Tag Archives: plumbing

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Minimize Plumbing Catastrophes by Identifying Slab Leaks Quickly

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COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on your plumbing. The excess strain put on plumbing systems due to stay-at-home orders and self-quarantine has left water lines and fixtures handling the extra workload. One such problem is a slab leak. These leaks can cause catastrophic damage if not fixed properly, and require the expertise of a skilled plumber. If you think you may have a slab leak, here are the steps you should take to minimize a disaster.

What Is a Slab Leak?

A slab leak is a leak that forms in the water lines underneath the concrete foundation of your home. Because of their location, they are often difficult to detect. However, slab leaks can do catastrophic damage to your home. If left untreated, slab leaks can damage the concrete foundation, erode the soil, and waste thousands of gallons of water. In severe cases, slab leaks can even cause a portion of the home to collapse.

Causes of Slab Leaks

Slab leaks have numerous causes, making them more difficult for homeowners to prevent. Some of the most common sources of slab leaks include:

  • Corrosion caused by pipe contact with the soil. This is especially common in copper piping.
  • Abrasion as a result of pipes rubbing against gravel or rocks. As most foundations have backfill with rocks in them, the expansion and contraction of pipes due to weather can cause them to rub against rocks, pebbles, and gravel.
  • Shifting of the foundation can move the pipes underneath your home, which can cause them to burst and form a slab leak.
  • Poor installation is another factor in many slab leaks.

How to Identify a Slab Leak

One of the major problems with slab leaks is that they’re hard to find. However, homeowners may realize slab leaks with more regularity due to stay-at-home orders and time spent inside. If you’re not sure if you have a slab leak, look for these signs and symptoms:

  • Low water pressure.
  • Warm or damp floors.
  • Sounds of running water when the water is off.
  • Water meter moving when all water is off.
  • Standing water around the perimeter of your house or in the basement.
  • Issues with mold.

How to Fix Slab Leaks

While some of these signs may be the result of a different issue, the only way to assess the problem is by hiring a plumbing expert. With their experience and expertise, these professionals can locate the problem and offer suggestions on how to move forward. In most instances, jackhammering the floor and replacing the pipes or rerouting the pipes are the most viable and cost-effective options.

Plumbing isn’t something that most people are highly skilled in. That’s why, especially during COVID-19, our Bay Area plumbers are in high demand, especially if you have a slab leak.

If you think you may have a slab leak, do everything you can to keep our plumbers safe. Wipe down all surfaces and try to maintain social distancing rules.  Our plumbers continue to provide essential plumbing services in the Bay Area to our commercial, residential, and municipal customers while following all recommended CDC guidelines.


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Toilet Base Leak

Why Is There a Leak Around the Base of My Toilet?

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You may have experienced water on the floor of your bathroom and started to panic. “Where’s it coming from?” you ask yourself. You check the sink and the shower and find no problems. Suddenly, an overwhelming sense of dread starts to grip you. The water’s coming from the toilet. Yet it’s not coming from the tank or the bowl; it’s dribbling from the base. If this has happened to you, here are some reasons why the base of your toilet is leaking and what you can do to amend the problem.

Damaged Wax Ring

Properly installed toilets all feature a wax ring that’s placed between the base of the toilet and the flange attached to the waste/sewer line on the floor. The wax ring creates an impenetrable barrier that prevents any waste from seeping into the surrounding floor. When these wax rings fail, water can pool underneath the toilet, eventually causing the subfloor to rot and the water to leak into the bathroom.

Although wax rings typically last 20 to 30 years, they can sometimes compress and fail if the toilet isn’t properly secured. In many cases, a strong sewage smell is apparent when a wax ring is about to fail. If you smell this, it’s time to replace the wax ring. Try not to wait until the base leaks before you switch it out, or you may cause inadvertent or more severe damage.

Loose Tee Bolts

Tee bolts are the most common method to fasten toilets to the floor. However, these tee bolts can loosen over time. When this happens, the toilet doesn’t form an impermeable, water-tight seal with the wax ring underneath. Without the water-tight seal, the splashing that occurs during flushing can push water out onto the bathroom floor.

Fortunately, you can easily fix this problem. Grab a wrench, tighten the bolts, and the problem is solved, provided that the wax ring is still effective.

