Do you call a licensed plumber or DIY it? Despite the claims of popular DIY shows, not to mention YouTube videos, there are just some plumbing issues you cannot DIY. The key for the average homeowner is knowing their own limits. What might be a simple fix for a professional could run into two or three times the trouble and cost with a DIY-gone-bad.

That said, Knoxville Plumbing has put together a short list of plumbing issues that can usually be a successful DIY project along with ones that should be handled by a licensed plumber.

DIY

The most successful DIY projects will only require a minimal number of tools and will be in easy-to-access areas. They may require a trip to the hardware store, but should not take too much time out of your day.

Leaky faucets

Faucets leak from either the handles or the spout. To DIY repair the leak you have to determine where it originates. After you figure out where the leak is, turn off your water supply to the faucet. Next,  disassemble that part of the faucet, using appropriate tools. You may need to replace O rings, washers, cartridges, or an aerator. Taking the worn or damaged part with you to the hardware store will help you to figure out exactly which replacement you need.

 

Clogs

Most clogs respond well to DIY treatments. Try pouring boiling water down the clogged pipe, as long as it is not PVC. Other common and successful DIY tricks are plunging, baking soda and vinegar, or a small drain snake. You can also remove the P trap under the sink to try to find the clog. If the clog persists, or you do not want to start pulling your pipes apart, your best bet is to call a licensed plumber to get deeper into the problem.

 

Toilet “running” or “phantom flush”

If your toilet continues to run after the tank is full, it is usually an easy fix. These problems occur when there is a problem with the fill tube, the water level float, the flush handle/flapper chain, or the flapper itself. You will have to drain the tank and bowl to perform some of these repairs, so if it looks more troublesome than you have time for, just give us a call.

 

When to call a licensed plumber

We recommend every homeowner have basic plumbing tools, including a heavy pipe wrench, a water meter key,  an adjustable wrench, and a toilet auger. These jobs, however, can lead to much more complex problems and require specialized equipment and experience to correctly diagnose and repair. We recommend calling a licensed plumber for these kinds of jobs.

Pipes

Anytime you have to take pipes apart, you should have a licensed plumber doing the work. They will be able to assess multiple factors including the age of your pipes and the exact needs for your pipes when it comes to putting everything back together again.

Sump pumps

The sump pit, usually in the basement,  collects water that drains into the house from groundwater or perimeter drains. Once water has accumulated in the pit, the pump pushes the water away from the house. Your sump pump is an easy to forget — an out-of-sight, out-of-mind appliance. You do not want to forget or ignore it. The potential for serious problems if it is not working properly makes this type of installation, maintenance, and repair best for a licensed plumber rather than DIY. You do not want to deal with a broken or improperly installed sump pump.

Mainline backups

Gurgling sounds and water backing up in your drains, toilet, or bathtub indicate a major problem. Mainline backups require specialized equipment including a camera attached to a line to accurately assess the damage and plan repairs. The repairs often entail using digging equipment to access the damaged pipes. You definitely want a licensed plumber dealing with the wastewater rather than exposing yourself to this hazardous waste.

A failed DIY

If you get started with a DIY that turns into a nightmare, that is where we come in! Knoxville Plumbing has expert licensed plumbers standing by to help with any of your plumbing concerns. Here are a few of the most common DIY plumbing fails, according to Family Handyman. You can read details about each of these fails on Family Handyman.

 

10 Most Common DIY Plumbing Fails

  1. Overtightening connections
  2. Wrapping Thread Tape Backward or Using the Wrong Tape
  3. Using Drain Cleaners as a First Choice
  4. Tackling a Plumbing Job Without Spare Parts
  5. Not Turning Off the Water
  6. Using Too Much Muscle On a Stuck Shut Off Valve
  7. Sweating Copper Pipes With Water in the Line
  8. Not Having the Right Tools
  9. Mixing up Wyes, Tees, and Elbows
  10. Installing a Saddle Valve for an Ice Maker or Humidifier

Conclusion

DIY projects are a great option for many homeowners in the right circumstances. We appreciate the need to save money and the sense of satisfaction that comes from a job well done. But, if your DIY project gets out of control or if the plumbing problem is beyond your expertise, Knoxville Plumbing can help. Give us a call today!

