Winter Plumbing Maintenance Tips

The arrival of the winter season and cold weather invite a multitude of potential plumbing problems into our homes. Frigid morning showers, frozen or cracked pipes, broken radiators, flooding, and leaks are just a few of the many unwanted plumbing issues brought on by cold winter weather.

Fortunately there are things that you can do to prevent or minimize the likelihood of these winter plumbing mishaps. Horizon Services offers these plumbing maintenance tips to keep your plumbing system in tip-top shape during the winter months:

  • Preventing Clogged Drains: Once a week, treat your sink and bathtub drains to this quick, safe and environmentally-friendly cleaning process. Make up a mixture of 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of baking soda, and 1/4 cup cream of tartar. Pour equal amounts into your various drains and follow it with 2 cups of boiling water for each drain.
  • Pipe Insulation: Use foam padding sleeves or special insulating tape to guard your pipes (both hot water and cold water) against freezing. Any exposed pipe or plumbing fixtures should be kept warm with space heaters (lamps) from a safe distance. Every few days, check out pipes in basements or little used areas of the house to make sure no ice or frost is accumulating or cracks developing.
  • Running Water: Be sure to run water from every valve in your house at regular intervals throughout the winter.  This will prevent freezing.
  • Don’t Forget Outdoor Spigots and Hoses: Unattach your garden hoses before freezing temperatures arrive in the fall. Close the shut-off valve on the pipes which lead to your outdoor spigots. Drain any residual water from spigots or hoses. Don’t leave hoses attached to outdoor faucets over the winter; roll up and store till spring.
  • Be Careful with Holiday Cooking: Cooking grease and oils put a real strain on drains, pipes and garbage disposals.  Grease and oil are more likely to collect and clog when your plumbing is colder, so do your best not pour down the drain. Also, refrain from putting hard to grind objects or stringy substances down into the disposal. Always run cold water through the disposal for at least 15 seconds before and after each use. Be sure to turn the disposal on before filling it with food debris.
  • Spread Showers Throughout the Day: At least 10 minute intervals between showers is optimal to maintain hot water and proper pressure. You may also want to turn up the water heater during the cold season as well; to prevent burns, do not put it above 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Eliminate Drafts: Check around your home for areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas and take measures to prevent the flow of cold air in these areas. Examples: basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated. A hot water supply line can freeze just as a cold water supply line can freeze if water is not running through the pipe and the water temperature becomes cold.

If Your Indoor Faucets Freeze:

  • Leave the cabinet doors under the faucets open so that they can get more heat.
  • If it gets intensely cold, run a little bit of water from each valve in the house each day. Let the water trickle very slowly into the sink.
  • Heat every room of your home, not just a few rooms. Allow warm air to circulate freely throughout your house.

If Your Pipes Freeze, Burst or Crack This Winter:

  • Turn off the water at the main shut-off valve so that you don’t have problems as the ice melts.
  • Leave the faucets on to relieve pressure as the ice melts.
  • Use a blow dryer or heat gun to thaw frozen pipes.
  • DO NOT use any torches or open flames to thaw pipes.

Top 5 Tips to Prevent Plumbing Problems This Thanksgiving

For many, the day after Thanksgiving is about family time and the Black Friday shopping extravaganza. For residential plumbers nationwide, it’s the single busiest day of the year. In fact, plumbing problems spike 50% the day after Thanksgiving. Think about it. You’ve delighted in turkey and sweet potato casserole, and now your wayward scraps and greasy dishes are stressing your sink and clogging your drains.


Would you prefer to spend your money on presents or plumbing issues? To keep your pipes clear and clog-free, it’s important to know what you can safely put in the disposal and what you can’t. Here’s the skinny:

1. Don’t Treat the Disposal Like a Trash Can

As much as possible, throw leftovers in the trash or compost pile. When you do use your disposal, feed waste gradually to prevent overloading.

2. Be Picky About What You Toss

Don’t put turkey bones, poultry skin, potato peels, celery and fruit down the garbage disposal.

3. Keep Grease to a Minimum

Avoid pouring fat and cooking oil down the drain and wipe off greasy pans before putting them in the sink.

4. Run Water

Run water when you use the disposal and keep it running for a few seconds after you turn the disposal off.

