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rpadmin

Sump Pump Maintenance Tips

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As a homeowner, you rarely think about your sump pump — but you definitely depend on it functioning properly when you need it. Many homeowners install a sump pump as a precautionary measure against flooding from a storm or a burst pipe. Of course, it remains important to keep the sump pump in tip top shape to ensure that it works when you need it most.

Maintaining your sump pump requires just a few simple steps:  

 

  1. Ensure the sump basin lid is properly sealed. It’s not uncommon for the lid to become loose. When it does so, this can expose your home to excess moisture and mustiness. Most sump pumps are located in the basement of homes. If your lid is loose or falls off, this leaves the opportunity for items such as toys, clothes, dryer lint and many other common items to fall into the sump basin causing an obstruction or clog.
  2. Run tests. Testing your pump to ensure that it is working properly is very important. Add a few gallons of water to your pit to see if the unit is functioning properly. If the float rises too high and doesn’t turn on or activate the pump, you should unplug the unit and check for debris in the unit and pit. If the pump operates properly, it’s time to check the discharge pipe. If flow is reduced check for blockages. Disconnecting the pipe from the pump and running high-pressure water or a snake through it may be your next step.
  3. Tie cords to prevent tangling. One very common occurrence is for the pump cords to get caught up on the float switch. Although this is very common, it’s also very preventable. By using wire or zip ties to bind the cords together, you can keep them from getting tangled. Another great option would be tying them up against the discharge line to tighten the slack and keep the cords from bunching up.
  4. Always have a backup. Investing in a battery-operated backup pump not only is a good thing to have, but also a necessity. Backup pumps can run in any situation. For example, power outages, primary pump failure, or even when your main pump can’t keep up. Having a backup could never hurt. It’s always good to be prepared in case you are in a bind.

For more information on maintaining your sump pump from the experts at Rapid Plumbing & Drain Service, please contact us here or call us directly at 800.937.5667.

5 Warning Signs of Drain Problems

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Drain systems play a crucial role in keeping your home clean and safe.

Drainage issues not only wreak havoc in your home, they also cause dangerous health issues when things fail to function properly. These issues start small but have potential to escalate and turn into serious problems. Rapid Plumbing & Drain Service wants you to be aware of the warning signs so you can predict or completely avoid any possible drain issues.

Listed below are five warning signs that you potentially need a drain repair:

1. Slow drain. If your drain begins draining slowly this may lead to problems. This typically indicates a possible obstruction, clogged drains or a septic tank not filtering wastewater fast enough. When the sewer line from your home becomes clogged, it causes a backup in the drains throughout the house.

2. Bad odors. No one wants a smelly drain. If the drains in your home emit unpleasant odors, your drain may need a repair. This usually means that the waste is not being properly removed and disposed of correctly. This causes sewer gases up through the p-traps in the sinks — creating a strong and unpleasant odor.

3. Wastewater leaking. If you find wet spots in your home or large pools in your yard, there might be a drainage issue. If the sewer line or septic tank line springs a leak, the wastewater will begin to rise to the surface and create damp pools.

4. Water stains in the basement. This indicates that sewage is starting to backup due to poor drainage. If you begin to see these you may want to take action.

5. Increase in your water bill. If your water bill begins to increase consistently this could indicate a constant leak. There are one of two things to consider when the water bill spikes; you need a waterline repair or there is a hidden leak in your home.

To avoid serious problems, watch out for these signs. Recognizing the signs and acting quickly helps you to avoid a more serious issue down the road.

For more information on the drain repair from the experts at Rapid Plumbing & Drain Service please contact us here or call us directly at 800.937.5667.

Hydro Jetting Explained

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Sometimes traditional methods of unclogging pipes fail to fix the problem. If the clogs in your pipes prove too hard to break up easily, our professional plumbers suggest using more powerful methods, such as hydro jetting. Increasing in popularity with plumbers for its effective results, hydro jetting helps unclog more and more pipes each year. So, what makes hydro jetting so effective?

Hydro jetting cleans clogged and slow sewage lines. By shooting a strong blast of water at high pressure, blockages and build up quickly break apart, freeing the water line. Hydro jetting typically uses around 4,000 psi, making it more powerful than most unclogging techniques.

Hydro Jetting Removes What?

A lot of things clog pipes. Some of the objects clogging water lines require more work than others. The most notorious offender – tree roots – find their way into sewer lines. Hydro jetting fractures the invasive roots that normal methods struggle to break apart. Hair clogs cause initiate disgust when unclogging, but hydro jetting corrodes the hair without even requiring to touch or look at the unsightly mess. Hydro jetting also removes sand, silt and scale build up.

