Wooten Plumbing

DIY Water Heater Installs: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

DIY water heater install Tulsa

Since you’re reading this post, we can guess a few things about you:

  1. Your water heater is dead or dying.
  2. Paying someone to install a new one isn’t something you’re super excited about. (Who would be?)
  3. You watched a couple of YouTube videos and learned water heater installs really aren’t terribly difficult. (They aren’t—if you know what you’re doing.)
  4. So, you’re thinking seriously about maybe just doing it yourself.
  5. But you’re still a tiny bit nervous about the whole idea, so you got Google involved.
  6. And now you’re trying to decide if you’re heading to the home improvement store. Or not.

Here’s the truth: If you have some intermediate-level home improvement skills, you can (probably) pull off a water heater install. But there are some common, potentially dangerous problems do-it-yourselfers seem to have. As Tulsa’s most trusted plumbers, we’d like to help you avoid some common water heater installation mistakes.

Common Water Heater Installation Mistakes

Problem #1: Forgetting to cut power to the water heater.

Please remember that the job you’re about to undertake involves both water and electricity. Even if you have a gas water heater, your unit may require electricity to get the pilot light going. If that’s not the case, that’s great; but you’ll likely be working with and around other things that do require electricity. So just be careful.

By the way, your electric water heater should be installed within sight of your circuit panel. If it’s not, you must have either a disconnect switch/breaker near the heater or a locking device installed on the breaker switch in the main panel. (You just don’t want someone to restore power, not realizing you’re working on it.)

Problem #2: Not having the right tools and doing things in the wrong order

If you’re smart and mechanically inclined, you may be tempted to figure things out as you go along. Don’t be a hero: Read the instructions. At the very least, you’ll know what tools you need before you start, you’ll get a good idea for long it’ll take you, and you’re more likely to avoid causing a flood in your basement.

Problem #3: Attempting to move a water heater alone

Let’s say your water heater’s actually working perfectly fine, but it’s in the way of the man cave renovation you have planned. It may be fine to move it, but that’s absolutely not a DIY job. You’ll have to reroute water and power lines, after all, and if you have a gas-powered water heater, it’s actually illegal to move it yourself.

Assuming you have the right help, you’ll need to make sure your water heater’s in the proper spot. Gas water heaters shouldn’t be enclosed in a small closet or bedroom because that increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Although they can be in a dedicated enclosure, there are still safety issues to consider.

Problem #4: Not understanding how to configure the TPR valve and drainpipe

TPR stands for “temperature and pressure release.” Your TPR valve is one of the things that keeps your water heater from exploding. In short, if your water heater builds up too much pressure, the TPR valve opens to allow some water to drain out. Of course, that water is hot—anywhere from 120°F to 140°F—so it’s critical to install the drainpipe correctly. Otherwise, someone who just happens be nearby when the valve opens could be severely burned.

Problem #5: Rushing to test the unit

If you manage to get through the entire installation process, you’ll be anxious to test your handiwork. That’s fine—but wait until the water heater’s full before you restore power and/or light that pilot light. Otherwise, you’ll fry the heating element, and although that’s not a hugely expensive or difficult repair, you just installed the thing. Don’t do that to yourself.

Also, before you power up your new water heater, open a hot water tap somewhere in your house and let it run for a few minutes. That will clear air that made its way into the lines during disconnection and reconnection.

Help’s On the Way!

As with all home improvement projects, it’s best to expect the unexpected. If you’d like help with your water heater installation—including deciding on a different size or style—give us a call. We’ll be right over.

Traditional vs. Tankless Water Heaters

tulsa water heater tankless

Traditional vs. Tankless Water Heaters

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On a scale from cold coffee to world hunger, running out of hot water is most definitely toward the first-world-problems end of the spectrum. Still, that doesn’t make the experience any less frustrating or any more comfortable. Even the morning-person-est of morning people is likely to scream a swear word or two when the shower turns to sleet. It’s pretty much the worst wake-up call imaginable.

If you’ve had it with cold showers and you’re thinking your water heater’s blame, you’re probably right. And if you’re thinking a tankless, or on-demand, water heater might be the perfect solution to your problem, you might be right. As Tulsa’s most-trusted plumber, we can help you make an informed decision about your water heater. As with most things homeownership, you’ll need to weigh several factors before making the switch from traditional to tankless.

What is a Tankless Water Heater?

As the name implies, tankless water heaters don’t store hot water. Instead, they have heated coils through which water is warmed on demand. When you turn on your shower, water runs through those coils, and you’re treated to an endless supply of hot water—theoretically, anyway. Keep reading.

Hot Water Capacity in Tankless and Traditional Water Heaters

Traditional water heaters, also called storage tank water heaters, hold between 20 and 80 gallons of hot water. When hot water is needed—by your dishwasher, for example—it’s carried through your pipes from the storage tank to that appliance. Then, cold water fills flows into the storage tank and is warmed over time. If you use hot water faster than the cold water can be warmed, you “run out” of hot water. So, if you’re consistently cussing at your shower, it’s likely your water heater is too small for your needs.

