A common problem found in houses built in the late 80’s or early 90’s is Polybutylene or Poly B piping. Poly B can be identified by it’s grey colour and it is a plastic pipe. It was very popular in that era and is the early prototype of today’s cross linked polyethylene or “Pex” pipe. Due to a bad reputation and numerous class action lawsuits, it is no longer manufactured.
Domestic Water Uses For Poly B
Poly B was most commonly used in domestic water systems. The main problem with it in these systems is that it does not handle high temperatures or high pressures well. We see a lot of leaks at the piping near the hot water tank. As far as high pressure goes, if the home’s pressure reducing valve fails the risk of leaks spreads through out the whole house. It was also used for underground water mains which is always high pressure. There was two types of fittings used with Poly B: copper and plastic. The plastic fittings are even riskier since the grooves on the fittings deteriorate and they will just shoot off. We’ve been to floods were the fittings can easily be pulled out of the pipe by hand.
Hydronic Heating Uses For Poly B
Poly B was also used in radiant heating applications as well. This can be a problem because the piping does not have the barrier on the piping walls that Pex has. This allows air to enter the system. This causes wear and tear on the metallic parts of the system such as pumps, valves and boilers. The water will turn to a black sludge and the system will not work very well.
What To Do About It
There’s only one way to deal with Poly B in a domestic water system and that is to cut it out and re-pipe it in Pex. It’s always best to be proactive and most insurance companies now will not insure homeowners who have Poly B in their house. When it comes to Poly B in a radiant system its a little more tricky because the pipe is inside the concrete. The options are using a boiler, pumps and other components made of metals that are resistant to rust such as pumps with stainless steel impellers or boilers with brazed plate heat exchangers. The piping can also be separated from the boiler with a heat exchanger. There are also some less costly methods like adding air and dirt seperators and adding chemicals to inhibit the rust and sludge.
If you have Poly B in your house and you would like a free consultation contact us at Boundary Bay Mechanical.
A hot water tank is a vital part of your plumbing system. Here are 3 useful tips for hot water tank maintenance or some of the warning signs that there could be a problem.
Visually Inspect The Water Heater
Take note of any rust spots, moisture, discoloration, etc. When these are noticed keep checking the water heater to be sure nothing changes. If the outside of a water heater has new visual changes chances are the interior is changing as well. If changes occur the water heater should be reviewed by a licensed plumber to avoid an emergency.
Make Sure The Shut Off Valve Works
Check to make sure the water heaters shuf off valve is working properly. If the water heater develops a leak, it’s important this valve works to turn off the water heater instead of breaking in your hands. The old style blue handle shut off valves which where commonly used in the White Rock, Ladner, South Surrey and Tsawwassen area before ball valves became popular. These can also leak or spray water from the valve stem. Most have a life span of 20 years so it’s always a good idea to replace them when replacing the tank.
Flush The Hot Water Tank
In area’s on a well system such as White Rock and South Langley, hard water can wreak havoc on your water heater. The best method of hot water tank maintenance is a flush out of all the sediment build up. This helps to prevent water leaks and retain great clean hot water to clean dishes and shower in. Sediment build up can also reduce the capacity and efficiency of the tank. This can be done by hooking up a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank. The next step is to let the water run through the hot water tank for about 5 minutes. If you have an electric tank turn off the switch at the breaker panel to avoid damaging the heating elements.
At Boundary Bay Mechanical we will come to your home or business in the Ladner, White Rock, South Surrey or Tsawwassen area free of charge and assess your hot water tank for you if you don’t feel comfortable doing the above yourself. Contact us today for your free consultation.
As winter arrives it’s time to think about ways to winterize your plumbing for the cold winter months ahead. Anytime the temperature falls below 0° C there is a risk of pipes developing leaks. That’s why it’s important to winterize your plumbing. Few things are as inconvenient and miserable than suffering frozen or burst water pipes. A few simple precautions and a preventative inspection can prevent this most of the time.
Inside Your Home
Do a good inspection around the home and find areas where pipes are exposed to cold air. Close up any crawl space vents and use extra insulation over any openings. If there are exposed pipes running in a crawl space, it’s a good idea to have them fitted professionally with pipe insulation to prevent them from freezing. An inspection can also identify any cracks in the foundation, as even a small opening can bring in the brutal winter winds.
Outside Your Home
Before winter temperatures arrive, be sure to disconnect garden hose and store them. If there are shut-off valve for outdoor faucets, turn them off as well. Always remove hoses of off hose bibbs, even if they are “frost free”. For underground sprinkler systems contact a professional plumbing or sprinkler company to drain and blow out any water in the pipes there.
Always know where the main shutoff valve is in the house. Our team is available to assist you with winterizing your plumbing the Ladner, White Rock or Tsawwassen area. After all, you don’t want to wait for the day you turn on the faucet to no water. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Hiring a plumber or any trades-person is a very important decision. Not only are you looking for someone to do the job right, you are also looking for someone who will treat you and your home with respect and someone who has a fair pricing system.
Here are 5 things you should look for when hiring a plumber:
– Can they help you with your problem? Some companies specialize in certain things, for example one company may be more well known for drain cleaning and one may be a company that does renovations and home building. At Boundary Bay Mechanical our specialties are residential renovations, repairs and custom home building.
– Where are they located? You want to choose a company close to home for two reasons. The first reason is that a company that is local to you will be more familiar with the type of homes and the challenges they present in their service area. The second reason is that most companies charge for travel time or some sort of travel charge. If they claim they don’t, they are most likely hiding it in their price somewhere. You wouldn’t want to hire a plumber from North Vancouver to work on your home in White Rock. You will be paying for that hour and a half trip. We are based out of Ladner and our service area includes Tsawwassen, White Rock and South Surrey.
– Are they licensed? Any plumber working on your home should have a Red Seal Certification or be supervised by someone with one. It’s not rude to ask, any plumber who has completed their apprenticeship should be proud to show their ticket since the Canadian plumber certification is one of the most respected in the world and one of the most challenging to obtain. At Boundary Bay Mechanical all our service technicians and foremen have a valid Red Seal ticket and Class B gas fitting ticket. We also arrange additional training for our staff so they are always improving their craft.
– Reputation. Do they have a good reputation in the community and online? We get most of our business off referrals and aim to make all of our clients into life long customers. We also have a high rating on our Google Business listing.
– Pricing. Ask about their pricing system, some companies charge time and material but a lot of companies are moving towards strictly flat rate pricing. Sometimes a plumber’s hourly rate may sound high but the cost of doing business in the plumbing trade is more expensive than most people think and like all things, you get what you pay for. At Boundary Bay Mechanical we let the customer chose which one they prefer. Flat rate pricing also known as a quoted job is a great way to avoid surprises, and there are only a few services we will not do a flat rate job on.
I hoped the above article will be help you when deciding who to come help you with your plumbing and heating needs. If you have any questions or want to request a quote feel free to contact us any time.