Plumbing Tip: Never Attempt to Repair a Slab Leak Yourself

Never Attempt to Repair a Slab Leak Yourself

While plumbing issues should almost always be attended to by a professional, it is absolutely imperative that you do not attempt to repair a slab leak on your own.

slab leak
What Is a Slab Leak?

There are water lines that run below the concrete flooring of homes. A slab leak occurs when one of those water lines begins to leak.

Signs of a Slab Leak in Your Home

There are several indications that you may have a slab leak in your home. The signs may include (source):

  • No hot water
  • Cracks in your flooring or walls
  • The audible sound of running water when the water is, in fact, tuned off
  • Mildew
  • Low water pressure
  • Shifting foundation
  • Moisture under your carpeting
  • Increased water bills

How to Find a Slab Leak

Without the use of proper equipment and professional assistance, you will cause damage to your home in the search for a slab leak. Plumbers utilize electromagnetic pipeline locators as well as electronic amplification equipment to pinpoint the exact location of the leak. Without these advanced instruments, finding the leaking water line would cause excessive and expensive damage.

Once the it is found, your plumber will be able to fix the leak fairly quickly and easily.

What Causes a Slab Leak?

Generally, slab leaks are caused by a reaction between copper pipes and drinking water; however, there are typically four reasons a slab leak could occur:

  • Electrolysis—Electrolysis can occur when two dissimilar metals come in contact with each other or when your soil has a high metal content.
  • Vibrations, expansion and contracting that happen from water flow within the pipes can cause contact against concrete, gravel, or other pipes. Over time, the constant vibration can result in a leak.
  • High water pressure can cause damage to improperly installed pipes under the slab. A good way to avoid this is to install a pressure reducing valve.
  • Construction Issue. Faulty workmanship during construction can result in slab leaks.

How Slab Leaks Are Fixed

There are several options your plumber will chose from when it comes time to fix the slab leak. The method he or she chooses depends on the assessed condition of your leak.

  1. Repipe or Rerout. This method entails replacing the entire water line that is leaking and problematic. This is perhaps the most common solution, as it is typically the most effective for older plumbing systems with a history of leaking.
  1. Epoxy Pipe Coating. Typically used for systems with many small leaks, this approach involves in-place pipe coating that is applied throughout the inside of the plumbing.
  1. Spot Repair. Spot repair involves opening up the slab at the location of the leak and simply repairing the leaking water pipe. This method is generally the most cost effective option for new construction.

How Long Do Slab Leak Repairs Take?

Depending on the condition and damage, a slab leak fix typically takes no longer than two days. This includes locating the leak and preparing the site for repair.

Contacting Professional Help

If you have any of the listed signs or symptoms of a slab leak, it is crucial that you seek professional assistance right away. Stalling or attempting to resolve the issue yourself will result further damage.

If you’re concerned you may have a leak, contact Moon Valley Plumbing today at (480) 588-1926. We are proud to be Arizona’s premiere plumbers since 2003.

We’re honest. We’re affordable. We’re good.

Buying a Home: Why Plumber Inspections Are Important

Why Plumber Inspections Are Important

Plumber Inspections are always very important before buy a home.

Plumber Inspections

So, you found your dream home.

Often, the buyer makes an offer before ordering a home inspector to assess the home’s condition and functionality. And while the property may appear to be in satisfactory condition to the home inspector, it’s crucial to have a plumber also examine your potential new home before you make an offer to ensure the its longevity and easy maintenance.

If a plumber is called after the purchase of a new home, you may be at risk for expensive surprises that could have been avoided.

Common Plumbing Conditions That Are Overlooked Before a Home Is Purchased

There are three major plumbing issues that are often overlooked before a buyer purchases their new home, resulting in exorbitantly expensive repairs and replacements (source).

  1. Water Heater Risks

Signs of a Potential Issue:

A water heater over ten years old is always a reason for concern. Water heaters that heat a home in addition to supplying the hot water will often need to be replaced before the ten-year mark. Additionally, the location of the water heater may also be a red flag for past or imminent damage.

The Risk:

A water heater precariously located close to wood flooring, carpet, drywall or valuable assets of the property is a risk for damage. It’s equally important to assess the age and size of the water heater to ensure overflow and accurate volume availability for your needs.

