Question:

Good morning.

I’m curious, how long do water heaters last? Mine is 15 years old, my basement is finished, and I have carpet down there.

-Gary S.-

Answer:

Good morning Gary, the life expectancy of a water heater is 8-10 years. Every day after eight years is a blessing! Your kind of living on borrowed time at 15. They are warranted for one year on parts and six years on the tank. When I first got into the trades, life expectancy was about 16-18 years. To keep costs down, the manufacturers have “cheapened” them up a bit. Commercial heaters have a warranty of only 1 year, 3 years tops. Give us a call and we can change that out for you, before disaster hits that carpet!

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

Good morning....- My spouse and I purchased a house recently that had been sitting vacant for about one year. EVERY TIME we do laundry, the floor drain backs up but that water goes back down relatively quickly. It’s not that bad, but after it happens and we have to go retrieve the laundry, our shoes or slippers get wet and we traipse it up the stairway carpet. Can something be done about this? - Jennifer

Answer:

Good morning Jennifer, Your sewer is partially plugged. Usually the kitchen sink is plumbed on the same line as the laundry, and in many plumbing schemes, grease and food get thrown down the kitchen drain. The grease has a tendency to adhere to the side walls of the waste line, and over time, choke the diameter of the sewer line down. The laundry discharges a lot of water at one time and can result in a back up but will eventually drain down completely. Grease should NEVER be disposed of in your drains or in the sewer, however, in the event it does, it should be run down with ICE cold water. This way the grease would go down the drain in the form of little balls rather than adhering to the side walls of the pipe. Call us and we can keep your feet dry and stairway carpet clean!

-Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

I have a question, my bathroom toilet has a tendency to get loose and rock slightly. I can tighten it, but I don’t want to tighten it too tight and crack the toilet. I seem to tighten it about once a month. There has got to be another or better and more permanent way to deal with this! - Andrew J

Answer: 

Hi Andrew , First of all, a toilet is porcelain, it is heated in a kiln at thousands of degrees in temperature. They have a tendency to warp a bit and they are not all perfect. Sometimes they don’t set squarely on the floor, and may rock a bit as you describe. I always try to use shims of sheet lead to shim the toilet, and try to obtain a much more sturdy three point stance. i.e. a three legged chair never rocks. Once it is more squarely set, I then tighten down the toilet. Depending on the type of floor, I also try to use grout to seal the toilet to the floor and hide the shims. In the event you need help with that give us a call, our plumbers all do a good job with that!

-Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

Good morning - I get water coming up through the cracks in my basement floor sometimes even though my sewer isn’t plugged. What’s going on there?

- Kevin F

Answer: 

Hi Kevin, In the event water comes up through cracks in the floor, that could be one of a couple problems. If your sump crock does not have water in it, or if you don’t have a sump pump, certain things come to mind. First, if you do not have water to the top in your sump pump, this tells me that the drain tile running the inner perimeter of the basement below the floor, could be plugged. This can be caused by silty soil or sandy soil, used to back fill tile upon the construction of the home. If you don’t have a sump pump/crock, this tells me it’s an older home and the ground water would often drain into the sanitary sewer line. This is done by the means of a Palmer valve. A Palmer valve is basically a hinged door on a piece of pipe on the floor drain. That hinge has a tendency to seize in the closed position. We should actually come out and investigate and resolve this for you. I would strongly recommend you give us a call to come out and take a look. This may be a little beyond a home remedy!

-Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Temperatures are dropping - our awesome HVAC team is here and ready to take care of you! Give us a call 262-989-1001 and PLEASE share this post so we can take care of your friends and family too! Building Waters doesn't want anyone left "out in the cold".

During these extremely cold days ahead, we recommend that you leave your thermostat set at a constant temperature in place of using the programmed settings such as having it turn down at night or while you are away. If you would like to change the setting make small adjustments, in 1 or 2 degree increments only.

Question:

Hello - I have a thermostat on my first floor living area and I also have a thermostat in my basement. Is that normal? Why is that and how does that work?

- Carol S

Answer:

Hi Carol, Great question Carol! It sounds like you have a zone system. The basement was likely remodeled and a zone system was installed to keep each area comfortable. Each thermostat is connected to a zone control panel, allowing the panel to operate the furnace and air conditioner. There is also a series of dampers installed in the duct work that will open and close depending on which thermostat is asking for an adjustment or change in temp. You cannot, however, have one thermostat set for AC and one for heat, but you can have those areas set to different temperatures. This is often done in homes with first and second floors as well. Lower floors and basements are naturally cooler than second floors, etc.

-Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

House feeling a little chilly or dry? Furnace, boiler or even your radiators not as warm as usual? Thermostat not working? Looking at adding some type of air purifying system to keep your household healthier? GIVE US A CALL!!!!! WE CAN HELP!!!! 262-989-1001

Question:

In an effort to save money and time, I just bought a new toilet and tried to install it myself, however, the toilet tank sits about 3 inches away from the wall. My previous toilet tank sat flush against the wall. How can I fix this problem or get it to sit closer to the wall? The toilet looks a little silly sitting out that far from the wall.

- Jerry C

Answer: 

Hi Jerry, It sounds to me like you have a 10 inch rough-in toilet. Standard toilets in the industry are a 12 inch rough-in. The determining factor is the “rough-in” measurement from the holes at the base of the toilet to the back wall, that measurement should be 12 inches. For one reason or another, usually due to a joist in the way below the bathroom floor, that distance will be piped at 10 inches from the wall. In this case a different toilet needs to be used. The toilet you bought is likely a ten inch rough-in and you need a twelve inch rough-in. If there is any way we can help with getting you the correct toilet for your situation please let me know. We don’t want anyone’s toilet to look silly.

-Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

Good morning! My husband and I just made a purchase of a new refrigerator, it has a water dispenser, we have a kit to hook up the water to it, but it has a clamp type thing with a T handle valve? My question is, do we drill a hole in the pipe or how does that work?

- Carey J

 Answer:  

Good morning Carey! The kit that came with the refrigerator is actually illegal in the state of Wisconsin, and that T handle valve you have is actually called a needle valve. There is a needle in the valve that punctures the pipe to allow water to flow. The needle itself is not a state approved material, and not allowed to be used in a potable water system, so a tee is to be installed in-line of a cold waterline. With a different type of valve, that IS approved, that kit also comes with a poly hose. The hose works, but, over time, starts to get brittle and break, causing financial damage, due to the chlorine in the water! We like to use copper instead however, copper costs more, the poly hose and copper are both legal, copper is just our personal preference. Call us to help you out and install this correctly for you!

-Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

  • So our garbage disposal ‘Advice Column’ worked so well, we decided to try it again regarding outdoor hose bibbs/spigots/ faucets (or whatever you prefer to call them) and getting them ready for winter.
  • First of all, you need to disconnect and PUT AWAY the hoses. We have been lucky with our 40-degree temps lately but freezing temps are coming soon.
  • Next, turn off the valve to the hose bibb, drain all the water out, and then turn off those faucets completely. If there is any leaking inside or out, please call us to come and get that fixed before the cold.
  • Finally, you need to check the area around the hose bibb and pipe and make sure it is insulated or sealed so that cold air can’t get in and freeze that pipe, causing you to have to replace it in the spring. We are certainly happy and available to do that if needed.
  • We suggest using caulk, NOT plumbers’ putty, plastic, or old rags and towels.
  • We hope this helps save you some worries and a call to your favorite plumber next Spring. Relax and enjoy a drive-thru car wash and not having to water the lawn or flowers for a few months.
  • Remember Building Waters is here to service all of your heating needs this winter if you need to “crank up your cozy”. Happy December!

So this week we are going to answer our most commonly asked Thanksgiving week question before you ask it!

When preparing your wonderful Thanksgiving meals remember these tips regarding your garbage disposal:

  • No, or only a few, potato peels, apple peels or egg shells.
  • No large amounts of pasta, dough or rice.
  • Always put stuff down in smaller quantities WITH water running - do NOT stuff it full and then hit the button.
  • If you can’t chew it with your teeth don’t feed it to your disposal (bones, cinnamon sticks, spoons, etc.)

The pipe that runs to your garbage disposal is only 1-1/2” in diameter so be reasonable with what you think that poor little disposal can handle. We hope this helps save you some headaches and a call to your favorite plumber, and makes for easy clean-up following Thanksgiving dinner. Relax and enjoy the dessert!

Everyone at Building Waters wishes you a happy, safe, and healthy Thanksgiving holiday!

Question:

Every year I have to bleed my radiators. Is this normal? Does everyone have to do this?

- Steve

Answer:

Old systems have a non-bladder style expansion tank. Most of these pumps were installed on the return line to the boiler so that the pump could draw the air from the tank. Also, when the system cools down in the spring, the pressure can drop in the system allowing new water to enter, which will introduce air. Newer systems are installed differently with air separators and bladder style expansion tanks that will help to minimize air in the system. You are definitely not the only one having to do this Steve, and it is good that you do. Thanks for the question.

- Dan Miller, VP / HVAC Division Manager

Question:

Is it OK to close off vents (heating) in rooms we don’t use?

