Winterizing Your Plumbing (Inside and Out!)

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As you ready your house for the colder months ahead, don’t forget about your water system. When water freezes, it expands. So if the temperature of your water pipes drops below 32 degrees, even for a short period, you run the risk of a pipe fracture or worse. Take the following precautions now to avoid a major headache (and costly service call!) later.

  1. Inside Your Home – Anywhere cold air blows on a pipe, it creates the potential for freezing. To make sure your pipes are well-insulated, close crawl space vents and stuff insulation over the openings. Even a tiny hole can let a lot of cold air blow in; make sure you fill in all the cracks.
  2. A bathroom or laundry room located above or next to a garage can be particularly vulnerable, so keep the garage door closed to maintain maximum heat.
  3. If your bathroom pipes run along an outside exterior wall, try keeping the vanity door(s) open to allow heat inside. If you’re anticipating a deep freeze, consider using a fan to help circulate the air near the pipes, or purchase a small space heater for some extra temporary heat.
  4. Never turn off the heat when you leave home during the winter. Instead, set the temperature to at least 55 degrees F (higher if you’ve had problems in the past or live in an area of extreme cold). If you have multiple heat zones, be sure to adjust all thermostats appropriately.
  5. Outside Your Home – Disconnect and store garden hoses. If your home has a separate shut-off for external faucets, turn it off and drain the water from those faucets.
  6. Turn off and drain sprinkler systems. You may want to call in the professionals at Hunter Plumbing & Heating to blow out any leftover water in the underground lines. A broken sprinkler pipe can do damage to the delicate components that make up the entire system, increasing the cost of repair.
  7. Know where your main waterline shut-off is before problems arise. Depending on the age of your house, it can be inside a garage, basement or laundry room, or underground in your yard. After turning the water off, turn on faucets to allow the water to drain and release the pressure in your pipes.

How do you know if you have frozen pipes?

  1. If you turn on the faucet but nothing comes out, your pipes may be frozen. Look in the most likely places and use the techniques listed above to gently thaw the area. Whatever you do, do not use a blowtorch to warm up a frozen pipe! Many homes have been set on fire this way!
  2. If the water is turned off but you hear rushing water running anyway, your pipes may be frozen. This could be a sign that you have a leak somewhere. You should turn off the water lines immediately and investigate.

If you are still unsure if your pipes are frozen, call in the experts at Hunter Plumbing & Heating, we thaw out frozen waterlines & can also replace split or broken pipes to prevent them from leaking. We can also help you take necessary precautions to prevent your waterlines and drain lines from freezing this winter. Call us today to prevent bigger problems tomorrow!

Spring Cleaning Checklist

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Winters can be tough on your plumbing, with freezing temperatures putting a strain on your pipes and pressure on your tank, it’s no wonder homeowner’s experience unfortunate drips and leaks that didn’t exist last fall. Let Hunter Plumbing, Heating & Excavating Inc. help you with your spring cleaning checklist to ensure your plumbing, heating, water well, septic system and drains are in good working order! Here are 10 things to check over this spring:

  1. Check over your drains – Spring is here and so is the rain and wet weather. You need to make sure the drains in your home are clog free and ready to take on anything. If you have any unused or infrequently used floor drains in your basement, fill the trap by pouring in a gallon of water. You can also do this to test your sump pump by pouring a few buckets of water in your sump pump pit. The sump pump should immediately switch on and pump out the water before turning off again. If it doesn’t do this, it is best to get your sump pump checked over by the professionals at Hunter Plumbing and Heating before it’s too late and your basement floods.
  2. Check over your exterior plumbing – Your exterior plumbing can and will have a negative impact on your home if it is not in good working order. It is not uncommon for leaks and flooding to occur. Start by cleaning out all the gutters and eaves and ensure the downspouts are directed away from your house at the right degree. Check visible pipes and faucets for leaks or erosion. Also check your roof vents to ensure the mesh surroundings are clear of leaves, ice, sticks and possibly even a bird’s nest.
  3. Check over your water heater – You will want to check for leaks before anything else. Look around the bottom of the tank for water and around the fittings at the top of the water heater. Depending on if it is a big leak or a slow leak, there may be just a few drops of water or a big pool of water. If left unchecked, these leaks can become worse, more costly problems in the future. Also, look for the flush valve on your water heater and pump out a few gallons. This will drain out sediment and allow you to look for corrosion in the tank. Doing this once a year can actually make your water heater a more effective system and protect the life span of your water heater. Not comfortable checking this out yourself? Call in the experts at Hunter Plumbing and Heating! We provide service, maintenance and repair services on plumbing and water heaters!
  4. Check your toilets – While running toilets are easy to spot and hear, you may not know how to look for a leak. Try putting a few drops of food colouring into the tank of the toilet. If the colour appears in the toilet in less than an hour, it is time to get that toilet fixed. If you also notice water around the base of the toilet or water dripping from the supply, it is time to call in Hunter Plumbing and Heating to fix and/or replace your toilet to prevent further mold and water damage.
  5. Check your faucets for drips or leaks – Look over your kitchen and bathroom taps for water leaking around the base or water dripping from the drains under the sink. Ensure that all drains are in good working order and drain properly. If they are slow, check the drains for clogged food debris and hair. Clean mineral deposits from your shower heads, toilets, bathtub tap and faucets using vinegar or CLR. If you find you cannot unclog your drains yourself, or fix the leak at your faucet, call in the experts at Hunter Plumbing and Heating before the problem worsens and becomes more expensive!
  6. Check your septic system – Septic system cleaning is important for many reasons. The primary reason cleaning your septic system is important is to ensure that your septic system lasts as long as possible in good condition. It is recommended that your septic tank should be pumped out every 2-5 years, depending on the number of people living in your household. After the tank is pumped, call in the experts at Hunter Plumbing and Heating to inspect your system for potential problems that may arise, so you can get them fixed.
  7. Inspect your air conditioner – Your furnace has worked hard all winter and now is a good time to change your air filter if you haven’t already done so to get things ready for spring. Check over your air conditioner to ensure it is clean and there is no debris, such as leaves, in and around the unit. Hunter Plumbing, Heating & Excavating Inc. offers yearly air conditioner inspections, if you are unsure or notice a potential issue with your unit.
  8. Inspect your well – Snow and ice buildup can cause your well lid to crack, leaving areas for contaminants to enter. Inspect your well lid and casing and re-seal where necessary. Clean debris such as leaves, mulch, soil, etc. around your well and regrade the soil so water runs away from it. If you do notice any issues, or areas where bacteria and other contaminants could enter, call in the experts at Hunter Plumbing & Heating to inspect your well. We will recommend the best solution to protect you and your family.
  9. Install new batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors – Now is a good time to ensure these detectors are functioning in case there is an emergency.
  10. Inspect caulking – Be sure to inspect the caulking in your bathroom around sinks, toilets, taps, bathtub and shower surrounds. In your kitchen around sinks, taps and counter tops and around windows and doors. Re-caulk where necessary to prevent water seepage and mold growth.