For example, if the previous homeowner downsized to a smaller water heater after their children moved out for college, it’s important to make sure the water heater is big enough for your needs—particularly if you have a young family.

Why a Plumber is Necessary:

The age of a water heater can be determined by its model and serial number. A plumber can not only assess the water heater’s location and size, but also whether it is safe and up to code.

  1. Issues with the Main Sewer

Signs of a Potential Issue:

If the home of your dreams seems to have drains that clog incessantly, there is a reason—and the cause may be more serious than you expected. This frequent clogging may be a sign of an issue with the main sewer line.                                                                                                              

The Risk:

If there is an issue with the sewer line, such as deterioration, repair is critical in order to avoid a hefty replacement fee. Catching an issue with the main sewer before purchasing a home can save you thousands of dollars.

Why a Plumber is Necessary:

Plumbers will conduct a camera Plumber Inspections to determine if clogging within the home is more serious than anticipated. The camera can catch problems along the sewer line that are impossible to determine by a simple home inspection.

  1. Leaky Toilets

Signs of a Potential Issue:

Small leaks around the toilet have a tendency to go unnoticed and unrepaired for years. When inspecting a home, plumbers look for warping and discoloration around the toilet’s base, soft flooring around the toilet that moves when pressure is applied and a toilet bowl that can move from side to side.

The Risk:

While a leaky toilet may seem like a minor plumbing issue, over time the moisture causes rot in the subfloor and can get between the subfloor and the finished floor.

Why a Plumber Is Necessary:

Plumbers will pick up on the seriousness of a “minor” plumbing condition immediately and notice if the previous homeowner attempted to resolve the issue by sealing it themselves, which often exacerbates the problem.

Contact Moon Valley Plumbing Before You Buy Your Dream Home

At Moon Valley Plumbing, we want to ensure you are getting the best price for a safe home you can be happy in for the long-term. Finding out the true condition of your future home’s plumbing gives you the ability to negotiate an appropriate price and gives you peace of mind before moving in. Contact Moon Valley Plumbing to fully Plumber Inspections your dream home before it’s officially yours.

Plumbing Tip: Check Under Your Sink and Water Heater to Make Sure There Are No Leaks

April Blog Tip

When it comes to home plumbing problems, leaks are not uncommon. While some leaks may be quick fixes, some may also indicate a much larger problem. By regularly checking your hot water heater and under your sink for leaks, you can prevent excessive water damage, prevent health issues caused by mold and mildew and even catch a potential problem before it becomes a much more expensive one.

Checking Your Hot Water Heater for Leaks

Water dripping from the hot water tank or pooling below the heater itself can indicate several potential problems, such as corrosion, loose valves or something as simple as condensation. Because it can happen suddenly, it’s important to routinely check your water heater for any signs of leaks as it can also be a sign of a much larger problem waiting to happen.

Determine if Your Water Heater is Leaking

Pools of water and moisture around your hot water heater may simply be caused by condensation. If you notice a suspicious pool of water around your water heater, wipe it up before inspecting the surrounding plumbing, such as water softener discharge lines, the body of the water heater itself and the pipes overhead. If you are unable to pinpoint the source of the leak, continue checking the area for several days. If the water returns, it is likely that your water heater is, in fact, leaking (source).

What to Do if There Is a Leak

If you were able to find the source of your leak, turn off the power to your water heater. On electric heaters, simply switch off the breaker for the water heater in the circuit breaker box. For gas heaters, avoid closing the gas shut-off valve when shutting the power off.

Secondly, turn off the water supply. It’s important to remember that the water inside these tanks can reach temperatures of up to 190 degrees, so if you are unable to access the gate valve safely, turn off the water supply to the entire home.

If the source of the leak has yet to be found, leave the water supply on. This will help you and your plumber pinpoint the problem quicker.

Inspect the Area for the Source of the Leak

There are multiple parts of the water heater that could be the source of your leak. While inspecting the area, make sure to check:

  • The cold water inlet and hot water outlet
  • The temperature and pressure relief valve
  • The heater drain valve
  • The base of the hot water tank

A leak coming from the hot water tank itself is common and typically indicates degeneration. Unfortunately, this usually means the tank must be replaced.

