3 Common Causes of Leaking Faucets
If you're a homeowner, you know there's nothing quite as annoying as the "drip ... drip ... drip" of a leaky bathroom or kitchen faucet. But did you know most dripping faucet issues are actually pretty easy to fix yourself? Depending on the type of faucet you have (there are four: compression, cartridge, ball and ceramic disk), here are three things to look for as soon as your fixture starts to leak:
If your faucet has two separate handles that loosen and tighten to turn on the hot and cold water, your faucet has a compression valve. Compression faucets are the only type that uses washers, but these washers are actually one of the most common causes of leaking - they can corrode, become damaged or even just not be installed properly. If you have a compression faucet, try replacing the washers in each handle first - this may fix the problem.
In many faucets, including cartridge and compression models, O-rings are installed within the handles to create a waterproof seal. When the O-rings become damaged or loose, that seal can break, causing a leak near the handle. If you have a leaking handle, try replacing the O-ring first - just make sure you buy the right size or the new part will be just as non-functional as the old one.
Cartridge faucets can have one or two handles, so they're most easily distinguishable by how they feel to operate - turning the handle or handles is a bit smoother and easier than a compression or ball faucet. When cartridge faucets are leaking, it's often necessary to replace the entire cartridge valve within them. New cartridges cost about $10-15, depending on where you live, and they are relatively easy to install.
Remember that if you don't feel comfortable fixing a leaky faucet yourself, it's always a good idea to call a local plumber for help!
Five Easy Ways for Californians to Cut Water Usage
By Paul Abrams
California recently put into effect statewide mandatory conservation steps that established a goal of cutting water usage by 25%. That may sound difficult, and for households already in water conservation mode, it might be. However, for a typical residential home, there are many ways to cut water usage that make a big difference but which are barely noticeable to the residents themselves. Roto-Rooter’s ROTOGreen program makes it easy for homeowners to cut water usage. And for the DIY crowd, many of these steps can be fully implemented without the aid of a plumber. Here are five simple areas where you can cut water usage.
Take showers instead of baths. The average shower uses one-third as much water as a bath. Limit showers to 6 minutes or less and replace your old showerhead with a low flow model. We’re partial to the Niagara water saving showerhead. It uses only 1.5 gallons of water per minute – a savings of 1 to 4 GPM over conventional showerheads. The best part? This showerhead is so well engineered, you won’t believe you’re using a low-flow showerhead at all.
Don’t let the water run while shaving or brushing teeth. Replace your old faucet 3.5 gallons per minute faucet with an efficient news one that only spews out 1.5 GPM. We know that fancy new faucets are expensive so if you like your old faucet, you can replace the aerator on it that will restrict flow to 1.5 GPM or even all the way down to 0.5 GPM.
The newest ultra-efficient toilets use only 1.28 gallons per flush. Toilets made after 1993 use only 1.6 GPF but toilets older than that waste at least 3.5 gallons with every flush. You can spend a lot of money replacing old toilets or you can remove the guts of your toilet tank and replace them with a new dual-flush converter that will cut your water usage down to 0.8 GPF for liquid waste and 1.6 GPF for solid waste. Home Depot and Lowes carry these converter kits and they have easy to follow instructions. Still too complicated and expensive? Find a brick and gently place it inside your toilet tank. The brick will displace up to a half gallon of water and so you’ll get the same flush power but use less water.
Laundry – If you have an old style top loading washing machine, only wash full loads. And if your laundry load is small, be sure to adjust the setting on the machine so that it doesn’t fill the machine with enough water to wash a full load. If you have a new style front load water efficient machine, it should weigh the load and use only the water it needs to get it clean but make sure your settings are optimal.
Finally, the single biggest source of water waste is leaks. Almost every home has at least one water leak someplace. Fix those leaks and you’ll see an immediate cut in household water usage. You can see faucet drips but toilet leaks can be stealthy and hard to detect. If you notice a ripple of water in the bowl, that’s a water leak. Most toilet leaks can be fixed by replacing the toilet’s flapper valve. Watch this video for step-by-step instructions for changing a flapper valve.
