Author Archives: chesplumb

Sewer Line Backups

rootSpring/Summer Tip
Sewer line backups in the Baltimore, Annapolis area are common this time of year due to summer rainwater entering sewer pipes via cracks. New tree root growth from the spring can also cause sewer backup issues as roots are drawn toward the sewer line as a source of nutrition. Have a Chesapeake Plumbing Inc. inspect your sewer line pipes to let you know if you are susceptible to a sewer line backup problem or if damage has already occurred. Give us a call today 410-437-3888

How to Lower Your Water Bills and Reduce Water Use in Your Home

dripping faucetWe are so used to readily available water at consistent pressure and desired temperature – only travelling abroad makes us realize that water is a scarce resource in many parts of the world. If you are like most Americans, your household probably uses more water than you need.

Fortunately, at Chesapeake Plumbing Inc., we know a few steps you can take to avoid wasting water. And if helping the environment is not motivating enough, think about how much you could save on water bills.

Reduce the water flow in your faucets

It’s likely your faucets operate at a higher rate of flow than necessary. To reduce the flow, install an aerator on the end of your faucet (it might have come with the faucet, so check first). This small and inexpensive addition can help you preserve as much as 1,500 gallons of water a month without affecting the water pressure. A low-flow, water-saving showerhead will do the same for your shower.

Update your toilet

If you are at the point when it’s time to remodel your bathroom, we suggest replacing your current toilet with a low-flow option. In a household that doesn’t conserve water a toilet can use as much as 20 gallons of water per person per day. Different low-flow models have different technology to use water more efficiently, such as the Dual Flush technology.

If you are not ready to replace your toilet just yet, there are still a few things you can do to make it perform better:

–    Flapper tends to deteriorate over time, so replace it regularly

–    Install an adjustable flapper to control the flush volume

–    Install a Fill Cycle Diverter that will direct some of the water that fills the bowl back into the tank.

–    If you wish to reduce the tank volume without upgrading a toilet, just place a bottle filled with water and stones in the tank.

Use sinks, toilets and showers only as intended

Treating your toilet as an ashtray or a garbage disposal will cause you to flush more often than necessary, not to mention may lead to serious clogs (as Maryland plumbers we have seen our share of those). Similarly, shaking off the cutting board into the sink rather than a trash can or letting your kids play with running faucets is contributing to excess water use.

Check your plumbing for leaks

A single dripping faucet can waste as much as 20 gallons of water per day. If you have leaky pipes that drip so much that you have to empty the containers several times a day – we could be talking hundreds of gallons! Here are a few tips on how to find out if you have leaks:

–    Look for obvious wet spots around the plumbing fixtures, as well as in your basement.

–    A poor water pressure could be a sign of a leak.

–    Put food coloring in your toilet tank to see if the tank water leaks into the bowl between the flushes.

–    Install a water meter if you don’t already have one. Monitor it for a few hours when you are not using any water. The change in numbers may indicate a leak.

If you discover a leak, call your local Maryland plumbers as soon as possible. The sooner it’s fixed, the sooner you can start saving.

Here are some other tips related to your water usage. Most of them are easy to follow and will soon become a habit. However, for better results and more savings, it’s important that each family member participates.

–    Opt for a quick shower rather than a bath and don’t waste the shower water – get in as soon as it gets warm.

–    Don’t run the water when you are not using it, such as while you are shaving or brushing your teeth.

–    Only wash clothes when you have a full load.

–    Collect rainwater to use for gardening and other outdoor activities

–    Don’t pre-rinse the dishes before you put them into the dishwasher

How do you preserve water in your household? Feel free to share your tips. And call Maryland plumbers if you need any help updating your plumbing system.

Spring Cleaning? Don’t Forget About the Sink.

sink drainDo you follow the annual spring cleaning tradition? Thousands of people do spring cleaning to declutter their closets, reorganize basements, get rid of the mystery leftovers in the fridge and to wipe off any traces of winter.

 

 

At Chesapeake Plumbing, Inc., we recommend giving your home’s plumbing system a thorough cleaning as well, especially the drains. How do you do that? Keep reading to find out.

We don’t pay attention to it, but we use sinks a lot. We brush teeth over a bathroom sink, wash off vegetables over the one in the kitchen, and who knows what kind of messy business we’ve been conducting in that utility sink in the basement! You probably wash the sink off occasionally to keep it looking nice, but does it work as good as it used to? Follow these steps to get your sink back into shape.

