Plants That Can Ruin Your Plumbing

A tree and some flowers in a backyard

Plants in yardJust when you thought you had seen the end of your plumbing problems, plant life adds a whole new obstacle to your maintenance regimen. When shooting for aesthetics, many homeowners overlook the repercussions certain trees and shrubs can have on plumbing fixtures.

While new plants may be beautiful, they could jeopardize your septic and plumbing systems. When enhancing your lawn’s appeal with shrubs and trees, it’s vital to know where and how different plants should be grown to avoid a plumbing emergency. 

Types of Trees That Can Affect Plumbing Fixtures

Trees add beauty, personality, and shade to your yard. Unfortunately, their roots present a significant threat to your plumbing fixtures. Depending on the type and direction of the root’s growth, you may experience blockage in your pipes. Here are the trees that most frequently grow into plumbing lines and fixtures:

  • Birch trees are favored by homeowners who appreciate graceful, slender trees. Birch roots usually grow a 4- to 8-inch-thick mat-like structure, but they still present a threat to nearby pipes. Birch trees need no less than twenty feet of space between plumbing fixtures and your home’s foundation to ensure no damage is done.
  • Citrus trees are a tasty source of lemons, oranges, and more. Although these trees yield wonderful fruits, they’re infamous for their damage to plumbing fixtures and are banned by many HOA’s for this reason. When planting a citrus tree, the placement must be at least 6-8 feet from the foundation of your home to avoid damage.
  • Oak trees are notorious for their longevity and strength, though they’re also infamous for damaging foundations and plumbing fixtures. Because oak trees grow slowly, they can penetrate pipes at a sneaky pace that takes a while to notice. Oak trees should be planted a minimum of 15-30 feet away from important fixtures on your property.

Preventive Growth Barriers

There are many methods you can use to protect yourself from expensive plumbing repairs, and one of the most cost-effective options is to have a preventive growth barrier installed.
A preventive growth barrier is an assemblage of walls implanted into the ground around a plant that’s main job is to redirect the growth of roots. A professional landscaper can help install a growth barrier to make it easier to plant a yard without root-related complications.

Experts In Plumbing Repair

Putting up with the complications of plant-related plumbing damages is no thrilling endeavor. If you’ve done your calculations and a plant’s roots still managed to come in contact with your pipes, it’s best to turn to the experts at D & F Plumbing. Here at D & F Plumbing, we make it our top priority to repair your plumbing and protect your plumbing fixtures from any additional damage. If you require immediate plumbing repair, don’t hesitate to contact us today!

Your Spring Plumbing Checklist

Your springtime plumbing checklist in Portland OR & Vancouver WA - D & F Plumbing

Your springtime plumbing checklist in Portland OR & Vancouver WA - D & F PlumbingSpring has sprung, but hopefully a leak hasn’t! With the warmer weather rolling in, it’s time to tackle that to-do list that’s been piling up all winter – and that includes taking a look at your plumbing system. To make sure your system is in great shape for the new season, go through this spring plumbing checklist:

Check for Leaks & Clogs

Winter can wreak havoc on your plumbing system – particularly on the pipes or fixtures that are located outdoors or near external walls. To make sure nothing is leaking and causing damage throughout your home, it’s a good idea to check around your property for any leaks or clogs. If you notice any issues, a professional plumber can help identify and fix the root cause of the problem while preventing any further damage to your home.

Change Your Hoses

While you’re checking your pipes and fixtures for leaks or damage, you can also take a look at the condition of your hoses. Check the hoses to your dishwasher, washing machine, fridge, and other appliances. Keep an eye out for any bulging or discoloration in addition to leaking and cracks. You or a professional can replace any damaged or worn out hoses to keep your appliances functioning flawlessly.

Clean Your Storm Drains

If your storm drains are clogged, you could face some serious flooding during springtime rain. Taking the time to remove any leaves, sticks, or other debris from your storm drains will keep things flowing properly, which will protect your property while preventing other issues like soil erosion. If you run into serious blockages or drainage issues, then it may be useful to invest in an outdoor drain cleaning service to keep everything in good working order.

