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7 Plumbing Mistakes Homeowners Make

As a homeowner, there are many things you can do to maintain your plumbing system and prevent issues like a sewer leak, but it’s easy for homeowners to make mistakes that cause problems with their plumbing systems later on. This blog post will go over some of the most common plumbing mistakes homeowners make and how they can avoid them.

Quick Tips

When you’re dealing with plumbing problems in your home, it’s usually important to act quickly. The longer the problem goes unfixed, the more damage it can cause, and the harder it can become to repair. If you have a burst pipe or a sewer leak, for example, shut off the water immediately before further damage occurs. Then call a plumber as soon as possible. But how do you avoid these types of situations in the first place?

These are a few of the most common plumbing mistakes that homeowners tend to make:

1) Trying to DIY Projects

The reality is that most homeowners don’t understand how their plumbing works beyond turning on a faucet or flushing the toilet. There’s simply no reason for most of us to have a broader understanding of how many things work in our homes, like how electricity functions, or all the intricacies of a gas furnace. That’s what experts are for. After all, who has time to get into the wide ranging technical aspects of total home maintenance? So let yourself off the hook for once, and instead of trying to DIY your plumbing to save a few bucks, go ahead and call a local plumber. Honestly, it will save you time and money in the long run. Not to mention, if you have a messy sewer leak on your hands, trying to DIY a plumbing fix can even be a health hazard.

2) Failing to Fix Leaks Right Away

One of the most common things homeowners tend to put off for later is taking care of things like leaky faucets. Whether you’re wasting water by leaving the faucet dripping around the clock, or have hidden leaks in your pipes, not addressing these issues can result in higher water bills, or even worrisome damage to your property.

One sign of a sewer leak is an unusual green patch in your yard. Such waste water can fertilize the surrounding area, so unusual plant growth is a clue that there may be an underlying issue to blame. It’s essential to note that leaks can disturb your home’s foundation over time, and also lead to mold growth, which poses health hazards as well.

3) Flushing The Wrong Things Down the Toilet

Plumbing systems are more delicate than many homeowners realize, so there are certain things that should never be flushed down your toilets. Be sure that things like trash, paper towels, baby wipes, and sanitary products are always thrown in the trash instead. If you have children in your household, it’s also important to teach them what can and can’t be flushed down the toilets. Otherwise, pipes can become clogged, leading to expensive plumbing repairs, or even emergency plumbing services.

4) Using Chemical Cleaners to Clear Clogs

While this seems like a cheap and simple solution, it’s not. Unfortunately, using chemical cleaners can eat away at your pipes. They also emit toxic fumes that can be dangerous to your eyes as well as your respiratory system. Some chemical cleaners are advertised to be able to clear a drain blockage with just one application, but, in actuality, this is seldom effective. Unfortunately, you’re actually more likely to damage your plumbing with these “quick-fix” products.

5) Placing Grease or Food Down the Sink

One of the most common plumbing mistakes that people make is putting grease or food waste down the sink. This is generally disastrous because it ends up clogging the pipes, even if you have a garbage disposal. It’s important to remember to always dump food waste in the trash or in a special container used for grease, etc. Certain types of food can’t go down your garbage disposal. For example, it’s just not designed to take on heavy-duty substances, like fruit rinds, despite the fact that we’ve all been told to freshen things up with a lemon.

Tip: It’s also very important not to put food waste in your dishwasher because it can get stuck and cause clogs. There isn’t really anywhere for it to go.

6) Not Scheduling Plumbing Maintenance

One of the best ways to save money on plumbing repairs or to prevent major issues, like a sewer leak, is to schedule regular plumbing maintenance for your home. Rather than waiting for there to be an emergency plumbing problem, it pays to take a more proactive approach. Our advice is to have your system looked over at least once a year by a trusted plumbing company.

7) Not Hiring an Experienced Plumbing Company

Before hiring a plumber to come to your home, you really need to do a little research. You don’t want to put yourself in a frustrating position by relying on someone who doesn’t have enough experience to take care of the problem. It’s better to spend some time learning more about a plumbing company before you make up your mind. A reputable plumbing service should have reviews or testimonials on their website or social media pages. It’s also important to ensure that they’re licensed and insured so you aren’t putting yourself at financial risk if they’re somehow injured on the job.

Need Help?