Texas’ feast or famine rainfall is back in the feast mode and Roto-Rooter is helping Homeowners Deal with Water Damage
By Paul Abrams
The rain just won’t stop falling on Texas. Homes and businesses are sustaining damage from flooding throughout most of the state. However, deep in the heart of Texas around Austin, San Antonio and Houston, they seem to be getting the worst of it. When water rises and washes through structures, it leaves behind mud and debris plus soaked flooring, drywall and furniture. It’s a real nightmare! Water restoration companies are busy cleaning up the damage, working with insurance companies and trying to get homeowners back to normal. Many of them keep homeowners on long waiting lists. That means it could be days or weeks before homes and businesses get the help they so desperately need.
But we’ll let you in on a little secret, the local Roto-Rooter offices in Houston, San Antonio and Austin are fully certified water restoration experts! The fact is, that we mostly provide water restoration services to our plumbing customers who’ve experienced water line breaks or sewage backups but Roto-Rooter is fully capable of taking care of storm water damage too. The secret part is that most people don’t know Roto-Rooter offers these services so our wait times may be non-existent or at least much shorter than the best known water restoration companies. That means Roto-Rooter can get to the damage right away, remove water from the property, strip out soaked and damaged carpeting, drywall and furniture and begin drying out the structure before mold and mildew set in.
Roto-Rooter uses all the same water extraction and drying equipment as the biggest restoration companies. In fact, we use the very latest state-of-the-art water restoration gear and our crews all hold IICRC certifications (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification). Roto-Rooter works directly with your insurance carrier and we’re available 24/7. One other thing that most homeowners don’t realize is that there’s no need to shop around for lower cost rates when it comes to water restoration services. Why? Every water restoration company works within insurance company claims parameters. That means the insurance companies set the rates they will pay for various types of damage and the water restoration companies are bound by those rates – so the cost is the same no matter which company does the work. Learn more about Roto-Rooter Water Restoration Services and share the secret with your friends and neighbors.
Roto-Rooter Franchise Association Holds Annual Meeting
By Paul Abrams
The RRFA or Roto-Rooter Franchise Association is a supportive forum for Roto-Rooter franchisees to gather, teach, mentor and share new ideas with each other. The organization promotes relationships within the Roto-Rooter family that foster growth and understanding between the franchise owners themselves and their relationship to Roto-Rooter Corporation and Roto-Rooter Services Company.
There are more than 500 independently owned and operated Roto-Rooter franchises across North America and several others overseas. Many of the franchises have been in the same families since the 1930s when Roto-Rooter was founded on the invention of the original mechanical sewer cleaning machine. At one time, all of the Roto-Rooter system consisted of franchises but today about 117 Roto-Rooter locations are company owned and operated. Together, both groups make up the largest plumbing repair and sewer and drain cleaning business in the world. Company owned locations have learned a lot from the franchise community over the years and vice-versa. We work together to strengthen the Roto-Rooter brand, provide better service to our customers and explore new ways of achieving success for all.
During the week of May 11, the RRFA will hold its annual meeting. The location changes every year and this year it will be held in Las Vegas. There will be a series of meetings and workshops that never fail to improve the Roto-Rooter business as a whole. While the public is well aware of the Roto-Rooter brand, they don’t often understand that it is held aloft by individuals who are always leaning forward to find ways to improve our service offerings, customer service and commitment to employees. One of the greatest challenges Roto-Rooter and our industry faces is plumber recruitment & careers. There simply are not enough plumbers to meet demand for plumbing services anymore. As a group, the RRFA and Roto-Rooter Services Company will share ideas for promoting the plumbing profession and making Roto-Rooter an even better place to work so as to recruit more plumbers to our company.
Greystar Partners with Roto-Rooter
By Jack Kortekamp
When Greystar Real Estate Partners purchased Riverstone Residential Group last June, the nation’s top apartment manager acquired the second largest apartment manager. Recently, Greystar announced their supplier partnerships and Roto-Rooter Services Company made the list. Currently, Greystar manages almost 400,000 apartment units in the U.S. and has recently expanded internationally. With a combined force of over 10,000 team members, Greystar currently manages apartment communities for many of the premier ownership groups and institutions in the multifamily industry.
