winterizing

Winterizing Your Summer Home or Rental

Did you know that about 250,000 homes are damaged by frozen and burst pipes each year? Many of these estimated 4 to 5 Million dollars in damages will be experienced here in New Jersey where it's not uncommon to have summer home at the shore, or up in the woods of PA or NY - all areas that enjoy both a hot summer, and frigid cold winters.

While our team can help you winterize locally, many of our clients have faced these preventable problems with other out-of-area properties. Which is why we'd like to arm you with the facts you need to properly winterize your home.

Winterizing Your Home:

1. Turn off the water supply to the house. The main water valve is usually near the water meter on the home’s exterior, or in the basement.

2. Drain water pipes. Do this by: Starting by turning on the faucets from top to bottom in sinks and showers and tubs, until no water runs.

3. Pour RV antifreeze into the drains and toilets to prevent any remaining standing water from freezing.

4. After pouring antifreeze into the drains, cap them. Cover the toilet with plastic wrap. This will stop the possibility of sewer gas from entering the house through the drains.

5. Shut off power and water to your water heater and drain it.

6. Drain the pool, if you have one. This is a several step procedure, involving a submersible sump pump. You may want to consider hiring a pool specialist.

7. If feasible, turn down the thermostat to 55 degrees, generally considered to be warm enough to prevent the pipes from freezing.

8. If not running your heater, first consult your user heating unit's manual. Some units require specific methods for draining water and may require antifreeze. Others do not. An HVAC specialist or Master Plumber may be needed to do this properly or even to guide you the first time you winterize the property.

9. Clean your gutters. Many post-winter leaks aren't from your pipes at all. Ice dams can cause significant damage and you want to ensure good flow in your gutters. Be wary of gutter guards as they have been known to exacerbate ice dams. Trim back any branches that may be dropping debris into your gutters as well.

10. Unplug all appliances.

11. Winterize your outdoor spigot (This applies to your year round home as well!) Disconnect your hoses and drain them. If you have an interior shut off valve to your spigot, shut the water off. Otherwise, insulate your spigot. Consider a faucet cover, which is a padded dome that can be placed over your spigot through the winter.

Remember, it is best to do this right. Water damage can be financially devastating to a property, and more so for properties that are unattended. Do not be shy about asking for professional assistance if you are worried you don't know the proper way to winterize your pipes.

Copy of 6 Common Boiler Questions

The Lifespan of a Boiler: How Long Should a Boiler Last?

The generally accepted lifespan of a boiler is 10 to 15 years. If your boiler is still functioning at 16+ years, it may still be a good time to upgrade, as today's systems are far more efficient than their predecessors.

Factors that affect the lifespan of your boiler:

220. Burham Boiler with Bradford White Water Heater

Do you have the right system?

If your boiler is the wrong size for your home, it may not reach its projected lifespan. If the system is too big, it won't take long to heat your home, and will go through more on/off cycles which can wear out the motors and other boiler components. Short cycling is a sign that you have a system that is too large for your home or building. A system that is too small can become taxed, operating at full capacity in a vain attempt to keep the temperature up and eventually wearing out the system components. You may notice you are still cold despite the boiler constantly running if your system is too small for your home or building.

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Do you service your boiler every year?
Like we covered in last month's blog post, you should definitely have your boiler serviced every year. In fact, not doing so may void your warranty. Why? Because it's much more likely to fail during the span of your warranty instead of after as a result. With Annual Boiler Maintenance from Jersey Plumbing, we Rigorously Inspect and Maintain Your Equipment for Optimal Performance. Our team will:

- Clean and inspect the heat exchanger
- Inspect all wiring and connections
- Test water pH levels
- Inspect condensate system and clean/flush as needed
- Inspect and clean flame sensor
- Inspect and clean ignitor
- Inspect and clean burner assembly
- Full inspection of the venting system for deterioration, corrosion, blockages or failed joints and connections
- Examination of air inlet and vent terminations
- Inspect and test safety controls 

What kind of boiler do you have?
A cast iron water or steam boiler may last much longer than a condensing boiler. 

