plumbing terms

Plumbing Terms Made Easy

Plumbing Terms Made Easy

The world of plumbing is so easily taken for granted. We use water in so many different ways throughout our day that it’s almost impossible not to. Then when one part of your system breaks down and a plumber shows up it’s like they’re seemingly speaking a different language. You feel lost and alone. It’s like you’re on foreign soil and you don’t understand a word this guy just said. Well, we here at Mitch Clemmons Plumbing wanted to put together a glossary of common plumbing terms and words to make you feel less like an alien when it comes to your waterworks. Call if you have any other questions for our plumbing pros!  (562) 242-3218

Actuator: Button used to start the flushing process. It’s usually on the left side or top-center of the tank. If you have a new toilet installation there will most definitely be an actuator involved!

Auger: A drilling device or drill bit. In plumbing the “plumber’s snake” or “toilet jack” is a flexible auger used to bore through blockages helping to dislodge clogs. 

Balancing Valve: A valve in water heaters that controls flow and balances the distribution of heat as water flows to each faucet.

Copper: Copper tubing or piping is the most commonly used to of line to deliver hot and cold tap water and also for refrigerant in HVAC units. Typically the tubing has a label of either soft or rigid. Rigid is the most common choice for water line and “soft” is common for moving water around impediments and obstructions.

Corrosion: The deterioration of a metal as a result of chemical reactions. Galvanic corrosion occurs when zinc erodes and the water attacks the underlying metal. The corroding zinc will ultimately cause lead build-up.

Galvanized: To layer or coat metal, iron or steel, formerly with tin but more commonly with zinc. Most older homes with galvanized plumbing are typically steel pipes with a protective layer of zinc.

Hard water:  Water that has high mineral content (in contrast with “soft water”), often the result of the water percolating through deposits of limestone and chalk resulting in liquids largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates. Hard water can even affect toilets with a build up. Take care of hard water with a soft water system today!

More Plumbing Terms:

Hydro jetting: Pressurized water ranging from 5,000psi to 50,000psi,  delivered through a hose and nozzle. The tank containing hot or cold water can be gas, electric, or a diesel-powered engine.

OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer.

OHM: Unit of electrical resistance.

one piece toilet
Interested in a modern one-piece toilet? Let the pros at Mitch Clemmons provide an expert toilet installation for you today!

One-piece Toilet: A toilet, usually with a lower profile, in which both the tank and bowl are together as single fixture. These are beautiful, sleek and easy to clean. Call Mitch today for your new toilet installation.

Oxidation: Any chemical reaction in which an element gives up an electron when it comes in contact with oxygen.

PEX: a medium- to high-density polyethylene containing cross-link bonds introduced into the polymer structure. PEX tubing has great freeze-resistant properties and its high-temperature properties  (250–300°) remain stable by reducing “creep”, the tendency to flow. Chemical resistance through resisting dissolution in enhances it’s integrity. PEX is the material of choice in some potable-water plumbing systems because tubes made of the material can expand to fit over a metal nipple and it will slowly return to its original shape, forming a permanent, water-tight connection.

Pilot: Small flame used to ignite the main burner of a gas water heater.

Reverse Osmosis: a method of extracting essentially pure, fresh water from polluted or salt water by forcing the water under pressure against a semipermeable membrane, which passes the pure water molecules and filters out salts and other dissolved impurities. Interested in clean drinking water? Check out our RO information.

Rooter: Derived from the removing of “roots” from drains and pipes. The machine is commonly called a “roto-rooter”. If you need your drains cleaned check this page.

Scale: An oxide, especially an iron oxide, occurring in a “scaly” form on the surface of metal brought to a high temperature.

Soft Water: In nature, this is the rain water made pure by rocks or through flowing rivers running over stony surfaces. In a home, this is possible with a system that removes the calcium, magnesium, and other metals that would over time cause limescale and build-up in pipes. A soft water system enhances the value of your home, saves pipes, and hot water heaters. Click here to learn more about getting soft water in your home.

Tankless Water Heater: Also known as instant or demand-type heater, these devices do not store water but provide water as needed. Water travels from the tap through the unit and is heated in the pipes either electrically or by gas. 

