Category Archives: Problem Solving

Hey, Is That A Contractor In Your Pocket?

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Technology is becoming so important. I have seen the future and it dared me to think big. It begs the question, “Is that a contractor in your pocket? Or are you just happy to see me?”. My daughter Athena lives in the Bay Area 800 miles away but she is able to get me to fix things with her technology. We fixed her dryer, a stuck oven drawer, and I was able to explain what the freezer sound was in her new apartment in 5 minutes. The other night I was able to turn power back on to a client’s…

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Gas Water Heater Failure

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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

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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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Screw on diverter

Shower diverter problems?

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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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Faiucet seat

I can’t turn the HOT water off

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OK, so you own your home and you know that there are some fairly simple systems that work together to keep you warm, safe and sound. Electrical. (If you can keep the smoke in the wires everything works out) HVAC. (Why does the AC only fail on the hot days after hours?) Plumbing. (Sewage goes downhill to a treatment plant, and fresh hot and cold water magically appear with the flip of my hand or twist of the wrist Today we talk about what happens when the water you want to stop from coming out of a faucet, wont stop…

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Sediment in your pipes?

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Stump the plumber Another in the series called Stump the Plumber. Although not a plumber myself, I have plenty of handy man experience but, (My father-in-law Bob is my retired plumber that verifies that everything I say is true.) Sediment can come from a number of sources, I describe it as anything that does not belong in your water pipes. Anything other than water. Typically we see: Sand (from a well) usually Metal flecks (from galvanized pipe systems) the buildup occasionally flakes off just like in a heart attack, stroke ,or Pulmonary embolism. Occasionally other stuff gets into the pipes,…

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grundfus pump

Water recirculating pump problem

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Stump the Plumber This is another installment in the stump the plumber series. The situation I went to look at a kitchen remodeling project and during my evaluation I asked an open question that I always like to explore. “Is there anything else that you would like to discuss, or anything not working?” They responded that they had a plumber install a Grundfos comfort system (recirculating pump with a timer) that was supposed to have hot water at the sink, but it had never worked. I figured that they do fail occasionally but I had never had one not work…

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Levco Does Moisture Inspections

By | Indoor Air Quality, Moisture Protection, Problem Solving, Understanding your home | No Comments

I was recently asked to investigate a serious situation involving “MOLD,” which I like to call “Fungal growth,” on the inside of an apartment. When I got there I was initially stunned to see how serious the situation was. I took all sorts of images and readings with my meters and was able to identify what was happening and why. I understood the biology and the physics of water almost intuitively, but the residents, 3 college aged folks, were clueless. It took this to frighten them enough to call for help. I once heard that if you can’t explain a…

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