- Andy A

Answer:

It is reasonable to think that your system will be more efficient if you don’t heat unoccupied space. However, ductwork is sized to the original equipment that was installed. In a lot of cases the duct work installed in an older home is not sized adequately for today’s high efficient furnaces. Closing off vents further restrict the airflow and can and will cause problems with the furnace. Even in a newer home with properly sized ductwork I would be cautious to close off registers. It is always better to consult a professional that can help you balance your system properly. We are always here to help Andy.

- Dan Miller, VP / HVAC Division Manager

Question:

How often does my boiler need cleaning?

– Karen

Answer:

Great timing on this question Karen. We recommend that your boiler be serviced annually. Depending on the type of boiler you have, there are many things that will need attention. Most basic cast iron boilers are very simple to maintain. Over time, the burners and heat exchanger will need to be brushed out to maintain the peak efficiency and keep them operating safely. If left neglected, it may take a technician several hours to clean it when it stops working or starts creating high levels of carbon monoxide. We are here to take care of all of your heating, cooling, and plumbing needs.

- Dan Miller, VP / HVAC Division Manager

Question:

My husband just put in a new water heater for our home. I was told to preserve the longevity of the new heater; you should drain it once a year ... is that correct or helpful? And is there anything else we can or should do as preventive maintenance to preserve the life of the water heater?

- Janna S

Answer:

Hi Janna, I get calls on this all the time! I don’t think draining is the word I would use, I would say “flush” the heater. To do that, you would just hook up a hose at the bottom of the heater and open that hose bib on the heater. I would take the other end of the hose and discharge the water into a floor drain for approximately 10 minutes or until you see clear water. Draining the heater is misconstrued by shutting off the heater, draining the water, and then opening all valves and putting it back into service. The problem with draining the heater is this; once the water is shut off, the water is air locked in the heater and it could take a day to drain. We want to use the water pressure from the municipality to flush the heater, so we don’t want to shut off the valves on the heater. We want to put the hose on the hose bib and blow the accumulated line rust, etc. out of the heater. As for other things you can do there really isn’t much else, we can do except to keep the area clear of clutter around the base of the heater. Thanks for the question Janna. If you have any other questions, please feel free to call! We are here to help with all of your plumbing, heating, and cooling needs.

 - Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

Wondering if you would recommend or if it is a good idea to get a cover for my Central Air Conditioning unit for the winter?

 - Lee  

Answer:

For starters, those A/C units are designed to be outdoors so covering them is really not needed. Following are a few reasons why not to cover it. If you wrap it tightly you will create the perfect home for critters to nest inside of and keep warm there for the winter. Not a good situation. If you cover the unit with a kind of material that doesn’t breathe, you will trap moisture that can cause your unit to rust. Also, not a good situation. Finally, there is a chance that you would get a warm day in early spring that could cause the A/C to turn on inadvertently while still covered and that could cause damage to the system requiring repair. When all things are considered and from our perspective, we would NOT recommend covering your Central Air unit for the winter. Thanks for a great and timely question Lee! Please call us for all your HVAC and plumbing needs.

 - Dan Miller, VP / HVAC Division Manager

Question:

I have been tempted to turn on my heat a couple times recently, but am wondering if I should have my furnace checked before I do that??

- Ron & Mary

Answer:

Having your furnace serviced annually by a professional is always recommended. These furnace checks can be done at any time of year, but prior to cold weather is just a good idea to avoid any surprises when you really need your heat. As your system ages, especially with high efficiency furnaces, it will need some attention. Inspecting the heat exchanger and carbon monoxide is one of the biggest concerns we hear from our customers, but there are other things such as condensate drain, filters, and venting, etc. that should be cleaned and inspected by a professional as well. Back in the day, you would be able to replace the thermocouple and light the pilot and you would be fine, but the newer systems are much more advanced. Please call us to get scheduled to take care of all of your furnace needs before our Wisconsin winter weather arrives.

- Dan Miller, VP / HVAC Division Manager

Question:

What can I do to my heating system to protect my home from COVID-19?

 - Steve L

Answer:

There are many products offered in our industry to help with IAQ (Indoor Air Quality).

  • 1st - Make sure to get a quality Air Filter (Look at the MERV Rating or Efficiency)
  • 2nd - Install an Air Purifier such as an i-Wave that creates ions to capture particles and allow the filter to collect them from the air.

Studies have shown that it can fight against COVID-19 and lots of other airborne particles and illnesses, etc.! Please contact us if we can help you or you are interested in learning more.

 - Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

Good day! I recently had a new sump pump installed -- again. I went down to look at it yesterday and it already looks like it’s ten years old! There is this orange color sludge or jelly type coating on it. The last pump I had only lasted 4 months and I believe that maybe that orange sludge shortened its life. Upon replacement last time, the plumber had pointed out that the inner diameter of the discharge pipe was smaller due to the sludge adhering to the inner walls of the pipe about 1/8 inch thick. Got any suggestions? I’m afraid my drain tile will plug up or my pump will die again soon until I can get this figured out.