If that’s the case, does it make sense to just switch to an on-demand water heater instead? Not necessarily. While tankless water heaters don’t have the capacity problem of traditional heaters, they could pose a different problem: flow rate. Tankless water heaters can have trouble keeping up with simultaneous demands. If you’re running two showers and the washing machine at the same time, something (or someone) is going to suffer. To solve that problem, you can install multiple tankless heaters and enjoy a truly never-ending supply of hot water.  But that brings us to another point of comparison: cost.

Costs of Tankless vs. Traditional Water Heaters

According to Home Advisor, the average purchase and installation cost of a 40- to 50-gallon water heater is just shy of $900. To buy and install a tankless model can cost more than three times that—$3000 on average.

So is on-demand hot water worth it? From a comfort standpoint, yes. From a pocketbook standpoint? Maybe, maybe not. As reported by Energy.gov, tankless units don’t have the standby losses of traditional tanks, and they’re 8-34% more efficient and can last twice as long as storage tank models. Still, if cost is a concern, you should carefully weigh your initial outlay for purchase and installation against the savings you’ll enjoy over time.

Pros and Cons of Tankless vs. Traditional Water Heaters

Here’s an at-a-glance comparison of traditional and tankless water heaters.

Pros of Traditional Water Heaters

  • Relatively low up-front costs.
  • Simple and quick to install.

Cons of Traditional Water Heaters

  • Slightly higher utility bills because water is warmed regardless of your need for it at the time.
  • Takes up more floor space.
  • Hot water supply is limited by the storage tank capacity.
  • Life expectancy of 10-15 years.

Pros of Tankless Water Heaters

  • Smaller units that can be installed anywhere.
  • Deliver up to three gallons of hot water per minute. (See Cons!)
  • Life expectancy of 20+ years.

Cons of Tankless Water Heaters

  • Higher up-front costs.
  • Can take more time to install.
  • Deliver up to three gallons of hot water per minute—which is adequate unless you’re running multiple appliances at once.

Overall

  • Traditional water heaters are typically more affordable but are less energy-efficient.
  • Tankless water heaters are definitely more energy-efficient but can be less cost-effective.

Still Not Sure Which Water Heater is Right for You?

We hate cold showers, too, and we’re happy to help! Give us a call today and we’ll talk through your household size and habits so you can make the best decision for your family.

When it comes time to help decide between the benefits of tankless or traditional water heaters in Tulsa, Wooten Plumbing leads the way. We have years of experience that helps us learn which makes and models will be the most cost-efficient for your family or business to own. Call us today to learn more!

tulsa plumbing

By BRIAN WOOTEN

© 2018 by Wooten Plumbing & Utilities, LLC

The Best Ways to Ruin Your Home’s Plumbing

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The Best Ways to Ruin Your Home’s Plumbing

tulsa emergency plumber

As your Tulsa plumber, we typically like to offer preventive maintenance tips and do-it-yourself tricks on our blog. This time, we’re going the opposite direction: We’re going to share some DON’T tips. To be honest, we’ve seen too many homeowners make big mistakes that cost big bucks to fix, and we don’t want to see that happen to you. So, in that spirit, let’s cover-off on the best ways to ruin your home’s plumbing.

Best Way to Ruin Your Plumbing #1: Misuse Your Garbage Disposal

First of all, “garbage” disposal is a terrible name for this appliance. “Food waste” disposal would be a better option. “Food waste that’s not stringy, starchy, or greasy” disposal would be even better. Unless you’re interested in wrecking your disposal and/or creating a massive jam in your kitchen pipes, stop misusing your garbage disposal. Here are some specific don’ts:

  1. Don’t shove food down your drain and then turn on the disposal. That’s the exact wrong order. Instead, turn on the water, turn on the disposal, then carefully push scraps in—with something other than your hand, please. When you’re finished, turn off the disposal and let the water run for a few seconds to push any remaining bits down the pipe.
  2. Don’t use hot water. Hot water can melt what you’re attempting to grind, which then coats your pipes with all matter of goo and makes it more difficult to scraps to make it all the way through.
  3. Don’t try to grind large pieces of food. Cut everything into small chunks before sending it down the drain.

Best Way to Ruin Your Plumbing #2: Flush Non-Flushables

You wouldn’t believe the things we’ve fished out of sewer lines. Sure, accidents happen—particularly in homes with small, curious children. But these things were no accident; these homeowners actually used their toilet as a trash can. If you’re hoping to overflow your toilet and flood your basement, then be our guest: put your leftover dinner down the john. Or if you’re hoping for a sewer backup because you’ve missed talking with your insurance agent, use paper towels instead of toilet paper. Otherwise, the only things that belong in your toilet (other than the obvious) are water and toilet paper. No cotton swabs. No feminine products. And no chemicals. (Keep reading.)

