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Author: Steve Duddy

4 Things To Do When Your Hot Water Tank Is Leaking

Imagine this scenario, you go down to your mechanical room or wherever your hot water tank is located. You turn on the light to discover your hot water tank is leaking. Don’t panic, I’ll teach you how to calmly assess the situation, prevent further damage and find the best possible solution.

Shut Off The Power Source

This part is especially important if it is an electric hot water tank. You will want to shut off the power source. If it is an electric tank, go to the breaker panel and shut-off the breaker labelled “hot water tank”. This will prevent you from being electrocuted. Most hot water tanks run off 240 volts which can be deadly. If it is a gas hot water tank, shut off the gas valve. At the bottom of the hot water tank, there will either be a black steel pipe or a yellow flexible hose. This is your gas supply line. Trace that pipe back until you find a shut-off valve and close it. The flame will extinguish itself without gas to feed it.

Turn Off The Water Supply

Next, you will want turn off the water supply. The shut-off valve for the hot water tanks water supply is usually on top of the tank. Look for 2 vertical pipes coming off the top of the tank. This is your cold water supply in and hot water coming out. There will be a shut-off valve on the cold water pipe. If there is not or the valve is defective, find your homes main water shut-off valve and turn it off there.

Make Sure That In Fact, The Hot Water Tank Is Leaking

A lot of times when there is water near the hot water tank it may not be the source of the leak. Before assuming the tank has sprung a leak there may be a couple other culprits you may want to rule out first. If you have a high-efficiency furnace it drips out condensate. If there is a defect in the condensate trap or a pump has failed, it will leak. Make sure the water is coming from the tank and not the furnace. One other thing you will want to check is whether the water is coming from the temperature and pressure relief valve or T&P as we in the industry like to call if for short. The T&P is the brass elbow on the side of the tank, close to the top. It has a pipe running down from it. If the pipe is dripping water either you have faulty T&P or there is excessive temperature or pressure.

Now What?

By now you have stopped your tank from doing any more damage to your property or yourself. You have also determined if, in fact, the hot water tank is leaking or not. Unless you are a brave do-it-yourselfer, it is time to call a plumber. When selecting a plumber make sure to pick one who has a good reputation and the right qualifications. At Boundary Bay Mechanical we can help you with your hot water needs in White Rock, Ladner, Tsawwassen and South Surrey. Contact us today for a free estimate. Remember the best way to avoid getting into this situation is proper maintenance.

Garbage Disposal Is Not Working? 3 Things to Fix It

Nothing can be more frustrating than flicking the switch to grind up food scraps and discover that your garbage disposal is not working. We want to help you eliminate costly service calls with a couple troubleshooting tips.

Power Supply

The first thing you will want to check is whether the unit has power. Newer models have plugs and plug into the outlets under the sink. If this is the case with yours make sure that the cord is plugged in. So was it? Great, the next step is to make sure the switch on the breaker panel is in the “on” position. In most cases, your breaker panel will be clearly labelled. Find the corresponding switch and make sure it is flipped to the same side as the others.

garbage disposal is not working
                   Breaker panel

Free Up The Blades

Sometimes thin, hard food waste such as egg shells can get trapped underneath the blades. This is one of the most common causes why a garbage disposal is not working. A symptom of this is a loud hum like the unit is trying to work but can not. In order to move the seized blades, the drive shaft must be worked free. If you look at the bottom of the unit you will see an Allen wrench slot in the middle of the unit like the one pictured below:

garbage disposal not working
           Bottom of the garbage disposal

Insert the appropriately sized Allen wrench. All garbage disposals come with a custom Allen wrench. Hopefully, you kept it. Move the Allen wrench in a circular motion until it moves freely. At this point, the debris has been dislodged. Make sure to rinse the culprit down the sink before trying to use the garbage disposal again.

Hit The Switch

Most new garbage disposals have a reset switch. It is a little red square button located beside the Allen wrench slot on the bottom of the unit. This is a common problem when the blades get seized. So if it still does not work after freeing the blades this would be the next step. Simply push in the little red button and the unit should work after that.

