When Should You Replace Your Water Heater?

Broken water heater element. D & F Plumbing serving Vancouver WA and Portland OR talks about when should you replace your water heater.

Broken water heater element. D & F Plumbing serving Vancouver WA and Portland OR talks about when should you replace your water heater.Are your showers the temperature of that nasty lukewarm cup of tea you never finished? That could be a sign you need to replace your water heater. We can help — spend tea time chatting with us about when you should replace your water heater.

Is Your Water Heater Aging Out?

How long is a water heater even supposed to last? Well, that depends on whether it’s gas or electric. Electric water heaters usually last 8-10 years, whereas gas water heaters last about 6-8 years. They don’t, however, always last this long. And on some occasions, they will even surpass this timeline. In fact, we replaced one electric water heater that lasted 40 years! Check out the whole story here.

Is Your Water Bill Rising?

Hot water is an absolute necessity. From doing your dishes and laundry, to cooking and washing your hands, water is used everywhere. Sadly, hot water isn’t free.

If your water heater is declining in health, you’ll be declining in wealth. A water heater becoming inefficient can cost a lot of money. It will often cost more to use a run down water heater than just replacing it.

Is Your Water Rusty?

Rusty or tinted water could mean a couple things are going on with your plumbing. However, if it’s only coming out of your hot water side, it definitely has to do with your water heater. 

It’s time to clear up the waters. Let’s do a little test to help you find out what’s really going on. Fill a bucket with water 3 times. If by the end of the third bucket your water still looks rusty, then your water heater likely needs replacing.

Strange Noises Coming From Your Heater

Do you hear strange clanging sounds coming from your water heater? Some ticking or tapping sounds are normal, but if you notice they start to sound different, you may have a problem. 

As the heater is used, sediment will get heated, reheated, and will eventually harden. This causes strange sounds, which usually means your heater is at the end of its life. Having a layer of hardened sediment can cause less efficiency. The heater will have to work harder and it can cause small holes or cracks. This generally results in leaks, which could eventually cost more than just replacing the heater.

Age, money, rust, noises, who knew it all had so much to do with enjoying a cozy shower? Save time and money by calling the Plumbers in Plaid to help you diagnose your water heater.

Winter Plumbing Tips

Frozen outdoor pipe. D & F talks about winter plumbing tips to help prevent a pipe from rupturing in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

Frozen outdoor pipe. D & F talks about winter plumbing tips to help prevent a pipe from rupturing in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.

Frozen pipes and burst pipes are expensive and stressful to deal with. During cold temperatures, burst pipes are one of the most common causes of property damage, estimating about $5,000 in repairs. Yikes! Save yourself the cost, stress, and damage related to frozen pipes and follow these helpful winter plumbing tips from us instead, before Old Man Winter strikes! You’ll be glad you did.

Insulate Pipes

The pipes most at risk are the ones located in attics, garages, and crawl spaces. However, pipes in cupboards and exterior walls can also freeze. One way to protect the pipes in these vulnerable areas is with pipe insulation. Pipe insulation is affordable, easy to install, and can be found at most hardware stores.

You can also use a heat cable for vulnerable pipes as long as you have an electrical outlet nearby.

Apply Faucet Covers

Whether you call them faucets or sillcocks these outdoor plumbing fixtures can burst from cold air if left unprotected. Drain all of your outside faucets and cover them. You can purchase foam faucet covers from most retailers. After you’ve insulated your outdoor faucets, deactivate them at the shutoff valve.

Winterize Outdoor Drains

Remove foliage and other debris from your gutters, downspouts, and storm drains to ensure all of your exterior drains work properly. This will help prevent flooding during heavy rainfall and snow.

Shut off the Water When Leaving Town

If you’re heading out of town for a few days, you may want to shut off your main water supply. This will help prevent excessive damage if your pipes do freeze and burst while you’re gone.

