How Long do Garbage Disposals Last?

Person putting food down kitchen drain. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about how long garbage disposals last.

Person putting food down kitchen drain. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about how long garbage disposals last.Garbage disposals are a luxury or an essential kitchen appliance, depending on who you ask. They help get rid of waste and keep your plumbing system clear of clogs. However, like other appliances, your garbage disposal also comes with a life expectancy.

Understanding your garbage disposal and its lifespan can help you maintain it and help you plan for a new one when the time comes.

What Impacts the Life of Your Garbage Disposal

Here are some factors that can contribute to the life of your garbage disposal.

  • Garbage disposal frequency: the more you use your garbage disposal, the more the blades and motor are being used
  • What is being put in the garbage disposal: what you put down your drain has a big impact on how your garbage disposal lasts. For example, putting grease, egg shells, and coffee grounds is a no-no.
  • Quality and installation of garbage disposal: today’s garbage disposals are more durable and powerful than older models. Investing in a newer, heavy-duty one will be beneficial in the long run.

Signs it’s time to Replace your Garbage Disposal

Think it’s time for a new garbage disposal? Check for these surefire signs!

  • Bad smells in your drain that just won’t go away
  • Your garbage disposal is making strange noises
  • You’re frequently repairing your garbage disposal
  • You often press the reset button
  • Your garbage disposal won’t turn on at all

Need a New Garbage Disposal?

On average, a garbage disposal will last around 12 years with normal use, but that number can decrease with overuse or neglect. If you’re ready for a new garbage disposal or simply need a repair, the journeyman plumbers at D & F Plumbing are here to help. We’ve been helping homeowners in the Portland and Vancouver area since 1927. With upfront pricing and same-day & next-day availability, you can always count on us.

Interested in a garbage disposal installation? Learn about the cost and see photos of our professional installation from our satisfied customers!

How to Drain Water From Your Yard

Downspout and flooded lawn. D & F Plumbing in Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about how to drain water from your yard.

While a gentle, steady rain can be great for your trees, plants, and yard, a sudden downpour can do just the opposite. Flooded lawns can ruin your yard, cause odors, and lead to pests. If that pooled water leaks into your basement or foundation, you could also be left with water damage and mold.

Fortunately, there are some ways to help combat this. Let’s get right into them.

French drain in lawn. D & F Plumbing in Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about how to drain water from your yard.
French drain.

French Drains

French drains are slightly sloped trenches with a perforated pipe inside that’s surrounded by gravel and then buried. French drains are very effective in diverting groundwater away from your home to somewhere safer like the street, a drainage ditch, a dry well, or a low-lying area on your property.

By the way, this type of drain doesn’t get its name from the country, but from the person who invented it, a Massachusetts man by the name of Henry Flagg French. 😉

Channel drain in lawn. D & F Plumbing in Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about how to drain water from your yard.
Channel drain.

Channel Drains

Channel drains are similar to French drains only they work to remove surface water rather than groundwater. They are usually lined with concrete and covered with steel grates to help prevent debris from entering. Channel drains are great for driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, and around pool edges.

Dry Wells

Dry wells are great at distributing stormwater into local groundwater and work well as an end-point for channel drains and French drains. They consist of a hole in the ground with a perforated plastic barrel inside that is surrounded by stone or gravel. They hold water and slowly allow it to soak into the ground.

Catch basin in lawn. D & F Plumbing in Portland OR & Vancouver WA talks about how to drain water from your yard.
Catch basin.

Catch Basins

Catch basins are large drains typically placed in low-lying areas in your yard. They’re designed to catch surface runoff water. Catch basins consist of a box that sits underground and a visible grate above to catch debris.


Sump Pumps

Sump pumps have a sump basin that collects water around your basement or foundation and pumps it out and away from your home and into a storm drain or dry well. They are especially helpful for properties with flat yards where standing water is common.

Yard Drainage Solutions

There are many advantages of having a drainage system installed on your property, especially here in the Portland and Vancouver metropolitan area where we experience a lot of heavy rainfall.

The licensed plumbers at D & F Plumbing are well versed in drainage systems like French drains and catch basins. If you constantly suffer from basement leaks or standing water on your lawn, contact us.

Then once your yard drainage system is installed, we’ll perform the regular maintenance so that it will always work its best.

Top Plumbing Myths

bricks, flushable wipes, and greasy pan flushing down the toilet. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA debunks the top plumbing myths.