Still, The Garbage Disposal Is Not Working. Now What?

If you have tried the above solutions and the garbage disposal is not working, then it is beyond repair. There are some appliance repair technicians who can repair garbage disposals but most of the time it is best to buy a new one. If you need a quote on having your garbage disposal replaced or any other plumbing needs, Contact us today for a consultation.

Hot Water Re-circulation – The Quickest and Easiest Way To Instant Hot Water

Have you ever wondered why some homes seem to have instant hot water but others take much longer? The problem lies in one of three areas and here are the remedies.

Long Piping Runs? Pump It Up For Instant Hot Water

The most common cause of long waits for hot water are long piping runs. The best solution to this problem is to install a hot water re-circulation  line and pump. After the last fixture on the hot water line has been fed it runs to the water heater which is drawn by a pump.

hot water re-circulation piping for instant hot water

It is British Columbia plumbing code to have a re-circulation line on any hot water piping run longer than 30 meters. This also applies to any building 4 stories or higher. This is by far the best way to get instant hot water. We install a hot water re-circulation system on all our new home plumbing systems for on-the-spot hot water.

There’s No Re-circulation Line, Can I Still Have Instant Hot Water?

The answer is yes. Even if the home has no re-circulation line there are retro-fit options. Taco and Grundfos both have pumps that can be installed inside the cabinet of a sink. This is a great option for when demolition is not an option. Another solution for instant hot water inside a cabinet is to install an instant hot water dispenser. A trusted manufacturer of these products is Insinkerator.  They are effective but they will only provide instant hot water at the one fixture.

The Plumber Told Me My Tank-less Water Heater Would Provide Instant Hot Water

I hate to say it but he was wrong. Lot’s of plumbing companies make the mistake of referring to a tank-less water heater as an “instant hot water heater”. They provide endless hot water but not instant hot water. The wait for hot water is longer from a tank-less unit because there is no tank of hot water sitting there. Tank-less manufacturers have made steps to correct this. Both Navien and Noritz have built-in re-circulation pumps on some of their models that can be used with or without a re-circulation pipe. Installing one of these with a re-circulation line is the best way for an endless supply of instantaneous hot water.

If you have any questions in regards to application or pricing of a hot water re-circulation system in your Ladner, Tsawwassen, White Rock or South Surrey home, contact us today.

How To Select Fixtures for a Bathroom or Kitchen Renovation

When selecting plumbing fixtures for a bathroom or kitchen renovation there are a couple things to keep in mind.  The most important thing is the look. You definitely want to pick the fixtures such as faucets, toilets and shower trim first. The next step is to match the accessories such as toilet racks, shower rods and toilet paper rolls with the style and finish of the fixtures. All major plumbing wholesalers have a knowledgeable sales staff which will help you pick the best collection for renovations or a new home build.

 

kitchen renovation

A Brand You Can Trust

When picking brands I always recommend our clients stick to the well-known brands that have been in business for a while. Some of the brands sold at big box stores may look nice but the inner workings are low quality. They will break down much quicker than their more established counterparts. When one of these lesser-known brands breaks down the replacement parts can be difficult to find. Special order parts from lesser known manufacturers will take weeks to arrive. Even worse yet the company could be out of business forcing you to replace the entire fixture! Now the money you saved on the original purchase doesn’t seem so great. A lot of the well-known brands such as Delta, Kohler or Moen offer quality products. They have models that fit the economic budget as well as high-end products. Replacement parts for these products are stocked at any plumbing wholesaler or hardware store.

If you have any other questions in regards to fixture brands for your bathroom or kitchen renovation we would love to have a chat with you, contact us today to help you with your bathroom or kitchen renovation needs.

