The Geiler Company Blog

6 Ways To Keep Your Pipes from Freezing

[fa icon='calendar'] Feb 4, 2018 3:25:09 PM / by Reid Geiler posted in Plumbing

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Frozen pipes are one of the biggest cold weather frustrations.  When you go to turn on the water and you get silence instead of the familiar sound of flowing water, your pipes are frozen and you have a major problem on your hands.   

Here are six ways you can keep your pipes from freezing before the next cold snap hits.

Keep the heat on - This one may seem obvious, but many people try to save a few dollars by turning down the heat in the winter, especially if they are leaving for a few days.  Who wants to pay to heat an empty house?   You do, if you don't want to come back to frozen pipes.

The amount of money you save by turning down the heat will be more than burned up by the cost of fixing frozen pipes, especially if they have burst.  If you absolutely must turn down the heat, you can compromise by keeping the heat set to at least 50 degrees.  Depending on the level of insulation and other factors in the home, this may be enough to keep the pipes from freezing.

Let the faucet drip - Pipes burst because of the water pressure and the ice forming and expanding inside the pipe as it is freezing.  Letting the faucet drip keeps the water moving in the pipe, making it less likely to freeze.  It also reduces the pressure in the system, which might help prevent a frozen pipe from bursting.  Yes, you will spend a little money on water that is literally going down the drain, but it's a very small cost compared to your pipes freezing.

 
Open interior doors- Don't shut off the heat to individual rooms in your house, because plumbing goes everywhere.  You never know when you are opening up a section of pipes to freezing by shutting interior doors.  Also, open cabinet doors in bathrooms, kitchens and anywhere else you have plumbing.  A little bit of heat in the right place could make a big difference.

 
 
 
 
 
There are also some longer term solutions that you can put into place to keep your pipes from freezing.

 
Apply heating tape- Heating tape can be wrapped around exposed pipes to bring warmth directly to the source.  You can buy it with an internal thermostat that will sense when heat is needed so it goes on and off automatically.  If you prefer a cheaper option, you can simply plug it in and it will stay on all the time.  Using tape with constant current requires you to unplug it during warmer months.  Either option requires you to check on the heat tape periodically to make sure that there are no electrical issues that could cause a fire.

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Seal cracks and holes-  Being able to keep cold air out and warm air in can make the difference in whether a pipe freezes or not.  Take a few minutes to see if any cold air is getting into your home near the pipes and patch any holes or cracks that you find.

 
 
 
Add extra insulation-  Pipes located in basements, attics or other areas with lighter insulation are more vulnerable to freezing.  You can insulate the pipes themselves with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves, or insulate the entire space.

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Is Your Water Pressure Too Low?

[fa icon='calendar'] Dec 6, 2017 9:10:00 AM / by Reid Geiler posted in Plumbing

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Is your water pressure too low?  Here are some ways you can increase the water pressure in your home.

First, you need to find out what you have to work with.  Put a water pressure test gauge on an outside spigot and see what the pressure is.  They cost about ten dollars if you don't have one.  If it's below 40 psi, which is on the low end of standard, then it's time to do some more digging.   Standard water pressure is 45 to 55 psi.

Call your water provider and find out what the pressure is supposed to be at the water main tap.  If they tell you that it's higher than what you are showing on your test gauge, the problem could be a bad pressure-reducing valve.  These valves are located on your water main and can go bad after ten or twenty years.  When they do, they result can be either too much water pressure or not enough.  The pressure is adjusted with threads at the top of the valve.  If adjusting doesn't solve the problem, it's time to replace the valve.  It's a job that takes a little plumbing experience to handle, so if you are in doubt, call a licensed plumber. 
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What Do You Do If Your Water Heater Is Leaking?

[fa icon='calendar'] Nov 22, 2017 4:15:25 PM / by Reid Geiler posted in Plumbing

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What do you do if your water heater is leaking? 
The first thing to do is find out where the water is actually coming from.  Like many other problems, some are easier, and cheaper, to fix than others.

The first place to start is at the top with the water supply lines. 
You may be seeing water on the floor, but that doesn't mean that it came from the bottom of the water heater.  Look at where the water lines come into the room and follow them all the way down to the top of the tank.  If you find water, try to trace the source.   

Flexible water supply tubes have been known to fail long before the water heater itself is ready to retire.  If there is insulation, be sure to remove it to see if it is wet underneath.  To replace the flex lines turn off the water supply and the water heater itself.  If you feel like the job is too big for you, call a licensed plumber.

If you have changed the water supply tubes and you are still seeing leakage, the next items to check are the water heater's nipples where the water is taken in to be heated.  Water heater nipples are difficult to remove, but it can be done.  Just be careful not to damage the water heater in the process.  Again, make sure the water supply is turned off and the water heater is off before beginning the process.
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The next item to check is the Temperature and Pressure (T&P) Valve.  This valve is designed to relieve, you guessed it, temperature and pressure inside the water heater.  If the T&P valve is leaking, this could indicate that the water pressure is too high or the heating element of the water heater is not regulating properly.  The valves are relatively inexpensive,so replacing one as an experiment is worth a try.  If the replacement valve still leaks, that is the sign of a bigger problem.  Time to call a licensed plumber.

There is a drain valve at the bottom of the water heater than can also be leaking.  Look closely to see if you see water coming from it.  If so, change the valve and see if that solves the problem.  The water heater will have to be drained and the water supply turned off before you begin.

Finally, look at the tank itself.  If the leaks are coming from there, it's time for a new water heater.  The average cost for a new water heater, including installation, is about $800.

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What Is That Smell?

[fa icon='calendar'] Nov 16, 2017 3:58:11 PM / by Reid Geiler posted in Plumbing, Smelly Sink

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"What is that SMELL?"

Those are usually the first words that come to mind when you discover that your sink smells like rotten eggs. 
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