Person tossing flushable wipe down the toilet. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA debunks the top plumbing myths.We hate to burst your bubble, but here are some plumbing myths you need to stop believing now! Let’s get right into them!

Myth 1: Flushable wipes are safe

While flushable wipes will technically flush down the drain, it doesn’t mean you should use them. They aren’t biodegradable like toilet paper, so flushing a ton of them may lead to clogs and even affect your entire drainage system. A good rule of thumb–only pee, poo, and toilet paper should go down your toilet.

Myth 2: A rumbling water heater means it’s about to explode

We understand those terrifying rumbling and banging sounds may want you ducking for cover, but no it’s not about to explode. This most likely means there is sediment in your water heater tank that has just collected over the years and as your water heater works to heat through these layers of sediment, air bubbles come out with a bang.

Grease in pan with running water. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA debunks the top plumbing myths.Myth 3: Hot water can help grease go down the sink

Dumping that pan of taco meat grease down your sink seems like a quick and easy solution, but it’s a big no-no. Grease, fats, and oils do the same to your pipes as they do to your arteries, they build up along the walls, eventually causing blockages and problems. So no, hot water, not even boiling water will do zilch when it comes to breaking down grease. Let it solidify and dump it in the trash.

Myth 4: Water flushes in the opposite direction in The Southern Hemisphere

As much as you may have learned about the Coriolis Effect, toilets do not flush in the opposite direction in The Southern Hemisphere. While the Coriolis Effect is a real phenomenon having to do with cyclones and their directions, it only pertains to large bodies of water. The direction of your toilet flush is determined by the water jets. Nice try though.

Pile of bricks with question marks. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA debunks the top plumbing myths.Myth 5: Putting a brick in your toilet saves water

Now, this is a fun one. Some people believe putting a brick in their toilet tank will cause the toilet to use less water when it flushes. Not only will a brick disintegrate and affect your toilet valve and flapper, but if anything it will cause water flow to get interrupted, leading to more flushes.

Myth 6: Bleach tablets are safe for the toilet

Bleach is okay to use in your toilet as long as you’re going to wash it out after 10 minutes, but adding bleach-containing tablets in the tank is just going to spell disaster after about 6 months when the bleach has degraded the internal parts of your toilet. If you’re looking for a cop-out to deep cleaning your toilets, look elsewhere.

Urban legends, myths–they’re all in good fun, but not when it comes to your plumbing. We hope this guide has helped debunk some common misconceptions and if you’re ever in need of a reliable plumber, consider D & F Plumbing. We’re fast, affordable, and we always leave the seat down 😉

Why You Need a Plumber for Your Kitchen Remodel

Person showing up hands to kitchen. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA talks about why you need a plumber for your kitchen remodel. Are you thinking about adding a farmhouse kitchen sink? Those are all the rage these days. Maybe you’re interested in updating your dishwasher. Whatever the plumbing upgrade, the question is: are you going to hire a plumber or go the DIY method? We know you may be capable of performing many DIY repairs, especially with YouTube around. But, we’re also very firm believers in the importance of working with a professional plumber for any plumbing remodel. “Why,” you ask? Simply put, because it’s cost-effective and safe.

Plumbers are Knowledgable

First off, plumbers know their stuff. They go to school and complete an apprenticeship to become a journeyman plumber. While they’re known for clearing clogged drains, that’s just a small portion of what they do. Plumbers also know how to install pipes, plumbing fixtures, and appliances. They’re trained to inspect, diagnose, and repair all types of plumbing.

Permits for Kitchen Remodels

If your kitchen remodel is a large enough project, you’ll need to have permits before you perform the work for safety-related reasons. If your remodel is a complete overhaul where you’re changing out the entire layout, you’ll not only need major plumbing work performed, but you’ll also need to report it to the proper authorities. Doing improvements to anything connected to the sewer will also require a license. Plumbers are knowledgeable about building codes and can help you file any necessary permits.

Hiring a Plumber is Cost-Effective

Not to brag or anything, but we’re often called to fix other people’s plumbing DIY projects gone wrong. By hiring a plumber from the start, you save time, stress, and money. Don’t forget all of those trips you may have to make at the hardware store to buy tools you’ll never use again.

