funds. Visit www.lansing-realestate.com and click on the buyers/sellers tab to find a service provider or ask a REALTOR® for a recommendation for any home repairs.
It’s officially fall, which means winter is not far behind. The good news is that winter weather in much of the country is expected to be milder than last year’s frigid conditions, and heating costs are also projected to be lower, according to a report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But the cost of heating one’s home should still be a considerable expense in most parts of the country.
Heating is expensive enough already, so you don’t want to pay for heat that escapes out windows, doors and cracks rather than staying inside and keeping you warm.
“A lot of time we’re generating energy that we’re sending out into the air,” says Marianne Cusato, the housing advisor for HomeAdvisor.com and an associate professional specialist at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture.
Fall is an ideal time to make repairs that will make your home more energy efficient, both saving you money and keeping you warmer. Even if you can’t afford major repairs, such as a new furnace or new windows, there are small things you can do to save big bucks on heating costs – and you can handle most of them yourself.
“Homes can lose heat in a lot of different areas,” says Anne Reagan, editor-in-chief of Porch.com. “I think that there’s a lot of things that can be fixed in someone’s home.”
Here are 13 hacks to winterize your home while also trimming your heating bill.
Caulk around windows. Warm air can escape and cold air can enter your house if the area around your windows has cracks. Caulking needs to be replaced periodically, and you should check every fall for holes that need to be patched, as well as holes anywhere outside your house. “You want to make sure your [home’s] envelope is secure,” Cusato says.
Replace weatherstripping around doors. If you can see light around the edges of your doors, you need new weatherstripping. “A small weatherstripping costs you five or six dollars, and it will save you hundreds of dollars in electrical bills,” says J.B. Sassano, president of the Mr. Handyman franchise company.
Close up your fireplace. Make sure your flue closes all the way, and check whether you can feel air coming in when it’s closed. Glass doors around your fireplace opening are another way to keep warm air in and cold air out of your house.
Put up storm windows and doors. If you have older windows and doors, adding storm windows and doors can help considerably. Window insulation film is another option to provide a layer of protection. “It really insulates the window,” Sassano says.
Add heavy drapes and rugs. Changing light summer drapes for heavy winter drapes was common in earlier times, and it’s still helpful, Reagan says. Drapes can keep the room warmer, while putting down rugs provides a layer of insulation above the floor.
Improve your insulation. Insulation deteriorates over time, so you may want to add more material in your attic. Other places to add insulation are in crawl spaces and exposed areas of decks. Sassano also recommends creating a false ceiling in unfinished basements and insulating between that ceiling and the living area. An insulating cover over your attic opening also helps trap in the heat.
Cover your water heater. You can buy a water heater blanket for around $20 at the hardware store that will keep the tank from losing heat as quickly, saving you money on your heating bill.
Get an energy audit. Many utility companies will provide a free energy audit and give you suggestions on improvements you can make to your home. You can also pay for a more extensive energy audit. “They’ll look at all the places you’re losing energy,” Cusato says.
Change your furnace filters. If the filters are dirty, your furnace has to work harder. In most homes, filters should be changed monthly in the heating season. You should also have your furnace serviced periodically to make sure it is working properly. “It’s easy to overlook but it can mean your system isn’t working efficiently,” Cusato says.
Get a programmable thermostat. The newest thermostats can learn your family’s habits and set themselves to keep the house cooler when no one is there and warmer when the home is occupied. You can also purchase a more basic programmable thermostat. Prices vary considerably, depending on how sophisticated you want your thermostat to be.
Lower your water heater temperature. You can lower it from 140 degrees to 120 with no ill effect, Cusato says. And 120 degrees is the temperature recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Replace less efficient windows and doors. Adding double- or triple-pane windows, insulated doors and insulated garage doors will significantly improve the energy efficiency of your home.
Lower the thermostat. It’s actually more comfortable to sleep in a colder home, and you can always add more blankets. When you’re awake, wear a sweater or sweatshirt to stay comfortable with a lower thermostat setting.
The deaths of eight family members in Maryland has brought attention to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Every year 400 Americans die from exposure to carbon monoxide, according to the U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 4,000 hospitalized and 20,000 ending up in the emergency room as a result of exposure to the colorless, odorless gas. Winter can be an especially dangerous time since space heaters, generators and other portable heating devices can leak carbon monoxide.
The signs and symptoms of exposure can be subtle, leading people to try and sleep it off instead of heading straight for the emergency room. So here’s the information you need to know to stay safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Sign and Symptoms
Carbon monoxide can be deadly but its initial symptoms can be mild, starting off as just a headache and sleepiness.
Dr. Jerri Rose, a program director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, said early symptoms, including fatigue, headache, nausea and short of breath, can often appear to be an early flu.
In severe cases, a person can become confused or faint due to the effects. In rare cases, death is possible.
Doctor may also notice a slight redness in the face or lips of a person with CO poisoning in rare cases, Rose said.
“In actual reality, few physicians ever see that,” Rose said of the red face symptoms. “Generally there’s not really anything you can look at by telling someone.”
