Tips for how to fix Plumbing problems and when to call Henry Plumbing.

Kitchen Sink Clogged

How to Prevent and Fix a Kitchen Sink Clog

Kitchen Sink Clog: The Most Common Plumbing Problem

Plumbers get more calls about a  kitchen sink clog than anything else.  Sometimes clogs come from regular usage, but many are preventable.  Here are some tips to prevent a clogged kitchen drain.

Kitchen Sink ClogPreventing a Kitchen Drain Clog

Where Do Kitchen Sink Clogs Come From?

The kitchen sink is the most used sink in the house, and it is the one that gets clogged most frequently.  Kitchen sink stoppages are usually caused by liquid fats (e.g. oils or meat fats) that congeal somewhere in your pipes.   These fats dissolve in warm dishwater and flow down the drain through your pipes.  As the fats cool, they become more solid and begin to accumulate on the walls of your pipes.  Solid food matter like coffee grounds and other particulates get caught in the cool sticky fat and accumulate to cause a stoppage.

How to Prevent a Kitchen Sink Clog

The easiest way to prevent kitchen sink clogs is to get in the habit of pouring liquid fats into the garbage instead of the sink.  If you’re concerned that fats might drip into the garbage, then put them in a ziploc bag or a tin can before putting in the garbage.

If you have a “garbage disposal” or “food disposer”, make sure to use plenty of cold water to flush masticated material thoroughly through your pipes.  Using more water will help food material dissolved in the waste water to get out of your home plumbing system before it cools and can congeal in the pipes of your home.

What to do When Your Kitchen Sink is Clogged

A “plumber’s friend” (aka a plunger) can unclog your sink similar to the way that a plunger unclogs a clogged toilet.  I know, I shouldn’t have to say it, but DON’T USE THE SAME PLUNGER.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

If you have a double sink in your kitchen, seal the second (unclogged) drain to prevent the water from splashing out.  Simply putting the plunger over the drain and plunging vigorously several times is often enough to dislodge a simple clog. You can also try adding a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to the drain.  This will often push some simple clogs out.

If these things don’t clear your drain, it may be time to call Henry Plumbing.

Related Articles

 

water heater

When to Replace a Water Heater

water heaterThe Basics of Knowing if You Need to Replace Your Water Heater

Most water heaters last between 8 and 12 years.  If any of the following is true of your water heater, you probably need to replace it:

  • Water heater is more than 10 years old
  • There are leaks around the base of the tank
  • The hot water heater works erratically or not at all

How long your water heater lasts varies based on the location and design. Quality of installation, maintenance schedule and water quality also play a big role.

Getting Ready to Replace Your Water Heater

You can probably replace your water heater with the same or similar type of unit that you have now.  However, a lot has changed in the last 10 years. You might be surprised how much better a new water heater can be.  The new water heaters on the market today can save you money and can deliver more hot water more efficiently than what you are used to.

Here are some features to consider:

  • Capacity (40 and 50 gallon water heaters are the most common)
  • Recovery rate (how many gallons can the unit heat in an hour)
  • Dimensions (how much space do you in your house where the unit will be stored)
  • Energy efficiency ratings (units should have a sticker on the side with the estimated annual cost of operating the unit)

The nameplate on your existing water heater should have a lot of information that will be helpful in choosing your new unit.  Here’s what to look for:

If your unit is electric it will also have the wattage capacity and voltage of the heating elements.

Considering a Tankless Water Heater?

The tankless water heater is one of the most innovative inventions in home water heating.  A tankless water heater can save you money, save energy and provide hot water to your home with no wait time (i.e. you never run out of hot water). For more information, check out our article about tankless hot water heaters.

Do Better Home Toilets Clog Less Often?

ToiletIf your toilet clogs often, you’re probably wondering if a better toilet might fix the problem.  It might.  Toilets are surprisingly complicated machines.  Like any machine there are better and worse designs. Here is some information to help you make an educated decision about whether a new toilet will solve your problem.