Checking Under Your Sink for Leaks

Similar to hot water heaters, it is important to check under your sink for any potential leaks that may result in water damage, health issues or even indicate a much larger problem. Luckily, leaks under the sink are typically easy to fix when found, often coming from the faucet itself, supply hoses or drain pipes. The source of a leaky sink is typically much easier to find than with a water heater.

Determine if There Is a Leak Under Your Sink

Generally, a saturated floor or wet cabinet is the first indication of a leak under your sink. There may even be water spraying or a pool forming underneath or around the sink itself. However, if a faulty seal is to blame, the leak may not be evident until the sink if full of water.

What to Do if There is a Leak

Often, dripping water is a sign of a loose connection, although it may imply faulty pipes as well. In the event that any of the pipes fittings are too loose, a simple tightening will often fix the problem and prevent further water damage. However, if you are unable to locate the source of the leak, chances are the sink drain or faucet itself is leaking (source).

Contacting Professional Help

If you are unable to identify the source of a leak from your water heater or under your sink, you may benefit from contacting a plumber for assistance. Additionally, if you discovered a problematic leak, ensure your safety by reaching out to a professional. What may seem like a small plumbing issue can turn into an expensive plumbing failure or flood. If you’re concerned about a leak, contact Moon Valley Plumbing today at (480) 588-1926.

Plumbing Tip: Don’t Forget to Flush Your Water Heater

Plumbing Tip: Don’t Forget to Flush Your Water Heater

Don’t Forget to Flush Your Water Heater

Water heaters enable the luxury of warm water and hot showers with only the turn of a handle. These typically cylinder-shaped systems are often tucked in the basement corner, made of steel and insulated to retain heat. While water heaters are generally low-maintenance, it is crucial to flush your them regularly.

Flush Your Water

Flushing Your Water Heater: Why It’s Important

Water heaters hold a large volume of water inside its tank. Overtime, iron sediment settles to the bottom and can stir up whenever the bathtub or washing machine is used, causing an unappealing discoloration of the water. In order to control the buildup of mineral deposits and to optimize the operating efficiency and life of the heater, it is important to to flush this system regularly (source).

When You Should Flush Your Water Heater

Generally, it is recommended that you flush your water heater annually (source); however, the recurrence of your maintenance will depend on your water heater model and your home’s water source. If your water heater is getting older or if you just moved into your home, it’s a good idea to flush your water heater right away to assess its quality. Additionally, if you have a water softener that uses salt, it is necessary to flush your water heater at least once a year or once every six months.

How to Flush Your Water Heater

If you wish to flush your water heater yourself, there are quite a few steps to follow:

  1. Locate the and disable the main power source of your water heater

An electrical heater will be powered by a breaker or fuse box, whereas a gas heater will use a thermostat.

For a breaker box: disable the circuit that powers your electrical water heater. If you are unsure which branch circuit breaker this is, you may turn off the main circuit breaker. Remember, if you do this, the power in your home will be off throughout this procedure.

For a fuse box: remove the fuse box powering the water heater. This fuse box will have a handle that may be hot, so be careful when pulling it closed.

For a thermostat: turn the setting to “pilot” on the gas heater.

  1. Turn off the cold water inlet into the water heater

The shut off valve will be located at the top of the tank. If you have a ball valve, this will simply close with a quarter-turn, whereas a gate valve will take more rotations to shut completely.

  1. Turn on the hot water spigot in your sink
  1. Attach a garden hose to the tank’s valve

This valve will be located at the bottom of your heater.

  1. Place the draining end of the hose in a safe location

Because the water dispensed from the hose will be extremely hot, make sure to place the end of your garden hose in a safe location, such as a sink, outdoor drain or driveway.

  1. With the pressure relief valve open, open the water heater’s drain valve
  1. Let the water run

After a several minutes, if the water appears clear and has cooled, use a drinking glass to collect the running water. Once the water settles in the glass, look for any remaining sediment.

If the water is still clouded, continue flushing until it is clear. If for some reason the tank empties before the water appears clear, turn your cold water supply on and partially fill the tank to continue flushing.

