Ask The Expert

Tree Roots

Question:

In the fall every year, our sewer usually needs to be cleaned out of tree roots at a cost on average
of $600.00, worse yet, it always seems to be under emergency conditions and I’m often paying
premium overtime rates! Now I’m trying to be proactive. Is there something we can do now, to
avoid those same ungodly costs happening over and over again?

- Anna P

 

Answer:

Good morning Anna,

There is actually something we can do for this! We have a product in our shop that we use in which we can kill those tree roots! This program consists of us coming out annually, and filling the sewer with an herbicide. The herbicide will not kill the tree, however, it will kill the roots up to 3 feet outside of the pipe. The roots inside the pipe, over a period of eight weeks, will get brittle, break off and flow down the flow line of the sewer and wash away! In the event the sewer is plugged and needs to be rodded, we strongly suggest to have this performed within the first hour after rodding, or wait for eight weeks, and then have this performed. A tree is very similar to a human in that when you have a cut, let’s say, on your finger, your body will pump blood through the wound to clean it and then form a scab covering over the wound to protect it. The product we use is a mild herbicide so as to not kill the tree, and it will not penetrate that covering on the tree roots until 8 weeks later when the scab becomes bark. It’s a foam herbicide and will fill the whole void of the pipe and treat all walls in the pipe. It will stay in the pipe for months. Upon flushing or using the sewer, the water will run below the foam and not wash out the product. Then the foam will fall and cover the bottom of the pipe and continue to treat the roots on the bottom. Yes! This is a great time to do this and at a third of the cost of what you have been paying. Please give us a call and we can come out and get you started on this program.

 

-Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Water Heater Issues

COMMON ISSUES FOR WATER HEATERS:

  • When dealing with a water heater in your home, you should, first of all, locate the shut-off valves for the gas supply and cold water supply to the heater.
  • Regular maintenance is very important for the home owner to keep in mind.
  • This would consist of flushing the heater for the hose faucet provided near the bottom of the heater.
  • Connect a hose to the hose faucet and run it to the nearest drain.
  • Open the faucet and be sure to leave the cold water supply in the open position.
  • Run for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • This should be done every 3 to 4 months on a regular basis.
  • Should you be experiencing little or no hot water upon opening your faucet, the problem could be lying with the dip tube in the cold water supply to the heater. If so , this  would have to be replaced.
  • If you experience a bad odor coming from your hot water (rotten eggs,) your anode rod may have to be replaced. Do not plug this opening off as it would void your warranty.
  • If you notice that your relief valve is dripping, try flushing it by pulling the lever on the relief valve. If this does not work, then replace it. Be sure to replace it with a relief valve with the proper pressure and temperature rating.  
  • The temperature setting on your water heater should be at about 130 degrees, if you have anti-scald valves on your bath tub faucets and shower valves. If not, it should be set at  110 degrees.
  • If you have a power vent or a more complicated water heater, this should be repaired by a certified plumber.
  • Lastly, do not store any flammable materials near your water heater.

HVAC Maintenance

TIPS TO MAINTAIN YOUR HVAC

Maintaining your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning equipment is important to maintain indoor air quality (IAQ) and maintain optimal efficiency (ex: lower utility bills.) Follow these tips to maintain your HVAC and  to keep your equipment in tip-top shape.

Replace Your Air Filter
Regularly replacing your air filter according to its environmental conditions and type of filter.

Listen to People
Listen to people’s complaints about the air quality and temperature. Take those complaints seriously and address them immediately.

Keep Area Clean
Keep the area around your unit clean and free of debris.

Keep Vents Free
Keep obstructions and furniture away from the vents.

Routine Maintenance
Routine maintenance can solve problems before they become emergencies. Set-up a regular preventative maintenance agreement with Building Waters Inc. Contact us today.

Toilet Noises

Question:

Hi, Our toilet seems to burp big bubbles upon flushing. This started happening about a year ago and we’ve been living here for 25 yrs . The internet says it is a venting problem . Do you have any suggestions?

- Anonymous 

 

Answer:

Good morning everyone!

Through my past experience, I always look for certain laymen terms used by the customer. In this toilet noises arena, I’m looking for one of two terms ... "glugging" or "burping". When I hear the term glugging, I have usually found the issue to be a vent-related problem.  As the slug of water is traveling down the pipe, the area behind the plug has to be filled with something, and that something is air.  In the event the slug of water has no access to air, due to a plugged vent, that area behind the slug will be replaced and nature is going to get it from somewhere, so it steals it from a trap of another fixture by sucking the trap dry and causes a "glugging" sound.  Burping, (in my experience), has usually meant a blockage down stream, or the reduction of flow from down stream. In your case, I believe there is a compromised flow path. It could be calcium build up in the weir of the trap of the toilet, and the opening terminating the toilet may be reduced in size. You may try throwing a gallon of vinegar in the toilet and allowing it to sit in there for a day or so, however, I don’t always believe that does a thorough job of resolving the problem. A new toilet could be warranted or the sewer may be partially plugged.  Call and have us come out with the sewer machine and try to determine what the actual reason is for your burping issue and get it handled!