Project Profile – New Home Plumbing System at West 11th Ave, Vancouver

One of our biggest projects on the go right now is a 4 unit new home plumbing system. The project is located on West 11th Ave in Vancouver a couple blocks from City Hall. We are working with Square Foot Construction on this project. The scope of work includes new drainage, water pipe and gas-fitting work.

new home plumbing west 11th

A Piece Of History

This 1700 square foot building is classified as a heritage home. Since that is the case it will have a similar look to the one it is replacing. Many of the other homes on the street have also been preserved to have their original character. This quiet street lined with cherry blossom trees is only a couple blocks away from busy Broadway Street and one street over from Grandview Highway but you would never know. As mentioned earlier the main dwelling and the coach house will be divided into a total of 4 rental units, great for a small family, empty nesters or professionals.

New Home Plumbing Features

First of all the building’s drainage is piped entirely in commercial grade System 15 PVC. Not only is it less flammable (fire rated) than the standard ABS pipe used in wood frame houses, but it is also less noisy than ABS. The domestic hot water will be heated by Navien tankless hot water heaters for endless and efficient hot water. In addition, the water heaters will be vented through the roof to comply with Vancouver’s “no side-wall venting” rule.

Keeping Up With The Project

We are really excited about this job and it is one of our biggest to date. There will be a couple more blogs posts about this project in its various stages. If you want to keep up more frequently, follow us on Instagram to see more posts and other great content. If you or anyone else you know is in need of a quote or have any other questions in regards to a new home plumbing and heating project, contact us today for more information.

 

3 Questions About Hot Water Heaters

Homeowners have a lot of questions about hot water heaters. The 3 main ones we get all the time are: When should I replace mine? How can I prolong the life of mine? And finally, tank or tankless?

 

hot water heaters

When Should You Replace Your Hot Water Heater?

Hot water tanks whether they are gas or electric should be replaced every 10 years. The date the tank was manufactured can be found in the serial number. This may vary in different brands so consult the manufacturer`s website. I always tell our clients to start saving at the eight-year mark because that is when most tanks warranties run out. I have seen them fail as early as eight years but I have seen them last as long as twenty. Basically, when they get past ten years they are on borrowed time. I have been asked which hot water tank lasts the longest, In my experiences I rarely see a Rheem fail early and those relics that make it to the 20-year mark are always Rheem.

One thing to keep in mind is if you decide to wait until the tank fails then you run there are risks. Those risks are having it go on a weekend when labour is more expensive, possibly having to wait a day or two for the plumber to show up or even worse while you are on vacation. I have noticed that tanks tend to fail more in the winter time. My theory is that the city water is extra cold causing the tank to work harder and everyone is inside more. There is nothing worse than losing a hot water heater on or around the Christmas Holidays.

How Can You Make Your Hot Water Heaters Last Longer

There are a couple steps a homeowner can take to prolong the life of their hot water heaters. Run the thermostat at 140F is a simple one. Test the water with a thermometer to make sure it’s the right temperature. The next is to annually flush the tank,  turn off the heat source, attach a hose to the bottom boiler drain and run fresh water through until the water runs clear. If you don`t feel 100% comfortable doing this please contact your local plumber. Any maintenance performed on a tankless heater should also be done by a qualified professional as well. At Boundary Bay Mechanical we include this with our Annual Heating Equipment Service Package.

Tank or Tankless

There is a lot of debate as to whether tanks or tankless hot water heaters should be installed. There is no simple answer. It totally depends on the needs of the household. I will break it down very simply, I recommend a tank if The homeowner plans on moving in less than 8 years, The house is a rental property, There are 3 or fewer people living in the household, the mechanical room is in the center of the house making converting the venting difficult.

The cases in which I recommend a tankless heater are: New construction, lack of storage space, homeowner plans on living in the house for more than ten years, 5 or more occupants in house (definitely if there are one or more suites) and of course environmental concerns as a tank-less is 40% more efficient than a tank. Tankless is a more expensive installation but there are lots of rebates to be had and they will pay for themselves in the long run.

I hope this sheds some light on the world of water heaters. If you have any questions please contact the pro`s at Boundary Bay Mechanical

Poly B, The Failed Plastic Pipe

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.

3 Tips for Hot Water Tank Maintenance

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.

Don’t Get Caught In The Cold, Winterize Your Plumbing

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.

5 Things To Look For When Hiring A Plumber

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.