The Plumber's Blog

Plumbing Terms To Know

Like most conversations between layman and experts, speaking to a Tampa plumbing contractor can seem daunting and confusing. After years of working in a specific field or industry, it is only natural for people to speak in so-called foreign technical languages. Many professionals have a hard time communicating in a way that the average person will understand, although this is one skill everyone should work to master.

How To Talk Like a Tampa Plumber

At The Pampering Plumber, we promise none of our plumbers in Tampa will ever talk over your head or make you feel inferior. However, to make conversations with them smoother and to provide you with a better understanding of what he or she is referring to, here is a brief lingo cheat sheet. This should help bridge the communication gap, which will make for a more successful, efficient project in the end!

Solder — The metal substance that fuses two or more surfaces together. Soldering uses a lead or tin alloy and heats the material along with a base metal. The resulting bond is durable and impenetrable.

Access Panel — The area in your home that provides access to specific plumbing or electrical controls. These covered openings can be found in walls, floors, and ceilings. Be sure to ask our Tampa plumbing staff where the access panel is located for emergency purposes.

Branch Drain — One of many drains in your home’s sewage system network that leads to the main drain line. All secondary sewer pipes are considered branch drains, since they are all connected to one another in configuration.

PVC — Polyvinyl chloride. These are the white plumbing lines most modern homes and retrofitted houses are outfitted with. PVC piping is a growing alternative to copper.

Trap — This is the part of a drain line that holds water to prevent gases from resurfacing. Every garbage disposal has a trap that keeps the odor from flushed food from coming back up the pipe.

Plumbing Putty — An adhesive that is used to make watertight seals around fixture fittings and pipe joints. The residue hardens once applied and is an essential tool for preventing water leaks.

Run — The total length of a pipe from start to end.

There are many more terms that plumbers in Tampa use on a daily basis, but getting a general handle on the ones listed above will surely help facilitate any conversations you have with one. We do not expect our customers to be masters of the trade, but better communication is always a good thing!

Plumbing with PVC Pipes

For the longest time, copper was used as the primary residential and commercial Tampa plumbing material, and for many good reasons. This metal is highly resistant to corrosion and can handle cold and hot temperatures very well. Most older homes that have not had their plumbing lines updated still feature copper tubing, but a more affordable alternative has dominated the modern housing market: PVC.

Why Tampa Plumbers Use PVC

The more money builders save, the more savings are passed onto the homeowner. Polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as PVC, can be found in almost all new residential construction projects. Strong, durable, and flexible, this specialty plastic first made its way into the plumbing market in the 1950s, but manufacturers have since created a wide array of PVC products.

A unique blend of vinyl and plastic, this material affords nearly all the benefits of copper, stainless steel, and galvanized steel with very few of their respective drawbacks. Perhaps most important is its affordability. With thousands of new homes being built every day and a major emphasis on efficiency, developers, Tampa plumbing contractors, and homeowners are all striving for one thing: cost-effective, sustainable housing!

Unlike many types of metal (copper being the exception), PVC is not affected by rust, rot, or general wear and tear. The hybridization of plastic and vinyl forms an ultra-protective coating that is quite capable of withstanding the elements. Given its high durability, PVC is commonly used for both water and sewer lines. The advantage it has over other materials with regards to sewer pipes is that it does not bend easily.

In earthquake-prone regions, PVC has prevented millions of dollars in potential damage. If that does not say cost-effective, we do not know what does! In terms of lifespan, modern polyvinyl chloride can easily last upwards of 100 years. Coupled with a century of a low to no maintenance, one can begin to see why metal may soon be phased out of the residential plumbing market.

Certain commercial and industrial applications still require steel and other high-pressure resistant materials, but the use of copper is bound to dwindle at some point. PVC is the go-to choice for plumbing in Tampa due to its many benefits.

Outdoor Plumbing Problems

While indoor plumbing issues typically get more attention, outdoor plumbing issues can end up being the source of major water bills, flooding, and even damage to your home and property. It is not often easy to discover the source of these issues on your own, which is why we always recommend that you call out one of our skilled plumbers in Tampa to diagnose and fix the issue when you first notice it.

Roof Damage

Leaks can come from a variety of sources, including damage to your roof. However, it is often difficult to impossible to diagnose the source of these leaks on your own. Roof damage, for instance, can only be discovered by looking at the roof from the outside, which is something you definitely should leave to the professionals.

Our licensed plumbers in Tampa can help you to determine the source of a roof leak and the level of damage you will need to have repaired. Please remember that you will have to hire a roofing contractor to fix your roof. We cannot fix the damage ourselves, but we have contractors that we can recommend.

Faucet Leaks

Nearly every house in Tampa has at least one outdoor faucet, and some even have several. Unfortunately, outdoor faucets are notorious for leaking, and this can cause some major issues, not to mention high water bills. Typically, broken hardware is the cause of these leaks, but that is not always the case. One of our Tampa plumbers can determine what the cause of your leak is and fix it easily.

