SUMMERTIME PLUMBING MAINTENANCE TIPS

At Baker Plumbing & Heating, we are always looking for ways to ensure your home comfort. Summertime is for relaxing and we want nothing more than for our customers to enjoy their time off without facing a plumbing problem. Before the sunnier days arrive, there are a few precautionary steps you can take to have fun in the sun without facing a meltdown. These steps not only avoid headaches later, but also save money, which can be put toward vacations.

In the summer, water usage is particularly high. An average family’s water usage is typically increased by 25 to 50 percent. The more water you use, the bigger chance you have of a plumbing setback occurring. That’s why we’re here to provide a few pointers before small problems potentially become big ones.

Clean and maintain your sprinklers regularly. If you have a sprinkler head that’s not working properly and sticks out of your lawn, you run the risk of a lawn mower accidentally breaking it. Clean and maintain your sprinklers as to avoid future costs.

Research before you plant trees. lf you’re not careful, tree roots can wreak havoc on your plumbing system. If you’ve recently planted a tree, check to see if there is water oozing out of your lawn or if the water pressure is unusually low. A Baker plumber can attack the problem at an early stage, before the damages worsen.

Check for leaks. The cold winter months might have caused damage to your outdoor plumbing. Inspect your hose. A leak could affect outdoor activities.

Follow these simple steps to make your summer easier and more enjoyable or contact Baker Plumbing & Heating. If a problem occurs, Baker’s expert plumbers can easily diagnose the problem and treat it with the most advanced solutions.

 

A Few Historical Events that Shaped Modern Plumbing Systems

 

Imagine what life would be like without a modern plumbing system. How would you cope without running water or flushing toilets? Water is the most essential nutrient for life on earth; it forms the basis of a healthy diet and lifestyle.  The world today with its large, high-density population would not sustain life as we know without a modern plumbing system that provides clean drinking water and sewage systems that remove contaminated used water.

The past is replete with historical events that show the successes and failures of plumbing. One of the most recent examples is the New Zealand earthquake in Christchurch in February 2011. Both water and sewage systems were destroyed. The people were told not to drink, shower or use the toilets due to the lack and quality of a water supply. Many had to resort to digging a hole in the backyard to deposit sewage.

Although modern plumbing systems are much more up to date than those in ancient times, the New Zealand earthquake can still serve as a learning experience on how to develop better plumbing systems.

By studying the historical events of plumbing, we are less likely to repeat the errors, unsafe designs or installations that lead to the uncontrollable fires and plagues of the past. Check out our chronological list of the top 27 most influential historical events that shaped today’s plumbing systems! It covers achievements from ancient through modern times. Feel free to add your events to the list. We’d love to read your comments too!

Ancient plumbing systems date back to 4,000 B.C.

  1. Archaeologists discovered copper water pipes in the palace ruins of the Indus River Valley in India. (4,000 to 3,000 B.C.)
  2. Egyptians developed copper pipes that were used to build elaborate bathrooms inside the pyramids and intricate irrigation and sewage’s systems. (2500 B.C.)
  3. “The Code of Hammurabi,” written by Hammurabi, the 6th king of Old Babylon, was the first known code of ancient Babylon. One of the clauses of the code called for people to be put to death if a house that was not constructed properly fell and killed an owner. (1700 B.C.)
  4. Rainwater cisterns were developed on the island of Crete which allowed for storage of rainwater until it was needed for drinking, washing, bathing and cooking uses. (1500 B.C.)
  5. Archaeologists discovered the remains of an ancient plumbing system (at least 3,000 years old) on the island of Crete at the site of an ancient palace of Knossos. This ancient plumbing system included a bathtub made out of hard pottery that looked similar to the shape of a cast-iron bathtub of late 19th-Century America. There was also evidence of a water closet with a seat and crude flushing device. (1000 B.C.)
  1. The Romans were some of the most advanced in ancient plumbing systems. Out of the Roman Empire aqueducts were developed as well as underground sewer systems, public and private baths, lead and bronze water piping systems, and marble fixtures with gold and silver fittings. The Romans utilized lead pipes, which at the time made vast improvements in sanitary conditions. (500 B.C. to A.D. 455)
  2. For the first time, iron pipe was installed in Siegerland, Germany. German craftsmen had learned how to build fires hot enough to melt iron and pour it into castings to make hollow pipe. (1455)
  3. Sir John Harington, godson to Queen Elizabeth, invented the first flushing water closet. (1596)
  4. In Versailles, France, King Louis XIV ordered construction of a cast-iron main plumbing line. This was to carry water about 15 miles from a pumping station to the palace fountains and surrounding area. (1664)
  5.  The castles of the 17th Century housed privies. Unfortunately, the plumbing systems dumped directly into the surrounding moats. (1600 to 1700)
  6. The first underground sewer was installed in 1728. This came about after health officials in New York responded to complaints about the smell of open sewers.
  7. The first public water main was installed under New York streets in 1830. Numerous fires had demonstrated the need for an adequate and available supply of water for firefighting.
  8. Drainage piping systems were installed into buildings. These systems helped convey sewage away from the buildings to a suitable disposal terminal. (1845 to 1850)
  9. The National Public Health Act was passed in 1848. Most of the world has adopted this model plumbing code.
  10. The first water heaters were developed in private homes and small buildings in the 1870s. Circulation pipes were installed between water-heating units and hot water storage tanks so as to make pressurized hot water available in volume.
  11. The Venting Theory was proved. By connecting a vent pipe to the drain at the trap outlet, the air pressure was kept the same. This method prevented objectionable odors and sewer gases from escaping at fixture waste outlets. (1874)
  12. In 1890 Robert Manning invented the “Manning Formula,” which allows engineers to calculate flow in sloping drains.
  13. Laws were passed in many areas of the country requiring plumbing systems be installed with minimum number of fixtures. (1900s)

Modern plumbing systems feature invention of water closet

  1. The water closet was invented from 1900 to 1932. The U.S. Patent Office received applications for 350 new water closet designs, including the designs of Charles Neff and Robert Frame. These men were the first to produce a siphoning water closet that would become standard in the United States.