Venting: Usually associated with air conditioning but with plumbing, true vents, wet vents, revents, loop vents, or common vents, help to protect your drain, release dangerous gases, and increase flow. 
 
Water Softening: The removal of minerals and metal from water to avoid build-up or damage caused by those elements mixed with various soaps and various types of pipes.

Hopefully this list of plumbing terms was helpful in making some strange words seem not so strange. We’ll be periodically adding more words and terms to this list. As technology, building codes, and materials change we’ll do our best to keep you informed. And in the event you need one of our services, when we arrive at least we know, we’ll be speaking the same language.  (562) 242-3218

Leak vs. Leek

When you ask most folks if “they know anything about leaks?” most will ask, “you mean like a plumbing leak?” Or they could say, “you mean like a water main leak?”

Yet if you ask a cook, chef, or someone in food service that might say “Leeks? Yea, they’re great; especially in Potato and Leek soup.” YUM! Leeks can find their way into all kinds of dishes from all over the World. From your most basic salads to the famous Vichyssoise. The leek is one of the national emblems of Wales and is a heavy influence of much its cuisine. The Bible contains several references made to leeks being in abundance in ancient Egypt. Emperor Nero consumed leeks in excessive amounts in hopes that it would strengthen his voice, make him a great orator. Now while they are bloviating about the wonders of this garlicky, chive-like plant you have a pin-hole leak slowly filling your cabinet underneath your bathroom sink with water.

Now, much like veggie leeks around the globe, a plumbing leak can pop-up just about anywhere around your home. And there are several ways to go about looking and checking for leaks.

plumbing leakDETECTION DEVICES FOR A PLUMBING LEAK

  • Several devices on the market can help you find the plumbing leak . A moisture reader helps to determine if there’s moisture in your walls which may have be the result of a leak behind the wall. Infrared cameras are also capable to help locate hot or cold areas that may be the result of moisture. You can purchase either of these at your local hardware or home improvement store.
  • Installing a flow sensor or fluid switch can help not only detect leaks but help to isolate the issue without having to cut off water to other areas of your property.
  • Specialized audio devices can also locate leaks behind solid walls or underneath concrete flooring. The process involves pushing air through pipes then the device finds where the air is seeping out from. This is most likely the origin of your leak.

HOW TO PREVENT LEAKS

  • If it’s notably colder in the winter in your area, disconnecting the hoses from your outdoor faucets can help prevent cracks forming in your pipes. Also for colder areas, adding pipe insulation for areas like basements, detached garages, or any exposed piping can help prevent pipes from freezing and cracking. With pipe insulation costing as low as .30-.40 cents a foot this can be a great cost-effective measure to save even more time and money down the road.
  • Keeping spaces underneath your kitchen and bathroom sink clear can also help prevent leaks. Often objects in a crowded cabinet beneath a sink can knock pipes around and loosen connectors and seals. Also, if there is a slight leak, objects underneath may block your view of your pipes and often a small leak that would be easily visible doesn’t become noticed until there’s a small puddle in your cabinet.
  • If you’ve ever disconnected any pipes in and around your property, it’s imperative that not only are they reconnected properly but that you use the appropriate compound and/or tape. Joints, connectors, and threading may still leak if not dressed properly before installing.

SLAB FOUNDATION LEAKS

  • Plumbing leak in large concrete slabs can make it very difficult to address issues with your plumbing. Whether it’s finding pipes or accessing sewer lines, the repairs done inside a large chunk of concrete can be time-consuming, costly, and cumbersome.
  • Now if you have a slab foundation it can be difficult to know if you have an issue and when you do realize, it’s often too late. So unless you get a clue of the leak before any substantial damage you’re basically waiting for it to reveal itself.
  • In areas where earthquakes, flooding, and/or powerful storms are common, you should be testing your foundation for structural integrity frequently. Your local plumbing professional should be able to perform these types of test. They can also test your foundation prior to other types of repairs.
  • Getting a slab leak detection test before purchasing home is a great idea as well.

Always check to see if you home owner’s insurance includes water damage caused by pipes in your foundation. This may change the way you decide to attack repairs. Sometimes replacing old pipes in a slab may be cheaper than repairing old ones. In addition, if the old pipes have a crack now…they’ll probably crack again or in another area.