How does a toilet work?

When you flush your toilet it releases stored water in the tank above the toilet bowl.  This water flows through small holes beneath the toilet seat as well as through a larger hole which pushes waste out of the bowl.  Here’s a good video that shows how it works:

Better engineering means that water moves more effectively and more powerfully from the reservoir to the bowl.  If your toilet is clogging frequently, it is possible that a better engineered toilet will deliver the efficiency to keep your toilet working.

You might also consider using a thinner toilet paper or flushing more often.  Often kleenex or other non-toilet paper materials will cause a more difficult clog than toilet-paper.  If your toilet is clogging frequently, you might consider avoiding any papers that are not toilet paper (e.g just use toilet paper).

Toilets That Use More or Less Water

Toilets use more water than anything else in your home (source: https://www.epa.gov/watersense/residential-toilets).  The federal standard for regular home commodes is 1.6 gallons per flush.  However, recent improvements in toilet design has enabled 1.28 gallons of water to do the same or better performance as conventional 1.6 gallon commodes.  

The EPA has a “WaterSense” label for toilets that perform better with less water per flush.  In some areas your utility company may even give you a discount for using a WaterSense toilet instead of a conventional 1.6 gallon commode.

Should You Buy a High Efficiency Toilet or a Regular Toilet?

According to Consumer Reports “more water flushed sometimes (but not always) mean more complete flushing” (read more here: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/toilets/buying-guide).  It’s hard to make generalizations, and good performance really depends on which toilet you choose.

For help choosing a toilets that meet your family’s or business’s needs, call Henry Plumbing at 912-352-9827.

hot water heater for shower

The Savannah Homeowner’s Guide to Water Heater Problems

Not every hot water heater problem will mean that you need to replace the unit, but some can be very dangerous.  So, it’s worthwhile for every lay person to have at least some idea about how to recognize a potentially dangerous problem with a water heater and more minor problems.  At Henry Plumbing we also believe that an educated consumer is our best customer.  Here are some guidelines for understanding what is happening with your water heater when something is not going right.

Finding a Leak in Your Water Heater

If your water heater is leaking it’s not necessarily a dangerous or even a very costly problem.  It really depends where the leak is coming from.  The general rule is that a water heater does not need to be replaced unless the leaks is coming from the the temperature and pressure relief valve (TVP valve).  Most other problems can be fixed by a professional plumber in a few hours.  Keep in mind though, this is a general rule, and there can be exceptions.  When it comes to your water heater, it’s always best to call an expert.

Regular Care for Your Water Heater

Your water heater should be checked by a professional plumber every five years to make sure everything is working correctly.  The relief valve (TVP valve) should be replaced every five years.  

We don’t want to scare anyone here, but water heaters can explode and do explode.  According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (cpsc.gov), 19 people died in the US in 2000 from water heater explosions (https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/pdfs/hazard_app.pdf).  They did not list more recent statistics, however they did mention that both tankless and conventional water heaters have exploded in the US in the past.  

Installing Your Hot Water Heater

We cannot overemphasize the importance of proper installation for your tankless water heater or conventional water heater. There are lots of ways to purchase a hot water heater today, and lots of people who will install them.  Make sure that your water heater is installed by a professional plumber with a long list of references and positive reviews.

When in Doubt Call a Plumber

If you have any concerns about your water heater, call Henry Plumbing 912-352-9827.  We are always happy to help.

toilet

When to Replace Your Toilet

If your toilet is overflowing, you don’t necessarily need to replace it. However, if you are considering a new toilet, here are six different reasons that often make home owners decide to invest in a new toilet.

