Spring Perimeter Drain Issues

Your house has many different systems that work together to keep the Abbotsford rains away from where the water should not be, and direct it to where it can go. One such system is your perimeter drain, designed to keep rainwater from seeping into your basement.

 This system consists of a perforated PVC pipe which runs around the perimeter of your home. This pipe is sorrounded with a permeable mesh covering, and buried with gravel and then backfill. The mesh and gravel work to prevent dirt from clogging the pipe. The pipe is installed so it slopes away from your home, carrying the rainwater safely away from your basement and foundation.

What can go wrong?

Although the mesh and gravel work to keep dirt and debris away, overtime the system may begin to fail. Dirt and roots can clog the drain pipes, blocking the flow of water. Signs of a failing system include water entering your basement, water spots on walls, or even puddles pooling on the ground directly around your structure.

How can I maintain this system?

Drainage system maintenance and cleaning includes having a professional come and insert a camera into the system. This allows a visual inspection to see if there are any clogs forming, or any areas in which the PVC is damaged or broken. Dirt and debris can often be flushed and washed away with proper cleaning equipment. If any sections are cracked and broken, they may need to be dug up and replaced.

Catching and fixing these problem areas preemptively can prevent much more serious damage and cost in the future, should your basement flood or walls become soggy and damaged. This spring, make sure you deal with your spring perimeter drain issues by having them inspected, and maintained.

Benefits of Video Pipe Inspections for Lower Mainland Homes

You may not think about your drain and sewer lines every day, but they are constantly working to make sure that waste water, rain water, and other substances are carried away. When these systems do not work as they should, you may find yourself suddenly in need of emergency plumbing, as water and other debris backs up and can cause flooding and other serious damage.

 If you find yourself in need of help with drainage issues for your Lower Mainland home, make sure you choose a plumbing contractor in Abbotsford who utilizes video pipe inspections as there are several benefits to this procedure.

Save Time and Money

First, video inspection services save time and money. Using video inspection allows for the plumbing contractor to quickly assess a situation, and find where the damage or blockage is situated. This information is vital as it allows a specific area to be targeted and repaired or replaced, and avoids having to replace the entire drainage system, saving you time and money.

Avoid Unnecessary Digging

Video inspection services also prevent unnecessary digging. The camera can be inserted without digging up any of the existing drain tile system, and using diagnostic and locating technology, the exact location of a drainage problem can be found, without ever moving dirt, or breaking up concrete patios.

Video pipe inspections are fast becoming an industry standard, removing all of the guesswork and replacing it with accurate, necessary service. If you need emergency plumbing for your drainage systems, make sure you find a plumbing contractor who will utilize video inspection tools to ensure you get the best service.

Flood Damage

We work closely with home restorations services in the event of damage caused by flooding.  This damage is usually caused by ruptured water heaters, broken water pipes or leaking drain lines.  In addition to addressing the cause of the leak, we must also assess damage to plumbing and heating equipment,  and write the report for the insurance company. 

Floods can come from multiple causes, including blocked sewers such as this one, which flooded a new home.

Furnace damage is very common in this scenario.  When water enters the furnace cabinet, the high-powered fan will pick up the water and spray it throughout the furnace,  causing many problems.  We often see electrical damage,  particularly at the control circuit board.  When the board short-circuits due to water,  it sometimes causes sporadic operation of the furnace; but in many cases the furnace will cease to work until the circuit board is replaced.  

Upon repairing this sort of electrical damage, another problem usually manifests after replacing the board.  The electric current can now make it to other components of the furnace that could not be tested until the board was replaced.  This is where we learn of other electrical parts that have been damaged,  and it becomes necessary to go back to the insurance company to authorize further repairs. 

Flood-damaged hot water tank

 In addition to electrical damage, water can also damage the furnace’s heat exchanger – the barrier between the air in your home and the furnace exhaust.  This damage can be in the form of a crack from the rapid temperature change when the water hits, or it can happen more slowly in the form of rust.  When compromised, this can allow exhaust into your home, presenting a carbon monoxide hazard.

 In light of these issues, we have now seen that insurance companies are beginning to authorize replacement over repair. It is the only way to ensure the damage is completely dealt with,  and that the home occupants are safe.  We have the experience to speak with insurance adjusters and advocate for the safety of the homeowner.  If you have experienced flooding in your home – regardless of the cause – call us today to assess the damage to your plumbing and heating system.  We will do what is necessary to ensure that you can get back to your normal life,  and have peace of mind.

