Tips to Prevent Backflow

Your drainage system is supposed to keep water flowing in only one direction – when that system fails, backflow can cause significant damage to both the system and to the building. Because backflow means that contaminated water is moving the wrong way into a clean water supply, it can also lead to illnesses if consumed. Preventing backflow from becoming a possibility is always the best way of dealing with it, as it is a much larger headache if it happens.

Maintain Your Drainage Systems

One of the best ways to prevent backflow from becoming a problem is by simply keeping on top of your drainage system maintenance. Ensure that your water pipes and pumping units are kept in good working order and inspect for signs of damage or faults.

Install a Prevention Device

Backflow prevention devices exist on the market to avoid backflow in the event that the water pressure in the main supply drops lower than the pressure in the pipes. A prevention device such as a non-return valve will restrict water to flow in only one direction, meaning that contaminated water will not physically be able to travel the wrong way down a pipe.

Pay Attention to Your Taps

Taps such as outdoor garden taps and your shower head tend to be common spots for backflow to happen. Because an outside garden tap can be sideways or raised, it gives the opportunity for water to flow in the wrong direction. A shower head left dangling at the bottom of the bathtub is liable to accept standing water back into the pipes, so be sure to always leave your shower head upright in it’s proper holder – and install prevention systems into your garden taps and showers if possible.

Because backflow can end up becoming a health issue as well as a hazard to the system itself, it is important to take preventative measures to ensure that it does not happen. If you have questions about your drainage, call your local professional today for an inspection.

Typical Problems with Poly-B Plumbing

Poly-B plumbing was commonly installed throughout the 1980s and 1990s, but homeowners are finding now that it may be best to replace this flexible grey piping due to strong potential for leaks, which could cause damage to the home.

What is Poly-B Pipe

Polybutylene pipe (commonly nicknamed Poly-b) is a grey plastic pipe that was manufactured from the late 1970s through the late 1990s, and was used heavily in residential plumbing systems. Because it was considerably cheaper than copper, it was used frequently in home construction.

The Issue with Poly-B

If you see grey-coloured pipes in your mechanical room or under your kitchen sink, chances are you have poly-b throughout your house. Unfortunately, when poly-b was popular the plumbers who installed it were not aware of the effect of UV rays on the plastic. Pipes that sat outside in the sun for storage or during construction likely sustained damage from UV rays. This damage is now starting to show up years later as pinhole leaks.

If a small leak in a home is found to be caused by poly-b plumbing, it is highly recommended to replace all the poly-b pipes within the home as problems with the rest of the home’s plumbing is very likely to occur shortly after the first leak.

When to Replace

If you have Poly-b pipes throughout your house, but have not had any issues with leaking you are likely okay to wait on replacement until there is an issue with leaking, or until you are planning to renovate anyways. However, you should have your incoming water pressure tested to make sure it is within the working pressures of polybutylene.

Importance of Spring Perimeter Drain Maintenance in the Lower Mainland

In the Lower Mainland, we see a lot of rainfall from autumn through spring.  A perimeter drain prevents ground and surface water from damaging your home’s foundation by directing water away from the foundation and relieving water pressure against retaining walls. Even in areas that do not get a lot of precipitation, the structural integrity of a building is put at risk by ground water and other water sources that may come into contact with it.

Perimeter Drain Lifespan

A perimeter drain usually lasts around ten years without maintenance – but they can become clogged, or damaged from roots and shifting landscape. To avoid expensive perimeter excavations, it is best to regularly maintain your perimeter drainage system, especially if you have suspicion that there may be the beginning of an issue such as tree root damage. Most plumbers recommend having your perimeter draining serviced every few years to spot issues before they become severe.

Some of the maintenance options that can be done by a professional include:

  • Drain replacement
  • Drain installation
  • Perimeter Drain Flushing
  • Clearing Clogged Pipes
  • Repairs to Pipes and Connections.

In the event that repairs are needed on a perimeter drainage system, your licensed plumber will provide an estimate for scope of work. If flood repair or home foundation repair is also needed, most plumbing companies will be able to recommend someone for those aspects of the job.

