Category Archives: Plumbing

Plumbing for Pet Owners: Do’s and Don’t’s

Plumbing for Pet Owners: Do's and Don't'sWhen you pet-proof your house, the plumbing is easy to overlook because most of it is hidden away where you’d think it would be safe. Pets and plumbing don’t always get along, though, so responsible pet owners plan ahead.

Do

Use drain strainers – These catch pet hair that ends up in the sink or shower before it enters the drain. Pet hair may be shorter than human hair, but it can still cause clogs. Even if you don’t bathe your dog or cat in a particular sink or shower, use a strainer there to catch hair that still finds its way in. Drain strainers also catch other clog-causing debris, so they’re a good idea all around.

Protect your pipes – As many surprised pet owners have discovered, some dogs, particularly as puppies, find plumbing pipes tempting to chew on. If you have exposed pipes under your sinks, keep the sink cabinets locked or protected with child safety latches. If that’s not possible and you’ve caught your dog gnawing on the pipes, apply a bitter-tasting chewing deterrent. Installing a cage around your pipes is another option if nothing else helps. Give your dog plenty of appropriate chew toys to keep his mouth busy.

Don’t

Flush kitty litter – This is a trap many pet owners fall into. Even the litters that claim to be flushable shouldn’t go down the toilet, and this is doubly true with clumping litters. Litter settles in the toilet’s P-trap where it swells up, traps debris, and will eventually cause a clog. It’s also not good for septic tanks. Even worse, cat feces can harbor the parasite toxoplasma gondii, which can survive wastewater treatment and end up in the water supply. Place used litter in a plastic bag and put it in the trash.

Let pets drink from the toilet – It’s usually not the germs in toilet water than can make your dog or cat sick, but the cleaning chemicals. For smaller pets, falling in is another risk. Keep your toilet lids closed and provide plenty of fresh water in bowls.

To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted HVAC services for Portland area homeowners.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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How Wi-Fi Detectors Can Catch Water Leaks and Freezes

How Wi-Fi Detectors Can Catch Water Leaks and FreezesWi-Fi detectors offer high-tech protection against a low-tech threat: water leaks and frozen pipes. A large portion of your household plumbing is typically routed through inconspicuous areas that don’t get much attention. If a leak occurs in a water supply line, major water damage can occur before the incident is noticed.

A cracked 1/2-inch supply line can release up to 50 gallons per minute, a flood which quickly migrates far and wide inside the house. Extreme damage to structure and valuable possessions continues until someone sees the problem and shuts off the main water shutoff valve. If you happen to be out of the house for the day — or worse, out of town for several days — when a pipe leaks or freezes and ruptures, the results could be catastrophic.

Water damage from plumbing leaks and frozen pipes is the second most common cause of homeowner’s insurance claims. Connected to your existing home router or wireless network, here’s how Wi-Fi detectors protect your house and possessions from severe water damage:

Leak Detection

Installed in areas where unseen water leaks are most likely to occur — basement, crawl space, laundry room, etc — a Wi-Fi detector senses the presence of leaked water. The wireless alert can trigger an audible alarm. The device can also send you a text or email wherever you may be to warn you of the hazard occurring at home. Some of the more sophisticated systems can even shut off the main household water valve if a leak is detected.

Freeze Protection

Ice forming inside a water supply line causes extreme pressure that can rupture the pipe. Exposed water lines in unheated zones of the house such as the crawl space are particularly vulnerable. A Wi-Fi freeze protection system features battery-powered wraparound sensors that can be installed on exposed supply lines in critical areas. When the pipe temperature drops below freezing, an alert is transmitted wirelessly and can sound an alarm as well as send you a text or email to inform you of the danger.

For more about protection against water damage provided by Wi-Fi detectors, contact Roth Heating & Cooling. Serving the West Linn area for over 40 years.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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The Main Plumbing Problems in the Summer

The Main Plumbing Problems in the SummerIn the summertime when the weather is lovely, your home’s plumbing system gets a workout — both indoors and out. Staying vigilant for summer plumbing problems can help you avoid unnecessarily high water bills or costly water damage to your home.