What kind of fuel to you use?
A gas boiler has a longer lifespan. Electric Boilers tend to last 8-10 years rather than 10-15 years.

6 Common Boiler Questions

6 Common Questions About Boilers: Answered

1) Can a Boiler Explode?

BoilerExploding

Yes. A Boiler can explode. However, newer boilers are far less likely to explode than their older counterparts due to innovations in technology, especially as a result of high pressure. A boiler can explode either with a fuel or air explosion, or due to water or steam pressure. High Pressure in an older boiler is more dangerous than in a newer boiler because newer systems are designed to shut off when the pressure is too great.

A boiler can also explode due to overheating or a weak outer shell or other weak components. Boilers are designed to withstand a certain amount of pressure, but if your system is corroded or rusting, it's far more likely to face a catastrophic failure. If you are worried your boiler could explode, you should certainly have one of our plumbers out to examine your system.

2) What Happens If Your Boiler Pressure is too Low?

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Low boiler pressure usually results in poor performance. If you notice that your boiler is on, but it just doesn't seem to be getting warm in the house, low pressure is definitely a possibility. Luckily - the only damage this is likely to cause is to your wallet, as you'll be using a lot of energy for very little results. The team here at Jersey Plumbing can get your boiler back up and running efficiently in no time, or assess if anything else may be a bigger concern.

3) Is a Leaking Boiler Dangerous?

Leaking Boiler

A water leak in your boiler is actually quite serious. You should shut the boiler off right away and call the team here at Jersey Plumbing. Boilers are not cheap to replace, and if you allow it to run with a leak, you're going to be headed that direction. A boiler leak is often due to an internal component failing such as a seal or a valve. The leak can cause the electric components to fry, as well as lead to damaging corrosion and rust. In many cases, we can repair rather than replace the boiler, but the sooner you call, the more likely your boiler can be saved.

4) What is a Dangerous Boiler Pressure?

Pressure Relief Valve

Anything over 1.5 bar on the boiler pressure gauge on a switched off boiler is too high. But don't worry.  The biggest danger is most likely to affect things you value in the spill radius of your boiler (drywall, carpet, furniture or belongings that could face water damage.)  In most cases, a PRV (Pressure Release Valve) will shut down your boiler before damages can occur. But be sure to check that gauge before trying to turn it back on.

If the Pressure Release Valve is leaking - don't even consider turning the boiler back on. Get a pro from Jersey Plumbing Service out right away.

If the PRV isn't leaking, but the gauge is above 1.5 bars, you can bleed the system to achieve the desired pressure of between 1 and 1.5 bars.

5) Can I Bleed the Radiator with the Heat Still On?

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Definitely not. It won't work properly, it could be too hot to touch, and you could get sprayed with hot water. Turn off the boiler before bleeding the system.

6 How Often Should I Get My Boiler Serviced?

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You should have your boiler serviced once a year, preferably a few months ahead of when you'll need it. You want to be ready for the cold season. Keep in mind that neglecting to service your boiler may result in your warranty becoming invalidated. We'd love to help you keep your boiler in tip-top shape. Give our team a call!

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Underground Pipes

Underground Pipes

Underground pipes are the homeowner’s responsibility all the way up to where they connect with the main sewer or water line, which may be in the middle of the street or under the sidewalks. Leak or damage to them is often covered by homeowner’s insurance for the repairs, but you may want to check your policy to be sure! Insurance for these pipes may also be available through your utility company.

The difficulty is the pipes are not usually easily accessible as they are either under the foundation, or cement or mortar if behind a wall. Underground pipe leaks cause damage to your home’s foundation leading to more expensive repairs if not caught early. 

Any issues or concerns regarding your underground pipes are best left to the professionals at Jersey Plumbing Service. We have the tools to find the leak or damaged pipes.

Underground water leaks flow out of the area where the pipe is broken. The problem arises when leaking water has no place to go and can erode either your foundation or cause excessive seepage into the soil, leading to sinkholes in your yard or the road out front.