  1. Close the drain valve

Disconnect the garden hose, turn off the hot water spigot and turn on the cold water inlet to the tank.

  1. Power-up

Finally, turn on your water supply to let the tank refill. Reopen the pressure relief valve slowly, closing it once any compressed air has vacated. Close the water heater drain, only turning on the water supply once the hot water starts running; at this point it is safe to turn on the power source again.

Need Some Guidance?

Many opt for professional service when it comes time to flush a water heater. If your schedule is too busy, the process seems overwhelming or if you stumbled upon problems, Moon Valley Plumbing is here to help. Contact us today for assistance!

Plumbing Tip: Always Check Your Water Pressure

Feb Blog Image

Much like the human body, a home is composed of individual parts with specific jobs, working together for optimum efficiency. In this context, water pressure acts similarly to blood pressure within a body; if a home’s water pressure is too high, the rest of the house is put under stress and unable to function efficiently. Because of this, it is imperative to always check your water pressure.

Checking Your Water pressure: Why It’s Important

Low water pressure can be agitating for showers and dishwashing; however, high water pressure can cause a multitude of serious household problems. Water pressure over 75 PSI (pounds per square inch) can lead to:

  • Pipe damage
  • Water waste
  • Leaks
  • Costly damages

Fixtures such as water heaters, faucets and toilets may break down due to the ongoing stress of high pressure. What’s more, your water bill is bound to skyrocket if the pressure is not reduced to a safer level.

Signs Your Water Pressure May Be High

Perhaps your toilet runs late at night or you wake up in the morning to a pool of water around the faucet; these are both common signs that your water pressure may be too high. Additional signs include:

  • Banging pipes
  • A failing water heater
  • Spitting from your faucet aerator when it is turned on
  • Trouble with your washing machine and/or dishwasher

These signs are all indications that it is time to check your water pressure.

How to Check Your Water Pressure

Luckily, checking your water pressure is easy and affordable. All you need to do is:

  1. Buy a residential water pressure gauge from a hardware store. These affordable gauges should fit into any household hose bib. Some more expensive gauges, around $25, have a resettable needle to record water pressure overnight.
  1. Turn off any appliances that use water, such as faucets, washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerators with ice makers. If you do not turn off these appliances, you may receive a false low reading due to water moving elsewhere throughout the house.
  1. Attach your water pressure gauge to a hose bib. The water outlet should be close to your home’s main water supply source. Therefore, if your water supply comes from a well, use an outlet that is close to the well’s pressure tank; alternatively, if your water is supplied by the city, choose a faucet near the water meter. Once the gauge is attached, open the water supply valve slowly (source).
  1. Once the water supply valve is open, wait for the needle on the gauge to stop moving before reading the pressure.
  1. Once you get a reading, test the pressure again to ensure accuracy.

What Causes High Water Pressure?

High water pressure may be the result of multiple causes (source). Sometimes, municipal water suppliers set the local water pressure to a setting as high as over 100 PSI for fire hydrants or tall buildings, which can impact your own water pressure. Your water pressure may also increase due to expansion from your water heater, or in some cases, be the result of a home with a downhill slope.

How to Solve the Problem

If your water pressure reads above 75 PSI, contact Moon Valley Plumbing for assistance. We will happily install a pressure regulator, which ensures the pressure inside your home is maintained to a safe pressure.

Travis Mingle and his team of professionals at MVP are equipped with over two decades of experience known throughout the valley for their honesty and professionalism. Don’t put stress on your home. If you’re concerned about your water pressure, contact Moon Valley Plumbing today at (480) 588-1926.

Why Is a Water Softener a Good Idea?

Why Is a Water Softener a Good Idea?

To understand why installing a water softener is a good idea, it helps to understand why hard water is a problem. First, “hard water” is considered “hard” because it contains minerals, generally all or some combination of the following:
Water Softener
 

  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • iron
  • copper
  • manganese

 

Calcium and magnesium are the biggest culprits, with iron being a close third. These minerals bind or react with soap and detergents to cause an insoluble material called “curd.” Hard water makes cleaning difficult because:

 

  • it wastes soap and/or synthetic detergents; more needs to be used but it still doesn’t clean as well
  • it leaves scum and rings in tubs, toilets, and sinks that are difficult or impossible to remove
  • it creates spots and streaks on dishes in the dishwasher
  • it can stain clothing
  • it makes bathing difficult because soap doesn’t clean or rinse out well; skin conditions may also be aggravated
  • it causes scale build-up in appliances – water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, etc. this generally means higher costs in repair and the need to replace more often

Will Installing a Water Softener Increase My Water Bill?