Here are the main problems to watch out for:

Toilet Clogs

When your children are off school for the summer, the toilets in your home will get used a lot more. Since it’s impossible to continuously monitor exactly what’s going down the drain, there’s a greater chance that your toilets will get clogged by excessive amounts of toilet paper or foreign objects being flushed. You can try clearing a clog with a plunger, but if it’s stubborn, you may need help from a plumbing pro who has the skills and specialized tools to get your toilet clog free.

Outdoor Hose Bib Damage

If the hose bib wasn’t drained and insulated last fall, it may have frozen and cracked at some point during the winter months. To prevent water waste and the risk of a leak around your exterior wall and foundation, check for leaks before you attach and begin using the hose this summer.

Sprinkler System Leaks

An automatic sprinkler system makes it easier to keep your landscaping green and healthy during the summer, but leaks in the system can damage your foundation or basement, and increase your water bill dramatically. You can prevent both these issues by checking for damaged or clogged sprinkler heads and testing for leaks before you start using the sprinkler system this summer.

If you need expert help from a licensed plumber to solve summer plumbing problems in your West Linn-area home, contact us today at Roth Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

Easy to Solve Common Water Pressure Problems

Easy to Solve Common Water Pressure ProblemsDealing with poor water pressure is an inconvenience, but many homeowners simply live with the annoyance because they don’t realize there are some relatively simple fixes that might restore an ample flow. Here’s how to solve some common water pressure problems that occur in Portland homes.

Individual Plumbing Fixtures With Low Pressure

If water pressure has decreased at just one faucet or showerhead, you may be able to correct the underlying cause yourself if it’s clogged with sediment or scale deposits. To attempt a faucet fix, unscrew the aerator and rinse the screen thoroughly to clear out any tiny sediment particles. If the problem is a scale buildup, mix a 50/50 water/vinegar solution and soak the aerator for 20 minutes or longer until the minerals dissolve. With a showerhead, remove the nozzle end and follow the same steps. If the problem persists, it’s time to replace the aerator or showerhead.

Poor Hot Water Pressure

If you notice a lack of pressure on the hot water supply at all of your plumbing fixtures, the likely issue is a significant sediment buildup in your water heater tank. If you haven’t had the tank flushed in a while, a serious accumulation can clog up the water lines and block the tank’s drain and pressure relief valves. To avoid any potential safety hazards, it’s wise to get the appliance inspected, drained and flushed by a professional plumber.

Low Pressure Throughout Your Home

If your entire plumbing system suffers from insufficient cold water pressure, make certain that the home’s main water valve is open all the way. If the valve is fully open, it’s best to have a licensed plumber assess your system. A pro may discover that pressure is low in your neighborhood, and suggest installing a pressure booster. There may be a leak that requires repair in your home’s main supply line. A malfunctioning reducing valve on the system is another possibility, or aging galvanized plumbing pipes that are corroded and due for replacement.

For expert help solving water pressure problems in your Metro Portland home, contact us today at Roth Heating & Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Ways to Decide if You Should Get a Plumbing Upgrade

Ways to Decide if You Should Get a Plumbing UpgradeYour plumbing is a vital household system that may not get a lot of attention until age-related problems begin to develop. If you don’t have the problems identified and addressed, you can end up dealing with costly water damage to your home. Learning how to recognize the warning signs of plumbing deterioration gives you an opportunity to get professional advice about whether a plumbing upgrade is needed before extensive damage occurs.

Ways to Tell You Have Problematic Plumbing

If you can relate to one or more of the following plumbing issues, it’s wise to have a licensed plumber inspect your system to help you decide if an upgrade is warranted.