Causes for damaged pipes and leaks in underground pipes:

  • Tree roots: Roots don’t ‘seek’ out pipes but the water and nutrients they contain will attract them. Roots can cause blocks and blogs and sometimes can crush pipes. The older lead and clay pipes are more vulnerable to damage by tree roots.
  • Soil conditions: Poor soil can cause the insides of your pipes to corrode. Clay soil is prevalent in Northern New Jersey. The heaviness of such soil can lead to leaks and water contamination. Clay soil is among the most corrosive of all soils and can quickly break down your pipes if you do not have your pipes checked regularly.
  • Extreme Temperatures: Think of any season in Hackettstown or Morristown, winters can be mild or bitter, summers can be pleasant or sweltering. Sometimes if a pipe is already weakened, a 10-degree shift in temperature can be enough to turn weakened into broken.
  • Corroded Pipes: Depending on the age of your home, old plumbing materials such as iron and galvanized steel eventually corrode; this can lead to pinhole leaks or restricted water flow inside the pipes. Galvanized pipes were commonly used in construction before 1930s but are found in homes well into the 1950s.  You can check the shutoff valves and faucets. If they look really old or there just is not a shutoff valve, your pipes are likely old as well.
  • Pipe leak: A leak could be something simple like a pipe connection has come undone.  Or it could mean there is a split in a water pipe.  Even if it a ‘simple’ fix, the fact that it is under your home makes it an issue.
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Dealing with Water Main Leaks

Dealing With Water Main Leaks:

Some leaks, make a sound only when exposed, like the ones from a main water supply line. The loss of water can be significant and will appear in the form of an increased water bill.

The first step in either identifying a leak or fixing one is turning OFF the main water valve. Your water main is the link that connects the plumbing system in your home to the public water supply or a well. The pipes behind your walls and foundation will often last for several decades or much less if damage occurs.

Here are some of the signs of a water main leak in your home.

  • Puddles

When there is a leak in the main water line, there isn’t anywhere for the water to go, except out into the street or your yard.  If you see burbling water in the street in front of your home or your yard is spongey without any rain, call the professionals at Jersey Plumbing Service ASAP.

  • Wet Walls and Floors/Discolored Dry Wall

Check the floors, walls, as well as ceiling for moisture.  Excessive moisture is a sign of a leak in your pipes.  Check each room of your household to see if the walls are damp. It is important to check your ceiling for any wet rings or mold. If the signs of a water line leak are not addressed, it can lead to more serious problems like damage to the structure and foundation of your home.  Get an inspection by a licensed plumber on your plumbing system.

  • Cracks in the Outside Foundation

It is best to have a professional plumber address these issues if you believe you may have a water line leak.  As a homeowner, a simple way is to check for cracks.  Look at the drywall and exterior paneling of your house to see if you notice obvious symptoms of a leak, like water spots or drip marks. Also, look at the concrete foundation outside your home to see if there are cracks.

  • Low Water Pressure

Obviously, if the main water line is damaged, water doesn’t go where it is supposed to, and it will result in lowered water pressure.  This becomes apparent in the shower or sink. This may mean that there are ruptures in the water lines or even clogs in the pipes.

  • Sound of water

Hearing noises of any kind like bubbling, whistling, banging, and dripping means there is an issue with the line or pipes.  These sounds are usually caused by a broken pipe within your home’s plumbing system.

Getting the professionals of Jersey Plumbing Services to inspect your water main is critical to repairing the problem before mold and further water damage occurs.

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Spring Plumbing Tasks

Now that winter is done, there are a few tasks to be taken care of, several you can do on your own, and a couple others best left to the professionals at Jersey Plumbing. 

Check your hoses and outside faucets - Of course the hoses should have been rolled up and put away, it just doesn’t always happen.  Hoses need to be checked for leaks or splits.  Faucets, even if they have been covered, still need to be checked for any leaks. Depending on how cold the recently past winter was and whether there was any water left in the pipes leading outside, ice could have formed and damaged or broken the seals, or the interior pipes themselves.

