Winterizing the Plumbing and Heating in your Home

Well, here in Southern Alberta we have had 2 good snow storms already and it’s not yet the middle of October!  It’s time to start thinking about winterizing your home plumbing and heating systems for the upcoming long Alberta winter.

Winterizing can help you save money by making your home more energy efficient.  For heat loss consider

  • Check the caulk around windows and doors
  • Have your furnace cleaned.  Keep extra furnace filters on-hand 
  • Remove any window A/C units
  • Install certified carbon monoxide alarms (accredited by the Standards Council of Canada) in hallways and near sleeping areas

Your plumbing needs to be ready for extreme cold temperatures and wind!

  • Protect Your Pipes From Freezing – watch the water pressure in your home as reduced water pressure can be an indication of frozen pipes.  Wrap any exposed pipes that may be in your attic, outdoor walkways or crawlspace.  Applying heat tape to these pipes prior to insulating will help prevent freezing.  Point drain pipes away from the home.
  • Particularly Cold Days – leaving any worrisome taps running, even very slowly, will help prevent freezing as moving water won’t freeze
  • Keep Your Indoors Warm – Even while you’re away!  Maintaining a minimum temperature of 13C indoors helps keep exterior walls from freezing.  If you are going away, leave the cabinet doors open under kitchen and bathroom sinks to keep the warm air circulating.
  • Garden Hoses – put these away over the winter.  You can buy an exterior faucet jacket to further protect these outdoor faucets.  Your outdoor faucets should each have shutoffs.  Turn these faucets off and drain any remaining water before it gets cold outside.
  • Check For Leaks – Seal off any air leaks around dryer vents, wall outlets and faucets.
  • Drain Your Sprinkler System 

Many of these things can be done with little or no cost to you!  Being prepared can help prevent much larger problems, damage and cost!

As always, Call Paul at PMC Plumbing if you need help with any of these ideas

Call or Text: 587-583-5495

Email:  pmcplumber@gmail.com

Clogged Sink or Tub Drain (Nasty but true!)

Do you have a slow draining tub or sink?

Tub: To fix your tub unscrew the knob on top of the drain. Then use a flat head screwdriver to undo the drain.  You may need an allen key to undo the screw below the drain plug. Then pull out the drain and all the hair that gets caught in  the drain assembly.  Clean the drain assembly and then put the plug back in and tighten gently with your screwdriver.   

Sink:  Hair usually gets caught in the stopper of your vanity sink.  Under your sink there is a nut in the back that connects the lifting rod to the stopper. Unscrew that nut, pull the lifting rod out and pull the stopper out of your sink. This typically is where hair will collect.  Remove all the hair and replace the stopper.  Make sure the lifting rod operates  the stopper and then do up the nut. Hand tight is usually best. Check for leaks under your sink.  

With these two easy steps your sink and tub should drain a lot better. If not give Paul at PMC Plumbing a call and we will help you out!

Call or text 587-583-5495

Email pmcplumber@gmail.com

Natural Gas – Stoves, Garage Heaters, BBQ, Patio Heaters and more!

Natural Gas is growing in popularity throughout Alberta. It is convenient, environmentally friendly and efficient.  It heats instantly, it is safe and burns cleaner than other fossil fuels.  Natural gas is not affected by electrical outages making it available even during bad weather or electrical service disruptions.  It is the single, largest form of energy used in Canadian homes.  It is used to heat and cool our homes, cook our food, heat our water, dry our clothes and much more.  Natural Gas is significantly less expensive than electricity, propane or oil.  Natural gas dryers use 30% less energy than electric dryers, reducing your carbon footprint as well as saving you money!

Safety! Natural gas appliances must be properly installed and vented to prevent a build up of carbon monoxide.  All gas appliances should be inspected by local authorities.  A carbon monoxide alarm should be installed in your home if you don’t already have one. 

We provide gas line maintenance, installation and repair to the pipes, valves and meters that bring natural gas to your home or business.  Natural gas can be used in BBQ’s, kitchen stoves, dryers, furnaces, hot water tanks, tankless water heaters, fire tables, patio heaters, garage heaters and more.  

At PMC Plumbing we provide full residential and light commercial gas fitting services.  Paul is an Alberta trained Journeyman Gas Fitter and Red Seal Journeyman Plumber.   He has been doing this work for over 20 years.  Our work is always up to the Alberta Gas Code, permitted and inspected by local authorities. We are fully insured. 

Call or Text Paul at PMC Plumbing for a free written estimate

CALL:  587-583-5495

EMAIL:   pmcplumber@gmail.com

NOTE:  If you have a Natural Gas Emergency in the Calgary area call Atco Natural Gas at their emergency line anytime 1-800-511-3447.

