Tag Archives: plumbing pipes

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). 

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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).

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “MikeBird/Pixabay”

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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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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