The advanced cleaning of hydro jetting makes it a popular option for commercial buildings and restaurants. A clogged pipe halts business, and effectively removing the clogs brings business back to normal. Routinely using hydro jetting in restaurants helps remove food build up and grease.

Since hydro jetting only shoots pressurized water, the process provides a safe, environmentally friendly cleanup. With no chemicals in the water, the pipes and water system remain secure to health hazards. The process also keeps your pipes healthy and clear, particularly against sand and silt build up.

For more information on hydro jetting from the experts at Rapid Plumbing & Drain Service, please contact us here or call us directly at 800.937.5667.

Spring Plumbing Checklist

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Michigan winters can be rough on your pipes and cause unknown plumbing damage to your home. Begin the season worry free by checking up on a few important things within your home’s plumbing system with this easy and helpful spring plumbing checklist.

Inspect all of your appliances that connect to plumbing throughout your home, such as all sinks, water heaters, showers, toilets, and washing machines. Make sure they work correctly and the water pressure is normal. Listen to each appliance run, any unusual sounds or an appliance with low water pressure may mean a leak or broken pipe.

Blocked and clogged drains cause water and additional waste to backup resulting in possible floods. For precaution clean your drains routinely to eliminate any waste buildup and further plumbing problems. Pay extra attention for hidden blockages as these are hard to detect.

Search for any general leaks from pipes in your home. Damp areas or puddles warn a pipe with a leak or blockage. Signs of a leaking pipe also include stains, mildew, warping, or peeling. Pay particular attention to rooms that are not occupied often, such as basements or crawl spaces. Broken pipes typically arise after a cold winter.

Check your sprinkler systems throughout your property to assure that everything works normal. Irregular water pressure or water flow may result from issues within your system involving a leak or broken pipe.

When opening up your pool look around for cracks, leaks, rips, or any damage to the outer seals. Water seeps through these types of damages and causes further, more expensive damage. Aside from the outside portion of the pool, check the pump for any issues. If the pipes supplying the pump are damaged in any way it refrains the pool from receiving the correct amount of water needed.

If you are unsure of an issue or think there is possible pipe damage within your home, consider contacting a professional plumber for advice on how to help.

For more information on what to check out on your plumbing system from the experts at Rapid Plumbing & Drain Service, please contact us here or call us directly at 800.937.5667.

Winterizing Your Water Lines

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During the winter in colder climates, frozen water lines pose one of the largest and most costly problems to homes and businesses. Water represents a key component in how a building functions — when a key water line becomes frozen, it cripples the plumbing and septic systems of a building. Even worse, a burst water line causes flooding and property damage. Winterizing the water lines of a property prevents costly repairs and replacements to your home or office.

 

Water freezing in water lines causes a number of issues. First and foremost, the flow of water becomes blocked, potentially preventing fixtures such as showers, faucets and toilets from working properly. Water also expands when frozen, so the frozen water in a water line increases pressure in the pipe, increasing the chance the water line bursts. Frozen water lines commonly occur in vacant homes and buildings due to a reduced water flow from lack of use.

 

Fortunately, tools and tips exist to help you keep your water lines from freezing. When leaving a building vacant for long periods of time, draining the water out of the pipes offers the best solution.

The steps below explain how to drain your water lines:

 

  • Note the locations of water lines, valves and taps, and decide how you winterize each item. Marking these items off as you go keeps you from missing anything.
  • Open all drain valves and taps. This avoids creating a vacuum between the valve or tap and water, which prevents water from staying in the pipes.
  • Use air compressors to blow standing water out of the pipes.
  • Drain your water heater by opening its drain valve. Attach a garden hose if necessary.
  • Drain out the water left in the holding tank, and add antifreeze to the jet pump case
  • Flush toilets to remove as much water as possible; add antifreeze to protect remainder.
  • Add some antifreeze to each drain trap in sinks and tubs.

 

When you expect to use the building frequently, insulating the building and pipes allows you to access water and prevent frozen water lines simultaneously.

 

 

The steps below explain how to insulate your water lines:

 

  • Search for cracks on the exterior and interior of the property. Seal the cracks you find with caulk or spray foam to prevent cold air from entering the building.
  • Use insulation sleeves to keep cold air away from pipes.
  • Keep a heat source running to protect against the cold.
  • Block all vents leading outside
  • Check the crawl space for proper insulation.