Keep Your Thermostat Consistent

Although many homeowners tend to lower their thermostats to save money, this plan may actually backfire. Burst pipes cost much more than the money you’d be saving on your energy bill. Instead, we recommend you keep your thermostat settings consistent throughout the day and night. This will keep your home comfortable and keep your pipes free of ice.

Inspect Your Water Heater

You rely on your water heater for showers, laundry, and dishes. The last thing you want is for your water heater to break during a cold snap, so make sure it is running properly and efficiently. Signs you may need water heater maintenance or repairs include rusty water, water leaks, and unusual sounds from your water heater.

Keep Kitchen Drains Clear

This time of year is a common time for holiday gatherings and feasts. Just be sure to properly dispose of food. Don’t pour grease, oils, or fats down your kitchen drain or garbage disposal or you may suffer a drain clog.

Let the grease harden then scrape it in a trash can. If you do experience a kitchen drain clog, don’t use any store-bought products. These are not long-term solutions and can damage your pipes as they carve away at the lining. Instead, contact your local plumber. They have professional-grade equipment like snakes and video inspection tools.

What to do if you have a frozen pipe

If you have a frozen pipe, it’s important to react as quickly as possible before it bursts. Apply warm rags to the pipe. If the pipe is inaccessible, contact your local plumber to thaw it and inspect it for damage.

We hope these tips help you as you work to winterize your plumbing this year. If you have a frozen pipe or burst pipe on your hands, give us a call. We provide emergency plumbing services and affordable financing.

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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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!

A 40-Year-Old Water Heater Upgrade With Instant Results!

Traditional water heater next to electric water heater. D&F Plumbing talks about upgrading a 40-year-old water heater with instant results!

Traditional water heater next to electric water heater. D&F Plumbing talks about upgrading a 40-year-old water heater with instant results!Steven, a new D&F Plumbing customer, wanted to upgrade his outdated 40-year-old water heater for his growing family while still providing energy efficiency. But it came with challenges.

  • Steven wanted to upgrade from a 52-gallon tank to an 80-gallon tank which requires more space
  • Hybrid water heaters have a condensation drain pipe so a sink or floor drain must be nearby for water run-off
  • Hybrid water heaters need airflow, so the tank needed to sit 6 inches away from the wall without obstructing walkways or doorways

Fortunately, we at D&F Plumbing are very skilled with water heaters and we strive for customer satisfaction. We provided Steven with several options that worked with his needs and budget, keeping him in control of the project.

Learn which cost-saving solution Steven decided on by clicking the “learn more” button below!

Learn More

Motivated By Money: The Millennial Passion For Plumbing

Meet a millennial in the skilled trades and our youngest plumber in the field as he discusses the benefits of a career in construction.

Ask any high school senior where they’re headed after graduation and most will say “college.” The academic route is peddled on students by parents, teachers and guidance counselors. Multiple generations are now burdened with nearly $1.5 trillion in “good debt” for increasingly irrelevant degrees.

A university-only mindset creates a narrow view of what’s possible for the careers and bank accounts of young people.

If you were born in 1981 or later, you fall into the millennial or post-millennial category. The academia mantra hit this age bracket the hardest. Regardless of skills, abilities, interests, or potential for success, the theme was college or bust. And now we’re seeing the result.

Why Are the Skilled Trades in Demand?

The result is a skills gap that’s ever-widening. There’s not enough skilled labor to meet demand. And precious few young people have any interest or understanding of what a career in the trades can offer.

There’s well over 7 million available jobs in the US. Many of these open positions are in the construction field. But a combination of record low unemployment, a lack of interest in the industry, and a lack of technical expertise creates a disparity for employers and job seekers. And with baby boomers (the over-55 crowd) retiring out of the trades in coming years, skilled workers will continue to be in high demand.

High demand means high pay. And a healthy paycheck seems to be the most enticing factor for many young job seekers.