Inspect the faucets and make sure they don’t leak or drip. If they do, call your local Glen Burnie plumbers to get the leak or drip fixed. It might seem like a trifle, but a faucet that wastes as little as 2 drips per minute will cause you to lose 69 gallons of water in a year.

Check the condition of drain strainers – they need to be emptied out regularly to ensure good water flow. If a strainer is broken, missing or seems unfit for the drain hole’s size and shape, replace it with the correct model.

Look at the drain pipes underneath the sink, especially if they are concealed inside a cabinet. Search for the signs of water damage. A tiny leak might have been there for a while, but it’s better late than never to find and fix it.

Check the drains by filling the sinks up and watching how fast the water drains. If you see a drain backing up just from you running the water, this means you definitely have a clog forming. (You can always trust our Baltimore plumbing company to get any clogging issue resolved in no time).

Clean the drains with the vinegar and baking soda solution. This won’t help with massive clogs, but can work great for removing greasy or soapy residue from kitchen and shower drains. You can find a good guide here.

Think twice before using heavy-duty drain cleaners. Every certified and licenses Maryland plumber will tell you that while these chemically-loaded cleaners will help dissolve the clog, they might also corrode your pipes, significantly reducing their lifespan. Consult with your plumber, as he or she might find a less invasive and more eco-friendly drain cleaning solution.

Bonus tip: know your drain’s enemies! Different sinks in your house are subject to different conditions:

  • Kitchen sink drains often get clogged due to food remains and grease accumulation. To keep the drain healthy, use a fine-mesh strainer to keep even the smallest particles out and never empty cooking grease into the sink. Instead, pour it into a container and throw away with other trash.
  • Bathroom sink and shower drains can get clogged with hair and bathing products, especially oil-based ones. Remove the drain stoppers and clean them on a weekly basis to reduce the chance of clogging.
  • A utility sink is often used to help with very dirty projects, such as cleaning a paint brush, washing off boots after a long hike, etc. Be careful with large debris that can end up in the drain – always use a strainer.

Does it seem like a lot to do? We know your spring cleaning list of chores is already long, but keeping sink drains clean and clog-free is very important. If you need a hand, our Annapolis plumbers will be happy to take care of plumbing inspection and cleaning for you. Just give us a call at 410.437.3888.

Common Household Water Problems and How to Diagnose Them

water faucetWe rely on water for many things: cooking, cleaning, staying warm and – the most important one – sustaining our lives. But do you know where the water in your faucet comes from? About 15% of U.S. households receive water from water wells. Unlike community water systems, private wells are not regulated or subject to EPA standards.

This means, if your water comes from a private well, it might not be suitable for household use. At Chesapeake Plumbing, Inc., we recommend testing your well water on a yearly basis to ensure it’s safe to use and contains a healthy chemical balance that is not damaging to your home’s plumbing system.

Don’t let contaminated water cause health issues or costly repairs; watch out for these common water issues.

Misbalanced pH

PH defines acidity or alkalinity of water. Just by itself, too low or too high water pH is unlikely to cause any health issues. However, highly acidic water can cause pipe corrosion, releasing metals into the water stream.  Such contaminants can accumulate in your body over the years reaching dangerous amounts and leading to various health complications.

It’s also a good idea to monitor pH and overall balance of minerals in the water to get an idea of normal water chemistry for your water supply. So if you notice drastic changes in pH, be sure to investigate the reason, as it might be a sign of bacterial contaminants entering your water supply.

Hard water

You’ve probably heard about hard water before. Depending on where your water comes from, it may contain certain amounts of dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals don’t affect water’s drinkability, but can seriously damage your home’s plumbing system and associated appliances.

If anything on this list sounds familiar, you most likely have a hard water problem.

–    Rings in your toilet, bathtub or sink at the water line

–    White film on shower doors and hardened calcium deposits on the showerhead

–    Soapy cleaning agents don’t foam very well causing you to use more

–    Streaks or spots on recently cleaned dishes

–    Skin irritation and unmanageable hair

–    Poorly dissolved detergent leaving residue on the clothes in the washer

–    Reduced water flow and increased water drainage time

As you can see, hard water can be hard both on you and your home’s plumbing. Over time, pipes, especially the ones carrying hot water, become calcified and narrow, thus weakening the water flow. Besides pipes, mineral deposits can damage various water-handling components in water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, as well as showerheads, faucets and toilet bowls.

Replacing entire appliances or even parts could be costly and will only serve as a temporary solution. To stop the problem at the root, you will need to treat your water.

