Thanksgiving Plumbing Tips

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You can expect two parts of the house to exhibit plumbing problems on Thanksgiving Day – the kitchen & the bathroom. Luckily you can avoid plumbing issues by taking a few precautions & using your plumbing wisely.

  1. Dispose of Food Scraps Mindfully: Putting food scraps, such as turkey bones, potato peels or celery in the garbage disposal might seem like a simple clean up – but they can easily become clogged or damage the disposal. 

  2. Run Water After Using the Garbage Disposal: Run your kitchen faucet for a few minutes after you use your garbage disposal, which will help wash everything down smoothly.
  3. Throw Away Grease: When cooking with fat and oil, be sure to keep it out of your drains. Instead throw it away in a sealed container to avoid plumbing disasters.
  4. Use A Sink Strainer: This will prevent any large food scraps from going down the drain the potentially clogging it.
  5. Remind Guests to Be Mindful: If you are expecting a house full of guests, remind them not to flush paper towels, sanitary napkins, flushable wipes, cotton balls or anything else down that can harm your toilet.
  6. Turn Down the Thermostat: Lower the temperature when you start cooking, the oven will heat up the house.

We are deeply thankful and extend to you our best wishes, may you enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving!

 

Annual Service Plans

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Did you know Hunter Plumbing, Heating & Excavating Inc. offers annual service plans to inspect & maintain your heating, cooling and water system equipment? Avoid costly repairs and replacements by keeping your current systems in good working condition! Our team of licensed professionals can inspect everything from:

  • Pressure Systems:
    • Inspect for leaks
    • Verify tank pre-charge
    • Check water pump operation and controls
  • Water Treatment:
    • Service Water Softener
      • Set time and setup system
      • Clean injector
      • Check meter operation
    • Service Iron Filter
      • Check peroxide level & pump
    • Service Ultraviolet light
      • Change UV bulb
      • Clean sleeve, as required
      • Check overall operations
    • Service Reverse Osmosis System
      • Change filters, yearly
      • Change membrane & polishing carbon, every 3-5 years
  • Furnaces (Gas, Propane and Electric):
    • Clean and inspect furnace burner, blower and related components
    • Clean all drains and condensate equipment
    • Clean burner and flame rod
    • Test operation and combustion
  • Air Conditioners:
    • Clean A-coil in duct system
    • Check outdoor unit and wash out condenser
  • Fireplaces:
    • Remove the glass and logs
    • Clean the glass, burner and vacuum the blower assembly
    • Re-assemble unit
    • Test operations
  • Water Heaters (Gas, Propane & Electric):
    • Blow out and vacuum burner
    • Inspect vent system
    • Check operations
  • Automatic Generators:
    • Clean cell and filters
    • Check spark plugs, voltage and battery
    • Inspect all connections
  • HRV Units:
    • Change oil
    • Check intake and exhaust hoods
    • Clean system

And all of our service plans come with yearly service notifications, appointment setups and inspection reports! Our plans can be customized to suit your needs and include all of your heating/cooling and water system equipment. So contact us today for a Quote !

Well & Septic Inspections

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Did you know…Hunter Plumbing, Heating & Excavating Inc. performs well & septic inspections? Whether you are buying or selling your home, or would just like your system inspected by a licensed professional, we can help by providing recommendations and identifying future problems that may occur, so you are prepared!

Call Hunter Plumbing today – (519) 458-4488 for more information!

Spring Plumbing 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 checklist to ensure your plumbing and drains are in good working order! Here are 5 things to check for 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!

Spring is a busy time of year both inside and out, but your household plumbing 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!

Well Owner Information Package

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Well Owner Information Package

Now that you have a well on your property, you are legally responsible for the proper maintenance and abandonment (plugging and sealing) of your well.  A poorly maintained or improperly abandoned well could result in contaminated well water and ground water, and it could affect your health.

The following tips will help you protect your well:

  • Test the quality of your well water on a regular basis and look for changes in the water’s appearance (colour, taste and odour).
  • Keep surface water and foreign materials (especially insects, snakes and mice) from entering the well by securing the well cap in place and checking your well regularly for signs of rust and wear, cracks, holes or gaps in the well’s structure.
  • If materials get in your well, safely remove them.
  • Keep ponded water, vehicles, pet waste, salt and fertilizer away from the well.
  • Make sure the ground around your well slopes away from your well.
  • Ensure the well is accessible for future repairs and maintain the minimum above ground height (typically 40cm above the surface).
  • Check for and identify abnormal sounds. They could indicate wear on the well’s pump, waterlines or electrical cables or other issues.
  • Check the pump’s efficiency. If the pump is continually running or losing pressure, it may be a sign of a crack or hole in the waterlines.
  • Ensure your septic system is in good working order and is pumped out regularly to prevent contamination of your well water.

