Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes

Being prepared and informed may help you to avoid the messy and often expensive issue of frozen pipes. Rocket Plumbing provides information and suggestions around how to prevent water pipes in the home from freezing, and how to thaw them if they do freeze.

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Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem

Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the “strength” of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.
Preventing Frozen Pipes

Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of these water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:

Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.

During Cold Weather, Take Preventative Action

Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

To Thaw Frozen Pipes

If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

Future Protection

Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.
Pipes can be relocated by a professional if the home is remodeled.
Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
For more information, please contact a licensed plumber or building professional.

Hot Water Heater Hook-Ups Made Easy

Hooking up a hot water heater is one of the most common home repair jobs there is. However if you don’t know what you are doing, or don’t know the first thing about hot water heaters, well then you could be in hot water…quite literally.

But installing a hot water heater can actually be a rather easy thing to learn. You just have to make sure you read all the directions before you start so you don’t get in over your head before you even start. The last thing you want to do is realize you can’t do this and then be stuck without any hot water!

The first thing you have to do is the most obvious. You have to disconnect and remove your old hot water heater. Doing this is pretty easy. You just have to be careful. Remember it is full of hot water still.

So, first turn off your gas or electricity that is connected to that water heater. You will then need to drain the water from the old unit. There should be a drain valve located on it.

On a gas heater, separate the vent pipe from the draft hood. The hood should lift off after you remove the sheet metal screw that holds it. After checking that the pilot light is out, disconnect the gas line at the heater and cap it.

Next remove the water heater from the water pipes. Be careful when doing this because the pipes may still have hot water in them. This water is hot enough to burn you if you are not careful.

You may need some pipe wrenches to get some of them off, but there should not be many connected so this step should not take too much time or effort. You may now take out the old hot water heater and throw it away.

Many local and state laws have certain restrictions on the disposal of these, so check with the local authorities on the disposal requirements.

Now that you have the old unit out, it is time to install the new unit. Move your new hot water heater to its new home by using a dolly. You don’t want to “walk” it or drag it. There are delicate parts inside that can be damaged if it is jolted or subjected to too much shock.

Position your new heater so that the pipes will easily reach it. If you are using gas, you want to be especially careful that the gas pipe can reach easily to avoid any potentially dangerous gas leaks.

Next connect the hot and cold water. This is usually a simple process of connecting the new water heater to the same connections as the old water heater. Then you connect the third pipe to the main water line that distributes the water to the rest of the house.

Refer to the user manual if there are no connections, or if you are confused as to which pipe goes where. This is the most common mistake made in installing a hot water heater. If you turn on the water and your cold water turns hot, and your hot water never heats up, go and switch the pipes.

Next you need to locate the relief valve on your newly connected hot water heater. The temperature and pressure relief valve is a very important part of your hot water system.

The relief system releases excess heat and pressure automatically so that your hot water heater does not explode. It is a very important and a valuable safety feature that comes standard on all hot water heaters.

The last step in connecting your new hot water heater is connecting it to the power. You have to connect it either to the gas line or the electricity for it to heat the water. Refer to the instruction manual on how to do this.

If you follow the directions there is no reason that you can not successfully connect your new hot water heater. It is a fairly easy job. It just takes a little time and patience and anyone can do it. It is simply a matter of reconnecting to the new hot water heater, everything that you disconnected from the old one.

Five Main Things to Know before Buying New Tub

Some people will walk into a home improvement store expecting to walk out with a new bathtub. However, they did not think of all that entails which deciding to purchase and install a new tub.

On the other hand, there are people like you who are reading articles like this. That is a very good thing. You are one of the persons who will be able to make an educated decision about buying a bathtub.

Five things should come to mind when choosing a bathtub. Those five things are listed and described as follows:

Know the dimensions of your bathroom.

In order to make an educated decision in purchasing a bathtub, you should the length and width measurements of your bathroom. You should also know how high the ceiling is from the ground.

Also you should multiply the length of the bathroom by the width of it, to give you the total square feet. This will help you determine approximately what size your tub should come in. Also, it will determine how high from the ground it will be raised.

Know the dimensions of where your bathtub will go.

Once you have measured the total square feet of your bathroom. You should decide how much space you want your tub to use. Some people d not mind if the bath tub takes up most of the space in the bathroom. Yet others will be concerned about it.

Frequently Asked Plumber Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Top 10 Plumbing Questions Our Customers Ask Us

1. “I REALLY need someone NOW, but I can’t take time-off from work. What do I do? ”

We offer our customers convenient evening and week-end hours and will be happy to come-out when you want us to. If you have an immediate plumbing emergency, please Click Here for our emergency shut-off procedure. Then call us at (773) 219-1200 to schedule an appointment.

