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15 Essential Kelowna Plumbing and Heating Tips

Posted in Plumbing Repairs

Do you know all the responsibilities that come with property ownership in Kelowna? Your plumbing system requires special attention — from you and your professional plumbers. Those skilled professionals have all the necessary tools and expertise required for any plumbing situation. Do you?

Kelowna homeowners don’t need a professional level of plumbing expertise. That’s what your local Kelowna plumbing company is for! We’re also here to help you understand all the basic requirements for your pipes and fixtures. With just a small amount of simple knowledge, you’ll be more protected against the nasty effects of plumbing disasters — and you’ll be better prepared for emergency plumbing situations.

If you’re missing essential knowledge about the pipes running through your own walls, you’ll benefit from the information we’ve collected here. Even if you know the bare necessities already, there might be information here you haven’t heard before. Nobody provides better Kelowna plumbing and heating tips than a local Kelowna plumber!

1. Buy a Plunger

If you’ve just bought a new home in Kelowna, make sure you have at least one plunger. If you’ve lived in your home for over a year and you still haven’t bought one, now is the time to visit your local hardware store. No plumbing toolkit is complete without a plunger, and every homeowner with a clogged toilet is glad to have one.

There are four types of plungers. Make sure you pick something that works for all your drains. A standard cup plunger is the most versatile, but you could supplement your toolkit with a toilet plunger or accordion plunger, which are specifically designed for clearing toilet clogs. Taze plungers are usually only used by plumbing professionals for removing blockage in larger lines.

2. Never Flush FOGs

What are FOGs? Fats, oils, and grease. Those are actually just three items from a long list of waste that you should never flush, but Kelowna plumbing and heating experts draw particular attention toward FOGs because of how sneaky they are.

Fats, oils, and grease flow easily when they’re hot, but they don’t stay that way. After they’ve seeped deep into your drains and coated all your pipe walls, they cool and solidify, creating the type of bad blockage that could cause a plumbing emergency.

What Else Shouldn’t You Flush?

  • Wet wipes — even “flushable” wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Tissue paper
  • Dental floss
  • Coffee grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Bones
  • Produce stickers
  • Personal hygiene products
  • Medication
  • Kitty litter — yes, even “flushable” litter
  • Hair
  • Bleach
  • Paint
  • Dirt, soil, & gravel
  • Excessive amounts of toilet paper

3. Know what Can — & Cannot — Go in a Garburator

Having a garbage disposal in your kitchen doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about flushing harmful materials. Many of the items listed above could also create a plumbing issue if they enter your garburator. That whirling drain appliance is capable of destroying some smaller food waste, but there are several specific items you should never put inside. 

What Shouldn’t Go in a Garbage Disposal?

In addition to all of the harmful materials that are bad for drains, you should also avoid:

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Nuts
  • Vegetable skins & peels
  • Stringy, fibrous produce 
  • Fruit pits

4. Clear Your Slow Drains

Did you buy a plunger? Good, now is the time to use it. Out of all the possible Kelowna plumbing and heating problems you might encounter, slow drains are one of the most common. There are many possible causes, depending on which drain is slow and what it’s used for, but in most cases, your trusty plunger should work.

If your plunger doesn’t solve your plumbing troubles, you might want a drain snake — or you might want professional plumbing services. Slow drains are an early warning sign of more serious issues down the line. If you aren’t capable of dealing with slow drainage on your own — or if that problem keeps coming back — consider calling a local plumber for drain cleaning services.

5. Don’t Ignore Talking Toilets

When we refer to “talking toilets,” what we mean is any toilet that gurgles or makes strange noises when you flush it. Those odd noises are pleas for help. If you ever hear cries coming from your porcelain throne, think about getting a full plumbing inspection from your trusted Kelowna plumbing and heating experts.

Most toilets in Kelowna connect directly to their sewage mainline. That means they’re the first fixtures to warn homeowners when blockage causes mainline problems. If that sewer blockage isn’t cleared, it might come back up into your home. That toilet gurgle might be caused by minor blockage in your p-trap, or it could be caused by major tree root penetration in your mainline.

6. Watch Out for Standing Water

Pay attention to your tub, shower, and all your sinks — even when they’re not in use. Standing water is a sure sign of a clogged drain. Clearing that blockage is important if you don’t want to be standing in your own dirty water when you take a shower, but it’s also important for confirming that you don’t have more serious damage in your sewage pipes.

If you experience backups in your shower, tub, or kitchen sink, your first response should be inspecting and cleaning your drain cover. A tangled clump of hair or food debris might be the cause. If you don’t find anything under your covers, you’ll need a plunger or drain snake for more thorough cleaning. Quality plumbing services like drain cleaning are also an excellent option for dealing with standing water.

7. Keep Up With Routine Maintenance

Drains, pipes, fixtures, and hot water heaters all require routine maintenance. Professional maintenance from certified heating specialists is often a warranty requirement for new hot water heaters. A regular appointment for exceptional plumbing services with a reliable Kelowna plumbing and heating company will keep your systems working well — and protect you from the serious complications that arise from unaddressed wear.

8. Always Fix Running Toilets

Troublesome toilets don’t just talk to their homeowners. Sometimes, they let a constant stream pass through their tank and into the bowl. A leaking toilet tank — also known as a running toilet — is a particularly common problem with older homes in Kelowna. As the components inside a toilet age, worn flappers lose their seal, fill valves start wearing down, and toilets start running constantly.

