Friday, 9 February 2018

Frozen Pipes

While winters in London, Ontario are generally mild, we do endure nasty cold snaps. When temperatures get down to -15°C frozen pipes become a problem in many homes.

Based on decades of winter experience, Salmon Plumbing & Heating have a list of suggestions for home owners to prevent frozen pipes, which can split causing considerable damage to your home.

When the temperature dips below -10°C:

  1. Do not turn the heat down. Now is not the time to conserve energy.
  2. Expose your pipes to air. Often pipes that run through crawl spaces or are tucked inside of basement vanities. These areas tend to be much cooler than the rest of your home. Open these areas up to the warmth so that the water does not freeze in the lines. Also, be aware of any holes in the wall that allow frigid winter air to enter. We've seen frozen lines 10 feet inside of a house because of a small hole in a basement wall.
  3. Know how to shut off your water. If there is water showing up in the wrong place you need to know where the shutoff valve is and how to shut the water off quickly to limit the damage. Learn about shutoffs at by clicking here.
  4. Do Not ignore water that is not running properly. If a tap goes from running like a charm to trickling or nothing it probably means the line is frozen somewhere. If you react quickly you may be able to prevent the line from bursting. Get warm air on the pipes as soon as you can.
  5. Pipes that run along exterior walls are extremely vulnerable. Good plumbing practice is to run lines near the centre of the house. Unfortunately, re-modelled homes often have lines running through exterior walls, which creates a potential problem.
  6. Shut off and drain your supply lines for your outdoor taps in the fall. These are a common source of problems when the temperature drops.
  7. Plastic Plumbing. Many newer and renovated homes have plastic rather than copper lines. When plastic freezes it is much less likely to burst. Unfortunately, if the plastic line does freeze you cannot apply electricity to thaw the line (as you can with copper) and you may have to pry off wall panels or ceiling tiles to get to the source of the problem.
  8. Shut off your water when you are on vacation and have somebody check your home every few days.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

DIY Plumbing, Mistakes Can Be Costly

The big box stores are offering a wide range of plumbing products. The home handyman will find plumbing products being marketed directly to the DIY customer. Plumbers are highly skilled professionals and not everything we do is as easy as it may look. We often get called out to fix do-it-yourself (DIY) projects that have gone wrong.

Plumbing can be divided into two broad categories. Supply side deals with pipes that are under pressure, delivering water to your faucets and appliances. Drainage side deals with getting rid of waste water.

Supply side plumbing is very critical to get right. The City of London has excellent water pressure and a small leak in a supply side pipe can cause a lot of expensive damage. Drainage problems can be costly as well. Common DIY problems include improper venting and incorrect grade. This can lead to slow running or blocked drains.

The plumbing in your home is often hidden behind drywall or other finished surfaces. Quite often, a big part of the repair cost is restoring the finished surface.

DIY Plumbing Products

The DIY plumbing products being offered are designed for the homeowner that probably will not own the torches, cutting tools, etc. that a professional will carry. Manufacturers have created compression fittings and push-on fittings. If you don’t strictly adhere to the instructions, connections can pop apart days or weeks down the road. You can end up with a slow leak, some spray or a full blown gusher. Plumbing is often hidden in walls or cabinets. You usually don’t find out about leaks until it is too late. It’s critical to do it right the first time.

Home owners working with products like copper or pex pipes, really need to know what they are doing. Soldering copper pipe is a skill that professionals are trained to do properly. Improper soldering may look like it’s working, but can start leaking days later. Plastic pipes look similar but are not all the same, there are a wide variety of glues and fittings that vary from one manufacturer to the other.

At Salmon Plumbing, we use copper pipe almost exclusively for supply side plumbing. When we install a toilet or faucet, we’ll also install shut-off valves. If there ever is a problem with the toilet or faucet, you can simply use the shut-off valve to isolate the problem. Otherwise, you would have to shut down the water for the entire house.

Plumbing is an area where mistakes can be very costly. A leaking water pipe can damage walls, floors and furniture very quickly. For the majority of homeowners, plumbing is a job best left to a professional.