2. “A real plumber in the city with evening and week-end hours? How much more does that cost? ”

No matter when you need us, our trip fee is always $35 all day, everyday. We understand that no one plans emergencies. We’re just happy to help.

3. “What areas do you service?”

Typically, we service the North Shore and Near North Side. Please call to check availability.

4. “Okay, I’m sold. How soon can you be here?”

Normally, we can send a plumber out the same day. Certain emergencies have immediate
priority. Please call us at (773) 219-1200 for availability.

5. “Can you provide me with an estimate before you arrive and look at the problem? ”

We prefer to provide estimates after a thorough review of your property. Without seeing your problem, it is difficult to determine a price because it is impossible to diagnose a problem without a visual inspection. But, we can give you an average of what a typical repair costs and give you an estimate once we view the problem.

However, in some cases we are to provide estimates based off of e-mailed
digital photos. Be sure that you have several shots of the area (in decent lighting) along with any other pertinent information. Give us a call and then email your photos and reference your last name in the subject line.

6. “Do you install tankless hot water heaters?”

Yes

7. “Will you install our fixtures for us?”

Yes

8. “How much do I pay for estimates?”

Our trip fee of $35.

9. “I have never had to call a plumber before, what should I expect?”

Rocket Plumbing is serious about customer service and safety. We background check and drug screen every employee to ensure we have the best personnel in your home. Your first interaction with our company will be a friendly voice of one of our professional customer service people eager to assist you in setting up an appointment. Our technician will call you before heading to your home to ensure you are home and to let you know who is coming.

10. “Why are you different? Why are you better?”

We won’t quit until your problem is solved and you are satisfied.

Were your questions not already asked?

Feel free to go to this link to get more questions asked: Rocket Plumbing Chicago

Get Your Plumbing Ready for Spring!

Are Your Pipes and Plumbing Ready?

Spring is finally here, and with it comes the promise of warmer temperatures and an end to harsh winter weather! People associate spring with cleaning, but what about the rest of your home? Your plumbing, for example, can use a little TLC following the extreme cold this past winter. Rocket Plumbing has got you covered for all your spring plumbing needs. Read on to find out how to get your plumbing in prime condition for spring.

 

Check for Leaky Pipes

Usually, when a pipe freezes and bursts due to extreme cold temperatures, it’s pretty hard to miss! However, some small leaks can fly under the radar, causing accumulation of water that can cause major damage if left untreated. Go through your home and check for any evidence of leaks on your floors, walls and ceiling, including wet spots, sagging or unexplained moisture. If you spot anything out of the ordinary, call a plumber right away to fix the issue before it gets worse.

 

Check Water Pressure

Another indicator of a possible leaky pipe following winter weather is a change in water pressure. To find out if your water pressure is suffering from an undetected issue, have a look at your water meter before going to bed at night, and then check it again in the morning before any water usage has occurred. If the number has changed, this is a clue that there may be a leak somewhere in your plumbing, and you’ll want to get it checked out without delay.

 

Check Toilets and Sinks

Simply glancing around your bathrooms and looking for leaks coming from your toilets or sinks can save you a world of trouble. Here’s a neat way to check for toilet leaks: add a couple drops of food coloring to your toilet tank. If you see the color enter the water in the toilet bowl, you likely have a leak. Calling a pro to assist you with leaks in your toilets and sinks can help save you a lot of stress and time, while ensuring that the job gets done properly.

 

Check Water Heater

Inspect your water heater for leaks, corrosion, rust, or sediment buildup. Also make sure that the temperature is set no higher than 120 degrees to avoid scalding injuries as well as reduce energy usage. If your water heater is older than 15 years of age, now may be a good time to consider replacing it before it fails.

 

Check Pipes

Pour a couple gallons of hot water down any drains in your home that are not used regularly. This will help flush out any debris or blockages that may be lurking within the pipes. If any of your drains appear to be clogged, snake them to ensure that they function properly.

 

Check Appliances

Finally, give all appliances that use water, such as your washing machine, dishwasher and refrigerator ice maker, a once-over to make sure there are no telltale signs of trouble, such as bulging hoses or leaks. If you spot anything, call a plumber or appliance service technician to fix the issue quickly.

Rocket Plumbing is here to help you with your plumbing needs any time of year! We are Chicago’s preferred plumbing service, and offer quick, affordable repair of just about any plumbing issue whenever you need us most! Call Rocket Plumbing today at 773-219-1200 for expert, same-day service you can trust!