The Weather is Cooling – Get a Garage Heater this Fall!

There are 3 primary types of heaters:  Forced Air, Radiant and Convection.  The two choices that work best in Alberta are natural gas forced air heater which uses a fan similar to a furnace in your home and radiant tube.  Both of these options will require a gas line installed and a permit for inspection by the city.   They also require an electrical hookup by a qualified electrician .

Working in your garage during our cold Alberta winters can be chilly but not if you have a good garage heater!  These heaters provide energy smart warmth to help get work done during winter.  In Alberta, natural gas is the most economical/common choice.  These units offer mid-efficiency heating with a good balance between upfront installation costs and monthly operating costs. 

Today we are talking about natural gas, forced air. 

These units usually attach to the ceiling, however some can be attached to the wall.  Most have adjustable thermostats, built in safety features and some with remote control options. They work best in a garage that is well insulated in the walls and ceiling.  Without good insulation heat & money will be wasted.  Outside drafts that easily enter the garage will affect performance, so good fitting insulated doors will help with efficiency and save you money. 

We typically install Hot Dawg natural gas-fired garage heaters.  They provide:

These heaters come in a variety of sizes.  The size needed will depend on the area being heated.  A general guide is approximately 85-110 btu per square foot.  The newer and better insulated the building is, the less Btu’s will be required.

  • 10 year warranty on the heat exchanger
  • Quiet operation
  • Lightweight
  • Low profile design
  • Approved for residential and commercial use
  • Unit sizes range from 30,000 BTU – 125,000 BTU (Small residential to Larger Commercial)

Some examples of radiant tube heaters would be Reznor http://www.reznorhvac.com/en/na/unit-heaters and Sunstar https://sunstarheaters.com/tube-heaters/

Give Paul, owner of PMC Plumbing, a call. We always have our gas heaters inspected and our price will include the cost of the gas permit and inspection by the city.  We provide free onsite estimates in writing as well.    

pmcplumber@gmail.com 

587-583-5495.  

Grease Down the Kitchen Sink Drain….Don’t do it!

Sunday morning, fresh coffee and some bacon and eggs… that’s a favourite for our family!  What do you do with the grease and fats left in the pan from the bacon?  It’s tempting to simply pour them down the drain…. but DON’T do it!

Breakfast Bacon

Why Can’t You Pour Grease Down the Drain? Science 101

If you pour grease and fat down the drain, the pipes in your home will eventually suffer the consequences of hardened grease and they will become blocked and stop working. Also, there is a chemical reaction that happens after your wastewater is flushed from your home and delivered to the sewers in your neighbourhood.  The fats in the grease and oil your cooking with combine with  chemicals in the sewers and form a nasty mess that can build up and block the pipes that take our dirty water to the wastewater treatment plant.  This grease acts like cholesterol in the pipes and eventually causes a heart attack for your plumbing!  In the city sewers this fat combines with calcium to form fatty blobs. As the sewer levels rise, these “blobs” rise and attach to the top of the pipes.  They can reach enormous sizes, causing dangerous backups in city and home sewers.  Gross! 

Even your garburator won’t handle that grease. The blades become less effective when they are covered in sticky, gooey grease. Eventually, they too, will stop working. 

What if you add hot water to the mix? This is still a bad idea.  Adding hot water is a temporarily solution and the grease will still harden when the water cools and this will still lead to blocked drains.

What Should I Do With Cooking Grease?

The easiest way to clean up cooking grease is let it cool and harden right in the pan. Then scrape it out into the garbage and finally, wipe out the last remains with a paper towel. This will ensure that the least amount of grease goes down your sink drain.  If your using an oil that does not solidify once cooled, simply poor it into a sealable container… hopefully not a recyclable one and throw the entire container in the garbage.  Adding grease to compost can be done but be careful because some grease will attract vermin! 

Recycle?

Small quantities can be wiped up with a paper towel or napkin and thrown in with your kitchen scraps. What about those green bins?  Well, each community has its own rules. For Airdrie residents click https://www.airdrie.ca/index.cfm?serviceID=1045&ID=492.  Calgary residents click https://www.calgary.ca/UEP/WRS/Pages/What-goes-where/Default.aspx

What If You Already Poured Some Grease Down the Drain? Drains Clogged?

For a DIY solution try pouring baking soda and white vinegar down the drainto break up the grease. If the drain doesn’t seem to be working or you’re concerned, don’t worry!