Like any other system in your house, you have to take care of your plumbing to make sure it lasts a long time. If not, you risk dealing with expensive plumbing repairs or even water damage and mold. These mistakes can wreak havoc on your home, and take money and energy to fix! We hope this blog post helps you better understand your home’s plumbing. If you have any questions for us at Palo Alto Plumbing, or would like a free estimate, please give us a call at (650) 856-3400. Our friendly staff is here to help.

7 Signs of a Sewer Backup

Are you worried you might have a sewer backup? From laundry to the kitchen sink, all wastewater drains to the same municipal pipe. This is why it can be so tricky to figure out just where the problem is originating from. The most important thing is identifying the issue early on, before it becomes a mess that ruins your day.

But how do you know that a sewer backup is developing? Palo Alto Plumbing is here to help. Below are the top signs that you have a plumbing emergency.

Top Signs of a Sewer Backup

1) Foul Odors

Bad smells are one of the earliest signs of a sewer problem. Sewer-related odors may smell like mold, sulfur, or even waste. You should note that not all bad smells mean that there’s a problem with your sewer line, but if there’s no clear reason for them, it’s worth having checked out by a professional. If odors persist, there’s a good chance that a sewer backup is imminent.

A properly functioning sewer line shouldn’t smell bad. It’s designed to carry waste and associated smells away from your home. This is a sign that a blockage might be forming. Contact a reputable plumber who can get to the bottom of the issue.

2) Your Drains are Slow

How are your drains behaving? Is the wastewater flowing away at the rate it should? Slow drains in your home are another indicator that there’s already a sewer backup, or one pending. This is caused by a buildup of materials, debris, and other waste in your sewer line. Similarly, tree roots are notorious for breaking pipes in search of water. This eventually causes your sewer to back up. Many homeowners turn to chemical drain cleaners when this occurs, but that’s the wrong choice. In fact, these harsh chemicals can cause more damage to your pipes and are generally ineffective. They can also seep into the area surrounding the broken pipe and cause hazardous effects.

It’s always best to call a professional plumber when you notice sluggish drains and suspect a sewer backup.

3) Clogged or Overflowing Toilets

Trouble with a clogged or overflowing toilet is inconvenient but usually fairly easy to resolve, so don’t panic. But if the toilet starts to consistently backup without an apparent cause, it should concern you. A toilet that regularly gives you grief can be a sign you have a sewer backup that needs to be fixed by a plumber.

This situation is unsanitary, messy, and a real hassle to clean up. If you notice recurrent clogs and backups in your toilet, enlist the services of a professional as soon as possible. An expert plumber will be able to inspect and help determine the main cause of the issue and put a stop to it.

4) Unexplained Lush Spots in Your Yard

Have you recently noticed plants growing in your yard that weren’t there before? Are they healthier, greener, and growing noticeably faster than the rest of your yard? If such changes appear along your sewer pipes, it should be cause to worry because it’s possible that you might have a broken sewer line. The lushness could be a result of a water leak. The fractured sewer pipe may eventually allow debris and other forms of dirt in as the cracks widen.

If you notice a situation like this, it’s a sign that a problem with your sewer line might be in the works, so give a plumber a call for your peace of mind, and to avoid ending up with waste overflowing into your house.

5) Bubbling and Gurgling Noises

Another sign to look out for is strange noises coming from your tub, faucets, or toilets. These can be due to a blockage or a breakage in your sewer line. Usually, strange noises, like bubbling and gurgling, appear when you flush the toilet, pour something down the drain, or even turn on the water.

This happens because the water can’t flow where it should, and the air is getting in where it should not. Don’t ignore these sounds just because they aren’t bothersome to you. They may be a sign of an underlying problem. Prompt action can help you avoid a bigger problem that would cost more money to fix.

6) Marshy Patches

Have you noticed the emergence of pools of fetid waters on your property? This is a strong indication that your sewer line has cracks in it and is seeping water. These Puddles show where the sewer is leaching underneath your yard. This is a real problem, so don’t put off calling an expert.

Have you noticed the emergence of pools of fetid waters on your property? This is a strong indication that your sewer line has cracks in it and is seeping water. These puddles show where wastewater is collecting underneath your yard. When leaks appear beneath yard fixtures, like sidewalks, patios, decks, and driveways, it can cause sinking and structural damage that’s expensive to fix.