Carbon Monoxide Safeguards
The CDC recommends that everyone have a carbon monoxide detector in their home. Rose suggests that people who live in a multilevel home have detectors for every floor of their home, similar to their smoke detector.
Common sources of carbon monoxide are internal combustion engines or heating sources. Every year, doctors hear stories of people killed by carbon dioxide as they tried to heat their homes, Rose said.
To protect against carbon monoxide poisoning, the CDC recommends that heating systems that have chimneys be checked by a technician every year. Make sure gas appliances are vented properly and never use a generator, camp stove or oven as a heater indoors.
The Maryland family killed on Monday from carbon monoxide poisoning were using a generator to heat their home, according to authorities.
A full list of advice from the CDC can be found here.
How Does Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Work?
When the body absorbs carbon monoxide, hemoglobin cells can start to attach to those molecules instead of oxygen molecules. As a result, the blood cannot deliver vital oxygen to organs and muscles.
There is no “safe” level of exposure to carbon monoxide, Rose said, and acute symptoms can occur in minutes or days depending on the level of CO exposure.
Doctors usually treat carbon monoxide by giving the affected person oxygen through a mask, according to Rose.
In extreme cases, doctors can rush a patient to a hyperbaric chamber, which can help raise blood oxygen levels more quickly since the oxygen is pressurized, Rose said.
Early treatment is critical, according to Rose, who said patients shouldn’t be afraid to get help for symptoms that may appear minor.
“It’s important for people to be aware if they have any symptoms at all, they should come in and get checked out,” she said. “If they suspect that they could be [exposed] it could be very life-threatening to not seek medical attention, especially in winter time.”
When it comes to plumbing, there are plenty preventive measures that can help you avoid unnecessary water, energy and money loss. From cutting down on daily water use, making sure taps and pipes are in good condition to conserving water and reducing bills – it’s easier than you might think.
Turn off those taps
A dripping tap is more than just an annoying sound; it can cause the waste of up to 15 gallons of water per day and add approximately $100 to your yearly water bill. To avoid wasting precious water, make sure you turn your taps off completely. If fully closed taps continue to leak, have them repaired or replaced. nvesting in plumbing maintenance now will help you save money in the long run.
Go for low-flow
Installing a low-flow showerhead is an easy way to significantly reduce water consumption. Even a 10 minute shower with a conventional showerhead can use up to 42 gallons of water. Low-flow showerheads are easy to install and use far less water. Go the extra mile and set a household shower-time limit. The teenagers in the home may be less than impressed but your reduced water bill will be worth the complaints. There are also low-flow toilets as well as low-flow aerators for any faucet that will furthermore lower your water consumption considerably.
Expose hidden leaks
Not all water leaks can be spotted with the naked eye. Some leaks are hidden and require some detective work on the part of the homeowner to be found. To determine if your home has any hidden leaks, check your water meter before and after a specific period of time when no water has been used. If the meter has changed, there may be a leak lurking somewhere in your home.
Don’t neglect your drains
Drains are often overlooked until they become clogged and no longer work effectively. To keep your drains in working order and avoid unwanted build-up, pour a cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar down them on a monthly basis. In the bathroom, use strainers in the sink and bathtub drains to keep hair and soap out of your pipes. Avoid using harsh chemical drain cleaners as they are harmful to the environment and can damage your pipes.
Listen to your toilet
If your toilet is making a gurgling noise, your home might be experiencing main drain problems. If the main drain was installed prior to 1980, there is a good chance it is made of clay and therefore easily penetrated by tree roots. A ‘gurgling toilet’ and wet marks around floor drains are early indications that underground roots are growing and placing pressure on your pipes. Listen to your toilet and have an experienced plumber fix the problem before your pipes break and must be replaced.
Check your toilet for leaks
According to the American Water Works Association Research Foundation, the toilet is considered the home’s biggest water waster, with toilet flushing accounting for almost 30 percent of daily home water usage. To test your toilet for leaks, drop some food coloring into the tank. If the color seeps into the toilet bowl within 10 to 15 minutes, your toilet has a leak. Check around the base of the toilet for signs of water damage (rolled vinyl, black or white stains, etc.) Prevent unnecessary water-loss by ensuring your toilet is leak-free.
Keep your valves moving
Exercise water supply valves under sinks and toilets to prevent them from sticking. This will ensure you will be able to shut the water off quickly in an emergency situation.
Follow garbage disposal guidelines
While garbage disposals might seem like indestructible incinerators, certain items can lead to their demise. Poultry skins, celery, fruit pits and bananas are not garbage disposal friendly – they can cause a build-up of debris which can lead to blockages and offensive odors. Also, bones should never be put in the garbage disposal as they can damage the sides of the grinding chamber.
Keep fats and oil out of your drains
Too many people think it makes sense to pour hot cooking grease down a sink or toilet. After all, you can’t pour it in the garbage bag. But when that grease cools it solidifies and sticks to the insides of your pipes. Over time, it will build up and block the entire pipe. Rather than dumping grease into your plumbing system, pour it in a heat-resistant container, let it solidify and then throw it in the garbage. If you must put some grease down a drain (last remains of a greasy skillet) follow it with a lot of hot water to clear the drain pipes.