5. Don’t Run the Dishwasher

Don’t operate the dishwasher if you think there’s a problem. It discharges into the disposal.

This Thanksgiving, don’t be sitting on the sidelines waiting for your handyman to arrive for an impromptu plumbing fix. Show your drains a little love so you can keep your focus on food, family and all the freebies you get if you’re first in line on Black Friday.

Flushed with Pride: 1850s Bathroom Boasts Early Plumbing Technology

In 1850s America, most people relied on privies and outhouses for their bathroom needs. But the Davis family of Natchez, Miss., had something few other Americans did: indoor hot-and-cold running water and an indoor toilet.

Now this marvel of 19th-century technology is getting a new home, moving from the Dunleith Historical Inn to another mansion nearby operated by the National Park Service. The new lodging will give the public a chance to see a pre-Civil War version of a luxurious lavatory, complete with shower/bath combo.

“This is a rare example of a mid-19th-century bathroom that had survived for 150 years,” said National Park Service historian Jeff Mansell.

Most 1800s bathrooms have been renovated out of existence, Mansell said — and few families had indoor plumbing at the time, anyway. The White House only got running water in 1833, for example, and it wasn’t until 1853 that the presidential family got running water in their second-floor washroom. [See Photos of 1850s Bathroom]

The best bathroom technology

The Dunleith bathroom consists of a washbasin with two faucets, a toilet and an L-shaped tub-and-bathtub combination, also with two faucets. Pipes pumped water up from the first-floor laundry room, where water was heated, Mansell said. The pipes led to three cisterns in the attic, which drained down to fixtures in the third-floor bathroom whenever someone opened the faucets or flushed the toilet. Waste from the toilet would have gone to a primitive septic system, Mansell said, joining waste from outdoor privies on the property.

The oval-shaped showerhead was large, about 10 inches (25 centimeters) across and would have created a rainfall effect, much like showerheads in upscale bathrooms today.

“In the 19th century, you had what everybody’s trying for today, the rain shower,” Mansell said.

A man named Alfred Vidal Davis, who, in 1859, bought the house that would become the Dunleith Inn, most likely installed the bathroom the year he moved in, Mansell said. When the preservation team was deconstructing the bathroom to remove it from its third-floor location, they found a packing slip from a New Orleans retailer called Price & Coulon, he said.

“Davis could have seen it there or may have read about it,” Mansell said. “We think there was a catalog that was advertising this particular system.”

National Park staff isn’t sure how much the system would have cost Davis, but indoor plumbing would have been a privilege reserved for the elite.

The future of the Dunleith bathroom

The Dunleith Historical Inn decided to donate the fixtures to the National Park Service because they are renovating the wing where the bathroom was. The bathroom was at the top of a steep stairwell, said Dunleith general manager John Holyoak, and because of its inaccessibility had been used for storage for the past 10 years.

“It’s just not conducive for anybody to ever see the bathroom,” Holyoak said.

To get the fixtures, including a 400-pound zinc-lined cistern, down from the third floor and attic, construction crews had to build a specially designed ramp. For now, the disassembled bathroom is in storage, but the National Park Service plans to reinstall them in the nearby estate of Melrose, another wealthy home from the same era. Historians know that Melrose had some sort of washroom in the 1850s, but they aren’t sure whether it was as elaborate as the Dunleith one.

“There’s some indication that they had had some sort of indoor plumbing system, but it was removed right after the turn of the century,” Mansell said. “So we don’t know what it looked like.”

Soon, however, visitors will be able to see with their own eyes the private perks of pre-Civil War wealth.

“Most people, when they think of the mid-19th century, they don’t think of this kind of technology existing,” Mansell said. “Even as sophisticated as Natchez was, with people here with a lot of money, you didn’t find a lot of indoor plumbing.”

Poorly Maintained Plumbing Often Leads to Legionnaires’ Disease, CDC Says

As New York City struggles to contain an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, two new U.S. government reports show the bacteria that causes the potentially deadly illness can take root in a myriad of water sources.

Those sources can include poorly maintained hot tubs, water fountains and cooling towers, the researchers said.

