Residential Plumbing News

Nashville, TN

Residential Plumbing News

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Nashville, TN

by: BARTLEY BURNETTE

JACK WARD & SONS PLUMBING

(615) 227-2811

Nashville, TN – What is PEX Tubing?

When something goes wrong with the plumbing in your home, it makes it easy to be able to call your trusted plumber, hopefully Jack Ward & Sons to get it repaired. Now let’s say your home is your RV or you are on the road in your temporary ‘home’, it’s not as simple to call the plumber.

Usually it is just a simple fix in your RV water supply (often a literal snap to repair). This is because the water lines in most RVs are plastic tubing called PEX(cross-linked polyethylene) pipes. Being that they are not buried inside walls and easily accessible for repair, you or your plumber should have easy access to easy plumbing.

Typically, the PEX pipe is connected using metal fittings and special tools that can complicate fixing the plumbing for RV owners. Instead of using the special tools, there are some workarounds to this: a variety of plastic fittings that snap things together like a puzzle, making repairs fast, simple, and inexpensive.

What is PEX tubing?

PEX tubing in homes is color-coded for hot and cold. Oddly enough, they are not color coded in RVs (they are usually translucent)! This makes the job a little tougher, but we’ll work past it.

There are two sizes used: 3/8-inch and ½-inch, which are the standard sizes because the external diameter of the tubing is about 1/8-inch greater than the called-for size. Also, PEX is rather inexpensive. A bulky 3/8-inch may set you back as little as 50 cents/foot.

Good news, PEX tubing is great for both cold and hot water (sometimes up to 200 degrees) plumbing. Chlorinated water is not an issue in terms of tubing or health safety.

What Tools Do I Need?

You should only need a cutting tool to cut the PEX tubing itself while working on your water lines. You can use anything from a utility knife, to a tubing cutter designed for PEX tubing. Using the PEX cutter will ensure a clean, even edge, although you might not have it handy at the time. A PEX cutter will also ensure leak-proof connections, but this is something a PVC pipe cutter can do as well, plus, you can use it one your PVC pipes.

Fittings That Are Required

When changing out water lines, there is a large variation you can take to get the job done when finding fittings. Simple couplers that allow fixing a break to tees for jobs, such as adding a new run, are available at hardware stores.

Other fittings include adapters that allow you to change from one size of tubing to the other. If you want to add a shut-off valve to turn the water off to your toilet without shutting down the whole RV supply, then there are fittings for that as well. Here are a couple of styles that are useful to RV owners (when it comes to plumbing):

Plastic compression fittings: There are many brands found in many hardware stores called that are relatively inexpensive. They can be found on online marketplaces like Amazon, but if you don’t have time to wait for shipping, then you can probably find them locally.

There are a few advantages of doing it this way: they are less expensive than quick-connect fittings, but the disadvantages occur when working in a cramped area. It can be a bit difficult to maneuver your hands in place to shove the tubing onto the fitting and to tighten the nut.

Which leads us to Quick-Connect fittings: These can cost a bit more than their counterpart. Using these fittings in a restricted area is much easier.

This is not only an easier fix in a cramped space, but there is also less water flow obstruction in this design, as opposed to the plastic compression style. Both insert material into the flow, but the tube stiffener seems to block less water flow.

Quick Connect fittings allow you to attach to a bunch of other plumbing materials, including copper and CPVC. The quick-connect fittings and the plastic compression fittings will also connect directly to PEX tubing.

You might find other brands and tubing that will fit better, but these are just a quick reference, being that you are- or could be- in a bind. If the problem that has occurred is hard to resolve on your own and you need professional assistance, give Jack Ward & Sons a call! today at (615) 227-2811.

 

Nashville, TN – What Is A Backflow Preventer And What Does It Do?

As explanatory as the name backflow preventer sounds, many homeowners simply don’t know for sure what it does for the well being of their home. A backflow preventer is a device that, once installed on the water pipes of your home, allows your water to flow in one direction only, thus preventing backflow. It’s main purpose is to stop your drinking water from being contaminated when mixing with other types of water that has flowed backwards in the pipes for a variety of reasons.

What are those reasons? Is backflow something I should be concerned about as a homeowner? For starters, let’s look at what exactly it is that causes backflow in the first place.

Have more backflow questions and need a Jack Ward & Sons plumber? Just call us at (615) 227-2811.

How does “backflow” happen?

When water enters your home from the main water supply line, it should only flow in one direction: into your home. Sometimes, that water can flow backwards and seep back into the main water supply line, caused by pressure changes in the pipes.

One example: backflow can happen when there’s a break in the main water line or when a fire hydrant is opened for use. Being that pressure is lost during these events, water is no longer being pushed forward into your home and will flow backwards into the city water lines. This kind of backflow can contaminate the public drinking supply with human waste, chlorine from pools and spas, soap from sinks/showers/dishwashers, fertilizers/pesticides, etc. A backflow prevention system comes in handy during these times.

Now that we’ve got that long explanation over with, let’s delve into how a backflow prevention system works.

Backflow Prevention System

Backflow prevention systems are devices fixed onto a pipe that allow water to flow in one direction. Much like the valves in your blood vessels, or a one-way gate- it basically stops water from flowing in the opposite direction, in this case, the main water supply.

Do I need a Backflow Prevention System?

If it is not a requirement to have a backflow preventer where you live then we recommend you have a backflow preventer installed anywhere incoming water and wastewater might be cross-connected. Newer homes may have built-in backflow preventers on most water lines but in order to know for certain whether your home has proper backflow preventers set up, we recommend having a trained, professional plumber inspect your home’s water system. Don’t wait until it’s too late as this will cause wasted time and money in the long run.