Spring is a busy time of year both inside and out, but your household plumbing, heating, well and septic system should not be overlooked. Drips, leaks, and floods can become costly and easily ruin your home. If you are too busy, or notice a problem but don’t have the time or know-how to fix it, call Hunter Plumbing, Heating & Excavating Inc. at (519) 458-4488. We are here to help with your spring repairs and projects!

Common Plumbing Mistakes Homeowners (Like You!) Make

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In our 50 years of experience, we’ve seen a variety of plumbing problems from a simple leak to a complete disaster. But did you know that the majority of plumbing problems are caused by you, the homeowner?! Most often extensive plumbing repairs are the result of careless use and poor maintenance techniques. Here are the most common plumbing mistakes homeowners (like you!) make and how you can avoid them:

  1. Ignoring signs of plumbing failure:A homeowner may see and acknowledge the signs of a plumbing problem, but put them off until later, or ignore the issue altogether. When you don’t take immediate action to keep your pipes running effectively, you create conditions in which these issues and minor symptoms can snowball into full-blown plumbing disasters.

    When you notice frequent drain clogging, insufficient water flow and pressure, leaks and irregular water concentrations, act. Too often, major plumbing problems are the result of homeowners letting smaller, minor problems slip by; these indicators will often worsen over time, and require extensive plumbing repairs later on if left untended to.

  2. Poor and irregular plumbing maintenance: You shouldn’t wait for the warning signs of plumbing failure to maintain your pipes; a regular, once a month self-inspection could help prevent a variety of future plumbing problems. The key to plumbing self-inspections is prevention. With a regular inspection schedule, you can stay ahead of any plumbing issues and resolve them proactively, before they develop into disasters.

    Additionally, we recommend having a professional plumbing inspection at least once per year. Trained specialists will have a stronger eye for plumbing issues you may not even be aware of, so having that input could save you money in the long run, should they catch an undetectable warning sign early. The experts at Hunter Plumbing, Heating & Excavating Inc. provides yearly water treatment, pressure system and water heater inspections to help you detect problems. Contact us today to set up your annual visit!

  3. Excessive use of chemicals: Another common plumbing mistake we see all the time is the gratuitous use of chemical cleaning products (Drain-O) to dislodge clogged drains. These products, while an emergency solution for minor clogging and grime buildup, can actually harm your pipes after extensive use, as the chemical reactions that make these products work can eat away at inner pipe walls, and are even dangerous upon contact in some conditions.

    Instead, we recommend less harmful home remedy solutions, such as simple vinegar and baking soda solutions, or even a hot water flush. Simply filling you tub and sinks with hot water approx. once a month and then releasing the drain to let the natural water pressure clean your drain will work great at preventing drain clogs. Chemical cleaners can be counterproductive when run through your plumbing systems; instead, opt for equally effective, much safer alternatives.

  4. Careless drain use behaviors: Many plumbing problems also come from poor treatment of pipes, drains, garbage disposals and sewer systems. Often, homeowners run whatever they want through their plumbing, thinking their pipes and disposal systems can take it; however, this is a grave mistake, and very commonly leads to severe pipe damage and buildup later on.