Jack Kortekamp and Keith Vadas from Roto-Rooter’s Commercial Business Development Group had relationships and business dealing with both companies previous to the merger. After meeting with the combined management of both companies shortly after the purchase was announced, Roto-Rooter’s proposal for a partnership was accepted for the new Preferred National Partner Program. Roto-Rooter Services Company currently provides drain cleaning, plumbing, water line repair and replacement, excavation, backflow testing and high-pressure water jetting services to Greystar’s managed properties and Roto-Rooter recently presented our newest service, Water Restoration to Greystar management.
Roto-Rooter sponsors Greystar’s Green Awards Program, a web-based program that rewards Greystar properties that conserve energy, water and promote sustainability.
Greystar is a fully integrated real estate company offering expertise in property management, investment management and development of residential properties. Headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, Greystar is the largest operator of apartments in the United States, managing over 385,000 units in over 100 markets. Greystar also has $ 1.5 billion of development underway and has a robust institutional investment platform with over 7.5 billion is assets in major markets globally.
Roto-Rooter Services Company currently provides plumbing services to Greystar properties in most of their major markets and we look forward to growing with Greystar as they continue to lead the multifamily industry.
How and Why Tree Roots Clog and Damage so Many Sewers
By Paul Abrams
The Roto-Rooter sewer cleaning machine got its name because it rotates a spinning cable with sharp blades on the tip through underground sewer pipes cutting away tree roots that can clog a sewer and cause sewage backups. Tree roots might seem like fragile little stems but they can grow to monstrous proportions and are incredibly resilient and strong! Roots can cause lots of damage to underground pipes but it takes a long time for the damage to show itself.
Thirsty trees and shrubs send tiny feeder roots out through the soil in search of water and nutrients. When the roots find water, they begin sipping it and pumping it back to the tree. One of the easiest places for roots to find water is an old sewer pipeline made of clay, concrete, iron, Orangeburg or other imperfect materials. When the sewer pipes were laid, their sections were joined together tightly to prevent roots from getting inside. Each section of pipe has a male end and a female end. Clay and concrete were usually “pitched” together using tar pitch or a similar material that helped seal the joints. The problem is that the seals don’t last forever and as the seals fail over time, those little feeder roots work their way inside to infiltrate the sewer pipe and discover the moisture and nutrients they were sent to find. Mission accomplished!
Tree Roots Grow Larger – Causing Pipe Problems
In time, those little roots grow fat and happy. They soon become the tree’s most important lifeline to a seemingly endless supply of water and waste nutrients (think fertilizer). As a result, the roots grow larger so they can deliver more and more water to the growing, healthy tree. As roots grow larger in diameter, they put a strain on the pipe joints and gradually break the clay, concrete or other materials away. To visualize how they do this, think of how many times you’ve seen a tree root push up a section of sidewalk. It’s a slow but steady pressure that gradually defeats the concrete and shoves it aside. The same thing happens to your sewer pipe. As the holes in the pipe get bigger, more water and sewage leaches out of the pipe into the surrounding soil. The soil supporting the pipe begins to erode and the pipe sections start to move around in the watery loose dirt. Pretty soon, the once reliable pipeline starts looking like a loose collection of pipe sections that are only semi-connected as more and more roots infiltrate the pipe and compound the damage. To make matters worse, the roots spread out like nets and catch toilet paper and waste until a clog forms.
Roto-Rooter’s State-of-the-art Equipment & Technology Can Help with Sewer Problems
A Roto-Rooter plumber can easily cut away young tree roots and restore flow in your sewer. Mature roots become more of a challenge but we can usually cut through those too – up to a point. Once the root mass starts looking like a tree limb, even the mighty Roto-Rooter machine can’t always cut through. And by that time, chances are good that the pipe sections are so damaged and misaligned that the sewer has just about had it anyway. Toilets stop flushing and drains stop draining and sewage has nowhere to go but into a bathtub or sink. Remember, sewers are designed to be a sealed system. If they are leaching sewage into the soil, it’s an environmental issue. Annual sewer cleanings can keep a sewer line open for years if a homeowner keeps up with root growth but eventually, the sewer will reach the end of its life and it has to be replaced.
RotoRooter guest blog:
Texas811 media and PR manager
…And Away Go Troubles, Down the Drain!
Everyone knows the Roto-Rooter® jingle. And everyone wants to see their troubles go down the drain!