Smelly and bad-tasting water

Another common problem with water is smelly water that usually also tastes bad. If only hot water smells, the likely cause is a high concentration of sulfate in the water source combined with the presence of active hydrogen inside the water heater, which is generated by sacrificial anode. When combined, they form hydrogen sulfate gas well known for its “rotten egg” smell. The anode helps prevent corrosion, so removing it is not a feasible solution and will void your water heater’s warranty.

At Chesapeake Plumbing, Inc., we can help you fix the smelly water issue once and for all by implementing water treatment to reduce the amounts of sulfate, replacing anode with a less active one or by combination of these and other methods.

If cold water is smelly as well, you’ll need to determine whether it picks up odor before it enters your home or after. From there, you’ll get an idea whether your water supply or your home’s plumbing is to blame.

As you can see, monitoring water chemistry plays important role in staying healthy and prolonging the life of your plumbing equipment. Give us a call to schedule a free water test for pH, iron levels and hardness. If we discover a disbalance, we can help you design a custom Maryland water treatment solution, whether it’s a point-of-use filter, a whole-house water softener or another aeration or filtration method.

How to be a Better Homeowner in 2013

pipe leakThe new year is here, and as we look back at what we did in 2012, it’s a good idea to note what we can do differently in 2013.

At Chesapeake Plumbing, we had an eventful year and helped many homeowners with their plumbing issues. Sometimes, such issues stem from the lack of maintenance or plumbing knowledge, which we are more than happy to share with you today. Follow our tips to have fewer plumbing emergencies in the future and be prepared if one happens.

Know your house

This might seem silly, but not everyone knows their own house well enough, especially if they take minimal part in the house maintenance. Ask yourself these questions:

–      Do you know every piece of equipment in your basement and how it turns on/off?

–      Do you know where your main water shut-off valve is?

–      Do you know how to shut off water to a specific pipe?

–      Do you know how to turn power back on if the breaker pops?

–      Do you know every inch of your house and can immediately notice when something is off?

Even if you normally trust other family members with taking care of these things, what if you are home alone? This year, take the time to learn your house: take notes, draw diagrams or label things to make it easier for you. Think about it: shutting off water as soon as you notice a leak can save you a lot of time and money on cleanup and damage repair.

Give your plumbing some TLC during the busy season

Holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year that tends to put a lot of strain on plumbing, household appliances and you. If your plumbing is already old and you expect it to pull twice the normal workload when guests arrive, be sure to give it a thorough cleaning beforehand.

If you decide that you can’t tolerate the slow drains and creepy noises that fill the house every time you use water, call your local Maryland plumbers. They can partially or completely replace your plumbing system, or come up with another solution. It sounds like a lot of hassle, but maybe it’s about time you get rid of those old rusty pipes?

Solve the problem with backup power

When every other thunderstorm leaves you without power for 10 hours, it significantly disrupts your lifestyle. You know what we mean if you live in an older house. The good news is you don’t have to wait in the darkness until the power comes back on. Take matters in your own hands and install a backup power generator. Choose a portable unit or a stand-by one that will automatically kick in once it detects the power outage.

Remember, once the power is out your sump pump also stops working. If this is a concern, choose a stand-by power generator or install a backup sump pump.  Depending on where you live, you can opt either for a battery-powered option or the one that runs off of water pressure.

Be prepared

Unfortunately, none of us is safe from plumbing misfortunes, but it always helps to be prepared. Have a plumber’s number (here’s ours: 410-437-3888) in your phone or pinned to your fridge or cork-board, so that every panic-stricken family member knows where to call in case you need an urgent drain cleaning in Maryland.

Also, don’t skip on maintenance. Water heaters, sump pumps and even pipes are not meant to last forever. Such factors as your location, lifestyle, water chemistry and many others can positively or negatively affect the lifespan of your plumbing equipment. Don’t wait till it breaks: get things checked out and tuned up every once in a while – Chesapeake Plumbing will gladly help you with that!

Tips from Maryland Plumbers: Choosing a Backup Power Generator

powerlineIf you are like most urban and suburban residents, losing power to your house is a big inconvenience. You can’t charge your phone, can’t watch TV, can’t cook and can’t even shower.

At Chesapeake Plumbing, we recommend people living in the areas prone to power outages install a backup power generator.

There are two key types of backup generators: portable and standby.