Test Your Sump Pump!!!

Spring in all its moods brings rain and often a lot of rain. Having a functioning sump pump can make the difference between watching blooms bud and trying to hire someone to pump out the basement.  Signs your sump pump is struggling:

  • Obvious leaking.
  • Runs all the time.
  • Irregular cycling.
  • Water present after a heavy rain
  • Visible rust.

This appliance that makes life so much better and dryer only have a lifespan of about ten years.  People often don’t realize the sump pump has malfunctioned until it has stopped working. Depending on where you live in northern New Jersey, in Budd Lake or East Orange, rain may or may not have a place to exit. If the only place for rain to exit is your basement, having a working sump pump can make all the difference.  The professionals at Jersey Plumbing Service can inspect, repair, and if need be replace your sump pump.

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Hot Water Heater Issues

Taking care of your hot water heater will ensure plenty of hot water for years to come, the reverse is also true of course, not taking care of the unit will mean sporadic hot water often at the most inconvenient times.  There are some steps you the homeowner can do, and others best left to the professionals at Jersey Plumbing Service.

Signs that your hot water heater is not working the way it should:

  • You don't have enough hot water: Try the easiest fix first, adjust the temperature dial on your water heater to a higher degree, wait about 30 minutes and then check the water temperature at the faucet. Make sure the circuit breaker is in the ‘on’ position, as it can trip.  For an electric water heater, if the circuit breaker trips often, you’ll want to contact a professional. The unit may be pulling more energy than it needs perhaps due to wiring or electrical problems. If that doesn't change anything, draining the water tank to remove sediment may work and will  boost the unit's efficiency.
  • You have varying water temperature issues: This might be as simple as regulating the thermostat if what is happening is the water being too hot or not hot enough. If the heating element needs to be replaced though, call in Jersey Plumbing to resolve it.  They can also assess if the unit you have is big enough for the people using it. While a smaller tank will be fine for 2 people, a larger tank will be needed for 6 people.
  • You have a leaking water heater: Water from a hot water heater is hot! A leaking water heater typically indicates a serious internal failure. If you notice water dripping from the unit or pooling around the bottom of the tank, put safety first and disconnect the electricity or turn off the gas.  Now you can inspect to see where the leak is coming from. Check for any loose pipes or connectors, as well as the inlet. Condensation is expected, but actual water or dampness that extends out is not.  Again, calling on a professional is best.
  • Noises: When you can hear the hot water heater banging or other noises, that is a definite sign that it is failing.  Vibrating is also not a good sign.
  • Age of your hot water heater: Hot water heaters don’t last forever. Generally, they last between six and thirteen years.  So, if yours is closer to eleven years old, realize that even with regular maintenance, the time for replacing it is getting closer.  The professionals at Jersey Plumbing Service can address all your concerns whether it by fixing what is wrong with your present unit, or by installing a new unit that fits the needs of your family.

Keeping your hot water heater well maintained will go a long way towards extending the life of your equipment. Calling the experts at Jersey Plumbing with plumbing issues can save you time, and frustration.

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Solutions For Quick Draining Sinks

Sometimes the kitchen sink drains slowly, and it is an easy fix, other times the solution is to call the plumbing experts at Jersey Plumbing to resolve your sink draining issues.

Some of the causes of slow draining sinks are:

  • Grease, or greasy liquids, being poured down your kitchen sink, these go down the drain in a liquid state, but as they move through your pipes, the fat cools. As the fat becomes solid, it coats the inside of the pipes. This coating will get thicker and thicker as more grease builds up until you get a slow draining or a completely clogged sink.

Try these suggestions:

Before pouring a drain cleaner down your sink which will damage your pipes in the long run, pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of white vinegar, let it bubble and fizz for 5 minutes, and then pour a kettle’s worth of boiling water down the drain.  Turn the faucet on and see if it is draining better.