Will Installing a Water Softener Increase My Water Bill?

The answer to this question is – “yes, yes it will,” but if you want to know how much Water Softene will actually increase your bill – we can’t give you a definite answer on that.

It depends on what kind of system you install, how big it is, the degree of hardness in the water, the size of your pipes, number of bathrooms, types of showerheads, how many people are in your household, how much water they use in a day, and what your water rates are (yes, we know – it isn’t fair, but water rates are different in Scottsdale than they are in Glendale). That said – it isn’t going to be an exorbitant amount, particularly when you consider that it’s generally offset by saving you money on the problems that having hard water would create for you.

Water Softener

The reason why water softeners raise your water bill is because they use additional water to “backwash” or “recharge” the water softening filtration system after a certain number of gallons have been run through and treated. This additional water might be anywhere from 15 gallons to 100 gallons per “recharge;” how often it recharges depends on the usage. The usage depends on how big your family is, how they use water, how many appliances you have, etc.

 

The reason why water softeners save money is that the minerals in hard water are tough on appliances; dishwashers, water heaters, and washing machines will all wear out and need to be replaced sooner. Also – it takes more detergent – and often more water – to get things “clean,” because hard water reduces the cleaning efficiency of any kind of soap.

 

A very broad, very generalized estimate for additional costs to run a water softener for a family of three per year is approximately $200 – in both salt and additional water bill cost.

TIP # 2 – ALL NATURAL DIY SOLUTION TO PREVENT SLOW RUNNING DRAINS

All Natural Diy Solution to prevent slow running drains

Here are our best DIY drain-clearing, pre-emptive Solution

How Do I Stop Plumbing Problems Before They’re Problems?

As we’ve previously noted, FOG – fats, oils, and grease are anathema to drains. They will clog up even the highest of high-end, gourmet kitchens with state-of-the-art plumbing. While we’ve previewed what caustic drain cleaners can do to clear your drains, the truth is that the best solution to a clogged up kitchen drain is really to do preventative maintenance. And the first thing to start with is also the simplest – just quit pouring FOG’s down the drain.

DIY SOLUTION

The next best solution is what we like to call a “pre-emptive strike.” You periodically “clean out” the drain every month or so, just as a precautionary measure, whether it’s running slowly or not. That way, you never actually have to arrive at the “Oh, no, oh darn it –“ stage.

 

While slow-running drains are a concern, so is the environment – and saving money. We want to save both for you, so here are our best “DIY” drain-clearing, pre-emptive solutions:

 

  • Homemade Grease-cutting Solution Recipe # 1: Pour half a cup of baking soda into your garbage disposal, and then add a half to a whole cup of white vinegar. Let it stand for 20 minutes, then run cold water and turn the disposal on for about a minute or so. Baking soda fizzes and helps the vinegar dissolve grease. That should take care of a lot of stuff that might be gumming up your garbage disposal drain.

 

  • Homemade Grease-cutting Solution Recipe #2: Mix one cup white vinegar with one cup boiling water and pour down your drain. Let it stand for the time it takes to boil another pot or teakettle of water. Pour the boiling water down the drain to rinse it through. The vinegar dissolves grease, the boiling water pushes it through.

 

  • Homemade Grease-cutting Solution Recipe # 3: This one isn’t quite as environmentally friendly, but it is helpful if you’re dealing with odor coming from your drain or garbage disposal. Mix a cup of bleach with a cup of hot water and pour it down the drain; let stand for a few minutes. Follow this with at lease a couple of quarts of warm, soapy water – mix it with biodegradable, grease cutting, dish soap. The bleach is an anti-bacterial, and the grease cutting dish soap will rinse it through.