Call Paul at PMC Plumbing. He can help you out! 587-583-5495 pmcplumber@gmail.comhttp://www.pmcplumber.ca 

#bacongrease #kitchengrease #cloggedsink #airdriegreenbin #calgarygreenbin #fatberg #recycle #garburator

STEAM SHOWERS / SAUNAS / AROMATHERAPY

In recent years steam showers have really become very popular!  Rain-Shower Heads, Body Sprays and Temperature Controls can work together to make a very relaxing, rejuvenating shower after a long day at work.   Specialized lighting and even sound can be added to improve the overall affect and give that luxury feeling all in the comfort of your own home!

These high-quality Steam Showers can be added to most bathrooms while renovating the shower.

How do Steam Showers work?  There is a digital control in the shower stall that will trigger a valve to fill a small generator (about the size of bread box)  with approximately 5L of cold water.  Then, similar to plugging in a kettle, the element in the generator heats up the water to the boiling point.  The vapour is then piped to the steam head in your shower.  This will fill your shower with warm, steamy moisture.  The temperature of this vapour is set by you.  

The addition of an aromatherapy head makes the experience even more luxurious.  If you already have a steam shower installed in your home but did not opt for the aromatherapy head at the time of install, most manufactures have options that allow it to be added afterwards. Some popular scents are:

Lavender

Lemon

Eucalyptus

Tea Tree

My shower isn’t very big.  Will it work in my small shower?  The minimum recommended shower size for a steamer to work well is 36” x 36” x 7’.  This still allows enough space that you won’t have to stand or sit right in front of the steam outlet head. 

Go green with a new steam shower!  Typical showers use about 50L of water but a 30 minute steam shower uses just 8L of water. 

Aside from feeling great, steam showers with aromatherapy can provide relief from nasal congestion, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, inflammation, low energy, some skin conditions and muscle tension.  Plus, you’re entire bathroom will smell amazing long after your shower!

It’s strongly recommended that these units be installed by a qualified journeyman plumber.  If you are interested in having a steam shower in your home give Paul a call at 587-583-5495 or email us at pmcplumber@gmail.com.   

#gogreen #steamshower #aromatherapy #luxury #rainshower #bodyspray #bathroomrenovations #relax

Loud Water Heater or Gritty / Stinky Water – Anode Rod Problems

This rod is one of the most important parts in your water heater. It takes on all the damage caused by the water so the tank stays in good condition. Having a healthy anode rod reduces the amount of sediment in your tank which may help reduce your energy bills! Water likes to attack the steel-lined tank so these rods are made of a more corrosive material like magnesium, aluminum or zinc. This rod will completely erode away before the water starts attacking your tank. This rod should be checked every 3-5 years. If you have any of the following things happening get your anode rod checked or replaced:

Water heater makes loud noises 
Water heater pan is collecting water
Faucet aerators are clogging more easily
Increased heating bills
Gritty, smelly or sandy water
**Water softeners may accelerate the corrosion on your anode rod

Steps to replace the anode rod:

TURN POWER OFF – circuit breaker or gas supply
Close the cold water valve
Run a hot faucet in the home to release pressure
Connect a hose to the drain at the bottom of your tank then open the drain valve on the heater and drain about 8-10 L of water from the tank
Use a wrench to loosen the hex nut on the rod
Pull the rod out of the tank, be careful as it may still be hot
Wrap threads on the new rod with teflon tape 
Insert the new rod into the tank and tighten – note the rod can be shortened with a hacksaw
Flexible rods are available for tanks in small spaces
Turn on the hot water faucet for 1 minute, then turn the cold water supply back on to the tank
Check for leaks
Turn the power or gas valve back on. You may need to relight the pilot light depending on your tank. Follow instructions in the user manual.
Check back the next day for any leaks around the new anode rod.

The rod is in different places on different tanks. Some tanks have combo rods. Check your owner’s manual.

Combination anode rod and hot water supply

As always, if this sounds like more than you want to do…and you’re just not sure. Call Paul, he loves this stuff! 587-583-5495.www.pmcplumber.ca #pmcplumber #calgarybusiness#airdriebusiness #corrosion #hotwatertanks

Dishwashers! Get them clean!

Dishwashers! Requested by one of our readers Monica

Cleaning / Maintaining your dishwasher

Empty your dishwasher completely
If possible remove the screen or filter near bottom of washer above the drain. This screen catches large food articles before they go down the drain. See the owners manual for instructions on how to remove this screen. Cleaning this drain will help prevent the dishwasher from becoming clogged and backing up.

