The Importance of Maintaining Your Sump Pumps

The Importance of Maintaining Your Sump Pumps

  • Heating
sump pumps

Rain or snow, there’s one appliance that needs constant maintenance, and that’s your sump pump. Hidden in your basement, it’s easy to forget about the appliance that keeps your basement dry and flood free. A poorly maintained sump pump, however, could mean thousands of dollars in water damage. No homeowner wants to deal with a soggy basement, and luckily you don’t have to.

Knowing the Warning Signs

A good place to start is to know when something is wrong with your sump pump. Your home’s plumbing equipment is complicated, and your sump pump has many parts that are susceptible to damage. There are several reasons as to why your sump pump isn’t working the way it should be, if at all. The good news is that there are plenty of warning signs as well. If you suspect something is wrong with your sump pump, here are a few signs to watch for.

  • Strange noises. A low hum is a normal sound, but if you start hearing any screeching, squealing, or grinding, there could be a mechanical problem with the sump pump. Loud rattling or grinding usually indicates a jammed or damaged impeller. If you think the loud noises are coming from your sump pump, a plumber can help determine what the problem is.
  • It won’t turn on. If the sump pump doesn’t seem to be turning on, it could be an issue with the float switch. If it’s a tethered switch, it could simply be stuck, preventing the sump pump from sensing when it’s full of water. If repairing or replacing the float switch doesn’t solve the problem, it could be time to replace your sump pump.
  • The pump runs constantly. If it seems like your sump pump is cycling constantly, it could be a problem of size. The wrong sized sump pump means it’s constantly overwhelmed with water, and not fit to keep your basement dry. Depending on how much rain you receive throughout the year, you may need to upgrade your current sump pump. Battery backup sump pumps are also available in case of a power outage, and in some rare instances, you might want to install an additional sump pump.
  • Foul odors. One of the clearest signs of a damaged sump pump is if you start to smell foul odors coming out of your basement. Funky smells in your basement usually indicate that there’s stagnant water inside the tank, and the sump pump isn’t functioning properly.
  • Excessive vibrating. Occasionally your sump pump will suck in hard debris which can dent the impeller fan. The impeller works like a propeller, sucking in any excess water. A damaged impeller causes the entire sump pump to vibrate and will need to be replaced entirely.
  • Visible rust. Naturally, rust can happen when an appliance is working with running water, but it’s problematic if you start seeing visible rust on your sump pump. Rust can either be from a corroded battery or bacteria that can be harmful to your health and clog your plumbing.

How to Maintain Sump Pumps

Properly maintaining your sump pump involves more than fixing a problem whenever one comes up. In fact, most sump pump problems can be easily avoided with some simple maintenance. No homeowner wants to deal with a busted sump pump, and luckily you don’t have to. Here are a few easy tasks you can do to keep your sump pump working properly.

  • Clean the sump pump. It’s important to clean your sump pump at least every 3-4 months, to keep it clear of obstructive debris that can clog your plumbing or damage the pump. A vinegar solution can be run through the sump pump to clear out any dirt or debris.
  • Check the float switch. The float switch is an important component of your sump pump as it senses when the tank is full and needs to empty the tank. Check the float switch and make sure it’s not restricted in any way.
  • Check the discharge line. Another important component is the discharge line, which relocates water away from the basement and foundation of your home. Make sure to keep your discharge line clear and covered, as it can get clogged with debris or freeze in the winter season. 
  • Test the sump pump. An easy way to ensure your sump pump is functional is to periodically test it. Simply dump a bucket of water into the sump until the float switch rises, and wait for it to turn on.
  • Check the power cord. Your sump pump relies on electricity to function, so it’s important to make sure it’s plugged in properly. If the power cord looks damaged, replace it immediately.

Nobody Wants a Flooded Basement

Flooding is any homeowner’s worst nightmare, especially when it’s usually an avoidable problem. Maintaining your sump pump keeps your basement dry, and foundation free from water damage. Sump pumps aren’t built to last forever, however, and can wear down over time. Whether you’re due for inspection or need a replacement, you’ll need the help of a licensed plumber. Keep your home dry, by calling a plumber today.