For information on testing the quality of your well water, visit:

For more information on properly maintaining or abandoning your well:

Inspecting your well can be dangerous work. If you are not familiar with wells, let an experienced and licensed well technician perform the work. Hunter Plumbing & Heating is a licensed well contractor through the Ministry of Environment and employs licensed well technicians. 

How Does My Septic System Work?

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So you fulfilled your dream of owning a country property where there is room to grow and you can enjoy the peace and quiet. More than likely, you have purchased a home that has a septic system. Buried in your yard and built to last, your home septic system may never have crossed your mind. But out of sight and out of mind, it still performs a vital task. So, how does my septic system work?

It’s simple: a tank, a network of pipes and billions of microscopic organisms. Yet it’s received every flush, every shower, and whatever else anyone who’s lived in your house has ever poured down the drain. Your septic system treats tonnes of organic waste each season. The tank treats sewage by letting the heavy solid material settle and allowing time for lighter “scum” to float to the top. This partly treated liquid then flows into perforated pipes, called the leaching bed, where it filters into the ground and is further treated. Helpful bacteria and other soil organisms do the bulk of the work.

Over time, your septic tank will accumulate solid material which must be pumped out. Allowed to accumulate, this sludge may reach the outlet level and begin flowing into the leaching bed. There, it can plug the pipes or the bed. Many septic systems are subject to increased usage, especially when additions are added to an existing home. The new volumes of water can strain the septic system to the point that it eventually gives up and stops working. What happens next? Well, a clogged septic system can be hazardous to the environment and your wallet. It can degrade water supplies and reduce your property value. The required repairs can be messy, often involving excavation and replacement of the whole drainage field. Frequently, the local building department will require replacement of the entire system and any damaged landscaping.

So what are some signs of a failing system? The grass over the system may become unusually green and spongy to walk on. Toilets, showers and sinks may take longer to drain, and may even start backing up. Occasional sewage odours may become noticeable, often after a rainfall. Sometimes, homeowners discover grey or black liquids surfacing in their yards or backing up through fixtures into the house. Whatever the warning sign, call in the experts at Hunter Plumbing, Heating & Excavating Inc. fast! We provide on-call emergency service 24/7 and can help repair your septic system problems by recommending the best solution. A call now, can save big bucks later.

Knowing what can happen, how can we help prevent these issues and keep our septic system running properly? Remember, if in doubt, don’t throw it out! Septic systems thrive on wastewater, but certain chemicals can cause major indigestion. Flushing even small amounts of paints, solvents, thinners, nail polish removers and other common household compounds (or pouring them down the drain) can poison the organisms that break down organic material. Laundry bleaches, toilet bowl cleaners and caustic drain openers can also slow the treatment process, allowing sewage to pass through without proper treatment.

Septic systems cannot digest oils, grease and fat. Poured down the sink or toilet, they congeal in pipes sometimes plugging them. Grease can also combine with detergents and flow into the drainage field where it may clog the soils. Fats can form in the top of the tank, and interfere with the biological activities taking place. All oily waste should go out with the garbage only.

Using your septic system to dispose of garbage is another no-no. In sink garbage disposals or garburators are unwelcome strains on the system. Disposable diapers, tampons and their holders, condoms, wrappers and many other kinds of refuse can plug and impair septic systems. Basically, if something doesn’t break down naturally, don’t flush it into your septic tank.

So there you have it, now you are an expert on your septic system and how to use it properly. Just remember it you do start to notice warning signs that your system may need attention, do not hesitate to call in a professional like Hunter Plumbing for our opinion and advice. A new septic system can prove very costly indeed.

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!

Existing Water Wells

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If you live in a rural area, you more than likely have an existing well that supplies your household with water. As the homeowner, it is your responsibility to maintain your well and keep it properly sealed to prevent groundwater contamination. Water wells are a serious business and many are not aware of how to properly maintain them or what options are available to them to keep them running. This article hopes to provide information on existing wells and make homeowner’s, like you, be more “well aware”.

Upgrade your well, or construct a new one?