Faulty Water Supply Lines

If you notice water around the base of your toilet, but your wax ring is pristine and your tee bolts are tightened, take a glance at the water supply lines that attach to the wall. Typically, a flexible metal hose connects to the water supply in the wall. But if these hoses aren’t installed properly or aren’t tightened, water can leak onto the floor. This gives the impression that your toilet base is leaking, but in reality, you just may need to tighten or replace these hoses.

What to Do When There’s a Leak Around the Base

If you notice a leak around the base toilet for any reason, remember that this water is unsanitary and possibly contaminated with sewage. Stop using your toilet immediately, and use bleach to give the affected area a hospital-grade cleaning. Turn on the bathroom fan to remove the excess fumes, and only reenter the area once it’s dry.

If your toilet is leaking around its base, don’t ignore the problem. Doing so can lead to floor damage, a costly water bill, and unsanitary conditions in your bathroom. Oftentimes, these tips can fix the problem with a leaky toilet base, but if not, don’t hesitate to call a professional to assess, diagnose, and treat the leak.

Express Plumbing is a division of EPS Inc. We’ve been serving the Bay Area for multiple decades by providing plumbing, engineering, and underground construction services. We serve the South Bay by providing an experienced plumbing staff that’s eager to help you when you have any plumbing issues including a leaky toilet. Contact us with any questions you have.


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Plumbing flood floor drying tips

How to Dry Flooring In Case of a Plumbing Flood

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A plumbing flood is avoidable with proper maintenance, but when a pipe bursts in your home, chaos unfolds.

Not only is your furniture at risk of severe damage, but your floors can suffer as well. The porous nature of subflooring, carpet, and wood can retain water for days and even weeks after the leak.

Therefore, you need to be diligent when it comes to cleanup. Before the problem calls for a total flooring replacement, follow these tips to save your floor — and your investment — before it’s too late.

As a Bay Area Plumbing and Engineering Contractor, we want you to avoid plumbing problems all together, but if you can’t, use these tips to help you properly dry the area.

Before You Begin

Before you start to cleanup, photo-document the affected area. Armed with these photos, you have evidence of the flood to give to your insurance company. If you have any cloth furniture that’s salvageable, remove it from the room and set it outside to dry. The power of the sun will take care of most of the moisture. When it’s overcast or cold outside, set the furniture near a heat source.

Soak Up Excess Water Immediately

Use a squeegee or a wet/dry vacuum depending on the location and severity of the problem. You can easily find these tools for sale or rent at a local hardware store.

Once you have the right tool for the job, remove as much water as possible. Speed is crucial. If you can remove a majority of the water within 24 hours, you lessen the chance of irreparable damage. The longer you wait to rid your home of water, the more chance moisture has to seep into hardwood flooring or carpet, necessitating a full replacement.

Use a Fan

The next step to dry your flooring is to use a high-powered fan. A household floor or desk fan usually isn’t strong enough to get the job done, so you may have to purchase or rent a fan with enough power to remove excessive moisture.

If you have wooden furniture such as a dresser or armoire in the room, remove the drawers and open any doors to ensure you remove the moisture from these areas as well.  In addition, this fan will help circulate fresh air, which can also lessen the musty, mildew smell caused by flooding.

Unleash the Power of a Dehumidifier

Even with a thorough vacuuming and a fan, your room will undoubtedly still have moisture hiding somewhere. To remove this final bit of water, rent or buy a portable dehumidifier.

These dehumidifiers remove water vapor from the air that you otherwise couldn’t eliminate. Remember to empty the water drawer frequently to make sure you don’t have another water spill on your hands.

Disinfect All Affected Areas

When a pipe bursts, there’s a chance that the water has come in contact with sewage or bacteria. Because of the health risks posed by bacteria and subsequent mold, you should disinfect and sanitize any area touched by the water.

This includes not only the floor itself, but also baseboards, walls, and furniture. In more severe cases, consider hiring a professional.

Any time a pipe bursts in your home, it’s a catastrophic situation that requires due diligence. So push the stress aside and get to work drying your floors. The value of your home and your pocketbook depend on it.

Our professional plumbers are standing by to answer any questions you have relating to plumbing.  We service the entire San Francisco Bay Area and are relied upon by residents, commercial clients and municipalities due to our experience, advanced equipment and techniques.