 - Dave W

Answer:

Morning Dave,

What you have is called iron ochre. It’s when there is a lot of iron mineral in the soil around your drain tile. When you have air, water, and iron bacteria in the water, it can form a sludge type consistency and that’s called iron hydroxide. Some people say you can’t get rid of it. Some people replace the inside drain tile around the whole perimeter of the home and backfill with an excessive amount of limestone. I’ve seen costs of 30k+ to have that performed. However, a less expensive route is to get a toilet brush and a product called Iron Out - liquid form is better. You take that iron out, mix with water, throw in the crock. Then use that toilet brush and scrub the sides of the crock, pump and float assembly. Another thing that can be performed is having clean outs placed on the corners of the basement (under the floor) and then you can periodically run a sewer rod through these clean outs to keep the drain tile open. I know this sounds like a lot of continuous work, but, it’s an existing and ongoing problem and you really can’t change it. The only other thing that can be done to not have to worry about it or work on it anymore is to pack your bags and move!

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Maintaining your furnace is crucial in optimizing system performance and efficiency. The efficiency of your furnace is greatly reduced when it is not maintained and kept clean of dust and dirt buildup. This buildup of debris can damage the electrical motors inside your furnace and corrode electrical connections, resulting in performance failure.

It is recommended that you have your furnace maintained annually by an HVAC professional before the heating season begins.

On a furnace “clean and check” you can expect these tests to be performed and recorded by your HVAC professional:

  • Examine electrical connections and ensure proper voltages and amperages  throughout the system
  • Examine and clean burner and pilot assembly & check iff they are  damaged or clogged with dirt particles
  • Examine and clean drain
  • Examine grills and registers for dirt and dust
  • Examine furnace thermostat
  • Examine furnace vent piping
  • Examine furnace ignition system for proper ignition sequence
  • Examine heat exchanger for rust or cracks
  • Examine and clean blower if excessive dirt buildup is present
  • Examine pilot thermocouple, if present
  • Measure for proper line gas pressure and manifold gas pressure
  • Perform combustion analysis test and make proper adjustments, if necessary

Question:

Good morning, That last rainfall/storm we had wreaked havoc in our home! We were even getting water coming through our basement walls! I’m looking to get a sump pump and crock installed in our home. We don’t have one now and are looking for an approximate cost on that, do you have a ballpark figure of what I may be looking at?

- Dave K

Answer:

Morning Dave,

I really don’t think you need a sump pump or crock! You’ve never had one before so apparently your house was designed with a different style of storm water removal. What I think you should do is call for an appointment for me to come out and look at your home. I get these calls often, and the majority of the time, if you have water coming through the “walls” it’s due to something else. Factors that are often easily and inexpensively remedied. Some of the factors are; a down spout came off or gutters need cleaning, but a more common cause is a grading problem. A lot of people like to plant things close to the house to enhance the outer decor, then they place a border of wood or rocks or something around the landscaping and ultimately terminate both ends of the border, back to the house walls. Most of the time, the grade inside that beautiful new border is lower than the grade of the surrounding grassy area. What a lot of homeowners don’t realize is that they just made a swimming pool next to the house and the water can’t escape or drain where it should. Give us a shout and I’ll come out and look at this with you. I’ll advise the right direction to take and I’m sure it will be a lot cheaper than putting in a sump crock and pump!

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

This week, we had storms and flash flooding in our community. My sump pump couldn’t keep up with the water and it flooded my basement. Can you advise me on what size of sump pump I should have? -

-  Anna P

Answer:

Good Morning Anna,

We only install a 1/3 horse power sump pumps. It pumps 2400 gallons per hour. It will suffice for use in almost any residential environment. Many people think that they need a bigger pump - like a 1/2 or 3/4 horse power. In the case of sump pumps, bigger is not better. If you have a bigger pump, the pump will pump out the crock too fast and shut off too often. This burns out the switch on the pump. More often than not, when the basement floods, and you have a 1/3 horse pump, there are other reasons why the system failed. Call us and we can come out and assess your system. We can educate you about, and identify potential corrections that should be made to your system to make it a more efficient and trustworthy one, and you can sleep with both eyes closed on rainy and stormy nights.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

I’ve been living in my home for two years, and EVERY TIME I run my washing machine, my kitchen sink “gurgles” which is getting annoying and worrisome. Is that something I should be concerned about? Hoping it is also a cheap fix?

