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Why Property Management Companies Choose Professional Plumbers Over Handymen

What’s the difference between a handyman and a plumber?

A plumber is the guy you call to fix the handyman’s mistakes.

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That’s a common joke around the plumbing community because there is a big difference between a general handyman and a professional plumber. Property management companies know this best, which is why they often choose to work with plumbing professionals on projects.

Here are a few reasons why this is a good decision.

Anyone Can Call Himself A Handyman

It’s true.

There are handymen of all different skill and experience levels. Some can handle plumbing and electric, while others have more experience tearing out carpet and grouting tile. There are no official qualifications you need to consider yourself a handyman.

Now I know what you’re thinking—plumbers have varying levels of skills and experience too, even professionals.

The difference is that plumbers do need to have certain qualifications to work as professionals. Even the most inexperienced plumbers have at least a base of knowledge they can work off of.

The most inexperienced handymen—well—they have nothing to fall back on. And all you have is their word that they’ve done what they’ve said they’ve done.

Plumbers are a sure thing, and handymen can be hit and miss.

Professionals Can Handle More Complex Jobs

Handymen have general knowledge of a wide range of jobs: unclogging drains, changing locks, wiring light switches, and even installing water appliances.

This general knowledge is good when you have a long to-do list of high-level tasks. But what happens when a single project becomes more complex?

Property management companies rely on professional plumbers because they know they can handle both the simple tasks and the more complicated ones. The money spent paying someone to do it right is well worth the potential headache and mistakes an amateur might make if he gets in too deep over his head.

In instances where it’ll take more than just a wrench and a new pipe, paying a premium for a knowledgeable expert is smarter than taking a risk on someone who may or may not get the job done right. Do you really want to trust a handyman with a slab leak or under sidewalk drain pipe issue? No. That's why you hire a professional plumbing company like RYCO Plumbing.

You’re Liable For Performance & Injury

When a professional plumber starts messing with your pipes and water-based appliances, you can rest easy.

Chances are, if the pro works for a plumbing company, he’s covered by some sort of insurance through that company. If he gets hurt on the job, the situation will smooth itself out.

Handymen are a completely different story. When a handyman is invited onto a property, the property owner is liable if something happens to him. Even if he’s a good friend with the owner, a serious injury can mean big bucks. Legally and financially it’s risky.

Most plumbers guarantee their work and provide warranties. If you use a licensed plumber and something goes wrong, there are also state agencies like the registrar that will step in and be an authority on the matter.

You don’t get the same benefit with handymen. It’s like buying an item from a thrift shop. All sales are final.

Quality Plumbers Are Easier To Find

Handymen can be cheaper. No one’s arguing that. And if the guy does a good job, you definitely get more bang for your buck.

The trouble comes when trying to find a handyman capable of consistently doing a good job. Tracking down a handyman takes more time and effort. You rely on word-of-mouth and have to trust what people say. There are no online reviews or official job references to analyze.

There’s also the timeline to consider. The last thing property managers want to do is extend the deadline of a project just to track down a handyman to complete a task.

What Do You Think?

Property management companies prefer hiring professional plumbers because they’re knowledgeable, reliable, less risky, and require less effort to track down. There’s a time and place for handymen, but professional plumbers like RYCO Plumbing are often times still the best option.

Are there any other benefits I missed?

Share them in the comments!

Image: Flickr

How Much Damage Can A Water Leak Cause?

Do you really want to know?

Water damage is something most homeowners dread, especially in certain seasons when pipes are cracking, snow is melting, leaves are clogging, or rain is falling.

In this post we discuss how water damage can affect both you and your home. We then outline the most common causes of water leakage and provide a few practical solutions you can use to prevent them.

So What’s The Damage?

The amount of damage a water leak can cause depends on the severity of the leak. Some leaks are manageable and hardly need attending to. Others can literally alter the way you live forever. Just read about this one example.

Besides potentially ruining carpet, flooring, furniture, and electronics, water damage can be terrible for your overall health. The moist environment creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold that can compromise your immune system and increase the risk of respiratory diseases and other serious medical problems.

Cleaning up the leakage as quickly as possible will help mitigate the damage. If you can’t do it yourself, don’t hesitate to call a professional.

Of course, as we have stressed so often on this blog, the best way to fix a problem is to keep it from happening in the first place.