Why Permits Matter

DID YOU KNOW…

House insurance comes in very handy in the event of a flood or fire caused by poor installation of gas appliances. Depending on the policy,  they will cover replacement of the appliance, repair to the home, and compensation for any items damaged in the incident.  But insurance companies, like any company, will try to remain profitable; for them, this means closely examining the details of the incident to see if they can avoid paying out compensation.

One of the most important things they will look at is whether or not the appliance in question was installed under a valid permit obtained from Technical Safety BC (formally BC Safety Authority). When a permit is issued,  the installation is subject to review by a certified gas inspection officer. This crucial step ensures that the unit has been installed in accordance with all safety codes, and does not pose any hazard to life and property.

We commonly see equipment in homes that bears no Technical Safety BC permit sticker. This happens when a customer has gone with the lowest quote available, and the contractor has cut their overhead cost by omitting the permit. Sometimes this occurs without incident, but often this lowest quote comes with lowest quality materials being used,  and shortcuts taken to save on labor cost.   We see water leaks, premature failure of the equipment, and dangerous fire and carbon monoxide hazards as a result.  And if these installations result in damage or injury/death, it can be extremely difficult – if not impossible – to get compensation from insurance companies. 

When shopping for a replacement water heater, furnace, or any other gas appliance, remember that cheapest is rarely best. There is real value in hiring a company that performs quality work,  and works legitimately under all applicable permits. It will give you peace of mind that your investment, your home, and the lives of its occupants are protected. 

Technical Safety BC Gas Installation Permit Decal

How to Choose the Right Water Heater for Your Home

With so many choices and types of water heaters available, choosing the right one for your Abbotsford or Mission home can be a difficult decision. You want to ensure that it will not only supply enough hot water for you and your family, but do so efficiently to stay affordable with rising energy costs.

Types of Water Heaters

The two common options for Water Heaters in Abbotsford and Mission are:

  • Conventional Tank Water Heaters
  • Tankless or On-Demand Water Heaters

There are other options available such as solar water heaters, or heat pump options, but Abbotsford and Mission weather don’t really allow for great solar options, and Heat Pump water heaters require high year round temperatures.

How to Choose the Right Water Heater

There are some important considerations one must make when choosing the right water heater. These considerations are:

  • Fuel type
  • Tank or Tankless

Fuel Type

The most common types of fuel for hot water heaters are electricity or natural gas. Choosing between electric and gas may come down to what is already installed. In Abbotsford and Mission areas, gas tends to have much cheaper operating costs compared to electricity, and if a gas line is available, and venting already installed, gas may be a better option.

Conventional or Tankless

Hot water tanks or conventional hot water heaters are the most common type. They are a large tank that store the heated water at all times, keeping it set to the desired temperature. The capacity of the tank can be anywhere from 2 to 60 gallons. One advantage of conventional heaters are the lower up-front costs.

Tankless water heaters function by heating the water on demand, and do not store any hot water. They are more environmentally friendly, as they tend to consume less energy than conventional tanks. They also take up less space. They tend to have higher initial costs, but cost less to operate over time.

Choosing between these two types of water heaters is difficult and may come down to budget at the time, as well as what your space is already setup to handle. You may also have to consider capacity, as a household with many people using hot water at the same time would require a large capacity conventional tank, or high gallon per minute tankless to keep up with demand. Whichever you go with, make sure you have a professional install it for you, and keep it well-maintained.

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.  Water piping systems have been constructed of different materials over time,  some more reliable than others.  As they age, it becomes even more important that the water pressure be set at 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 the 45psi set point. 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 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.  

Water Pressure Reducing Valve

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 for your water system. 

With regular maintenance and replacement as needed, your PRV reduces risk of flood damage to your home.  Call a certified Red Seal plumber today to come to your home and ensure proper performance of your plumbing system. 

Water pressure meter. Usual ideal house pressure is 60 PSI.

What is the Cost of Natural Gas Compared to Other Energy Sources?

When the winter weather arrives and the temperature begins to drop, it is time to turn up the thermostat inside. This undoubtedly leads to higher energy costs when those pesky bills arrive.

What can be done?

One of the most common questions asked is what is the cheapest energy source available? There are generally two options being used to heat homes in Abbotsford: electricity or natural gas. Some homes may be equipped with a wood burning fire place, but these costs can vary depending on availability of wood fuel.