Basic semi-monthly cleaning – 
Use a dishwasher safe bowl filled with clean white vinegar. 
Put this vinegar on the top rack. 
Check holes in sprayer arm for debris
Ensure arms still move freely 
Run on HOT

To remove odours?
Sprinkle bottom of appliance with Baking Soda
Run hot rinse cycle

Mold or mildew that won’t come off? 
On bottom rack place a bowl with 1/2 – 1 cup of bleach and run a full cycle.
**** DO NOT use bleach on STAINLESS STEEL***

Repeat every few months to add years of service to your dishwasher and keep it clean, smelling fresh and running well.

– Before starting your dishwasher turn the hot water on in the kitchen sink until it runs hot. Then start the dishwasher. This will help the dishwasher get hot water right away and require less demand to heat the water with the element.

– If your sink fills with water when you run the dishwasher then the drain is likely blocked 
You can use Draino in the drain but don’t put it in the dishwasher itself as it may harm the pump and seals.

If you’re unsure always consult your owners manual. If you can’t find it, it is likely available online. Have any questions! Need some help? Give Paul a call or text at 587-583-5495

Jacuzzi Tubs

There is no doubt about it, a long, hot soak in a sparkly clean, steaming jacuzzi tub is a great way to relax away all the days worries. However, trying to get or keep that jacuzzi clean can be difficult. Worse yet, if you buy a home that has a used jacuzzi in it, you’re going to want to know how to clean it thoroughly and even keep the plumbing pipes clean and hygienic.

Supplies needed:
Baking sode
Vinegar
Bleach (optional)
Soft Cloth
Toothbrush
Measuring cup

1) Clean the gunk and bacteria out of the internal plumbing pipes. Fill the tub until the water covers the jets by 2 inches. Hot water is best. Before using any of the cleaning agents, double check the manufacturer’s instructions. Add 2 cups of vinegar. This dissolves buildup and won’t cause any damage. You can use 1/2 cup of bleach but do not mix the bleach with baking soda or vinegar. This can cause dangerous vapours.

2) Next, turn off the air-inductor valves (unless the manufacturer says not to). This will force the vinegar water to circulate through the internal plumbing of the jacuzzi. Now run the jets for 10-15 min.

3) Drain this water and get rid of all the debris floating in the water (ewe). Fill the tub again and run the the jets for 10 – 15 min more and drain.

4) Make sure the tub is thoroughly rinsed and there is no bleach or vinegar in it. Sprinkle a good amount of baking soda in the tub and let it sit for a few minutes. Use a soft, wet cloth and gently scrub the surface. Do not scrub too vigorously. Let the baking soda do the work!

5) Clean the jets with an old toothbrush. Scrub gently around and inside the jets. Now rinse the whole tub for a sparkling clean jacuzzi inside and out!

The vibrations in a jacuzzi tub can make the union seals come loose more easily. These tubs have electricity supplied to them so you would want to make sure you turn off the power to the tub if you suspect a leak. Most of these tubs use PVC pipes and in our climate of extreme weather, these pipe can be susceptible to expansion and cracks.

If you have any problems with your jacuzzi tub, as always, give Paul and call at 587-583-5495!#pmcplumber

Sump Pumps

Sump Pumps – What are they for? When do I need one?

If you live in Calgary or the surrounding areas, you will be quite familiar with the summer storms we get. These storms often lead to flooding in the streets, rivers, storm drains and unfortunately, sometimes our basements. Also, after a heavy snowfall when everything starts to melt, we can get water in our basements due to overloaded drain tile around our homes. This water needs somewhere to go. That place is the sump.

Sump pumps, simply put, keep your basement dry and flood proof. If your home is in an area that had ground water before the home was built it would be mandatory for the builder to install one at the time of construction. However, sometimes in the older areas this was not the case and it may need to be added after the fact, like the pictures below show. The pump is installed at the lowest point in your basement as this is naturally where the water collects. The sump pump then pumps this collecting water out to the city storm drains, a nearby water source or a dry well. This, in turn, keeps your basement dry and free of smelly damp air and mould.

The two most commonly used types of sump pumps are submersible or pedestal pumps. Most homeowners prefer the submersible type as the sump pit will be covered with an air-tight lid to avoid moisture damage. We highly recommend the submersible type.

Maintaining the sump is critical. Simply, you can test the sump pump by pouring about 20L of water into the pit. This should make the float rise and then the pump will start. Pour the water in slowly. Once the pump comes on the water should get pumped out and then the pump should turn off automatically. It is also important to check the exit pipe of the sump, this is where the water drains out. It should be free of any dirt and debris and should be directed well away from the I foundation. Your sump pump should be tested 2 times per year (Spring and Fall).

If you are having any trouble with your current sump pump or if you wonder if you may need one installed in your home, give Paul at 587-583-5495.

Sends us any questions you may have or any suggestions#PMCPlumbing