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Outdated Pipe Materials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!

Eight Things That Can Damage Your Plumbing

Eight Things That Can Damage Your Plumbing

Plumbing is one of the most vital parts of a home’s infrastructure. Sadly, there are a lot of things that can seriously damage it. In this article, let’s take a look at some of the most common culprits and how to minimize or completely eliminate the damage they can do.

  1. Do It Yourself Fixes

    A homeowner may be able to “kludge” together a fix for a leaky pipe or broken valve, but usually, the damage done over time by leaving such temporary fixes in place will lead to bigger problems. Plumbing systems are more complex than they appear. Smart homeowners trust a professional to fix things the right way.

  2. Harsh Chemicals In Home Products

    Chemicals in home products such as drain cleaner can also cause problems. What might seem like a quick and easy way to fix a clog can actually eat away at the pipes and do serious damage. It is recommended that a professional be called when a homeowner cannot remove a clog manually. Others try a all-natural clog-removing recipe. Toilet fresheners are another issue. Aside from harsh, pipe-damaging chemicals, toilet fresheners are usually very durable. If a piece breaks off, it is almost sure to cause a blockage that won’t quickly disintegrate.

  3. Roots

    Roots deep in the ground can often work their way into pipes in your system, leading to leaking and backing up of water. Those who live in older buildings often call in a professional with a “rooter” which snakes through the pipes and removes any invasive root growth.

  4. Septic Tank Chemicals

    Dumping bleach, paint, acid and other household chemicals down the drain into the septic tank can cause a build up of corrosive materials that can end up impacting your pipes and tank. It’s better to dispose of these through other means.

  5. Grease

    Grease has no place in a plumbing system. As it cools, it hardens and can become a “clogged artery” in the piping. It’s difficult to remove and can completely block up a pipe.

  6. Disposing of Trash Through Plumbing System

    There are things the garbage disposal can digest that it really shouldn’t. The previously mentioned problems with grease and other harsh chemicals are not really mitigated by passing through the garbage disposal. Bones and other durable things can still cause a blockage even once they’ve been hacked into smaller pieces.

    Flushing items down the toilet is also a common cause for blockage and backups. Just because the toilet can manage to ingest some garbage does not mean it will make it all the way through your system. Many make the mistake of causing major blockage by flushing down things that don’t belong in the toilet just because it is easier.

  7. Old Water Heaters

    Water heaters should be replaced about every 10 years. When they break down, they can cause backups, leaking and other havoc in your home. Many homeowners recommend regular inspections to make sure things are in good working order. The water heater is another device that should be left to professionals.

  8. Old Hoses

    Most people do not think about the hoses on their dishwasher or washing machine. However, these degrade over time and can cause leakage and other problems when they give out. It is recommended that they be replaced every five years.

    Clearly, the plumbing system has its fair share of enemies, but simple maintenance and avoidance of certain items and habits will go a long way to keeping things working well. Whenever in doubt, the best thing to do is have a professional look at the system before things stop working.

Common Plumbing Problems During the Summer

Summer time plumbing problems handled by D and F plumbing in Portland and Beaverton OR

Summer Plumbing Problems

Summer time plumbing problems handled by D and F plumbing in Portland and Beaverton ORWhile summer tends to mark the emergence of many good things, it can also bring summer-specific plumbing problems. These issues can cause everything from minor nuisances to major problems that require a small fortune to repair.

The good news is that many of these summer plumbing problems can be avoided with the right habits and some preventative plumbing maintenance.

Let’s explore some of the summer plumbing issues that individuals tend to encounter.

