The Plumber's Blog

What Is Hard Water and How Does It Affect Plumbing?

Dry, itchy skin is the tell-tale sign that your Tampa plumbing lines have hard water running through them. What exactly does this mean? Does it cause any problems other than leaving you a bit uncomfortable after getting out of the shower?

The Negative Effects of Hard Water

Hard water refers to water that contains various sediments and impurities, albeit to a minor degree. The Water Quality Association states this is the most prevalent water quality issue in the country, and for multiple reasons.

Water is comprised of hydrogen and oxygen molecules when pure, but most of the H2O we drink and bathe with is also muddled with calcium and magnesium as well. So, what causes these unwanted elements to mix in? Groundwater passes through rocks and soil while en route to water supply lines, so it is only natural for these materials to be picked up along the way.

Unfortunately, most municipalities do not have water purification systems in place to oust these deposits, so it is up to home and business owners to install these devices. Hard water can take a major toll on Tampa plumbing systems, mainly because the deposits slowly erode pipes, sinks, bathtubs, and shower stalls.

You are probably all too familiar with the nasty buildup that forms as a result of continual hard water use. Over time, sediment buildup causes appliances to run less efficiently, in turn reducing their lifespans and increasing operating costs for owners. Fixtures are also known to clog and fail far sooner in the presence of hard water, and that coffee you are drinking probably tastes a little funny because of the scale left on your mug.

Thankfully there are plenty of options available to get rid of hard water problems once and for all. Get in touch with a local water dealer and have them perform a sample test. Oftentimes, an in-home purification/water softening system is the best solution. Do not purchase anything until you have had a reliable assessment and proper water problem diagnosis performed because hard water may not be the only issue. Ultimately, the benefits offered by softening systems include better running appliances, cleaner-feeling skin, and more money in your pocket. Contact our plumbers in Tampa for a free inspection today.

Tree Roots and Sewer Pipes

Our Tampa plumbers know that trees are an essential part of any residential landscaping design. Aside from the curb appeal they bring to properties, the shade they offer helps keep your home’s cooling costs down in the summer, which is especially important in Tampa! However, they are not without their disadvantages. Beneath that sprawling oak tree in your front yard lies an extensive root system that can actually damage your property.

The Reality of Root Invasions

When gauging the size of a tree’s root network, the general rule of thumb is that the diameter is as wide as the tree’s height. As you can probably guess, the roots of large trees can interfere with Tampa plumbing lines, namely sewage drain pipes. This can lead to some major repair costs, especially when the roots fully penetrate the affected line.

Since it is every homeowner’s responsibility to maintain their connecting sewer laterals, any damage is yours to repair. The worst part about all of this is that because everything happens underground, most people are blissfully unaware of the havoc that is being wrought below the surface until they start to notice sewage seeping out of their yard.

So what causes tree roots to interfere with Tampa sewer lines in particular? Interestingly enough, it is the emission of water vapor from these pipes, which is caused by the flow of warm water and subsequent evaporation of moisture to the cool soil above, that leads the root system’s growth pattern to deviate from its original state.

The vapor often comes out of a small crack, crevice, or vulnerability in the pipe. Over time, the roots will slowly but surely make their way inside the opening and will flourish due to the abundance of nutrients (human waste makes for great compost material) that are located there. One thing leads to another, and you have a major problem on your hands!

Do not underestimate the power of tree roots — the internal force generated by their expansion often leads to irreparable structural damage. Unless addressed early, there will be no choice but to perform a full-blown replacement of the pipe.

You can tell something is wrong if the drains in your home start backing up and continue to do so, even after they have been cleaned. The Tampa plumbing team at The Pampering Plumber has removed countless tree roots from sewer lines. We use specialized augers and high-pressure water systems that are capable of clearing virtually any blockage.

Save Money with These Plumbing Solutions

Cutting back your home’s water usage may be easier than you think. Being conservative not only helps lighten the load on your wallet, but it also greatly reduces your environmental footprint. Every day, millions of gallons are wasted due to irresponsibility and carelessness. It is about time we all get serious about our Tampa plumbing expenses.

Did you know that if every household in the United States installed water-efficient appliances and fixtures, it would save 3 trillion gallons of water and nearly $20 billion per year? That is a lot of water and money that could be put to better use, so do your part by following this sound H2O-saving advice.

How To Conserve Your Water

A low-flow toilet is probably one of the best things you can put in your home. High-efficiency, ultra-low-flush models use the least amount of water per flush (1.28 gallons on average compared to 3-5 gallons for conventional toilets). It may not seem like much, but when you consider the number of times your family flushes each day, the costs definitely do add up.