- Debbie

Answer:

Good morning Debbie,

The vent is plugged on the kitchen sink! The majority of homes are usually designed with the kitchen and washing machine/ laundry tubs using the same drain and vent stack. The Wisconsin plumbing code has a chapter about this design and it's titled ‘Combination Drain and Vent’. When the washing machine is dumping a big slug of water; it needs air behind it. In the event that the vent was clogged, that slug will need air behind it. So, that slug of water will steal air from wherever it can find it, and it finds it by sucking the trap of its water and taking the air behind it. This can be resolved by pouring a bucket of water down the vent from the roof or sending a sewer rod down the vent. Cost? Due to different layouts of homes, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. I’d like to say, the cost shouldn’t exceed $300.00, however, I can’t promise anything. Call us up and we will do our best to keep the cost down for you.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

In the fall every year, our sewer usually needs to be cleaned out of tree roots at a cost on average
of $600.00, worse yet, it always seems to be under emergency conditions and I’m often paying
premium overtime rates! Now I’m trying to be proactive. Is there something we can do now, to
avoid those same ungodly costs happening over and over again?

- Anna P

Answer:

Good Morning Anna,

There is actually something we can do for this! We have a product in our shop that we use in which we can kill those tree roots! This program consists of us coming out annually, and filling the sewer with an herbicide. The herbicide will not kill the tree, however, it will kill the roots up to 3 feet outside of the pipe. The roots inside the pipe, over a period of eight weeks, will get brittle, break off and flow down the flow line of the sewer and wash away! In the event the sewer is plugged and needs to be rodded, we strongly suggest to have this performed within the first hour after rodding, or wait for eight weeks, and then have this performed. A tree is very similar to a human in that when you have a cut, let’s say, on your finger, your body will pump blood through the wound to clean it and then form a scab covering over the wound to protect it. The product we use is a mild herbicide so as to not kill the tree, and it will not penetrate that covering on the tree roots until 8 weeks later when the scab becomes bark. It’s a foam herbicide and will fill the whole void of the pipe and treat all walls in the pipe. It will stay in the pipe for months. Upon flushing or using the sewer, the water will run below the foam and not wash out the product. Then the foam will fall and cover the bottom of the pipe and continue to treat the roots on the bottom. Yes! This is a great time to do this and at a third of the cost of what you have been paying. Please give us a call and we can come out and get you started on this program.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

COMMON ISSUES FOR WATER HEATERS:

  • When dealing with a water heater in your home, you should, first of all, locate the shut-off valves for the gas supply and cold water supply to the heater.
  • Regular maintenance is very important for the home owner to keep in mind.
  • This would consist of flushing the heater for the hose faucet provided near the bottom of the heater.
  • Connect a hose to the hose faucet and run it to the nearest drain.
  • Open the faucet and be sure to leave the cold water supply in the open position.
  • Run for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • This should be done every 3 to 4 months on a regular basis.
  • Should you be experiencing little or no hot water upon opening your faucet, the problem could be lying with the dip tube in the cold water supply to the heater. If so , this  would have to be replaced.
  • If you experience a bad odor coming from your hot water (rotten eggs,) your anode rod may have to be replaced. Do not plug this opening off as it would void your warranty.
  • If you notice that your relief valve is dripping, try flushing it by pulling the lever on the relief valve. If this does not work, then replace it. Be sure to replace it with a relief valve with the proper pressure and temperature rating.
  • The temperature setting on your water heater should be at about 130 degrees, if you have anti-scald valves on your bath tub faucets and shower valves. If not, it should be set at  110 degrees.
  • If you have a power vent or a more complicated water heater, this should be repaired by a certified plumber.
  • Lastly, do not store any flammable materials near your water heater.

TIPS TO MAINTAIN YOUR HVAC

Maintaining your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning equipment is important to maintain indoor air quality (IAQ) and maintain optimal efficiency (ex: lower utility bills.) Follow these tips to maintain your HVAC and  to keep your equipment in tip-top shape.

Replace Your Air Filter
Regularly replacing your air filter according to its environmental conditions and type of filter.

Listen to People
Listen to people’s complaints about the air quality and temperature. Take those complaints seriously and address them immediately.

Keep Area Clean
Keep the area around your unit clean and free of debris.

Keep Vents Free
Keep obstructions and furniture away from the vents.

Routine Maintenance
Routine maintenance can solve problems before they become emergencies. Set-up a regular preventative maintenance agreement with Building Waters Inc. Contact us today.

Question:

Hi, Our toilet seems to burp big bubbles upon flushing. This started happening about a year ago and we’ve been living here for 25 yrs. The internet says it is a venting problem. Do you have any suggestions?

- Anonymous

Answer:

Good Morning Everyone!