Call MillTown today and get your plumbing checkup this Spring!

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By Milltown Plumbing

Have an Old House? You Probably Have Old Plumbing

Have an Old House? You Probably Have Old Plumbing

  • Electrical
old plumbing

Many people choose to buy older homes due to their inherent character and charm. However when it comes to your older homes plumbing system, you must consider the problems you may encounter. Being well informed about old plumbing systems equips you with a necessary tool in your older home buyer arsenal.

Benefit From a Proactive Approach

There are many advantages to being on top of these issues. Having a professional you trust complete a thorough investigation of your system will save you from future problems. Consider that avoiding this critical knowledge may lead to damage to your home in the event of a plumbing crisis. Your loved ones may hurt themselves as a result of faulty plumbing. Other utilities in your home may be used inefficiently causing increased costs all due to problematic plumbing. You may have to repair walls and floors, replace furnishings, carpets and possessions in the event of leaking or flooding.

That little noise may be nothing but it could be the beginning of a major plumbing issue. Some plumbing problems come with a warning like a small leak, a noisy toilet, a slow flush. Unfortunately many more plumbing problems are upon you with no warning whatsoever. Suddenly you are impacted by a deluge of water, raw sewage, or both. Though your homes’ plumbing will receive a cursory review during the inspection, in order to completely avoid problems, if permissible ask your real estate agent and the previous homeowner if you can have a plumber assess the system. If you want the home regardless of the issues that may be present, be certain to have the plumbing evaluated as soon as possible after purchase.

Every problematic plumbing issue is different and the best course of action entails many variables and should only be determined by a professional. Major plumbing problems are not a DIY issue. In some cases the entire line must be replaced or your home may have to be excavated to see the problem and remedy them. There are cameras that can be put into the line to show a professional exactly where the problem lies. The problems are not avoidable and will not go away on their own. Below you will find eight of the most common plumbing issues you may encounter as the new owner of an older dwelling.  

There’s Water, and There’s Raw Sewage

If your home was built before the 1960’s, it is a good chance that galvanized plumbing was installed in it. Galvanized plumbing includes pipes made of steel with an added layer of zinc as a protection. The problem with galvanized plumbing systems is that zinc erosion occurs following several decades of use. Water pressure decreases as a result and the quality of the water is compromise. Eventually the plumbing is rendered useless.

Following the use of galvanized piping, builders began using polybutylene plumbing in the late seventies to mid 1990’s. Experts relate that over time the plastic begins to fail forming small cracks and fissures. The culprit is chlorine and other oxidants that are found in the public water supply. The structural problems that result may have a sudden onset and cause major damage.

Used mainly as the connector between the outside service lines and your home, lead service lines pose a significant risk to water quality as the lead often leaches into the water supply due in part to chemicals. It is a good idea to have your water supplier come out and test your tap water. If you indeed have lead in your water the service lines must be replaced.

If you have a belly in your sewer line that means that the line was not bedded or set correctly upon installation. Simply put bedding is the process of correctly adjusting the surrounding area of where the pipe is laid. A belly or dip in the line is a sagging place in the piping system. This sag allows for sewage or sediments to settle and clog the line and restrict the flow.

Many older homes may have been built with concrete or cast iron pipes. Cast iron is only durable for 20 to 30 years. The iron starts to wear away over time and eventually completely disintegrates, soil erosion occurs as a result. While concrete last for a much longer period of time, problems occur with them due to the natural shifting of the home and the movement of the ground. These rigid systems can be hard to locate if they were installed under the home. The house may have settled on top of the now disintegrating cast iron or concrete piping.

Sewer lines and systems, pipe and fixture corrosion, and outdated and unserviceable lines angle stops and shut-off valves are also common plumbing crisis’ that you may face in your older home. Your municipality is only responsible for your plumbing where it meets the street. It is important to check with them to make sure they have updated the leads to your home since corrosive elements enter your plumbing via the public works. Corrosive elements and wear and tear over decades has a devastating effect on shut-off valves and angle stops since sediments settle in the twists and turns of both. The ease in replacing them depends on their location. Some lines are unserviceable and must be managed and under constant maintenance by a professional. 