Biggest Plumbing Myths

Residents in the Chicago area, as in other parts of the world, often believe their home plumbing system is one big mystery while others simply take it for granted.  At Rocket Plumbing, we often help our customers understand all that is involved in their plumbing system—including dispelling any myths, so they can help maintain their system while avoiding any unnecessary wear and tear.  

A few of the most common myths we discuss with our Chicago residents are:

 

  • The tighter a faucet handle is closed, the better—This is not only not true, but can be very damaging. Tightening the faucet handle too tightly is the number one cause of leaks and can actually cause pipes to break.  
  • With enough water, anything can be put down a garbage disposal—Wrong. People are often surprised at the long list of items that should never be put down a garbage disposal. These include onion skins and any fibrous foods because these substances can wrap around the grinding teeth and create a cloggy mess. Potato peels, meat fat, grease, oil, pasta, and even an eggshell’s membrane can also coat the disposal grinder with a film that eventually dulls the teeth and becomes odorous.
  • Water pressure is more of an inconvenience rather than a real problem—Nothing could be further from the truth. Low water pressure and high water pressure are both signs that something is wrong and should be corrected before bigger problems result.
  • Any kind of moist wipe can be flushed down a toilet—No, no, no, no. Unless specified, unlike toilet paper, moist wipes are not biodegradable and will, in time, end up plugging a toilet. Flushing wipes down a toilet is often be compared to flushing a sock down the toilet; both are wrong and can cause huge problems.
  • Lemon is a wonderful, natural way to freshen up a garbage disposal —incorrect, as well. A lemon could be a great and natural way to freshen a disposal if the lemon peel and wasn’t so damaging to the disposal.
  • A leaky faucet is not a problem—this could be true, if you don’t mind receiving a huge water bill. In fact, nationwide, leaky faucets are responsible for 1 trillion gallons of water waste. A faucet that leaks is a faucet that needs to be fixed to avoid bigger problems.
  • There is no difference between a handyman and a plumber—Plumbers and handymen are like apples and oranges. Plumbers have a plumber’s license, usually after a four-year apprenticeship and nine years of field training. And, in some states, it is illegal for a handyman to provide any plumbing services because of the complexities surrounding a plumbing system.

 

Your home is too big of an asset to take your plumbing needs for granted. Speak with an expert today, at Rocket Plumbers, about what we can to help keep you and your house safe.  

 

Avoid Leaking Pipes this Winter

Winter Tips from Rocket Plumbing

With winter around the corner and temperatures in Chicago getting cooler, it’s important to get your home ready for the frigid months ahead. One of the key areas of your home that needs to be winterized is your plumbing. In order to avoid the cost and inconvenience of leaking or bursting pipes this winter, follow these Rocket Plumbing tips and make sure your plumbing is protected for the deep freeze ahead.

  1. Protect your exposed pipes– Wrapping your un-insulated pipes with foam tubes from your local hardware store can help keep water inside from freezing, which causes pipes to burst. Make sure to duct tape around the tubes if they do not come with adhesive edges, to keep them from slipping off.
  2. Take care of your water heater- If you have an older model water heater located in your basement or another unheated area of the house, it’s just as subject to freezing and bursting as your pipes are. Make sure to inspect your water heater throughout the winter months, and replace it immediately if you see any bends, bulges or cracks, or if you detect rust in the water.
  3. Drain outside supply pipes– If water is left in your outdoor supply lines, they can freeze and spread into your indoor pipes, causing potential disaster! The best way to avoid this situation is to drain your outdoor supply pipes after closing the shut-off valves that supply them with water. Make sure to keep the outside valves open so any water left inside the pipes can expand if it freezes, and don’t forget to disconnect your garden hose.
  4. Take precautions before traveling- If you are going out of town for the holidays, be sure to shut off your main water supply valve, open your faucets and flush every toilet in the house to drain all the water from your pipes before you leave. If you will be gone for an extended period, it is also a good idea to drain the water heater. This will help prevent you from coming home to a flooded home.
  5. Open cabinets and close garage doors– One of the best ways to ensure that your indoor pipes stay warm enough is to open the cabinet doors under all of your sinks. This will allow the warm air in your house to heat them, preventing them from freezing. It is also a good idea to make sure your garage door stays closed at all times, in order to keep out the cold air.

We all know how cold the winters can get here in Chicago. Rocket Plumbing can help you with winterizing your pipes for the cold months ahead. Call today to speak with one of our experienced plumbing crew or to schedule an appointment.

Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes

Being prepared and informed may help you to avoid the messy and often expensive issue of frozen pipes. Rocket Plumbing provides information and suggestions around how to prevent water pipes in the home from freezing, and how to thaw them if they do freeze.

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Rocket Plumbing Now

3105 N. Ashland Avenue

Chicago, IL 60657

(773) 219-1200