  1. Toilet Leaks
    Toilets can link from the tank (the top unit that you don’t usually look into) or from the bowl.  These leaks can damage the floor, subfloor, or rooms beneath the bathroom.  Sometimes these leaks undetected for a long time.  So if you see buckling or warping in the floor around the toilet, this is probably a good time to think about calling Henry Plumbing and possibly thinking about a new toilet.
  2. Toilet Uses a Lot of Water
    Toilets manufactured before 1980 can use up to 7 gallons of water per flush.  The Energy Policy Act of 1992 mandated that toilets use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush (source: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/federal-regulations-toilet-gallons-88640.html).   A new toilet can literally save thousands of gallons of water a year.
  3. Your Toilet’s Ugly
    I know it’s cruel to say, but some commodes have really got to go (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).  It’s a bit amazing the sheer variety of colors and designs available in toilets.  You don’t really need to live with an ugly fixture forever.
  4. Toilet is Uncomfortable
    Toilets come in a variety of sizes, heights, and diameters.  If your toilet is uncomfortable, you can almost certainly find a better fit.
  5. Replacement Parts are Hard to Find
    Sometimes something simple like a “flush handle” breaks, and it can be hard to find one that matches the existing commode, or even one that fits.  This can be a good reason to get a new commode.
  6. Planning to Replace Bathroom Flooring
    If you’re replacing bathroom flooring, your toilet will probably have to be removed during the process.  Now is a good time to replace the toilet at the same time since you are already paying to uninstall and re-install the toilet.

Replacing a toilet does not need to be a tremendous investment, but it can make a big difference in the enjoyment and economy of your home.

shutoff-valve

Plumbers Tip: How to Easily Turn Off Your Water Supply

If a pipe burst or some other plumbing fixture is pouring something terribly fast, you may want to turn off your water supply before we can get there.  Here is how to turn off your home’s main municipal water supply.

There are usually two places to turn off the water to your house:

  1. Shut off the main valve as the water enters your house
  2. Shut off the municipal water supply to your property

How to Shut off The Water Supply to Your House

  1. Identify the main shut off Valve
    The valve maybe outside your house, but is sometimes in the kitchen a bathroom or a utility room.  It’s usually a brass valve with a round handle.  If you don’t know where this is, now is a good time to check.  You don’t want to searching for it during an actual plumbing emergency.
  2. Turn the valve clockwise.  That will cut off the stream of cold water into your home.  Appliances that use water will no longer work until the water is turned back on.

Shutting Off the Water Supply to Your Property (from Municipal Water Source)

Before you shut off the water to your house, it’s not a bad idea to call the city and let them know you’re planning to shut off the water to your house and why.  The Savanah Water company phone number is (912) 651-6460.  But they are only open Monday – Friday 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

3 Reasons to Shut off the Water Supply to Your Property

  • Shutting off the main valve in your house did not work, and you have a plumbing emergency
  • There is a leak between the street shutoff and the house shutoff
  • You are replacing the main shutoff valve inside your home (not recommended; much better to call us to handle that)

Steps to Shutoff Your the Water Supply to Your Property

  1. Find the outdoor shutoff Valve: most homes have a box in ground that looks a bit like a little manhole cover (sometimes rectangular).  The box should be somewhere between the street and your home.  It will probably have some marking on it that says “water”.
  2. Remove the cover; FYI covers are often designed to be heavy and/or difficult to open.
  3. Look for a valve or small handle you can turn. This should be the cutoff valve
  4. Turn the valve as far clockwise as possible.
    If the valve will not turn with moderate pressure, DO NOT FORCE THE VALVE.  Call Henry Plumbing or public works to assist you.

As with all true plumbing emergencies, Henry Plumbing strongly encourages you to call us and wait for professional assistance.  However, in a true plumbing emergency, shutting off your water supply can save a lot of damage.

 

How Much Hot Water Do You Use?

If you’re thinking of buying a new tankless water heater, you’ll want to know how much hot water your family uses.  Here’s a simple chart to give you an idea of how much hot water your household uses.

For the chart below, GPM (gallons per minute) measures the steady flow of hot water that each fixture will require.

