We blinked and summer is over. It was a busy summer for Top Notch Plumbing — tankless hot water installations, sewer and drain cleanings, so many broken toilets fixed, and a load of leaks mended. Sounds fun, right? Well we certainly love it. And we appreciate being the go-to plumber in Greater Olympia!
Now for the serious business — we’re headed into the cold season. Cold + pipes = potential for problems. We’ve compiled a list of must-dos to help prevent cold weather plumbing issues.
Frozen pipes can do SERIOUS damage. Catastrophic damage, in fact. Get ahead of the game, before it’s too late, and do the following:
Prepping exterior elements is so very crucial to ensuring your house is protected.
There are telltale signs that your pipes are frozen; only a little trickle of water comes out, there is a bad smell coming from the faucet, and there’s frost on pipes. If you suspect a frozen pipe, call us IMMEDIATELY and do the following:
Burst pipes happen and they can be difficult to deal with. To lessen the damage, make sure every member of the household knows where the main water shut off is and how to turn it off/on.
If your pipes burst or you want a preventative home inspection completed, give us a call at our 24-hour service hotline: 360-446-0803.
Clogs happen. (Read of previous post Clogged drain? What to do.) Whether it’s from hair, kids toys, or human waste — clogs are a common part of owning a house. But, there are several easy steps you can take to avoid those nasty clogs.
Grease and oil are one of the worst things you can dump down a drain. They can solidify and coat the insides of your pipes and — before you know it — your pipes are clogged. Or worse, your pipes are completely clogged and you’ll need a professional (like Top Notch) to come clean out your pipes.
Instead of ditching the grease and oil down the drain, keep a jar or can next to the stove and pour the liquid into it when it has cooled. Then, simply throw away with your garbage.
Minimize the amount of hair, thick lotions, and other solids that wash down the drain in your shower or tub by adding a hair catcher or drain stopper. There are a ton of options out there — from a few bucks to more than $50. No need to spend big money, the less costly ones typically work just as well as the expensive ones.
Don’t forget to clean your catcher and stoppers too! Weekly cleaning will help prevent buildups and clogs. This can get messy, so get a pair of inexpensive dish cleaning gloves reserved just for this task. You can also soak stoppers in a simple vinegar/water solution for 15 minutes and wipe clean. (Helps with the sometimes nasty smell too!)
For sinks that you use on a regular basis, make sure to run hot water down the drain once a week. It may seem simple, but hot water can do wonders to prevent clogs and break up any solids that might be forming.
This is more on the side of reactionary, but you might need to start with a plunger to release a clog, then move on to preventative measures. Did you know there are different plungers for different kinds of clogs?
These plungers are flat on the bottom, have a straight handle, and rubber cup (typically red in color). We see these in bathrooms all the time, but are better fit to unclog a sink — not a toilet — due to the way the cup seals around the drain.
These plungers have a cup like a sink plunger, but also a smaller convexed section attached to the cup that fits into toilet drains allowing for proper suction. Under no circumstances should the same plunger be used for a sink and the toilet — too much risk for cross contamination.
These are a bit harder to use, and are not recommended. These plungers have an accordion-like cup and a smaller concaved section. They require a bit of force to use and take some getting used to. Additionally, they are typically made of plastic which can be harmful to the surface of your toilet or sink.
Preventing clogs can be as simple as adding 5 minutes to your weekly routine, which could save you lots of money in the long run. If you do find yourself in a situation where you’re not able to clear a clog, give us a call and we’ll gladly come help you out. We can also talk in person about preventative measures specific to your home’s needs.
Top Notch Plumbing serves areas from Olympia to Tacoma with a variety of plumbing services including clogs, pipe inspections, water leaks & repairs, sewer & rooter services, and remodeling & new construction plumbing projects. Have a question? Ask us! firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-446-0803.
You remind your kids all the time “don’t flush objects down the toilet that aren’t supposed to be flushed.” But do they listen? (Hopefully, but probably not.) On one hand, you’re constantly reminding them to flush. On the other hand, you’re reminding them that while flushing is wonderful, it’s not okay to flush anything other than…well…you know. We’ve all been there. It’s 10:00pm on Sunday night, you’re almost asleep and little Jimmy comes running in and screams “SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THE TOILET! THERE’S WATER EVERYWHERE! I DIDN’T DO IT” Then he hides. That’s enough to get the panic and suspicion going.
