Monday, February 9, 2015

Drain Repair in Charlotte NC - Pathmaker Plumbing - 704-733-7507

Complete drain repair services in Charlotte, NC by Pathmaker Plumbing. Sagging in the drain pipe caused water to settle and prevented a natural flow. Learn more about drain repair and plumbing services at Pathmaker Plumbing or call 704-733-7507.

At Pathmaker Plumbing we provide complete residential plumbing services including repair of sinks, faucets, showers, toilets, water heater repair, drain repair, leak detection and more. Serving Charlotte, Harrisburg, Concord, Huntersville, Matthews, Ballantyne, Pineville, Waxhaw, Indian Trail, Mint Hill, Weddington, NC and more.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Residential Water Heaters – Making The Right Choices

Are you installing new water heaters or replacing the faulty water heaters in your home? Today there are multiple options for the homeowners when it comes to residential water heaters. Before you select your water heaters, you need to know your options, their advantages and disadvantages. Three main factors have to be taken into account when it comes to the selection of the right type of water heater for your home.
  1. Initial cost of the water heater
  2. Recurring costs / Energy or electricity bills
  3. Maintenance
You will have to assess each type of water heater carefully and select the most cost effective water heater. When you are making your decision, it is important that you do not decide just based on the initial cost. Two most common and popular types of water heaters include tankless water heater and hybrid heat pump water heaters.
What are the factors that one needs to take into account while deciding between tankless water heater and hybrid heat pump water heaters? The key factor to be taken into account here is your water consumption. Discuss your requirements with your local plumbing company and get their suggestions on selecting the most energy efficient option. When compared to the regular storage type water heaters, tankless water heaters can save you up to 30% on your energy bills. Hybrid heat pump water heaters can save as high as 60% of your energy bills.
Looking at the initial costs, storage type water heaters are less expensive when compared to tankless water heaters. Hybrid heat pump water heaters are pricier when compared to tankless water heaters. However, going for energy efficient options will pay up for the water heaters over the years through the cumulative energy savings that you enjoy month after month. However, you should not lose sight of another important factor that is the maximum life expectancy of each type of water heater. For example, tankless water heaters are said to last for ten to fifteen years. The question is will the energy savings compensate for the additional expenses that you are likely to incur while buying your tankless water heater. This is where your regular water consumption rate will play an important role. It is always best to get professional help while deciding what type of water heaters to choose for your home. Your plumbing company will also be able to give their input on the general maintenance challenges that very likely with each type of water heater.
You will find different types of even within the tankless options such as gas-fired and electrical water heaters. When you set out to explore different models of water heaters you are likely to be confused. The bottom line however is that you should choose the most energy efficient water heater with low maintenance hassles.
Try to obtain quotes for different types of water heaters for your residential requirements. When you are comparing the quotes make sure that the quote also includes the installation charges for each type of water heater.
Learn more about water heater repair and replacement in Charlotte, NC at Pathmaker Plumbing.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Not All Plumbers Are Created Equal

We spend countless hours in our lives planning family vacations, the birth of our children, parties, shopping lists, you name it! We usually know down to the smallest side dish what is going to be on our table for Christmas dinner.
How much time have you spent planning what you're going to do when your sewer backs up? When the water heater leaks?  When your boiler heat goes out?  

The definition of an emergency is: A serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.  By definition, it is difficult to plan for an emergency.
The first thing to cross my mind when I have an emergency repair at my home is generally: "How much is this going to cost me?"  I can't be alone here. 

I think what happens when we combine a lack of forethought with an emergency situation is that we throw out everything that is hard-wired into us as planners and we resort to the important, but often risky, response of: "I have to find the cheapest way possible to fix this right now!"

When you're dealing with a plumbing emergency, you can't afford a cheap fix.  A cheap fix today often results in an expensive repair tomorrow.  Most people can't afford to go with the cheapest plumber.  