 

For more information about winterizing your water lines, contact us here or call us at 800.937.5667.

What Not to Put Down Your Drain

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We all toss items down the drain and watch them magically disappear without a second thought as to where they go. However, many of the things we send down our pipes clog drains and contaminate the water in our lakes, rivers and oceans.

Drains easily handle the disposal of water and small particles of food and organic matter. Drains often react negatively when introduced to items such as hair, bones, grease, metal, plastics and any non-biodegradable items larger than a ping pong ball. So, what common household garbage do most people dump down the drain?

Coffee grounds win the contest as the biggest offender. Everyone loves their morning cup of joe, but many mistakenly toss their grounds in the sink instead of the trash. Coffee grounds and tea leaves cause severe blockage problems in pipes.

Disposal of Grease, Fats and Oils

Grease, fats and oils follow close behind in second place as  perhaps the most damaging substance to be wrongfully dumped in our sewer systems. These slimy substances do not mix with water, and their buildups cause costly and hazardous sewer overflows. To properly dispose grease, fats and oils, chill them in your fridge or freezer until they become solid.. Then, pitch them in a sealed bottle, and throw the container away.

A few more things that create problems with drains and sewers are the little plastic produce stickers found on many fruits and vegetables, paper towels, cat litter (even flushable litter), eggshells, medication, facial tissue and flushable wipes. The word ‘flushable’ does not mean that it should go down the drain. Flushable wipes do not disintegrate like toilet paper, and cause problems clogging sewers every year.

So next time you plan to dump something down the drain, take a second to consider what damage it may cause once it’s in your drain and sewer system. If unsure, throw it in the trash.

For more information on what not to put down your drain from the experts at Rapid Plumbing & Drain Service, please contact us here or call us directly at 800.937.5667.

Preparing Pipes for Winter

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Winter brings with it many fun and wonderful activities — snowball fights, sledding, building snowmen and drinking hot chocolate. Unfortunately, these simple joys coincide with cold temperatures, treacherous roads, dead car-batteries and damaged shingles. While many of the problems winter throws at us remain beyond our control, avoiding damage to your home from frozen pipes simply requires taking a few precautions.

When the temperature drops into the single digits, the water in your pipes solidifies, causing pipes to expand. In some cases, this expansion causes pipes to burst, generating thousands of dollars in water damage. Along with paying to replace the busted pipe are the additional costs of warped wood, damaged furniture and mementos and possible mold infestation.

To prevent frozen pipes, take these simple precautions:

  1. Keep The Heat On: As one of the busiest times of the year for travel, winter sends families away from home for days or weeks at a time. It can also be one of the most expensive times of the year forcing many homeowners to try to save money by turning down or even completely shutting off their heat while out of town. This mistake likely costing more money when they finally return home. Keeping the temperature of a house five to ten degrees above freezing will help to ensure returning to sound home.

 

  1. Insulate Exposed Pipes: Insulating exposed pipes prevents them from freezing, especially in attics and basements where your heating system often barely reaches. Wrapping pipes in heating tape or filling the spaces around them with insulation keeps them warmer than the surrounding air. When using heating tape, remember to follow the instructions and keep it away from flammable materials.

 

  1. Let Faucets Drip: Allowing faucets a slow drip may seem counterintuitive to saving money, but serves as a great strategy to prevent pipes bursting. Leaving a faucet slightly open gives the system an outlet to relieve pressure if the pipes freeze.

When enjoying the winter months this year, stay safe and protect your home from costly damages due to frozen pipes. Simple precautions taken before the temperature drops reduces the likelihood of a cold weather disaster.

For more information about prepping your pipes for winter from the experts at Rapid Plumbing & Drain Service, please contact us here or call us directly at 800.937.5667.

How To Eliminate Odors From Drains

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Drains with odors make using the sinks in your house an unpleasant experience. Often, simply cleaning your drain fails to properly eliminate the problem. When selling your property, nothing turns off potential buyers than strange odors emanating from your sinks. Fortunately, when handled by a trained professional, drain cleaning successfully eliminates foul odors and keeps them from returning.

Most smells in a drain originate from the p-trap. This bend in the pipe collects water, which prevents sewer gases from escaping through the drain and into your home. If there’s a leak or not enough water in the p-trap, those gases pass through the drain and into your house. Substances like toothpaste and hair also get caught in that bend, and the subsequent buildup causes a substance called biofilm to form.