  • Galvanized piping. If your home still has galvanized piping, you may not realize that it can be badly corroded on the inside even though it appears to be in good shape because the outside is treated against corrosion. If you start to experience issues with low pressure and frequent clogs, corroded plumbing pipes may be the cause.
  • Mixed materials. If a portion of your galvanized piping was replaced with copper and dielectric unions weren’t used between the two materials, your system can deteriorate faster than expected due to metal incompatibility.
  • Advancing age. The useful lifespan of residential plumbing system components is typically about 60 years. If your home is approaching that age, you have a chance to avoid extensive problems or damage by having the system assessed and replaced if it’s advisable.
  • Evidence of decay. You can tell a lot about the condition of your plumbing system by doing periodic checks on any pipes that you can easily access. Check the pipes coming off the water heater, running to the kitchen and bathroom sinks, or lines situated in unfinished spaces like the garage. Look for discoloration, dimpling or flaking metal, and fresh or dried water stains on adjacent surfaces. An increase in minor leaks and/or rusty-looking, discolored water coming from the faucets are other signs of deteriorated plumbing. Evidence of decay is not always easy to spot by the untrained eye.

For expert advice about whether a plumbing upgrade is necessary in your Portland-area home, contact us today at Roth Heating & Cooling.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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These are the Keys to Preventing Freezing Pipe Bursts

These are the Keys to Preventing Freezing Pipe BurstsPipe bursts can really ruin your day. Protecting your pipes when the Portland weather freezes can prevent devastating damage to your home and belongings as well as save you a considerable amount of money in cleanup costs. Here’s how to keep your pipes cozy to prevent them from freezing in the winter.

Insulate Your Pipes

Preventing pipe bursts starts with adequate insulation. Use inexpensive, pre-fabricated foam pipe insulation sleeves to insulate both hot and cold water pipes that run exposed through the basement, crawlspace, or other cold area. This is a good time to add an insulating jacket to your water heater to save on your energy bill.

Attach a Heat Cable to Your Pipes

When pipe bursts seem imminent due to freezing weather in the forecast, a heat cable can save the day. This flexible electric heating cable wraps around a plastic or metal pipe in an unconditioned area to prevent it from freezing. A built-in thermostat heats up the cable when the temperature dips below 38 degrees and turns it off when it reaches 45 degrees.

Open the Cabinets and Turn the Water On

To reduce the chances of kitchen or bathroom pipes on an exterior wall freezing, open the doors to the cabinets that house the pipes. On the coldest of days, leave warm water running very slowly to help combat freezing.

Don’t Forget the Outdoor Spigot

Once the gardening season ends and you no longer need the outdoor spigot, locate the shutoff valve and turn it off. Open the smaller valve on the side to drain the remaining water from the pipe.

If Your Pipes Burst

If your pipes burst while there’s still ice in them, turn off the water to the pipe and call a plumber. Knowing ahead of time where the main shutoff valve is can save you a few minutes of panic and enable you to contain the damage quickly if a burst pipe thaws and sends water rushing into your home.

For more expert advice about preventing pipe bursts, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling, proudly serving our Portland-area neighbors.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Need a New Toilet? Use Our Tips to Help You Shop

Need a New Toilet? Use Our Tips to Help You ShopSo, it’s time to buy a new toilet for your home, huh? You shouldn’t take this endeavor lightly. It calls for research and the proper selection of a unit that is right for you and your home. To help you out, we’ve compiled some great tips that will narrow your selection:

Start with Consumer Reports

The first thing you should do is check out a variety of reviews and information. A great place to start is the Consumer Reports website, where you can find out what experts think of different models, their flush rates, etc.

Lower Your Water Usage

Certain toilets are better for keeping your water usage down. We’re talking, of course, about high-efficiency and low-flow types. They may be slightly higher in price, but the water and money savings are more than worth it.

Pick Up a Pressure-Assist Model

Pressure-assist toilets work by holding water in a special tank, which is then released with great velocity to get rid of waste instead of relying on gravity. These models are perfect for homeowners who want to save water. Just be aware that pressure-assist types are very loud.

Make Clean-Up a Breeze

Cleaning a toilet is not only disgusting at times, but it’s annoying due to the way they’re designed with a series of nooks and crannies. If you invest in a wall-hung model, you won’t have this problem. These models are much easier to clean, even if they do look a little strange since their design is out of the norm.

Try a Taller Model

Toilets in the handicapped stalls in public restrooms must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act in order to provide proper comfort. What many people don’t realize is that they can also be great for elderly persons in your household, along with those who are a bit on the tall side.