  1. Leaking Washing Machine Hoses – As the weather becomes more favorable, people tend to go outdoors more often. This results in dirtier clothes, which in turn means that washing machine hose issues arise.Check hoses for cracks, breaks and other defects. They should be replaced every three years to prevent problems like leaking and flooding. Washing machines should have four inches of space between the machine and the wall to prevent hose kinking and other damage. Washing machine hose issues can generally be handled by a homeowner unless leaks or other problems persist. A plumber should be called to prevent damage if a hose leak repeatedly develops.
  2. Sump Pumps – Sump pumps are designed to keep water out of basements and other areas where the water could damage buildings and breed mold. Residents seldom check their sump pumps, which leads to these problems when the first few summer downpours happen.The first thing to do is to test a sump pump. This can be done by lifting the float slightly to see if the pump engages.The second thing to do is to see if the sump pump works when the power is out. A battery backup system will enable sump pumps to continue working even when the power gets knocked out due to a storm.The last thing to examine is to see if the pump adequately drains the area. More water may flow in to basements as the result of dry soil during a downpour. While homeowners can examine some aspects of sump pumps, a plumber should be called yearly to maintain and inspect them.
  3. Tree Roots – Spring often leads trees to developing new roots, but it is summer when these roots spread everywhere they can. This includes old sewer and water lines.Old PVC, clay and cast iron pipes are susceptible to damage from tree roots. Copper piping has some resistance due to copper’s toxicity to trees, but it can also be affected.If tree roots have been a problem, then consider replacing lines with PEX or new copper piping rather than just clearing tree root blockages.Given the tenacity of tree roots, a plumber should always be called when a resident suspects tree roots as the root of any plumbing problem.
  4. Condensate Drain Backup – Another major summer plumbing problem resident tend to encounter is backup of air conditioner condensate drains. This may happen due to the blockage of lines with mold, dirt or other debris.While this water can cause an incredible amount of damage, preventing the problem can be done by calling a plumber maintain the drain before the air conditioner is turned on for summer. This routine and preventative procedure can save headaches and money.
  5.  Garbage Disposal Problems – Garbage disposals tend to be the site of many problems due to what residents put down their drains. Many residents believe that garbage disposals can shred any waste, but this is not true.Fibrous plant waste, such as corn husks and melon rinds, tend to be difficult for garbage disposals to grind. These byproducts should be disposed of in the garbage to avoid problems.Another tip to avoid garbage disposal problems is to add small portions slowly to the disposal. After the disposal has been used, let water run for 10 to 15 seconds to clear any excess material.If the garbage disposal ever jams, call a plumber immediately. Trying to fix a jam yourself can be incredibly dangerous to both yourself and your home’s plumbing.

When to Call a Professional

If you have older plumbing, or you have not had your plumbing maintained on a yearly basis, then you should call a plumber to have your plumbing inspected, maintained, and repaired.
Potentially dangerous fixtures, such as garbage disposals, or plumbing requiring intense labor, such as sewer line replacement or tree root problems, are examples of when you should call a plumber. These situations should be handled by an expert due to their innate dangers and potential problems when installed improperly.

Avoiding Summer Plumbing Problems

The common thread of these summer plumbing problems is the fact that these problems can be avoided with the right care and maintenance. This can save you money, time and hassles.
To learn more about how these problems can be avoided by using the services of a plumber, contact us.

Spring Cleaning Plumbing Tips and Maintenance

spring cleaning plumbing tips

Spring is when most homeowners pack up their winter gear, throw open the windows, and give everything a good scrubbing to make their homes fresh and clean. You should do the same thing to clean out your plumbing system in order to prevent major problems down the road and keep those pipes flowing freely. Here are some tips for plumbing maintenance that every homeowner should follow.

In the Kitchen

  • Check your appliances for any leaks and build up around seals. Clean the back of the fridge and make a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to reduce disposal odors.
  • Test water supply valves and inspect exposed plumbing under the sink for cracks.
  • Check faucets for any drips and tighten washers and handles if needed.
  • Clean drains of any clogs to keep them functioning properly.

In the Bathroom

  • Place a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank to check for leaks. If the color seeps into the bowl water in less than an hour, you know you need a quick repair.
  • Inspect the bowl for cracks or any leakage.
  • Replace flush handles if loose or running without being used. Inspect the tank parts and repair as needed.
  • Clean the shower heads of mineral deposits by soaking them in vinegar and gently scrubbing clean.
  • Check pipes under sinks for any drips, mold, or mildew. Tighten handles and clean drains.

In the basement or garage

  • Inspect any exposed pipes for cracks and drips.
  • If you have a floor drain, snake it to clean out the plumbing system.
  • Run water into seldom used sinks to fill the sink trap and prevent any lingering smells.

