Plumbing Preventative Maintenance Category

Avoid Frozen Pipes – A 3-Step Checklist

avoid frozen pipesSimple steps you can take with drain pipes to avoid frozen pipes can also help prevent the repeated annoyance of a frozen drain. When freezing temperatures persist for a length of time—particularly when they are below 32 degrees Fahrenheit day and night—both water supply lines and drain pipes may freeze. Just as with any other type of drain blockage, a drain pipe that is obstructed by ice will not drain water freely.

Here are three things you can do to avoid frozen pipes.

  • Insulate exposed segments. Anywhere you can access spans of drain pipe—such as in the crawl space or basement—cover these segments with foam pipe insulation. Supplied with a slit down the length of the segment, this slip-on insulation can be placed on the pipe without disconnecting the plumbing. Where the drain pipe goes underground in the crawl space, it’s a good idea to insulate the pipe at least twelve inches below the soil to reach the frost line—the point where the pipe is unlikely to freeze.
  • Keep cold air away. Look for any gaps in the exterior wall of the house that allows frigid outdoor air to reach drain pipes and other plumbing routed inside the wall spaces or the crawl space. Small cracks can be sealed with exterior caulking. Larger gaps, such as those where plumbing pipes penetrate the exterior wall, can be filled with expanding spray foam insulation that comes in a can. Still bigger openings in the wall need to be permanently patched with wood or siding.
  • Fix dripping faucets in the house. Drain pipes that don’t contain any water can’t freeze. Though drain pipes are typically installed in a way to empty all water into the main sewer line, one or more dripping faucets creates an ongoing presence of water throughout the span of the drain pipe. If temperatures drop low enough, the drain may freeze.

For more advice about what you can do to drain pipes to prevent freezing this winter, contact the plumbing pros at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing.


How to Prepare a Water Heater for Winter

water heater seasonal maintenanceBecause this is not the season to be stuck without hot water, take time to properly prepare your water heater for winter. The water heater’s typically the most frequently replaced major appliance in the house. Many last less than 10 years. One of the things that can help extend water heater service life is seasonal maintenance. Here are some suggestions to prepare a water heater for winter and ensure you have plenty of hot water for the cold weather to come.

  • Set the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees. Temperatures higher than that pose a danger of scalding and don’t get hot water to you any faster when the pipes in the house are cold, anyhow. Also, the higher the temperature of water inside the water heater tank, the quicker it loses heat while on stand-by—particularly during winter if the water heater is located in a cooler location like a garage or utility area. Rapid tank heat loss means the water heater cycles on and off more frequently to compensate, consuming more gas and increasing operating costs.
  • Insulate exposed sections of cold and hot water pipes. Buy slip-on foam pipe insulation at a home center and place it anywhere you can reach the cold water supply line leading to the water heater and the hot water line leading away from the heater. Also, any other accessible segments of hot water pipe elsewhere in the house should be insulated, as well. This prevents freezing in winter and aids water heater performance by reducing heat loss.
  • Drain and flush. Mineral sediment present in the water supply accumulates inside water heaters. It’s a major cause of higher water heating costs and shorter water heater life expectancy. A qualified professional plumber can drain the heater tank, flush out sediment accumulation, as well as verify proper function of the temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve, an important water heater safety check.

For qualified service to prepare a water heater for winter, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing.

3 Reasons to Choose a Water Treatment System

whole house water treatment systemA whole-house water treatment system connected to your home plumbing system protects all the water entering your house—not just selected individual faucets. That’s because water quality is an issue that affects the entire household. While many people are concerned about the quality of water they consume, the water you bathe in and wash clothes in may also raise health concerns, as well as harm your plumbing system at large. Here are three specific reasons to consider installing a water treatment system in your home:

  1. Questionable quality. If you get your water from a local municipal source, chances are it meets the government standards for quality. The question is: Are those standards high enough to meet your standards for your family’s health and safety? Long-term effects of chronic exposure to low levels of contaminants like chlorine, lead, pesticides and others —which meet official permissible limits—may still be a concern to you, however. To ensure a higher standard of water purity for your family than what the acceptable standards offer, consider water treatment for your plumbing system.
  2. Hard water matters. Municipal water in some locales is hard; i.e., it contains a high quantity of dissolved minerals. Most mineral content is not considered a health threat so water utilities aren’t required to reduce mineral content of water. However, hard water can be an ongoing annoyance: soap won’t suds, shampoo doesn’t rinse, glasses and cutlery look dull and foggy and white laundry turns somewhat gray. In addition, mineral deposits accumulate inside household water supply lines, causing low water pressure. Mineral deposits inside pipes also accelerates corrosion, leading to premature pipe ruptures and potential water damage.
  3. Aesthetic issues. A rusty tint due to high iron content and/or gritty sediment are common in some areas and not a health threat. However, these and other visual effects do make water appear less appetizing and inviting. A home water treatment system filters out impurities before they reach the faucets and fixtures in your house.

