Residential Plumbing and Heating Tips

Consumer Tips

Air Filters

Remember to change your air filters on a regular basis. This can greatly reduce your operating and maintenance costs for both your heating system and your air conditioning.

Thermostat Temperature

When you wish to achieve rapid temperature change in your home or office, do not set the thermostat higher or lower than the desired temperature. This will not change the temperature faster. It just makes the system work longer, consequently altering your heating or cooling costs.

Clogged Bathtub

To clear a clogged bathtub drain, try holding your hand or an old rag over the water and overflow plate, and plunge fairly roughly with your plunger several times. If this does not work, you may need a plumber to perform a cabling to open up your clog.

Furnace Efficiency

Furnace efficiency is measured by the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. The higher the local utility rates, the higher AFUE you should get. Try to purchase a furnace with an AFUE rating of 80% or above. These are considered high-efficiency. (96.6% is the highest available.)

Kitchen Sink Stoppages

The most used drain in your house is probably the one in your kitchen sink. Sink stoppages, or clogs, are usually caused by liquid fats, emulsified by warm dishwater and carried through your pipes. The water cools as it goes to the main sewer and leaves fatty deposits along the way. Bits of food added to that accumulation cause blocked pipes. Try pouring your excess grease into a can and throwing it away in the trash.

Stains at Toilet Bowl Bases

Stains or moisture at the base of your toilet bowl normally serves as an indication that the joint or seal between the toilet and its outlet needs to be reset. This should be done immediately to prevent rotting of your floor, damage to your ceiling below (if on a second floor) and possible leakage of sewer gas into your home.

Odors in the Plumbing System

A correctly installed plumbing system is always odorless. Odors are most likely to come up from leaks in the waste or vent piping or from traps which have lost their water seal.
Unusual odors should never be ignored. They are normally an indication that sewer gas is present. Sewer gas (not always deadly) is noxious and capable of causing headaches and other minor illnesses. It is foul-smelling air and should be prevented from entering your house.
If you suspect that sewer gas has entered through a leak in the piping, we suggest you contact a plumber immediately to perform a test to indicate the location of the leak.

Licenses, Bonds and Insurance

A master plumber license is issued to anyone who has successfully completed the master plumbing exam issued by the prevailing license authority in their jurisdiction. This license is required to perform business as a plumbing contractor unless the contractor is participating in an Apprenticeship Training Program (in which case all plumbers are certified to perform work). It is always best to make this your first qualification when choosing a plumber.
While limits vary on General Liability Insurance, you must be sure that your plumber is properly insured. General Liability covers property damage or bodily injury to non-employees (this means you) while work is being performed. In addition, be sure that you plumber carries reliable Worker's Compensation coverage.

Bonding is very important, but is typically required by owners for larger commercial projects. Payment and Performance Bonds (P&P Bonds) serve as a guarantee that the project will be completed in a timely fashion, according to project specifications and performance schedules. It also guarantees payment to all suppliers and subcontractors.

When You Call Your Plumber

You can help your plumber tremendously by telling him or her exactly what's wrong (to the best of your understanding) when you call. There are gazillions of parts and tools in the plumbing world and your plumber can't possibly be expected to carry them all on his or her truck. So, when you ask for help, try to give him or her as much information as you can, including everything that has been done to the defective part. This will speed up the work and lower your plumbing bill.

And remember, if you are having trouble finding someone you can trust to work on your home, try hiring a plumber who's been recommended by someone you know. Word-of-mouth from a satisfied customer is always the best source. Ask your friends and neighbors about Donner Plumbing & Heating.