For example, If you run a bathroom faucet with a flow rate of 1.0 GPM and shower head with a flow rate of 1.5 GPM at the same time, the total flow rate through the water heater needs to be at least 2.5 GPM.

To determine the capacity of the tankless water heater you will need, add up the GPM for the major fixtures and appliances that you expect to use at the same time.

Gallons Per Minute / Flow Rate

Fixture / Appliance Typical Flow Rates
Bathroom Faucet 0.5 – 1.5 GPM
Low Flow Kitchen Faucet

1.0 – 2.5 GPM

Shower

1.0 – 2.0 GPM

Dishwasher 1.0 – 2.5 GPM
Clothes Washer 1.5 – 3.0 GPM

 

How to Tell There Is a Leak in Your Bathroom Plumbing

Fixing Bathroom LeakAn untreated plumbing leak can lead to serious issues that can end up costing you big time. Water damage to your walls, paint and floor are nearly impossible to repair and often require a complete renovation to restore.

To figure out if you need a plumber to investigate whether or not you have a pipe leak, consider the following.

Mold Growth

One of the more obvious signs of water leaks is mildew. If you find that regardless of how often or well you clean your bathroom you still have mold throughout it, it could mean there’s a hidden leak. Mold lives in dark and moist areas. A sprung leak could cause an all-out mold infestation. The faster you detect the leak, the easier it is to reverse the process.

Bubbling Paint or Wallpaper

Steam from a hot shower shouldn’t lead to your wallpaper or paint bubbling up. If and when water gets behind the wall, it prevents the bond from sticking to the surfaces and causes it to fall off. This process is the same for wallpaper.

Problems with Flooring

Your bathroom floor shouldn’t have any cracking or stains unless you’ve allowed water to sit on it for an extended period of time. Hidden water under flooring often leads to these and further issues. However, it is also possible that moisture migrated under your floors from a pipe leak or burst.

If you’ve noticed a rapid or unexpected buckling of your flooring, it’s possible that there is a plumbing leak.

Unpleasant Smells

Water that has accumulated in your pipes, in the walls, or in the flooring has a strong and unpleasant smell. It’s a combination of mold and old water, and it’s unmistakable. Most plumbing leaks take time to identify, but if you notice an unpleasant smell accompanied by any of the aforementioned, you could have a leak.

Any of these signs and symptoms could point to a major leak in your bathroom plumbing. Should you suspect or notice these signs in your bathroom, it might be time to hire a plumber. Don’t leave your leak untreated, or you could be left with an even larger plumbing bill.

Leaky Pipes

Common Signs of a Hidden Leaky Pipe in Your Home

Leaky pipes can be hard to detect. They can lie dormant for months before their grand entrance – through your floors, in your walls or down from your ceiling. Identifying the source can be challenging, but if left unchecked, a hidden leak can do major damage to your home and leave you and your family vulnerable to illness.

Sure, a little dripping from a closed faucet can be a bit of an inconvenience, but anything more than that can be a major problem. It’s prudent to check all the rooms in your home periodically (once a month) and look out for these 5 telltale signs of a hidden water leak.

1.      Water Pooling

Any time you notice water pooling anywhere inside your home where it shouldn’t; it’s never good. Here are some common areas water can pool in your home:

  • Sinks
  • Bath tubs
  • Toilets
  • Laundry rooms
  • Basement sump pumps
  • Hot water tanks

If you see unusual wet spots on your floors, a leaking pipe could be the culprit.

2.   Mold, Mildew or any Rotten Odor

Mold and mildew have an unmistakable, musty smell and can be a sign of a hidden water leak. Mold needs a moist environment to grow. Your leaking pipe hidden in a wall is mold’s idea of heaven. Be it a break in your sewage line, a leak in your toilet or a laundry drain issue, our expert plumbers at Henry Plumbing Company will find it and remedy it fast.