Portable generators are typically fueled by gasoline and are not designed to supply electricity to an entire house. They can be used for emergency power to run select outlets, so that you can plug in a few appliances and devices. If your sump pump didn’t come with a battery backup, a portable generator can save your basement from flooding when the power goes out.

Portable generators are great for temporarily supplying power to meet basic needs, but they have quite a few disadvantages:

–     You will have to manually hook up the generator after each power outage.

–     A portable generator will eventually run out of fuel, so you’ll need to either have a backup gasoline or be ready to head out to a gas station in inclement weather.

–     Gasoline is expensive and so is running your portable generator continuously for a long time.

Unlike the portable kind, standby backup generators are permanently installed (typically outside) and wired directly to your home’s electrical system. This way, they can detect a power outage and automatically switch to backup power. Standby generators run on natural gas or propane, and our certified and licensed plumbers in Maryland will be happy to install a gas line to power your generator.

This is how it works: you check with your gas provider to confirm adequate gas service to the home and purchase a generator that fits your energy needs. CPI will then obtain a permit from your county official, match approved underground gas pipes, coordinate inspection and correct the piping. Gas lines can be installed in one day, and then county comes out after installation to inspect. Once everything is approved, you have one less thing to worry about – we mean power outages, of course.

Standby backup generators come in various capacities, so if you wish you could use one to power your entire house. To cut costs, opt out of using backup power to run luxury items, such as AC units.

Still unsure what kind of backup generator to get? Consider purchasing a standby type

–     If you travel a lot. Unfortunately, the weather doesn’t care about our plans. A wicked thunderstorm can happen while you are away, and no one will be there to hook up a portable generator. Besides, coming back from a long trip to spoiled food and uncomfortably hot home is probably not on your wish list.

–      If you work from home. Working from home is a great convenience, but any downtime means reduced paycheck. Whether you telecommute, freelance or run your own online business, you largely depend on power and a steady Internet connection that you simply can’t afford to lose.

–     If you or someone in your family has medical conditions. For some people, electricity is more than just a convenience. When someone’s life, pain-relief or comfort depend on an electricity-powered device (such as an oxygen generator), losing power is not an option.

We hope we’ve made it a little bit easier for you to understand the difference between the types of backup power generators. Call us (410-437-3888) if you need help choosing the right capacity generator for your home or would like us to install a gas line. We’ll be happy to give you advice and walk you through the process.

How to Handle a Plumbing Emergency

An overflowing toilet, a burst pipe or a malfunctioning faucet is a plumbing emergency that requires your immediate attention. What do you do? First of all, don’t panic and follow these steps recommended by the specialists from Chesapeake Plumbing.

Shut off the water. If you can, shut off the water supply to the pipe that’s causing an issue, but if you don’t know your way around your plumbing system, just turn the main water shutoff valve. It’s typically located in the basement or outside your house. It’s a good idea to get familiar with the plumbing before the emergency occurs. Label the pipes and valves so that they can be easily identified.

Contain the damage. Once there’s no more water contributing to the flood, attempt to contain the disaster area. Prevent the water pooling on the floor from spreading any further by piling towels, blankets, scooping it out or directing to the drains.

Remove everything portable out of the water. Water damages most of the materials that absorb water, so it’s important you take all affected items outside as soon as possible. Be especially carefully with electronic devices that got wet: use safety precautions.

Wipe all the items dry and leave them to air out. If linoleum or carpet got damaged, you might have to discard it because excess moisture will cause mold growth in no time.

Call a plumber. If you are not a handy person, call a professional plumber to find and fix the source of the leak. Our plumbers in Ann Arundel County are trained to deal with all kinds of plumbing emergencies.

Remove as much water as possible. While you are waiting for the plumber, get the floor as dry as possible to prevent serious damage. If you have a utility pump use it to suck up the water. If not – keep removing water with the towels. Run ventilation system and fans full-blast to encourage evaporation.

Take preventive measures. If a plumber finds that an old pipe burst due to age, rust and corrosion, it can be a sign of future trouble. It might not be long until other pipes fail in a similar way. Talk to the plumber to find out how serious the problem is and what can be done to prevent it from reoccurring.

Memorize these steps and no plumbing emergency will catch you off guard. And if you panic, call us immediately and our technicians will work you through while you are waiting for the plumber.

Two Main Causes of Leaky Pipes – Maryland Plumbing

leaky pipeHave you ever had to deal with a leaky pipe? At Chesapeake Plumbing, we know that it can be a messy and sometimes tough business. Calling a professional is usually a good idea, although many people prefer DIY repairs. If you DIY, make sure you understand the cause of the leak, because otherwise you are creating a temporary fix.