So, if not price, what should you look for in a plumber to take care of your emergency?  Here's a few rules of thumb to help determine your best option:
  • Pay attention to who you talk with when you call to schedule a plumber to come to your home.  Are you talking with an answering machine or does the person on the other end of the line care about you and genuinely want to help fix your problem?  You can tell a lot about a company by how they answer the phone.  
  • Be wary of over-the-phone pricing.  I learned this one the hard way. The price you get over the phone is generally a base price and it can increase significantly once someone gets to your house and really sees what's giong on. Plumbing problems simply cannot be diagnosed over the phone - especially if you aren't talking with an actual plumber when you call.
  • Try to find a plumber with 24 hour emergency service.  If the problem arises again, it is good to know that you will be able to get someone out to look at it again.  No one wants to wait the weekend without hot water or heat.
  • Check online reviews.  You're probably not the first person in town to need a plumber. Rely on Angie's List and other websites that have a bank of real reviews written by people in your community. 
  • Ask if the technician coming to your home is drug-tested and background-checked.  Your home and your family are your priority. A company that invests significant dollars making sure that employees are trustworthy and safe in your home tells you that your home and family are a priority to them, too.  
I wouldn't wait until the last minute to pick a vacation destination and then say: I don't care where it is or what it looks like, as long as it is the cheapest.  I'm pretty sure I would never buy a car sight-unseen by getting a price over the phone. And no one would call the detention center to find a last-minute babysitter.  
There are honest, reputable, trained, trustworthy plumbing companies out there.  Are they the cheapest?  Probably not.  Knowing what is important to you before you invite someone into your home is essential, especially in an emergency.  If you know what you want in a plumber before you pick up the phone, you don't have to worry about being bound by the cheapest option.  
"Where quality is the thing sought after, the thing of supreme quality is cheap, whatever the price one has to pay for it." 
William James, American Philosopher (1842-1910)

Learn more about plumbing services at Pathmaker Plumbing.

Commonly Used Plumbing Products

PictureApplying thread paste (pipe dope)
There are many different products available for use in the plumbing trade.  These products can range from harmful, to questionable to necessary.  There is also a lot of confusion about which product to use, when to use it, and where to use it.

Below is a list of the most common products, with a short explanation of each one.

1. Thread paste.  Also called "pipe dope", thread paste is probably the most used product on a plumber's truck.  The main function of pipe dope is to seal threaded connections by filling in the tiny voids.  Applying the paste will also act as a lubricant and help to tighten the connection a little better.  There are many different kinds of thread paste on the market, and some contain different chemicals.  You should always be sure that the paste you are using is ok for the material you are using it on.  Some pastes should not be used on plastic threads.  There are a few other situations that plumbers like to apply the paste, such as on the mating surfaces of certain kinds of unions, inside compression fittings, inside flared connections, or on the bottom of certain types of gaskets.

2. PTFE Tape.  PTFE (polytetraflouroethylene) tape, or thread tape, is commonly (and mistakenly) called Teflon tape.  Since Teflon is a trademarked brand of the DuPont corporation, this product should not be called "Teflon tape."  On threaded connections, PTFE tape can be used in place of, or along with pipe dope.  I don't really have a preference either way.  If it is a connection that I most definitely do not want to have to fix, I will usually use both.  There are also certain devices that will call for tape specifically because it can be harmful if paste is introduced into them when the water is turned on.  It is important to not "overwrap" the threads with the tape, as this could possibly result in putting too much stress on the female fitting and crack it.

3. Plumber's putty.  This is probably the most widely misused plumbing item there is.  There are many times that I come across putty being used in place of paste or tape, and that is always a sure fire leak.  Putty should only be used on the underside of something that will be tightened or compressed down, such as the underside of sink drains, shower drains, and bathtub drains.  Some plumbers will use it underneath stainless steel sinks to seal them to the countertop as well. In the old days, it was used to seal toilets to the toilet flange at times.