For more expert advice on finding a new toilet for your home, or if you have any other questions related to home comfort, please don’t hesitate to contact the friendly professionals at Roth Heating & Cooling. We’ve been serving the Portland area since 1976.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Checking the P-Trap for a Clog

Checking the P-Trap for a ClogThe p-trap is that 180-degree bend in the drain pipe just underneath most sinks. Its curvy configuration performs a couple of very vital plumbing functions. If anything goes wrong down there, you’ll know about it pretty soon.

In normal conditions the trap always retains a small amount of water from the last time you used the sink. That water acts as a seal to prevent the reflux of sewer odors. Without a functioning p-trap, every sink would be releasing the pungent, unmistakable smell of sewer gas into your home.

The p-trap’s other purpose is to catch debris washed down the drain that might otherwise flow even deeper into the drain system and form a clog that’s hard to get to. The u-shaped bend in the trap slows the flow of drain water to retain debris where it can be easily cleared out. If a drain clog forms in your p-trap — or you drop a valuable like a ring down the drain — you can get to it by cleaning the trap. Most traps today are made of PVC with large slip nuts and are easy to loosen and remove by hand. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Put a bucket under the trap to catch water and drain debris.
  2. Loosen the two large slip nuts in the drain pipe. One is right above the p-trap in the vertical section of the drain pipe, the other is just beyond the trap where the drain pipe becomes horizontal.
  3. Pull straight down on the trap and separate it from the drain pipe segments.
  4. Clean the clog or other contents out of the trap. If the trap is severely clogged, take it outside and flush it clean with a garden hose.
  5. Fit the trap back into the drain pipe and hand-tighten the slip nuts.
  6. Turn on water in the sink and check for leaks.

For qualified professional service to handle clogs in the p-trap or elsewhere in your plumbing system, contact Roth Heating & Cooling.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Saving Water With Your Shower

Saving Water With Your ShowerThe great thing about saving water in the home is that you’re accomplishing two goals at once — conserving a valuable natural resource and saving money on your water bill. It’s a win-win situation. Nowadays, not only does technology offer low-flow showerheads, faucets and toilets to help reduce water use; the federal Environmental Protection Agency runs a program, WaterSense, that certifies fixtures that reduce water use below designated levels.

The following are some WaterSense approved methods to save water in your home:

  • In the shower. Save water by taking shorter showers, and when deciding between a shower and a bath, opting for the shower. It uses a lot less water. Avoid running the shower before you’re ready to step into it. Install low-flow showerheads. These fixtures spray less than 2 gallons of water, whereas an industry-standard showerhead will deliver 2.5 gallons or more. In the shower, you likely won’t notice that the low-flow showerhead is delivering significantly less water than one that’s not rated as low-flow.
  • Toilets. More than 60 models of WaterSense-certified toilets are available for purchase. Most water-efficient models flush 20 percent less water than a standard 1.6-gallon-per-flush toilet. Dual-flush models are available that provide two flush options – 0.8 gallons for removing liquid waste and 1.6 gallons for removing solid waste. WaterSense-certified toilets, in a typical household, can save 5,000 gallons of water annually.
  • Bathroom faucets. Low-flow bathroom sink faucets are limited to delivering 2.2 gallons or less per minute, and most spray between 0.8 and 1.5 gallons per minute. This is a big improvement over faucets as recent as the early 1990’s that delivered 3-7 gallons per minute. As with low-flow showerheads, they still provide the impression of decent water pressure. When using the bathroom faucet, save water by not keeping it flowing full-blast when you’re not using it (such as the whole time you’re brushing your teeth).

For more advice on conserving water with low-flow showerheads and other plumbing fixtures, please contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling. We provide quality plumbing, electrical and HVAC services in the Portland area.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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Conserve Water With These Plumbing Fixtures in Your Home

Conserve Water With These Plumbing Fixtures in Your HomeWhen you take steps to conserve water, you’re not only lowering your utility bills, you’re helping save an irreplaceable and vital resource. One effective way to reduce your household consumption is by installing water-conserving plumbing fixtures. Here are some different types of fixtures to consider:

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