Top Causes Of Water Leaks And How To Prevent Them

1) Clogs

Toilets, sinks, showers, and especially appliances like washing machines are all susceptible to clogs, and hair, food, and grease are some of the most common culprits. Slower drainage is a sign that a clog is forming, and it shouldn’t be ignored. If too much of the pipe gets blocked, you could see leakage and overflow.

Prevention:

  • Avoid flushing anything besides human waste and toilet paper. This includes hair, facial tissues, and other seemingly insignificant items.

  • Keep hose connections tightened for all appliances.

  • Check out our post on how to prevent common household drainage issues.

2) Deteriorating Pipes

Pipes naturally rust and deteriorate after years of use, and cracks and crevasses can release various amounts of water. Detecting these cracks is much trickier than dealing with a clog, and there isn’t much you can do to prevent them besides investing in quality pipes in the first place.

Prevention:

  • Known the warning signs. Don’t ignore water spots on the walls or ceiling.

  • If something looks suspicious, address it immediately. It’s better to error on the side of caution.

3) Air-Conditioning Systems

When the weather gets warm and our air-conditioners are working full blast, a lot of condensation is created. Most of these systems have pans that catch the excess water, but many have to be manually drained. Some don’t. Either way, avoid leaving these pans unattended for long periods of time.

Prevention:

  • Have your air-conditioning system inspected to insure that everything is working properly.

  • Consider having a professional install a float switch that stops the AC system if there is a clog in the drainage system.

4) Sediment In Water Heaters

Older water heaters can sometimes be the cause of water leakage. Rusting or deteriorating connections and sediment build up inside the tank prevents it from working properly. Water heaters have many components that constantly shut on and off, so one little malfunction and your floor could be soaked.

Prevention:

  • Like we mention in a previous post, inspect and maintain the heaters anode rod every couple years.

  • Flush sediment from your hot water tank occasionally.

5) External Elements

If you haven’t had to use a tin can to collect water from a leaky roof at least once in your life, consider yourself lucky. Roofs, siding, and windows are all susceptible to water leakage, and the last thing you want during a storm is to find out your windows are letting water in.  

Prevention:

  • Clean and unclog gutters 1-2 times per year.

  • Replace damaged caulk around windows and doors.

  • Inspect roof, siding, and windows for damage, and replace when necessary.

Final Thoughts

The more aware you are about the causes of water leakage, and the more steps you take to maintain your home, the more you can let your mind at ease. Water damage has affected many homeowners, but you don’t have to be one of them.

Have you ever had water damage caused by a leak?

Share your experiences with us in the comments.

Image: Flickr


Stop! Hammer Time

No not the guy, the hammering you hear in the wall when the water is shut off. Water hammer.

Imagine—you just finished filling up a pitcher of water at the kitchen sink and everything seems normal, but the moment you turn the faucet off, the pipes start rattling so loudly you think the entire house might just collapse.

Water hammer is loud and obnoxious, and although many homeowners have experienced it at one time or another, there are still many misconceptions about it.

Below we discuss the causes of water hammer, solutions for dealing with it, and how you can prevent it from happening in the future.

Why It Happens

Water hammer isn’t just a generic term for loud pipes. Water hammer is a specific plumbing term, and it happens when a large amount of water is stopped quickly, causing a shock wave to run through the piping system. The rattling you hear is the result of a lot of water slamming into a closed valve.

Air chambers, which are vertical pipes located where the water-supply pipe exits the wall, are installed to help prevent water hammer. When a valve closes, the air from these chambers compresses and prevents the water from hitting the valve too hard. If these chambers are blocked, damaged, or waterlogged, there is no cushion to prevent the impact.

In addition to waterlogged air chambers, water hammer can also result from having loose mounting straps. When these metal straps don’t fit snuggly, the pipe can vibrate against them when water is turned on and off.

Excessively high water pressure can also be a culprit. The quicker the water is moving through the pipes, the more of an impact it will make when a valve suddenly closes.

Solutions

When your pipes start to rattle, chances are, you need to replenish your air chambers with air. Head down to your basement and shut of your home’s main water supply valve.

Open the highest faucet inside your house. Then find the lowest faucet, which is usually on the first floor outside or in the basement, and turn it on. The water left in the pipes will start to drain, and as it does, air will replace it.

When the water is completely drained, turn off the lowest faucet and reopen the main value. Water will be pushed out the main water lines but will remain in the air chambers.

Prevention

Preventing water hammer takes occasional maintenance like any other plumbing problem.

