Category Archives: Plumbing

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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Address Plumbing Emergencies with These Tips

Address Plumbing Emergencies with These TipsWhen a burst plumbing pipe sends water spewing through your home, or a sink or toilet overflows, it’s easy to panic. To minimize mess and water damage during a plumbing emergency, it’s better to stay calm and use the following tips to help get the situation under control.

Turn Off the Main Water Valve

Knowing the location of your main water shut off valve is essential in a plumbing emergency, so it’s wise to look for it in advance. Then, if a pipe ruptures or a fixture overflows, you can go there quickly and avert a major flood by shutting the valve. Once it’s closed, check all your plumbing fixtures and accessible water pipes and shut the isolation valve at the source of the leak.

Shut Off Your Water Heater’s Gas Valve

If the gas stays flowing when the water is shut off, the pressure and temperature inside the water heater can increase to unsafe levels. You can prevent a possible explosion by finding and turning off the nearby gas valve, but don’t turn it back on until your plumbing emergency is resolved.

Address Leaking Pipes

If a pipe is cracked and leaking, place a container underneath it to catch the flow, then wrap duct tape around the damaged spot for a temporary fix. You can use plumber’s Teflon tape for a short-term fix on a threaded connection that’s leaking.

Deal With Clogs and Backups

It’s possible to unstop a clogged fixture if you use the right tool. A forced cup plunger works best for a kitchen sink or toilet, while a regular cup plunger is right for bathtubs, bathroom sinks and shower drains. If multiple plumbing fixtures are backing up at the same time, you probably have a main sewer line clog that plunging can’t solve.

Get Help From a Professional Plumber

If you need emergency service, call a licensed professional. Be sure to describe what’s going on and the steps you’ve already taken to deal with the situation.

When a plumbing emergency occurs in your Portland home and you need expert help, 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).

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These Are the Types of Water Shutoff Valves

These Are the Types of Water Shutoff ValvesIf you’re like many homeowners, you’ve learned that the more you know how things in your home work, the better choices you can make when it comes time to make replacements or repairs. One component you’ll probably have to replace at some point is a water shutoff valve.

You’ll find one of these three types of valves on most incoming water lines in your home. They have a simple but important purpose — to shut off the water if you ever have an emergency or need to make repairs.

  1. Washer valves. Most of the water shutoff valves in your home will probably be of this type. They’re inexpensive but tend to wear out sooner than the other types of valves. The reason they’re prone to wear is that they stop water by screwing down a rubber washer when the handle is turned. Rubber, of course, will give out over time. The good news? When these valves give out, they’re simple and cost-effective to replace.
  2. Gate valves. The name of this valve describes the mechanism used to stop the flow of water. When the handle is turned on a gate valve, a metal piece (gate) is lowered into the grooved bottom of the valve. Gate valves should always be fully turned on or off. When left halfway, the bottom of the gate sits in the flow of water. This causes the metal to wear away, keeping the valve from sealing shut.
  3. Ball valves. This type of valve lives up to its name with a steel ball inside. A hole is drilled through the ball. When in the “on” position, the hole lines up with the openings of your water pipes. When in the “off” position, the ball rotates to stop water flow. Even though it’s the most durable type of valve, the ball valve isn’t the first choice of many plumbers because it’s expensive and doesn’t always fit in tight areas. This is because the handle is designed to only make a quarter turn.

For more advice on what water shutoff valve to use in your Portland home, 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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Do You Know the Types of Plumbing Pipes?

Do You Know the Types of Plumbing Pipes?It’s so easy to ignore the plumbing in your home because the pipes are largely hidden from view, and most of the time it works exactly as it was intended. However, the type of pipes your home has may make an impact on how you maintain and use your home.

Supply Lines

  • Galvanized steel — You may find galvanized pipes in older homes. With an average lifetime of 50 years, it’s no longer used in new construction or as replacements.
  • Polybutylene pipes — These were used in new construction during the late 1970s and 1980s and eventually a lawsuit forced the manufacturer to recall it and halt its use. It had a high failure rate, causing serious flooding in attics, walls, and basements. If you suspect you have polybutylene pipes, it’s a good idea to be proactive and have a plumber inspect your home and recommend a retrofit.
  • Copper — Copper is still the pipe of choice for new home construction because it’s durable and dependable. It’s safe, resistant to corrosion, and flexible.
  • PEX — PEX piping has so many advantages when installing new plumbing. It’s as durable as copper, more flexible, and about a third the cost. There’s no need for special tools to connect the pipes together, since they snap together with the fittings to create water-tight joints.
  • PVC — Polyvinyl chloride pipes have been used for supply lines in the past, but some jurisdictions won’t allow them because of leaching problems with hot water lines.

Drain Lines

  • Cast iron — Many older homes use cast iron sewer lines that last for decades, but over time, tree roots can damage them, or they simply rust from the inside out. Plumbers can install plastic liners in aging iron pipes to solve drainage problems.
  • PVC — Today’s homes use PVC almost entirely for drain and sewer lines. It’s impervious to many chemicals, unaffected by soil moisture, and cannot rust.

Knowing the materials that comprise your plumbing system is an important aspect of homeownership. If you’d like to learn more, contact Roth Heating and Cooling, providing HVAC and plumbing 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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Dealing With Cloudy Tap Water

Dealing With Cloudy Tap WaterWhen you turn on a faucet and milky-white water comes out, you may be justifiably concerned about what’s going on and whether the water is safe to drink. There are a couple of possible reasons why you have cloudy tap water, but the good news is, it doesn’t usually pose a health risk.

What Causes Cloudy Tap Water?

Most often, tap water that looks cloudy or milky contains air. If it’s coming from the pressurized municipal system, you’ll notice cloudiness at all of your cold water taps. Cloudy water from a single fixture usually points to an issue with the aerator or faucet. White, cloudy hot water can indicate a problem with your water heater. Here’s how to troubleshoot cloudy hot and cold water so you can deal with the underlying cause.

Cold Water Cloudiness

To check where the problem originates, run each cold water tap in your home for a few seconds then fill a clean glass.

  • If the water from most or all of your fixtures is cloudy, it’s likely caused by air in the municipal supply. Let each glass sit for a few minutes and the water should clear from the bottom up. If you’re still seeing a cloudy flow after 24 hours, call the water bureau to ask if there’s maintenance being done, or a possible leak in the system.
  • If cloudiness is only occurring at one faucet, take off the aerator, clean it with a 50-50 water/vinegar solution then rinse it thoroughly and reinstall it.

Hot Water Cloudiness

To find out why your hot water looks milky, let it run briefly then fill a glass. If the cloudiness dissipates from the bottom upwards within a few minutes, it’s simply due to pressurized air being released. However, if the water clears at the top first and particles settle to the bottom, have the water heater checked. A professional plumber may tell you it needs flushing to remove sediment, or the dip tube needs replacing.

If cloudy tap water is a concern in your Portland home and you need expert advice, 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).

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