7) One Plumbing Fixture Acts Up When You Use Another

Is your toilet filling with water when you turn on your faucet? Or is water backing up in your sink drains when you start your washing machine? These kinds of bizarre occurrences are an indication that you have a clogged sewer line. This is usually a result of blockages in the pipes, and can be caused by a number of things. Enlisting the services of a plumber can help prevent the spread of germs that the sewer backup can cause.

Contact Us

Wastewater can be infested with harmful toxins, bacteria and pathogens that cause illness. As a homeowner, it’s important to be proactive for both the sake of your health and your wallet. If you notice any of the above signs, seek experienced plumbing services as soon as possible. An expert can assess, diagnose and repair your sewer backup using professional tools for the job.

If you’re having issues with your plumbing, we can help. Call us at 650-405-3052 or fill out a quick contact form by clicking here.

At Palo Alto Plumbing, we pride ourselves on providing excellent plumbing services. Our two decades of experience serving clients in Palo Alto and the surrounding communities make us the preferred local choice. We can handle all of your emergency or run-of-the-mill plumbing problems. Give us a call today and let us take the problem off of your hands.

When to Call an Emergency Plumber

Are you wondering if you need a plumber right away or if the problem can wait a little while longer? This is a common question for homeowners to have. After all, what if something seems like a minor issue, but it turns into a real mess that’s twice as expensive to fix? Not to worry—these are some times when you can be sure it’s critical to call a plumbing expert without delay.

A Burst Pipe

If a pipe has burst in your home, stop reading and contact an emergency plumber immediately. Depending on the situation, it doesn’t take very long for gallons and gallons of water to flood your home. Water can cause damage to furniture, flooring, cabinets, and even your home’s insulation and wood framing. If you know how to shut the water off, do that first. Otherwise, give us a call at Palo Alto Plumbing, and move your valuables and electronics to a safe area.

Sewage Backup

It goes without saying that sewage is a health hazard. If you have a backup, talk to an emergency plumber right away. A backup in the sewer line can be caused by things like invasive tree roots, a break in the pipe, or some kind of blockage. A sewage backup is inconvenient but it can also be dangerous. Raw sewage emits fumes and can spread pathogens.

Overflowing Toilet

An overflowing toilet can also be an emergency. If you can’t easily resolve  the issue on your own, talk to a plumber as soon as possible. The water is contaminated with bacteria, making it a health risk. If you aren’t sure of the underlying reason for the problem, a plumbing expert can help you sort it out.

You’re Without Water

plumber

If you suddenly find yourself without running water, this is cause for concern. It impacts your ability to cook, clean, or even use the bathroom. These days, most of us don’t rely on the tap for drinking water, but a lack of running water is still an emergency plumbing problem. Talk to an expert about resolving the issue.

Flood Risks

A variety of plumbing problems can pose a flood risk. Call a professional right away to prevent the need for costly repair work to your home. Water damage can also lead to other issues. For example, mold growth. This can become a real issue in and of itself because mold can be a major health hazard. A burst pipe or a failed sump pump can lead to flooding, as well as a water valve that fails to shut off.

Clogged Drains

Only a plumber will be able to tell you if there’s a hidden reason for your clogged drain. If a drain keeps getting clogged, you likely have a bigger problem on your hands than you realize. This is especially true if there’s something stopping up more than one drain in your home. Don’t risk rising water. Give a pro a call to make sure you don’t have a sewer problem.

Water Heater Failure

Another common plumbing emergency is when your water heater gives up the ghost. Discolored water is one clue, but the most obvious sign your water heater has failed is a freezing cold shower in the morning. Another thing you might notice is that your water has taken on a strange smell. Be sure to call a local plumbing service to take a look at your water heater. You don’t want to put this off because a faulty water heater can actually have hidden leaks. The last thing you want to do is spend hours mopping up all the water from its tank.

Leaky Faucets

You might not think about it, but old hardware can cause leaks too. Even if that isn’t the case, a dripping sink, shower, or toilet can really add to your monthly water bill costs, especially in the long run. Standing water is also an unpleasant mess to clean up. It often smells bad and can cause both mold and rust. Additionally, pests are drawn to water too.