Test Your Sump Pump

Your sump pump plays a big role in preventing basement flooding, particularly during times of heavy rain. That’s why spring is the perfect time of year to check in on your sump pump and make sure it’s functioning properly. To test your sump pump, first look to make sure that it’s plugged in correctly. Then, pour a bucket of water into the basin to see if the pump is able to clear it. If your sump pump is unable to clear the water, or you notice any signs of moisture issues in your basement, then it may be time to contact a professional.

Adjust Your Water Heater

Water heaters get a lot of use in the cold winter months, which is why spring is the perfect time of year to perform any maintenance and check in on your system. An expert can flush your tank while also screening for any potential issues to make sure yours is working wonderfully for the new season. Now is also a good time to turn down the temperature, which will save you money during the spring and summer.

5 Common Winter Plumbing Issues

5 common winter plumbing issues in Vancouver WA and Portland OR - D&F Plumbing Services

5 common winter plumbing issues in Vancouver WA and Portland OR - D&F Plumbing ServicesOnce you’ve got your fuzzy socks and a warm mug of cocoa, you’re all ready for winter – right? Well, though these things are definitely essentials, you might be missing a couple of important steps. Before you bundle up for the winter, it’s important to prepare your home – or more specifically, your plumbing system – for the cold weather.

Your plumbing system is particularly susceptible to breaking in freezing temperatures, and damages could be quite expensive to repair. Experts estimate that a single burst pipe costs about $5,000 in damages (eek!). To ensure your home is protected from the cold weather, it’s important to know about the common winter plumbing issues and how to prevent them:

1. Burst Pipes

When water freezes inside of a pipe, it expands and causes an increase in pressure that could cause the pipe to break. That’s why burst pipes are such a common problem in winter, and why it’s crucial to protect your plumbing system as temperatures drop. To avoid a burst pipe, you can insulate exposed pipes with heating tape or other pipe insulation. If you aren’t sure how to properly insulate your pipes, an expert may be able to help.

2. Clogged Drains

Clogged drains are a common plumbing issue that can happen during any season. However, winter holidays often mean more cooking and more guests. The combination of increased usage and possible substances – like oil or fat – going down the drain could cause a tough clog. To prevent a backup this winter, try to keep things like coffee grounds, eggshells, and grease from going down the drain.

3. Water Heater Failure

When cold temperatures hit, your water heater has to work much harder to bring you the same amount of warm water – especially if you have guests who are increasing your water usage. The extra strain on your water heater could increase wear and tear while amplifying any problems with your unit. To ensure your water heater is prepared for winter, we recommend draining your tank and scheduling a professional inspection.

4. Frozen Septic Tanks

Septic systems are particularly susceptible to the cold. If your tank freezes over, it could prevent bacteria from treating the sewage, which may cause your tank to overflow or leak raw sewage. That is why it’s critical to winterize your septic tank before winter is in full swing. You can do so by insulating exposed pipes, regularly using hot water, and keeping the drain field clear of any traffic. If it has been 2 or more years since you last pumped your tank, you may also want to do so before winter to avoid backups. To ensure your septic system is totally protected from the cold, you could also contact an expert for personalized recommendations.

5. Leaks and Drips

Leaks and drips are common plumbing problems year-round, but they are more common in the winter. Cold temperatures often cause old or weakened pipes to freeze over and develop more leaks, which are often more challenging to fix in winter weather. To prevent more leaks and drips in the winter, we recommend scheduling a professional inspection to fix any weakened pipes before cold weather sets in.

Plumbing Winterization in Portland OR

Winterizing your plumbing system is an important part of protecting your home from the damage that freezing temperatures can cause. A little bit of preparation and maintenance could save you a lot of time, money, and stress.

If you want to ensure your plumbing system is completely protected from the cold, call a licensed plumber like those at D & F Plumbing to get personalized recommendations. Our skilled technicians have been proudly serving the greater Portland OR area for nearly 100 years, and we can use our expertise to help keep your home safe all winter long. If you want help winterizing your plumbing, call the experts at D & F Plumbing today!