Normally, when you dial 8-1-1 to get a utility locate, you have to wait up to 48 hours for the service to be completed. But – there are times when you just don’t have 48 hours, and neither does your customer.
Let’s face it – it’s tough for a company as large and busy as Roto-Rooter trying to explain to a customer without service or with sewage running into the street or their yard that it’s going to take 48 hours to get lines located. “Well,” the customer will say, “this is obviously my sewage line that’s causing the problem, what’s the difficulty?”
The difficulty, of course, is illustrated by this illustration from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of the major natural gas and oil pipelines in the United States. Hazardous liquid lines are in red, gas transmission lines in blue.
The map illustrates about 2.5 million miles of buried pipeline. Not seen are the who knows how many miles of smaller feeder lines, communications conduits, electrical cables, sewer lines, water lines – you name it – that are running through, around and under residential and business sites.
A Roto-Rooter customer, though, only sees that they’ve got a problem, and Roto-Rooter has to fix it. Pronto.
Roto-Rooter’s sewer solutions specialist can still provide the service customers have come to depend on from Roto-Rooter, AND play it safe at the same time.
Every state’s 811 call center has some form of Emergency Ticket that will get a work area marked as soon as possible so Roto-Rooter can begin repairs.
In Texas, an Emergency Ticket must meet these criteria: The State of Texas defines an Emergency Excavation as one involving danger to life, health or property. Does the work meet that criteria?
Roto-Rooter representatives should check with their local 811 notification center for the specific requirements for requesting an emergency locate request in the area.
Roto-Rooter employees should never put themselves or their customers’ lives and property at risk, or make a bad situation worse, by blind digging. Always call 8-1-1 first. Then the entire Roto-Rooter team, from the local office to the corporate headquarters to the crew at the excavation site can all join in the customer’s chorus:
¯ “And away go troubles, down the drain!” ¯
Texas811 is, first and foremost, a damage prevention company. We serve over 1,400 member utilities and municipalities in Texas, and in 2014 processed 2,629,287 inbound ticket requests by sending out 14,045,818 notifications to utilities and municipalities for line locates.
We’re glad to be serving Roto-Rooter® in Texas, too!
New Water Heater Standards Take Effect April 16, 2015
How Will These Changes Effect Homeowners?
By Paul Abrams
In case you haven’t heard, new federal mandates going into effect on April 16, 2015 are forcing water heater manufacturers to make water heaters (the kind with a water tank) a lot more efficient. For the most part, they will be smarter, safer and better insulated. But the rest of the story may impact some homeowners in some inconvenient ways. This is especially true if your utility closet is already cramped. A new water heater of the same capacity may have a larger physical footprint (to accommodate that extra insulation) than the unit that currently occupies the space in your house. A replacement water heater may no longer fit inside that space and could require a build out and other modifications to make it work.
Additionally, gas models may require more advanced chimneys (flues) and plumbing. They will incorporate electronic ignition instead of the old standard pilot flames. Electric water heaters will also be larger in diameter and/or height to account for the extra insulation needed to make them more energy efficient. Many models will now have integrated heat pumps in order to meet the new Department of Energy guidelines. One other change that may affect you is cost. Expect newer high-efficiency models to be almost twice as expensive!
The new complexities of water heater standards will make it much more difficult for the do-it-yourselfer to install the new water heater models and still remain in compliance with the new codes. So choosing a trained professional plumber to install a water heater will be more crucial than ever before. If all of these changes sound alarming to you because your current water heater barely fits into its current location, act fast because older models will still be in stores until current inventories sell out. Manufacturers were required to make the changes on production lines beginning April 1, 2015, so if the prospect of cramming a larger water heater into your small space scares you, why not purchase an existing model and store it until you need it. Or if your water heater is getting close to the end of its lifespan (the average is 11 years), it might make sense to replace your old water heater now.