Yes, you should floss, but no, you shouldn’t flush your floss. Today’s dental floss is shed-resistant and won’t break down. When dental floss enters the sewage system, it bonds with other waste and forms large clumps that block pipes.
Hair and Tissues
For some, it’s common practice to flush discarded hair from hairbrushes or haircuts down the toilet as well as tissues, which is why there is an enormous market for anti-clog products. If you don’t want a backed up toilet, don’t flush tissues or hair.
Know the location of your home’s main water valve
In case of a major incident – such as a pipe bursting – where you might need to immediately shut off all of the water in the home, it’s critical to know where the main water valve is located. This valve is usually located next to the water meter and should be kept in good condition. To maintain your home’s main water valve and keep it in working order, open and close it once a year.
Pay a little attention to your Water Heater
Check the temperature setting on the water heater. It should be set no higher than 120°F to prevent scalding and reduce energy use.
Whenever you leave town turn the dial on your water heater to “vacation.” That will keep the water temperature at a lower point and reduces the use of energy. Make sure you remember to turn it back to the original setting right after you come home.
Carefully drain several gallons from the water heater tank to flush out corrosion causing sediment, which reduces heating efficiency and shortens the life of the heater.
Consider replacing a water heater more than 15 years old. (The first four numbers of the serial number represent the month and year it was made.) Newer water heaters are more energy efficient. Make sure flammables are not stored near the water heater or furnace.
A rusty water tank is a sign of pending problems.
Slow floor drains should be snaked to make sure they will carry away water fast if there is a flood.
Standing water in a yard is a common problem caused by a leaky or broken pipe. Excess water in a yard might come from a damaged sewer line and contain waste from the home. This is unhealthy for children and pets, and is a breeding ground for insects and germs.
Winter preventative measure: outside water valves
To protect your pipes and keep them from freezing in the severe cold, turn off the valve that controls the tap for your garden hose. This will avoid water entering the hose and freezing, causing the pipes to burst. If in the spring an outdoor faucet drips or if it leaks inside your home the first time the hose is turned back on, you may have had a frozen pipe that cracked and needs to be replaced.
Hire right the first time
Your home is typically one of the biggest, most important purchases you can make – the result of a painstaking search that might have taken months or even years. Therefore, when it comes to home plumbing maintenance – it only makes sense to hire someone who is qualified and will do the job well. Call “Green Apple Plumbing” toll free at (888) 315-5564
Plumbing problems, we all have them and they are awful. They smell bad, flood our houses and destroy a lot of stuff. So when the worst happens, who do we call to fix it? Green Apple Plumbing NJ! However, the average person does not know much about the noble profession, so we assembled some facts to enlighten us all about where our modern plumber comes from.
A Brief History of Plumbing
“Plumbing” comes from the word for lead, which is plumbum. People who worked with lead were called Plumbarius, which was eventually shortened to the word we use today. Plumbing dates back to roman times when the Romans used lead pipe inscriptions to prevent water theft. After that virtually no advance in the profession was made until the 19th century when actual sewage systems were created to eliminate cesspools. More recently, technology has taken off and resulted in the modern piping and water treatment that we enjoy everyday.
10 Crazy Facts About Plumbing and its Rich History
- Albert Einstein was made an honorary member of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union after he had announced that he would be a plumber if he had to live his life all over again.
- In the technology capitol of the world, Japan, some urinals have voice activated flushing mechanisms. The urinals respond to several commands, including “fire”.
- Over $100,000 were spent on a study to determine whether most people put their toilet paper on the holder with the flap in front or behind. The answer: three out of four people have the flap in the front.
- 90% of pharmaceuticals taken by people are excreted through urination. Therefore our sewer systems contain heavy dose of drugs. A recent study by the EPA has found fish containing trace amounts of estrogen, cholesterol-lowering drugs, pain relievers, antibiotics, caffeine and even anti-depressants.
- President Richard Nixon had set up a White House Special Investigations Unit to plug intelligence leaks in the governmental processes associated with the Vietnam War. The members of this convert group were popularly called “plumbers.”
- The toilet is flushed more times during the super bowl halftime than at any time during the year. We imagine the 8 million pounds of popcorn, 28 million pounds of potato chips, and 1 billion chicken wings really get to you at halftime.
- Who are the most famous plumbers ever? Mario and Luigi of course! They have been in over 200 games since Mario bros was created in 1985.
- King George II of Great Britain died falling off a toilet on the 25th of October 1760.
- The “Bathroom” has been named many different things in many different places. Here are a few of my favorite ones: The Egyptians named it the House of Horror, the Romans named it the Necessarium for obvious reasons. The Tudors who ruled England for a period of time called the bathroom the privy or house of privacy. People of France call it “La Chambre Sent” meaning the smelly house, self-explanatory of course. Israelis call the bathroom the house of honor, this one confuses us the most.
- The average person spends three whole years of their life sitting on the toilet. We hope you brought a good book.
Hope you enjoyed these facts and don’t forget to say hello to your friendly neighborhood plumber!