Your perimeter drain’s job is to keep ground and running water away from your home’s structure and foundation. Because foundation repairs can be so costly, it is recommended to have regular maintenance and inspections done on your perimeter drain.

What Are The Typical Causes of a Leaky Basement

Water damage restoration in a basement can be a big job. There is the issue of standing water, but also the issues of potential mold in the home, and damage to your belongings. The best way to deal with a leaky basement is to prevent the chance of a leak in the first place. To best protect your home, you should understand what the most common causes are for leaks in a basement.

Some of the most common causes of a leak in a basement include:

Wall Leaks

Water can leak into your basement through the walls in a number of ways. If rainwater drains back toward the house, it can likely find an entry point above the basement wall. In some types of construction, water may leak through tie holes or through issues in the mortar. One of the biggest cause of leaks in basements is cracks in the basement wall – just fixing the crack itself does not stop the leak necessarily as the cause of the crack needs to be found to prevent further issues.

Window Leaks

Window wells are positioned outside of basement or ground-level windows to keep soil and water away from the window. When window wells fail, such as from overflowing gutters above, the window wells themselves may fill with water and leak into the basement.

Pipe Leaks

Leaks from a sewer or water pipe can be a large issue to deal with. Because the issue may remain hidden for a long time before it is exposed, the issue is often significant by the time it is found. Often this type of leak comes with additional problems such as mold in the walls of the basement. A waterproofing contractor should be notified immediately when a crack is found in the basement floor.

Floor Leaks

Cracks in the floor of a basement can be caused by the natural effect of the weight of water in the ground. Cracks in the floor of a basement is often a very significant structural issue

Sump Pump Failure

Some common reasons for sump pump failure include loss of power, improper installation, switch problems, lack of proper maintenance, and frozen or clogged lines. The goal of a sump pump is to collect water and move it away from the home, but when the sump pump stops working the water can be too much to move away from the home and may settle into the basement.

Looking into ways to waterproof your basement tends to only become a concern after you have experienced the nuisance of water damage. For this reason it is best to think of waterproofing options for your basement as a preventative measure, rather than as a reaction.

Water Pressure in the Home

In a residential setting, water pressure is set to approximately 45-50psi, as the valves and seals in your water system and appliances are  designed for this pressure.  Over time, code has allowed the usage of different materials to construct water piping systems; some materials are more reliable than others.  As they age, it becomes even more important that the water pressure be set to a reasonable level.

 

City water supply lines come in to the home usually between 85-110psi.  Upon entering the home,  it passes through a Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV) which regulates the pressure at 45psi. This PRV is essential to protect your water system against excess pressure and increased chance of rupture and flooding. Building code requires their installation,  and it’s important to test and replace them as necessary.  When they fail over time (they will usually last approximately 5-15 years) they stop regulating the pressure at all,  allowing full city pressure into your home’s system. It’s also not uncommon for the city’s water supply pressure to spike well above normal,  further increasing risk of damage.  Any compromised piping,  seals, gaskets etc. are at high risk of leaking.  Burst pipes from excessive water pressure make up the majority of our insurance-related calls.

 

Telltale signs of high water pressure include: dripping water at the relief valve on your hot water tank,  or at water pipe connections,  excessive water flow at taps and noisy fill valves on toilets.  If you notice any of these taking place,  a certified plumber should come check the pressure in the home.  If it’s above normal, the PRV will need adjustment or replacement. Often overlooked,  this is such an important step in protecting your home and its contents. In the event of a flood,  getting your insurance to go through smoothly will be much easier if you have stayed on top of the required maintenance of your water system.

 

With regular maintenance and replacement as needed,  your PRV reduces risk of flood damage to your home.

 

PRV2

Importance of Foundation Drain Maintenance in Mission

Your home has all sorts of drains – every sink or tub has one, as well as some of your larger appliances. There is also a very important drain located just outside of your home – your perimeter drain. If this important system is not operating properly, your basement or crawlspace could end up wet or flooded.

What is a perimeter drain?