Why Flat-Rate Pricing is a Better Deal for Plumbing Customers
It’s a subject that homeowners and plumbers have debated for years. Which is the better deal? Flat rate pricing (sometimes called contract price) or hourly rate? First, let me state that certain situations might tilt the advantage to hourly and other situations might tilt the advantage to flat-rate, but for most plumbing repairs, a flat rate for a plumber is usually a better deal. Here’s why:
First, you’ll be given a price on parts and labor upfront before any work begins. This can be very comforting to just get the agreed upon price out of the way without having to worry about the plumber dragging his feet and racking up hourly charges. When you pay a flat rate, you’ll pay the quoted price whether the job takes an hour or five hours. Advantage customer! This is especially true if the plumber came out without hitting you up for a trip charge or an assessment fee.
Furthermore, sometimes (but not always) plumbers have some negotiating room on their flat rate. If you don’t like the price, try haggling. The worst that can happen is he says “no.” But if a plumber is having a slow day, he may be willing to drop his rate somewhat to get the job. After all, he’s already at your house, he’s invested some time evaluating your problem and he’d probably rather discount the job than go back to the shop empty handed. He may also give you a discount coupon or refer you to one on his website to justify the discount and provide a good value to you. After all, a good plumber wants your business for life, not just for one job. If he does discount, that doesn’t mean his original price was a scam. It just means his schedule or other circumstances have allowed him some flexibility to give you a lower price.
In my view, the only time an hourly rate might be a better value is when the job only requires a quick fix that commonly takes five to fifteen minutes to complete. For instance, lighting a pilot light on a water heater or tightening a loose water connection. A customer oriented hourly rate plumber ought to divide his hourly fee and only charge you for a quarter of an hour. Unfortunately, many will simply tell you their company policy states that they MUST charge you for the full hour - so you may not get any price advantage after all. On the other hand, many flat-rate plumbers who want to keep your business have a special low “quick fix charge” for such instances instead of dinging you for a couple of hundred bucks. Just as commonly, I’ve seen Roto-Rooter plumbers do such simple fixes at no charge, especially if it’s a customer who has used them before or whose business they hope to earn in the future. “There’s no charge. It was a simple fix. Call me the next time you need me.” That’s a very powerful gesture that often wins the hearts and minds of a customer. Just to be sure the gesture is remembered, I recommend that the plumber place a sticker with his name and phone number around the work area, beneath the sink or on the water heater so the customer will always be reminded who that nice plumber was who was so generous and helpful.
Now taking into account everything you just read in the last paragraph do not confuse a very fast, efficient plumber with “a quick and easy job.” A more experienced plumber may be able to complete a difficult job faster than a less experienced guy. Don’t get angry and critical of him for being good. Some people will say, “It took him only 30 minutes to replace the disposal but his fee was equal to what the other guy would have charged me for a full hour of labor.” So what? He was fast, efficient and he saved you time. Would you prefer that he slow down and waste your time or just appreciate the fact that he’s out of your home quickly at the contracted price and you can get on with your day?
And what if the plumber has to run out for more parts? This is a common occurrence and the meter will be running the entire time on the hourly plumber but the price remains fixed with the flat rate plumber. Finally, when calculating your overall value, please don’t forget to factor in hard costs that every business has to include in to its pricing. There is the service truck, fuel and maintenance as well as vehicle insurance, liability insurance for the business, even the plumber’s health insurance. Also, office staff, rent, phones, utilities, advertising, tools and equipment. Plumbing is a professional trade that involves never-ending learning to keep up with changing fixtures, materials and plumbing codes. Not just anybody can do this kind of work so please don’t pretend that a plumber’s time is less valuable than that of any other professional, whether blue collar or white collar.
Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service is proud to recognize several of our locations that are being honored with the 2014 Super Service Award from Angie’s List.
This distinction recognizes the top 5 percent of qualifying businesses per category who maintained superior service ratings and reviews throughout the past year in each market.
By striving for, and earning the Super Service Awards each year, Roto-Rooter demonstrates its commitment to providing all customers with world-class service when they call for plumbing, sewer & drain cleaning and water restoration services.
Many Roto-Rooter branches earned the Super Service Award in multiple categories (including drain cleaning, sewer cleaning, water heaters and wells & pumps).
In the plumbing and other service-related categories, the following branches received a Super Service Award:
Roto-Rooter has been providing superior service across America for 80 years. Customers depend on us 24 hours and day, seven days a week and we are pleased to have received these service awards from Angie’s List that demonstrate our commitment to providing world class customer service.
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