Category Archives: Problem Solving

How We Go About Figuring Things Out

By | Appliances, Problem Solving | 2 Comments

I feel so good when people call me to help fix things. My brother called last night from a clients home where the gas stove was only able to muster one burner, when the next burner was lit the flame was weak and the third one would not light. They had been working on the gas lines in another part of the home which should not have affected this line. I immediately said “look for an obstruction, follow the line back to the source (meter) and you will find the problem”. 10 minutes later he called. All is well, fixed!…

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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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Is My House Toxic?

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

I have always enjoyed understanding building science and have dabbled in the realm of an amateur of sorts trying to discover what is causing a home to make a resident feel ill when they are inside of it. Being a former Paramedic, I blend my knowledge into a pretty good problem solver. Yes, your home could make you sick, and even kill you if have faulty systems. The risk goes up the tighter the home is. Have You Ever Considered That Your House Could Be Making You Ill? Do you have any of these symptoms only when you are at…

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Hey, Is That A Contractor In Your Pocket?

By | Problem Solving | No Comments

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

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

By | Plumbing, Problem Solving | No Comments

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?

By | Plumbing, Problem Solving | No Comments

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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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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Faiucet seat

I can’t turn the HOT water off

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

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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