DIY SOLUTIONS FOR A PLUMBING LEAK

  • Turning off the main valve then switching off water to the problem area, if possible, should always be your first step. Once the water is off, turning on the faucet to remove any water left in the pipes is your next step.
  • If you’re going to tackle fixing any plumbing leak be ready for the worst possible scenario. Spillage, clogs, and possible further damaging pipes are possibilities so always start any job with the proper tools and equipment.
  • Most simple fixes can be handle with putty/ epoxy on a small leak. Sometimes a pipe may need complete removal. Depending on the prior installation, this can be as simple as buying a standard replacement or cutting out part of the pipe with a metal saw and soldering or welding in the new piece.

Now if the task seems a bit daunting and you aren’t sure if you doing it yourself is going to be cheaper contact Mitch Clemmons Plumbing. 562-242-3218

The pros at Mitch Clemmons Plumbing can give you a proper estimate that will not only explain the job-at-hand but a variety of ways to approach it. The plumbers at Mitch Clemmons Plumbing not only have decades of experience with a plumbing leak, leak detection and repairs but are continuously trained on the latest leak detection equipment.

The folks at Mitch Clemmons Plumbing are the very best at servicing leaks in your pipes and they have a great recipe for Braised Leeks too. Give em a call!

high water bill

Bill vs Bill

High Water Bill? 

You may wonder why you have a high water bill but let’s start with the word ‘bill.’

The word “bill” has a number of meanings and uses. Probably most common is its use as first name. How William becomes Will and/or Bill has always been a bit confusing. If Will is short for William, shouldn’t Bill be short for Billiam? That would be an interesting name.

There’s also the legislative “bill”. In 1792, George Washington exercised the first veto on a bill. It would’ve divided the seats in the House of Representatives giving a few more seats to the North. Though he thought me might come off as a bit biased to the South, Washington nonetheless stopped its passing. Since the cherry tree, image was always a concern for ole George.

Another bill most are familiar with is their utility bill. Whether it’s your electric bill, gas bill or water bill, you see some bill once a month. Your water bill fluctuates greatly throughout the year for a number of reasons but there are some you can definitely control. An average family of four uses about 400 gallons of water a day and rates for running water can greatly vary from state to state. If you’ve seen a huge spike in your water bill, here are a things to look for:

Toilet Leaks

One possible source of a high water bill is your toilet. Your toilet uses more water than just about every other item in your home. Roughly nearly 30% of all water used inside your house goes through your toilet. Often your tank will leak back into the bowl. Now sometimes you can actually see or hear the leak if it’s strong enough. Other times the leaking water could be so subtle you’ll never notice it; until you get the bill.

If you want to be certain, you can place a few drops of food coloring into the tank. Come back after some time and if you see the color in the bowl, well, you have a leak. Normally a faulty valve in your tank is the cause for that leak. Most home improvement stores or even big-box stores will carry what’s commonly known as a flapper.

Sprinkler System

High water bills can arise because of a leak in your sprinkler system.  Many lawns nowadays have a timed watering system. So over-watering usually isn’t the culprit. What could be over-watering your lawn are cracks or breaks in pipes under your grass. Or maybe a water leak in one of the fixtures. If you had this installed by a landscaper make sure to alert them to it immediately.

New Dishwasher, Refrigerator, or Washing Machine

New appliances in your home can be very exciting. They can also cause spikes in your water bill if they use water when the previous appliance didn’t. Most newer appliances have settings that can regulate how much water they use. Make sure to have those settings dialed-in by a professional.

Change in Routine?

Are you getting up earlier for work? So perhaps you’re taking showers earlier in the morning and letting the water run longer to heat up. If there’s no way around you taking a cold shower perhaps take a shorter shower to compensate for the time waiting for the water to warm up. Also switching to a WaterSense showerhead could save about 2900 gallons of water a year. Think about this when it comes to high water bills.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Running your water while your brush your teeth can equal up to 2 gallons of water. So shutting it off can save about 200 gallons a year. Yet sometimes when you shut it off you might not notice the slow leak costing you. Or do you have any faucets you rarely use? Sometimes older homes will have faucets and fixtures in the oddest places.Those too could be leaking so slowly that it goes completely unnoticed. If you’ve recently moved into a home and aren’t aware of all the faucets, take a stroll around the garage and/or the basement. Check behind large pieces of furniture or cabinets. Another common issue is with homes that previously had a pool. The former equipment could have been improperly disconnected. Have a professional check your property thoroughly to be certain.