“The variety of settings and water sources implicated in the Legionella outbreaks reported here highlights the complexity of Legionella control . . . particularly in settings where susceptible persons congregate, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other health-care settings,” Karlyn Beer, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues wrote.

The New York investigation has pinpointed cooling towers used for air conditioning as the source of more than 100 illnesses and 12 deaths in the South Bronx. But across the nation, improperly treated drinking water accounts for a rising proportion of outbreaks, the CDC team said in one of their two reports.

Two-thirds of 32 outbreaks of drinking water-related illness reported in 2011-2012 were traced toLegionella bacteria — twice the figure documented in 2007-2008, the researchers said.

Improperly maintained building plumbing and private groundwater — not publicly regulated water supplies — were the culprits in those 2011-2012 outbreaks, according to the agency. Fourteen deaths and more than 430 illnesses occurred from Legionella in that period.

“The key to preventing these outbreaks is maintenance of building plumbing systems,” according to Beer and her colleagues. Beer’s group conducted both studies published in the Aug. 14 issue of theMorbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a CDC publication.

Outbreaks often occur in hospitals or health-care facilities, “illustrating the disproportionate disease burden among hospitalized persons, who are more likely to be older or have underlying conditions that increase their risk of developing Legionnaire’s disease,” the team said in background notes.

A type of pneumonia, Legionnaire’s disease strikes vulnerable people, especially the elderly and those with other underlying medical conditions, the hardest. It can cause coughing, wheezing and breathing problems, but it is not spread from person to person. It is typically treated with antibiotics, according to the CDC.

Identifying and correcting flaws in plumbing systems, private wells and contaminated groundwater supplies could prevent many outbreaks and illnesses, the authors noted.

New York officials and legislators are already working on tougher laws and regulations for cooling towers in response to the outbreak there.

In the second report, the researchers said Legionella bacteria caused 15 of 18 outbreaks and 10 deaths associated with environmental or undetermined water exposures in 2011-2012.

Four outbreaks occurred in hotels and motels, three in hospital settings and three in long-term care facilities. An office, a factory and a mobile home park also experienced outbreaks, the findings showed.

Ornamental fountains were implicated in three of the outbreaks, the researchers found.

Maintenance of water systems — including drinking water systems, hot tubs, decorative fountains and cooling towers — is necessary to prevent Legionella and other bacteria from growing, the study authors said.

Green Apple Plumbing Recommends Annual Water Heater Maintenance—Why?

Green Apple Plumbing  is recommending you get annual water heat maintenance today, but why? Well, it’s quite easy: if you forego annual maintenance, disaster can strike with your water heater in ways you wouldn’t even imagine. You can’t afford to have your water heater die on you when you need hot water the most, especially during the winter.

Green Apple Plumbing is here to offer top-notch water heater maintenance that keeps the hot water flowing in your home for all plumbing fixtures. However, if you’re not staying on top of things, your water heater may be beyond repair. Don’t waste time by ignoring maintenance. Get it now and have guaranteed hot water for the rest of the year!

Why Does Green Apple Plumbing Recommend Maintenance?

If you choose not to have a maintenance check from a professional, it could be a costly mistake you’ll regret for a long time. Here‘s why Green Apple Plumbing recommend you get it done before it’s too late:

  • Sediment and Debris Buildup: Make sure to drain a quarter of your water heater tank regularly. Your water heater can become contaminated by sediment or debris, which can increase in amount when left untreated. Your hot water should ideally be clear and safe to consume, but sediment and debris in the water can seriously impact your health.
  • Water Pressure and Temperature Regulation: Green Apple Plumbing can test the temperature-pressure valve, which will let you know how well it’s working to regulate water pressure and temperature in the water tank.  If you notice any leaks coming from the valve, then it it’s time to call a professional for help.
  • Save Costs on Energy: With annual maintenance, you can save money and lower energy costs. When a water heater starts weakening, it needs to rely on more energy to churn out hot water, which can send the costs of your energy bills upward and leave you scraping the bottom of the piggy bank to pay for your water heater. Water heater maintenance in NJ from a licensed professional like Green Apple Plumbing is a huge step in conserving energy and keeping costs at an all-time low.

Contact like Green Apple Plumbing today for a plumber in NJ to conduct annual maintenance on your water heater today! It will be wisest choice you make!