Experts in Kitchen Remodels

If you’ve never remodeled your kitchen before, it’s best to not try now, even if you’re looking to save money. Before starting your kitchen remodel, talk with plumbers in your area. Tell them what you envision and learn about their qualifications and experience. Hiring a certified plumber for your kitchen remodel will not only make your life much easier, but you’ll also have peace of mind knowing your plumbing was done right.

Are you thinking about performing a kitchen remodel? The kitchen remodel plumbers at D & F Plumbing are here to help make sure it gets done right. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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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!

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Why are PEX Pipes Better?

Red and blue PEX plumbing. D & F Plumbing provides plumbing repiping services in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

Red and blue PEX plumbing. D & F Plumbing provides plumbing repiping services in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.Stinky smells, creaky sounds, and rust-colored water—it sounds like a haunted house, but no, that’s your home saying it needs a repiping. You see, pipes rust and deteriorate over time, affecting your water quality and your plumbing efficiency. Unless you enjoy drinking a cool glass of orange water (which we wouldn’t recommend, but hey, we don’t judge) a repipe might be in order. Especially if your house is older and demonstrates these symptoms.

While there are a variety of materials used today for water lines, we usually recommend PEX pipes. And in this blog post, we’ll tell you why.

PEX Pipes

What the heck does PEX mean anyways? The official fancy term for PEX is “Cross-linked polyethylene” which is a plastic material used for water supply piping systems. PEX is flexible and easier to install than a rigid pipe, and it offers high heat-resistance and long-term durability.

Benefits of PEX Pipes

Now, here is where we get down to business; talking about why we believe PEX pipes are better:

  • Lightweight: PEX pipes are so light, it only takes a single person to carry a piece which means fewer of us are required to perform the job. Less weight also means lower transport costs.
  • Affordable: PEX pipes are way cheaper than copper piping. So you can use all that money you saved for that grill or luxury bag that’s been haunting your dreams!
  • Durable: PEX pipes are great for high-pressure needs and they won’t freeze or rust like galvanized metal pipes.
  • Long-lasting: PEX pipes can last around 50 years or more underground.
  • Green solution: PEX pipes also bring environmental advantages compared to traditional piping materials. They require fewer resources and energy to manufacture and they can be recycled to manufacture new pipes.

Professional Repiping Services

Let’s face it, your pipes are out of sight, out of mind and you’re busy—we get that. If you are fed up with experiencing creepy sounds and rust-colored water, you can count on D&F to help! We are friendly, knowledgeable, and experienced. And at the end of the day, we want you to be satisfied with our services and your plumbing. So give us a call today for quality plumbing services and crystal clear water you can trust!

Warning Signs You Need a Sewer Line Replacement

Broken sewer line. D & F Plumbing serving Vancouver WA and Portland OR talks about the warning signs you need a sewer line replacement.

Pooling water on lawn. D & F Plumbing serving Vancouver WA and Portland OR talks about the warning signs you need a sewer line replacement.Your sewer lines are buried underneath your property. They run from your home to the city sewer or septic tank. When these lines become damaged or clogged, they can burst and lead to sewage backups and pooling water in your lawn — which is not only a smelly nuisance but also a health hazard.

By learning to recognize the warning signs of sewer line issues, you can help prevent a damaged line from becoming a costly catastrophe.

Indoor Warning Signs

1. Sewage Backups

If you’re experiencing frequent sewage backups despite your attempts to clear your sewer line, you may have a more serious problem on your hands.

2. Unpleasant Odors

Sewage odors around your property are generally a sure-fire signs you have a ruptured sewer line or clog somewhere in your sewer line. A plumbing contractor can inspect your sewer lines with a video inspection camera to be sure. This doesn’t require digging.

3. Slow Draining

If one of your toilets or sinks is slowly draining, you likely have a clog somewhere. However, if you have several drains in your home that aren’t draining properly, it’s likely you have a problem with your drain line. All of your drains go into this mainline, so if you’re dealing with several plumbing problems all at once, you may need to have your sewer line inspected and/or replaced.

Attempting to resolve this issue yourself with chemical drain cleaners is not only ineffective for this type of problem, but you may potentially damage your pipes.

Outdoor Warning Signs

When a sewer line suffers a crack or ruptures, you may see evidence on your lawn. Pay attention if you notice any of the below signs.

4. Pools of Wastewater on Your Lawn

Sewage pooling on your property is often the most obvious sign you have a sewer line break. This can also be a sign of a clogged drainfield, if you use a septic system, or a mainline issue if you are connected to the municipal sewer.