If you have a high water bill check closely into the above items.

Defective Meters

Misreads of meters are not uncommon. Human error does occur from time to time. It’s well within your right to ask for a reread. Also meters can become defective. Check with your local public utility service to find out more info on requesting a reread or to have your meter inspected. 

New Tenant

Son or daughter move back in with their endless amount of laundry? Your uncle staying in your extra room and just loves to run the water while shaving? Any extended stay guests can add a significant amount to your water bill and create a high water bill.

Water Conservation

Most of us now are use to having water at every faucet whenever we want it. Yet issues like those in Flint, Michigan and with the Dakota Pipeline Access show us how precious water still is. Conserving water is not only environmentally responsible but the best way to save you money on your water bill. After fixing and resolving any issues with your current plumbing, here are some tips to preserve water and ultimately keep your high water bill down:

Water Conservation Tips:

  • Water your grass and plants when temperatures are at their lowest. High temps will cause water to evaporate causing the need to water your lawn more.
  • If you are a fan of a cold beverage, store more in your refrigerator. Using your tap for cold water or to constantly make ice cubes can be costly down the road.
  • Changing out older toilets for units that are more efficient can be a huge money saver. If you don’t have the money to do that there are devices you can add to your tank that can lessen the amount of water used at each flush.
  • Locate your main shut-off valve. If you don’t have one, getting one installed by a professional is a great idea. It can be a lifesaver in the event a plumbing emergency erupts.
  • If you don’t have a dishwasher consider investing in one. A dishwasher can save costly gallons of water over hand washing dishes.
  • Washing your dishes with running water can cost up to 20 gallons of water. Filling the sink saves half those gallons.
  • In the event of rain, make sure to turn off your sprinkler system.
  • If you’re looking to buy new appliances make sure they are EPA WaterSense certified.
  • Avoid running the washer or dishwasher with less the full loads.

If you do have a high water bill and wonder what the source is call Mitch Clemmons Plumbing serving La Habra, Fullerton, Brea, Anaheim and surrounding communities.

(562) 242-3218

Clogged Drains – Clog vs Clog

Clog Vs Clog

The good ole Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “clog”as a “thick piece of wood” or a “wooden soled overshoe.” Though they took the fashion world by storm in the 80’s they’ve been around since the 13th century.  They’ve inspired dancing known as “clogging” and even the ever-classy tap dance owes its popularity somewhat to the clog. Now, the Oxford Dictionary has another entry that states a clog as “an encumbrance or impediment.” It also lists a clog as a verb meaning to “block.”  However, this clog has never been embraced quite like the great pine loafers from Sweden. Nowadays, when we hear the word ‘clog’ we think clogged drains! No fun!
Rooter Services Fullerton
Plumber unclogging a tub drain with an electric auger.

The history of this “clog” dates way back. In previous blogs we’ve mentioned that indoor plumbing dates back to 3000 BC. You can bet that clogs are just as old. And the things that caused clogged drains in the ancient world are many of the same things that are causing clogs today. So lets take a look at some of the most common reasons for clogs:

Design Can Cause Clogged Drains

Improperly designed and installed plumbing may be why you are experiencing clogged drains or slow drains. Therefore, if clogged drains are constantly plaguing you it could be a design issue.  Both drain pipe venting and slope affect how well drains work.
 
When an substantial amount of air is entering the vent, the water and waste will drain properly.  For example, when you flush your toilet it will swirl and empty quickly when the air vent is installed and located properly. Clogged drains caused by a poor installation of a vent can cause odor and therefor distress to the homeowner.

clogged drainsHair Can Cause Clogged Drains

As long as teenage girls have been washing their hair in a bath, shower, or sink, subsequent clogging has occurred. Nowadays we might even have a Lhasa Apso rinse causing some minor blockage.  There are many ways that hair can be removed from the sink. We do not recommend heavy chemicals that can damage pipes. Get your clogged drains cleaned out properly by calling a professional.