A perimeter or foundation drain is designed to prevent water from seeping into the basement or crawlspace of the home. It carries water away from the house, preventing flooding and wetness in the basement or crawlspace. The drain is made out of plastic or PVC pipe installed underground and around the perimeter of the house. The pipe is perforated with thousands of tiny holes that allow water to enter the pipe – the pipe is sloped away from the home, to keep as much water as possible away.

Drain System Maintenance

Most people probably don’t think about their perimeter drainage system – but it is probably something that should be inspected periodically, especially if you have noticed any water stains on your basement walls or pooling water near your foundation. A professional can come to your home and insert a drain into the system to check if it is functioning properly or if there are potential problem areas. Sometimes a cleaning may be necessary to avoid a worse problem down the line, such as a repair or complete replacement.

What if something goes wrong?

If your perimeter drain is clogged, water may seep into your basement because it is not being carried away from the home and it has nowhere else to go. An older home may have clay or concrete “weeping tiles” installed as a drainage system, and these may deteriorate over time. This type of system will need to be updated and replaced with a modern system. If the system is simply blocked, and not damaged, a professional can dig access points to clean it out.  If you do end up having to replace your system, consider having a clean-our port installed, this would allow easier cleaning for the future.

Even if you have not noticed water build up around your home or in your basement, it may be worthwhile to look into the status of your home’s drainage system. That way you may be able to avoid a costly repair or replacement.

Unbelievable! 

I just came back from a call in the Hatzic area of Mission, which was I had thought was just a simple furnace tune up. This was a Ruud brand furnace,  and I’ve worked on quite a few. One of the more common problems with these is that they have a plastic housing on their draft inducer.  Over time, this plastic becomes brittle. Hairline cracks are not uncommon, but very serious.  When cracked,  the inducer’s fan pushes the products of combustion (exhaust gas) through the crack and into the home.

It’s also not uncommon for the exhaust to contain carbon monoxide, an invisible odourless chemical that disrupts the body’s ability to absorb oxygen.  People get sick or die due to overexposure,  usually in their sleep.

This inducer was not only cracked, but fully broken.  Sometime during the lifetime of this furnace, a technician cracked open this housing and, for a reason beyond my comprehension, decided to put it back together with tape.  Worse – he/she didn’t tell the customer.

Astoundingly, upon closer inspection, I found that a second type of tape had been used as well.  This told me that another technician noticed the problem, but also decided it wasn’t important enough to tell the customer, and added some tape of his/her own.

This is the kind of thing over which licenced gasfitters would lose their licences. There’s no excuse for this, and I suspect that this was the work of some handyman who has no qualifications and no business touching a gas appliance. These “technicians” are everywhere, and one can usually find them by shopping around for the lowest price. When it comes to trades, only those who have gone to school and earned a ticket in the trade have the knowledge to preform this work safely and to code.  Finding the cheapest person to do the job will almost invariably yield substandard work.

Please watch the attached video to see why using a reputable tradesperson is so important!

Maintaining your Gas Fired Equipment

Furnace Repair Mission

Most people living in urban areas have a natural gas supply in their home. This supplies energy to appliances in your home such as furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and cooktops. When properly installed, used and maintained, natural gas is perfectly safe.  Gas is also more cost-effective, when compared with electricity, to achieve the same heat output. But if care is not taken in their installation, use and maintenance, gas appliances have the potential to be dangerous.

It’s important that the installation be done correctly and meet the requirements of the provincial gas code, as well as the manufacturer’s instructions. A shortcut or missed step can cause the equipment to operate in a dangerous manner, increasing the risk of:

• fire in the home

• carbon monoxide buildup, or

• damage to the equipment.

An experienced technician can spot issues in an installation and correct them before larger problems manifest.

Even with properly installed equipment, improper use can pose a danger as well. Dry as the literature may be, the homeowner and/or tenant should read the user guide for any gas equipment in the home. An example of common improper use would be cranking a hot water tank to the maximum temperature setting. Besides the additional strain on the tank – and the resulting shortened tank life – this also poses a scalding danger to others in the home.   (Children and the elderly are especially at risk, because they don’t react to pain stimuli as quickly.) Proper use of equipment is important for the lifespan of these appliances, as well as the safety of the residents. If no manual is available, a technician would be happy to walk you through the proper operation of your equipment.

