Category Archives: Plumbing

How to Prepare Your Plumbing for Frozen Temperatures

How to Prepare Your Plumbing for Frozen TemperaturesLast winter Portland saw record low temperatures. While the thermostat seldom dips below freezing here, whenever it’s predicted it’s a good idea to survey your home and property and prepare for the worst. Besides wrapping or covering vulnerable plants, you also want to protect your pipes from the predicted frozen temperature drop.

Protecting Your Pipes

When water in your pipes freezes, it will expand and can burst your pipes and cause flooding. Here’s how to protect pipes.

Outdoors

If you don’t regularly disconnect your outdoor hoses and wrap your faucets when freezing temperatures are predicted, you should. Drain faucets and wrap them with a commercially manufactured faucet cover, or use old towels. It’s best to turn the faucet off at the inside valve if you can, and leave the faucet open to drain. Leaving a trickle of water running slightly will also help.

Water sprinkler lines and swimming pool supply lines are also vulnerable and should be protected. Never use antifreeze, which is attractive to pets and some wild animals and can kill them.

Inside

If you have pipes running through the basement, attic or the crawl space, increase the insulation in those areas to prevent freezing. This will also help lower your utility bill.

Inspect your home for any areas where pipes located on an exterior wall might freeze, such as in a kitchen or bathroom. Even though you might think you’ll always keep the temperatures high enough to avoid freezing, you could have a furnace breakdown in the midst of a cold spell. If this happens when you’re away, you could return to a flooded home. Pipes in cabinets may be particularly at risk.

Wrap pipes in a pipe sleeve or use heat tape or a heated cable. The latter methods rely on electricity so won’t help if your power goes out. You can also wrap pipes in 1/4-inch-thick newspaper or insulation. Also, leave the cabinet door open during cold spells so the heat gets inside the cabinets.

To learn more about protecting pipes when a frozen temperature prediction is issued, contact Roth Heating and 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). 

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “illustrade/Pixabay”

4 Common Winter Plumbing Concerns

4 Common Winter Plumbing ConcernsCold weather can be punishing to pipes and water heaters and taking steps to protect them will save you time, hassle and discomfort. As the temperature drops, be aware of these four winter plumbing concerns and how you can avoid the problems they cause.

Water Pipes

  1. They freeze inside your home. Exceptionally cold weather can make the water freeze inside the pipes in your walls or basement. Homes that lack insulation are most vulnerable, as are vacant homes whose heating systems have been turned off.

Many plumbers and insurance companies recommend leaving the heat set at 55 degrees F when leaving for a winter vacation. You can also leave the cabinet doors under sinks open to prevent the pipes from freezing. Letting the faucets drip will also reduce the risk of frozen pipes.

  1. They freeze outside your home. Even though they won’t cause the same amount of serious damage as a burst interior pipe will, they’re still serious winter plumbing concerns. Before subfreezing temperatures descend, remove the hose. Locate the shutoff valve to the outdoor spigot and turn it off. Turn on the spigot to drain any remaining water.

Water Heater Problems

  1. When the water heater has a buildup of dissolved solids on the bottom, it won’t heat as efficiently or quickly in the winter, especially if it uses gas. If you haven’t flushed a few quarts of water from the heater recently, you could be spending more than you should to heat it. Telltale signs include rumbling or gurgling sounds while it’s heating or it takes substantially longer to heat the water during periods of high demand.
  2. Water heater failure often occurs in the winter because it has to work harder to heat the colder incoming water. These appliances last between eight and 12 years. Heavy use and lack of maintenance will shorten it.

These winter plumbing concerns are largely avoidable through regular maintenance in the case of water heaters, and awareness of weather conditions for your pipes. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted 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). 

Fall Plumbing Tips to Follow

Fall Plumbing Tips to FollowThe arrival of fall tells us that winter isn’t far away, so it’s time to get your plumbing system ready for colder weather. Following these essential fall plumbing tips can make the task easier.

Put Away Your Garden Hoses

To keep your hoses in good condition so you can use them next year, disconnect and drain each one. Then, roll them up and store them in a spot where they won’t be exposed to freezing temperatures, like the basement.

Winterize Your Outdoor Hose Bib

If your bib is equipped with an indoor shutoff, close it then go outside and open the bib spigot and let any remaining water drain out. Lastly, cover the bib with a foam insulator for an extra layer of protection against freezing and bursting.

Protect Vulnerable Pipes From Freezing

Adding protection to vulnerable water pipes can prevent freezing and let you avoid the headaches of dealing with ruptures and water damage. First, install insulated foam sleeves on pipes situated in unheated areas, like the garage or basement. If you have accessible pipes running through an exterior wall, you should protect them with heat cable that’s controlled by an automatic thermostat.

Perform Water Heater Maintenance

Since you’re tackling plumbing maintenance, it’s the ideal time to drain and flush sediment from your water heater tank, and make sure that the pressure relief valve is functioning properly. You should also adjust the unit’s thermostat setting to 120 degrees, and install insulated foam sleeves on first four feet of hot water piping coming from the tank. If your appliance is older and not well-insulated, you should also add an insulated tank blanket to limit heat losses.

Check Your Sump Pump

To prevent damage from basement flooding and water intrusions during the fall and winter, this is a good time to test your sump pump’s functionality and clear any accumulated debris from the sump pit. If you don’t already have one, invest in a backup battery so your pump works during a power outage.

For help winterizing your Portland-area home with these fall plumbing tips, contact us 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).

Plumbing Upgrades You Need This Season

Plumbing Upgrades You Need This SeasonNow that summer is waning and you’re spending more time indoors again, it’s a good opportunity to make some beneficial plumbing upgrades around your home. Here are five upgrade suggestions that can lower your water and energy bills, increase your comfort and help the environment too:

Invest in a New Water Heater

If your water heater is 10 or more years old, it can be up to 20 percent less efficient than the new appliances on the market. Today’s gas-fired storage tank water heaters are better insulated to reduce standby heat losses, and they offer features like electrical igniters and flu damper controls to curb your gas consumption.

Install Low-Flow Fixtures

Did you know that faucets and showers account for about one-quarter of the total household water usage in an average home? Installing low-flow fixtures can cut that consumption by 30 to 50 percent and bring you significant savings on your water and energy bills.

Upgrade to a High-Efficiency Toilet

Replacing the water-guzzling older toilets in your home with high-efficiency models is a great way to reduce your water bills and help the environment too. The latest models include dual-flush toilets that use jet-powered siphonic flushing action to empty the bowl completely while using as little as .9 gallons of water.

Have Pressure-Compensating Valves Installed

Do you notice a distinctly unpleasant pressure and temperature change when you have the shower running and someone flushes or turns on a faucet elsewhere in your home? If you have a pressure-compensating valve installed, you can set it and never experience more than a three-degree temperature change again.

Install a Water Filtration System

If the taste or quality of your home’s water supply is less than ideal, consider adding a point-of-use or whole-house filtration system. A licensed plumber can test your water and help you choose the right system, such as activated-charcoal to remove odors and improve taste, reverse-osmosis to filter out sediment, UV light to kill bacteria and viruses, or a multi-stage system with combined capabilities.

To learn more about plumbing upgrades for your Portland 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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Name”

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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “G4889166/Pixabay”

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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Scigola/Pixabay”

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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay”

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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “geralt/Pixabay”

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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “MikeBird/Pixabay”