It happens. A lot. Kids/spouses/pets flush things that shouldn’t be flushed. Stuffed animals. Pudding cups. Batman. Banana peels. We’ve seen it all. And we see an influx of weird toilet additions during the summer when the kids are spending more time at home and inviting their unruly friends over (okay, they’re not all bad, in fact they’re kind of fun.) The bathroom is bound to get used and abused.
If you’ve faced a similar situation before, our condolences. We hope it’s a distant memory and was a good learning opportunity. If you’ve been one of the lucky few that haven’t had to call a plumber in a panic, your time may come. When it does, we hope you consider Top Notch Plumbing for all your Batman retrieval needs. We also specialize in sewer line inspections, sewer and drain cleaning, toilet replacement, and toilet repair. We service the greater Olympia area and have a 24 hour service hotline at 360-446-0803.
The task of choosing the plumbing fixtures can be overwhelming to say the least. There are so many options for metal finish, to type of design and options for controls. Do you like a more traditional look, or are you interested in modern fixture designs? Do you want separate hot and cold handles, or is a single control right for you?
When considering your budget, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. While it’s easy to swap out a sink faucet, changing a shower valve can be more complicated, so keep that in mind when picking fixtures. Buying a high quality fixture for your shower valve might eliminate the need to replace it in a couple years because it goes bad. Tearing out a shower to replace the valve set, depending on access to the plumbing could end up being a costly repair. The better fixtures have smooth, solid controls and nicer finishes in general but that doesn’t mean there aren’t affordable options. Check out online reviews and shop around online as you might be able to find the same fixture elsewhere for a better price. Of course purchasing a really expensive laundry sink faucet, that hardly gets any use is not really necessary but the kitchen sink or your main bathroom gets used more then any other fixture in the house and it might make more sense to spend a bit extra on those fixtures instead.
There are many brands available for you to choose from; consider spending some time checking reviews or just asking your friends what they have used and this may help. I would also consider using your plumber’s supplier, they have showrooms set up with a wide variety of fixtures to choose from. These people only sell plumbing fixtures so you can be assured that the person that is helping you will not be selling patio furniture the next day.
I feel it is important to buy from folks that work the profession on a daily basis therefore you may rest easy on your decision once it has been made. Also by buying from your local plumber you not only receive a warranty on labor but on the product as well. This can pay for itself in the long run. Top Notch Plumbing warranties its labor for one year and the same goes for the fixtures you have bought from us. I have found that after a year of service a fixture will last for a long time if taken care of.
So now get out there and buy some fixtures from top notch we need to go riding.
A clogged drain could be a simple problem you can fix yourself, or something more complex that might require a plumber. Here are some initial steps you can take to access what could be causing the drain to be clogged.
The plunger just might be enough to feel the clogged drain. Simply fill the sink about a quarter of the way with water. Remember if you have a dual sink to cover the other drain with a dish towel. Plunge up and down rapidly over the drain until water in the sink starts to drain.
Baking Soda & Vinegar
This is a common household remedy for handling a clogged drain. Empty as much water as possible from sink. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain. Use a wooden spoon or spatula handle to pack it down in the drain. Then pour a cup of vinegar down the sink and put the stopper in immediately to force the mixture down. The mixture will foam downwards into the pipes. Let sit for approx five minutes and then run hot water down the drain. If the drain is still clogged, try four cups of boiling water. If this still doesn’t work you will need to snake the drain with a cable auger.
Drain Snake or Cable Auger
This is only for someone that has some plumbing knowledge and a good set of tools. Using a bucket to catch the water underneath the sink, detach the p-trap underneath the sink connecting the sink to the horizontal pipe. Remove the horizontal pipe from the wall and using the cable auger, slide the cable down the stub pipe. Slowly push the cable down the pipe by spinning the crank clockwise until you reach the clog and push through, spin the auger counter clockwise to retrieve the cable, and hopefully the obstruction as well. Repeat this a couple times if necessary.
Call a Plumber
If all else fails it is time to call an expert. Continuing to try to unblock a clogged drain with other methods could lead to disastrous results. At this point, the best thing is to contact your local plumber. You might require a larger drain snake to clear a main sewer line. Options to have your line scoped with a camera can show you where the blockage is and the best solutions for a repair.
If you’re in the greater Olympia or Thurston County region, Top Notch Plumbing is here to help you unclog your drain. We’ve been taking care of plumbing issues large and small since 1994 and have the tools and know how to keep your plumbing system running great. Call us today to schedule an appointment.
Fall is a great time to do a plumbing inventory on your home. Starting with hose bibbs, the outside faucets that you attach your garden hose to, they should be covered to protect from freezing. I’m sure you have seen these at your local hardware store or on a neighbors house.
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