20 The Building Officials and Code Administrators (BOCA) organization was formed in 1915. This was the first attempt to coordinate building codes on a national level.

  1. President Warren Harding appointed Herbert Hoover, a prominent engineer, as Secretary of Commerce in 1921. Hoover started the Materials and Structures division of the National Bureau of Standards (now known as The National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST).
  2. Dr. Roy B. Hunter, who was appointed to head the plumbing division of the National Bureau of Standards, dedicated his talents to the research of plumbing systems in an effort to standardize regulations in the United States. Current plumbing codes are based on his research. (1930s to 1940s)
  3. The first plumbing code was published (1928) and nicknamed the “Hoover Code,” after Herbert Hoover’s efforts to instigate the code.
  4. Due to a shortage of copper, non-metallic, plastic piping was introduced into use for modern plumbing systems in 1966.

Public restrooms required to be accessible to physically handicapped

  1. In 1961 all buildings and facilities, including plumbing, were required to be accessible to, and functional, for the physically handicapped.  In 1990 President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  2. Legislation was adopted as part of the Energy Efficiency Act in the 1980s and later amended with the Energy Policy Act of 1992 to restrict water flow rates in plumbing fixtures.

Gas leaks: how to prevent and detect a leak

With 31 deaths and over 1,000 injuries labelled as gas-related incidents in the past three years alone, gas leaks are something every household should take seriously

Here we discuss what can cause a leak, how to detect a gas leak and what to do if you think there is a leak in your home.

What causes a gas leak?

Gas leaks in the home are usually the result of poorly fitted, badly maintained or faulty appliances like boilers and cookers.

If your appliance is badly fitted, gas can escape — typically from the gas hose that leads into your appliance or from around the seal — so you should always make sure your appliances are installed by an accredited gas fitter.

If your appliances are a bit older and you are having them serviced, Call Baker Plumbing & Heating.

You should also be cautious of old or second-hand appliances, particularly if you are just moving into a new property or renting. Luckily there are some easy-to-spot signs that will tell you if your old appliances are faulty (which we cover below).

What can happen if a gas leak isn’t dealt with?

A gas leak can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, fires and even explosions.

So, if you smell gas, you should take immediate action.

How do you detect a gas leak?

The most tell-tale sign of a leak is the smell of gas in your home. But there are also particular physical symptoms you may suffer from if there is a leak.

If you are feeling lightheaded, ill, dizzy or nauseous you should go outside immediately. If the symptoms go away in the fresh air you could be feeling the effects of a gas leak or carbon monoxide poisoning.

There can also be some clear signs from your household appliances that can indicate a leak, even if you can’t smell gas:

  • Always look for a crisp blue flame, rather than an orange or yellow flame.
  • Likewise, look out for a pilot light that always seems to blow out.
  • On the outside of the appliance watch out for soot or any black or brown scorched areas around your appliances.
  • Watch out for excessive condensation on the windows, or a musty smell in the air.

What should I do if I smell gas?

To avoid the worst, you should always take action immediately if you smell gas in your home.

The first step is to turn off the gas supply at your gas meter. The valve that regulates the flow of gas will be connected to your pipe at a right angle, but can sometimes be difficult to locate and/or hard to access.

That’s why you should always familiarise yourself with whether your gas supply can be turned off — especially if you’re in a new property or have recently made changes to the layout.

The next step is to get fresh air into your home to help disperse the gas. Open all the windows and doors and leave them open to ensure air flow.

If you can’t open the windows because they’re locked or for any other reason, get outside and into the fresh air as soon as possible.

While you are airing out your home, avoid using any electrical switches, as the sparks could cause an explosion. This includes light switches or electronic doorbells. Similarly, avoid smoking, using matches or burning any naked flames (e.g. candles) as they could all ignite the leaked gas.

A Few Plumbing Tips From Baker Plumbing & Heating

 

Know where your water main shuts off. If you live in a condo, find out if individual units will shut off or if the whole building has to be turned off. This comes in handy when you have a very bad leak.

 Remove hoses from outside faucets before they freeze in the fall. When you remove the hose, it allows (new, frost free) faucets to drain out and not ice over.

 Check and make sure all stops under sinks and behind toilets turn easily so you can shut those off if you ever have a problem.

 If you’re installing or designing a new bathroom, make sure you have access to tub and shower valves from the other side of the wall(s) on which they are located. Never place new valves on an outside wall.

When buying a new home, make sure the sewer lines are checked for any root or settling problems.

 Don’t put large quantities of coffee grounds or MOST ANY STARCH PRODUCT (rice, potatoes, bread, etc.) down your garbage disposal! Starch will turn into a paste and clog the drain. Coffee grounds tend to attract grease and build-up. Small chunks of the stuff are fine but if you peel a dozen potatoes into the sink and then try to stuff everything down the sink you are asking for it!

Make sure you know where all of your clean-outs (the access to the sewer line) are located.

Over time, galvanized water lines can corrode or rust shut. Copper lines are great. The new pex or plastic pipes – although far less expensive than copper – are not nearly as durable and don’t perform nearly as well.