Through my past experience, I always look for certain laymen terms used by the customer. In this toilet noises arena, I’m looking for one of two terms ... "glugging" or "burping". When I hear the term glugging, I have usually found the issue to be a vent-related problem.  As the slug of water is traveling down the pipe, the area behind the plug has to be filled with something, and that something is air.  In the event the slug of water has no access to air, due to a plugged vent, that area behind the slug will be replaced and nature is going to get it from somewhere, so it steals it from a trap of another fixture by sucking the trap dry and causes a "glugging" sound.  Burping, (in my experience), has usually meant a blockage down stream, or the reduction of flow from down stream. In your case, I believe there is a compromised flow path. It could be calcium build up in the weir of the trap of the toilet, and the opening terminating the toilet may be reduced in size. You may try throwing a gallon of vinegar in the toilet and allowing it to sit in there for a day or so, however, I don’t always believe that does a thorough job of resolving the problem. A new toilet could be warranted or the sewer may be partially plugged.  Call and have us come out with the sewer machine and try to determine what the actual reason is for your burping issue and get it handled!

- Owner/Master Plumber, Wesley Rosenberg

Question:

I have a leaky handle on a valve in my basement!  It has a flower type knob on it and it leaks. I would like it changed or repaired. What type of valve do you suggest to have it replaced with?

- Kelsey H

Answer:

There are many types of valves out there and those knob or flower looking handle valves are kind of an old technology. For your home, I would suggest a lever handle valve. They are durable and give you a sound shut off with just a quarter of a turn! In the event you have CPVC piping in your home, I suggest transitioning to a lever handle brass valve. The CPVC quarter turn valves tend to freeze up over time and are often useless in about 2 years.

Reach out and have us come out and change that valve for you!

- Owner/Master Plumber, Wesley Rosenberg

Question: 

I’m on a well and I want to transition over to municipal water and abandon the well, I never could stand the taste of well water, what would something like that cost?

- Tim K.

Answer:

Good Morning Tim,

Transitioning over is something we can do, however, from a financial perspective, I would transition over for your drinking water and washing needs only and keep your hose bibs or lawn faucets on the well. Your exterior plants would grow healthier and the cost of abandoning a well ( regulated by the DNR ) is astronomically expensive. It costs around $10 - 15k to abandon the well properly.  It would be cheaper for you to separate the hose bibs in the house and keep the well too. If there is anything we can do for you with this, just give us a call.

- Owner, Wesley Rosenberg

Question:

Good Morning,

I live out in the county and have a holding tank. The tank holds a couple thousand gallons of water.  I had the tank changed recently, but for some reason it fills with water way too fast and we constantly have to get it pumped out sooner than we used to.  It’s almost like it is taking in too much water.  Wife and I went on vacation for 2 weeks and came home to the alarm on and the tank full.  What should we do?

- Anthony E

Answer:

Good Morning Anthony,

There are a couple things that could be going on. The tank has been replaced, so I’m assuming that it doesn’t leak.  When we approach a situation like this, we check the cheapest resolutions first.  I would check to see if one of the toilets is running a lot first.  A continuous running toilet could and would fill that tank.  Another cheap check is identifying if the softener discharge from backwash is going into the sanitary system. In the event it was back wash, that would add a ton of water to the tank and should discharge outside. If those two items are not the problem, there is likely a leak at the pipe penetration of the tank or the pipe itself is compromised.  Now it’s going to start costing money!  I would have the tank pumped out and send a mirror down in the tank and inspect the junction where the pipe penetrates the tank. Then I would send a camera down the pipe and check for cracks or compromised piping. It’s also very possible that ground water is getting through the compromised pipe!  Please call us to help you out.

- Owner, Wesley Rosenberg

Question:

Hi, my bathtub plugs quite often, I have an older home and there is a contraption, about the size of a coffee can, that the drain goes into and runs out of. It’s mounted under the tub and on the ceiling of the basement. I’ve purchased a little hand snake from the store but, when I try to clean the drain out, it seems to get stuck in the coffee can thing and I can’t clean out beyond that point. What is it?  It’s got a cover on it and I can’t get that off.

- Janna S

Answer:

Hi Janna,

That contraption is called a drum trap. It looks like a little drum and its intention was to capture hair and such and allow the water to pass through. The problem is that they plug all of the time, and when you remove the cover, resealing them is difficult to accomplish. They are also now illegal in the state of Wisconsin. We cut them out and replace them with a regular trap. In the event you need help with this issue, please call our office and make an appointment to have that contraption replaced and your bathtub issue resolved.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Founder Wes Rosenberg shares the history and mission of Building Waters.

Question:

I just had a new water heater installed. Is there any preventative maintenance that I can do to extend the life of the heater? It was quite expensive.