Flooded Pool Area

What home in Tampa doesn’t have a pool? If you’ve ever come out to swim and discovered that the area around your pool has flooded, it’s a sign of a problem. The problem could be with your pool or your plumbing, but the only way to know for sure is to have one of our Tampa commercial plumbers investigate the source of the issue.

Issues in and near Your Garage

It may be surprising, but sometimes your garage area can be the source of leaks and flooding outside. This can sometimes be caused by your Tampa hot water heater, which may be stored in or just off of your garage, or they can be caused by issues related to your external plumbing, including faucets located off the garage. If you see flooding in or around your garage, you will need to call us to determine the cause and how to fix it.

The Plumbing Checklist for Homeowners

One of the best ways for homeowners in Tampa to keep their plumbing costs at bay is to take steps to prevent plumbing problems from happening and to discover any potential problem as early as possible. Routine maintenance visits from our Tampa plumbing service are the best way to become aware of issues early, but you can also do your own rudimentary inspections.

Regular Visual Inspection

It’s a good idea to be constantly on the lookout for any outward signs that you may have a problem. Be aware of any changes or abnormalities that you may be able to see. The following are ways you can inspect your plumbing yourself, without having to call out a Tampa plumber.

  • Look for signs of leaking from exposed pipes.
  • Look for obvious puddles.
  • Look for water marks coming through the wall, floor, or ceiling.
  • Look for signs of corrosion. Copper and brass pipes and valves will show greenish stains as they corrode, and steel pipes will have orange or yellow stains.
  • Look in your toilet’s tank for any parts that look like they are getting rusty or that may be broken. You will want to have a licensed plumber in Tampa replace any issues you find immediately.
  • Look for mold or mildew growth near your plumbing as it is a sign that there is water escaping the pipes.
  • Look for any cracked or broken tile flooring. Pooling water beneath tile can cause it to break without showing any other signs.
  • Look for signs of rust or corrosion on your water heater.
  • Look for cracks in your washing machine hoses and check the connections for leaking.
  • Look for areas of your lawn that puddle without heavy rainfall.

Test Your Systems

After you have visually inspected your property for any plumbing issues, you will want to test your plumbing systems to ensure that they are all working properly.

  • Keep a constant awareness of your overall water pressure in each system. If the pressure seems to drop over time, you may have an issue with sediment buildup. If the pressure drops drastically and quickly, you have a bigger problem. Either way, a call to one of our Tampa commercial plumbers is in order.
  • Test for issues with drainage. Any drain that does not let water out quickly is an indication that the drain is clogged or backed up.
  • Listen for any excessive noise and watch for bubbles coming up when water is draining down a pipe. These are indicators of plumbing issues.
  • Try to wiggle your toilet. If it moves, you may have leak issues.

If you notice anything in line with what we’ve listed above, call our Tampa plumbers right away.

Signs of a Ruptured Water Line

Without the water line that brings in fresh water to your home from the municipal system, you do not have any kind of plumbing system at all — you just have empty pipes running air. If the water line ruptures, you could lose running water to your home entirely, and you certainly will lose significant money due to all of the water that will end up wasted.

Our Tampa plumbers want you to be able to catch a ruptured water line as quickly as possible, so they’ve come up with a list of signs to look out for. If you see any of these signs, call our Tampa plumbing service immediately!

Water Puddles in Your Yard

Unexplainable puddles and wet spots in your yard are often the first sign that a pipe has broken underground. Our Tampa commercial plumbing experts note that you should not be as concerned about puddles that you can explain. Heavy rain and sprinkler systems can leave puddles on your lawn without there being an issue with your plumbing.

Water Visibly Gushing

If you see water visibly rising up out of your lawn or through the sidewalk, your water line has probably burst. This can be as mild as some bubbling or as violent as water erupting and gushing from the ground, but either way, it is an emergency, and you need to call a Tampa plumber immediately.

High Water Bills

Even if your water line only has a small rupture or leak, it will still show up as a noticeable difference in your monthly water bill. Keep a close eye on your water each month so that you can identify any sudden rises in usage, especially ones you cannot account for. Typically, a water line leak will cause a drastic rise in your usage (and costs), so be particularly aware of dramatic spikes.

Low Water Pressure

Before you completely lose running water to your home due to a ruptured water line, your water pressure will begin to drop. This drop will be universal throughout your home. Whenever your water pressure drops, it’s time to call a licensed plumber in Tampa.

Water Appears Contaminated

Because water lines bring fresh water to your home, a busted water line can often bring water in that has a brownish tint to it or contains sediment. This happens when dirt enters the pipe, and it can be a sign of a rupture. It is also possible that issues with the municipal supply can cause discolorations of your water, but it’s far better to call us to make sure it isn’t your water line than to find out the hard way that it is.