DIY Plumbing Mishaps

DIY plumbing can also lead to some costly mistakes. Some of them require emergency plumbing services. Here’s a list of the most common DIY plumbing mishaps…

Forgetting to Turn Off the Water

One of the most common mistakes we see when it comes to home plumbing projects is that people often forget to turn off the water before they start taking things apart. Forgetting to turn off the water will most likely lead to water spraying from the loosened connection. What’s worse is that  you probably won’t be able to stop the flooding by putting things back together until you turn the water off at the source. If you don’t know how to shut the water off, it’s hard to think clearly when you’re in a panic and water is pouring into your home.

Too Much Drain Cleaner

Chemical drain cleaners can actually do more harm than good, especially if you use them on a regular basis to deal with clogged drains. For one thing, they’re hard on your pipes. Their toxic fumes can also be a hazard to your health.

Incorrect Toilet Placement

An incorrect toilet placement is another issue we regularly see. While this might seem like a simple project you can handle on your own, it still requires specialized knowledge. Often, the new toilet doesn’t quite fit right, or the replacement bowl is the wrong shape. This can come down to incorrect measurements. For example, older homes have a different standard than more modern designs, so this is something to be aware of.

Talk to an Emergency Plumber

Here at Palo Alto Plumbing, our licensed plumbers can solve anything from a drippy faucet to a cracked sewer pipe. Our detail-oriented and knowledgeable plumbers can ensure your household’s health and safety by providing quality services. Contact us at 650-405-1460 or fill out a contact form on our website to chat with one of our representatives about all of your plumbing needs!

Methods to Detect Water Leaks

 

 

 

It’s important to take immediate action if you notice water leaks in your home. Aside from reducing your water bill expenses, this will also prevent further damage to your plumbing system. But the thing is, it can be tricky to detect water leaks. Not all homes have the same plumbing systems, either. So, if you’re just as confused about plumbing as most homeowners, here are some signs of water leaks and how to detect them on your own.

Common Causes of Water Leaks

Water leaks sometimes occur due to a variety of reasons, which can include the following:

  • Pipes wear down over time
  • Overgrown tree roots can break underground water pipes
  • Animals burrowing or digging into pipes
  • Weather fluctuations
  • Malfunctioning of pipelines
  • Bursting of water pipes

Methods to Detect Water Leaks

Tracking Your Water Bills

It’s a good idea to pay attention to your monthly water bills. This is because unexpected changes can help you determine if your home might have a water leak. For instance, you might notice that your water bill has gone up, but there haven’t been any changes to how much water your household uses. In this case, it means that your home probably has hidden water leak issues.

With the multiple water pipes installed underneath your system, it becomes challenging to detect exactly where the leaks are. So, you should look for a professional plumber to inspect your pipes, and make the necessary repairs. It’s important to take care of these issues before the leak gets worse.

Checking the Water Meter

One of the simplest ways to detect water leaks in your home is by checking the water meter. In most cases, plumbers place water meters in different locations, like in the basement, under your kitchen sink, or in concrete boxes outdoors. After you locate your water meter, ensure you turn off the water in your entire home. This includes all of your appliances. Definitely don’t leave the washing machine or dishwasher running while you do this test. Once everything is turned off, look at the water meter to find out whether there’s any movement. If you notice some, then there’s probably a leak in one of your water pipes.

On the other hand, if you don’t notice any changes, it’s advisable to wait for at least one hour and check again. There could be a slow water leak in the pipes if you can spot some minimal movement. Knowing the actual location of the leak is tough, though. Odds are you won’t be able to find it on your own, so contact a plumber right away.

Stethoscope Test

One of the easiest ways to detect water leaks is through vibrations coming from running water. When performing the test, it’s advisable to ensure that all pipe fittings are tightly closed.

The next step is to get a metal screwdriver and place the tip on the pipe, with the other side next to your ear. You’ll feel some vibrations if any water is flowing through. This can indicate that there may be a water leak in your pipe. You should call a plumber immediately to examine the actual location of the leak, and make the necessary repair or replacement.

Check for Clues

If your home is slightly older, then the chances of having water leaks in the pipes are much higher. Start checking the condition of your bathroom. Make sure to monitor if there are leaky faucets, drains, or showerheads.

In the long run, watching out for these things can help you save money on expensive repairs or replacements. You can also use this method to check if your kitchen pipes are leaking. If you suspect that there are possible water leaks, don’t hesitate to contact a professional to inspect your water pipes, and fix the problem immediately.