Many homes are equipped with electric baseboard heating due to the low cost of installing these. However, the costs of electricity from BC hydro is about four times the cost versus natural gas from Fortis per unit of delivered energy. Fortis BC published that the average annual fuel cost for a home heated using electricity to be $2135 compared to only $525 with natural gas.

In light of this massive energy difference, a natural gas furnace installed by an Abbotsford gas fitter is an essential part of reducing annual heating bills. Also, switching to natural gas water heating will also help to further reduce those costs compared to alternative energy sources. 

Why Choose Natural Gas for Your BC Home?

BC Redi-Rooter

Why choose natural gas for your BC home?

Answer: Natural gas is versatile, cost-effective, and clean.

Natural gas is the preferred energy source for many BC homes for a number of great reasons. Natural gas can be used for heating your home, cooking, heating your water, and a number of other uses. Here are some of the great benefits of using natural gas in your BC home:

Versatility

Natural gas can be used to fuel almost any indoor or outdoor heat source. Natural gas has many uses including heating and cooking. Professional chefs are usually very fond of cooking with natural gas appliances as it gives far more control over the level of heat when compared to an electric range.

Cost-Effective

Natural gas in BC costs less than other types of fuel – such as oil, propane, and electricity. Additionally, natural gas appliances such as furnaces tend to last longer than their electric counterparts – meaning less money spent on costly repairs or new appliances.

Clean

Natural gas burns cleaner than any other fossil fuel, and emits less greenhouse gasses than propane, electricity, and oil.

Choosing natural gas for your BC home means that you can save money, increase your comfort and convenience, and do less damage to the environment than with other fuel types. Switching to natural gas for your heating and cooking needs offers many great benefits for BC homeowners.

 

The Importance of Regular Water Heater Maintenance

When we get a new water heater today, most warranties are 6 years, with the average life expectancy being around 8 years. Most warranties stipulate, however, that regular maintenance must be performed in order to keep the warranty valid. When we see a tank that has failed early, we can usually determine the cause as one of two things:

First is poor installation. This is very common of the companies who install tanks as cheaply as possible. A “do it right the first time” attitude goes a long way to ensure that your investment will last. There are many factors to take into consideration when choosing the appropriate materials and add-ons to protect your heater.

Second – and most common – is lack of maintenance. As society’s attitudes shift towards “set it and forget it”, we expect to pay for an appliance, and then not need to think about it until it’s old and needs replacement. If you need to replace a hot water tank every 7 years or less, this mindset will become very costly. Bringing a certified plumber/ gasfitter to your home every year or two allows experienced eyes to:

• Monitor for emerging issues,

• Ensure continued safe operation, and

• Remove corrosion buildup from inside the tank and burner compartment, so that the appliance can run efficiently.

Pictured is a component of the hot water tank called a “sacrificial anode”. This alloy rod takes the brunt of corrosion inside the tank to prevent premature deterioration of the steel liner inside the tank. Replacement of this rod every few years with your annual maintenance will go a long way toward making your investment last well beyond the manufacturer’s warranty.

Sacrificial anode

Sacrificial anode

The Importance of Regular Furnace Maintenance

Annual maintenance service and safety checks on furnaces are recommended by every equipment manufacturer, as well as the techs installing the units. But as these things go, many homeowners either forget, or they underestimate the importance.

As a certified gasfitter and service technician, furnaces are the major share of what I see in a day. As such, I see the results of a lack of maintenance on these appliances which we Canadians rely upon for approximately half of the year.

Some of the issues we see are simply a matter of unmaintained equipment needing costly repairs, while others are more unsettling…lack of attention can allow dangerous conditions to develop, posing very real risks to life and property.

The accompanying photos show a transition housing from a ten-year-old high-efficiency furnace. This was the first time in the decade since installation that the furnace was serviced by a qualified gas fitter. When the doors came off of the furnace, the first visible problem was a slight crack in the housing that covers the exhaust pathway within the furnace, the crack being located right at the mounting screw.

Crack in furnace housing

Crack in furnace housing

Upon further inspection we discovered that the back side of the housing (not in immediate view) was split from top to bottom, and leaking out exhaust gases into the home.

Furnace housing split from top to bottom

Furnace housing split from top to bottom

Furnaces, when properly adjusted, should not create carbon monoxide (CO). However it is common that improper fuel/oxygen ratios cause improper combustion, leading to the production of gases that can be harmful or fatal. Having a certified gas fitter in to service your furnace is the only way to ensure that your home is being heated safely and efficiently.

Cheers 😀

BC Redi-Rooter LTD