The Future of the Trades

At D&F Plumbing, we’re proud to employ qualified workers of all ages. This month, we’re featuring Trent Rutledge, a millennial at our shop who joined the plumbing trade for one primary goal: money.

Trent, a 26-year-old journeyman plumber, has been in the industry since he was 19. We interviewed Trent about his path to plumbing and weren’t surprised by his answers.

Like most high schoolers, there was little information available to Trent about anything other than the university tradition. Counselors and teachers “made college seem like a requirement.”

As a young adult, he knew there were only two options to succeed; work or school. Trent attended community college for a few semesters, but left, knowing it wasn’t a good fit.

Many people think jobs in construction or roles that require hard physical work are a “last-resort,” and only serve as an alternative to burger-flipping minimum wage jobs.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison

But Trent knew a few friends who worked in the trades, specifically in plumbing. He also knew they enjoyed sizeable paychecks. After leaving college Trent became a laborer, where he got his hands dirty prepping job sites for the licensed plumbers to come in and handle the finish work.

Digging ditches and doing prep work was only the beginning. Motivated by the paycheck, Trent joined the plumbing apprenticeship program. This earn-as-you-learn program takes 4 years to complete, and gave Trent the experience to become a licensed journeyman plumber in the local union.

Apprenticeships are an optimal route for young people. Instead of taking on student debt, you get to make money while learning the ins and outs of the industry. When you join the union at the end of your apprenticeship, you’re awarded more responsibility, and ultimately more money.

Summer of 2017, Trent joined the D&F team as a journeyman plumber. He works primarily in new construction. His current project is a hotel build that’s been in the works for the last several months.

Are Skilled Trades Worth It?

Trent was honest about the challenges of working in the trades. While money is a good reason to get up for work in the morning, there are some downsides.

“The work is challenging—being in the weather is hard. But I work with a good group of guys,” Trent said.

The Pacific Northwest weather can be miserable and hard labor can be grueling, but for now, the paycheck is worth it.

Yet a job in the trades is aspirational. Many young plumbers have goals of becoming project managers, estimators, foremen, or business owners. These ambitious workers gain skills and learn about the industry in the field, which prepares them for loftier goals down the road.

Jobs in the trades pay very well, especially when you’re licensed and unionized. In Oregon, plumbers make some of the highest wages in their field. With shops competing for good workers, many employees are further incentivized with bonuses and commission programs. It’s very possible to inch towards the 6 figure bracket after just a handful of years. Living wage? That’s nothing. You can actually prosper in the trades.

Job security is also an attractive benefit of the trades. With such high demand for proficient workers, you’re almost guaranteed a job for the rest of your life. And a position in plumbing will be in demand no matter where you live. You’re not limited to a specific region, you can take your career with you wherever you go.

Plus, in this field, you won’t be burdened with substantial student debt. Slinging soy lattes to pay off $100k for a piece of paper that has no relevance is a thing of the past when you join the trades.

Not to mention health benefits for you and the whole family, from medical to dental and eye care. Paid time-off for vacations? Definitely. Some plumbing companies, like D&F Plumbing, even provide company trucks, a cell phone, a fuel card, etc. The benefits are incredibly competitive because of the staggering need for good workers.

Money might create the drive for a plumbing career, but genuine satisfaction comes from a higher purpose. Millennials crave careers that are fulfilling. Plumbers contribute to the overall health and well-being of the community. Clean, safe water is our life-source and providing that access makes for a worthwhile 9-to-5. If money is the starting point for millennials, meaningful work is the big payoff.

It might take time, a positive attitude and a strong work ethic, but a career in the trades could lead to the luxury lifestyle every millennial dreams of.

Trent left us with some advice for young people who are deciding between work or school. He said, “If you don’t have a goal for college, if you’re thinking ‘oh, I’ll figure it out later,’ don’t go. Join the trades instead.”

Why ramble through school, switching majors and racking up debt? You could receive paid training in the trades and start a rewarding career immediately. College isn’t a requirement to succeed and the plumbing industry isn’t all about bathrooms and butt cracks.