Of course, in order for a technician to catch problems with your equipment, or to explain its safe use, he must first be in the home. Annual (or at the very least biannual) maintenance is so important. Aside from making sure everything is running within safe parameters, ensuring  components stay clean and free of dust and buildup is essential to the continued efficiency and safe operation. Regularly testing components and replacing as needed will reduce the likelihood of equipment failure. The middle of the winter is no time for the furnace to stop working! It’s best to get maintenance on all your gas appliances at once, saving the cost of separate calls throughout the year.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless hot water heater

Upgrading to a tankless hot water heater saves you money and helps the environment!

​Have you ever looked at your old hot water tank and wondered, ‘Why am I paying to keep all of this water hot when I’m not even using it?’

Every time the 40 gallons of water in the tank cools a few degrees,  the burner comes on to heat it back up.  Seems wasteful,  doesn’t it?

This is why more people are switching to a tankless system. These compact units mount on a wall,  taking up very little space.  They have a much longer lifespan than a typical hot water tank (I’ve tuned up 30 year old tankless heaters that still run like a top). And – best of all – they don’t use any gas until you need hot water!

When you open a hot tap, the flow sensor in the unit signals the burners to ignite and heat the water as it flows through the unit. When you close the tap,  the unit shuts off. You only heat the water you’re actually using.  This translates to greater efficiency and more money staying in your pocket.
With energy costs only ever heading in one direction,  it makes sense to look for ways to reduce energy consumption in our homes. Additionally,  we try to reduce the environmental impact of our day-to-day lives.

Making the switch to a tankless system is a step in the right direction, both economically and ecologically! Call us for a no-obligation quote @ 604-217-2268 or you can send a message through this page.  We look forward to helping you reduce your utilities costs and your carbon footprint.

Have a great day!

“My Furnace Won’t Work”

“My Furnace Won’t Work!!”

Furnace vented with ABS

Furnace vented with flammable ABS – big fire hazard!

  At the beginning of each heating season, we get flooded with calls from people who have turned up their thermostat but the furnace is not warming up their house. Our technician goes out right away, as “no heat” calls are taken seriously and prioritized above less urgent matters. During this time (September to November) most of these issues are solved within 5 minutes of entering the home. There are a few main causes of these calls.

  First, the thermostat is not the only switch to turn on/off your furnace. There is generally a switch high on the wall beside the furnace, which is usually (but not always) labeled. Many homeowners turn this switch off in late spring, as there is no need for the furnace during the season. This gets forgotten in many cases, and when we come to determine the reason for the lack of heat, we walk in, flip the switch and ‘Voila!”…. Heat.

  On many older furnaces, there is a pilot light that must remain lit in order for the furnace to operate.  This tiny flame uses such a small amount of gas to remain lit that if you even noticed a difference on your gas bill as a result of turning it off, the reduction would be negligible and – in my humble opinion – not worth the headache when its time to use the appliance again. It’s a small and simple thing, but often gets overlooked by the homeowner when it’s time to fire up the furnace. The pilot light will go out when you turn off the gas shutoff on the gas pipe at the appliance, or turn off the switch at the gas valve in the furnace. I’d advise just leaving the pilot light running.

  On newer units, there is nearly always a troubleshooting diagnostic light inside which can be viewed through a small window in the front cover. In the event of a problem, this light will blink a combination of dots and dashes, a code of sorts.  These will correspond to a list of problems and possible causes, which is usually on a sticker affixed to the front of the furnace, or inside the owner’s manual. If you need to call a technician, you can save time and money by letting us know the possible issue before we come.  This ensures that we bring the appropriate part if needed, so we don’t have to leave to pick up material.

 It’s important to keep in mind that – even if a service person fixes the problem in thirty seconds – any company must charge for the call. There are people on payroll to book the service, technicians earning a tradesperson’s wage, and the gas for a van full of expensive specialty tools coming to your door. We always feel some regret over charging for calls like this, and we’d rather the homeowner checked these things beforehand.  This way we can make sure that you are only paying for a tradesperson when his or her skills and tools are needed.