Quality Plumbing Services

Entries for month: February 2017

OUTSIDE SILLCOCKS/SPIGOTS

February 24, 2017 · No Comments

If you are tempted by the very early beautiful weather we are experiencing, to drag out the hose and wash the winter grime off the car, hose off the driveway, or for any other reason, we just wanted to offer a brief word of caution when using your outside sillcock or spigot for the first time after winter.

Years ago … before winter and before frostproof sillcocks were being installed, homeowners would have to shut off water to an outside spigot and drain the line of water in order to prevent any freezing of pipes. If an older style faucet would freeze and burst during the winter, water might not leak immediately as long as it remained frozen.  However, water would start leaking as the piping warmed up and thawed.

 

Today … most older style sillcocks and spigots are being replaced with frostproof sillcocks. Frostproof sillcocks do not need to be drained prior to winter due to the design which is one less thing the homeowner has to worry about. Frostproof sillcocks look and operate the same from the outside; but have the shut off mechanism further inside the piping, away from the outside wall, and drains out naturally when the valve is turned off. This configuration does prevent frozen pipes and less worries, but it is not a guarantee against freezing and bursting. For example, if a hose was left attached to the outside faucets during winter, or the sillcock was installed without proper pitch, water can remain trapped in this section of piping and could freeze and burst. If that occurs, you will not notice the leak right away. Even on a warmer day after the pipes thawed, a frostproof sillcock will not show signs of leaking.

 

Keep this in mind … a frostproof sillcock will only leak when it is turned it on. It is very important you are aware that you will only notice a problem when you use the faucet. This can cause a major problem such as flooding and a lot of property damage to your home because water will be running into your basement, crawlspace, sometimes behind walls and in ceilings depending on location of the sillcock. This can go on for hours and water can be leaking unnoticed while you're washing the car, tending to your garden, or whatever chore you are doing with the hose. Remember, you're outside.

Our advice … the first time you use the water outside after winter, leave the water on but go check inside or have someone else check inside for any signs of trouble. A frostproof sillcock that may have burst over the winter will be a major leak.  You should be able to detect it quite quickly. You may be able to hear water running or spraying in a wall or ceiling if the valve is covered up with drywall. Other things to look for is water accumulating in the basement or crawlspace, or if you notice weak pressure at the end of your hose this could be an indication of a burst pipe.  

The last thing you want is to come inside after enjoying a beautiful day only to discover as you were watering on the outside of your home, you watered your basement as well.

If you experience any issues with your outside faucets, or need assistance with any other plumbing needs, call Quality Plumbing service immediately at 630-227-0200.  Our friendly and courteous customer service representatives will be happy to schedule an appointment.

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DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR SHUT OFF VALVE IS?

February 09, 2017 · No Comments

 

Have you ever heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” At Quality Plumbing Services Inc. we answer the phones 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it always amazes our on call managers how many people do not know what to do in a plumbing emergency. Knowing where your shut off valves are located could save you thousands and thousands of dollars in flood damage.

 

If a pipe burst in your home, or your water heater starts to leak, do you or your family members know what to do? Your plumbing emergency does not even need to be as severe as a burst pipe or leaking water heater. A supply line leak to a faucet, toilet, or ice maker line can cause severe property damage. Knowing how to stop or isolate the water could limit the damage to your home.

 

There are two types of valves in your home. There is the main shut off valve which will turn off all the water to the home, and then there are isolation valves or angle stops at each fixture i.e., water heater, toilets, faucets, dishwasher, ice makers, etc. Let me start by saying not all homes will have all the valves I’m describing, but this is typically what we find in most cases.

 

This article will deal with locating and operating the main shut off valve to your home. The main valve will turn all the water off to the entire house. Finding your main shut off valve can be difficult … it may be located in a dark corner of the basement, perhaps in the mechanical room, but typically towards the front of the basement and usually located at or near the water meter.  

 

So, knowing where your water meter is and what it looks like can be a good start in locating the main shut off valve. Most homes in the suburbs have water meters generally located in the basement. There may be shut off valves on both sides of the meter or only one side.

 

Not every water meter is in a wide open basement. In a finished basement, the water meter may be behind walls or boxed in to an enclosure (hopefully with an access panel). It is a good idea to know where your water meter is prior to needing it in a plumbing emergency.