3.   Higher Than Usual Water Bill

A water bill that is higher than it needs to be is a sign of a water leak inside your home. Leaky pipes can be the cause of a soaring water bill, and we can help. Try to keep track of your water bills from month to month; if you see a spike from one month to the next with no change in your habits – give us a call.

4.      Foundation Cracks

All houses settle and can develop small hairline cracks. If you notice a new crack in your foundation, it may be due to a hidden leak. Any water that is constantly in contact with a foundation can weaken it and cause serious damage. If you see bathroom tiles lifting, you may have a burst pipe underneath your floor and a potentially significant repair job on your hands.

5.      Squeaky Faucets and Other Noises

A faucet that makes a funny squeak when you turn it on or off can be an alarm bell too; a dripping tap is a relatively easy fix but left unchecked can corrode your sink terribly.

Any bubbling or unexplained groaning noises could mean a toilet leak. Be vigilant, check everything once a month and if you hear or see any of the above (or below) give us a call.

  • Sound of running water
  • Rust around pipes
  • Low water pressure
  • Damaged Paint/Wallpaper  

Only knowledgeable, local, experienced Savanah plumbers – like the team at Henry Plumbing Company – can fix leaking pipes for good. We are proud to be a part of Buy Local here in Savannah because we believe that everyone deserves high-quality work at a fair price that benefits our community. We have been proudly serving the Savanah region for over 35 years. Contact us today at 912-352-9827.

DIY Leaky Pipe Repair

Risks of DIY Leaky Pipe Repair

There are multiple dangers to DIY leaky pipe repair. Choosing the DIY approach to pipe repair can hurt you, your family, your wallet and your home. Sometimes it’s best to know when to quit – or not start at all – and leave it to the pros at Henry Plumbing Company.

So what are the dangers that come with repairing your own leaky pipes?

Health Concerns for Your Family

Perhaps the scariest consequence of a DIY leaky pipe fix is the damage it can do to your loved one’s health and wellbeing. Your plumbing is primarily designed to deliver clean, fresh water into your home and drain waste water away. It’s an intricate system that when tampered with or not fixed properly can lead to dampness, fungus, and mold.

Damp can lead to mold which in turn can trigger asthma – children and the elderly are most at risk from this serious ailment. A damp, mold-ridden home is also a magnet for insects and mites who thrive in such conditions. If you have a leaky pipe in your attic (or you tried to mend one and didn’t isolate the true problem), various types of fungus and bacteria can move in and cause a range of health problems. Mold and other dangerous spores cannot live without water. We can find where it’s coming from and get your family breathing safe air again.

Making Matters Worse Before We Get There

A small leak in a pipe can quickly turn into a torrential disaster if you are not careful. Only the right tools and years of experience can satisfactorily address leaky pipe issues. The last thing you want to do is complicate what may have been a simple problem. Fixing a leaking pipe can also be treacherous due to the close proximity of telecommunication wiring, electrical or gas lines.

DIY Leaky Pipe Repair Can Lead to More Costly Issues

The first problem you can run into when trying to fix your own leaky pipe is simply the lack of experience to do so. Plumbing is a skilled trade, and there are so many things that can go wrong.

Without proper training in any task, you’re behind the eight-ball, and leaky pipe repair is no different. By calling in a professional plumber from Henry Plumbing Company right away, you can be sure we will isolate the problem and deliver the most cost effective solution. Structural damage from a poorly mended or incorrectly diagnosed leaking pipe can be a very expensive fix and extremely hard to locate by yourself.

If your water meter is running 24/7, then your water bill is going through the roof. Why take the chance? We have all the latest tools and techniques to locate where the leak is, and we’ve been saving Savannah, Georgia residents money since 1968.

We’ve been tackling all kinds of plumbing issues in the Savannah region since 1968 at Henry Plumbing Company. Take advantage of our free verbal or written estimates. We are proud of the trust our customers have in us. Let us earn yours. Call us anytime at 912-352-9827.