Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing this Winter

Washington residents know that our colder winter months make the pipes outside of our homes vulnerable to freezing. As the temperature drops outside you need to be prepared to prevent frozen pipes inside.

Water expands as it freezes, putting tremendous pressure, stress, and strain on whatever is containing it, including metal and plastic pipes. No matter the “strength” of your plumbing system, expanding water can cause pipes to crack, leak, or worse – break and burst.

Pipes at the greatest risk of freezing are those that are exposed to severe cold like outdoor hoses, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and pipes in unheated areas like basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets.

The good news is that you can prevent freezing pipes, water damage, and the costly repairs that go with them! To prevent this from happening to you, FloHawks has a few tips to keep your water flowing this winter.

  1. Know Your System.
    Every residential plumbing system is different – knowing how yours is set up will save you headaches down the road. Do you know where your main water shutoff valve is located? If you experience burst pipes, shutoff the main water valve immediately to minimize the damage. Do you have pipes in an attic? Does your home have a crawl space? If so, you may need to take extra precautions to insulate your pipes from the cold.
  2. insulationKeep Your Pipes Warm
    Subfreezing temps are widely unpleasant for almost everything, including your plumbing. Consider protecting them from the elements by wrapping or insulating your pipes, particularly those near outside walls, under the house, or in the attic. You can use a variety of items available at your local hardware store. Options include pipe sleeves, heat tape, heat reflector lamps, and heating cables. We would like to remind you to never use open flame devices such as a blowtorch, kerosene, or propane heater!
  3. Let the Heat In
    You can let the heat in by opening up the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors under your sinks to allow the warmer air in your home to circulate around the plumbing. Since these are areas commonly used for storage of cleaning products, FloHawks would like to remind you to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  4. water-pipeTurn Your Water Off if Going Out of Town
    If you are traveling for the holidays or will be away from home for a few days, you can avoid frozen pipes by shutting off the main water valve and draining the water in the pipes before you leave. While you are away, keep the thermostat at a reasonable temperature to make sure all areas in your home are kept above freezing.
  5. Keep an Eye on the Water Pressure
    Inconsistent water pressure can be a sign of an existing plumbing problem and might mean that your pipes are more at risk to have freezing problems. Keep an eye on your water pressure to ensure that your pipes are safe and sound. When frozen pipes burst, there is a splashing, hissing, or a thumping noise. There may be an accompanying odor caused by the water damage. If you wake up after a cold night and nothing is coming out of your faucet, call a professional plumbing expert like FloHawks immediately.

FloHawks Can Help

Give us a call today at (253) 446-8485 to schedule an appointment or use our online tool to schedule an appointment that best fits your schedule.

Septic Alarms Going Off and What to Do

alarm

Septic tanks typically come with alarms for a good reason. It is extremely important that you know if your septic system has a problem because the result could be pretty catastrophic. The septic alarms are meant to go off when the water level in your septic system’s pump tank is either too high or too low because either condition can cause damage to the system and should be prevented.

Why is the Alarm Going Off?

If the septic alarm goes off, there are generally several reasons why:

  • Power – Someone may have just turned off the power switch. Check to see if the power in on at the pump. The alarm may be on a separate power source.
  • Overuse – Do you have guests in your home who are adding to the extra water use? Maybe you are doing extra laundry or dishes after a big event? These may be the reasons for the alarm, especially if you have been properly maintaining the system.
  • heavy-rainHeavy Rain - Heavy rain causes groundwater seepage into your septic system. When it overflows, your alarm may go off.
  • Parts Problem - Your alarm will likely go off if one of your septic system’s components is faulty. It could be your pump, floats, your timer – or the alarm itself. If you haven’t had your system inspected by a professional, this is a good reason to have it done.

What to Do When Your Alarm Goes Off

First, locate the red button or switch on your septic alarm box and flip it to turn off the alarm. You will also see a red light and a green light on the box – check that the green light is on because that shows that the alarm has power. If you see that the red light is on, that means that the water level in your tank is getting too high.

FloHawks Can Help

When you have a problem with your septic system, FloHawks is prepared to handle it quickly and professionally. These are not DIY jobs. Septic system care and maintenance requires skills that our experienced team has accrued. Let’s get your septic system in tip-top shape – call FloHawks today to schedule a visit at (800) 356-4295. You can also schedule your appointment online.

How to Light a Water Heater Pilot Light

heater

When you feel cold water coming out of your hot faucet tap for more than a minute or two, chances are good that your water heater pilot flame could have gone out. The good news is that this is one problem that can be easily solved as a DIY project or by calling your local plumber. However, don’t attempt this fix if you smell gas nearby; this could be a gas leak in the area. In that case, call 911 from outside the house for emergency assistance.

If your area is clear of the gas odor, try to find the label on your water heater that provides instructions specific to lighting the water heater model that you have. Absent that, grab your flashlight and a barbeque lighter and follow these steps:

  1. thermostatTurn off your gas regulator valve – This is a knob that can be found on the outside of the water heater where the gas pipe enters it. Once you have turned the knob to off, the excess gas should dissipate. Wait at least five minutes for this process to occur to be clear of gas flare-ups.
  1. Locate the heater’s pilot burner – This is underneath the heater. Remove its access cover.
  1. Turn the gas regulator valve to “Pilot” – Once set to “Pilot,” press on it and hold it down to start gas flowing to the pilot burner.
  1. For units with built-in pilot igniters – If your water heater has a built-in electric spark pilot igniter, you will find a red or black button labeled “Ignition” on the top or side of the gas valve. Push that to light the pilot.
    Lighting the pilot manually – If the pilot igniter is not built-in, use your barbeque lighter to apply a flame to the pilot burner. Then, press the regulator valve knob for at least a minute after the pilot is lit so the flame heats the thermocouple safety sensor that detects the live pilot flame.
  1. Slowly release the regulator valve – Turn the valve to “on” after you see that the pilot light is remaining lit.
  1. Make sure to replace the access covers that were removed during the process.

FloHawks Can Help

If you are having trouble with your water heater and are uncomfortable trying to fix it yourself, there is no reason you should feel the need to shower with cold water. FloHawks can help.

Give us a call today at (800) 356-4295 to schedule an appointment or use our online tool to schedule an appointment that best fits your schedule.

Secure Your Plumbing System From Freezing Pipes This Winter

frozen

With winter well on the way, it is important to prepare pipes for the cold weather ahead. Pipes that crack or burst when the water inside them freezes and expands can cause a flood of water in your home.

To avoid the mess, damage, and expense of pipes bursting in your home, take these steps to secure your plumbing system:

  • frozen2Turn off your main water valve – You will likely find this near your water meter.
  • Drain all extraneous water from your pipes – Attach a hose to your basement faucet or sillcock and drain the water so it flows outside your home. If you skip the step of pipe draining, the water trapped in them can still freeze and cause cracks or a burst pipe.
  • Prepare the inside plumbing – Open all of your faucets and flush all of your toilets. Then close all of the faucets inside your home.
  • Install an air compressor – Connect this to your basement faucet or to an open sillcock. Then blow air into your plumbing system at the rate of 70 pounds per square inch.
  • frozen3Revisit the inside plumbing – When completed, reopen all of your sink faucets to blow the water out. Run your dishwasher and run hot and cold water through your washing machine to clear its lines. Open each toilet’s water valve so that the compressed air blows out water, then shut the valve.
  • Propylene glycol application – Pour this into every sink and tub drain, then add a small bit to each of your toilet tanks. Make sure to drain any water from your boiler using a bucket for the excess and pump some propylene into the boiler via its pipes.

FloHawks Can Help

If you want to make certain that your pipes are properly prepared for the cold weather, contact us. Unless you want to risk burst pipes, preparing for the freezing and very cold temperatures and how this affects your pipes is not something you can skip. To have all of your pipe issues resolved, call FloHawks at (800) 356-4295 or use our convenient Schedule Your Service tool, which allows you to set an appointment that fits your schedule.

How to Unclog a Bathtub

bathtub

With all the soap, hair, shampoo, and debris that find their way down your bathtub drain, it isn’t surprising that it clogs every so often. When this happens, there are a few things you can try but if they don’t work, you may have no choice but to call a plumber to unclog your bathtub.

  1. bathtub2Remove the stopper
    Many tubs have a built-in drain stopper that you can remove and check for any visible obstructions. You will often find hair and accumulated debris at the drain opening that can be identified right away as the problem.
  2. Remove any material around the stopper and strainer
    After you remove this debris and scrub the strainer, check the water flow. If necessary, probe the drain with a wire coat hanger to try to remove debris blocking the water from flowing freely. If you find the drain is still blocked, use a wire coat hanger that has been straightened leaving a tiny hook left on the end that will catch and remove debris as you use it to probe the drain.
  3. Pour boiling water down the drain
    Once you have removed all the debris, you can pour boiling water down the drain to clear out the remainder. If this doesn’t work, cover the overflow drain in preparation to plunge it. Above the main drain for your bathtub, you likely will find an overflow drain that functions to allow excess water to flow into pipes rather than onto the bathroom floor in the event that the tub’s water level rises too high. Cover the overflow hole tightly with duct tape.
  4. Plunge the drain
    Press the plunger as tightly as possible over the drain and plunge quickly and firmly. This pressure and suction will hopefully break apart the clog. Only try this a few times. If you are unable to clear the drain, call a licensed plumber to make certain that you don’t damage your pipes or fixtures by plunging too much or with too much force.

FloHawks Can Help Unclog Your Bathtub

Still experiencing issues with a bathtub that won’t drain properly? The experienced team of professional plumbers at FloHawks are ready to jump in and save you the frustration of trying to unclog your bathtub yourself. Give us a call anytime at (800) 356-4295 or use our convenient Schedule Your Service tool which allows you to set an appointment that fits your schedule.