Ask The Expert

Water Line for Refrigerator

Question:

Good morning! My husband and I just made a purchase of a new refrigerator, it has a water dispenser, we have a kit to hook up the water to it, but it has a clamp type thing with a T handle valve? My question is, do we drill a hole in the pipe or how does that work?

- Carey J

 Answer:  

Good morning Carey! The kit that came with the refrigerator is actually illegal in the state of Wisconsin, and that T handle valve you have is actually called a needle valve. There is a needle in the valve that punctures the pipe to allow water to flow. The needle itself is not a state approved material, and not allowed to be used in a potable water system, so a tee is to be installed in-line of a cold waterline. With a different type of valve, that IS approved, that kit also comes with a poly hose. The hose works, but, over time, starts to get brittle and break, causing financial damage, due to the chlorine in the water! We like to use copper instead however, copper costs more, the poly hose and copper are both legal, copper is just our personal preference. Call us to help you out and install this correctly for you!

-Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Plumbing Tips/Tricks!

  • So our garbage disposal ‘Advice Column’ worked so well, we decided to try it again regarding outdoor hose bibbs/spigots/ faucets (or whatever you prefer to call them) and getting them ready for winter.
  • First of all, you need to disconnect and PUT AWAY the hoses. We have been lucky with our 40-degree temps lately but freezing temps are coming soon.
  • Next, turn off the valve to the hose bibb, drain all the water out, and then turn off those faucets completely. If there is any leaking inside or out, please call us to come and get that fixed before the cold.
  • Finally, you need to check the area around the hose bibb and pipe and make sure it is insulated or sealed so that cold air can’t get in and freeze that pipe, causing you to have to replace it in the spring. We are certainly happy and available to do that if needed.
  • We suggest using caulk, NOT plumbers’ putty, plastic, or old rags and towels.
  • We hope this helps save you some worries and a call to your favorite plumber next Spring. Relax and enjoy a drive-thru car wash and not having to water the lawn or flowers for a few months.
  • Remember Building Waters is here to service all of your heating needs this winter if you need to “crank up your cozy”. Happy December!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

So this week we are going to answer our most commonly asked Thanksgiving week question before you ask it!

When preparing your wonderful Thanksgiving meals remember these tips regarding your garbage disposal:

  • No, or only a few, potato peels, apple peels or egg shells.
  • No large amounts of pasta, dough or rice.
  • Always put stuff down in smaller quantities WITH water running - do NOT stuff it full and then hit the button.
  • If you can’t chew it with your teeth don’t feed it to your disposal (bones, cinnamon sticks, spoons, etc.)

The pipe that runs to your garbage disposal is only 1-1/2” in diameter so be reasonable with what you think that poor little disposal can handle. We hope this helps save you some headaches and a call to your favorite plumber, and makes for easy clean-up following Thanksgiving dinner. Relax and enjoy the dessert!

Everyone at Building Waters wishes you a happy, safe, and healthy Thanksgiving holiday!

Radiators

Question:

Every year I have to bleed my radiators. Is this normal? Does everyone have to do this?

- Steve

Answer:

Old systems have a non-bladder style expansion tank. Most of these pumps were installed on the return line to the boiler so that the pump could draw the air from the tank. Also, when the system cools down in the spring, the pressure can drop in the system allowing new water to enter, which will introduce air. Newer systems are installed differently with air separators and bladder style expansion tanks that will help to minimize air in the system. You are definitely not the only one having to do this Steve, and it is good that you do. Thanks for the question.

- Dan Miller, VP / HVAC Division Manager

Vents in House

Question:

 Is it OK to close off vents (heating) in rooms we don’t use?

- Andy A

Answer:

It is reasonable to think that your system will be more efficient if you don’t heat unoccupied space. However, ductwork is sized to the original equipment that was installed. In a lot of cases the duct work installed in an older home is not sized adequately for today’s high efficient furnaces. Closing off vents further restrict the airflow and can and will cause problems with the furnace. Even in a newer home with properly sized ductwork I would be cautious to close off registers. It is always better to consult a professional that can help you balance your system properly. We are always here to help Andy.

- Dan Miller, VP / HVAC Division Manager

Boiler Cleaning

Question:

How often does my boiler need cleaning?

– Karen

Answer:

Great timing on this question Karen. We recommend that your boiler be serviced annually. Depending on the type of boiler you have, there are many things that will need attention. Most basic cast iron boilers are very simple to maintain. Over time, the burners and heat exchanger will need to be brushed out to maintain the peak efficiency and keep them operating safely. If left neglected, it may take a technician several hours to clean it when it stops working or starts creating high levels of carbon monoxide. We are here to take care of all of your heating, cooling, and plumbing needs.

- Dan Miller, VP / HVAC Division Manager

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Preventive Maintenance - Water Heaters

Question:

My husband just put in a new water heater for our home. I was told to preserve the longevity of the new heater; you should drain it once a year ... is that correct or helpful? And is there anything else we can or should do as preventive maintenance to preserve the life of the water heater?

- Janna S

Answer:

Hi Janna, I get calls on this all the time! I don’t think draining is the word I would use, I would say “flush” the heater. To do that, you would just hook up a hose at the bottom of the heater and open that hose bib on the heater. I would take the other end of the hose and discharge the water into a floor drain for approximately 10 minutes or until you see clear water. Draining the heater is misconstrued by shutting off the heater, draining the water, and then opening all valves and putting it back into service. The problem with draining the heater is this; once the water is shut off, the water is air locked in the heater and it could take a day to drain. We want to use the water pressure from the municipality to flush the heater, so we don’t want to shut off the valves on the heater. We want to put the hose on the hose bib and blow the accumulated line rust, etc. out of the heater. As for other things you can do there really isn’t much else, we can do except to keep the area clear of clutter around the base of the heater. Thanks for the question Janna. If you have any other questions, please feel free to call! We are here to help with all of your plumbing, heating, and cooling needs.

 - Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Covering My AC Unit

Question:

Wondering if you would recommend or if it is a good idea to get a cover for my Central Air Conditioning unit for the winter?

 - Lee  

Answer:

For starters, those A/C units are designed to be outdoors so covering them is really not needed. Following are a few reasons why not to cover it. If you wrap it tightly you will create the perfect home for critters to nest inside of and keep warm there for the winter. Not a good situation. If you cover the unit with a kind of material that doesn’t breathe, you will trap moisture that can cause your unit to rust. Also, not a good situation. Finally, there is a chance that you would get a warm day in early spring that could cause the A/C to turn on inadvertently while still covered and that could cause damage to the system requiring repair. When all things are considered and from our perspective, we would NOT recommend covering your Central Air unit for the winter. Thanks for a great and timely question Lee! Please call us for all your HVAC and plumbing needs.

 - Dan Miller, VP / HVAC Division Manager

Furnace Clean and Check

Question:

I have been tempted to turn on my heat a couple times recently, but am wondering if I should have my furnace checked before I do that??

- Ron & Mary

Answer:

Having your furnace serviced annually by a professional is always recommended. These furnace checks can be done at any time of year, but prior to cold weather is just a good idea to avoid any surprises when you really need your heat. As your system ages, especially with high efficiency furnaces, it will need some attention. Inspecting the heat exchanger and carbon monoxide is one of the biggest concerns we hear from our customers, but there are other things such as condensate drain, filters, and venting, etc. that should be cleaned and inspected by a professional as well. Back in the day, you would be able to replace the thermocouple and light the pilot and you would be fine, but the newer systems are much more advanced. Please call us to get scheduled to take care of all of your furnace needs before our Wisconsin winter weather arrives.

- Dan Miller, VP / HVAC Division Manager