 

What if your home does not have a basement? Typically water meters can be found in crawl spaces, mechanical rooms near the furnace, water heater, laundry rooms, etc. Keep in mind that water meter and main shut off valves may be behind the water heater or furnace, and not always visible. Taking the time to familiarize yourself with the valves can help you avoid a disaster later.

 

What if your home does not have a water meter? Many older and some single family homes in Chicago do not have water meters.  If your home is on a well system, you will not have a water meter. If that is the case, you will need to find the main water supply pipe that enters the home. The incoming water supply pipe should have a shut off valve near where the pipe enters the home.

 

There are two types of main shut off valves. One is a gate valve which will consist of a wheel handle and requires multiple “clockwise” turns to stop the flow of water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other is a ball valve which have a lever style handle and only requires a quarter turn which will stop the flow of water.

Ball valve on Ball valve off
   

                                 

 

Please keep in mind the color of handle will vary based on manufacturer and the size of the valve will be based on your home's plumbing needs, but the basic operation is the same as described. Gate valves or wheel handle valves are a bit more difficult to operate (move) and require multiple clockwise turns. In addition, be aware gate valves can leak as they are being turned on and off.  Don’t let that stop you from turning it all the way off in an emergency. This type of valve may leak or drip when it is not all the way open or all the way closed.

 

One more word of caution … if for whatever reason you have to turn off the water to your home or an individual fixture, when opening up any valve or angle stop do it very, very slowly and open one or more faucets. This will prevent any shocks to your plumbing system, remove the air, and reduce the chance of stirring up sediment and debris in your piping.   

 

Don't wait until you have a plumbing emergency to try and find your water shut off valves. Minutes could seem like hours in that situation. Unfortunately, It can even take a professional plumber several minutes once we arrive at your home to locate your main shut off valve.

 

Please return to our site next week for isolation (angle stop) valve information.

 

Please call us at 630-227-0200 with all of your plumbing needs.

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Catch Basin Maintenance and Cleaning

February 02, 2017 · No Comments

Hopefully our last blog gave you some idea on how to determine if you have a catch basin, where it might be located on your property, and what a catch basin's function is and why they were used. Now what?

Most homeowners have no idea that a catch basin needs maintenance so a home can go through several owners without ever being cleaned.

 

Clogged catch basin

 

Sometimes we hear from homeowners “I have my catch basin cleaned. There's a guy that comes around every so often and he cleans it for me.”   Someone may come in with some type of scoop or "honey dipper" and skim off the top layer and claims your catch basin is clean. This type of cleaning is not very effective and does little to protect your home from a potential sewer back-up. Skimming off the top layer does not remove the sediment and debris that has accumulated over what could be years. Catch basins are often 5-6 ft. deep, and the sediment and debris build up over time and can eventually block outlet pipes which could lead to sewer back-ups, basement flooding, property damage, and flood clean-up.

The only way to properly clean your catch basin is with a vactor truck. Quality Plumbing Services' vactor trucks vacuum out and remove the top layer of grease as well as the sediment and debris down to the bottom of the catch basin. This cleaning process restores the original retention level of the catch basin, and allows it to function and flow freely as designed. All of our vactor trucks come with pressure washing equipment to help break up and remove any hardened grease and sediment.  The sidewalls, inlet and outlet piping, and the baffle are pressure washed and cleaned. Once the catch basin and its components are cleaned and the basin is empty, it can be throughly examined for condition and proper function, and any failure points can be addressed.  

 

Clean Catch Basin

Any contents removed from residential catch basins are considered “special waste” and require a special waste haulers license, and separate pumpers license, both issued by the state. Once the waste is removed from a catch basin, it simply cannot by dumped down the sewer or thrown in the garbage. It must be properly disposed of and the homeowner is responsible for the waste removal from their property. Large fines and penalties can be imposed if caught dumping waste illegally (makes you wonder what the “honey dipper” cleaner was doing with his waste). Quality Plumbing Services will thoroughly clean and examine your catch basin. We have all the proper licenses required by the state. All of the material and waste we remove will be hauled away and properly disposed of in accordance with all Illinois EPA regulations.

Quality Plumbing Services can help with all of your catch basin cleaning and maintenance needs. Please call 630-227-0200 to schedule an appointment.

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