Category Archives: Plumbing

Electric Water Heaters

By | Electrical, Plumbing | No Comments

Electric water heaters come in many sizes and shapes. (I recently found one in a basement of a 1938 home that looks like a washing machine). Most are cylindrical. They all provide years of service and have gotten much better insulated. This alone is a good reason to replace an old one. If you get over 10 years of service you have gotten your moneys worth. The sure sign of failure is a leak, usually trouble free, they can have some tricky to diagnose issues. Gas water heaters recover quicker as a rule, be sure your heater is ample for…

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Delta Shower Valve Not Getting Hot Enough

By | Plumbing, Problem Solving | No Comments

I had 2 new Delta Shower Valves installed by my plumber and the darn things would to get hot enough. Yes there was plenty of hot water available in nearby faucets. The plumber told my client that there must be something wrong with the valve. On his return they told the client they had to put a part in backwards and that it was as good as it was going to get. Well my friends, that is not good enough for me. The plumber was fired for being an idiot. I attacked the problem knowing that there was a solution…

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Sewage Ejector Pump Problem

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I installed a sewage ejector pump in a home I remodeled for myself 15 years ago. I needed it to evacuate the basement water from the laundry and a 3/4 bath. It worked fine for all that time, then it started acting up. It was staying on and not shutting off like it should. It was getting stuck on. By the time I took the cover off everything was OK. I discovered a failed float. Changing the pump would have been far more expensive. ($375.00 ish) wholesale. I ended up lifting the pump our to make sure it was free…

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Gas Water Heater Failure

By | Plumbing, Problem Solving | No Comments

No hot water is the symptom but what could be the cause. I responded to the home of a client that we did a major remodeling project work for in 2012 which 5 years after installation. What could be wrong? Its a gas water heater, for cryin’ out loud, such simple technology. My typical triage shenanigans out of the way over the phone, the client confirmed that she had paid her gas bill and the unit was plugged in “Ha Ha”. I decided to respond on a Sunday evening imagining that the pilot had gone out and that it would…

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Sulfur Smell From Hot Water

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I recently diagnosed a new electric water heater emitting a nasty sulfur smell from it. The darn smell would not go away so I asked my Father-In-law Bob the retired plumber what he thought. “Anode rod must be bad” he said. Whatever the cause, it was a very nasty smell that could not be ignored. After researching the issue, I discovered that sulfur gas that is not harmful was being formed by an aerobic bacteria that was attacking my sacrificial anode. Perhaps we did not flush it enough at the beginning, who knows the point is that the smell was…

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Can you flip a p trap?

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I recently came across a problem that is fairly common in remodeling kitchens. A client remodeled their home after 35 years and ended up with a nicer, under mount sink. The sink bottom ended up about 4″ lower than the previous one too, so the connections to the wall needed to adjusted to make it all work. This usually comes as a surprise to everyone and if your kitchen cabinets have backs it can be a real problem to fix. If you are gutting the kitchen, always lower the sink drain. Shit goes down hill The first rule of plumbing…

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Failed Pipe

Hissing sound turns out to be serious

By | Plumbing, Problem Solving, Understanding your home | No Comments

A past client called to report a strange hissing sound emanating from beneath her kitchen area. She said “It sounded like a machine running or air moving”. It seemed like no big deal until she noticed a crack in her drywall in the same general area. That is when I got involved. After lifting the lid on the crawl space it became obvious that she had a leak beneath her floor. Whats that sound? I instantly noticed a high humidity condition on my face and got a sinking feeling about what I was going to discover. I Jumped down into…

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What are you getting for your money?

By | Plumbing, Understanding your home | No Comments

I was talking with my plumber the other day and several cool things jelled when it comes to value. I have known for years that although things look alike they are not. Let’s take anything, cars are a good example.  Why is there such a disparity, they all do the same darn thing. Why not buy the least expensive one? Turns out that folks realized that although they have an engine (in most cases, I drove a Tesla the other day, it had two electric motors) and 4 tires and meet certain requirements, there are so many differences that it…

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outhouse

What makes a toilet work?

By | Memoirs, Plumbing | No Comments

Since the evolution of the outhouse and the gravitational hole in the ground toilet, first world countries have staved off disease in the last century by creating domestic plumbing and municipal sewage systems. One of my early fond memories of toilets is the Loo nicked named “Baby Loo” at my boy scout camp. A two seater box set over a hole that we used to sprinkle ashes on to keep the flies down. Later in life I built a collapsible hunting toilet for visiting Wisconsinites hence the cheese head. Although much progress has been made in composting toilets and incinerating…

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Screw on diverter

Shower diverter problems?

By | Plumbing, Problem Solving | No Comments

Stump the Plumber This is another in the stump the plumber series. A friend called from out of state, he was visiting family. They had a typical tub shower situation with a single valve so it had to be fairly new. The situation When he turned on the water, the tub started to fill and the water was heating up when he noticed a dribbling out of the shower head. He had not activated the diverter yet and was wondering what the heck could be causing it to happen. Naturally his first thought went to the cartridge but before he…

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