Additionally, dual-flush types come equipped with two flush modes, one for liquid waste and the other for solids. The U.S. has lagged in making this technology go mainstream. It has been popular in most European countries for many years, but the market is indeed growing. The good news is that thanks to available conversion/retrofit kits, you can install dual-flush systems on any standard toilet, which is much cheaper than having to buy a new one altogether.

For the best in water conservation, composting toilets are a hard bargain to pass up. They use virtually no water, so you can imagine their return on investment. Your trusted Tampa plumbers highly recommend going the composting route if you have the opportunity.

For the average household, showering comprises 20 percent of water usage with some homes using much more. With an ultra-low-flow shower-head, you can realistically get this number down to 5 percent — and that includes an uncompromised stream of water. If someone in your home is notorious for taking longer than average showers, an efficient shower-head is a must!

Your home’s faucets are the third and final water wasting device that needs to be addressed. There are plenty of culprits out there that expend 2.5 gallons per minute. Efficient models reduce this flow rate to 1.5 at the top end. Greater conservation levels can be supplemented with an attached aerator or flow restrictor.

The Tampa plumbing pros at The Pampering Plumber can install any and all of these devices for you to make your home more green and efficient.

Tips To Avoid DIY Plumbing Problems

Every homeowner dreams of being able to tackle any household repair or project without needing to contact a professional. Some people have the handyman skills to tackle basic tasks, but large do-it-yourself projects pose greater challenges and bring with them bigger risks.

The Tampa plumbers at The Pampering Plumber want to remind you to never attempt a repair job if you are not confident you can handle it solo. Can it be difficult to swallow your pride and pick up the phone? Definitely, but consider the cost of your investment. Will it be in your best interest from a financial (and mental) standpoint to pay a professional? Sometimes it is just the better choice to use an expert, especially since we have been called upon numerous times to correct Tampa plumbing damage done by inexperienced home and business owners.

Here are some tips for avoiding serious damage to your plumbing while attempting to do it yourself.

DIY Tampa Plumbing Tips

You cannot expect to perform any plumbing repair without having a working knowledge of the basic parts, supplies, and concepts. Familiarize yourself with your home’s plumbing system before delving into the job.

Shut-off valves serve a very simple yet important purpose, and that is to stop the flow of water in your plumbing lines. Regardless of what project you are tackling (e.g. a leaky faucet, clogged toilet, etc.), knowing the exact location of these valves and what device they control is vital. In most houses, the majority of these can be found by the water main and the individual fixtures within the home. Depending on how your home’s Tampa plumbing system was laid out, some valves may be hidden behind specialty access panels. The main shut-off valve is the most important, and there is usually one inside and outside near the water meter.

Although many newer homes use PVC for their plumbing lines, copper systems are still very popular. To perform quick joint fixes and add valves, you will want to buy a small torch, flux, solder, and copper tubing. This is an essential plumbing toolkit for everything from quick fixes to retrofits. Clean the copper pipe, add some flux, heat the joint and finish with the solder.

Get in touch with our Tampa plumbing service experts at The Pampering Plumber if you need assistance or to schedule an on-site inspection.

Save Money With Regular Water Heater Upkeep

By performing regular maintenance on your Tampa water heater, you can reduce the amount that you pay every month on heating your water, which can translate to a significant amount over the years. These regular maintenance steps can also help your water heater to have fewer issues and last for its expected lifespan.

Lower the Thermostat on the Water Heater

Did you know that most homeowners have their water heater thermostats set far too high? Most units are set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that can cause burns in less than six seconds of exposure. Our licensed plumbers in Tampa recommend reducing your water temperature to 120 degrees. This temperature is far more comfortable and safe, and it will reduce the amount of energy your tank has to use to get water to the appropriate temperature.

It is worth noting that not all water heater thermostats read temperatures accurately, especially on older models. You may want to test the temperature of your water before moving your thermostat to ensure that your water is heated to the temperature you want.

Drain Sediment from the Tank Every 3 Months

It is natural for Tampa hot water heaters to build up sediment, especially calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is a mineral that is naturally present in water, but it separates from the water during the heating process. This builds up on the bottom of the tank and makes it more difficult for your water heater to heat the water. Our plumbers encourage you to drain roughly a quart of water from your tank every three months to remove the sediment build-up. You should fully drain your tank every two years.

Insulate Exposed Pipes and the Tank

You can keep your hot water at its hottest by insulating the pipes that bring it to you. Any exposed hot water pipes should be insulated with foam insulation to reduce heat loss. You can also insulate your hot water heater if it is an older model. Ask one of our Tampa plumbers about whether your water heater would benefit from added insulation.