 

So why do pipes leak?

1. Corrosion is the number one reason of leaky pipes. No metal pipe is 100% protected from corrosion; even the widely used copper pipes don’t last forever. Corrosion can occur on the entire inner surface of the pipe or only in certain areas, such as elbows and tees. There are several factors that affect corrosion:

    • Water chemistry and pH. Low pH can cause protective inner lining of the pipe to dissolve, which speeds up the corrosion. And so does the high oxygen content in the water, because it causes oxidation and degrades the metal.
    • The temperature of the water. As certified and licensed Maryland plumbers, we know from experience that hot water pipes corrode faster. The reason is simple: the hotter the water, the faster the oxidation process.
    • The velocity and pressure of the water in the pipe. Corrosion can occur when pipes are too narrow to support water flow and velocity produced by the circulation pump. Increased water pressure creates turbulence and washes off protective inner layer of the pipes, particularly in the spots where water changes direction.
    • Metals that pipes are made of. When you have pipes made of copper and steel come in contact with each other, the metals react and galvanic corrosion occurs.

2. Bad connections are also often responsible for leaks. A connection could have been improperly secured to begin with or could become loose over time due to water velocity and vibration. Either way, you are lucky if the connection slowly falls apart and you notice it in time. Otherwise, be prepared to call your local plumbers in AA county, Maryland, because a connection that suddenly bursts open requires immediate attention.

No matter what is the cause of your leaky pipe, it needs to be fixed! Most of the DIY methods, such as applying external solder or wrapping up the leaking part in rubber and securing with clamps, will provide a temporary solution. The problem might reoccur and the next time the damage can be more serious.

Even if you think you fixed your leaky pipe, it’s important to consult with a plumber and get a professional opinion. We know how to inspect the pipes, and we might discover that a replacement of portions or entire piping system is necessary. We can also advise you how to balance your water’s pH and mineral content to prolong the life of your pipes.

Different Types of Water Heaters – Maryland Water Heater Services

faucetMany of us are used to having hot water at our disposal and don’t really consider it a luxury. We don’t have to rely on anyone for the hot water supply: we conjure it ourselves with the help of water heaters! And with heating technologies constantly evolving, we now have quite a selection of water heating methods to choose from.

At Chesapeake Plumbing, we know from extensive experience that the most common variety of water heaters is the storage tank water heater. It heats cold water and stores it in a big tank to have it ready whenever you turn on the faucet. It is extremely popular and has many benefits:

–          This technology has been around for years and has proven effective in keeping up with household’s hot water demand.

–          Tank water heaters are much cheaper than their tankless counterparts. This includes low replacement and installation costs.

–          When your water heater’s capacity matches your household size and hot water needs, you shouldn’t experience any problems with hot water supply.

If you have a smaller family and/or travel frequently, consider that:

–          The general concept of applying energy to heat the water when it’s not being used is not the most eco-friendly way. However, many modern tank water heaters now qualify for Energy Star certification, which makes them more energy efficient.

–          There is a risk of stand-by heat loss, which leads to higher energy use.

–          When you use up all hot water from the tank, it gets filled with cold water that might take some time (up to 20 min.) to warm up to a desired temperature.

The second type of water heaters is a tankless water heater, also called “instant” or “on-demand” water heater. Just like its name suggests, it heats water only when you need it thus eliminating stand-by heat loss and associated high energy use. However, don’t be misled by the word “instant:” you will still have to wait till hot water travels through the piping into your faucet. Tankless water heaters are more energy efficient, however, as with all heaters, they do have their limitations. On average, tankless water heater runs 5 gallons of water per minute (5 GPM), while most homes have a demand of 6 to 12 GPM.  Therefore, some installations may require additional modifications.

Finally, there is a combination of the two water heater types called a low-mass water heater. It is basically a tankless heater attached to an external storage tank, which gives you the best of both worlds. This technology allows oversized houses or homes with multifunctional shower faucets to produce enough hot water to supply the home’s plumbing fixtures and still take advantage of the energy cost savings of the tankless heater meeting the majority of the home’s heating needs.

Your choice of water heater will largely depend on your household size and water use habits. If you do a lot of laundry, prefer longer showers and nice water pressure, then storage tank water heater is the way to go. If you are concerned about environment and energy use, you can opt in for a tankless heater.

We have performed hundreds of Maryland water heater installations, and will be happy to help you choose the system that meets your needs and fits your budget.