What Effect Does Hard Water Have on My Bathroom Plumbing?

Hard water is a very common problem here in Florida thanks in large part to the underground aquifers we source our water from. Hard water has a high level of suspended minerals, usually magnesium and calcium. Fortunately, hard water is generally fine to drink, but it can taste bad. It also makes it very hard to work up a good lather with your soap.

Unfortunately, you still need to find a way to treat your hard water. Our plumbers in Tampa, Fla., have found that hard water has a negative effect on your home’s plumbing over time. The only way to lessen that is to have us install a whole-house water softening system.

What Damage Does Hard Water Do?

Hard water will leave calcium deposits on your Tampa plumbing system. On the most basic level, this creates unattractive calcium buildup on your water fixtures. You can actually tell that you have hard water in your home by looking for the characteristic flaky yellow or off-white buildup that will start to show up on your sinks, faucets, and shower heads. While this isn’t very pleasant looking, it is far from the biggest problem hard water creates.

Buildup Everywhere

The buildup you see on the outside of your fixtures is only one small part of the overall buildup that is occurring in your plumbing in Tampa. Your entire plumbing system is accumulating calcium deposits over time, reducing the amount of water that you can pump through your pipes into and out of your home. Calcium deposits are unlikely to completely block your pipes, but they can reduce your available water flow, dramatically decrease your water pressure, and increase the likelihood that you will have clogs and leaks.

Our Tampa plumbers note that one of the easiest ways to notice that you have a build-up issue is to take a look at your shower head. You will likely see some external calcium buildup, but you may also notice that individual nozzles will stop working or begin to spray water in odd directions. This is because these nozzles are blocked by buildup.

Hot Water Heater Issues

Hard water will also ultimately lead to issues with your Tampa hot water heater. Calcium buildups within your hot water heater will encourage corrosion, which can dramatically shorten the lifespan of your hot water heater and may even cause it to leak or fail completely.

If you discover that you have issues with hard water in your Tampa home, you need to have The Pampering Plumber come and install a full-home water softening system to avoid the potential issues hard water can cause.

Tips To Save Water This Summer

Everyone wants to do their part to conserve water even if it’s just to save on their water bills. Summer can be a particularly difficult time to do this though, because the heat means we need to use more water to keep our plants alive and ourselves clean. Our Tampa plumbers have a few tips on how you can save water despite the heat this summer.

Water Your Plants at Night

During the summer, plants need a little extra water to stay green and lively. However, if you water them in the middle of the day, much of the water you are trying to get them to absorb ends up evaporating instead. Our licensed plumbers in Tampa explain that watering them at night before you go to bed will give them the maximum time to soak up water from the ground without the sun’s rays evaporating it.

Drip Irrigate

You can also conserve water in the yard by using a drip irrigation system to water your plants. Our Tampa plumbing service contractors explain that you can make your own drip irrigation system by simply making small holes in a lawn hose, placing the hose near plants you wish to water, and turning it on at a trickle. The hose will drip water on your plants throughout the night, giving them the water they need without wasting.

Reuse Water

It may seem a little crazy, but did you know that you can reuse water? Used, or “gray,” water is often great for the plants in your garden or home. Consider saving the water after you boil food like pasta or eggs, steam veggies, or make tea or coffee. Let the water cool to room temperature, then use it to water your plants. If you really want to save on water, our Tampa plumbers recommend putting a bucket in your shower to catch the water as you wait for a good temperature.

Turn Off the Shower

During the summer, you can save water by turning off the shower while you soap up. The warm weather makes it much easier to do this in summer because the room will stay warm and the water will too. Tampa hot water heaters also use a lot of energy to operate, so you will save money by not using as much hot water.

Throw Away Instead of Flushing

Another easy way to save on water is to throw trash away in a trash can instead of flushing it down the toilet. We know how tempting it is to flush a tissue, but you waste several gallons of water each time.

How Do Plumbers Detect Leaks?

Sometimes, a leak is obvious. You open up your sink cabinet to find the pipes are dripping or you come home to find water on your floor. However, a leak is often hidden behind the walls of your home or underneath the concrete of your walkway, porch, or even foundation. People usually discover the existence of these leaks only after their water bill starts to skyrocket, which makes them expensive from the start.

It used to be very hard to determine where hard-to-find leaks were. Plumbers in Tampa, Fla., had to infer the exact location of the leak before they could drill through the concrete to access it. These days, modern technology has taken much of the guesswork out of the process to make finding hidden leaks much easier for your Tampa plumbing company and for homeowners.

Sonic Detector

One of the most common leak-detecting methods used by Tampa plumbing services is a sonic detector. Sonic detectors can sense the sounds that leaks make through concrete so that the plumber can pinpoint the precise location of the leak. No matter how small a leak is, it will always make some kind of noise, and these detectors are fine-tuned to pick up that noise without needing to dig up the concrete first.