If a low water level exists, you simply need to turn the faucet on and fill it up. If a leak in the pipe exists, patching the leak helps stop the smell. If you are experiencing bad smells caused by biofilm, cleaning out the p-trap helps. This is done by pouring a bio-enzyme cleaner or vinegar and baking soda down the drain, using a long scrubbing tool to clear out the biofilm or removing the p-trap and washing it out.

If the changes above are unsuccessful, or if multiple sinks and toilets in your home smell bad, the problem probably lies with the plumbing vent. These vents help to regulate the pressure in sewage lines, preventing sudden changes in pressure from forcing sewer gas back up through your drains and into your home.

If a leak in the plumbing vent or a blockage exists, it needs to be remedied. Clearing any blockages and patching any leaks helps to prevent bad smells from escaping into your home and prevents further complications.

For more information how to eliminate odors from your drains, please contact us here or call us directly at 800.937.5667.

Signs of Septic System Failure

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Septic system failures make for unpleasant, frustrating and costly problems.

Your septic system handles all of your raw sewage, meaning that a system failure leaves sewage with nowhere to go — except into your yard or back into your home. Many people also understand little about septic systems, leading most to simply replace the septic tank, which might not be the source of the problem.

Fortunately, when signs of septic system failure exist, those who catch them and call trained professionals stand a good chance of successfully fixing the problem.

The primary warning signs of septic system failure include a rotten egg odor around the septic tank, sinks and drains gurgling or draining slowly, sewage backing up and wastewater pooling in and above the drainfield. If the drainfield is in danger of flooding, the grass above it may also be growing exceptionally well. When these symptoms arise, many people diagnose the problem as the septic tank. These signs, while indicators of a problem in the septic system, do not necessarily mean the septic tank is at fault.

There are two main sections of a normal septic system. The septic tank receives solid wastes from the house and uses anaerobic bacteria to break down the solids into simple gases and liquid. The processed liquids then travel to a drainfield, where the liquid waste is absorbed into the ground.

A common problem with this system consists of one of the pipes getting clogged by physical waste, which causes backups in the pipes. Another problem occurs when the anaerobic bacteria in the septic tank fails to decompose the physical matter quickly enough. In this case, physical waste is sent to the drainfield, gathers at the edge of the field and develops into a biomat. This biomat eventually spreads to cover the entire drainfield and prevents water from being absorbed into the ground.

While the septic tank can fail, other possibilities exist. If you notice any of the warning signs mentioned above, call a professional and get their opinion on the situation.

For more information on identifying and preventing septic system failure, please contact us here or call us at 800.937.5667.

The Right Water Heater for You

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Purchasing the wrong water heater for your home causes no shortage of troubles. Buying a smaller water heater leads to shortages of hot water, forcing you to deal with ice cold showers and faucets. On the other hand, owning a larger one drives up energy costs to heat more water than you need.

The right water heater provides you with the right amount of water at an affordable price. The information below provides a guideline for determining the right water heater for you.

First, you need to determine if you prefer a tank or tankless water heater. Traditional water heaters use tanks, and they operate through maintaining a large volume of hot water to dispense throughout the home. Water heaters with tanks typically keep water around 120 degrees Fahrenheit constantly.

On the other hand, tankless water heaters only heat water as needed.  This makes them more energy efficient – however, you can draw more water than it can heat, making hot water less consistent.

Next, determine the amount of water you need for your choice of a tank or tankless water heater. For ones with tanks, we suggest using the chart below created by the Home Depot:

No. of People in Household Gallon Capacity
1 – 2 23 – 36
2 – 4 36 – 46
3 – 5 46 – 56
5 or more 56 or higher

 

For tankless water heaters, we suggest you add up the gallons per minute (GPM) that every individual fixture and appliance needs and find the total GPM your house needs. The Home Depot’s chart below can give you an idea of how to rate each fixture and appliance in your home:

Fixture/Appliance Typical Flow Rates
Bathroom Faucet 0.5 – 1.5 GPM
Kitchen Faucet 3.0 – 7.0 GPM
Shower 1.0 – 2.0 GPM
Dishwasher 1.0 – 2.5 GPM
Clothes Washer 1.5 – 3.0 GPM

 

Finally, you need to consider the types of energy available to you. Water heaters typically use either electricity, natural gas, or propane as their energy source. Not all areas of the United States give access to all energy sources, so check with your local energy provider to determine the availability of the energy source for the water heater you want.

For more information about purchasing a water heater, please contact us here or call us directly at 800.937.5667.