If there are significant problems with your existing well, one option is to drill a new well. A new well may be the best way to go if your existing well is:

  • poorly located, close to permanent sources of contamination, or at risk from flooding
  • producing insufficient quantity for the intended use
  • substandard and cannot be upgraded for technical or regulatory reasons (e.g., a brick-lined dug well)

Well pits

Prior to the mid-80s, well pits were commonly used to protect water line connections from freezing. Due to age and deterioration, some wells located in pits no longer provide potable water because the pit can fill with surface water and debris. This debris and surface water can be drawn into the water supply, leading to contamination. An MOE-licensed contractor, like Hunter Plumbing & Heating, can do a thorough assessment of your well to help you determine whether your well can be upgraded. Upgrading may involve extending the well pipe to the required height above grade and filling in the pit.

Chemicals and fuels

Any chemical or fuel spills that infiltrate the ground can contaminate your drinking water source. Check that gasoline, pesticides, and other chemicals are stored in proper containers designed to help prevent spills or leakage. Don’t store these materials anywhere near your well(s). Refuel lawnmowers and other machinery a safe distance from the well. (One litre of gasoline can contaminate up to 1 million litres of groundwater.) Refuel over hard surfaces to help prevent infiltration of spills. Change the oil in your vehicle on a sealed surface such as pavement or concrete, away from the well. Clean up spills with an absorbent material (clean sand or kitty litter) and remove to a Household Hazardous Waste depository. Keep a bucket nearby for quick access when spills occur.

Underground storage tanks are used to store home heating fuel and large fuel supplies for equipment. These tanks, pipes and fittings may leak, especially if they are over 15 years old or lack corrosion protection. Underground storage tanks are a special concern if the water table is shallow or if the tank is close to your well (or surface water). If possible, replace underground tanks with above-ground storage that has proper spill/leak containment.

Septic systems

Malfunctioning septic systems are a leading cause of private well contamination.  Ensure that your system conforms to the Ontario Building Code and is a safe distance away from your well. Keep chemicals other than human waste out of the system. Pump out your septic tank every two to three years and keep your system in good running order.

Inspecting your well

Ontario’s Wells Regulation requires that you maintain your well to keep out surface run-off and foreign materials.

It is recommended that you conduct an inspection of your well at least once a year, as outlined below, at the same time as you check for potential contaminants.

If you have problems with your well water, or concerns about your well, have your well inspected by an MOE licensed well contractor, such as Hunter Plumbing & Heating. Contact us today to learn more!

Things to consider:

Access

As part of your maintenance routine, keep your well head clear of brush, debris, and other obstructions.

Well cap

Check the well cap for signs of cracking or damage, and have it fixed or replaced immediately if there is a problem. The well cap should be firmly attached to the casing. The vent should face the ground and be properly screened to keep out insects. Only air should enter. Clean the air vent regularly to remove debris and moisture.

Annular seal

Look for problems with the sealant used to fill the annular space between the drilled hole and the well casing. A depression in the ground around the edge of the casing can indicate that the sealant has shrunk, collapsed, or cracked. If you can move the casing around by pushing it, that’s a bad sign. Cracking and gaps allow run-off and surface water to move down the outside of the well casing and contaminate your drinking water. A faulty annular seal should be repaired.

Well casing – condition

Look for any external signs of damage, cracking, or dislocation on your well casing, e.g., due to vehicle damage. If your well has been damaged, removing the cap is not recommended. Visibility is limited and you could cause contamination or further damage, especially if you have a submersible pump. At this point, it may be time to call in the licensed well contractor, such as Hunter Plumbing & Heating.

If you have a structurally sound well – drilled, dug or bored – you can remove the lid with care. Be mindful of electrical wiring and debris falling into the well. Inspect the inside the casing using a strong flashlight. Look for holes, evidence of animal infestations, or stains from casing joints that may indicate water leaking into the well.

Backflow prevention

Under certain circumstances, contaminated water can flow backwards through your plumbing into your well. Backflow prevention devices are available from your MOE-licensed well contractor.

Well pit

Remove the lid of your well pit and look for water, debris, vermin, etc. at the bottom of the pit. (Remove the cement outer cover, not the well cap inside the pit). Do not enter the pit or breathe the gases which may fill the pit and take extra care to ensure children do not gain access to the well pit. The pit should be clean and dry. If water or other material has entered the pit, your well water is at high risk of contamination. Consider upgrading or constructing a new well.

Hiring a Contractor

Ontario Ground Water Association and/or your Ontario Ministry of the Environment district office if you have any questions or concerns about the qualifications or work procedures of contractors. Hunter Plumbing, Heating & Excavating Inc. is a licensed MOE well contractor and specializes in well and septic system work. With over 50 years of experience and knowledge, their team of professionals can certainly help homeowners maintain their well and keep it running. Contact us today for your well inspection and quote!

 

Fall Maintenance Checklist

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It’s that time of year again! 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.