Oils Can Cause Clogged Drains

Whether it’s a large industrial galley on an ocean liner or a small kitchen in a studio apartment cooking grease can wreak havoc on pipes.  Wait for oil to cool after cooking and then dispose of it in the trash. Pouring oil into your pipes is a surefire way to cause clogged drains.

Garbage Can Cause Clogged Drains

Are you using your toilet as a typical bathroom trash can? If so, that may be the reason why your toilet is becoming clogged. People throw items meant for the garbage into the toilet and that will cause toilets to back up. Whether it’s feminine hygiene products, cotton-tipped swabs, dental floss, diaper wipes, paper towels, or food. Only throw toilet tissue down the toilet… everything else needs to go in the trash! 

Soap Can Cause Clogged Drains

After water, soap may be the one thing that washes down your drain most frequently. When combined with dirt, skin, hair, and other particles soap “scum” can a myriad of issues on your pipes. Many people think that soap will clean out the pipes but soap leaves an oily residue that causes clogged drains. 

Here are some tips avoid clogged drains:

  • Since hair is commonly the cause of many drain clogs, especially in showers and bathtubs, place strainers in those drains. And then make sure to clean them periodically.
  • Be careful of things you wash down your sink. Motor oil, paint, lacquer, and wax can harden in pipes and cause clogged drains with severe blockage.
  • Cooking oil, grease, or lard should not be wash down your kitchen sink. These items will cling to your pipes and cause other things that  go through your pipes to grab ahold as well. To avoid clogged drains, make sure to put all used cooking fluids into a garbage can. 
  • Hair products like shampoos and conditioner often wash down a sink with no issue. Yet, if your washing out dyes or coloring products those can cause problems. These can leave a residue that builds up causing clogged drains. Running hot to boiling water immediately after using any hair substances will help to keep that build up to a minimum.
  • There’s lots of things that should and should not go down your toilet. The only thing that belongs in a toilet other than waste, is toilet paper. Make every effort to place everything else in a trash can. A clogged toilet can be a real problem.
Make sure to follow these tips to keep your pipes clear and running smooth.
If you do run into clogged drains or a stopped up toilet call the professional plumbers  serving La Habra, Fullerton, Anaheim and surrounding areas. Call us today at (562) 242-3218
Drain Tips

Drain Tips

When showers and bathtubs start to drain slow it is usually hair causing the clog. Liquid bleach dissolves hair. Try pouring a cup of bleach directly into the drain, but make sure to rinse any bleach off of metallic finishes. Allow the bleach at least 30 minutes to do it’s thing. It may take a couple of applications to do the job. This is just one of the many drain tips we offer up at Mitch Clemmons Plumbing serving Fullerton, Brea, and LaHabra.

Kitchen Drains

In your kitchen drains we recommend not putting any food or grease into your drain. It’s best to put those things into a trash can. But if you still intend to put things into your garbage disposal you should definitely stay away from these items: grease, coffee grounds, potato peels, rice, and citrus fruit skins.

If you do get a drain clog, or other plumbing issue, give us a call! We appreciate the work our customers give us and would be happy to come out to serve your plumbing needs.

Bathroom Drains

Of course the big culprit in your bathroom drain is hair. This goes for the sink as well as the shower. Hair builds up and clogs the drain. There are several methods that you can use for cleaning your drain.

Drain Tips

See my article on using bleach to clean your drain. It’s fast, easy and inexpensive. Bleach eats the hair away and allows the drain to flow freely again. Another one of my drain tips is to install a hair catcher in both the shower and the sink. These easily remove once a month and allow you to pull the hair free. 

So those are my drain tips for this month. Stay tuned for many other blogs on things like how bleach dissolves hair, toilet replacement, why I became a plumber and many more!

Here’s another article on drain tips you might find interesting: 6 Tricks About Drain Cleaning You’ll Wish You Knew Before

Call Mitch Clemmons Plumbing today at (562) 242-3218