2. Soggy Patches on Your Lawn

Do you have soggy patches on your lawn? This means there is a lot of water beneath. If you can’t account for the extra moistness in your lawn, it’s highly likely the pipes underground are damaged.

3. Lush Patches of Grass

When a sewer line breaks, wastewater is released in the soil on your property, fertilizing it. So if you have patches of grass that are more thick and green than the rest of your lawn, you may have a sewer line problem.

Experts in Sewer Line Line Replacement

A damaged sewer line can contaminate your groundwater and flood your property with wastewater, not only causing extensive damage but also putting your family’s health at risk.

Whether you want to learn the condition of your pipes or need your sewer line repaired or replaced, you can count on the plumbing contractors at D & F Plumbing. We’ve been getting the job done right since 1927!

6 Secrets About The Plumbing World You Might Not Know

D & F Plumbing staff. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals 6 secrets about the plumbing world you might not know.

An interview with the D&F Plumbing Customer Service Team provides a glimpse inside the world of plumbing.


At D&F Plumbing, we believe transparency and clarity are the best ways to build trustworthy relationships with our customers. We take pride in educating customers about the plumbing industry and how it works. In an effort to keep you informed, we’re filling you in on 6 secrets about our world.

Meet The Team

D & F Plumbing staff. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals 6 secrets about the plumbing world you might not know.

Each of these juicy tidbits comes from an interview with our Customer Service Representatives (known as CSR’s). Our CSR team is the first impression you get when calling our office.

Meet Brittney, Jenny and Tina; our customer advocates on the phones. With a combined 60 years of customer service experience, they’re dedicated to providing the highest levels of care for you. 

Each of these team players were hand-selected by the owners because of their friendly personalities and customer service skills. This stellar crew is always looking to refine and improve your impression of D&F Plumbing. 

CSR’s also contribute to the big picture of D&F by coordinating all team members through each phase of service—it’s a big and important role!

Here’s what they want you to know about customer service and the in-office process at a small Portland plumbing company:


What’s your favorite part about working directly with customers?


BRITTNEY: I’m always looking for the best solution. Customer satisfaction is important to me. Making even a little extra effort is noticed by our customers. I personalize the experience by being friendly and listening. And I always take quick action on whatever was requested. Getting stuff done right away is important.

JENNY: Being able to help customers. It’s satisfying to get positive feedback from customers about myself or the plumbers. I try to treat customers like they’re a friend, with sincerity.

TINA: I like when I can make a customer smile. I use humor to personalize the experience. I try to identify with customers and their situation. I can hear the customers’ smile through the phone. And if I can make someone laugh in a stressful situation, I’ve done a good job. Customers appreciate that I’m funny.


What do you wish customers understood about your job?


D & F Plumbing staff. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals 6 secrets about the plumbing world you might not know.

BRITTNEY: How much we do beyond answering phones. I’m glad we have a good team that plays to each other’s strengths. Between all of us, the bases are covered. But there’s so much to do [behind the scenes].

JENNY: Diffusing stressful situations is hard. I try to stay calm and find the quickest solution to be helpful. I didn’t cause the plumbing problem, but I’m here to help you fix it!

TINA: When things go wrong in the field, it isn’t our fault. We try our best to solve problems as they happen, but we don’t always have control over the situation. We’re helping customers and plumbers at the same time; we’re dealing with a lot of different problems at once.


How does your position fit in with other departments at D&F?


BRITTNEY: We’re involved in every step of the process. From starting the appointment and making sure all the info is correct, to getting the plumber out there, to making sure all notes and pictures have been added to the customer’s file, and that the correct amount was charged at the end. We help every single department.

JENNY: We help everybody. I wear so many hats. I don’t actually do that much dispatching because I do so many other things for people in the office. 

TINA: We help put all the puzzle pieces in place. We keep everyone in the loop throughout the plumbing project. Communication is a huge part of my job.


What should customers know about the plumbing industry?


D & F Plumbing staff. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals 6 secrets about the plumbing world you might not know.

BRITTNEY: Plumbing is expensive for good reason. People are always trying to dispute the cost, but there’s a lot of factors. And [D&F] is always up-front. [The plumbers] show the options, give estimates, and share the price before the job starts so you have control of the project.

D & F Plumbing staff. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals 6 secrets about the plumbing world you might not know.

JENNY: Our plumbers go through years of training to understand all phases of plumbing. People don’t understand how much work, experience, and schooling it takes. There’s a reason plumbers are called “skilled” labor.

TINA: That the plumber’s time and materials aren’t free. Our plumbers work hard to help lots of customers every day. Our plumbers don’t get enough recognition for the job they do.


How do you help the plumbers do their job better?


BRITTNEY: I do anything and everything to keep the day moving. Sometimes I add notes into invoices for plumbers or help them build estimates—they’ll dictate over the phone and I’ll type it in to make it easier. 

JENNY: I try to find out as much info about the plumbing problem as possible. For example, I always find out if the customer is supplying a part or fixture. If not, I make sure our plumber brings options for the customer to choose from.

TINA: I try to assist in any way I can. One time, I even drove a camera for a video inspection over to a plumber on my lunch break. I try to accommodate everyone.


What’s the difference between good customer service and exceptional customer service?


BRITTNEY: I love my job and the team we have. The feeling in the office is everyone being supportive. It’s that family-feeling. And that rolls into the customer experience.

JENNY: Going above and beyond instead of just doing the bare minimum. I also try to find ways to keep jobs cost-effective, by sharing about coupons or reminding plumbers to waive the dispatch fee on jobs over $500. I want customers to get the most out of their projects.

TINA: Communication and proper coordination between the plumber and customer. Just staying in contact with both keeps everyone happy and prevents miscommunications. I want to keep everyone in the loop all the time.

Have you had an exceptional experience with our Customer Service Representatives or plumbers? Click here to share your testimonial. We appreciate your feedback!

Why Are In-Home Plumbing Estimates Important?

Woman on the phone writing notes. D & F Plumbing talks about why in-home plumbing estimates are important in Portland OR & Vancouver WA.

Experiencing plumbing troubles? In-home estimates and inspections will save you money and extend the life of your plumbing.

Don Ochs, Service Manager at D&F Plumbing serving Portland OR & Vancouver WA.Don Ochs, Service Manager at D&F Plumbing, wants to save you from spending more than you should on plumbing repairs. He’s sharing pro advice from the perspective of 37 years in the plumbing industry in Oregon and Washington. 

Don has worked in many phases of plumbing, including residential service and remodels. So he understands what it takes to handle a plumbing project the right way.

With enough time and use, your fixtures and pipes will eventually need professional attention. Cost is a big deciding factor for most homeowners when choosing a plumbing company. The last thing you want is to spend money on an unexpected repair. 

And for most people, plumbing is the hardest thing to spend money on because you can’t see most of it. Unless you’re eagerly planning a bathroom remodel or kitchen remodel, fixing pipes that hide out-of-sight may not feel like an exciting investment (even though it’s crucial to your health and home!).

But hiring the cheapest company or handyman you can find isn’t always the best choice. In fact, Don visits lots of homes where DIY-jobs and unskilled amateurs did more harm than good. And despite trying to save money, the homeowner spent more in the long run.

Should I Price Shop To Compare Plumbers?

Woman on the phone writing notes. D & F Plumbing talks about why in-home plumbing estimates are important in Portland OR & Vancouver WA.When you call a plumbing company, you might be tempted to ask for pricing over the phone. For most purchases, this seems like an obvious way to price-shop and compare.  

Unfortunately, plumbing solutions aren’t so clear-cut. Most of your plumbing is hidden behind walls, in ceilings or underground. That makes it hard to offer a price for any given service. Every home is unique and every problem is different.

When choosing a plumbing contractor in Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA, it’s better to investigate the quality of their work and experience. Instead of cost, consider things like:

  • Is the plumber licensed and trained to handle local safety codes?
  • How long has the plumbing company been in business?
  • Does the plumbing company have a good reputation?
  • Is the plumbing company insured in the event of an injury?
  • Is the rate hourly or project-based?
  • Does the rate include materials?

These questions will give you a clearer outline of whether the company is qualified to handle your plumbing problem. 

Another huge factor in cost is the problem itself. You might think you’re facing a simple issue, but it could be the symptom of something much bigger. 

For example, in the Pacific Northwest, clogged drains are commonly caused by tree root invasion. This is a much bigger threat to your plumbing then a clump of hair stuck in the shower drain. But how could a plumber know which is the actual cause of your clogged drain without a detailed in-person inspection?