Hydrostatic Testing

Hydrostatic testing is another way that your licensed plumber in Tampa is able to detect leaks without destroying the concrete that hides them. Hydrostatic testing involves having the plumber insert an inflatable ball in the pipeline. The ball is inflated to stop up the pipe, then the system is filled with water. Any line that can’t seem to be filled or that loses water over time is almost guaranteed to be the source of the leak.

Video Cameras

Many of our Tampa plumbers like to use tiny video cameras to be able to visually inspect pipes from the inside. These cameras are sent through your pipes on a flexible line or are attached to small sets of wheels so that they can be navigated through the plumbing system. They offer feedback in real time so that your plumber can see exactly where a leak is and whether there is any other trouble lurking in your pipes.

These leak-detecting technologies help us to keep the damage to your concrete to a minimum. They also speed up our ability to find the source of your leak, and they are significantly safer and more accurate than old-fashioned detection methods. Call us today to learn more about how we can help you find your hidden leaks.

Do You Have a Smelly Sink Drain?

A smelly sink drain is one of the worst things to discover in your home. Its odor typically fouls up the room and possibly your entire home. Usually, there is no way to see what is causing the odor, and you often will need the expertise of one of our licensed plumbers in Tampa to find and eliminate the cause of the smell before it gets worse.

What Causes Smelly Sink Drains?

There are a variety of different reasons why your sink drain could smell bad. The two main causes of the issue are accumulations of gunk and odors coming up from the sewers.

Gunk can easily accumulate within your drains and cause an odor to arise over time. In bathrooms, this is usually caused by soap scum, mineral build-up, or hair clumps. In kitchens, the smell is typically caused by food particles that begin to rot or grow mold, both of which smell atrocious. Our Tampa plumbing services experts recommend that you first try to clean the gunk from a kitchen sink by running your disposal if you have one. If this doesn’t work, you may need to clean your sink trap, which will require calling a plumber.

Sewer gas is a completely different issue altogether. You will need to call one of our plumbers in Tampa, Fla., immediately if you smell sewer gas. This foul stench will continue to enter your home after you’ve cleaned your drains, and it’s a sign of a serious problem within your plumbing. Every one of your drains should have a trap installed on them that prevents sewer gas from entering your home by rising up the pipes, but these plugs can experience issues. There may have been a problem when the original plumber installed it, or the plug may have malfunctioned in some way. Either way, it will probably need to be replaced by a professional plumber.

What Should I Do About My Smelly Sink Drain?

By and large, smelly sink drains can only be fixed by a Tampa plumber. They will be able to determine what the cause of the odor is and what the appropriate course of action is. We do not recommend that you try to pour chemicals down the drain to fix any smells as you can severely harm your plumbing and possibly create a toxic gas in the process. Please, call one of our plumbers in Tampa instead to keep yourself and your family safe.

Top 5 Residential Plumbing Problems

No matter what kind of home you own, problems with the plumbing can arise seemingly out of nowhere. When a plumbing problem does present itself, it’s crucial for you to have one of our skilled plumbers come out and address the issue to save you from high water bills, damaged property, or even more damage to your plumbing system.

Hot Water Problems

Issues with Tampa hot water heaters are some of the most annoying and most common problems a homeowner can face with their plumbing. Pilot lights can go out. Water pressure issues and faulty temperature gauges can keep you from getting hot water. If your water heater is old or damaged, it can even begin to leak and quickly flood your home. Regular maintenance checks and immediate service from The Pampering Plumber can help to keep your showers hot and your home dry.

Clogged Drains

Clogged drains are the second most common problem our plumbers in Tampa see. They will happily diagnose and remove any clogs you may have, or they will help you to find the real cause behind your apparently clogged drain. Often, roots and debris will gather in plumbing over time, and this can cause regular blockages. If this is the case, you may need to have some of your plumbing replaced to keep from having further issues in the future.

Faucet Leaks

A leaky faucet is typically nothing too severe, but it can add significant money to your monthly water bill. There are several different reasons why leaking faucets occur, but our Tampa commercial plumbing experts can find the problem, fix it, and save you that money.

Dripping Pipes

Dripping pipes can be one of the most damaging and costly Tampa plumbing issues that homeowners can face. They can cause overall leaks or standing water that can destroy personal belongings, your floors, and your walls. If you notice a pipe is dripping, call one of our plumbers as soon as you can.

Toilet Issues

Toilets can come with a variety of issues — everything from clogging to running water and overflowing. These issues can increase your water bills, damage your home, and make life extremely difficult. If you are having issues with your toilet, have one of our licensed plumbers in Tampa take a look at it. One-off problems can be an easy fix, but repeat problems may signify that your toilet needs parts or to be replaced.

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