On the home exterior

  • Inspect hose bibs and outdoor faucets for leaks that may indicate frozen pipes over the winter and make repairs as needed.
  • Clean out gutters, drains, and downspouts to reduce moisture against the outside of the house.
  • Check the plumbing vent pipes for any critters than may have taken up residence. Birds’ nests and squirrels can be evicted humanely.

Other plumbing maintenance

  • Know where the shut-off valves are in the home and make sure they can be turned easily.
  • Consider checking the water meter at night and again after 24 hours to discover an undetected leak.
  • Consider any additional upkeep for your hot water tank or tankless system for proper function.

When you take the time to examine and clean out your plumbing system and perform any additional plumbing maintenance, you are taking positive steps to reduce potential damage and other problems that may occur over time. Any effort you make to care for your pipes is time well spent, so incorporate these tips into your spring cleaning this year.

6 Household Products You Should Not Put Down Your Drain

six house hold products not to flush

If you have ever experienced a blocked kitchen sink, you know that there are just some things that are not meant to be washed down the drain. While you may think most liquids are safe for plumbing because they are in your home, you may be surprised to learn that many products that you use every day can cause major problems in your plumbing and in the environment. Here is a list of 6 common household items to keep out of your pipes.

  1. Paper towels/pre-moistened wipes/cotton balls

    Toilet paper is flushed every day, but it is designed to break down when in contact with water. Other paper objects are more durable, so instead of dissolving, they just block the pipes or increase the probability of a sewer back up or overflow. If that happens, well, you are going to need plenty more paper towels.

  2. Medications

    For a long time, people have flushed extra medications or poured them in drains, thinking it was safe to do. Unfortunately, those prescriptions find their way to our water supply, including lakes, rivers, oceans, and ground water. The impact on the environment is not worth it, especially if many people continue to dispose of their old medicine in this fashion.

  3. Cooking oil, grease, or fat

    Any cooking fat will create build up over time that can lead to a blocked kitchen sink, clogged drains, and a lot of headaches. Some of these items may be composted, although they may attract animals. Community recycling centers may also accept them for biodiesel, so you may have several options for better disposal.

  4. Coffee ground and egg shells

    An old belief is that both of these kitchen waste items are fine to put in your garbage disposal, but in fact, they are a frequent cause for clogged drains, creating the kind of blockage that will earn you a scolding from the plumber. Again, these kitchen scraps are compostable and easily reused.

  5. Paint

    Never pour paint in your sink, period. Take it to your community recycling center. You do not want to negatively impact the water supply and ecosystems with paint or other chemicals.

  6. Cleaning products

    They may be approved for cleaning surfaces in your home, but many cleaning products contain phosphates and other harmful chemicals that will do a number to the environment. Some of these products may also combine in your drains to create a corrosive substance that will weaken your pipes.

six things you should not flush down the toilet

The bottom line is that you should exercise caution when putting products in your plumbing system. Not only you be protecting the environment, but you will also be preventing a blocked kitchen sink.

Prevent your home from flooding

Prevent your home from flooding

Prevent your home from floodingThe Pacific Northwest is notoriously known for its constant and unrelenting rain during the cold winter months, and even well into the spring. Flash flooding is not an uncommon occurrence when heavy rainfall begins. Homeowners in the area should take notice and do what is necessary in preventing flooding in your home. Home flooding prevention also includes creating a plan should flash flooding occur to minimize any damages that may be a result. Take the initiative and begin home flooding prevention now. Preventing residential flooding is an inherent part of home maintenance and many aspects of it can be done on your own.