Are you freaking out because of a leak in your ceiling?

Considering how damaging such a leak can be to the interior of your home, your freaking is totally understandable. The leaking point is, in most case, meters away from the actual point where the water is entering the ceiling which makes investigating the source a very frustrating ordeal. Don’t lose hope just yet though as we are here to help you identify the source of- and fix- your ceiling leaking problem. Please be our guest.

What Are the Common Causes of Ceiling Leaks?

Leaks in the roof are the most probable sources of water which later leaks from the ceiling. That is, however, not to mean that you should rush to the roof every time you notice a water drop from your ceiling. There are several other probable leak sources that you ought to check out first before making your conclusions. Some of them include plumbing leaks and air conditioning leaks.

How To Differentiate Between a Roof Leak And A Plumbing/An Air Conditioning Leak.

There are only two ways to tell: observing the ceiling leak patterns or climbing to the attic and following the water trails to their source(s). If, after observing the leak patterns, you realize that the water drops are dirty, there is a high chance that the leak is coming from the roof. The same probability applies to when the leaks come during or immediately after the rains and cease during the dry seasons. If, on the other hand, you notice a leak during a dry season, chances are that the leak source is from within the interiors and not the roof. Another characteristic of plumbing/air conditioning leaks is that their drops are mostly clean.

Although observing the leaking patterns can give you a clue of what the leak source is, it’s always wise to access the attic and confirm the validity of that clue. Sometimes rainwater from a roof leak can pool in the ceiling and stay there for months, only for pests to scratch the ceiling and provide the water with an escape route. If that happens during a dry season, you might end up making the wrong conclusion that the water is from a plumbing line.

Important note

If you saw some unexpected standing water or wetness in your home but didn’t see any water drop(s) falling from the ceiling, it is advisable not to conclude that there is a leak in the ceiling without first checking for water leaks within the home. You may need to check for leaks in the water heater, the washing machine, under water sinks, and any appliance that uses water. It’s only after confirming that none of those sources is leaking that you check the ceiling/attic. That being said, how do you locate the leak source from the attic?

Locating Sources of a Ceiling Leak from the Attic.

Always begin your leak investigations by measuring/approximating the distance between the leak and a fixed reference point in your living area. That could be a wall, a chimney, or a vent pipe for bathrooms. This distance will help you to easily locate the ceiling leak while in the attic; you will be on top of it at that time and locating it is definitely not the easiest thing to do. That done, take your flashlight, a plastic straw, and any other safety equipment that you might need while up there and, using a ladder, climb up to the attic.

The flashlight will help you to locate where the ceiling leak is which will then help you to follow the water trail/stain from the leaking point to its source. If there is a water supply pipe at the end of the trail, check it to see if it could be the source of the leaking water. If it’s moist, you definitely have solved the puzzle. Repair it or call a professional plumbing company to do it for you. If it isn’t, check if there are any holes in the roof. The easiest way of detecting a hole in the roof is looking for light spots on the attic ceiling. If you see one, insert a straw to mark the hole so that you can easily locate it from the other side of the roof.

What if you can’t see any holes in the roof even after confirming that all the plumbing lines are intact? Then it’s time to climb to the roof and check if there are:

• Spaces between sidings or shingles that could be causing the leak.

• Any unsealed parts around the chimney, valley, or attic dormer vents.

• Clogged gutters or any foreign material on the roof.

• Any signs of tear and wear in all protrusions on the roof.

If you identify the source, fix it using tar or any other roofing material. If you can’t, contact a professional plumbing or roofing company.

Conclusion

A leak in the ceiling is arguably the most disturbing thing that can happen to a homeowner, particularly during wet seasons? Are you struggling with a ceiling leak in Knoxville, Tennessee? Have you identified the leak source but, for whichever reason, you are unable to fix it? Knoxville Plumbing is here to help. Our plumbers are experienced and dedicated to fixing all of your leaking problems. Give us a call. If you have determined it is a roofing leak call the best roofing company in Knoxville, TN.

It’s something we don’t really think about — until it stops working. When your shower gets cold, that’s when things heat up!