5 Common Fall Plumbing Issues

Clogged gutter overflowing with rainwater - D & F Plumbing, serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about the 5 common fall plumbing issues homeowners may experience.

Clogged gutter overflowing with rainwater - D & F Plumbing, serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about the 5 common fall plumbing issues homeowners may experience. Leaves are changing colors, pumpkin spice is everywhere, and Halloween is right around the corner. It’s definitely fall. What do you love most about this season?

Here at D and F Plumbing, we appreciate all of the above- in addition to fixing fall plumbing issues! Read on for five of the most common fall plumbing problems:

1. Frozen and burst pipes

As temperatures cool down, pipes run the risk of freezing- and possibly bursting. If a pipe were to burst it would be thousands of dollars of damage and a major inconvenience. To combat this, we can utilize UL-listed heat tape or heat cable on your water pipes that are exposed.

2. Drain blockage

Pay attention to the drain in your sink. Does it appear to be draining slowly? While in the kitchen, food could be the cause of this. However, if it’s the bathroom sink, such blockage could be the result of fall leaves blowing into the drains.

Rake leaves regularly. Keep them away from your gutters and the foundation of your home. You can count on us to install a special drain cover that will block debris.

3. Water heater issues

Did you know the water temperature can be 25 degrees cooler in fall? This means your heater is working double duty all season. Older or poorly maintained units require even more effort to run. Stay up to date with your heater inspections and consider insulating the pipes.

4. Clogged gutters

At first glance, this may not seem like a plumbing issue. Think again! We’ve already discussed how leaves can block drains. When water can’t drain properly from the roof, it can pool around the foundation and create slippery patches of ice- which can easily cause somebody to slip and injure themselves.

5. Issues arising from self-inspection

Be sure to give your plumbing an inspection for fall. This is something you can do yourself, without calling in a professional. However, if any of these have issues, give us a call so we can get it handled promptly.

  • Check your water heater
  • Look for any signs of moisture in your attic or crawl spaces
  • Check for cracks on the exterior of your home
  • Inspect all pipes

Plumbing Experts in Portland OR

Since 1927, the experts at D and F Plumbing have assisted thousands of customers with all of their plumbing needs. Our rave reviews speak for themselves. We proudly serve the Portland and Clark County areas. Call us today to schedule your free consultation. Portland (503) 852-9079 / Clark County (360) 309-0317


Why is My Basement Flooding?

Flooded basement-D & F Plumbing, serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA explains why your basement may be flooding.

Flooded basement-D & F Plumbing, serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA explains why your basement may be flooding.It’s been months since you’ve been in your basement. But after watching hours upon hours of HGTV, you’re finally feeling inspired to get down there and organize it once and for all.

You begin walking down the steps and get a whiff of mildew. Oh no! Your basement is flooded!

Although we can’t take you back in time, we can help you prevent future incidents from happening. So continue reading (after you clean up your basement of course)!

How to Prevent Basement Flooding

Preventing a flooded basement is easier than it sounds, all it takes is some dedication to your home’s state of health. To stop flooding before it begins you can:

  • Improve drainage, aim to clean your drains and gutters twice a year.
  • Seal all basement cracks and openings.
  • Build a 6-inch soil incline around your home so rainfall is driven out to the street.

While these are great tips, if you’re really wanting to ensure your basement is protected, it’s best to install a sump pump.

What is a Sump Pump?

A sump is a naturally constructed cavity below your basement floor also known as the basin. This pit is designed to hold and protect the sump pump. A sump pump’s job is to relocate water sitting around your home’s foundation to an area further away. Sump pumps aren’t only cost effective, but they can last for many years after installation (about 25 to 30 years).

A sump pump is also able to detect when and how much water needs to be pumped out away from your property. Moreover, they are known for being very effective tools to prevent flooding.

Professional Sump Pump Installation

A flooded basement can not only destroy some of your most valuable possessions, but it can also impact the structural integrity of your home. So if you’re looking for professional Sump Pump installation, D & F Plumbing has got you covered! Our plumbing technicians are highly experienced in sump pump installations and we’d be happy to equip your basement with an effective anti-flooding system, so contact us today!