Check for Leaks

A leaky hot water heater is wasting energy to heat water that drips onto your floor. You should check your water heater once a month. Check the faucet to the heater to make sure it is not leaking. If you find a leak, call The Pampering Plumber immediately. Leaks may be a sign that your water heater needs replacing or repairs.

How To Make Your Garbage Disposal Last

Garbage disposals are a huge convenience, however, the second your garbage disposal doesn’t work properly, life becomes much more difficult. Our Tampa plumbing service wants to help you make sure that your garbage disposal works properly for as long as possible with these tips.

The Garbage Disposal Is Not a Trash Can

While “garbage” is in the name, you should never put non-food items down your garbage disposal. You should also not expect your disposal to handle large quantities of food. It is only intended to handle small quantities of food at a time, such as what might be left on your plate after you’ve eaten a good meal. Our Tampa plumbers also want to note that certain foods should not be put down the disposal, including dry rice, dry pasta, fibrous foods like celery and corn husks, popcorn kernels, animal bones, grease, and oil.

Always Run Cold Water When You Run the Garbage Disposal

You want to run cold water whenever you put food down the garbage disposal and run the disposal immediately to clear it while the water is running. Cold water keeps food particles from sticking to the pipes and causing clogs. It also helps any grease that might be present in your food to solidify so that the disposal can process it.

Sharpen and Clean the Blades

Before we begin to explain this tip, our Tampa plumbing professionals want to remind you that you should never put your hand down the disposal drain. You can easily injure yourself even if the disposal is off.

So, if you can’t put your hands down the disposal, how can you sharpen the blades and clean them? Simple — our Tampa plumbers recommend that you put a few handfuls of ice into the disposal and run it to help keep the blades sharp. To clean the blades, you can use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar or you can use a lemon sliced into wedges. Put the lemon into the disposal a few slices at a time and run with water. For the baking soda solution, pour 1/4 of a cup of baking soda into the disposal. Follow this with 1/4 of a cup of vinegar. Allow the solution to foam, then run your disposal with cold water.

Call a Plumber

If something seems off about your garbage disposal, don’t hesitate to call one of our licensed plumbers in Tampa. We can help  diagnose and fix the problem quickly so that you can get back to your life.

Find Out If You Need a New Water Heater

Hot water heaters are absolutely essential for any Tampa homeowner. They allow you the comfort of a hot shower or bath, and they also give you extra sanitizing power when you are washing clothes or dishes. Hot water heaters typically have long life expectancy, that range anywhere from 15 to 20 years with proper care. Most homeowners will honestly put it out of their minds that their unit will need to be replaced someday. They just assume that someday will be later down the line, even when it was actually yesterday.

Fortunately, hot water heaters do give off some signs that the time has come to replace them. If you see any of the following signs, you should call your local Tampa plumber to inspect your hot water heater and determine whether it needs to be replaced.

There Is No Hot Water

There are a variety of issues that could be causing your hot water heater to not be producing hot water. Your pilot light could be out, your power source could simply have disconnected or you may have a damaged component. However, it’s also a sign that you may have a water heater that needs replacing. If your unit has exceeded its projected life expectancy, you will need to replace the unit instead of trying to repair it.

The Tank Is Leaking

Sometimes hot water heaters will leak. Some of these leaks are easily repaired by one of our licensed plumbers in Tampa, but some can indicate it’s time to replace your water heater. If the leak is located in the main tank and caused by corrosion, it’s time to replace your unit.

There Is Rust or Discoloration in the Hot Water

Whenever you see discoloration in your water, call our Tampa plumbing service immediately. This can be a sign of a pipe failure, rust in your pipes or a failing water heater. It is crucial to determine the cause of the discoloration and have it handled immediately.

The Hot Water Runs Out Too Quickly

If you’ve lived in your home for even a short while, you know how long it takes before the hot water runs out. If it seems like the hot water is always running out more quickly than you expect it to, you may be having issues with your Tampa water heater.

Common Causes of Bathroom Clogs

By far the most common issue that our Tampa plumbers are called out to take care of is clogged bathroom sinks, tubs, and showers. Bathrooms are notorious for clogging, and many households will deal with at least one clogged bathroom drain once every year. Some of these clogs can easily be cared for by using a basic sink plunger, but others require the knowledge of a skilled Tampa plumber. These are some of the most frequent causes of bathroom clogs that we see:


Hair has the tendency to accumulate over time, especially in our drains. It gets trapped in the sludge and gunk that naturally lines pipes, settles down in the p-trap of your pipes and starts to tangle and accumulate. Plumbers have to use specialized drain snakes to remove the thick clogs hair causes.