Running toilets raise utility bills. They also increase your risk of flooding, because even a toilet bowl that’s slowly filling with water may overflow. A toilet that takes longer to fill up after you flush it, or one that seems to fill randomly, is the most common sign of a running issue.

If you want an extra level of confirmation, try dropping a little food colouring into your tank. Does that colour appear in the bowl without you flushing your toilet? If so, consider scheduling an appointment for professional plumbing repair and inspection services.

9. Keep an Eye on Your Hot Water Heater

Many homeowners forget about their heating unit, until it fails. Few people don’t use hot water every day. Sadly, even fewer people take proper care of their heating units. Not only do most warranties require regular maintenance, but that regular protection is also vital for extending the lifespan of your current heater and avoiding sudden failures.

No matter which Kelowna plumbing and heating expert you ask, they’ll all tell you that water heaters have a limited lifespan. Most units last between eight and twelve years. Routine maintenance and timely water heater repairs could extend that lifespan even further, but failing to take advantage of that plumbing service will definitely make a heater’s life shorter.

Signs You Need Plumbing Service for Your Heater:

  • Leaks & puddles near hot water tanks
  • Odd sounds coming from inside your hot water tank
  • Systems that take too long or don’t heat enough water
  • Discoloured hot water

10. Get a Tankless Water Heater

If your current heating unit is reaching the end of its life, and you’re thinking about replacement instead of repairs, consider switching to a tankless heating system. They do often have higher installation costs than conventional tank systems, but the benefits that tankless heating models provide are worth a higher upfront price. If you own a small or medium-sized home, consider swapping to a tankless heating system. Many homeowners are glad they made the switch!

The Advantages of Going Tankless:

  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Lower energy bills
  • More space in your utility room or laundry room
  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Longer lasting heating units

11. Look Out for Leaks

Even a small leak is a big problem. Dripping faucets drain money with every drop. A larger leak will drown your bank account if you don’t stop it soon enough. Take the time to fix your dripping faucet, leaky pipes and worn valves near your heating tank — or get repairs from a local Kelowna plumbing and heating professional.

You should also learn the signs of hidden leaks, and make a prompt plumbing appointment if you ever see them. A leak inside your wall, under your foundation, or below your lawn could cause catastrophic damage to the rest of your home. Every second you wait for professional leak detection and reliable repairs increases your risk for costly complications.

Leak Warning Signs:

  • Higher bills
  • Sagging, warped floors
  • Condensation on your walls
  • Brownish-yellow moisture stains
  • Liquids dripping through your ceiling or walls
  • Puddles seeping up into your lawn
  • Unpleasant odours
  • A constantly running meter

12. Watch Your Meter

Your water meter is a powerful tool for detecting problems before they become serious, if you think to check it. Meters that run constantly are common signs of leaks somewhere in your system. If your meter runs when nobody in your home is using water, you might have a leak. 

Meters also help you find the general location of hidden leaks. If you suspect a pipe on your property may be leaking, turn off your main supply valve. Is your meter still running? That means your issue is located somewhere between the meter and your supply valve. If the meter stops when you close your supply valve, your plumbing problem is probably somewhere in your home. Is your heating system leaking? What about your toilet?

13. Replace Your Steel Pipes

When moisture and oxygen meet steel, corrosion is sure to take place. If you have older, galvanized steel pipes, your home is at risk for a serious plumbing problem. Modern copper and PEX pipes don’t rust easily, but galvanized steel pipes do. Corrosion eats steel pipes from the inside out, which means some people don’t even know they have a rust problem until liquids start shooting into their basement.

Repiping is an essential service provided by most Kelowna plumbing and heating companies. Replacing all the pipes in your home might seem expensive, but the costs of catastrophic damage from a corroded steel pipe are often much higher.

Signs of Rusted Steel Pipes:

  • Brownish-red water that tastes like metal
  • Drain odours
  • Frequent clogs
  • Frequent leaks
  • Low water pressure

14. Keep Your Pipes Insulated

All Kelowna plumbing and heating companies know that winter weather is particularly problematic for pipes — in both residential and commercial plumbing systems. The chemical composition of ice and water are identical, but only one of them will ruin your pipe. Keeping all your lines fully insulated will ensure expanding ice never blocks your supply pipes or creates a bad burst. 

All outdoor lines and every pipe that runs near your exterior walls needs insulation. Without a protective temperature coating, that line will be vulnerable to freezing — and you’ll be vulnerable to the problems that develop from frozen plumbing.

15. Use Your Bathroom Fan 

Bathroom fans are important for fighting the effects of moisture and humidity. Hot showers are a common source of both, and so is the climate of the Okanagan Valley. Whether you live in West Kelowna, Kelowna, Peachland, Lake Country or anywhere else near the Okanagan, always run your bathroom fan during showers. Flipping that little switch today will save you from bigger problems caused by humidity and moisture later on.

Do You Want More than Plumbing Tips?

If you need service from a Kelowna plumbing and heating company, call 911 Plumbing Heating Drainage Ltd. Our experienced team is available 24/7 for routine maintenance, plumbing repairs, and emergency services throughout Kelowna and nearby areas like West Kelowna or Peachland

If you need a plumber, call (250) 801-0911 today!