Tankless Water Heaters – Should You Upgrade?

D&F tankless heater

D&F tankless heater

Tankless Water Heaters – Should You Upgrade?

Do you know why plumbers hate installing tankless water heaters? Because it’s a tankless job! Ba dum tss! In all seriousness, we love installing tankless water heaters. They provide an unlimited supply of hot water and can cut your monthly bills, what’s not to like? Now here’s why you should upgrade. 

How Tankless Water Heaters Work

Tankless water heaters connect directly to your plumbing. When hot water is requested, a series of heating elements turn on and heat the water that passes through them, providing you with hot water on demand. 

The Benefits of Tankless Water Heaters

  • Long lasting: Because tankless water heaters don’t store water, they usually operate efficiently for at least 20 years. They also often come with longer warranties than conventional water heaters. 
  • Lower utility bills: The Department of Energy says tankless water heaters use around 24%-24% less energy than conventional storage tank water heaters. 
  • Endless hot water: Tankless water heaters provide water on-demand so you have an endless supply of hot water.
  • Compact size: Tankless water heaters are much smaller than their conventional counterparts. This means you can install it in various places and it won’t take up much space.
  • Reduced carbon footprint: Because you’ll be using less energy with a tankless unit, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Increase in home value: tankless water heaters are highly sought after, so if you plan to sell your home in the near future, this may be an attractive feature to potential buyers.

Tankless Water Heater Installation

For decades, homeowners have relied on traditional tank-type water heaters to generate warm water for their homes. Today, you have various options, including the ever-so-popular tankless water heater. So get with the times and get yourself a tankless water heater today–now even! D & F Plumbing is here to help you pick the right unit for your home and your budget so give us a call! 

How to Tell if Your Main Water Line is Leaking

Water main leak - D & F Plumbing, serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about how to tell if your main water line is leaking.

Water main leak - D & F Plumbing, serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about how to tell if your main water line is leaking.Spring has sprung! And after a cold winter some of your underground water pipes may have sprung a leak too!

Main water lines are the pipes that bring clean water to your home from your community water line. These pipes bring water for your plants, shower, drinking and anything else that needs water in your home.

Leaving a main water line leaking can cause health and financial problems. Here’s how to know if your main water line is leaking.

Rising Water Bill

A rising water bill is an indicator of a leak, especially when you haven’t used excess water recently. A substantial water main leak will be noticeable on your bill. An increase of several hundred dollars from the same time last year will be an obvious indicator. If you’re connected to city water, you can look at your water meter to give you another clue.

Even if you’ve been using extra water for gardening your beautiful spring flowers recently, it shouldn’t change your water bill too much.

Average household leaks cause up to 10,000 gallons of water waste per year. Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste more than 90 gallons per day. And even basic leaks from a faucet in your home could be the result of problems with your main line.

Don’t let your money go swooshing down the drain. Fix your leaks as soon as you notice them to save money. An experienced water leak detection plumber can test to determine if your leak is related to the main water line.

Low Water Pressure

Low water pressure can be caused by many different types of leaks, but a main water line leak is one of the most common.

How do you know if you have low water pressure? Here’s a little test to check and make sure your intuition is correct — turn on the water in your shower and then flush the toilet. If the shower stops running or slows to a trickle when you flush, then you have low water pressure.

Another way to check if you have low water pressure is by looking over your water meter. Inspect the meter before you begin a two hour period of using no water, and then survey it again after the two hours is up. If the meter changes at all then you probably have a leak.

Cracked Foundation

This one is a serious problem. If you have a leak, water can seep through the ground and get to your home’s foundation. This can cause cracks and eventually make your house unsafe.

If you are noticing wet spots, there might be a leak in your main water line. Don’t just leave them be or try to do a quick fix. Waiting to correct the problem could cost a lot more money later on…major structural cracks can cost anywhere from $10,000 or more to repair.

If you have any of these symptoms of a main water line leak, get it diagnosed as soon as possible.

Fixing it can be costly, but waiting and having to fix your foundation or other property damage will cost a lot more.

Call the plumbers in plaid, because we’ve got a main water line special for you.


Signs Your Home Needs Repiping

Brown water coming out of faucet. D & F Plumbing in Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about signs your home needs repiping.

Brown water coming out of faucet. D & F Plumbing in Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about signs your home needs repiping.The pipes that make up your home’s plumbing system work hard day in and day out to deliver your family water, but they don’t last forever. Eventually, they’ll start to corrode, leading to insufficient water pressure, leaks, and discolored water–yuck!

Brown or yellow water is unhealthy as it is unappealing. If your pipes are in poor condition or not working efficiently, D & F Plumbing is here to help. Below, we’ll share signs of when it’s time to repipe your Portland area home.

5 Signs You Need New Pipes

Pipes are out of sight and out of mind. If you notice any of the following signs, it’s important that you contact a plumber to take a look at your plumbing.

1. Water Leaks

Water leaks in basements and utility rooms are easier to identify than leaks within walls or ceilings because the pipes here are exposed. If you experience frequent leaks, this often means your pipes are worn. Some or all of these may need to be replaced.

2. Discolored Water

Brown or yellow water is often a result of corroded and rusted pipes. Not only is this unsightly, but it can be potentially harmful if left untreated.

3. Frequent Clogs

Aging pipes cannot handle what new pipes can. They even struggle with two-ply toilet paper. So if you experience frequent drain clogs in your home, despite being careful with what you place down the drains, it may be time for a home repiping.

4. Low Water Pressure

Is water coming out of your faucets slowly or is your dishwasher or washing machine taking longer to run? This can result from too much buildup in your pipes. Left untreated, this blockage could result in leaks and even pipe bursts.

5. Noisy Pipes

Your plumbing shouldn’t be noisy. If you hear gurgling sounds, rattling, sounds, or any other noise coming from your pipes, you’ll want to call a plumber to inspect your pipes before a big problem develops.

Repiping Services in Portland OR

Don’t let old, worn-out pipes damage your property. Have your home repiped. Sound daunting? Get in touch with the team at D & F Plumbing in Portland OR and Vancouver WA. We’ll inspect your pipes and provide you with an appropriate solution that meets the needs of your home. Give us a call today to schedule your plumbing inspection.

When is it Time to Call a Plumber?

Woman inspecting her kitchen faucet. D & F Plumbing in Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about when it's time to call a plumber.

Woman inspecting her kitchen faucet. D & F Plumbing in Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about when it's time to call a plumber.How do you know when to call a plumber? There are many different reasons you may have to make the necessary call. Some may be obvious and pop up in a day, while others may take years to form and cause an unexpected plumbing emergency.

Don’t pull your hair out over a small problem developing into something bigger. We’ll tell you exactly when it’s time to call a plumber.

Is Your Faucet Dripping?

Do you hear that? Drip drop, drip drop…It’s that pesky faucet keeping you up at all hours of the night. 

A leaking faucet may not seem like too big of a deal most of the time. But the average family will waste about 9,400 gallons of water in a year just from leaks! 

Don’t let your money slowly drip down the drain — take action and have a professional troubleshoot that dripping faucet,

Do You See Signs of Water Damage?

Are your beautifully decorated walls looking a little funky? This may actually be because of your plumbing. Your pipes are hidden behind your walls, and if those pipes spring a leak, moisture can quickly cause damage. 

Signs of water damage could include:

  • Bubbling paint or wallpaper
  • Discoloration
  • Strange smells
  • Visible mold
  • High utility bills

Don’t just go painting over your problems! We’re here for you 24/7.

Does Your Grass Have a Green Patch?

Having greener grass is always great unless it isn’t. If you notice a patch of grass greener than the rest of your yard, this could be a sewer problem. 

City sewer lines run between your house and the street. A section of grass that is more vibrant and lush could mean a sewer pipe rupture. A lot of times in Portland and Vancouver, the cause of sewer line problems comes from tree root invasions

Is Your Toilet Wobbling?

Is your toilet wobbling like it had a rough night at the bar? If you want your toilet to sober up, it might take the expertise of a good plumber. A wobbly toilet can sometimes be fixed by replacing loose screws. This is a task many homeowners feel comfortable handling themselves.

But oftentimes the seal around the bottom of your toilet gets worn out, causing your toilet to move side-to-side. This broken seal can cause leaking and water damage to ruin your floor. Avoiding this problem will cost more than it would to call in a professional plumber.

Do You Have Low Water Pressure?

Having weak water flow could be simply solved by cleaning out a fixture. You might be able to improve your water pressure by soaking the end of your faucet in hot water and vinegar. 

If that doesn’t solve your water pressure problem, you might be facing:

  • Sediment buildup in your water heater
  • Calcium buildup in your shower head
  • Size of your water heater piping

In these situations, calling a plumber will save you a major headache. 

No homeowner wants to see their toilet overflow while scrambling for towels. Or watch their hardwood floor get ruined by water damage. It may be tempting to put off repairs, but a true professional can save you a lot of trouble and money down the road.

We’re here for you 24/7 when it’s time to get your plumbing under control!

Is Your Disinfectant Harming Your Septic System?

Person washing hands. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about if disinfectants are harming your septic systemWith the current health concerns related to COVID-19, you may be doing a ton of hand-washing and disinfecting. Goodbye manicure, hello dry, cracked hands, am I right?!

Besides making your hands look like Death Valley, did you know disinfectant can actually harm your septic system? It’s true.

Your septic system relies on bacteria to help break down waste. In fact, bacteria is responsible for breaking down 95% of the waste that goes into your septic tank! Amazing right?

If these organisms are killed off, you may suffer clogs, backups, and drainfield malfunctions (aka sewage in your yard)—yuck!

We want you to be safe, but we also don’t want you to experience any costly septic system issues. Especially during the current pandemic. That’s why we want to help educate you on the chemicals and cleaning products you should and shouldn’t put down your drains.

Flushing Wipes

Flushing wipes down the toilet seems quick and easy, but don’t do it! Sanitizing wipes can kill off beneficial bacteria and present a clogging issue further down the road. Even baby wipes that say “plumber recommended” or “flushable” aren’t made to break down like regular toilet paper, and can clog up your system.

Laundry Sanitizers

Laundry sanitizers are a hot trend right now. These commercial products come with and without bleach, and can claim to kill 99.9% of bacteria.

But bleach and petroleum-based chemicals can wreak havoc on a septic system!

You can actually sanitize your laundry without buying extra products using just hot water. Hot water eliminates 99.9% of bacteria that’s most commonly found in clothing, towels, sheets, and other fabric. Wash your clothing in an extra-hot wash cycle or “sanitize cycle” if your unit has this setting.

*Keep in mind, these cycles and sanitizing products are harsh on your fabrics, so only use them if absolutely necessary.

Household Cleaning Products to Avoid

In addition to chlorine bleach and petroleum-based cleaning products, you’ll also want to avoid ammonium quaternary compounds (QUATs). QUATs are found in various products from shampoos and toilet cleaners, to hand soap and baby care products. It’s a list as long as the Columbia River!

The EPA has registered QUATs as pesticides, so you’ll often find them listed as active ingredients on products. They’ll typically say, “antibacterial” or list the actual active ingredients which can be: Didecyldimethylammonium chloride, Ammonium chloride, Tetraethylammonium bromide, or more (there are over a dozen QUATs).

While QUATs do kill viruses and bacteria, they can also irritate your lungs and skin and harm your septic system when used in large quantities.

Safe Cleaning Products

Whether you’re sanitizing your toilets or your floor, there are various cleaning products out there that are safer alternatives. Opt for “green” cleaners that are EPA Safer Choice designated or make your own using baking soda, lemon juice, or distilled white vinegar.

Septic systems are a part of plumbing most people don’t think about until something goes wrong. And when something does go wrong, it’s usually nasty and expensive!

If you want more tips on how to properly care for your septic system, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Let our family help your family!

Want to share this post? Click a button below to easily share on social media!