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Underground Cable Systems without Digging

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Whether you’re repairing underground cables, laying new cables, or building a new property, the process of digging trenches for electrical, plumbing, sewer. telecommunications, or gas lines are cumbersome, time-consuming, and expensive.

Thankfully, trenchless technology is taking the hassle out of laying cables and pipes. Discover how this technology is revolutionizing underground cable systems, saving you time and money in the process.

What Is Trenchless Cable Laying?

Before the introduction of horizontal directional drilling, laying cables wasn’t easy. To install any sort of subterranean cables, contractors had to dig a trench to house cables.

underground cabling installation

This process often required ripping out concrete or blacktop, followed by a strenuous digging process by hand or machine. Today, a number of trenchless technologies are making trench-digging obsolete.

Horizontal Directional Drilling

One of the most common trenchless technologies is horizontal directional drilling. To complete this task, workers bore a hole in the ground at a predetermined angle, using a transmitter to guide and steer the drill below the ground.

After drilling the initial hole, the process of reaming enlarges the hole to the desired size. Finally, the cable or pipe is attached to a lead and pulled through the length of the hole.

Microtunneling

Microtunneling is another type of trenchless technology that excavates and removes soil while simultaneously installing the pipe. Controlled via a remote by an operator, this pipe-laying technique is becoming more and more popular.

Pipe Bursting

When you need to replace or repair old pipelines, few trenchless methods work as effectively as pipe bursting. To complete this task, workers use a machine that pulls a larger-diameter pipe through the old pipe. This breaks the original pipe, putting the new pipe in its place.

These aren’t the only types of trenchless technologies available for both residential and commercial applications, but they’re gaining popularity as more and more companies and consumers turn to these methods for cost savings and efficiency.

Saving Time and Money

Traditional methods of laying underground cable systems are wholly inefficient, pricey, and inconvenient. Not only do you incur the labor expenses of digging the trench, but you also have to consider other costs. Demolition of existing concrete is an expensive venture, compounded by having to lay new concrete upon completion of laying the underground cable systems.

If you aren’t considered with concrete, you should also consider the sunk cost of replacing your landscaping. Even small trenches can wreak havoc on your yard. Not only do you have to add in the cost of replacing grass, bushes, mulch, or trees, but you also have to deal with an unsightly yard that destroys your curb appeal.

Because trenchless technologies don’t require digging or excavating, the entire process is far less time-consuming. This saves you on labor and equipment costs. Plus, many trenchless providers charge solely on the length and diameter of the pipe, eliminating hidden and unexpected costs as a result.

Whether you’re building a new home, replacing existing lines, or repairing a cable system, trenchless technology gives you a practical, cost-effective way to get the job done right.

Express Plumbing is a division of EPS Inc. We service the entire Bay Area with our team focusing on the most advanced techniques, proper planning, and implementation to get the project done quickly and remain cost-effective.


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Most Common Holiday Plumbing Problems We’ve Seen in the Bay Area

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You’re right, plumbing problems aren’t specific to geographic locations, but we can only speak about our plumbing emergency experiences in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This time of year, everyone is in a festive mood as they should be, but there’s nothing worse than a plumbing disaster striking right in the midst of a holiday event, but our plumbing crew will tell you it happens all the time.

As a Bay Area plumber since 1989, we’ve been called night and day to deal with plumbing emergencies for businesses, homeowners, even municipality plumbing issues , the number of residential plumbing problem calls always increase around the holidays, why?  The plumbing does take a large beating with the above average use during this season.  Here are the most common residential plumbing problem calls we’ve received.

Common Plumbing Problems and Prevention

Garbage Disposal Stops Working

With so many tasty dinners around the holidays, of course their are many broken garbage disposals. There are however a few things you can do to prevent this from happening or at least delay it so you can remain in a festive mood.  Your garbage disposal is not a dumpster.  Keep things out of it, it’s that simple.

Sure, many will tell you to cut things into smaller pieces, or to only put certain types of foods down the garbage disposal.  As your trusted Bay Area plumber, we say to avoid it all together around the holidays because we want you to enjoy the holiday season free from any unexpected plumbing issues.