4. Latex caulk and silicone caulk.  Caulks and silicones should never be used to seal any piping.  They should only be used to seal fixtures down, or seal around areas that should not allow water in.  Examples includes, caulking down sinks, tub spouts, outside penetrations, maybe even faucets.  Some plumbers like to use silicone on the underside of sink, shower and bathtub drains in lieu of plumber's putty.  I do not recommend this for two reasons: 1. It is very messy, and 2. If you ever have to remove it, good luck.

5. Plumbers grease.  Any time you take a faucet apart, grease up everything!  This includes O-rings, threads and any moving parts.

6. Flux.  Flux is what you put on copper or brass pipe to prepare it to be soldered.  It cleans the pipe and allows the solder to "flow" into the fitting.

7. Draino.  Don't use it, ever.

Learn more about plumbing services at Pathmaker Plumbing.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How Residential Water Is Made Clean and Healthy

We drink it; cook with it; bathe in it; wash our clothes in it, and brush our teeth with it every day, without giving too much thought to the processes that water goes through to reach our homes in a form pure enough for human consumption.

Most local water is treated commercially by a water treatment facility. Water purification is the removal of contaminants from untreated water to produce clean consumable water for homes, hospitals, and chemical or manufacturing plants. Water may be treated differently in different locations depending on the quality of the water that enters the treatment plant. For example, groundwater typically requires less treatment than water from lakes, rivers, and streams.

Drinking water quality standards are set by governments or by international standards which set minimum and maximum concentrations of contaminants for each intended use. World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines are generally followed throughout the world for drinking water quality requirements. In addition, each country, state, or region can have their own guidelines, based on location, in order for consumers to have access to safe drinking water.

Learn more about water filtration and plumbing for your home at Pathmaker Plumbing.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holiday Plumbing Tips

The holidays are upon us! With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner kitchens in Charlotte are abuzz with activity, and for us plumbers, that means just one thing; drain clogs.

Often, homeowners rely on a caustic (acidic) drain opener to get them flowing again. These materials can be very hazardous to your health and the health of your loved ones (just read the warning labels). They can also take a toll on your pipes. When a caustic drain opener goes into a pipe and hits organic material (squishy drain gunk) it begins a chemical reaction that produces excess heat and pressure inside the pipe. Not good for plastic piping! If you have an older home with steel or cast iron drains, this acid can (and does) eat through the metal over time until eventually the bottom of the pipe is gone. The acid of chemical drain openers can also eat away at the finish of your sink connections taking the chrome, brass or oil rubbed bronze finish off and leave the metal with a flat looking, dull finish (not to mention without its protective coating).

So what is a homeowner to do?

Well, if your clog is just below the surface of the drain opening such as in the bathroom lavatory or tub drain you can try to clean it with a simple plastic device like this one . 

These little devices are cheap, safe and if the clog is near the surface, effective.

Another good method is to keep your drains treated with a good enzymatic drain cleaner. These won't open clogged drains, but rather if applied regularly when the drain is open, will eat away at the sludge before it builds up and develops a clog. Bio Clean is a good product and many reputable plumbers carry and sell it.

If you do come across a clogged drain this holiday season it really is best to let the pros handle it. A licensed plumber should have all the tools necessary to open a clogged drain in your home without using any materials which are caustic and dangerous to your family and your piping. A rotary cable machine is the tool of choice for most plumbers because it is safe, effective and, unlike chemical drain cleaners which can only poke a small hole through the gunk it gets the pipe clean all the way around the inner circumference of the pipe, so the drain stays open longer.

Jetting is also a good option that a licensed plumber can offer. This tool uses pressured water to safely blast away the gunk on the inside of a pipe; especially handy for greasy drains!

Also, a good plumber will inspect your piping in the crawl space or basement and under the sink to see that they are plumbed with the appropriate amount of downward pitch. A wide open pipe won’t drain well if it is running uphill.