If you like meaningful work, organization, problem solving, creativity, leadership, technology, critical thinking, working with your hands and making good money, there’s a place for you in the skilled trades.

Pacific Northwest Trees and Plants That Cause Plumbing Problems

Pipe with roots inside. D & F Plumbing talks about the plants and trees in the Pacific Northwest that can damage plumbing.

Pipe with roots inside. D & F Plumbing talks about the plants and trees in the Pacific Northwest that can damage plumbing.Trees, shrubs, and fruit orchards are what make The Pacific Northwest The Pacific Northwest! But all of that beautiful greenery can come with a downside. It can be putting your plumbing system in danger. In this blog post, we’ll delve into how roots can damage your plumbing and offer tips to prevent this from happening on your property.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

When adding a tree or shrub to your landscaping, the last thing you’re likely thinking about is its roots. Roots grow toward nearby water sources– which oftentimes is your plumbing system. If a root finds a leak in your plumbing, it will wreak havoc in your piping, seeking the nutrients it needs to grow.

Roots can penetrate any type of piping. While clay is most susceptible, PVC and concrete pipes are not immune either.

Damage Roots Can Cause

Once a root penetrates your home’s sewer line, many problems can occur.

  • A toilet can backup
  • Interrupted water supply
  • Slow draining or clogged drains

After this happens, you’ll need to call in the professionals. In Washington and Oregon it is your responsibility, not the city’s to handle sewer leaks and repairs if they occur on the property.

Prevention is Key

There are many different products and methods to help with root control.

Avoid Certain Species

Aspens, maples, and willows are trees that aggressive and invasive roots. So you may want to avoid these on your property, especially if it’s smaller.

Locate Your Plumbing and Plant Accordingly

The Utility Notification Center commonly called “Call Before You Dig” is for contractors and homeowners planning to dig. This resource is available for people in both Washington and Oregon. Technicians will professionally locate all your sewer and other utility lines and mark them. After you have this information, you’ll have a better idea of good planting locations. Keep in mind, you may want to also plant your trees at least 10 feet away from your sidewalks and foundation to help prevent roots from damaging those as well.

Physical Measures

Metal or wood barriers can be purchased and installed to help stop roots from growing in a certain direction. However, this method can cause the tree to be unstable and make it more susceptible to blowing over in strong winds.

A long tool called an auger can also be used in piping that has been infiltrated by roots. The auger travels down the drain and cuts the roots. This method is typically just a quick fix so it is often used with another type of root control.

Chemical Solution

There are some toxic chemicals out on the market that stops or slows root growth when poured down the drain. This method kills the plants and could potentially harm the environment.

Professional Inspection

Clogs in your home happen. But it’s important to know what is causing the clog. At D & F Plumbing, we’ll use video equipment to perform inspections of your sewer line. And if roots have indeed infiltrated your plumbing line we’ll find a solution and have your system up and running again in no time. So contact us today for your plumbing needs in Portland and Clark County!

Closing The Skilled Trades Gap With Women

D & F Plumbing Services in Portland ORThe Key To Solving The Skilled Trades Labor Shortage

As the baby boomers head into their golden years, the labor force suffers from a lack of skilled workers. By 2030, 70 million boomers will leave the workforce. Where will that put the construction and manufacturing sectors?

Skilled trade jobs are currently the hardest positions to fill. This means customers are waiting longer and paying more for service. It makes hiring harder for employers, who struggle to find and keep good workers. Infrastructure falls by the wayside, water systems are unmaintained, and new construction is limited.

Want to know how to solve the skilled trades gap? Involve women.

Just 50 years ago, we rarely saw women turning a wrench or wearing a hard hat. But times have changed. Women in the trades are becoming more commonplace. Women see these new opportunities and are willing to get their hands dirty for a worthy payoff.