Now is the time for the plunger, the problem may be something other than grease.   Remove standing water until there is only an inch or two so you can see what is going on. Remember to remove the sink strainer before using the plunger. Place the cup of the plunger over the drain opening and pump up and down rapidly several times. Quickly pull the plunger off the drain opening. Plunge both sides of the drain.

  • Food particles or larger pieces like fruit or vegetable skins can get trapped in the curved pipe under the sink, known as the P-trap.  This is another way a drain can get clogged and drain slowly.
  • And sometimes the slow draining sink issues are even further down the pipe system, making the use of the Drain Snake more feasible.

The solution for these problems is calling Jersey Plumbing.

For both removing the P-Trap as well as using the Drain Snake calling professional assistance for help is the route to go.  The clog may well be further down your pipes. Both solutions can cause messes and are time-consuming.

Keep Pipes Clean with Enzymes

Enzyme cleaners work well in eliminating foul odor from pipes and removing clogs. Enzymes are now available for all types of plumbing needs, and if properly maintained, enzymes will help keep the pipes free and clear of buildup when used on a regular basis. While enzymes are not effective in removing an existing clog immediately, regular use will keep your pipes clear of any organic buildup which helps you avoid clogs in the first place. Natural enzymes are easy on your pipes, unlike chemical drain cleaners. They are available at home improvement stores.

If you can avoid putting the following down your pipes, you may save yourself the headache of a slow drain:

  • Grease - Slides when warm, solidifies when cold.
  • Coffee grounds - The oil in coffee grounds becomes a sticky mess.
  • Eggshells - Eggshells become sand-like particles that stick to grease.
  • Potato and fruit peels – Starchy or stringy scraps can cause clogs.
  • Pasta and rice - Not only are they high in starch, but they also both absorb water.
  • Keeping your drains healthy and your pipes safe will go a long way towards having a steadily draining sink. Calling the experts at Jersey Plumbing with plumbing issues can save you time, and frustration.

Keeping your drains healthy and your pipes safe will go a long way towards having a steadily draining sink. Calling the experts at Jersey Plumbing with plumbing issues can save you time, and frustration.

If there is limited pressure from the showerhead or faucets, it maybe the result of sediment and mineral deposits. Use vinegar to clean the showerhead and faucets to clean the aerators. If necessary, replace the showerhead.

Sometimes simple problems like the shut-off valve being closed, which you would open, or a faucet being blocked can cause low water pressure. More serious issues like plumbing blockages or water leaks decrease water pressure, as well. If it is cleaning a showerhead or opening a partially closed valve, there are tasks you can do. For others, calling the professionals at Jersey Plumbing can resolve your low water pressure problems. Returning you household to enjoying hot showers, clean clothes and dishes with full water pressure is a pleasure all its own.

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Leaking Outdoor Faucets

Leaky Outdoor Faucets

There is a lot to remember when preparing your home for the winter, putting gardening tools to the shed, checking on the snowblower, and finding where the snow shovels got to, shutting windows and the list goes on. Turning off the water to the outside faucets and covering them sometimes gets missed. In New Jersey, this can have expensive consequences, as the winters can start early and last long. This is one of the biggest issues you can encounter in the winter, as it leads to your pipes freezing, which can lead to them bursting. It isn’t usually the outside spigots that are the problem, although the spigots leaking can look like the issue, the pipework that supplies them are the culprits.

The easy answer is to drain your pipes.

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Steps to Draining Outdoor Pipes and Faucets:

Turn Off Exterior Water Supply Valve

In older homes, the valves are located at or near the ceiling somewhere close to the outside faucet. In newer homes, the valves are usually located right next to the main water valve and usually are labeled.

Remove Hoses and Connectors

Take away the outside hoses or any connectors on your outdoor faucets.

Remove Hoses and Connectors

Take away the outside hoses or any connectors on your outdoor faucets. Also, make sure to drain the hoses before putting them away for the season.