Often times as an older home settles the walls and foundation shift causing the pipes to level off or even start running uphill. Unfortunately, it is not unheard of to see homes built like this from day one either. A shoddy plumbing subcontractor can (and often does) bring a lot of trouble to a home even years after he finished plumbing it.

If you need us, Pathmaker Plumbing can help get your drains open this holiday season. Whether you would like for us to come out and do a preventative cleaning or you're already in full holiday swing, you can trust us to get you flowing again.
Learn more about plumbing and plumbing tip at Pathmaker Plumbing in Charlotte, NC.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Why Don’t Water Heaters Last as Long as They Used to?

A cursory search of Google will tell you that the average lifespan of a water heater is 8-11 years. While one shouldn't believe everything that’s stated on the internet there is some truth to this statement. But only some.
When I first started my plumbing career in the 90’s I remember removing water heaters that were installed in the 1950 and 60's. Some of those were still heating water the day I removed them. I don’t see water heaters that are still working 30 or 40 years later anymore. Very rarely will I find one that is still kicking after 20 years. But that doesn't have to be the case.
Much to the chagrin of conventional wisdom water heater manufacturers haven't cheapened the quality of the units produced these days.They really do still “make ‘em like they used to”.
With the constant threat of lawsuits these days they may even be making them better. But the problem doesn't lie in how modern water heaters are made. The problem lies with how they are installed and maintained, or more appropriately, how they aren't installed and maintained.
There are five layers of protection water heaters have against failure and leakage. The first  two are provided from the manufacturer.
First, is the anode rod. The anode rod is a  long piece of metal which runs almost the full length of the water heater and its job is to disintegrate from the reactive materials and electric current in the water BEFORE your tank does. In most areas and for many water conditions they last about five years before they are completely depleted. If you read the manual that comes with your water heater you will see the manufacturer recommend that the anode be inspected at least annually for deterioration.

Second is the glass lining. Just imagine the inside of your water heater tank being glazed like a piece of pottery. This is a similar process for  protecting the steel of your tank. Once the anode rod deteriorates, this glass lining is the only thing preventing the tank from rusting out. On its  own, this lining doesn't last very long.
The other layers of protection are provided by the installer of the water heater and mandated by most plumbing codes. The primary one is from proper piping connection. Dielectric unions provide a buffer zone between the steel of the water heater tank and the copper piping which connects the tank to the rest of the plumbing system. When steel and copper are connected and water run through them they begin to share electrons at a rapid rate. We refer to this sharing of electronic bonds as corrosion. Dielectric unions/connections are often overlooked or ignored by installers to the detriment of the water heaters longevity.

The fourth layer of protection is also provided by your water heater installer. In many scenarios a water heater is required to have a thermal expansion tank. If  you have a pressure reducing valve, or a back check valve at your meter (most municipalities do) you are required by code to have a thermal expansion tank. This device gives a safe place for the extra volume created by heating water to go. Without this device, every time the water heater turns on to reheat the stored water, it will produce excess pressure/volume which is a stress on the water heater, water piping, and fixtures attached to it (toilets, washing machine hoses, ice maker,  etc.).
The fifth layer of protection is provided by you, the operator of the heater. Again, referring to that handy manual which the manufacturer provided you will find all water heaters should be flushed out and drained to remove build up and sediment at least annually. Some manufacturers recommend this every six months! This not only keeps the water heater at full heating capacity, it also prevents minerals and deposits from attaching to the inside of the tank and solidifying causing future damage.
Unfortunately most of the water heaters I see these days are improperly installed. BIg box stores and do it yourselfers just don't have the know how of a licensed professional. As a result a water heater that should be running for 15 to 20 years is dead and gone in only ten. Just because its heating water and not leaking does NOT ensure a plumbing fixture is installed correctly, especially a water heater. The manufacturer recommendations and the municipal codes are there to not only keep people safe but also to ensure they get the full benefit of a properly installed unit.

Learn more about water heaters and water heater replacement at Pathmaker Plumbing.