A Special Guest From Women In Trades

At D&F Plumbing, we hosted a motivated young woman from the Women In Trades pre-apprenticeship program. Amelia Templeton got a taste of what it’s like to be a technician for residential plumbing service and new construction.

Growing up, Amelia saw the lifestyle a career in the trades offers. She opted out of college to pursue the plumbing industry instead. As she shadowed a few of our most experienced journeymen plumbers, Amelia was encouraged by how welcoming the team was.

She didn’t feel any of the awkwardness or animosity that people warned her about. She said being a woman on the job site wasn’t a problem at all—everyone was eager to show her the ropes and answer her questions. Amelia was honest, saying the biggest challenge for her in this field would be her physical stature and strength. Fortunately, the program she’s in trains women on fitness conditioning. With experience, muscle development and advancing technology, physical strength will become less of a struggle in plumbing.

Amelia expects to see more women join the trades in the coming years, and she wants to do her part to recruit more women. She shared her advice to other women and young girls interested in the trades saying, “you can do whatever you pursue,” and “never be afraid to ask questions. That will help you get the job done right the first time.” We couldn’t agree more.

The Cultural Shift Of Women In Blue-Collar Jobs Leads To Countless Possibilities

Skilled trade careers aren’t just about getting your hands dirty. These positions demand critical thinking, good customer service, problem-solving skills, strategy, and organization. A good understanding of technology and a love for math help too. And there’s no need for a college degree and years of student debt. With financial stability, medical benefits, bonuses, and retirement packages, why wouldn’t women take part?

D&F Plumbing celebrates women and encourages gender equality in the trades. There’s been progress in the last few decades, but women still only make up a small percentage of employees in these industries.

If you’re a woman interested in pursuing a rewarding career in the trades, take advantage of pre-apprentice and apprenticeship programs. These earn-as-you-learn systems give you education and experience while you earn a living wage. Programs like Pathways To Success puts you on a fast track into the union and helps with job placement.

We’re partial to seeing women in the plumbing industry, but electricians, machinists, fabricators, carpenters and many other jobs offer similar opportunities. We won’t lie—a career in the trades is hard work. Its physically and intellectually demanding. But anyone up for the challenge can succeed in these lucrative and worthwhile careers.

Plumbing Concerns for Your Older Home

D & F Plumbing reveals plumbing concerns older homes in Portland OR and Vancouver WA could have.

D & F Plumbing reveals plumbing concerns older homes in Portland OR and Vancouver WA could have.

Older homes are definitely sought after for their character and charm, however maintaining them can come with challenges, especially when it comes to the home’s plumbing. In this article, we will further discuss the common plumbing concerns found in older homes.

Outdated Pipe Materials

Many old homes were equipped with pipes made from materials that are no longer approved by US building codes including:

  • Lead: Lead is one of the oldest metals used in piping. Although the US restricted the use of lead in the 1920s, it wasn’t banned by congress until 1986. It poses health hazards.
  • Galvanized: This type of piping was used before the 1960s. It’s made from iron and covered with a layer of zinc which can erode over time, becoming susceptible to rust.
  • Polybutylene: Many homes constructed between the late ‘70s and early ‘90s had polybutylene pipes installed because of their affordability and ease of installation, however they were found to fail after some time. The material poses a health risk and must be replaced.

Problems with Copper Piping

If your home was built before the banning of lead, any remaining copper piping may have been fitted with lead-based solders. You’ll need to have your water tested if that’s the case. Also, copper pipes are notorious for being stolen because of their resale value. So you must make sure the piping system is complete.

Water Pressure Issues

Pipe erosion, particularly from zinc, can cause your pipes to close up and become less effective over time. This could make showering and washing dishes a hassle, and cause the tank on your toilet to take longer to refill.

Pipe Belly Formation

Pipe bellies are a bend in the pipes that occur from house settling. This can cause water not to flow properly through the pipes and create blockages.