Completely Drain All Faucets

Turn the faucets on full blast until no more water flows out. Once the water has stopped draining out, Turn the faucet back off completely.

Cover Faucets

You can cover the faucets with an insulated cover from any hardware or home improvement store.  This will prevent anything from entering your faucets and pipes, including snow or ice. The heating inside your home will not be enough to protect the outside faucets.

Remember that water expands as it freezes, and ice takes up nearly 10% more space than water does. What that means is that a pipe already filled with water has no room for expansion if temperatures drop low enough for the water in the pipe to freeze. When that happens, something that has to give is usually the pipe itself, or the valves.

That’s when having the phone number to Jersey Plumbing comes in handy!

You can also insulate your pipes. This can help protect your plumbing and valves from extreme temperature variations. Make sure to seal any open spaces, gaps, or foundation cracks that allow cold air to circulate around the pipes. Close all the basement windows as well. If you have ever walked into your basement and it felt colder in one spot than the other, look for leaks or where heat might be escaping from. In the spring, remember to check the outdoor faucets for leaks before using the full water pressure. This applies even if you took care of the faucets before the worst of the winter season.

If you have any concerns about your pipes, valves, joints, or outside faucets being affected by the winter weather, call the experts at Jersey Plumbing can alleviate your concerns.

Jersey Plumbing(908) 281-7101

Remember! Sometimes the best tool is experience. When you need a Master Plumber to get the job done right, don’t hesitate to reach out to Jersey Plumbing Service for your plumbing needs.

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5 Plumbing issues with Old Houses

Whether it is the wrap around porch or the stained-glass windows or maybe even a white picket fence surrounding a home, something tells you this is the one. Many things are wonderful in older homes from light fixtures to old-style architecture. And then there are the plumbing issues. Yes, of course, you did an inspection and the report had issues of varying importance. Have you ever noticed how varying importance takes on greater urgency after you have the keys?

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5 Plumbing issues with Old Houses

Copper Pipes

Lots of homes in the twentieth century were built using copper pipes. And your house may have been built before lead was banned, meaning whatever copper piping remains might have been fitted with lead-based solders. An additional issue, copper pipes are very attractive to thieves due to the ease of selling them.

Corrosion

Reality is metals corrode over time, even galvanized steel. In time, the protective zinc coating erodes, then exposed iron of galvanized pipes becomes susceptible to rust. Left unchecked, your house water turns orange and then next call is to Jersey Plumbing as the water is not safe to drink.

Clogging

Think of the age of your home, even a home built in the ’70s, is pretty old by today’s standards. Even with regular maintenance, it is hard to keep the pipework free from clogs that can block the whole of the pipe. Remember, a home built half a century ago is not a Victorian or a Colonial, it could be a Ranch house. Those decades of sewage and soap scum will take a toll on your old home’s drains, filling and clogging them with gunk. If you see your drains backing up or slow draining, take the next right step and call the plumber.

Original Water Fixture

Yes, the original faucets, handles, valves, and spigots are so pretty and have such old-world charm. However, leakage and cracks occur over time, possibly leading to foul smells. Replacing the old with the new will save money in the long run as modern faucets, valves, handles, and spigots now have sensors and the ability to not surprise you in the shower when someone flushes a toilet. That alone may be worth the price.

Tree Root Invasion

Your home does not even need to be that old to have tree roots growing into not only the foundation but also interfering with your plumbing. Tree roots can also interfere with your sewer lines. Depending on what was the best advice of the time, many people planted trees right next to their homes, not realizing that many trees have aggressive root systems; or that the lovely leafy tree also threatened their home with its height.

Have the professionals at Jersey Plumbing come out and assess the plumbing in your home to make sure all is safe for you and your family.

Jersey Plumbing(908) 281-7101

Remember! Sometimes the best tool is experience. When you need a Master Plumber to get the job done right, don’t hesitate to reach out to Jersey Plumbing Service for your plumbing needs.

Jersey Plumbing Service
PO Box 7371
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Click to Email Us
Fax: 1-908-647-1517

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