Broken Water Heaters

We get called for this all the time, and it’s always fun when the water heater is not broken at all, the igniter goes off and no more hot water.  This is usually a quick fix and we all get back to our holiday festive moods.

One year a San Francisco resident was so excited after finding out her water heater was not broken at all, it had just shut off, she had our tech Joe stay for dinner and celebrate Christmas eve with her family.  It’s moments like these that we enjoy and help us love what we do even more.

We serve our community with dedication and a rapid response 24 hour a day, 7 days a week including the weekends and holidays.  We do it with a smile.  If you have a plumbing problem in San Francisco, call us and you’ll get a live person whenever you call.

Here are a few things you can do if you have a traditional water heater when you’re expecting a few overnight holiday guests.

Turn up the temperature, but never go over 120 degrees, it can be dangerous, this will help you stretch your hot water and insure everyone gets a nice comfy shower.  Remember to turn it down right after they’re gone so you don’t waste too much and save energy.

If you have an on-demand water heater (tankless water heater), you don’t have to worry about hot water at all.  When you want it, it’s there.

Last but not least, we hate to talk about a pesky, stinky plumbing matter, but we simply can’t avoid it because it’s one of the most common plumbing problems during the holidays.

Clogged Toilets or Sewer

With so many guests in and out of the bathroom, that’s bound to happen.  Not to mention, after a few drinks, who knows what’s being flushed down the toilet.  If you don’t normally keep a waste basket close, get one!

Remind your guests not to flush sanitary napkins, baby wipes, facial tissues, etc.

We’re always available to help including holidays and weekends, but it’s not a bad idea to keep a plumber near just in case.  Leak detection, Sewer repair or replacement is our specialty.

These are just a few of the calls we’ve received in the past, we hope these tips will help you and from our entire plumbing and engineering team at EPS Express Plumbing, we wish you and your family a festive, holiday season filled with love, laughter and free of plumbing problems.

Rapid Response:

The Holidays seasons is one of our busiest months, we serve the entire Bay Area, but call us when you need a trusted, fast response:

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san mateo clogged drain expert

Proper Maintenance to Avoid A Clogged Drain

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Clogged drains account for the majority of residential plumbing emergencies.  Homeowners and business owners throughout the Bay Area can avoid a clogged drain by following a few maintenance tips on a regular basis.

Prevent a Slow Clogged Drain in the Kitchen

Preventing slow and clogged drains is the first step in avoiding a plumbing emergency.

Cooking Grease, and coffee grounds are two of the major every day items that go down the drain.  Avoid putting them down the drain all together by adding them in an old coffee can and dispose of them in the trash instead of the kitchen sink.

Coffee grounds are also great for plants, if you have a backyard garden, add them to the mulch pile, and watch your flowers bloom.

Clogged Bathroom Drain

Soap scum and toothpaste account for many of the bathroom drains our plumbing technicians see.  It’s quite difficult to avoid this but there are other things you can avoid such as hair going down the drain which will help you drains remain clear longer.

Place a screen that will catch the hair before it goes down the drain and create a clogged build up.

There are custom screens specific for your drain available at the local hardware store.  Snap a picture on your phone before going the store, this will help you get an exact fit screen.

Maintaining Drains while Saving the Environment

The EPA says that Americans toss approximately 4.5 pounds of garbage every day.  Avoiding clogged drains by properly maintaining them also includes not putting things down the drain that can hurt our environment.  Medications, flammable liquid, and paint are a few of the items to avoid all together.

Here are the alarming results of pouring these 7 things down the drain.

Our Bay Area residential plumbing experts are available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week including holidays and weekends.  As an emergency plumbing company, we enjoy sharing some of the things you can do every day to avoid having to call us in the first place.

If you’re following a proper drain maintenance plan but still end up with a clogged drain, give us a call and we’ll be happy to serve you anywhere in the Bay Area.

 


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Join our Bay Area Water Conservation Efforts – Tips for the Family

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By now, parents throughout the country are relieved from the “back-to-school” rush.  Our Bay Area water conservation efforts have been implemented since we started in 1989.

As the #1 referred and preferred Bay Area plumbing contractor.  Our company is family owned and operated, we love the community we serve and always want to educate on preventative measures and tips to save our environment and save money for our clients.

Probably, the the last thing on your mind right now is water conservation, but we must remember the importance of saving water for our environment, and if that doesn’t interest you, how about saving money for yourself along the way?

Use these tips to make water conservation a fun learning experience for the kids, and something that will teach them good habits that last them a lifetime.

 

Water Conservation at Home

Must the faucet stay on the entire time while their brushing their teeth?  Once the brush and toothpaste is in their mouth, the average brushing time is two minutes.  Teach kids to shut off the faucet while brushing their teeth, this will save water and a hefty penny on your water bill

Conserve Water at School

Hygiene is a very important part of not spreading infectious diseases at school, remind kids to wash their hands before and after recess or anytime they eat, but also remind them to shut off the faucet while they’re scrubbing their hands.

This will help in the effort of conserving H2O and will quickly become a habit they follow at home.

Make the learning experience fun and rewarding.  It’s not a matter of you “have to do this” but “you should because”.

Discuss the details with the children and allow them to participate in these efforts that will help our environment and their future.

Debora Bekins, a Bay Area residential plumbing client said to one of our plumbers in San Francisco “I took my kids to the aquarium, and explained to them how important it is to keep our environment clean and healthy so we can enjoy things like this.  We wouldn’t want all these fish not to have water anymore, would we?”

That might be a little drastic, but not far off.  Whatever works for you and your family, do it.  Get the kids involved in your efforts and they’ll be so excited to share with their friends and teachers at school.

Water Conservation Tips for Mom and Dad

Set a good example by following the same instructions given to the kids

Fix leaks quickly and don’t let them get worse.  We are a 24 hour plumber!

Water your lawn early morning or late evening

Remember to turn off the sprinklers on rainy day

Go to a car wash that recycles water instead of washing it in the driveway

Don’t run the washing machine and dishwasher until they’re completely full

According to the EPA, the average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day per home.

If you implement these small water saving tips at home, you will not only be helping the environment but will also see a drastic change in your water bill.

“Maybe you could use the savings to take a trip with the kids to the aquarium or somewhere to enjoy the beautiful nature we so well need to protect and preserve.”

Let’s share and keep this conversation going.  Do you use any other methods of conservation? We would love to hear from you and share it with others in our Bay Area community.


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Average Cost of Hydro Jetting in San Francisco Area

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Slow sewage lines or clogged drains? Hydro jetting commonly referred to as high pressure jetting is used by our San Francisco professional plumbers to quickly remove the blockage and build up.  It’s effective and efficient.

About the Hydro Jetting Process

We begin by determining the location of the problem first using a video camera inspection, this will quickly pinpoint the location.  A combination of a snake and Hydro jetting may be used if tree roots are involved in the blockage.

The snake will break up the particles in the blockage, while the high-pressure water jetting clears the drains completely and removed any remaining particles on the interior walls of the pipes.

Average Prices of Hydro Jetting Plumbing Services in the San Francisco Area courtesy of HomeAdvisor.

 

High Pressure Drain Cleaning Vs Snake

Hydro jetting is very common with commercial plumbing projects, especially restaurants.

In a residential home, the process works great for removing sand, silt, and build up in clogs such as hair and other grease and food particles.

Using a snake to unclog a drain only breaks up the particles and leaves the buildup on the interior walls.  The high-pressure process of hydrojetting can completely clean the pipes which a snake cannot compare to.

Benefits of Hydro Jetting to Clear Drains

Time is money.  The quicker a project a completed, the less costly it is.  The high pressure drain clean process is environmentally friendly and avoids the use of chemicals to clear the drains.

The hydro jetting machine can release high pressure of 7000 lbs per square inch to clean your clogged drains or sewer lines quickly and without and problems.

Our expert Bay Area plumbing technicians provide drain cleaning services in the San Francisco area to both commercial and residential clients.

We’re equipped and experienced to handle your plumbing needs no matter how big or small.  Rely on our experience to help you the next time you need a hydro jetting contractor in the Bay Area.


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What’s The Operating Cost of an Electric or Gas Water Heater

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The cost of water heater operation is just as important as the type of water heater you purchase.