- Greg J.

Answer:

Annually, you should hook up a hose to the bottom of the heater and open the boiler drain just above the hose connection. I would let it run approximately 10 minutes into the drain. People always ask, “Should I shut the inlet valve on the top of the water heater before I open the bottom valve?” My answer is, no. I wouldn’t touch the valve on top of the heater. I like to use the incoming water pressure to flush the debris of lime out of the heater. Doing this removes the debris from attaching to the lower part of the inner tank and starting the process of the tank prematurely. Taking the plate off the bottom of the gas heater and vacuuming out the burner area is another thing that can be performed. The air inlet screens can be vacuumed as well to assure proper air to the burner assembly. If you are unsure or need help, feel free to call us.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

How frequently do resin beads in a water softener need to be changed? What is the cost for doing that?

- Robert T.

Answer:

Resin beads have a life expectancy of 10-12 years. The cost of the resin and the labor of the replacement of the resin runs around $800-$1,000. In most cases, life expectancy of a softener is 10-12 years. Most people just replace the softener since it is more cost effective. Replacing the resin can bring other problems such as gaskets on sealing the system will not reseat properly and leak. This often leads to additional costs. We strongly recommend replacing the unit as a whole. You would receive a new warranty with a new unit. I hope I have answered your questions.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

Every time is rains; I get water coming up my floor drain in the basement. I think it’s the city sewer backing up into my basement. They say it’s not. What can I do to stop the madness?

- Matt K.

Answer:

The city, in most cases, is correct in their convictions, however, I believe from your address and location, you have an older sewer lateral and the material used in that area at the time of installation was clay tile or cast-iron piping. Over the years, the connection joints on those sewers deteriorate and allow the acceptance of tree roots to infiltrate the sewer line. So, during rain storms, you are taking in a lot of ground water through the joints and tree roots are hindering the capacity the pipe can accept. Cheap fix? No. Affordable manageable fix? Yes. A sewer cleaning is in order for your situation and after cutting out the roots and cleaning the sewer, we maintain the sewer with a tree root killer annually. This root killer will keep the roots from infiltrating the sewer and keep them at bay, without killing the tree. The root killer kills the roots up to 3 feet outside of the pipe only.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

During the hot weather last week, my furnace was leaking water profusely all over the floor and I had the air conditioner on - not the furnace. What can be done to stop this in hot weather?

- Leslie L.

Answer:

The air conditioner coil is usually mounted on the top of the furnace, and is in use during the hot season. A couple of things could be happening. In the event your condensate line is plugged (condensate line is a little plastic tube coming from the furnace apparatus that usually runs to the floor drain), this tube can usually be pulled off and blown out to unclog. And/or you may need to change your air filter. If the air filter is dirty, there is not enough air flow running past the coil and it will start making a ball of ice. If the coil accumulates too big of an ice ball, you won’t receive cool air either. To rectify this in hot weather, you should shut the air off, let the ice ball melt, and change the air filter. How long does that take you may ask? Well, if you ever thawed out a big fat pot roast in the sink, you will know it is going to take a few hours to thaw out. If we can help you in any way, please call us.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

My water heater has a little valve on the outside of the tank near the top. This valve is slowly dripping a little water on the floor. It’s not doing any damage but it irritates me. There is a pipe thread on it and it goes nowhere. Do I need this? Can I purchase a plug and stop the leak? I assume that the pipe thread is to have a pipe piped into it. Am I to hook a hose into it? What is it for?

- Olivia G.

Answer:

That valve is called a relief valve. A relief valve is designed to stay closed. In the event that the pressure would increase in the tank of the heater due to overheating, the relief valve would relieve pressure in the tank and blow off. You cannot plug that off because that would leave the heater in an unsafe state and have the potential of the heater blowing up and someone could get hurt. If it leaks, it should be changed. State code says to have a piece of rigid pipe screwed in it and also terminate 1-6 inches from the floor. If it were to blow off under extreme heat and pressure with no pipe screwed into it, you wouldn’t have the ability to approach the heater to shut it down. State code also says no valves are allowed downstream of the relief valve. Please call and we will replace the leaky valve.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

My water heater is 5 years old and I don’t seem to get enough hot water out of my shower. I had my husband turn up the heater and now the water is too hot throughout the house. My husband thinks the thermostat is bad on the heater. Do we need a new heater? It is only 5 years old.

- Karen F.

Answer:

The majority of residential water heaters have a 6-year warranty on the tank and 1 year on the parts, however, I’m suspecting that if you have a single handle shower valve, it is more than likely the shower valve cartridge is in need of replacement. That would be the cheapest way to address what is really going on. You could turn the water heater down to a safe temperature and see if that resolves the problem.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

I flush my toilet, then about two hours later, the tank is empty and I get a very weak flush. What is going on? There is no leak on the floor or in the basement. Can this be repaired?