Another example is water heaters. Water heater services may seem straightforward, but there are a lot of variables that affect water heater repair and replacement. Here are just a few factors that affect the plumbing cost for a new water heater:

  • The type (gas, electric, solar, hybrid, tankless, etc)
  • The location (basement, laundry room, garage, etc)
  • Size of tank 
  • Is it easily accessible?
  • Do you have the correct pipes and condensation drainage already in place?
  • Are the pipes in good shape?
  • What material are your pipes and fittings?
  • Is the space large enough to accommodate a new, larger tank?
  • Will drywall be removed or repatched during installation?

You can see how so many details affect the scope of work! Because of this, it’s nearly impossible to give an accurate price without investigating the situation.

With insight on the many factors that a plumber is faced with, our Service Manager, Don, explains that many homeowners aren’t familiar enough with plumbing to know what they’re looking at:

“Asking a non-expert to describe the problem is not the same as a journeyman plumber examining all the details in-person.”

Don says that’s why in-home estimates by a professional are so important. How can they really know what’s going on without getting their eyes on the problem?

Pricing over the phone is also challenging because the person you’re talking to isn’t a plumbing specialist.

How To Identify The Correct Plumbing Problem

The person answering your call is often referred to as a Customer Service Representative (CSR) or Dispatcher. Their role is customer service, scheduling, and dispatching.

Your friendly CSR will listen to your needs and ask questions like:

  • What problem are you experiencing?
  • How long has this been happening?
  • How old is the equipment?
  • Have you taken any steps to fix the issue?

While they might be familiar with industry terminology, or they might sound like they know a bit about plumbing, they are not a licensed and trained technician. 

Don’t expect a CSR to know the ins and outs of plumbing. A quote from a CSR would be nothing more than a guess. 

Having a skilled plumber on-site to investigate your plumbing is the only way to correctly determine the problem.

What If I Take A Picture Or Video?

Man and woman taking photo of plumbing problem. D & F Plumbing talks about why in-home plumbing estimates are important in Vancouver WA and Portland OR.Some customers will ask if they can just send a picture or video to get a quote. While a visual is helpful, Don says it’s not enough information to correctly diagnose the problem:

“A picture doesn’t do it justice. What’s on the other side of the wall? Was the plumbing installed without a permit? Are pipes corroded and rotting away? A pro needs to look at the whole plumbing system. You’ve got to turn on the water, test the pressure, look into the drain… You can never give a final price if you can’t see it in-person.” 

And without accurate troubleshooting, how can you be sure the repair is actually going to fix the problem? 

After all, if you’re paying for work to be done, you want the result to last. That’s where a dispatch fee comes in.

Why A Dispatch Fee? And What Does It Include?

Some people bristle when they hear a company say “dispatch fee.” But it’s an essential part of investing in a lasting solution for your plumbing.

Dispatch fees are very common in the home service industry. You may hear different terms like “consultation,” “inspection,” or “proposal,” but they all mean the same thing; you’re investing in a visit from a licensed, bonded and insured technician who’s an expert in their field to assess the situation. 

You’re not just paying for the time a plumber spends at your home, you’re paying for years of experience, skilled craftsmanship, tools, equipment, and on-going education.

Don likes to fill customers in on a dirty little industry secret. He explains:

“Many companies won’t claim to have dispatch fees. But chances are that cost is hidden within their standard pricing. Most people will end up paying for a dispatch fee whether they realize it or not.”

At D&F Plumbing, we do our best to be up-front and transparent. Paying for quality is crucial to your plumbing’s lifespan and performance. Because of that, we charge a competitive dispatch and diagnosis fee for our highly-skilled plumbers.

D&F Plumbing’s dispatch fee guarantees:

  1. You’ll get on the schedule quickly: Same-day appointments and 24/7 service are a must in your time of need!
  2. You can enjoy the undivided attention of a qualified technician: Instead of rushing out the door to get to the next customer, your plumber will spend time focusing on your plumbing. 
  3. Your tech will get their eyes on the problem: This allows them to properly evaluate your unique problem and find the right solution.
  4. You’ll have years of training and industry knowledge at your disposal to find you the best, long-lasting repair.

The dispatch fee also includes a complimentary, in-depth 5-point visual inspection. This is the best way to have all your most important plumbing components checked while you already have a plumber in your home. 

Homeowners love taking advantage of the 5-point inspection for preventative maintenance and avoiding emergencies!

What To Expect From An Inspection

Plumber inspects plumbing next to woman. D &F Plumbing talks about why in -home plumbing estimates are important in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.How can you get the most for your money when a trained expert arrives to look at your plumbing? Don says to make sure you:

“Hire a plumbing contractor who will inspect the whole plumbing system to look for deeper, underlying causes, not just the task at hand.”

With an in-home inspection, Don says you should expect a good plumber to:

  • Examine the problem and all associated problems
  • Take you along and show you what they see
  • Educate you on any available options
  • Bring other potential problems to your attention
  • Go over any factory warranties
  • Review your solution and explain clear, upfront pricing

Having a plumber stop by for a repair or maintenance isn’t a bad thing. It’s a good time for you to be notified of any possible future problems. This will save you from surprise emergencies, inconvenience, and damage to your home. 

“Bringing any other problems to your attention isn’t to upsell. It’s to protect you. It’s an education.”

Don explains that a good plumber should be honest with customers, even when it’s not what they want to hear. The ultimate goal is solving the real problem, not slapping on a bandaid. 

At D&F Plumbing, we love problem-solving. Investigating the root cause of your plumbing issue is just the beginning. Our 5-point visual inspection will safeguard your plumbing and wallet. And we always offer pricing-by-the-project and options to keep the repair in your control.

Need the help of an experienced plumber? Our techs pay attention to the little details and provide fast, high-quality work. Call D&F Plumbing to schedule a qualified specialist today!

Is it Time to Replace Your Plumbing?

Frustrated women holding bucket to catch water leaking from ceiling. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals ways to determine if it's time to replace your home's plumbing.

Frustrated women holding bucket to catch water leaking from ceiling. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals ways to determine if it's time to replace your home's plumbing.Pipes, like most other things, will eventually need to be replaced. This is especially true if your plumbing is over 50-years-old and still has galvanized steel piping. Your plumbing can begin to fail due to age, lack of maintenance, or extreme weather fluctuations. And when your plumbing completely fails, you run the risk of property damage.

Your plumbing, for the most part, is concealed behind walls and concrete so you may not often think about it; out of sight, out of mind. So today, we’re delving into home plumbing and discussing ways you can help identify a failing plumbing system.

Signs of Failing Plumbing

Some of the most obvious signs that your plumbing is failing are:

  • Water leaks
  • Corrosion
  • Cracked pipes

However, you may also experience:

  • Water-stained floors
  • Warped flooring
  • Wet baseboards
  • Low water pressure
  • Unusual noises in your plumbing, like gurgling or rattling
  • Frequent clogs
  • Rust-colored water

Frequent plumbing repairs are another indicator that your plumbing is failing. If you’re constantly spending time and money on repairs, you may want to consider entirely replacing your home’s plumbing. Getting your home repiped will save you more money in the long run.

Types of Piping

There are a variety of pipe materials out there used in home plumbing, each with its own set of lifespans. At D & F Plumbing, we strongly believe in copper and PEX (PolyEthylene Cross-linked) for home plumbing.

PEX blue piping. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals ways to determine if it's time to replace your home's plumbing.
PEX piping.
  • PEX: This is a high-density plastic material manufactured without solvents, chemicals or glues. It is durable, flexible, and it doesn’t corrode, freeze, or scale. PEX also requires fewer fittings and less labor, making the installation process quicker and affordable.
Up close of copper piping. D & F Plumbing serving Portland OR and Vancouver WA reveals ways to determine if it's time to replace your home's plumbing.
Copper piping.
  • Copper: Copper has been the preferred material for decades. This material is corrosion resistant and has a lifespan of about 50+ years.

It’s also worth noting, both of the materials can be used in conjunction with one another.

The Benefits of a Whole House Repipe

  • Improved water pressure
  • No more water leaks
  • High-quality water
  • Peace of mind
  • A positive selling point for your home
  • Increase in home’s value

The Problem with Galvanized Pipes

If your home was built over 20 years ago, you may have corroded or damaged pipes that could cause you costly problems for you later. Galvanized metal pipes which were common before 1960 can deteriorate very quickly and cost you thousands of dollars in water damage. They can also contain amounts of lead.

If you think your home could use a copper repipe or PEX repipe, you’ll want to contact your local plumbing company, for an estimate.