Daily expenses are becoming more important to monitor for homeowners in the Bay Area and across the country.  With rising living costs, we often get asked by homeowners which water heater costs more, an electric or gas water heater? Here is some information to consider.

cost-of-water-heaterA water heater is an essential part of our everyday life, so when you’re faced with making a decision on installing a new water heater, remember that the average shower is about 8 minutes and uses 10 gallons of hot water every time.

An average water heater runs three hours every day, a 50 gallon, 55,500 watt water heater with a .90EF and electricity rate of $.16 per kilowatt will cost an average operating cost of $781 per year.  The majority of water heaters do have a label listing the annual operating cost, but it may vary depending on individual usage.

There are many choices when selecting a water heater, and the first one you’ll need to make is whether you want a tankless water heater or a traditional water heater.  A tankless water heater also saves on water usage and overall energy.  Get more info about traditional water heaters vs tankless water heaters.

The up-front cost is more expensive than the traditional water heater, but overtime, the savings make a lot of sense for homeowners concerned with energy savings.

Energy Operating Cost of Water Heater

Electric Cost

The federal average price in the U.S. for electricity is $0.09 per kWH.

Gas Cost

The federal average price in the U.S. for gas is $0.93 per therm.

Which Water Heater Costs Less?

Photo: Huffington Post - Saving Money For Your Family

Photo: Huffington Post – Saving Money For Your Family

An electric water heater uses electric resistance coils to heat the water, while a gas water heater uses the heating from burning natural gas.

What does this mean to you?  Electric water heaters are more energy efficient than gas water heaters but due to high electricity costs, the electric water heater is more costly to run.

At our San Mateo plumbing company, we provide commercial and residential water heaters, we’ve been serving the Bay Area since 1989.  We’ve provided water heater installations and repairs for all types, models, and energy requirements.

We work closely with every client to help them make an informed decision about their new purchase and installation.  Our technicians are experienced, and willing to assist you when you need a new water heater.

With every project, our professional plumbers work with our Bay Area residential and commercial plumbing clients to ensure they make important decisions early which intern saves them both time and money.

Give our team a call for a free estimate on your next electric or gas, traditional or tankless water heater installation.


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Plumbing Tips For Summer

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This Summer’s Quick and Easy Plumbing Tips By Your Bay Area Trusted Plumber.

Increased water usage is a given during the hot days of summer, whether it’s indoor or outdoor, homeowners generally use 25% to 40% more water during the summer months.  Our plumbing company always provides Bay Area homeowners and business owners with tips to improve their plumbing and reduce cost.  So here are a few you may want to consider.

san francisco contractor

Away on Vacation?

If you’re going away for a week or so during the summer, turn down the water heater before you leave, this will help you save on energy during the time it is not in use.

Traditional water heaters generally have a life span of 8 to 11 years, know how old your water heater is before you leave to avoid any disasters while you’re far from home.

Tip: If you’re unsure of the age of your water heater, look at the last four digits of the serial number, they generally represent the month and year the water heater was manufactured.

For the future, you may want to consider a tankless water heater to avoid issues, and enjoy long term savings.

summer plumbing tips

Entertaining at Home?

Whether you have a pool or not, laundry loads tend to increase during the summer months.  The heat is on! So it’s no surprise we change our clothes more often.  Enjoy special summer promotions and replace old appliances around the house to energy efficient appliances, or conduct a quick visual inspection of all the hoses on your appliances to insure no leaks are occurring from the increased usage.

Outdoor cookouts and indoor get-togethers are a blast during the summer months, but avoid shoving left overs down the garbage disposal and the drains.

Landscaping Around the House?

Keep an eye out for the trees around the house, no one wants to deal with a sewage backup or tree roots finding their way into the sewer line instead of having summer fun.  If you suspect anything, give our Bay Area sewer experts a call, we’ll quickly inspect and help you avoid or fix any clogged sewer line quickly so you can get back to enjoying summer.

Water your lawns early morning or late evening when the sun is not around.  If you water your lawn while the sun is out, the water is evaporating and you’re wasting energy.

There are hundreds of ways to avoid plumbing disasters, and many more tips to save on energy in your home or business.  Plumbing challenges do come up no matter what the season is, but we want you to know our professional plumbers at Express Plumbing are here to assist you any time you need us.

We’ve been serving the Bay Area’s trusted contractor since 1989, and we hope you’ll have a fun filled summer free from plumbing problems.


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