Best Way to Ruin Your Plumbing #3: Use Drain Cleaner

When your sink or toilet clogs up, we know it’s tempting to reach for the drain cleaner. But if you have a major clog that the drain cleaner doesn’t resolve, those chemicals will just sit there, corroding your pipes. It also creates a hazardous situation for our service techs if you end up needing help. If you choose to use the stuff, use it preventively only—and flush plenty of water down the drain afterward to make sure there’s no residue left in your pipes. Here are some alternatives to try instead of using harsh chemicals:

  • Use a drain snake or bend a wire hanger into a hook and see what you can pull up.
  • Mix equal parts vinegar and baking soda, and pour it down the drain. Cover the opening with a damp washcloth, and allow it to steep for at least an hour. Then rinse with hot water. You can also use equal parts salt and baking soda; after letting the mixture soak in the drain for 20 minutes, carefully rinse with boiling water.
  • Clean the trap—the u- or s-shaped pipe under your sink. Put a basin or bucket underneath it to capture any water that comes out, unscrew the trap, turn it upside down to remove any gook, and give it a quick scrub with an old toothbrush. Be sure to replace it when you’re finished; that little pipe makes sure toxic sewer gases don’t escape into your home.

Best Way to Ruin Your Plumbing #4: Leave Your Hose Connected in Freezing Weather

If you’re in a cold climate and your garden hoses are still connected to your hose bibb (outdoor faucet), stop reading, go outside, and fix that. By not disconnecting your hose, you risk freezing the faucet and the pipe it’s connected to. That can lead to burst pipes and flooding.

Best Way to Ruin Your Plumbing #5: Home Decor Projects Gone Bad

Before you drive a nail in the wall or cut through your drywall to create a built-in bookcase, take a moment to determine if there’s a pipe running behind that drywall.

Best Way to Ruin Your Plumbing #6: DIY When You Totally Shouldn’t DIY

Some projects are just better left up to a professional. Take, for example, sweating pipes. It might look totally do-able on YouTube, but this task isn’t for the faint of heart. At the very least, you’ll waste a bunch of time trying to get it right and/or you’ll worry that you didn’t.

If you’re wearing a sheepish grin right now because you’ve actually made some of these mistakes, you’re not alone. Plenty of Tulsa-area homeowners are right there with you. Fortunately, we’re here to help! Give us call today for assistance with any plumbing problems you’re having—even the self-inflicted ones.

At Wooten Plumbing, we’ve seen these mistakes (and more). More often than not, it’s usually simpler to call a Tulsa-area plumber to keep you from having to make some really common mistakes. To schedule service, simply click here!

tulsa plumbing

By BRIAN WOOTEN

© 2018 by Wooten Plumbing & Utilities, LLC

Thanksgiving is Awful for Your Plumbing

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Thanksgiving is Awful for Your Plumbing

plumber in tulsa

From the perfectly roasted turkey and Grandma’s famously lumpy mashed potatoes to the post-lunch snooze and “friendly” flag football contest in the backyard, Thanksgiving is stuffed with long-standing traditions. And then there’s the day after Thanksgiving— leftovers, battling ridiculously long checkout lines for debatably “good” deals, and… calling a plumber.

Yep, calling a plumber is a holiday tradition for a surprising number of households. In fact, Black Friday is the single busiest day of the year for plumbers—so much so that our industry jokingly refers to it as Brown Friday. Gross, right? It sure is. And while we certainly don’t mind the extra business, we’d rather help you avoid a plumbing nightmare. We figure you have enough to worry about trying to mediate political arguments between Uncle Marv and Grandpa Bob. (Or is that just at our house?)

Eight Ways to Protect Your Plumbing on Thanksgiving

  • Prepare your garbage disposal. We cook an impressive amount of food on Thanksgiving, which means we put our garbage disposals to the test. To make sure yours is ready for the overtime, give it a good clean before you get started. Put some ice and rock salt into the disposal, and run it for a couple of minutes. That will help break up any sludge and allow the blades to work more efficiently.
  • Use your disposal correctly. There’s a definite right and wrong way to run a disposal. Unless you want us showing up for leftover turkey sandwiches, be sure to turn the water on then turn on the disposal then (carefully) add scraps.

    Too many people jam food down the sink before hitting the switch, which increases the chances of the impellers getting jammed, which increases the chances of your motor frying. Also, when it sounds like the disposal has finished grinding everything, allow the water to run for a few seconds longer to wash away any debris. Repeat after us: water, power, scraps, water.

  • If your disposal gets clogged, don’t run the dishwasher. Your disposal and dishwasher likely share a drain, so if one’s plugged, that means the other is, too.
  • Be smart about what goes in the disposal. The worst part about Thanksgiving dinner is unquestionably the mess. In their hurry to finish the clean-up process and get to Pie Time, people tend to lose a bit of common sense. You wouldn’t believe the stuff we’ve fished out of kitchen drains. (Or maybe you would.) So, as a reminder, here are some basic disposal do’s and don’ts:
    • Do put potato peels in the garbage can, not the garbage disposal.
    • Don’t pour grease or oil down the kitchen sink.
    • Do cut large food scraps into small bits.
    • Don’t try to grind fibrous vegetables like celery and onions.
    • Don’t use your disposal for pasta and rice. While those scraps won’t hurt the disposal, they could create a gluey clog downline.
    • Don’t grind bones.
    • Do run cold water with your disposal, not hot.
  • Don’t flush food. Speaking of a loss of common sense… Let’s say that despite your best efforts, your disposal calls it quits 15 minutes into your four-hour meal prep. Unless you’re hoping to create a Thanksgiving legend, please avoid the temptation to flush your scraps.
  • Grandpa Joe-proof your toilets. Before your holiday guests arrive, make sure your toilets are in good working order. Check the flush valves and chains, test the water shut-off valves (just in case), and check for leaks in and around the toilets. If you have finicky plumbing, leave a helpful note, such as, “Hold the handle for three seconds, please,” and leave a plunger in full sight. Finally, put a small trash can next to every toilet. That way no one will be tempted to flush things they shouldn’t. (We’re looking at you, guys over at Pittsburgh plumber.)
  • Pre-treat your drains. More people in your house means more activity for your plumbing. If there’s build-up in your drains, they’ll be sluggish, which is inconvenient at best. So before folks arrive, pour ½ cup of baking soda in every drain, followed by ½ cup of vinegar. Cover the draining openings, and let the mixture soak for 20 minutes or so before rinsing with hot water.
  • Prep your showers. Treat your shower drains with baking soda and vinegar, as described above. Also, if you’re having overnight guests, consider protecting the drains with strainers to prevent hair clogs. Finally, space out showers by at least 20 minutes to allow your drains to clear and your hot water heater to recover.