Call MillTown today and fix any old plumbing issues in your home today!

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By Milltown Plumbing

How to Save on HVAC During the Spring

How to Save on HVAC During the Spring

  • Heating

The snow may melt away at the beginning of spring, but that doesn’t mean the HVAC bills will go away with it. Once the weather starts to warm up, many people turn to their air conditioners to stay comfortable.

Unfortunately, bad care habits and poor maintenance of your HVAC system can lead to inflated utility bills, inefficient heating and cooling, and a shorter system lifespan. In this article, we’ll cover the ways that basic HVAC maintenance and smart use of your air conditioner this spring  can help control spending on your air conditioner and heater, leading to a longer service life for your home’s HVAC system. We can help you save money on HVAC and feel less stress this spring!

1. Regulate Your Thermostat

Keeping the thermostat on a low temperature when running the air conditioner forces the air conditioner to work extra hard to cool your home. Keeping your thermostat at 78 degrees during the warmer months will minimize your use of the air conditioner and reduce the strain on the appliance. If possible, you may even try to set the thermostat to a temperature higher than 78 degrees to see if you can stay comfortable in your home. If 79 or 80 degrees is too warm, you can always turn it back down again.

2. Get an Air Conditioner Tune-Up

Get your air conditioner serviced once a year at the beginning of the warm-weather season. Your HVAC repair person will clean and inspect the wiring and mechanical parts, check for wear and tear and make recommendations for repair. Getting a tune-up can help improve the efficiency of the system and prevent breakdowns, ensuring that your air conditioner will be operating at optimal levels throughout the cooling season.

3. Open the Windows at Night

Temperatures drop at night, especially in the spring and the earlier part of the cooling season. You can reduce your use of the air conditioner by turning it off at night and opening the windows in the evening. To make your job easier, try programming the thermostat to turn off every night at the same time, and program the thermostat to turn on every morning after you wake. This way, you won’t need to touch the air conditioner at all and can instead focus your energy on keeping the windows open or closed.

4. Limit Stove and Oven Use

Using the stove and oven can heat up your kitchen and spread heat throughout the house, putting more pressure on the air conditioner. Limiting your use of the oven and stove can help control this problem. Avoid turning on the oven before it’s needed, and make a habit of turning off the oven as soon as you’ve pulled out the food.

Whenever possible, use an electric kettle or pot to heat liquids instead of an open flame on the stove. Keep the lid on pots of water as they boil to avoid filling the room with steam. When you are using the oven or stove, turn on the vents in your kitchen to pull the warm air out of the room.

5. Invest In Energy Efficient HVAC Systems

Air conditioners rated by the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program are among the most efficient, eco-friendly air conditioners on the market. Look for the ENERGY STAR label on all air conditioners when shopping for a new unit. Using an ENERGY STAR rated air conditioner will help keep your utility bills down throughout the spring and summer.

6. Seal Air Leaks

Air leaks in your air ducts can release cool air into parts of your home that you don’t inhabit, like the attic. Sealing the ducts ensures that the cool air coming from your air conditioner only goes into the living spaces parts of your home. If you’re not sure how to find air leaks in your ducts or if you don’t feel comfortable doing this on your own, contact your HVAC contractor for assistance. Your HVAC repair person can help you repair your ducts to improve the efficiency of your HVAC system.

7. Repair Furnace Issues Before the Season Begins

Your furnace and air conditioner use the same blower and air ducts. If you’ve been having problems with your furnace this winter, your air conditioner could be affected as well. Repairing your furnace now will help ensure that your HVAC system is ready to go when the cooling season begins.

Remember: the temperatures outdoors may go up this spring, but your energy bills don’t have to. Following the tips above will help you keep your air conditioner fast and efficient. For more information about the various ways that you can help keep your air conditioner and furnace working well throughout the year, contact your HVAC contractor today. Getting advice from a knowledgeable professional can help you keep your air conditioner and furnace in good repair.

Call MillTown today and get your HVAC checkup this Spring!

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By Milltown Plumbing