- Denise

Answer:

I believe the problem is on the flapper or flushing mechanism of the toilet. Usually, the flapper is rubber and can have a flaw or can become distorted over time. With this flaw, the water is escaping the tank and draining into the bowl. It can easily be repaired and relatively affordable. Call us and we can get this repaired for you.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

My husband and I are having a debate pertaining to what can be put into the garbage disposal. My winning this debate is in your hands. What can be put in a garbage disposal?

- Elaina J.

Answer:

The rule of thumb for what can be put in a disposal is, any food can be put in the disposal that you can chew with your teeth. Now, a fork or a steak bone will not generally be consumed by a human so those items would not be allowed. The real problem begins after the disposal in the waste piping. Oil and grease are things NOT to put in the disposal as they will adhere to the sidewalls on the inside of the piping and start choking down the flow. If I had to put grease in the piping, I would put it down with cold water to try and solidify the grease. Potato peelings and such should be placed in the disposal in small portions with a lot of water.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

My mother just purchased a new refrigerator with a water/ice maker on the door. She doesn’t have water feeding into it right now. What does it take to hook up the water to this unit?

- Anthony L.

Answer:

State code states that a needle valve/clamp on a saddle valve is illegal for the installation of an ice maker. An actual tee with a valve needs to be installed on a cold-water supply pipe in the basement. They have kits available for this, however, they are furnished with plastic tubing. I like to use copper tubing for my installations. The reason I prefer copper is because over a period of time, the chlorine in the water makes the plastic brittle and it can easily break, which could cause extensive financial damage to floors and finished basements. When installing, I also like to have a couple loops of slack behind the refrigerator in case I need to pull the fridge out without ripping apart the connection in the back. If you need a hand, please call me!

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

Hello, my wife and I had a new air conditioning unit installed in our home earlier this year, (not by your company). The new AC unit keeps the house cool, but now it's always kind of clammy in our home. Is it because of the type of refrigerant used in our specific unit? What can be done about it? The old unit didn’t do this.

- Lance H.

Answer:

When we get this time of a complaint, a few things come to mind. One thing is that the unit could be oversized, or the unit is not set up properly. In the case of it being oversized, the unit will not run long enough to pull the humidity out of the space and technically, be short cycling. Bigger is not always better. You could run a separate dehumidifier in your home as well to get rid of some of the humidity. Please call us if you would like us to assess the set up of that unit.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

With all this rain, my pump keeps turning on and the piping keeps blowing apart inside the house spewing water everywhere! This may be a stupid question with a simple answer, but I’d like to know how you keep that check valve from blowing apart? I’ve tightened it as much as possible using tools.

- Tony S.

Answer:

From what you’re telling me it seems the check valve is tight enough. What I think is happening is that the discharge pipe is going outside above the ground, then turns down into the ground and runs underneath to a place of termination. I believe with all the rain and current snow melt, your discharge pipe underground may still be frozen and not allowing water to escape to the termination area. The pump can’t pump the water out and the check valve is the weakest joint in the system, thus blowing apart at the point. That pipe outside should be disconnected (temporarily) until the ground thaws, and then reconnected. In the event you need help with this, please call us!

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

I have a sump pump on a pedestal. I want to get a new one, however, what is out there? Are there better options for me?

- Bill S.

Answer:

I prefer a submersible pump. A submersible pump is cooled by water in the crock so it won’t overheat. I also suggest to have a separate float/switch that is detachable from the pump. This gives the customer the ability to set the run time to be the most efficient. Many submersible pumps have the float/switch as part of the pump. This brings up (2) potential problems. One, if the switch goes bad, you have to change the pump too! The other problem is, you can’t adjust the run time to work efficiently. You usually are fighting mother nature and the pumps are running too often. We also have a battery back up system that sisters our pump and is very user friendly. Call us to help you out and to set up your pump correctly.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Question:

I live out in the country, in a small home with no basement. I woke up one day and my bathtub was full of water and had washed over onto the floor. I didn’t use any of my plumbing. What is going on? I don’t want this to happen again!

- Annette R.

Answer:

I believe your sewer is plugged or your septic tank needs pumping out. You gave me a clue! You said that you lived in the country. I bet you have an iron filter or water softener. Softeners and iron filters are usually programmed to backwash during early morning to not bother you during the day and be ready for daily water usage. I believe your softener went into backwash mode due to the plugged sewer. Be grateful that the tub reservoir collected most of the water. A tub full of water could have caused great financial damage. If you need your sewer unplugged or pumped out, please call, we can help you with that.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber