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DIY Plumbing

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What is the worst thing to put down a drain?

July 13, 2010  |  Posted by admin | 2 Comments

  Ever argue over what you can or can’t put down a drain? After cleaning many drains I have a good idea.

10. Coffee- Coffee is a oil removed from coffee beans, it eats drains and the oil collects than gums up the works. Always run plenty of water after dumping your coffee into a drain.

 9. Soda Pop- Everybody has heard of the student who placed a tooth in a glass of pop and watched it completely dissolve over a week. It also is sticky and gums up the works. Iron drains with a pop machine attatched last about 5 to 6 years at most.

 8. Produce- It never fails on Thanksgiving, someones mother in law plugs the kitchen sink with celery or carrots.

 7. Rice- Similar to produce, it makes me wonder why people don’t have a small garbage can in the kitchen for food scraps.

 6. Grease- Nobody admits to it but it always catches up with them, grease needs to be cabled so it will drain, then treated with chemicals. An awful lot of work for soemthing I personally put in pop cans than throw away.

 5. Toys in the toilet- Nobody is imune to this one. When my son, two at the time, was in the act of flushing a toy , with a gleeful look I might add. I dove my hand in the toilet and just missed it. When kids discover the toilet it is a joyous time, but one filled with awkward moments and red faces.

4. Toilet paper- If you have a low flow toilet,you have a plunger beside it. And if you visit someone with a plunger next to the toilet, courtesy flush! (Flush half way though wiping)

3. Dryer Lint- The soap from the clothes washer is bad enough, but mix in lint and your floor drain will soon be flooding. Washer socks work well and save money when used.

 2. Paint- The laundry tub looks like a good spot to clean your paint brushes, but no, not so much.

 1. Blood- plumbers who have worked in mortuaries of blood banks will contest to this one. Blood clots and rots, No fun:(

Stay away from these simple items and unless a tree is growing over your sewer, my advice would be to cut it down, you can enjoy a long service free usage of your plumbing drains.

Power vent water heater isn’t firing?

July 11, 2010  |  Posted by admin | 2 Comments

  Power vented water heaters typically have a pilot assembly. This consists of an ignition source and a flame sensor rod. The water heater will begin by inducing a draft, the fan runs. Then proving the draft; a small switch operates with the appropriate amount of pressure or vacuum, depending on the model. The pressure switch is a round plastic unit with a clear plastic tube attached and two wires. Never bypass this switch except for testing purposes only. The unit can overheat, creating carbon monoxide; an odorless gas. When a odor is present it is usually alkalides and not CO2. After proving the vent is clear and the draft is functioning properly, the unit will attempt to fire. With a hot element ignitor, a red glowing rod near the burner, the unit first heats the ignitor. Then turns on the gas valve. If the element glows and the gas turns on but doesn’t ignite then the gas pressure to the burner is typically at fault. Only with a manometer can one determine the gas pressure at the burner. AO Smith is 4.5 inches of pressure. 28 inches is equal to one pound of gas. If this happens and only this symptom, one can light the burner with a long stick type lighter. I would not recommend this approach though. It will only give you heat temporarily and is the pressure is too great or there is a build up of gas, you may only loose your eyebrows and eyelashes. Been there once, won’t go back. If the unit fires but then shuts off after ignition then the flame sensor rod is the culprit. Remove the burner and clean the flame sensor rod, the one with only one wire attached. It will give you a couple days, maybe a week before requiring service. Although I have heard of people having a longer effect using this method. It’s a crap shoot. Be sure to check any gas connections you have loosened with soapy water. If it bubbles then fix a leak. Your safest course of action is to call a professional. Ask him or her a few of what I discussed here. If they can’t answer your questions, then show them the door. There are a few bad eggs ruining the eggnog.

Paper, Plastic, Copper, or galvanized?

July 5, 2010  |  Posted by admin | 536 Comments

  What is the best material for conveying potable water throughout a buildings?  Galvanized pipe rust in the cold and plugs up hot, it’s a solid pipe and hard to damage, but too much labor to install. I love brass pipe, probably the best piping in the world. I don’t believe anyone can come close to it’s durability and longevity, but again it’s laborious and an expensive precious metal. After plumbers grew tired of threading pipe, copper tube began mass production.  It was easily damaged by nails, but the labor was reduced by over half. Copper does tarnish; noticeable when the water is turned off worked on, then turned back on, it’s a black color to the water. Copper doesn’t build mineral deposits like galvanized, a big improvement. The longevity of the piping systems is reduced from 60-70 years to about 50, if properly installed with type L copper tube.

   The plastic revolution came about and homes started being piped by polyethylene tubing. This tubing was primarily used in mobile homes and RV’s. Most memorable for splitting down the middle of the tubing lengthwise and flooding homes. The manufacturers mostly settled out of court. This pipe didn’t require many fittings, but the few they had were made of plastic as well, yes more trouble. That being said plastic is an excellent material. It is smooth therefore has little friction. It is flexible therefore doesn’t require many fittings and can be snaked throughout a home in little time. The problem with polyethylene tubing is the chemists. Now a days chemists have learned to cross connect the molecules in the tubing giving the material memory. If kinked the tubing can be heated and the molecules will realign and be as manufactured. The tubing doesn’t become rigid and inflexible after contact with chlorine and chemicals in our drinking water. The fittings are now manufactured from brass. Gotta love brass plumbing! So why do plumbers like to dismiss this new wonder tubing?

       One reason for the dislike of PEX (polyethylene cross connected) tubing is very simple, plumber don’t like change.  Soldering copper is considered an art form. Properly cleaned, reamed, fluxed, heated to the proper temperature, wiped, soldered, and wiped again. Plumbers have to love what they do or the job simply isn’t worth the crap they put up with. I literallymean crap. There is only on two types of copper tube, soldered and pressed, while there are countless forms of plastic tubing. CPVC, crimp type, flex type, heat welded, and probably a few I don’t know of. If a plumber needs to repair a leak in a home, I can guaranty there is copper on their truck but not necessarily the right brand poly tube. An extra trip charge and tool rental fees can make an previously cost effective repair become an expensive ordeal. Because of the early release of the poly tube it lost the trust of the plumbing community. It has made a comeback though, mostly due to the cost reduction. Building operators have tight budgets to keep and therefore will consider cost before value. Poly piping can be strung in the ceiling like the electricians wires, but also comes in semi-rigid tubing that resembles it’s more trusted and solid counterparts. And most important to rental properties in town, theives aren’t tempted to remove the tubing and recycle it.

    The world is in a constant state of change and to keep up with it, every tradesman must adapt and change with it. Poly tube has become a strong contender and may easily remove copper from the picture altogether. Until then make sure your plumber carries a fire extinguisher into your domicile before he lights a torch!

Union or Non?

July 5, 2010  |  Posted by admin | 2 Comments

   What is the current state of our unions? In the past I have heard people discuss union labor with the word lazy and slow.  I have found this to be untrue. Attitudes in the work place come from issues within the company. With a Union involved the pay rate is set in a contract, typically black and white. The rule and regulations are set for the company to follow. Although these rules are rarely followed to the letter, the workers have the ability to  take issues to someone who isn’t within their company but has pull in it. I find the majority of attitudes come from within each individual for a variety of reasons. Perhaps we hear union employees complain more because they can.

Whirlpool tub lost its circulation?

July 5, 2010  |  Posted by admin | 1 Comment

   For some reason, doesn’t make sense to me, whirlpool tubs can stop circulating even though the pump is running. Apparently if one takes a clean plunger to the intake, the cover with all the holes, it will begin circulating again. These tubs are designed to self prime. The only reason I could explain this fanominom is blockage in the intake from growth. If one is using soap in the whirlpool I would recommend occasionally bleaching the tub as one would shock a pool. About one quart of bleach in a full tub. Run the motor for a minute or two and let it sit over night. After running the tub once more in the morning to dislodge the remaing growth, rinse the tub and enjoy.

Cost versus value

July 5, 2010  |  Posted by admin | 1 Comment

     My parents told me to always take the middle of the road bid on any job I hired out. Their reasoning was, the lowest bid company couldn’t do a proper job for the price they were asking and the company with the most expensive bid was only interested in making money. Cost is simple, we all want to spend as little as possible for a quality job. If all plumbing has to be according to code to make an inspection, than aren’t all plumbers the same. Answer: absolutely not. I bid a job for a customer who flips houses. They require a low bid to move the homes for a profit in a down market. My bid was 300$ higher than the next guy, and in the interest of reducing cost, I lost the job. Unfortunately the plumber I lost to didn’t have value in mind. The job supervisor spent days trying to get his plumber on the job, while carpenters sat and back charged him for the wasted drive. After the house sat, the investors were also loosing funds to intrest or having funds tied into a house that was literally sitting. He saved on the plumbing but lost on the down time and frustration. With deadlines, note the word dead, he also had some explaining to do to his investors. If this contractor had invested in value he would have lowered cost and reduced frustration.  If the highest bid contractor gets a job do they also give the highest value? Are they on time with deadlines and using the highest grade materials?

    Perhaps my parents were wrong. I have found that with the proper research, the company with the highest customer satisfaction is the best value and thus saves frustration and lowers the overall cost. In a nutshell, price needs to take a backseat to value (within reason). A few dollars can make a lot of sense.

Welcome to the new site!

June 16, 2010  |  Posted by admin | No Comments

In celebration of the new site, anyone who spots a Castle Master Mechanical truck on the road and calls in that day will receive a free quote and 15% off any plumbing service we supply!