- Owner/Master Plumber, Wesley Rosenberg

Leaky Valve

Question:

I have a leaky handle on a valve in my basement!  It has a flower type knob on it and it leaks.  I would like it changed or repaired.  What type of valve do you suggest to have it replaced with?

- Kelsey H

 

Answer:

There are many types of valves out there and those knob or flower looking handle valves are kind of an old technology. For your home, I would suggest a lever handle valve. They are durable and give you a sound shut off with just a quarter of a turn!   In the event you have CPVC piping in your home, I suggest transitioning to a lever handle brass valve.  The CPVC quarter turn valves tend to freeze up over time and are often useless in about 2 years.

 Reach out and have us come out and change that valve for you!

- Owner/Master Plumber, Wesley Rosenberg

Well Water

Question: 

I’m on a well and I want to transition over to municipal water and abandon the well, I never could stand the taste of well water, what would something like that cost?

- Tim K.

Answer:

Good morning Tim, 

Transitioning over is something we can do, however, from a financial perspective, I would transition over for your drinking water and washing needs only and keep your hose bibs or lawn faucets on the well.  Your exterior plants would grow healthier and the cost of abandoning a well ( regulated by the DNR ) is astronomically expensive.  It costs around $10 - 15k to abandon the well properly.  It would be cheaper for you to separate the hose bibs in the house and keep the well too. If there is anything we can do for you with this, just give us a call.  

- Owner, Wesley Rosenberg

Holding Tank

Question:  
Good morning,

I live out in the county and have a holding tank. The tank holds a couple thousand gallons of water.  I had the tank changed recently, but for some reason it fills with water way too fast and we constantly have to get it pumped out sooner than we used to.  It’s almost like it is taking in too much water.  Wife and I went on vacation for 2 weeks and came home to the alarm on and the tank full.  What should we do? 

- Anthony E

 

Good morning Anthony,

Answer:
There are a couple things that could be going on. The tank has been replaced, so I’m assuming that it doesn’t leak.  When we approach a situation like this, we check the cheapest resolutions first.  I would check to see if one of the toilets is running a lot first.  A continuous running toilet could and would fill that tank.  Another cheap check is identifying if the softener discharge from backwash is going into the sanitary system. In the event it was back wash, that would add a ton of water to the tank and should discharge outside. If those two items are not the problem, there is likely a leak at the pipe penetration of the tank or the pipe itself is compromised.  Now it’s going to start costing money!  I would have the tank pumped out and send a mirror down in the tank and inspect the junction where the pipe penetrates the tank. Then I would send a camera down the pipe and check for cracks or compromised piping. It’s also very possible that ground water is getting through the compromised pipe!  Please call us to help you out.

-Owner, Wesley Rosenberg

Bathtub Clog

Question:
Hi, my bathtub plugs quite often, I have an older home and there is a contraption, about the size of a coffee can, that the drain goes into and runs out of. It’s mounted under the tub and on the ceiling of the basement. I’ve purchased a little hand snake from the store but, when I try to clean the drain out, it seems to get stuck in the coffee can thing and I can’t clean out beyond that point. What is it?  It’s got a cover on it and I can’t get that off.

   - Janna S

Answer:
Hi Janna,

That contraption is called a drum trap. It looks like a little drum and it’s intention was to capture hair and such and allow the water to pass through. The problem is that they plug all of the time, and when you remove the cover, resealing them is difficult to accomplish. They are also now illegal in the state of Wisconsin. We cut them out and replace them with a regular trap. In the event you need help with this issue, please call our office and make an appointment to have that contraption replaced and your bathtub issue resolved.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Milwaukee Real Producers Interview

Founder Wes Rosenberg shares the history and mission of Building Waters.

Water Heater Maintenance

Question:
I just had a new water heater installed. Is there any preventative maintenance that I can do to extend the life of the heater? It was quite expensive.

Greg J.

Answer:
Annually, you should hook up a hose to the bottom of the heater and open the boiler drain just above the hose connection. I would let it run approximately 10 minutes into the drain. People always ask, “Should I shut the inlet valve on the top of the water heater before I open the bottom valve?” My answer is, no. I wouldn’t touch the valve on top of the heater. I like to use the incoming water pressure to flush the debris of lime out of the heater. Doing this removes the debris from attaching to the lower part of the inner tank and starting the process of the tank prematurely. Taking the plate off the bottom of the gas heater and vacuuming out the burner area is another thing that can be performed. The air inlet screens can be vacuumed as well to assure proper air to the burner assembly. If you are unsure or need help, feel free to call us.

Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber