Ask The Expert

Indoor Air Quality

Question:

What can I do to my heating system to protect my home from COVID-19?

 - Steve L

Answer:

There are many products offered in our industry to help with IAQ (Indoor Air Quality).

1st - Make sure to get a quality Air Filter (Look at the MERV Rating or Efficiency)
2nd - Install an Air Purifier such as an i-Wave that creates ions to capture particles and allow the filter to collect them from the air.

Studies have shown that it can fight against COVID-19 and lots of other airborne particles and illnesses, etc.! Please contact us if we can help you or you are interested in learning more.

 -Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Sump Pump

Question:

Good day! I recently had a new sump pump installed -- again. I went down to look at it yesterday and it already looks like it’s ten years old! There is this orange color sludge or jelly type coating on it. The last pump I had only lasted 4 months and I believe that maybe that orange sludge shortened its life. Upon replacement last time, the plumber had pointed out that the inner diameter of the discharge pipe was smaller due to the sludge adhering to the inner walls of the pipe about 1/8 inch thick. Got any suggestions? I’m afraid my drain tile will plug up or my pump will die again soon until I can get this figured out.

 -Dave W

Answer:

 Morning Dave,

What you have is called iron ochre. It’s when there is a lot of iron mineral in the soil around your drain tile. When you have air, water, and iron bacteria in the water, it can form a sludge type consistency and that’s called iron hydroxide. Some people say you can’t get rid of it. Some people replace the inside drain tile around the whole perimeter of the home and backfill with an excessive amount of limestone. I’ve seen costs of 30k+ to have that performed. However, a less expensive route is to get a toilet brush and a product called Iron Out - liquid form is better. You take that iron out, mix with water, throw in the crock. Then use that toilet brush and scrub the sides of the crock, pump and float assembly. Another thing that can be performed is having clean outs placed on the corners of the basement (under the floor) and then you can periodically run a sewer rod through these clean outs to keep the drain tile open. I know this sounds like a lot of continuous work, but, it’s an existing and ongoing problem and you really can’t change it. The only other thing that can be done to not have to worry about it or work on it anymore is to pack your bags and move!

-Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

MAINTAIN YOUR FORCED AIR FURNACE

Maintaining your furnace is crucial in optimizing system performance and efficiency. The efficiency of your furnace is greatly reduced when it is not maintained and kept clean of dust and dirt buildup. This buildup of debris can damage the electrical motors inside your furnace and corrode electrical connections, resulting in performance failure.

It is recommended that you have your furnace maintained annually by an HVAC professional before the heating season begins.

On a furnace “clean and check” you can expect these tests to be performed and recorded by your HVAC professional:

  • Examine electrical connections and ensure proper voltages and amperages  throughout the system.
  • Examine and clean burner and pilot assembly & check iff they are  damaged or clogged with dirt particles.
  • Examine and clean drain.
  • Examine grills and registers for dirt and dust.
  • Examine furnace thermostat.
  • Examine furnace vent piping.
  • Examine furnace ignition system for proper ignition sequence.
  • Examine heat exchanger for rust or cracks.
  • Examine and clean blower if excessive dirt buildup is present.
  • Examine pilot thermocouple,  if present.
  • Measure for proper line gas pressure and manifold gas pressure.
  • Perform combustion analysis test and make proper adjustments, if necessary.

 

Storms/Sump Pumps

QUESTION:

Good morning, That last rainfall/storm we had wreaked havoc in our home! We were even getting water coming through our basement walls! I’m looking to get a sump pump and crock installed in our home. We don’t have one now and are looking for an approximate cost on that, do you have a ballpark figure of what I may be looking at?

- Dave K

ANSWER:

 Morning Dave, I really don’t think you need a sump pump or crock! You’ve never had one before so apparently your house was designed with a different style of storm water removal. What I think you should do is call for an appointment for me to come out and look at your home. I get these calls often, and the majority of the time, if you have water coming through the “walls” it’s due to something else. Factors that are often easily and inexpensively remedied. Some of the factors are; a down spout came off or gutters need cleaning, but a more common cause is a grading problem. A lot of people like to plant things close to the house to enhance the outer decor, then they place a border of wood or rocks or something around the landscaping and ultimately terminate both ends of the border, back to the house walls. Most of the time, the grade inside that beautiful new border is lower than the grade of the surrounding grassy area. What a lot of homeowners don’t realize is that they just made a swimming pool next to the house and the water can’t escape or drain where it should. Give us a shout and I’ll come out and look at this with you. I’ll advise the right direction to take and I’m sure it will be a lot cheaper than putting in a sump crock and pump!

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Sump Pump

QUESTION:

This week, we had storms and flash flooding in our community. My sump pump couldn’t keep up with the water and it flooded my basement. Can you advise me on what size of sump pump I should have? -

-  Anna P

ANSWER:

A Good morning Anna, we only install a 1/3 horse power sump pumps. It pumps 2400 gallons per hour. It will suffice for use in almost any residential environment. Many people think that they need a bigger pump - like a 1/2 or 3/4 horse power. In the case of sump pumps, bigger is not better. If you have a bigger pump, the pump will pump out the crock too fast and shut off too often. This burns out the switch on the pump. More often than not, when the basement floods, and you have a 1/3 horse pump, there are other reasons why the system failed. Call us and we can come out and assess your system. We can educate you about, and identify potential corrections that should be made to your system to make it a more efficient and trustworthy one, and you can sleep with both eyes closed on rainy and stormy nights.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Gurling Noises

QUESTION:

I’ve been living in my home for two years, and EVERY TIME I run my washing machine, my kitchen sink “gurgles” which is getting annoying and worrisome. Is that something I should be concerned about? Hoping it is also a cheap fix?

- Debbie

ANSWER:

Good morning Debbie,

The vent is plugged on the kitchen sink! The majority of homes are usually designed with the kitchen and washing machine/ laundry tubs using the same drain and vent stack. The Wisconsin plumbing code has a chapter about this design and its titled ‘Combination Drain and Vent’. When the washing machine is dumping a big slug of water; it needs air behind it. In the event that the vent was clogged, that slug will need air behind it. So, that slug of water will steal air from wherever it can find it, and it finds it by sucking the trap of its water and taking the air behind it. This can be resolved by pouring a bucket of water down the vent from the roof or sending a sewer rod down the vent. Cost? Due to different layouts of homes, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. I’d like to say, the cost shouldn’t exceed $300.00, however, I can’t promise anything. Call us up and we will do our best to keep the cost down for you.

-Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

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