Do you have questions about your water quality? Ask the professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing about water treatment for your plumbing system.

Preventing Drain Problems from Tree Roots

drain pipe clogged with tree rootsYour sewer drain system is vulnerable to invasion. Trees growing near the underground sewer line on your property send out long feeder roots in search of nutrients. Because a sewer pipe contains water and organic waste it’s a prime target for these small but powerful roots. Many older homes were built with sewer piping that is especially prone to the effects of tree root intrusion—clay pipes with mortar-filled joints and concrete pipes, in particular. However, almost any pipe with seams can be invaded by aggressive tree roots. Once they intrude into the pipe, clogs form due to expanding root growth and expensive, messy sewage backups into the house are the inevitable result.

The best control of tree root issues is prevention. Here are some things you can do to stop tree root infiltration of the sewer drain system before it happens.

Landscape Carefully

  • Be aware of the path of your underground sewer line (a plumber can tell you where it is.) Avoid planting trees directly above or near the pipe.
  • Choose trees with naturally less aggressive root systems. Fast-growing tree species are particularly likely to send invading feeder roots into sewer lines. A local nursery or the horticulture department at a nearby college can provide information on non-aggressive tree species that grow well in your local climate.
  • If you already have fast-growing trees on your property near the sewer line, consider removing them.

Replace Vulnerable Pipes

Old clay or concrete sewer pipes common in many areas can be replaced with seamless HDPE (high-density polyethylene) pipe in a trenchless pipe process that requires little excavation. With an extremely long service life and no seams that roots can exploit, HDPE pipes are very unlikely to experience tree root problems.

Get Regular Inspections

Every three years, have a qualified plumber inspect your sewer drain system utilizing micro-video technology to visually survey the entire interior length of the pipe. If evidence of tree root invasion is noted, early intervention can prevent clogs and backups.

For professional service to prevent sewer drain problems from tree roots, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing.

How a Sewer Camera Inspection Can Save You Money

Professional drain and sewer cleaning not only clears clogs, but it’s also effective preventive maintenance to avoid more costly issues later. That’s especially true for sewer problems. While you generally have some idea about how well your drains are functioning, what’s going on inside the sewer pipe buried beneath your front yard is often a complete mystery. Until something goes wrong, that is.

Drain And Sewer CleaningNothing beats a direct optical evaluation of the sewer. A high-resolution video camera with LED illuminator is threaded into your sewer pipe through an existing clean-out and extended all the way to the street. This gives a plumber experienced in drain and sewer cleaning an up-close look at any sewer clogs as well as the general status of the pipe. Catching sewer issues before they trigger a messy, damaging sewer backup avoids expensive after-the-fact repairs and cleanup.

What hidden secrets might a video evaluation of your sewer pipe reveal?

  • Tree root infiltration. Trees send tiny feeder roots into sewers through joints in the pipe and other openings. Over a period of time these roots gradually inhibit proper flow through the pipe. Eventually, they totally obstruct the pipe and cause a damaging sewer reflux into your house.
  • Collapsing segments. Certain types of sewer pipes installed in residences in the past are prone to collapse after years on the job. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be aware of it until an expensive sewer backup occurs. A video evaluation can reveal early signs of a collapsing pipe and allow a professional plumber to offer re-piping options before damage occurs.
  • Underground leaks. A leaky sewer pipe is difficult to diagnose because the exact whereabouts of an underground leak is hard to determine from ground level. One alternative is to dig up most of your yard until the leak is found. A more efficient and less expensive method is an optical evaluation of the sewer pipe with a video camera to reveal the exact location and the precise spot to dig.

Contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing for more information about drain and sewer cleaning services, including a sewer camera evaluation.

Do “Green” Drain Cleaners Work as Well as Chemical Cleaners?