Bonus tip: If you suspect plumbing issues today, don’t take a wait-and-see approach over the holidays. As your Tulsa plumber, we’d be happy to do a preventive maintenance check-up so you can avoid any extra Thanksgiving drama. Give us a call today!

The last thing you want to have to worry about on Thanksgiving is your plumbing system. With some simple tweaks, you can make sure you don’t have to call a pro plumber like me. But, if Brown Friday strikes back with a vengeance, we’re happy to bail you out!

tulsa plumbing

By BRIAN WOOTEN

© 2018 by Wooten Plumbing & Utilities, LLC

How to Prepare Your Plumbing for the Winter

winter plumbing tips

How to Prepare Your Plumbing for the Winter

winter plumbing tips

And just like that, temps are going from “Hooray for jeans and hoodies” to “Where’d I put those dang earmuffs?” If you’re like most homeowners, you’ve likely tested your furnace a time or two. But have you shown your plumbing system any TLC yet? As your Tulsa plumbing experts, we recommend doing some quick DIY preventive maintenance to avoid a Midwinter Night’s Nightmare (with our apologies to William Shakespeare).

A few weeks ago, we offered a basic fall plumbing maintenance checklist. To recap:

  1. Clean out your drains and gutters.
  2. Inspect your water heater and water heater pressure relief valve.
  3. Check for leaks and drips.
  4. Insulate exposed pipes.
  5. Store your garden hoses.
  6. Turn off your outdoor faucets.
  7. Use your water shut off valve if you’ll be traveling.

If you’re nice and cozy in your favorite recliner right now and you aren’t terribly enthused at the thought of heading to the basement or the backyard, we get it. But here’s the thing: Water damage related to burst pipes is the second most-filed insurance claim in the country—at an average of $10,000 per claim. And, by the way, most insurance companies are picky about what they will—and won’t—cover in these situations. So you’re right: Draining and storing your garden hoses is no fun. But neither is a flooded basement on Christmas Eve.

After you’ve checked those seven basic maintenance tasks off your list, here are some other winter plumbing tips to follow:

  • Open the faucets a tiny bit. In extremely cold weather, in areas of your home that get much colder than others, or if you live in a mobile home, consider allowing a trickle of water to run through the faucets. Yes, that is a waste of water. But it also relieves pressure if standing water in your pipes does freeze. Note: If the drain for a particular faucet is on an exterior wall, don’t let that one trickle. The water in the drain could freeze, which would overflow the sink.
  • Open cabinets under your sinks. Consider leaving bathroom vanity doors open so warm air from the room can circulate around the pipes. In extreme temperatures, point a portable heater inside the cabinet.
  • Get a professional’s opinion. Ask a professional for advice about how to best winterize pipes in freeze-prone areas. It could be that a good heat tape may be sufficient, but in some cases, re-routing the pipes may be the most efficient solution. Pipes most likely to freeze include those located in your attic, unheated floors, unheated crawl spaces, unheated garages, well pits, under porches, and along the perimeter of your basement (even if it’s heated).
  • Check for drafts. On a particularly windy day, feel for drafts blowing on uninsulated pipes. One obvious place to check is where pipes, cables, and wires enter your home. If you feel drafts in those spots, use expandable foam to prevent cold air from seeping in.
  • Look for bulging sections of pipe. If you have any exposed pipes, inspect them for bulges—points where water has frozen in the past and pushed against the pipe. If you find any, you’re lucky they didn’t burst last year. It’s likely they will this year, though, so that’s something to call us about immediately.
  • Insulate your garage door. If you have plumbing running through an unheated garage, insulate the door to keep that area as warm as possible.
  • If you leave for vacation, don’t turn off your furnace. You don’t need to leave your furnace running full blast, of course, but if you turn the system completely off and temperatures plummet, your plumbing will be in serious jeopardy.

If thinking about prepping your plumbing for winter leaves you cold, we’re happy to help. We can do it all! From inspections to repairs and installations, we’re the Tulsa plumber to trust.