 

  • Home-made Grease-cutting Solution Recipe # 4: This is a great weekly measure for all drains: mix 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup salt, and 1 cup cream of tartar together (if you want to mix up a bigger batch, this powder will store forever, btw). Every week pour about half to ¾ of a cup down your drain, then follow it with 2 cups of boiling water. The cream of tartar is a natural pipe cleaner (especially for metal pipes), and the boiling water will fizz the baking soda, causing the salts to scour away the buildup.

TIP #1: STOP THE FOG!

How Do I Stop Plumbing Problems Before They’re Problems?

What’s “FOG” you may ask? FOG is a your plumbing system pipe’s worst nightmare – fats, oils, and grease! Hot grease is liquid when it’s hot, but when you pour it down your drain, it hardens, turning into the kind of sludge you see in a cooled pan after you’ve cooked a pound of bacon. The same is true of butter, lard, and shortening. They all harden, and they all turn into sludge. And that sludge sticks to the inside of your pipes, and narrows them considerably.

 

What about oils and fats? They’re liquid aren’t they? Well, yes, they may look liquid, but they’re thick and tacky, and they coat the inside of your pipes, and that will narrow them as well. All of these substances will stick, clump, cling, glob, and/or lodge inside your pipes, and collect food particles and all the other debris that goes down your drain, no matter how careful you try to be.

 

What to do?

We’ve previewed caustic chemical drain cleaners and what they can do after you’ve got a big problem, but there’s plenty you can do before you have a partial or completely clogged drain problem to keep it from happening. The first is really the most simple, and though we feel like a broken record, the fact is that the #1 best solution to a clogged drain is not to clog it up in the first place. And our expert advice on this is simply to stop pouring any kind of slick substance down your drain (we know, that can be kind of an irritating answer, but we need to cover all the bases for you). Whatever it is – a plate or a bowl or a pan – take a paper towel and wipe up the scraps/grease/oil and put it into the garbage.

 

Then second best #1 solution is never use hot water to rinse the dishes and pans off in the sink either. After you’ve scraped everything off all the dishes, but before you wash or put them in the dishwasher, soak them first in a tub of hot, hot water mixed with one of the new, biodegradable, anti-grease/grease-cutting dish soaps now on the market. These dish soaps won’t remove the grease build-up inside your drains, but they do a fine job of keeping grease from building up, because they break down the fat particles and dissolve them.

2 Powerful Ways to Make Commercial Drain Cleaners Work For You?

2 Powerful Ways to Make Commercial Drain Cleaners Work For You?

The most widely used “over-the-counter,” of the Commercial Drain Cleaners are “caustic” and “oxidizing.” They work on different kinds of clogs:

Commercial Drain Cleaners

  • Oxidizing drain cleaner: These drain cleaners come in a liquid form that’s heavier than water so it moves down through any standing water in the drain to the source of the clog. These drain cleaners are made of things like bleach, peroxides, and nitrates, and they work by sucking electrons out of the clog and oxidizing it, essentially causing it to break up and dissolve by converting the solids to liquids. These are best for bathroom clogs, where the culprit tends to be soap scum and hair.
  • Caustic drain cleaners: These cleaners can come in either solid or liquid form; in liquid form, they are also heavier than standing water, so they move through the standing water to settle on the clog to go to work. If they are in solid form, they also move through standing water to reach the clog. These cleaners are made up of caustic substances like potash and/or lye. These chemicals they release create heat, which melts the clog. They’re best for kitchen clogs, which are generally made up of grease and food particles.

There is a third category of drain cleaner which homeowners sometimes use, and this is an acid drain cleaner. This kind of drain cleaner is generally sold only to professionals, however, because they’re even more toxic than the others are. Still, we find that some of our clients do find a way to get it, and do use it.

More toxicity also means that these are more powerful, of course, but keep in mind that this makes them more dangerous as well. Made of sulfuric acid or sodium hydroxide – an acid drain cleaner will also heat up, but the chemical reaction is more intense. This means that an acid drain cleaner can cut through just about anything, from grease to hair to food to paper products like sanitary napkins, etc. When we use it, we use it very, very carefully – and you should too.

The bottom line, however, is that if you’ve used a couple of kinds of these over-the-counter drain cleaners and they didn’t work, it’s time to give us a call or contact us. We’ll have you up and running – safely – in no time!