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Get Ready For Holiday Plumbing Emergencies

According to Angie’s List, plumbers are the most searched-for service providers on Thanksgiving. There’s no hard evidence to prove it, but the number of increased visitors often put stress on plumbing systems, and can lead to a Boston plumbing emergency just when you need it least – during a holiday! Here are a few tips to help you avoid plumbing problems during the holiday season.

Drains: If you plan to have a large holiday gathering at your home, make sure your drains are running clearly before your guests arrive. Clogged drains can lead to sink overflows and unpleasant odors at a time when you need your plumbing to be in tip-top shape. Most drain clogs are made from organic matter – either food particles in kitchen drains or hair and soap buildup in the bathroom drains. Drain cleaners you buy in the stores contain lye and other harsh chemicals that can burn skin on contact. We recommend using a drain cleaning product called Bio-Clean. Bio-Clean is an enzymatic drain cleaner that doesn’t contain harsh chemicals, but can clear organic matter in your drains. Add Bio-Clean to your drains the night before your guests arrive and your drains will run clear during your big event. We carry Bio-Clean. Please contact us for more information on this product.

Toilets: Toilet clogs usually don’t happen for the same reason that drain clogs do. Toilet clogs are usually the result of too much paper and material in the bowl. Inefficient siphoning can also result in clogs. You can’t really control what your guest do, but you can make sure that your toilet is in good working order before your company arrives. Check the operation of the flapper valve in your toilet and make sure your tank fills completely when you flush it. If you’re concerned about the volume of toilet paper in your bowl, or if your toilet typically doesn’t manage a lot of toilet paper well, consider replacing your premium toilet paper with paper that isn’t as thick to help ensure a proper flush.

Faucets: Faucets can start leaking, and leaks can get worse with increased use. If you have a leaking faucet, address it before your guests arrive. Some leaks can be fixed simply by tightening the connections or sealing joints with Teflon tape, but overtightening connections can actually break the fixture. If your fixture is leaking because it’s broken or cracked, replace it.

In the interest of prevention, check the local shut-off valves for each fixture. If the shutoff doesn’t work, or can’t be turned easily, replace it. Also check your dishwasher connections, including the drain hose to be sure water can enter and exit the appliance freely. As a final precaution, you should know how to shut off the main water valve in your home, and keep the number of your local plumber handy, just in case! In Boston, Boston Standard Plumbing offers 24-hour emergency service, including holiday service. Contact us at (617) 288-2911 anytime, and have a happy holiday season. Friend us on Facebook!

Sewer Lateral Financial Assistance Program May Fix Boston Sewer Problems

If you own a home in Boston, sewer problems can do more than make a mess. They can also be expensive to fix! There is a program you should know about that may help relieve the cost of fixing problems that arise with your lateral sewer connection. The lateral sewer connection is the pipe that carries wastewater and materials from your home to the sanitary sewer system.

Not every break in a lateral sewer will qualify for financial assistance from the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC), but the repair costs for some breaks may be partially or fully covered by a $3,000 grant from BWSC. Breaks that qualify for financial assistance are those where:

  • The lateral sewer or drain is partially or completely collapsed
  • The collapse or blockage is located in the public right-of-way

The homeowner’s account with BWSC must be current. Buildings that have previously received grants to repair blocked or collapsed sewers are not eligible for additional assistance.

The first step in diagnosing and correcting the problem is to call a licensed Boston plumber, like Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating. If we cannot clear the blockage, BWSC will come out to verify the blockage or collapse and determine where the problem occurred. If the problem is in the right-of-way, BWSC will provide eligible homeowners with additional information to get the blockage repaired under the program. Once the work is completed, BWSC must come back out to your property to inspect the repairs.

Under this program, the property owner is responsible for paying for the repairs, but BWSC will issue a check for the cost of the repair or $3,000, whichever is less. It’s important to follow all of the program rules to ensure that you receive any reimbursement you’re eligible for.

If you think you have a qualifying collapse or sewer blockage, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating. Call (617) 288-2911 anytime. We’ll attempt to clear your lateral connection, provide you with advice and help you contact BWSC if we believe you’re dealing with a serious sewer blockage or collapse.

Water Pressure Problems In Boston Homes

For most people in Boston, water pressure inside the home isn’t a big concern, unless of course something’s wrong with the water pressure! Water pressure is the force with which water is moved through the water supply system. In municipalities, water pressure needs to be relatively high – perhaps 200 psi – in order to move large quantities of water, meet the needs of commercial and industrial buildings, and provide municipal fire departments with enough pressure to operate hoses and put out fires.

Homeowners don’t need that much water pressure. In fact, most building codes recommend a water pressure of about 55 psi for residential plumbing systems. There’s a big difference between what’s delivered and what’s needed!
High water pressure can cause damage to your pipes, valves and water-using appliances. Most residential plumbing systems are robust enough to tolerate high water pressure, but over time, consistent high pressure can also weaken the joints in your plumbing system and cause premature aging of the components and result in catastrophic system failures. Overpressure can also mask other problems that should be corrected, like calcification in faucet fixtures and supply lines.

How do you correct water pressure problems? If your pressure is very high, you can install a water pressure regulator on your main supply line. A water pressure regulator is adjustable, so if you find that a pressure of about 55 psi is not sufficient, you can adjust the pressure as needed.

If you don’t know what your water pressure is, but suspect it’s too high, Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating can help. We’ll measure the water pressure in your system and recommend a pressure regulator if the system pressure is high enough to cause damage, or shorten the life of your water-supplied appliances.
If you’re having problems with low water pressure in a single fixture or section of your plumbing, we can also diagnose and correct that as well. Call us anytime at (617) 288-2911.