We work hard for our reputation as one of the best plumbers in Tulsa. If you have any issues with your home’s plumbing system this winter, give us a call! I’m a third-generation plumber… and I’ve learned a thing or two about how to save folks money.

tulsa plumbing

By BRIAN WOOTEN

© 2018 by Wooten Plumbing & Utilities, LLC

Fall Plumbing Maintenance Checklist

Fall plumbing checklist

Fall Plumbing Maintenance Checklist

Fall plumbing checklist

There’s so much to love about fall in Tulsa. At Wooten Plumbing we’re especially fond of the crisp air and colorful trees. Of course, as refreshing and beautiful as those things are, they can create headaches for homeowners—expensive ones.

Use our Fall Plumbing Maintenance Checklist to make sure your home’s ready for those falling temps and falling leaves.

  1. Clean out your drains and gutters. Inside your gutters and drains, those stunning red, yellow, and orange leaves quickly turn into brown sludge. And when that builds up over time, it creates a dam—preventing water from going down and away from your home. All of that debris can also affect your sewer lines, and a swampy, stinky home isn’t the best environment for your annual Thanksgiving gathering.
  2. Inspect your water heater and water heater pressure relief valve. Water heaters should be inspected and cleaned at least annually, but they rarely get the preventive care they require. If you want to avoid a cold shower the morning of the first hard freeze, it’s a good idea to check this chore off your list. Head to your water heater manufacturer’s website for specific instructions, or give us a call at 918.241.3900.
  3. Check for leaks and drips. Temperatures will stay above freezing for a few weeks yet, which makes this the perfect time to check for drips and leaks. If you wait until it gets really cold, you may find a leak the hard way—through a plumbing disaster caused by a burst pipe. How so? When water freezes, it expands and pushes against the inside of your plumbing pipes. If there’s any vulnerability, the pipe will shatter or split.
  4. Insulate exposed pipes. If you have plumbing pipes and fixtures in unheated areas of your home, such as your garage, basement, or crawlspace, it’s wise to insulate them. Home improvement stores carry affordable insulation kits.
  5. Store your garden hoses. One of our favorite perks of fall is getting a break from lawn maintenance. Just be sure your mowing season wrap-up includes wrapping up your garden hoses. Disconnect each hose and drain it to protect it from bursting over the winter.
  6. Turn off your outdoor faucets. Outdoor faucets, or hose bibbs, can create serious plumbing problems in colder temps if you don’t prepare them properly. Turn off the inside water supply line, and then open the hose bibbs to allow excess water to drain out. If your home doesn’t have frost-free hose bibbs, consider swapping them out before winter hits or insulating them.
    Use your water shut off valve if you’ll be traveling. If you plan to be away for a few days, go ahead and turn off your water. Then, drain the pipes by turning on faucets in your basement and on the top floor of your home. These are good precautions to take any time you’re traveling, but they’re especially important during colder weather.

We know you want to take good care of your home, but sometimes even preventive maintenance can feel a little intimidating—which means it doesn’t always get done. We get it! For years, Wooten Plumbing has helped Tulsa-area homeowners protect their investment. Give us a call to schedule an appointment, and one of our friendly, professional technicians will be happy to help you experience peace of mind about your plumbing.

We work hard for our reputation as one of the best plumbers in Tulsa. If you have any issues with your home’s plumbing system this fall, give us a call! I’m a third-generation plumber… and I’ve learned a thing or two about how to save folks money.

tulsa plumbing

By BRIAN WOOTEN

© 2018 by Wooten Plumbing & Utilities, LLC

Are Water Filtration Systems Worth It?

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Are Water Filtration Systems Worth It?

water filtration system tulsa

As a Tulsa plumber, we often get questions about water filtrations systems. Are they worth the cost? Do they actually work? Are they even necessary? Let’s talk about that.

Water Consumption in the United States

On average, Americans drink approximately 39 gallons of bottled water per year at a total cost of roughly $16 billion. Given that bottled water is 300-times as expensive as tap water, and with growing recognition of the potential health and environmental impacts of plastic packaging, many people are turning to home filtration systems instead.

As reported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 25% of Americans use some type of home water filtration—from simple and inexpensive carbon-filter pitchers to whole-home, reverse-osmosis systems that can run as much as $10,000.

Three Questions to Help You Decide if Water Filtration Systems are Worth It

So now let’s go back to that first question: Are water filtrations systems worth it? As with most things in life, it depends. Here are three questions to ask:

Is your local water supply safe?

The EPA requires water providers to provide a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) to their customers by July 1 every year. This report shows all contaminants found in your local drinking supply and how those levels compare to the agency’s drinking water standards.

Notice we said, “all contaminants found.” The reality is all public water supplies have yuck; the question is if the levels of contamination are acceptable. The CCR will tell you. (Note: If you use a household well, it’s wise to test at least annually for bacteria and nitrates and to talk with your health department about potential groundwater concerns.)

While most tap water in the United States is safe to consume, the unfortunate truth is that some local systems violate health standards—nearly 6% of them serving 21 million people, according to a recent study. If your water doesn’t meet or exceed EPA standards, a carefully chosen filtration system may be beneficial.

How much of your home water use is for drinking?