Amidst cries of outrage about cold water showers and cold water dish washing, we scramble to figure out what caused the water heater to stop working. But, before we talk about things that can go wrong with water heaters, let’s take a look at their simple, yet creative design and discover how it is they do what they do to make our daily lives more comfortable.

 

WATER HEATER DESIGN

The majority of residential water heaters are storage water heaters. They are basically tall cylindrical tanks–sort of like a tall metal drum. They vary in capacity from about 20 gallons to about 80 gallons of water. Even though traditional water heaters don’t present a very dramatic appearance, the principles they use to supply abundant hot water to your home are pretty interesting.

 

COMPONENTS

water heater

                  photo credit: US Department of Energy

 

Storage water heaters are comprised of the tank and a couple of tubes, a series of valves, and a mechanism for heating the water. Storage water heaters are either electrical or gas operated. Here’s how all these components work:

  • Tank: The tank is made of heavy metal and is actually the inner component of the cylinder. It serves as a shell to hold the water. Tanks are often covered with some type of insulating material, a decorative “outer shell” and sometimes an additional insulating blanket-type cover.
  • Dip Tube/Cold Water Inlet: Cold water enters the tank at the top and flows through this tube to the bottom  of the tank. Because the water is cold, it stays close to the bottom of the tank where heating occurs.
  • Hot Water Outlet: This pipe is also at the top of the tank. Heated water at the top of the tank exits through this outlet and flows to areas where it is needed.water heaters
  • Shut-Off Valve: This valves closes off the flow of cold water into the tank.
  • Drain Valve: This valve is near the bottom of the tank and is used to empty the tank when servicing is needed.
  • Pressure Relief Valve: This valve serves to regulate pressure inside the tank.
  • Anode Rod: This rod, made of steel overlaid with either magnesium or aluminum, is suspended in the water of the tank to help reduce corrosion.
  • Heating mechanism: In a gas storage water heater, the heating mechanism is a gas burner and chimney system. An electrical storage water heater uses heating elements projecting into the interior of the tank to heat the water.
  • Thermostat: This device is a thermometer and a temperature-control device. Electric water heaters may have individual thermostats for each heating element.

HOW IT WORKS

water heatersStorage water heaters rely primarily on the scientific principle that hot water rises. Cold water enters the top of the tank through the dip tube or cold water inlet, flows through the pipe to the bottom of the tank where it exits the pipe, pushing the warmer water already in the tank upward.

The thermostat setting is usually between 120 – 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The thermostat should be set nearer the lower end of this range in homes with small children to prevent potential scalding injuries. As the thermostat monitors the temperature of the water inside the tank, it regulates the function of the elements (on an electrical water heater) or the gas burner (on a gas water heater) to heat the water accordingly.

Because heat rises, the hottest water is always closest to the top of the tank. When a hot water tap is turned on somewhere inside the home, the hot water exits the tank through the hot water outlet at the top of the tank and flows to the open tap.

What’s next?

Now that we have a basic understanding of the parts of a water heater and how it works, our next post will take a look at some things that typically cause water heater problems resulting in the dreaded cold shower.

Whether you have a malfunctioning water heater or a leaking faucet or a clogged drain, Knoxville Plumbing is here for you!

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It’s oddly painful to hear the drip of a leaking faucet. The sound can drive anyone insane, but your water bills hurt your wallet the most when excess water leaks out of your faucet.  You have the option to pay a plumber to fix all your needs! In the case that you can’t afford a plumber or you want to learn to do it yourself, we’ve brought you a guide on fixing one of the most common faucet types. We’ll be covering the others in later articles!

leaking faucet

BEGINNING

1. Turn off the water pipe that leads to your leaking faucet.

You should look under your sink to find the handles, which are often along the pipes, to shut off the water. The next step is to twist them clockwise until they’re nicely tight.

2. Remember to plug your drain.

If you have a plug or a rage, remember to use it on your drain. There is nothing more frustrating than having a screw, washer, or small item slip from your hand and fall down into those slimy depths.

3. Figure out what type of faucet you have.

  • You’ll know the compression faucet easiest because it has two handles: one that turns on the hot water and one that turns on the cold water.

If you don’t have a compression faucet, your sink has one handle that switches the water from hot to cold. If you can’t google the answer, this means an extra step where you have to take your faucet apart to understand what inner mechanism it’s using.