Home Flooding Protection

The following are tips in home flooding prevention and control:

  • Disaster Supplies Kit: Create an emergency preparedness kit that will last at least three days. This kit should have basic household items you would need in the case of an emergency. Items in this kit should include first aid kit, non-perishable food, clothing, batteries, matches, water, mess kit, battery powered radio, and warm blankets.
  • Emergency Plan: Create an emergency plan for your family. This plan should include what to do in case of separation, and how to reunite. All family members should be abreast to the plan.
  • Flood Insurance: Consider purchasing home flood insurance. Homeowners insurance does not typically cover damages from flash flooding. Look into your insurance options, and seek flood damage insurance.
  • Gutters & Downspouts: Inspect and clear out your gutters. Make sure downspouts are draining properly and redirecting water away from the home. Gutters that may be compromised need to be repaired or replaced.
  • Indoor Drains: Regular indoor drain cleaning is a great tactic in preventing flooding in your home. Pay special attention to floor drains, as they tend to cause the most problems when clogged.
  • Outdoor Drains: Clear out storm drains, French drains, and catch basins. Clogged outdoor drains often times result in flash flooding during heavy rainfall.
  • Crawlspaces: Inspect crawlspaces to make sure they are sealed tight and securely shut.
  • Sump Pump: If you do not already have one, consider purchasing and installing a sump pump. These pumps remove excess water from basements to help prevent flooding. If you already have a sump pump, be sure to keep up with regular manufacturer recommended maintenance.

Home flooding prevention is extremely important. There are many things you can do yourself to prepare yourself and your family for this type of emergency. The list above is not an exhaustive list however it is helpful in getting started when you begin doing things in preventing flooding in your home. For comprehensive home flooding prevention, call a reputable local plumber for assistance. A thorough inspection of your home for any flooding vulnerabilities is highly recommended. Having a professional on your side to help you and your family prepare for a flood is not only a good idea- it is a responsibility incumbent on homeowners in order to best protect their most valuable investment.

Considerations in Replacing Your Home Plumbing

plumbing-replacement

plumbing-replacementAll plumbing systems age, and if you stay in one home long enough, chances are you will need maintenance and/or plumbing replacement services. Older plumbing systems are designed to last anywhere from 20-50 years, with newer systems engineered to last even longer. For superior quality home plumbing repipe services in the Portland, OR & Beaverton, OR areas, D & F Plumbing is here to serve you.

If you are unsure of the current condition of your plumbing system, give us a call and we will be happy to conduct a thorough inspection then provide recommendations to either maintain or repair your current system.  Below you will find a brief description of the factors that most influence the need for plumbing replacement or home plumbing repipe for your property.

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Small Changes BIG Savings

Plumbing & Excavator Services in Portland OR and the Surrounding Area by D & F Plumbing

For those of us who like to conserve water AND save money, but not sure if changing out that old 3.5 gpf toilet would be worth the savings, or that 1980′s kitchen sink faucet is worth changing out here is the information you might be looking for:

National average $ per 1,000 gallons is $6.06 based on a family of 4

If you have an older toilet at 3.5 gpf and changed to a 1.28 gpf at an average of 20 flushes per day, your yearly savings would be $98.21 and 16,206 gallons of water!

If you have a faucet, basin or kitchen, that uses an average of 2.2 gpm and 32.4 gpm and replaced it with a 1.5 gpm faucet your yearly savings would be $50.17 and 8,278 gallons of water!

If you have a shower head that uses 2.5 gpm and replace it with a 1.5 gpm shower head, with an average use of 32.8 minutes per day, your yearly savings would be $72.55 and 11,972 gallons of water!

Your minimum total savings if all 3 were replaced with water saving devices would be $220.93 and 36,456 gallons of water per year.

If you want more information our good friends at American Standard have a wonderfully informative web site at theresponsibilebathroom.com.

All of the most up to date water conservation information you could ask for.
If you want to make those changes, call us!

Check Your Shut Off Valves!

checking your water shut off valves - d & f plumbing in Portland and Beaverton OR

checking your water shut off valves - d & f plumbing in Portland and Beaverton ORSpring has sprung! It is time once again for that spring cleaning… don’t forget to check all of your fixture supply lines and shut off valves. It is always a good idea to turn your shut off valves that are under your toilet, sinks, washing machine, laundry tray (if you have one), then turn them back on. Check for any weeping, drips or leaks, make sure the valves turn on and off smoothly. You want the valves to work properly if you have to shut the water off in a hurry or for a simple repair. This is excellent preventative maintenance that most of us do not think about – until it is too late!