A 2016 study indicates the average American household uses 300 gallons of water per day. Interestingly, only 17% of that comes through our faucets—and only 1% of the water coming into our homes is used for drinking. The rest is used for bathing, laundry, flushing our toilets, watering our yards, and so on. In fact, more water gets wasted through leaks than gets consumed! If you’re primarily concerned about the quality of your drinking water, a whole-house system is probably overkill.

Does anyone in your household have a compromised immune system?

If you have a family member whose immune system is weak because of illness or medical treatment, water filtration is wise. Certain parasites, such as Cryptosporidium, are resistant to the chlorine-based disinfectants used in public water systems, and if your water comes from surface, rather than underground, sources this could be of particular concern. The best way to remove Cryptosporidium is to boil the water for 60 seconds before cooking with it or drinking it. Otherwise, the EPA recommends a high-quality point-of-use filter at minimum. In this case, be diligent about selecting a system certified by NSF International for the particular contaminants of concern.

What kind of water filtration system do you need?

When selecting a water filtration system, it’s helpful to keep your goals in mind. If you simply don’t like the taste of your water, an inexpensive solution will help. But if you have higher-than-acceptable levels of contaminants and/or an immunocompromised family member, something more comprehensive than a water pitcher is worth it.

For years, we’ve helped Tulsa homeowners and businesses choose, install, and service their water filtration systems. Call us today to learn more.

tulsa plumbing

By BRIAN WOOTEN

© 2018 by Wooten Plumbing & Utilities, LLC

Interesting Facts About Sump Pumps

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Interesting Facts About Sump Pumps

tulsa sump pump

As a homeowner, the first word you associate with sump pumps is likely not “interesting.” You might say they’re “useful” or even “necessary.” But “interesting”? Probably not. As your Tulsa plumber, we find sump pumps to be extremely interesting—mostly because we know they can save you thousands of dollars in completely avoidable, “interesting” problems.

What is a Sump Pump?

Sump pumps are installed in basements or crawls spaces, and they have one job: Prevent water under and around your foundation from seeping (or pouring) into your basement or crawlspace. When water in the sump pit reaches threatening levels, the pump activates and pushes the water away from your home’s foundation—keep your home and belongings safe and dry.

Although sump pumps aren’t necessarily equipped to handle major natural disasters, such as river floods, they’re nevertheless essential in areas with high water tables, significant snowfalls, and heavy rains.

Flooded Basements and Insurance Claims

Before we dive into the exciting world of sump pumps (ahem), let’s talk about homeowner’s insurance for just a moment.

Most insurance policies are meant to cover sudden situations, not damage-over-time scenarios. For example, if your basement carpeting is damaged because the water table is high and water seeps through the floor or because your backyard swimming pool sprung a slow leak, your insurance will likely not cover you. But having a sump pump that’s in good working condition could prevent both of those scenarios. Now you’re interested to learn more, right?

Note: Homeowners insurance policies vary dramatically. Talk with your agent to get a good understanding of what water-related damages are covered under yours. Also, consider adding a rider that covers sump pump failure—but be aware that if you file a claim under that rider, you may incur a surcharge.

Do You Need a Sump Pump?

Sump pumps can help prevent costly damage to your home and belongings. You could benefit from installing a pump if:

  1. Your homeowner’s insurance requires it.
  2. Your basement has ever flooded.
  3. You live in a low-lying area that collects water.
  4. Your basement is finished and/or you store valuables in that space (including appliances such as washer/dryer).
  5. You’ve noticed dampness and/or mold growth in your basement or crawlspace.
  6. You live in a geographic location that receives significant rain or snowfall.
  7. You already have a sump pump that’s nearing the end of its lifespan (approximately 10 years).

Sump Pump Parts

Sump pumps have four main components:

  • Sump pit. The sump pit, or sump basin, is exactly what it sounds like—a pit dug into the ground in the lowest area of your home. Sump pits vary in size from 24” to 36” deep and from 16” to 24” in diameter.
  • Pump. Submersible sump pumps are installed inside the sump pit, and they have a special housing to protect the electrical components from water damage. Pedestal sump pumps, on the other hand, are installed outside the pit. They’re easier to service, last longer, and are less expensive than the submersible options—but they’re also less attractive and louder, and they’re more likely to clog.
  • Switch. Sump pumps have one of two switches: one that turns on via a pressure sensor and one controlled by a float activator. In either case, the pump turns on automatically when the switch is triggered. (Although manual sump pumps are an option, we don’t recommend them.They’re only effective if you happen to be home, you realize what’s going on, and you turn them on. In most cases, manual sump pumps only help to recover from a flooded basement; they don’t help avoid a flooded basement.)
  • Outlet drain. This pipe carries water out of the sump pit and diverts it away from your home.
  • Bonus component: battery backup. Sump pumps run on electricity, so they’ll do you no good if you lose power during a storm. Given that you’re trying to protect your home from water damage, it’s worth the additional cost of purchasing a battery backup.

Testing Your Sump Pump

There’s no great time to learn your sump pump isn’t working, but there’s definitely a worst time: when you’re standing in an inch of water in your basement. Set yourself a reminder to test your sump pump every three months or so:

  • Fill a bucket with water.
  • Slowly pour the water into your sump pit until the pump comes on.
  • Now, make sure the pump turns off when the water level recedes.