Check all accessible pipes once or twice a year to make sure their mounting straps are tightened and properly connected. Doing so will prevent unnecessary vibrations.

Most modern homes have a water pressure regulator, but if yours doesn’t, consider installing one. Paying your local plumber a few hundreds bucks up front will be a good investment in the long run. Not only does high water pressure increase the likelihood of water hammer, it is also wasteful and can damage washing machines and other water-supplied appliances.

Test your water pressure whether you have a regulator or not. You can either do it yourself with a water-pressure gauge or call a professional.

Normal water runs between 30 and 55 psi. Just to be safe, it’s best keep the pressure below 50 psi.

Final Thoughts

Now the next time your pipes start to rattle, you’ll know why it’s happening. Use the tips and information in this article to take care of the problem sooner rather than later, and share it with your friends if they’re having water hammer issues too.

How have you dealt with water hammer in the past? Any tips?

Share them in the comments!

Image: Flickr


Bad smells coming from the drain. What causes sewer gases to come out of the sink?

Bad smells coming from the drain. What causes sewer gases to come out of the sink?

So your in-laws are visiting for the weekend, and when they arrive, you generously tell them that the guest bathroom downstairs is all theirs. The weekend goes smoothly, and you’re pretty sure they were impressed by your home . . . only to realize on Monday that the smell of rotten eggs is radiating from the fixtures in the guest bathroom.

It then becomes clear why they both opted out of taking a shower Sunday morning . . .

Sewer gas leakage is a common problem in many homes, and if you’re not aware of the causes of sewer gas, your in-laws may never visit again.

Sewer gas is a complex mixture of both toxic and non-toxic gases. It contains methane, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxides, as well as sometimes chlorine bleaches, industrial solvents, and gasoline from sewage treatment systems.

Below we discuss the causes of sewer gas, what to do when it’s leaking into your home, and how you can prevent it.

Causes Of Sewer Gas Leakage

Two features have been designed into your plumbing system to prevent the leakage of sewer gas—the p-trap and the vent.

The p-trap holds water in the shape of a “U”. This “U” creates a seal and keeps out the foul-smelling gases. If a drain isn’t used very often, like when homeowners use their guest bathroom’s tub as a bin for laundry instead of bathing, the water can evaporate and let the gas escape. We don’t often think about the fixtures we’re not using, which is why this is the most common cause of sewer gas leakage.

Aiding the p-trap in blocking this gas is a vent that covers the end of the pipe. This vent allows air in to equalize pressure, which forces the sewer gas to go up the stack and outside instead of up the drain. If the vent doesn’t equalize the pressure (because it is blocked or broken), odors will permeate through.

Simple clogs can also cause your drains to reek with sewer gas. The blockage can create a perfect environment for odor-causing bacteria to grow, and substances like hair will pick up those odors if it sits in there for any extended amount of time.

Remedies And Prevention

If the issue is a clog, than your first task is to remove whatever is in the pipe. Get a clothes hanger and fish out the blockage. In extreme cases, you might even need to get your pipes cleaned professionally.

After de-clogging, pouring vinegar down the drain neutralizes the smell in the pipes. If the sewer smell is still present in the room, put a few pieces of charcoal into a bowl and leave it in the area. The charcoal will absorb those nasty odors.

Odor neutralizing sprays also work well in this situation. Just make sure they’re odor neutralizing. Traditional sprays only cover up the smell; they don’t get rid of it.

To prevent sewer gases from leaking in the first place, it’s as simple as flushing your sink pipes regularly to keep the p-trap from drying out. If you’re going on an extended vacation, ask your neighbors to stop by and do it once or twice while you’re gone.

You also have to be conscious of the opening of your vent stake. Leaves and other debris can easily block the stack and create a problem.

If you suspect that for some reason your stack is leaking in a different area, you’ll have to call a professional to assess the situation and make the repair. That’s not one you can do on your own.

A Word Of Caution

Small amounts of sewer gases are just nuisances, and they aren’t terribly difficult to deal with, but larger amounts of gas can be dangerous. If high concentrations of sewer gas accumulate in an enclosed space, evacuate the area and contact your local fire department for assistance.

Final Thoughts

No one likes having to repair pipes or fish out blockages from the drain. The best way to deal with sewer gas, like many other plumbing issues, is to take steps to prevent it from leaking into your home in the first place.

Local plumbers are always available to answer questions and troubleshoot problems.

Have you ever had to deal with sewer gas?

What did you do about it?

Image: Flickr