Failing Sewer Lines

Older homes are more likely to have sewer line problems due to the Earth’s shifting or from being damaged by tree roots.

Mold and Mildew Issues

Over time, leaky pipes can create serious water damage, particularly in basements and bathrooms. Mold and mildew are concerning because they can cause severe structural damage to a home and create health problems for those living in the home.

Weird Plumbing System

Many old homes have been re-purposed and changed throughout the years, leaving them with strangely configured plumbing systems. Oftentimes older homes have been found to have botched repair jobs and installations as well. These issues can make it difficult for your plumber to find the exact cause of a current problem.


If you’re thinking of buying a fixer upper, contact D & F Plumbing, we’d be happy to complete a comprehensive plumbing inspection for you. We also use we use video inspection to diagnose any sewer line issues. 

Common Reasons for Low Water Pressure

Low water pressure can be frustrating, especially when it happens slowly over time. If you’ve been noticing that your water flow is slower than it used to be, or if you’ve noticed a drastic difference in water pressure, take a look at common reasons for low water pressure.

Do you have faulty fixtures?

Faulty fixtures are an extremely common cause of slow or low water pressure. Sediment or buildup can occur on smaller components within a fixture, including on a screen or within a faucet aerator. If the low water pressure is experience within a shower, check your showerhead–mineral buildup is a common occurrence within shower fixtures.

Is the Pressure Regulator Failing?

If you’ve checked all of your fixtures for sediment and faulty aerators, your pressure regulator is the next likely culprit. Located with the main water valve for your home, this important fixture regulates the force of the water coming into your home. Too much force, and the water flow could damage fixtures within your plumbing system. Too little force, and you’ll have a water flow problem!

These regulators can be damaged or fail over time, so make sure to check your water pressure regulator once a year.

Is the Main House Shutoff Valve Open?

Every house has a main water valve for water coming into the house. If you’ve just recently had service done on your plumbing, your main water valve may have been shut off while the work was being done. If your water pressure still hasn’t returned to normal after the plumbing service, check the main water valve and make sure it’s fully open.

Remember: never force a valve open! It can damage the valve, making a serious repair necessary.

Do You Have Clogged Water Pipes?

Many people don’t think of incoming water pipes as being able to be clogged, but they can be! Tree roots and galvanization are the most likely culprits, and both of these happen over time. If you’ve felt a slow and steady drop in water pressure and all of your fixtures are clear, you can have your pipes inspected via video. An experienced plumbing contractor like D & F Plumbing can use video inspection to see just what is clogging your pipes.

Is the Water Meter Valve Fully Open?

Your home also has another valve that controls incoming water located at the water meter itself. Usually only city employees have access to the water meter valve, but you can check to make sure it’s fully open.

Do you have a leak?

This can be harder to investigate on your own, but if the leak is inside of your home, this one might be the most obvious! Any signs of pooling water, drips, or streams of water on the walls, floors, or underneath fixtures can point to a water leak. If you don’t see any water but notice that your water bill has gone up significantly over the last couple of months, you may have a water leak in a main water pipe, or within your plumbing system. It’s best to call a professional plumber if you suspect a leak, to be sure the leak is fixed properly.

Is there a problem with your water heater?

This last tip is one that many homeowners don’t think about. Just like fixtures, water heaters also have screens and components within them that can get clogged with sediment over time. If one of those screens (or filters) is too clogged, it won’t allow as much hot water flow through to a pipe, slowing your water pressure. Once a year, your water heater should be drained and fully inspected by a plumbing professional, to avoid sediment from building up and lowering your water pressure.

Call D & F Plumbing for Low Water Pressure Problems

If you’ve investigated all of the above and you still can’t find a reason for your low water pressure, contact D & F Plumbing. Our expert journeyman plumbing contractors would be happy to inspect your plumbing system for leaks, faulty pipes or fixtures, and any other plumbing issue that could be causing your frustratingly low water pressure!