My Favorite Plumber

Plumbing and Heating Services Downingtown, West Chester and Paoli Area

Downingtown | 610-269-5874

West Chester | 610-431-9777

Paoli | 610-296-3040

Helpful Hints

With cold weather fast approaching, prepare your sump pump to deal with winter freezing and thawing. Inspect and clean the pump and pit. Make sure debris is not blocking the end of the drain, as water that cannot flow will quickly freeze. If you suspect water is freezing in your discharge pipes, and you have a "cleanout" cap on the exterior pipe where it exits the house, you might want to temporarily unscrew it to allow water to exit sooner (replace the cap when ice has melted).

Backflow prevention is not just a nice-to-have: it's a must-have, both for health and to avoid violating the law. Backflow preventers are mandated in any situation where the reverse flow of polluted water could enter the potable (drinking) water system, such as from outdoor sprinkler systems or boilers. Call My Favorite Plumber if you are not sure how long it's been since your devices were inspected.  

A sure way to prevent water damage from leaks or burst hoses behind the washing machine is to install an automatic shut-off valve. These vales can detect leaks when the machine is in use and shut off the water supply when it is not, preventing hose fatigue from constant water pressure.

Washing machine hoses suffer a lot of wear and tear as water flow is continuously started and stopped during the wash cycle. Hoses should be replaced every few years to prevent a catastrophic failure. One suggestion is to replace them every leap year.

Drain pumps are great for transporting water from a utility or bar sink as much as 14 feet up to an existing home drain line. One challenge is that any water pushed up will flow back down if it has not yet reached the drain line, setting off the pump again. To prevent this, install a check valve, which lets water flow in only one direction.  

The most important step in installing a wall-mounted sink is, naturally, attaching it to the wall. These sinks can be hung on a metal bracket or bolted directly to wall studs. Either way, you will probably have to remove some drywall at the point of attachment or install a wood block in the wall as backing for the attachment bolts. 

Rerouting the sewer line coming from a toilet is not an easy job, but may be necessary if you are planning a bathroom remodel. The most important thing to consider when relocating a toilet is maintaining the slope necessary to carry waste out of the home. At minimum, 1/8 inch of slope per foot is needed, though 1/4 inch per foot (1 inch of fall for every 4 feet of straight pipe) is recommended. 

Fall is on the horizon and colder weather is just around the corner. With summer gardening season coming to a close, September is a good time to prepare for cooler temperatures. Disconnect and drain outside hoses and store them in a protected area. Shut off valves leading to outside spigots and cover outside faucets with a styrofoam or insulated fabric faucet cover—these are easy to install and protect from frost and wind. 

Buying a toilet is not something you do every day, which is why you should go into the decision knowing exactly what you want and need. Here are a few factors to consider when buying a toilet. 

Want to reduce runoff and lower your water bill? Install a rain barrel below one or more of your gutter drains. Rain barrels capture water that otherwise would run into the sewer. The water can be used on landscape plants and gardens. Rain barrels must be drained during the winter months to avoid freeze damage.

It’s pretty straightforward to go from a pedestal sink to a vanity in your bathroom, but the opposite is not always true—removing a vanity for a pedestal sink may require some re-plumbing. Drain and supply lines must be roughed at the proper height and the finished product has to look professional (there’s no hiding shoddy installation behind wooden doors). Call your local plumber to get the job done right.

If your dishwasher runs but won’t drain, there are several things that could be going wrong. If it sounds like a motor is running during the drain cycle, it could be a broken impeller, which pushes water into the drain line.

If your ice maker is suffering from the symptoms of global warming (small or hollow, watery cubes) or a coming ice age (huge slabs of ice, icicles hanging from the unit), don’t blame the weather—blame the water line!

Homeowners often wonder whether it's better to repair or replace a malfunctioning faucet. The best answer is: it depends.

Notice a loud bang or clang when you shut off a faucet? It’s probably caused by “water hammer,” which occurs when a shock wave is sent down the pipes due to sudden water stoppage. Water hammer can eventually lead to ruptured pipes or pipe fittings.

As everyone knows, no sink puts up with more grease and grime than the kitchen sink—but keeping it shiny doesn't have to be a big chore. Baking soda mixed with dishwashing liquid applied daily, allowed to sit for 10 minutes and rinsed with hot water should keep it clean without adding too much elbow grease!

Air conditioners are primarily designed to lower heat, not humidity, and in the summer humidity can be just as big a problem as sweltering temperatures, if not bigger—especially if someone in the home has allergies.

Garbage disposal not working? Before you buy a new one or call a plumber, see if the unit has a red reset button on the bottom.

My garden hose hates me!! Ever felt this way when a simple outdoor watering job turns into a chore because of a kinking and caught-up hose? Decorative hose reels and holders can help, but they only do so much when you need to go around corners.

If you have “hard” water, you’re familiar with the build up of mineral deposits on faucets, shower doors and drains, as well as outdoor fixtures like hose nozzles and sprinkler heads. The tried-and-true solution is white vinegar. 

Sewage ejector pumps take care of transporting sewage out of a building when toilets or sinks are located below the sewer line, as is often the case in basements. Guidelines for selecting the proper tank and pump can read like a college thesis, but the basic rules are not complicated.

Sewer line clogs mean big trouble, but don’t let a stressful situation blind you to overcharging schemes. A legitimate plumber will go for the simplest solution first by using a drain auger or snake to try to clear a clogged line.

Smoke testing is a safe, cost-effective way to identify sources of water infiltration into outside sewer lines and pinpoint breaks or defective connections allowing sewer gases to escape inside a building. If you notice a persistent, unpleasant odor, call a plumber, as sewer gases can lead to health problems. 

If your home or business draws water from a private well, a pressure tank is important to maintaining proper water pressure, having consistent, reliable water flow and reducing wear and tear on the well pump. If your well pump is going on every time you run the tap, you need to get your pressure tank serviced or replaced.

A laundry tub or utility sink is a very handy addition to any laundry area. Laundry tubs tied into washing machine sewer and drain lines allow for convenient drainage, pre-wash and other utility needs such as cleaning up paint supplies. Your local plumber can install sinks to meet any space or workload requirements.

If you've noticed dampness or water pooling around the base of the toilet, don't look the other way—unless you want to pay for ripping up and replacing rotted floorboards.

A garbage disposal is a handy and convenient tool for cleaning up dishes after a meal. Don’t get too greedy with what you think it can handle.

When confronted with a clogged drain, there are alternatives to caustic chemicals. Before doing anything else, check the drain for easily-removed hair or other blockage. Have a plunger handy—this should always be Plan A.

We’ve all been there – facing a clogged toilet or, worse, rising water when trying to flush in the face of blockage. The only thing worse than a clogged toilet is an overflowing one, but if you act fast, you can avoid the mess and potential embarrassment.

There are specific requirements for hooking up your dishwasher drain to the sink, and codes governing the right procedure can differ from place to place.

Leaks happen, but they aren’t always obvious. If you suspect you may have a leak but haven’t detected the source, a good way to confirm this is to check your water meter.

Frozen sump pump lines can be a frustrating problem during the freezes and thaws of winter and early spring. To prevent this, bury as much of the hose as possible below the frost line and insulate any exposed portions with straw.

As anyone with a wife or daughters knows, it doesn’t take much for a shower or tub drain to clog with hair. A simple way to avoid clogging is to fit the drain with a strainer that will catch both hair and soap chips that can also build up in a drain.

While more expensive to install than forced-air heating systems, radiant heat is more efficient, using 15 to 30 percent less energy than other heating systems. Radiant heat works by heating mass, not air, transferring heat from the floor to furniture to people. My Favorite Plumber can do a cost-benefit analysis to determine if radiant heat is right for you.

If you suspect a gas leak in or around your home, be aware of these signs:  A “rotten egg” odor; A blowing or hissing sound; Dead or discolored vegetation near a gas line; Flames (if ignited); Dirt or dust blowing from a hole in the ground; Bubbling in wet areas. Call My Favorite Plumber immediately if you detect a leak.

Frozen pipes are a huge hassle. If you take steps to avoid them, you’ll save yourself a giant headache – and your wallet will thank you later!

If your toilet's clogged, the water is very low, and a plunger just isn't cutting it, we've got a surprisingly simple solution that will usually get the job done for you.

Here are some tips that will help you avoid a holiday-related plumbing problem!

With your bathroom sink and tub being two of the most heavily-used plumbing fixtures in your home, it's imperative that you keep them working well to save yourself the hassle and cost of complicated repairs and maintenance.

Your washer is one of your most-used plumbing fixtures in your home, and it’s crucial to perform some simple maintenance to keep it working well. Here are some easy steps you can take to making sure your washer stays at 100%.

Keeping your water heater in good condition is vital to making sure your plumbing is at its best. Here are two tasks you should perform once a year as a check-up for your water heater.

Even though we’ve been enjoying warm fall temperatures, winter is still just around the corner! Make sure your home’s plumbing is ready for the dip in temperatures with these easy tips.

Your shower is one of the most used fixtures in your house. It's also one of the hardest to keep clean. Here are some easy ways to keep it clean without a lot of hard work!

If a can of shaving cream has left an undesired rust ring on your bathroom counter top, don't worry! This problem's fix is quick and easy.

If you have a stainless steel sink and want to make sure it keeps looking as good as on the day you bought it, follow these simple tips:

Want to keep your garbage disposal smelling clean without using any harsh chemicals? Grind up pieces of lemon and ice cubes in the disposal to clear any debris while leaving a fresh, clean scent.

Water heaters often come preset at 140 degrees, though 120 degrees should be fine for everyday use. While you are away, save energy and money by turning your water heater thermostat all the way down.

Kids love to flush things down the toilet like a matchbox or a rubber duck. How about a toothbrush. Often a plunger will just embed the obstruction further.  Instead of plunging, try using a wet vac to remove the blockage.

 

Summertime can bring sewer line backups. Backups can be caused by rainwater entering sewer pipes via cracks and new tree root growth that is drawn toward the sewer line as a source of nutrition. Call My Favorite Plumber to schedule an inspection. We will be able to access the problem and help you determine the best option for treatment and/or drain clean-out.

In the humid summer months the ductwork for your forced air system may sweat and cause condensation. If there are leaks in the seams, this could cause water to accumulate in the ductwork or into the attic insulation. Be sure to check for leaks to prevent damage to your ceilings.

Along with the warmer weather comes more time outside. And that can mean more dirty clothes and extra use of your washing machine. It is a great time to make sure the machine’s hoses do not have cracks or bulges. Your appliance should be at least four inches from the wall to prevent damage to the hoses. As part of your regular home maintenance, it is a good idea to replace the hoses on your washing machine approximately every three years.

If you notice a leak by the water shutoff valve under the sink or behind the toilet, it would be wise to replace it before it gets worse. It is a quick repair, usually about an hour, and will give peace of mind knowing the water can be quickly turned off in the event of a sudden overflowing toilet or faucet leak.

If you add several drops of food coloring into the toilet tank and leave it for about thirty minutes, you will be able to detect a leak in the toilet. The water in the toilet will become colored if you have a leak.

When your water heater reaches 12 - 15 years old, it may be time to consider replacing it with a newer, more energy efficient model. Looking at the serial number, you will find the date the water heater was made: the first four numbers indicate the month and year it was manufactured.

A flood alarm, similar to a smoke alarm,  is a self-contained electronics device that sounds a loud alarm when it gets wet. Potential flooding or leaks can be discovered before there's a major problem. Place the device near toilets, washing machines, water heaters, dishwashers and sump pumps.

Early in the spring it is a good idea to check the outside water faucets to make sure that water is coming out of them. If you notice a leak inside your home when you first turn the faucet on, it is possible that a pipe froze over the winter.

One way to know whether you need to replace toilet tank parts is if it is necessary to hold the handle down to make the toilet completely flush. Another indication is if you have to jiggle the handle to get the toilet to flush. Worn out toilet tank parts are not very costly and replacing them will most likely result in a lower water bill.

With copper, hot water flowing through pipes often causes expansion and contraction. The sound can be annoying. Try purchasing adhesive-backed felt from your nearest home improvement store.With a screw driver or gun, remove the copper fastener, wrap the pipe with felt and screw the hanger in tightly around the felt. Enjoy the sound of silence.

A regular check of your sump pump will assure you peace of mind in the event of an excessive water event. As a precaution, pour several buckets of water directly into the pit. This test will show whether the pump quickly turns on and disperses the water.

A way to prevent odors from entering your house through drains that are not used often is to take a gallon of water and pour it into the drain. If it takes awhile for the water to go away, it would be a good idea to snake the drain. It is best to keep your drains clear so that the water will disperse rapidly, if flooding would occur.

Before you remove a sink trap, give the drain a few plunges with a toilet plunger. This will push most of the water out of the trap, lessening the mess when you pull the trap. If you have a double sink, be sure to plug the other drain to contain the air pressure. If the strainer isn't a screw-down style, you'll have to hold it down while you plunge the drain.

If you use your appliances, such as the dishwasher and washing machine, at night, you will find that it is a great way to conserve hot water and is economical as well.

Sometimes there are noises coming from your water pipes. It could sound like a banging or a squeaking noise. Some of the reasons may be that the pipes are loose, the water pressure is too high or the air chambers are water logged. The solution may be as simple as anchoring the pipes that are exposed. If this doesn't solve the problem, you may need to call a professional.

Take a cup of vinegar and pour it into a plastic bag. Place it over the shower head, using a twist tie to hold it securely, and let it soak overnight. Scrub off the mineral deposits in the morning and you should notice an increase of water flowing through the shower head.

Getting in the habit of running cold water prior to and after using your garbage disposal is a good practice. Waste items such as banana peels, celery, poultry skin and carrots should never be put in the disposal. Doing this could cause your sink to be clogged because these items are too fibrous for the garbage disposal to grind.

Carefully examine the caulking in your bathrooms, specifically around the tub, shower and sinks. When you notice the caulking begin to crack or pieces are missing, it is time to remove it and replace it with fresh caulk.

The wax seal under the toilet is the most common area for leaks and water damage. The seal is a circular form of wax that connects and seals the toilet to the drain flange beneath. One sign of potential damage is if the toilet wobbles. This could mean the bolts that hold the toilet to the floor are loose or worn, which could cause the wax seal to crack or break. Fluid could leak and cause discoloration to the ceiling or floor below.

If your washing machine hoses have not been changed within the last five years, consider having them replaced.  There is a chance they could rupture, especially if your home has high water pressure.

There are strainers screwed in to the opening of the drains on most basement floor drains as well as shower and tub drains. Periodically remove the strainer and clean out the accumulated debris with a wire that is bent or a brush.

 

It is a good idea to clean the aerators every three or four months, depending in water hardness. You may need to use a rust or scale remover to return them to normal condition, or have them replaced.

To be alerted in the case of a leak, the installation of a water alarm next to your appliances, such as the dishwasher and washing machine and also under the sinks and near the water heater, could prevent a flooding incident.

The setting on the thermostat of your water heater should be at 120°F. This will ensure the best performance of the watre heater as well as be an economical advantage.

It is important to know where the main water valve is to your home. Make sure it is easily located and tagged for identification. You will be able to easily access it if you would need to shut down the water in your home for any reason.

Check to be sure that snow is not restricting your water drainage. Watch the area around your sump pump discharge line used to avoid flooding indoors as this drains from a basement to an outside area. If the drainage area is blocked by snow or flowing into a puddle, freezing could occur as well as water backing-up into the house.

During the cooler months, your plumbing could be more affected by clogging from oils and grease being poured down the drain. They can cause a real strain on your pipes and drains. Take special care of your garbage disposal, remembering to run cold water through it for at least 15 seconds before and after use. Be careful of the types of food waste you put in the disposal, avoiding hard and fibrous debris.

Keeping the filter on your furnace clean and free from debris will aid in the fuctioning of your furnace and cause it to run more efficiently. It is a good practice to check the filter for replacement every three months, possibly more during the winter months.

In order to keep your energy bills down, chaulk or seal the leaks around your windows and doors. It will keep the cold air from penetrating your home and allow your furnace to run more efficiently.

 

With a programmable thermostat, you can set times for when you want your temperature to increase or decrease. You can program the heat to be down while away at work or sleeping and higher when you are active at home. A technician from My Favorite Plumber can install a programmable thermostat for you, which could save up to 20% on your heating bills.

In order to protect your outdoor faucets from freezing, disconnect the outdoor hoses and then install an insulated faucet jacket specifically made for this purpose. By doing this simple maintenance you could prevent your interior pipes from bursting.

If you are leaving your home for an extended period of time in the winter months, be sure to shut off the main water valve and drain the plumbing system by opening the faucets at the highest and lowest points of the home. Make sure the heat is left on and set at 55°F or higher.

Be sure to insulate the exposed pipes in the areas of your home that are not heated. Some of those areas may be the garage, crawl spaces or unheated porches. Apply heat cables or heat tape around the exposed pipes to keep the pipes from freezing.

In order to protect the pipes on the inside of your home from freezing, be sure to disconnect the water hoses on the outside of your home. Do this before winter weather sets in to prevent pipes and faucets inside your home from breaking.

In order to dissolve built-up grease and soap scum and keep your drains clear, pour a quart or two of boiling water down the drains throughout your home. Take the time to clean the pop up sink stoppers to further prevent clogging.

In order to prevent problems and a possible replacement of your hot water heater, have a contractor inspect it at least once every two years.

If you experience loud noises or poor functioning from your water heater, a build up of sediment at the bottom of your tank may be the issue. Drain the water from the heater every three months to prevent this from happening.

Be sure to follow the instructions for the mininum clearance around your furnace. Usually a sticker is placed directly on the furnace with this information. Always keep the area around the furnace clear from clutter and combustible materials.

 

In order for your radiator to run more efficiently and quieter, bleed your system every year to remove the air. When air is trapped in the radiator, you will experience a reduction in its ability to expel heat in your home

In order to prevent clogging in the drain of your garbage disposal, be sure to only put small pieces of food in it and put them in one at a time. Take care not to overload and overwork the disposal. The investment of this extra time will pay off in the longer life of your garbage disposal and the avoidance of the mess that a clogged drain can cause.

If the overflow holes on your sink are clogged and the water is unknowingly left running, they become ineffective. Take the time to clean them out with a pipe cleaner to prevent water damage in your home.

The drop-in toilet cleaner tabs may be harmful to the flushing capacity of your toilets. Sometimes, the debris from the tablet gets stuck in the port holes, when they are not quite dissolved. You may need to call a professional to remove the debris and get your toilet functioning properly.

A yearly test that should be done on your toilets to determine leaks is the food coloring test. Simply, add a few drops of food coloring into the toilet tank. Wait about a half hour. There is evidence of a leak if the toilet bowl water is colored. A possible remedy is to replace the flapper or the tank ball on the toilet.

Every year there are countless accidents from failing to think of safety first when operating a garbage disposal. If an item becomes stuck or the disposal gets clogged, NEVER put your hand into the garbage disposal! Tongs or a long wooden spoon may dislodge the clog and keep your hands safe.

If you are having problems with your toilet flushing slowly, some of the resons are sediment build up, a clog or equipment malfunction in the toilet tank. Checking your toilet every so often will help you to diagnose the problem and keep it in good repair.

In order to maintain the proper functioning of the faucets in your home, every year take out the screens and clean them thoroughly. The aerators on the faucets insure an even flow of water and are great for conservation.

If you have a gas water heater, you should periodically check the pilot light. The flame should be blue with a yellow tip. If it is yellow, this may mean you need a safety adjustment. Contact a professional to fix the problem.

Prior to the heating or cooling season is the ideal time to schedule professional maintenance on the furnace or air conditioning unit in your home.

The frequent changing of the air filters on your forced air heating and air conditioning systems is a good maintence practice.

If you are faced with a plumbing emergency, and we’re on the way to help, there are some measures you can take before we get there. For one thing, turn off the main water valve to the entire house. This should stop or slow down leaking if that’s the issue. Also, having buckets and towels can be a good way to help the situation while you’re waiting for the plumbers.