Homeowners who need drain clearing and cleaning in Cincinnati sometimes ask if so-called “green” drain cleaners are a viable alternative to other chemical methods. Most professional plumbers aren’t big fans of heavy-duty caustic drain chemicals, typically formulated with corrosives like sodium hydroxide or sulfuric acid. These harsh substances can disintegrate pipes and other components, often turning a minor clog into major expensive damage to your plumbing system. They can also be a safety hazard, not only to the homeowner who uses them but to the plumber called in to work on the system if the caustic drain chemical fails to clear the clog.

shutterstock_309060392Most green drain cleaners use natural enzymes instead of corrosive chemicals to remove clogs. These enzymes contain bacteria that actually consume the organic material that is by and large the most frequent cause of drain clogs. If you require drain clearing and cleaning in Cincinnati, here are some pros and cons of trying green methods instead of harsh chemicals:

  • Green drain chemicals are safer to use. No danger from chemical burns or severe eye damage, which can occur if caustic drain chemicals splash or reflux out of the drain.
  • The enzymes used in green drain openers are non-corrosive and harmless to your pipes and/or the septic tank.
  • Green chemicals pose no toxic threat to the environment at large or the municipal water treatment system.
  • A green drain cleaner may take substantially longer to clear a clog than a conventional caustic drain chemical.
  • The enzymatic approach offered by green drain cleaners is often best utilized as a regular preventive treatment to keep pipes clean and inhibit clogs before they happen.

Once a clog occurs, if green drain cleaners and/or simply plunging the drain fail to clear it, the most cost-efficient option at that point is usually to consult a plumbing professional. A qualified plumber arrives with an array of safe options to remove drain clogs of all sorts without endangering your pipes or the environment. For more information on drain clearing and cleaning in Cincinnati, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing today.

How to Avoid the Common Causes of Drain Blockages

Although there are times when it’s unavoidable to use professional drain clearing and cleaning services in Cincinnati, it is possible to reduce the chances of clogged drainpipes. Being careful with waste disposal keeps the drain lines flowing, and not only does it avoid the inconveniences of plugged plumbing fixtures, it saves time and money.

drain blockage

Plumber with rubber plunger in a bathroom
Source: istockphoto

In the Kitchen

  • Always use cold water when putting oily or greasy food down the disposal, or even better, put excessive fats in the garbage.
  • Coffee grounds should be put in the trash or into the compost pile. When they flow through the pipes, they clump up instead of flushing all the way to the sewer line and are a leading cause of clogged pipes.
  • Do not put raw potato peelings or cooked rice down the garbage disposal. They contain starch that will gum up the drainpipes.
  • Pour boiling water down the garbage disposal and sink drain once a week. It will loosen small deposits before they have a chance to clump.

In the Bathroom

If anyone in your home has long hair, check the tub or shower drain frequently and pull the excess out with a small pair of pliers or tweezers. Soap, toothpaste, hair and hard water all combine to form deposits in the pipes that may require drain clearing and cleaning services in Cincinnati.

Never flush anything in the toilet unless its packaging says it’s safe to flush, like baby wipes or paper towels. Before flushing kitty litter, be sure it’s flushable. Not all will dissolve fast enough, and could end up creating a serious blockage in the drain or sewer line.

In the Laundry

Liquid laundry soaps cause fewer drain clogs than powders because they dissolve in any water temperature. Sometimes small objects, like socks, can slip over the washer’s tub and clog its drainpipe. Placing small articles of clothing into small zippered laundry bags prevents them from draining out of the tub.

Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing can help you with drain clearing and cleaning services in Cincinnati, providing trusted plumbing and HVAC services in the area since 1910.

Annual Preventative Maintenance Keeps Your Home’s Plumbing System Flowing Freely

Annual plumbing preventative maintenance is far more cost-effective than searching for emergency service when a plumbing crisis occurs. Though most of your home’s plumbing is out of sight, it has a way of letting you know when it’s been neglected. The minor annoyances of a clogged drain, low water pressure and noisy pipes are nothing compared to calamities like a water supply line rupture or a toxic sewage backup. More than simply inconvenient, these occasions can be major expenses as well.


Tips for Avoiding Sewer Clogs and Keeping Your Pipes Clear

Modern urban homes depend on sewer pipes to remove waste water. If those pipes aren’t working properly, it can cause a stinky, potentially hazardous situation. The sewer pipes at the street are usually the sanitation department’s responsibility, but the pipe that runs from your house is your responsibility. Homeowners should take necessary precautions to avoid sewer clogs.


7 Water Issues That Could Plague Your Cincinnati Home and How to Manage Them

The water flowing out of your plumbing fixtures should be clear and free of contaminants, and it should have a neutral taste and smell. If the water coming into your home isn’t clear or if it has a funky taste or odor, you probably have water issues.