  • A ball faucet uses a ball bearing
  • There will be a ceramic cylinder in a ceramic-disk faucet.
  • Like its name, the cartridge faucet has a cartridge. You might sport this faucet beforehand because they tend to come with decorative caps.

COMPRESSION FAUCET

  1. Take off each handle
  2. You’ll have to remove the nut. The stem is on the O-ring, and the O-ring is on the seat washer. When you find the seat washer, check if the rubber is worn. This is generally why someone would have a leaky faucet.
  3. You can pull out the stem to get at the seat washer. The seat washer uses an upside down-brass screw to hold it in the stem. Make sure to bring the old one to the store to compare its size. You need to coat it in plumber’s grease
  4. If your handles leak, the object you need to replace is the O-ring.
  5. You should be able to reassemble the handles now! You’ve fixed the minor leak.

Having odor in the home isn’t just displeasing to your nose. The two main causes for the odor is mold and mildew accumulation that can be harmful to your health (allergy and asthma are two main conditions caused by undetected mold). This is not a problem that should be ignored, especially if you are trying to maintain the integrity of the home for years to come or are trying to sell it in the future. No matter how lovely the home is staged on higher levels, once your guests open the basement door and catch a whiff, they will know what the smell represents; Water! Mold and mildew smells coming from your basement are likely caused by condensation, leaking, and poor ventilation. Luckily, this problem can be remedied fairly easily. Check out these tips.

Air It Out

The musty basement smell is strongest in spring and fall when utilities aren’t running and in the winter when windows are closed. Poor ventilation of the basement is how the smell permeates each square inch. The first thing you can do is buy a humidifier to remove moisture and dry the place out. Open all windows and doors in the vicinity of the basement in hopes it will tame the smell.

Inspect

Put on your home inspector hat because you are going to examine both the inside of the basement and outside the home around the perimeter of the foundation. Inside look for water spots that indicate leakage, cracks in the foundation, or actual mold. Look at exposed pipes to see if they are dripping or wet with condensation. These should be wrapped in a wrap product specifically made for the purpose. Note what you see and call a professional to make repairs immediately before severe damage is done to the foundation. The problems are likely from the outside where you will examine next. The land around the home should slope away so that rainwater is drained away from the home instead of down the foundation walls. Even water soaking into the dirt and penetrating the home’s concrete can cause cracks and damage. See if you have an adequate and clean gutter system doing its job. Gutter downspouts should extend at least 6 feet from the home’s foundation.

Get Rid Of The Smells Long Term

To get rid of the smells long term you will need to apply several of these tips. Wear a mask as you use a water and bleach solution to spray and clean every surface of the basement to kill any harmful mold that has grown. The mold may not be visible but is still there so I would not skip this important step. If you have any closets or tight enclosed places in your basement, kitty litter makes a great odor eliminator in these areas. White vinegar scattered around in bowls will eliminate odor over a period of a few days. The smell of vinegar will also go away. For long term odor eliminating, leave open containers of baking soda in the basement just as you would for the fridge. The baking soda boxes can assist in odor elimination for up to 3 months.

Some plumbing issues are minor nuisances that you might ignore for a while until it bothers you too much. A leaky faucet, a slow drain, a running toilet that you have to jiggle the handle to get it to stop, are examples of potentially minor plumbing issues. Some plumbing issues require attention immediately before they turn into a disaster. Keep your plumber’s number handy if you notice these potential problems:

Leaks

 

Any signs of leaks such as water spots on ceilings or walls or under your sinks should be taken care of immediately. Catching a leak early may result in just needing to dry out the wet surfaces.

Leaking Water Heater

 

You probably don’t look at your water heater often so if you do see water around it take action now. It could be a crack in the internal tank. A small puddle can turn into gallons of water damaging walls and floors. Water heaters have limited life spans. Frequent inspections and maintenance is good practice.

A big Increase In Your Water Bill

 

This could indicate a leak in your underground pipes. It could be from a constantly running toilet that you never use or a leak in a part of your house that you don’t frequent.

Sewer Gas Smell

 

You’ll need a plumber if you have cracks in your sewer lines. Some sewer gas problems are easy to solve such as keeping the water level up in your drain traps by pouring a cup of water down the drain.