    Know what can and cannot cycle through your garbage disposal and sewer systems. For instance, avoid running fibrous, stringy foods, plastic wrappers, animal bones and excess fat/grease in your in-sink garbage disposal. These agents can damage your disposal’s blades, and very often cause significant buildups within home pipe systems. Also be careful what you put down your toilet and sinks. Things like baby wipes, household cleaning wipes, kids toys and kleenex should not be flushed down the toilet, but rather disposed of in the garbage.

  5. Attempting DIY repairs, unprepared: Another extremely common (and extremely risky) plumbing mistake we come across occurs when homeowners attempt DIY plumbing repairs without the right tools, techniques or system know-how to effectively resolve their plumbing issues. Frankly, it’s better to seek a specialist’s opinion than to get in over your head with difficult DIY repairs.

    However, if you do attempt DIY repairs to fix issues with your home plumbing, it’s important that you have the right tools on hand and also make sure you know fully what part of your plumbing system is causing a problem, and how best to fix that problem. With something as sensitive as plumbing, you don’t want to go in “blind” and make matters worse. It is not uncommon for Hunter Plumbing to receive emergency service calls from angry wives whose husbands have tried to fix a plumbing issue themselves and, in fact, made it worse.

  6. Not getting help when you need it: The above point, of course, leads us to one of the biggest plumbing mistakes you can make: not getting professional help when it’s necessary. Yes, calling your local plumbing specialist and having an expert inspection and renovation will cost you money… but it will be cheaper than ignoring the problem, or attempting DIY repairs.

    If you find yourself in over your head with pipe damages or failed DIY repairs, contact the professionals at Hunter Plumbing, Heating & Excavating Inc.! Not getting the help you need when you need it, or putting off calling an expert until later, are some of the worst mistakes you can make with issues in your home plumbing. Don’t make these careless plumbing mistakes; take care of your drains and pipes, and call a professional when necessary.

Hunter Plumbing, Heating & Excavating Inc. provides specialized sewer system repairs, waterline & water service upgrades, drain cleaning, backflow installations & certifications, lead pipe replacement, re-piping and emergency plumbing services to Princeton, Woodstock, Brantford, Burford, Paris and surrounding areas. We use the latest technology to effectively troubleshoot and quickly repair any plumbing problem, and provide fast 24/7 emergency service! Contact us today!

Fall Maintenance Checklist

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Fall is a perfect time of the year to start getting your home ready for those winter months ahead. Cold weather can have a big effect on your home’s plumbing and heating system. If not properly prepared, you could face frozen pipes, burst pipes and “no heat” service calls that end up being costly. Luckily, these disasters are easy to prevent. The professionals at Hunter Plumbing & Heating have compiled a fall maintenance checklist to help get your home winter-ready:

  1. Turn off and drain sprinkler systems. You may want to call in the professionals at Hunter Plumbing & Heating to blow out any leftover water in the underground lines. A broken sprinkler pipe can do damage to the delicate components that make up the entire system, increasing the cost of repair.
  2. Check, clean and inspect your humidifier, furnace, water heater, HRV, and fireplaces to ensure each unit is working properly. The professionals at Hunter Plumbing & Heating provides yearly heating system inspection and maintenance service visits. Contact us today to customize a plan to suit your needs!
  3. Change your furnace air filter. This goes hand in hand with your furnace cleaning, but just in case you forget, we recommend changing your furnace filter every 1-3 months to keep the air in your home clean and prevent problems with your furnace.
  4. Consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat. If you are planning on travelling someplace warm during the winter, a programmable thermostat can help keep your home at the correct temperature during the day and night to save on energy costs and keep your home comfortable.
  5. Change batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. You never know when you might need them, so make sure they are all in good working order!
  6. Clear gutters and inspect your sump pump & drain lines to ensure there are no blockages and the pump is functioning properly.
  7. Fix any waterline leaks you are aware of. You can usually spot these from water marks on your basement ceiling. It is also a good idea to inspect your water pump, water softener, iron filter, water heater and pressure tank to ensure nothing is leaking around these units either. Hunter Plumbing & Heating also provide yearly water system service inspections. Contact us today to customize a plan to suit your needs!
  8.  Inspect your well and well lid for cracks and damage. It is not uncommon in the dead of winter to deal with frozen well service calls due to improper well maintenance. You don’t want to be stuck without water until your system thaws out, trust me!
  9. Insure waterlines are properly insulated to prevent freezing and bursting. Close crawl space vents and stuff insulation over the openings, ensure pipes that run along outside walls are well insulated and stay warm. Even a tiny hole can let a lot of cold air blow in; make sure you fill in all the cracks.
  10. Shut off and drain outside taps and store garden hoses. If you are not sure where the shut off is for your exterior taps, contact the experts at Hunter Plumbing for help!

Start your fall maintenance checklist today before you forget! Sometimes winter can strike early and you’ll be unexpectedly caught in the cold. The last thing you want is for a burst pipe or falling gutters to ruin an otherwise cozy winter day. Don’t have time to complete your checklist? Call in the professionals at Hunter Plumbing & Heating for help! We provide complete plumbing and heating services to get your home ready for winter.