Related Content: Plumbing Basics Every Homeowner Should Know

Examine Your Toilet

Since toilets use approximately a third of the water in most homes, it’s essential to examine if the water is running properly. A leaky toilet wastes a lot of water, leading to a costly water bill. To check for water leaks in your toilet, you need to add some food coloring droplets or dye tabs. Next, leave the toilet without flushing for a few minutes. If the color begins to slowly disappear, there’s probably a leak. In this case, you need professional help to stop this situation from getting worse.

Check Your Outdoor Water Systems

Walk around your home to see if your garden accessories are properly working. Take a closer look at the functionality of your taps, hoses, irrigation systems, and fountains. If you notice that your hoses have holes that allow water to leak into unwanted areas, ensure these holes are sealed properly. If you see any part of your outdoor that’s wet, take a step further to identify the cause, or call a professional to fix the problem.

Leak Detectors

Leak detectors can easily help in identifying water leaks in pipes and fixtures. These handy devices are installed to alert you of leaks. They send a message through their alarm system. In most cases, this helps detect water leaks early enough to prevent major water damage to your home.

Growth of Mold

The major cause of mold growth in homes is usually water damage. If you come across mold in your bathroom, kitchen, or basement, there’s a higher chance that there may be a water leak.

Wall Discoloration

You may also notice some abnormal stains on your walls, and even ceilings. The stains are mostly brown or yellow. This is a sign that your water pipes may have leaks that are soaking your walls or ceilings.

Key Takeaway

These are some of the most effective ways to detect water leaks in your home before calling a professional. But if you’ve confirmed that you have a leaky pipe concern, don’t hesitate to call Palo Alto Plumbing. Water damage is costly and can be tough to repair. Don’t risk it. Our skilled and reliable plumbers can fix your plumbing leaks in no time.

Water Heater Sediment Buildup: What You Need to Know

Sediment buildup in water heaters is an issue that occurs when the minerals that are naturally present in your water source accumulate in your water heater. If left unattended, not only can this cause overheating and reduce the lifespan of your water heater, but the impurities can also leach into your water supply. If you happen to use this water for cooking, you may even accidentally ingest the impurities. So how can one tell if their water heater is suffering from sediment buildup?

In this article, plumbing heating and air expert Palo Alto reveals the signs that indicate your water heater is suffering from sediment buildup and what you can do about it.

How Palo Alto Maintains Exceptional Customer Service

We at Palo Alto hold good customer service in the same regard as the products that we offer and our technical capabilities. In this blog, your local HVAC and plumbing contractor shares insight on how we maintain professionalism and quality customer service during service calls.

Sewer Backup

We Respect Our Customers’ Time

Time is a truly valuable resource, and we at Palo Alto understand how it can make or break business relationships, which is why we make it a point to be on time for our appointments, commit to our promised deadlines and ensure completion of our work as scheduled.  Our experience in performing HVAC and plumbing services lets us estimate completion times with accuracy.

We Set Customer Expectations

In the event of unavoidable delays—usually due to weather or supplier-related issues—we make sure our customers are aware of them. We also provide the most accurate quotes possible, while setting their expectations regarding things such as unexpected repairs, which are usually due to hidden problems that don’t get discovered until plumbing or HVAC installation is already underway. Setting expectations also includes explaining the scope of the work to our customers. While the nature of the work involves a lot of technical terms, we take the time to explain as best we can what we’ll do to our customers’ HVAC or plumbing system, why we’re doing it and what the benefits will be once we’re done. Sometimes HVAC and plumbing work can disrupt daily routines; knowing the scope of work can help our customers minimize such disruptions.

We Follow Up With Our Customers

Once the job is completed, we follow up with an email or phone call to make sure our customers are 100% satisfied. We understand that not all homeowners are familiar with the intricacies of a new HVAC system, so we make it a point to answer follow-up questions, as well as offer care and maintenance tips.

We Keep a Professional Look

Service appointments are informal meetings, but you probably don’t want a shabbily-dressed HVAC technician or plumber showing up for your appointment. Each one of our team members dress for the occasion, with clothing that bears our logo.

Call Palo Alto for Your HVAC and Plumbing Needs

Palo Alto is your leading provider of plumbing and HVAC services. Experience our exceptional customer service by giving us a call at (650) 856-3400 or filling out our contact form. We serve customers in East Palo Alto, CA, and nearby areas.

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