Mold and Mildew

 

Look out for mold and mildew on any surfaces. Check in closets and back of cabinets. A leak can go undetected for a long time and grow mold in a widespread area.

A Wet Spongy Lawn

 

A wet lawn when the weather has been dry could indicate an exterior water main leak.

Frozen Pipes

 

Thawing your pipes as soon as possible can prevent a burst pipe resulting in flooding. Your plumber can thaw your pipes and help you to prevent it from happening again.
 A good thing to do right now is to make sure everyone in your household knows how to turn the water off to the whole house in case of an emergency. If you have an instance that you need to call a plumber, it might be a good time to get a complete plumbing inspection to prevent other instances.

85% of the water in the U.S. Is considered hard water on some level. Hard water is determined by the purity of water. Water with more mineral content and impurities is harder. It’s opposite is water like from rain which has no impurities or minerals until it falls and seeps into the ground where it picks up it’s elements from it’s surrounding, mostly soft rock. Rain water that falls down a mountain, against large non-porous rocks and not through them like with soft rocks, remains pure and what is considered soft.

This has to do with hair because when washing hair in hard water, no matter the kind of shampoo and conditioner you are in use of, you will notice an undesirable residue or texture to it when finished. This is not only from the contents of your water, but also how the contents react to what’s in your shampoo and conditioner.

The History

Nowadays we there are lots of additives to our water sources, such as chlorine. At one time, there were no additives and water was effected very little by people unlike now. On home steads where rain water was collected and used in makeshift showers, hard water and hair residue was not a thing. It wasn’t until humans began tampering with and creating our glorious plumbing that the soap, the only thing we were using on our hair and body, was reacting to the water we were pumping into homes. To combat the hard water issue, they invented shampoo to clean the residue left on the hair. Shampoo was harsh and still is, so then was born the need for conditioner as well. Conditioner was invented to heal the damage done to the hair at each washing.

The First Thing You Can Do

If you’ve suffered from a change in water due to moving, traveling or changing to a shampoo/conditioning system reacting poorly with the water, the first thing you can do is request the quality test results for your area from the city or view a hard water map online of your area. You can also check your own water using a meter that measures TDS or Total Deposited Solids and measures the hardness or softness of the water by how positive or negatively charged the water is. Too many positive ions are bad and negative ions are good. You’ve probably heard these terms used when discussing air quality as well. If your water is not too hard, you might get by with using natural shampoo and a little conditioner at each washing, but if your water is pretty hard than you might have to look into further solutions.

Water Filtration

A filtration shower head can pass your water through a replaceable carbon or charcoal filter that removes as many impurities as it can. You may have success with this or loose the water pressure you once had. It’s worth a try and inexpensive!

Rinse Water

If you don’t mind the inconvenience you might decide to just rinse your hair after conditioning with a different kind of water. This way you will remove the residue in the rinse. Rain water or distilled water are good purchasable options, or you can create your own low acid rinse using vinegar or lemon juice.

Enhancing Your Water Softener

A water softener is a device in the home that removes impurities from the water before it hits your pipes and then your hair. If you’ve done the testing you will know if it is working properly or needs to be adjusted, repaired or replaced. Having done an initial test, you have results of which to compare your water testing in the future.

The hard truth about commercial building plumbing maintenance is that it’s far more expensive to repair the water damage associated with a plumbing issue after it’s happened, not to mention the money lost due to having otherwise operating sections of your building under maintenance. If you’ve stumbled upon this article about commercial plumbing maintenance, congratulations! You are one step further from the costly repairs of neglecting to take these preventative measures.

Find Your Plumber BEFORE Your Problem Occurs

There is not only residential and commercial plumbers but even further classifications of plumbers for different types of commercial buildings. There is far more to it than you probably are aware and it would benefit you to have a company you trust come out and tell you what kind of commercial building you are operating in and what kind of plumber you need for routine maintenance and emergencies. Hopefully, this appointment builds a bridge for you to foster an on-going relationship!