Soap Scum

Soap scum is still one of the leading causes of buildup in drain pipes, to the point where it can block up a drain completely. Soap scum also creates acidic chemical compounds as it sits on your drain pipe, and these compounds can damage your pipes’ interior. Chemical drain cleaners can worsen this damage, so it is crucial for you to call our Tampa plumbing service.

Small Objects

If you have children, pets, or even a slightly clumsy spouse, you know how easy it is for small objects to mysteriously find their way into your sink or drain. We often are able to catch these before they make it too far down the drain, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen. Our Tampa commercial plumbers can help you to find the object that is clogging your drain and extract it so that your drain will work properly. Even if the object you know fell into the drain is small enough to let water get through, you should have a plumber extract it so that it does not build up material and cause a clog.

Do Not Use Chemical Drain Cleaner

Some homeowners assume that the way to handle any clog in their bathroom drains is to attack it with a store-bought chemical drain cleaner. Unfortunately, this is the very worst decision these homeowners could make. These chemicals are highly acidic, and they are extremely harmful to drain pipes. These chemicals also create toxic fumes as they work, which can lead to them harming your family. Instead of using these unsafe chemicals, call your friendly Tampa plumbers at The Pampering Plumber instead.

What To Ask Your Plumber

You can hardly wait to upgrade your bathroom or kitchen with a new sink, bathtub or shower, but for the majority of homeowners, these kinds of projects are best left to someone who has had extensive experience in the field. Thanks to the Internet, you can find dozens of local plumbing contractors eager to take your next job within seconds, but how do you know which one to hire?

Tampa Plumber Consultation for Beginners

The best plumber is the one that will provide quality work, affordable rates, and have prior experience with similar projects. For simple run-of-the-mill jobs (e.g. installing a new toilet, rerouting a water line, etc.), most any licensed contractor should do the trick. More complex projects such as large-scale remodels or the installation of high-end devices are best left to Tampa plumbing companies with specialty expertise.

Regardless of what your needs may be, taking the time to thoroughly evaluate the plumbers in your area is imperative. Such decisions should never be made in haste. The Pampering Plumber has been contacted numerous times to remedy the wrongs made by sham contractors. Protect your investment and money by researching in advance — it is well worth the effort!

Ask to see a copy of the plumbing company’s license and insurance. The business must have verifiable workers’ compensation insurance if they have four or more employees working for them. This is in adherence with Florida state law and protects you from being sued if one of the laborers happens to be injured on your property.

The same goes for general liability insurance. You may be liable for any third-party accidents that result from work performed by a Tampa plumber on your premises if they lack it.

Another important question to ask is how the business charges for their service. Will the job be paid hourly or as a flat rate? Furthermore, you should be prepared to inquire about any guarantees of service or product/labor warranties the company offers. Do they have a specific timeline as far as part breakage or failure goes?

Any hesitation on the contractor’s end involving these questions should give you the answer of whether or not you should hire them as your Tampa plumber.

Your Water Heater’s Duration

Hot water is a feature of modern living that most people take for granted. Our plumbing pros at The Pampering Plumber want to stress the importance of preventative maintenance, particularly with respect to your home’s hot water system, to make sure the heated H2O in your house keeps flowing.

Getting the Most out of Your Water Heater

Unfortunately in most households, adjusting the temperature dial from time to time is usually the only attention the water heater gets until something goes awry and an emergency call to a plumber must be made. How long your water heater lasts is contingent on multiple factors, the most crucial of which is how well you take care of it.

Tankless models usually last far longer (up to twice as long) than their traditional tank-outfitted equivalents. These types provide an endless supply of on-demand hot water since they do not rely on a storage system for the heating phase. No tank means less mechanical parts to worry about and ultimately less problems to deal with.

Storage tank units can typically function for up to 15 years without needing major repairs, although this lifespan can be shortened to as little as eight years if routine maintenance is avoided. Tankless water heaters may easily surpass the 20-year mark. For both types, but especially for tank models, the hotter the water temperature, the more wear and tear there is on the heating system. Corrosion rates increase markedly when the recommended 130-degree temperature mark is surpassed, especially in areas where hard tap water is rampant.

Sediment and mineral deposits should be inspected and removed on a regular basis, so we advise a full system checkup at least once every year. Contact our licensed plumbers in Tampa for a free consultation or to learn more about formulating a preventative maintenance plan today.

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