Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning, and Fire Sprinkler Blog

Plumbing System: How to Detect Leaks

Posted by Brian Johnston on Fri, Aug 19, 2011

plumbing_system_how_to_detect_leaksA troublesome issue that you may come across involves leaks in your plumbing system. Though you can enlist the help of a plumber to help fix the issue, some methods can be used to detect the leaks on your own to make sure that another underlying culprit is not causing the issue. After all, allowing leaks to continue and go unresolved can result in corroded pipes that need to be replaced. In worst case scenarios, mold and or pipes can burst, leaving you with a mess in your home if not taken care of immediately.

Listening for the Leak

You laugh? There is a business model, and one I have referred to for help, dedicated to adding air pressure and or performing the "gas" test. This involves filling the water pipe with industrial hydrogen and paying attention to the movement of it through the pipes with an acoustic listening device.

So before you spend the $300 for this service, perhaps the first troubleshooting step you can take to figure out this plumbing issue is to listen for the leak. Before you can do this, you need to find the water supply valve in your home and shut it off. After you close the valve, listen for leaking water wherever it may be–in the bathroom, kitchen or crawl space. It helps to get another person and two phones—ask the other person to turn off and on the water as you move around the suspect area. You can use duct tape or a similar patch to make sure that the leak is temporarily stopped once you find it, but calling a plumber soon after is essential if there’s no way for you to fix it yourself.

Looking at the Water Meter

The second step to take to definitively figure out if you have a water leak–assuming the "listening" test didn’t work–is to look directly at the numbers on the water meter. Depending on where you live, this can be plumbing_system_how_to_detect_leaksa small box on the ground or on the side of your building. Look at the digits to determine if they are moving and whether the number rises. Ask that no one in the house uses any water and I would suggest also turning off all the water supply’s to the toilets. If the numbers do fluctuate and increase, you’ve verified that you have a water leak and should notify a plumber. Pictured is a recent case, wet carpet and concrete was determined to be coming up from a leak in the pipe, in the slab, two rooms down the hall. Water travels—it flows downhill and follows the path of least resistance. 

Getting Help from a Plumber

If you’re certain that you have a plumbing leak or if you want to get a second opinion, the next step is to call a trusted plumber. One of the first steps that a plumber is going to take is going to be to confirm that you actually have a leak.

plumbing_system_call_a_plumberAll things considered, leaks should be detected immediately no matter if it is verified by you or a professional plumber. Even minor leaks can turn into serious problems, resulting in higher bills or damage to pipes or home appliances. Even worse in humid environments is mold. Detecting the leak–and having it fixed immediately with the help of a plumber–is crucial to the health of your home plumbing system.

Tags: Residential, Residential Plumbing, Outhouse Tips

6 Air Conditioning tips to keep you cool this summer.

Posted by Brian Johnston on Tue, Jun 28, 2011

Your summer electric bills in Florida will likely be the highest bills if you compare the dollar amounts throughout the year. I can say this from personal experience. Here are a few tips to keep you cool this summer and your air conditioning system working properly.

1) Check your air intake filter monthly. I know that this sounds excessive,6_air_conditioning_ tips_to_keep_you_cool but it is not. You will be surprised how many airborne pollutants are in your house all of the time. If it is dirty, change it. They are usually located under the air handler unit, in the hallway ceiling or wall. I also pour bleach in my condensation line to keep it clear from algae build up that may prevent proper drainage. Good time also to check the condensing unit has adequate clearance around allow for ventilation! Keep plants trimmed back 2ft from the unit and check that the condensate line is free from obstruction.

2) Set your thermostat to 78 degrees while you are at home and 83 degrees while you are away. When home and tempted to go lower the 78, first try turning the unit’s fan from the auto setting to "on". The circulation may help with hot spots and save on cost. When leaving, there is no reason to run the ac when you are at work.

3) Go programmable! To help remember to turn the temp up, consider installing a programmable thermostat. This feature allows you to set your A/C to turn on 30 minutes or so before you expect to get home.

4) Use your shades, install some heavy curtains or light blocking shades. Closing the shades prevents additional sun rays from heating up the air inside of your house.

5) Use fans. It really doesn’t matter whether it is a ceiling fan or an oscillating fan as long as it moves air. Moving air appears to feel cooler than still air. However, remember to turn the fans off when you leave the room.

6) Have your A/C unit coils cleaned and inspected by a certified technician. You may need to have the air conditioner coils cleaned periodically as they develop a dirty buildup. During the same service call have the freon levels checked as it may be low due to a leak in the system.

Tags: Residential, Outhouse Tips, Air Conditioning

Ways to upgrade your bath or kitchen plumbing with tax refund money!

Posted by Brian Johnston on Wed, Mar 23, 2011

Spring brings many things...warmer weather, blooming plants and tax refund checks! Plumbing and taxes--two things we all have in common.

This is the year to rejuvenate your bath or kitchen plumbing fixtures with your tax refund!

Trends are showing people are spending more time at home and moving less so upgrade your surroundings now with better fixtures. Especially since you are home to enjoy them more often, the personal ROI for upgrading and fixing plumbing issues has never been greater! 

Blake Ellis, staff reporter for CNN Money, says the average 2010 refund is about $3000 -- a 5% boost from the previous year.

Here are some rejuvenating renovation examples using half and all of the average tax refund money:

Option One: $1,500

Shower Bath Upgrade

  • one standard water closetrejuvenate-your-kitchen-plumbing
  • one china lavatory replacement
  • single handle lavatory faucet


Kitchen Upgrade

  • new stainless steel sink
  • single handle sink faucet
  • garbage disposal
  • ice maker water line


Option Two: $3,000

Tub Bath Upgraderejuvenate-your-bath-plumbing

  • standard tub replacement
  • one water closet
  • two single handle faucets


Personal Shower Upgrade

  • one rain shower head
  • multiple standard shower heads
  • body sprays

All fixtures and faucets to be standard contractor grade and may not be those pictured. Also note, the price examples do not include any other trade's work that may be necessary such as wall board, tile, cabinets etc.

Here are some tips to selecting a craftsperson to complete the work and why a do-it-yourself type agrees to call a professional!


Do you plan to reinvest your tax refund dollars back into your home?


Images: Morgan Bros Supply

Tags: Residential, Residential Plumbing

Weekend Warrior: Ask for plumbing help

Posted by Brian Johnston on Fri, Jan 14, 2011

It is Friday, so this is for the do-it-yourselfer planning their next project.

Last weekend at the hardware store, I saw a guy buyingshower valve a few plumbing parts. I asked him what project he was working on. Clearly frustrated, he responded his intention was to change out a 20-year old shower valve. Initially, he purchased only the valve but returned to get a different plumber’s wrench and penetrating oil. With new tools, brute force and his inexperience, the shower valve broke off the pipe in the wall as he attempted to remove the original valve.

The trip today, he confessed was to check prices on replacing broken tiles and was forced to buy a bigger escutcheon plate to conceal the wall cavity the emergency service plumber had to make to complete the pipe repairs to get his one bathroom house operational before Monday morning. This guy ended up paying overtime plumbing rates for service on a Sunday.

The lesson here? Know when to ask for help. Coordinating this repair with a trained plumbing contractor would have been an hour and a half job, charged at the more reasonable, daily rates. Probably wouldn't have needed to get the tile replaced either.

Tags: Plumbing Service, Residential, Outhouse Tips