Schedule Regular Maintenance

Once you’ve established the kind of building you operate and a relationship with a plumber or plumbers you trust, you should schedule regular maintenance to keep that relationship strong and ensure you’re doing everything you can to avoid any costly plumbing issues and loss of business in the future. Plumbing issues are inevitable due to aging buildings, shifting foundations and inadequate building materials used at different periods of time. Having a regular plumber you trust visit the building and assess your plumbing, will not only catch problems early but improve your future costs by recommending the best new building materials and replacement parts.

Look For Signs

Before you even call your plumber, you can assess your own building by visiting each bathroom and looking for any of the following signs: water temperatures of faucets being too hot, cold or slow to change, frequent clogged toilets or drains, and dripping faucets or other signs of leaking (check under sinks and look for water damage in ceilings). Having a list will streamline your plumber’s visit, possibly save you money and give you a reference point to compare how your plumbing has improved after your plumber works his magic!

Taking care of your plumbing needs before an emergency is of the utmost importance when taking ownership of a commercial building. You’re doing the responsible thing for your business and all those it affects, including employees and customers, by taking these three simple steps to ensure the integrity of your building well into the future!

 

Plumbing Repairs You Can Complete as a Renter

The fact of the matter is that not everyone owns their own home. There are more renters than in the past due to the housing market crash that took place a few years ago. Many people were forced to rent, which means that taking care of your property can be a bit more tricky. As a renter, you need to know what repairs you can actually handle on your own and when you need to call your landlord. When it comes to plumbing, there are a few repairs that you can do on your own with the help of just a few tools.

Here are the plumbing repairs that you can complete as a renter:

Clogged Drain

No matter how old or new the plumbing system is within your rental property, it is almost impossible to avoid clogged drains. This is something that is especially common in the bathroom. Clogs within the bathroom can be caused by hair and soap scum buildup. As a renter, it is possible to fix a clogged drain on your own without having to involve your landlord. In most cases, clogged drains will worsen with time so you want to be sure that you work to correct the issue right away before the clog worsens. You can even make your own drain cleaning solution by combing baking soda and vinegar within your drain. This will cause a reaction that will start to dissolve and dislodge the clog. All you need to do is to pour boiling water down the drain to remove the clog completely. This is a solution that is fast and affordable just for renters.

Toilet Problems Made Easy

It is also likely that you will have plumbing issues related to your toilet. There can be many different reasons behind your toilet that will not function properly. The first thing that you need to do is use a plunger on your toilet. This can be the easiest fix and should be where you begin when your toilet is not working right. You can try plunging the bottom of the toilet bowel to make sure that whatever is clogging the drain is removed. It is best to invest in a heavy duty plunger that is large and ball shaped. This is the type of plunger that will be most effective in removing the clog and allowing your toilet to drain freely when you flush it.

3 Common Plumbing Mistakes All Residents Make

As a responsible homeowner, you might think that you are avoiding all the common plumbing mistakes, but this is not always the case. There are most likely some major plumbing mistakes that you are guilty of making. It is time that you were aware of these plumbing problems and what you may be doing unknowingly to make them worse. It is time that you became more educated to ensure that the plumbing system within your home is functioning at a high level.

Here are some of the most common plumbing mistakes that you are making:

Trash in the Toilet

The toilet might be designed for waste, but only for specific types of waste. This means that you should not be using your toilet as a trash can. Putting garbage in your toilet might seem like an easy solution and the fastest way to get rid of waste, but it could cause major plumbing issues. It does not take much to clog your toilet and cause a major drain blockage in your home. This means that you should not be flushing any additional waste down your toilet. It will only lead to future toilet troubles.

Going Cheap

You might think that if you hire a very cheap plumber that you will be able to save money and still get access to great results, but this does not happen. In the world of plumbing, you get what you pay for. This means that if you hire a cheap plumber to correct a plumbing issue within your home, you will most likely get results that reflect the amount of money that you spent. This means that you need to make the smart decision and hire a skilled and qualified plumber with experience that you can rely on. This way you will know for sure that you are correcting the real plumbing issue.

Ignoring Small Leaks

You might think that small leaks are no major issue, but they are actually a warning sign of a much larger problem. This means that you always need to address small leaks right away before they turn into a much larger plumbing problem. A leak will not go away on its own. This means that you need to take action as soon as you notice it. It might be sometimes possible for you to correct the issue on your own, but in many cases you will need a professional plumber.