If the pump doesn’t activate, it may need to be serviced, and we’re happy to help. But first, try a little DIY maintenance:

  • Check to make sure the pump is still receiving power. In damp conditions, some ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) switches trip.
  • If your pump is submersible, pull it out and make sure the inlet grate is free of debris.
  • If you have a float activator, make sure it’s not obstructed and isn’t set too high.
  • Find the end of the discharge pipe (outside your home) and make sure it, too, is clear of leaves, dirt, and rocks.

If you have the opposite problem and your sump pump runs continuously, you may have a faulty switch, or the check valve that prevents water from flowing back into the pump may need to be replaced. It’s also possible your water table is high enough that your pump actually needs to run frequently. If that’s the case, preventive maintenance is even more important, and it’s worth having a backup pump on hand.

Finally, if you test your unit and can hear the pump running but no water is leaving the pit, the impeller that drives water through the pipe may have detached.

Sump Pump Alternatives

If you have a concrete foundation and you don’t already have a sump pit, it can be daunting to think about putting a hole in your basement. If you’re more concerned about heavy rain and/or snowmelt than a high water table, you may benefit from installing or repairing more substantial rain gutters.

At Wooten Plumbing we’re honored to help Tulsa homeowners protect their investment by servicing and installing sump pumps. Call us today for an estimate.

tulsa plumbing

By BRIAN WOOTEN

© 2017 by Wooten Plumbing & Utilities, LLC

The Step By Step Guide To Replacing a Toilet

The Step By Step Guide To Replacing a Toilet

When it comes to do-it-yourself home improvement, few projects strike fear in the hearts of homeowners quite like toilets. It just seems like so many things could go terribly, horribly wrong, doesn’t it? No one likes the thought of making a mistake that involves sewage.

Fortunately, replacing a toilet is a much less complex task than most homeowners realize. If you have the right materials and a tiny bit of know-how, the chances of a major disaster are slim.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to replacing a toilet.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

To replace your toilet, you’ll need:

  • New toilet bowl and tank—one that’s the right size (more on that in a moment)
  • Flush valve, bolts (we recommend brass), wax ring, and toilet seat (if not included)
  • Supply line, if you need/want a new one (we recommend flexible ones covered in stainless steel mesh)
  • Penetrating oil
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Putty knife
  • Floor cleaner
  • Old bath towels or large rags

Choosing the Correct Toilet Size

Toilets come in a couple of standard sizes (and a few custom ones, too). With your old toilet in place, measure from the wall behind the toilet to the center of one of the bolts holding it to the floor. The standard rough-in is about 12” from the wall. If you have a small bathroom, it’s wise to measure from the side of the tank to the wall and from the front of the toilet to the door. Some elongated bowls won’t fit in small bathrooms—or they’ll fit, but you won’t be able to close the door!

Step 2: Remove the Old Toilet

  • Turn off the water to the toilet by closing the supply line valve.
  • Flush the toilet and, using one of your old towels or rags, sop up any remaining water in the tank.
  • Disconnect the supply line from the bowl, unless you plan to replace it. In that case, disconnect the supply line from the valve instead.
  • Remove the tank lid and carefully place it on the floor, away from your work area.
  • Unscrew the nuts from the bolts holding the tank to the bowl. Lift the tank up and away from the bowl, and set it aside. If you’re having trouble getting the nuts to release, spray some penetrating oil on them and wait a few minutes before trying again.
  • At the base of the bowl, remove the decorative caps from the bolts anchoring the toilet to the floor, then remove the bolts. You may need your penetrating oil again.
  • Gently rock the bowl back and forth to release it from the floor gasket. Once it’s free, carry it outside immediately or place it on an old towel or rag. (Those gaskets get pretty gross, and the bottom of the bowl will have residue that can harm floors and other surfaces.)
  • Put an old rag in the hole to prevent sewer gas from coming up into the bathroom while you work. Make sure your rag is big enough so it doesn’t fall into the drain.
  • Scrape any remaining wax from the floor, using a putty knife.
  • Thoroughly clean the floor around the drain hole in preparation for the new toilet.

If Your Floor Flange is Damaged

Once you’ve removed your old toilet bowl, you may discover that the floor flange—the piece to which the bowl mounts—is damaged. If that’s the case, we’d be happy to help you replace it.

Step 3: Install the New Toilet

New toilets come with installation directions, and it’s a good idea to review those. In general, though, you can use the following steps to install a new toilet:

  • Install your new mounting bolts in line with the wall behind the toilet.
  • Spread a towel on the floor, then carefully turn your new bowl on its side.
  • Place a new wax ring on the part of the bowl that extends into the floor flange.
  • Remove the rag from the drain hole, and carefully place the bowl in position. Admittedly, this can be the most frustrating part of the process. Be patient and remember your new toilet is a bit fragile. Also, if you smash the new wax ring as you’re trying to line things up, you’ll need to use another new one.
  • Spin the nuts onto the bolts—loosely—and then sit on the toilet to seat the wax ring. Gently lean side to side and front to back until the toilet is sitting squarely on the floor. If necessary, use rot-free shims to level the toilet. Rocking toilets will damage the wax ring, which will cause leaks.
  • Tighten the nuts securing the bowl to the floor.
  • Before lifting the tank on top of the bowl, make sure you’ve installed the rubber gasket over the hole in the bottom of the tank. In addition, go ahead and put the washers and bolts in position.
  • Carefully place the tank over the bowl, and tighten the nuts to secure it in place.
  • Install the toilet seat and reconnect the supply line.
  • Turn on the water supply and flush the toilet several times. Adjust the flush mechanism as necessary.
  • Position the tank lid.
  • When you’re certain there are no leaks, go ahead and cut the extra length from the floor bolts and install the decorative caps. Also, consider using a silicone caulk around the base of the toilet.