Carbon Monoxide is a deadly gas that is odorless and nearly impossible to detect by human senses. It is vital to have Carbon Monoxide detectors installed with charged batteries at all times.

If you decide to modernize an old bathroom with new fixtures, perhaps a Jacuzzi tub, etc, it is important to inspect, or have someone else inspect, the old plumbing and construction to see if you should make upgrades to protect your investment in the new bathroom.

If you find that a drain in your home is gurgling, it is typically a blockage of air in the drain, usually caused by a clog of some sort. Removing the clog should fix the problem.

As a way to both conserve water, and keep your lawn healthy, it is wise to purchase an inexpensive spring-loaded timer which attaches to your outside faucet. This prevents overwatering if you’re at work during the day, or if you simply just forgot to turn off the sprinkler.

Be sure to use biodegradable laundry detergent when you do the wash. Whether your washing machine drains to a sewer, septic tank, or French drain, it is important to be environmentally conscious and use soaps that will break down.

It is a good idea to inspect your vent pipes every so often for birds’ nests, especially in the spring. It is important to check each vent to prevent clogs, but especially the vent from your dryer to the outside. This vent frequently blows hot air and the twigs from the nest could ignite causing much greater problems.

In an effort to both conserve water, and keep your washing machine in good shape, only run it when you have a full load. If you have a specific need for a smaller load, make sure you adjust the machine’s water level. Most new machines have that option.

To prevent future leaks or overuse of water, check your washing machine hose for bulges and small leaks regularly. Any hose showing signs of weakness should be replaced, preferably with a stainless steel braided hose, they last longer.

If your pipes make irritating hammering noises when you use a faucet, or flush the toilets, you can install shock absorbers to absorb the vibrations and quiet down your pipes.   

Never store flammable liquids such as gasoline, primers, adhesives or solvents near your water heater, furnace, or other gas-fired appliances. This may seem obvious, but you can never be too cautious when it comes to the safety of your family and home.

Liquid grease is your drains worst enemy.  If you have a pot or pan full of liquid grease, it is best to pour it into a container, such as an old coffee can. Any congealed grease can be wiped down with a paper towel and disposed of once the pan has cooled.

Keeping up with the maintenance of your septic tank is both important, and easy to do. Every four to six months, add a Septic Treatment to your tank. This will help in the breaking down of the tank’s contents. It is also good to have the tank pumped every three to five years as well. These things will go a long way to prevent costly repairs or replacement of the tank and filter field.

Having a flood alarm installed on your washing machine, and water heater is a great way to prevent what could be a disaster in your basement or laundry room. Flooding in your home can be extremely damaging and costly, so it is always worth it to take the extra step now, to avoid problems in the future.

A garbage disposal is a handy and convenient tool for cleaning up dishes after a meal. Don’t get too greedy with what you think it can handle. Always avoid putting hard-to-grind or fibrous waste down the drain. This includes poultry skin, carrots, banana peels, or potato skins.

Your shower head will often develop unsightly mineral deposits, but fear not, there is an easy solution to this problem. Place about 1 cup of vinegar into a plastic bag and place it over the shower-head making sure it is fully submerged. Hold it in place with a twist tie and let stand overnight. In the morning, simply remove the bag and wipe off the mineral deposits.

First things first, remain calm and turn of the water leading to the toilet. If the stoppage is a result of too much paper, then a plunger should do the trick. If the clog is in the sewer, taking the cap off of the sewer clean out should prevent overflow until we come out and take care of the rest. Remember this is not a garbage chute, even if it says disposable it doesn't mean it should be flushed. Keep it strictly to the essentials, and try to be conservative with the toilet paper.

Radiant heat circuit lengths should be neither too long nor too short. If the tube length is too long, there will be tendency for the water to lose too much heat before it reaches the end of the tube.

Don't use hot water when grinding food waste (although hot water can be drained into disposer between grinding periods). Hot water in the garbage disposer can cause grease to liquify and accumulate, causing drains to clog.

Subscribe to Helpful Hints

Pressure jetting involves inserting a high-pressure water stream into a pipe to clear waste buildup

My Favorite Plumber Protection Plan