At Wooten Plumbing, we’ve been replacing toilets and upgrading bathrooms in the Tulsa area for years. Give us a call today to learn how Tulsa homeowners and businesses have relied on Wooten Plumbing to solve all of their toilet troubles. (Looking for a great Austin plumber south of the Red River?)

tulsa plumbing

By BRIAN WOOTEN

Tulsa-area homeowners have trusted Wooten Plumbing with their plumbing needs for years. If you’d rather have an expert replace your toilet, give us a call today! 918.241.3900

© 2017 by Wooten Plumbing & Utilities, LLC

How to Detect a Leak

how to detect a leak tulsa

How to Detect a Leak

Find & Repair Water Leaks Before It Gets Worse

how to detect a leak tulsa

If someone were to ask you how to tell if something’s leaking, you might be tempted to smirk a bit: “Umm, well, there’s water where there shouldn’t be water.” Duh.

In many cases, your smirk would be justified. Leaks are pretty obvious when there’s a puddle on the floor or in a cabinet. But sometimes, you might find just the evidence of a leak, like the water ring on the ceiling that lines up perfectly with the toilet in the kids’ bathroom. And let’s not forget about the non-visual clues, like that musty smell in your laundry room.

Finding a leak is never great news—whether there’s still a puddle or it’s dried to a stain. Fortunately, you can often find leaks before they become a major plumbing nightmare.

Where to Look for Leaks

Obviously, the best time to find a leak is before it starts. As with all things homeownership, preventive maintenance is key, so make a habit of checking for drips and leaks every couple of months.

  1. Under sinks. Check for water, stains, and odors in every under-the-sink cabinet: kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, wet bar, and so on.
  2. Floors. Inspect the floor around your dishwasher and, if you have an ice maker, your refrigerator.  Also look around toilets, tubs, and showers.
  3. Supply lines. Look for leaks where your toilets, sinks, and washing machine connect to the wall.
  4. Toilets. Every once in a while, add a drop or two of food coloring to your toilet tanks. After 30 minutes, check the color of the water in the bowl. If your food coloring has made its way from the tank to the bowl, you have a leak.
  5. Hot water heater. Anywhere there’s water, there’s a potential for leaks. So include your hot water heater in your periodic inspections.
  6. Hose bibbs. Every time you water your garden or wash your car, check for leaks in your outdoor faucets. Water seeping along your foundation may eventually cause catastrophic damage.
  7. Water supply. If your water bill keeps creeping up and up, it’s worth determining if there might be a leak outside your house. Turn off your water at the main shut-off valve, then check the leak indicator on your water meter. If the leak indicator moves, even with the main valve closed, you have a leak outside the house.
  8. Ceilings, baseboards, and walls. Hidden leaks will eventually leave evidence. Check for warps, bubbles, and stains.

What to Do If You Find a Leak

If you find a serious leak, immediately close your water shut-off valve. If you haven’t tried turning the valve for a long time, it’s worth checking to make sure it hasn’t seized up.

If you have just a minor leak or discover past evidence of a leak, try these DIY tips:

  1. If your sink cabinets are wet or musty, try tightening the faucet base, re-caulking around the sink and tightening any hardware connecting the sink and counter.
  2. If your faucet is leaking, replace the cartridge or the whole fixture.
  3. If you’ve discovered your toilet is leaking from the tank to the bowl, replace the flapper.
  4. Avoid cranking down on screws and valves. Tightening them might seem like a good way to prevent leaks, but washers and seals fail under too much pressure—which will actually cause leaks. If you see drips and you’re certain your washers are good, snug up the bolts a tiny bit more.
  5. If your showerhead is dripping, unscrew it and replace the plumber’s tape.

Don’t Ignore Leaks

If you notice a slow drip or see evidence of a past leak, don’t put off having it checked out. Dripping faucets waste 1 trillion gallons of water every year, and insurance claims related to water damage average $8,861.

If you have a concern you’re not comfortable tackling, we’re the Tulsa area plumber to call.

At Wooten Plumbing, we’ve been specializing in leak detection for Tulsa area homes & businesses for years. We have amazing technicians with top-of-the-line technology that helps us find your leak faster, and prevent further property damage. Give us a call today.

tulsa plumbing

By BRIAN WOOTEN

Wooten Plumbing is your trusted Tulsa plumbing expert. If you have an issue finding a water leak, call us today!

© 2017 by Wooten Plumbing & Utilities, LLC