Nashville, TN – Prevent Home Damage with Routine Water Leak Detection

You might think that water leak detection starts at the meter, but it could actually start just about everywhere else. Keeping water in soils at a level point can help prevent the soils under the foundation from expanding and contracting, which can be very bad for your foundation and be the cause of foundation heaving. Here are a few steps that you can take to detect a water leak, keeping in mind that this is only to detect a leak, and not to locate one.

There are a few tools you will need to get and can get from any hardware store. First, you will need a shovel if you want to uncover sewer clean outs. Next, you will need a sewer balloon, which is what tests for sewer leaks. Lastly, you will need a pressure gauge that can be screwed onto the tap to test for water leaks. Now, on to the good stuff!

Water Leak Detection

In order to test for water line leaks, a pressure gauge is screwed onto a tap line. The house needs to be checked to make sure that there is no dripping or leaking fixtures. The water will then need to be turned off at the meter. If the pressure holds in the gauge, then there is no leak in the system. If the pressure falls, well then, you’ve got a leak that needs investigating!

Sewer Leak Detection

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, it is necessary to locate the sewer clean outs. Normally they have a screw cap or a clamped rubber cap. To test for leaks, a sewer balloon is pushed down into the sewer system, then inflated with a pump. Next, the sewer is filled to the level of the pipe with water. Your job is to watch if the water level in the pipe falls after the pipe and has been blocked off at the main. If this happens, it means there is a leak in the sewer system. At times, you will have to pull a toilet and fill the sewer from inside the house. If the water level falls, there is a leak!

The next step that needs to be taken if you detect that there is a leak, is locating and repairing it. In order to do this, you will need a professional plumber so that you don’t cause further damage to your pipes and home foundation. If you are located in the Middle Tennessee or Nashville area, give Jack Ward & Sons Plumbing a call at (615) 227-2811.

Nashville, TN – How to Maintain your Water Heater

For better or for worse, you are stuck with the water heater you have (unless of course you have a hefty warranty or are able to buy a new one), and that means you probably want to make it last as long as humanly possible. Water heater issues are usually put off and ignored until there is a serious problem, because let’s face it, we have more important things to do! Don’t wait until you are forced to take an Icelandic ice bath, maintain your water heater with these simple steps right away:

1. First and foremost, it is important to know when your warranty has expired for your water heater! Nobody wants to be stuck buying a new water heater when it is the last thing they expected to have to replace. Not only that, but when water-heater warranties expire, they are more likely to fail. To do this, you must look for a rating plate on the water heater that will tell when the tank was manufactured and the warranty plate.

2. Be proactive when switching out water heaters in the beginning stages. This will help drastically, because any errors made in the beginning will shorten water heater life. For example, if you are changing from a traditional water heater to a tankless water heater, there are a few adaptations you may need to make with piping and unit space. It is better to not rush through it, but to take the time to do research on what is needed for that specific heater.

3. Proactively change the anode rod. What is an anode rod? An anode rod is what helps your water heater to prevent succumbing to rust and corrosion. With that in mind, they need to be changed every couple of years, if not more frequently. If this is done it will prolong the life of your water heater significantly, possibly by as much as 30 years. If the anode rod isn’t changed in the first few years of the water heater’s life, then it may be impossible to remove later once it is too corrupted.

4. Periodically drain the water heater by attaching a hose to the draw off at the bottom of the tank, turn the water supply off, and then turn the water supply on and off a few times quickly to create a turbulence that will wash out the mineral build up. This will help drain the collection of calcium and magnesium to prevent excessive build up.

5. If you find a leak, don’t panic. Turn the water off on the cold-water side and attach a hose onto the draw-off and drain the tank below the level of the leak. If you find that at this point your water heater needs to be replaced, call your local professional plumber. If you own a home in the Nashville area and are in the need of plumbing assistance, feel free to give Jack Ward & Sons a call at (615) 227-2811 today!

Nashville, TN – DIY Pressure Balanced Shower Valve Installation

There are a number of plumbing fixes and adaptations that can help you and your family achieve a level of comfort and consistency with your plumbing fixtures that can leave you all feeling pretty pampered! This fix today addresses the water pressure you would be getting from your shower as you unwind from a rough day at school or work and don’t want to have to fumble with the shower. One less thing to have to worry about, installing a pressure balanced shower valve will keep the water from your shower at the same pressure regardless of whether you are using hot or cold water. A DIY option you can do at home, the job should take about 2 to 3 hours and requires a moderate skill level.

Tools you will need:

1. Drill driver
2. Oscillating saw
3. Pipe cutters
4. Pipe deburring tool
5. Blow torch

Materials you will need:

1. Shower head
2. Tub spout
3. Flux
4. ½-inch copper pipe  and fittings
5. Solder
6. Pressure balanced shower valve
7. Retrofit cover plate for valve
8. 2×4 dimensional lumber
9. Pipe hangers

First, and a step you should take with nearly any plumbing venture, is to shut the water off at the water main. This will ensure there are no accidents and avoid any unnecessary water damage. You will want to then find a reasonable amount of room to access the shower valve. Some homes give you access to the shower valve from the room directly behind the shower where the valve is located. For example, removing a kitchen cabinet that would allow room to create an access hole in the wall.

Next, you will need to trace the outline of the cover plate that has already been retrofitted over the hole from the old valve, giving yourself about an inch of room for the room for error. Then, find the fiberglass that outlines the shower valve and cut it out using the oscillating saw.

The next step is to remove the shower valve by cutting it out and removing it completely, pulling out the old plumbing along with it. You may need to make additional cute here using the saw once more or pipe cutters. With the space made to install the new valve body, go ahead and assemble as much of it as you can outside the access panel to make it as easy as possible. Once you have assembled as much as you can, solder the parts together to make sure there are no opportunities for water to escape, creating a watertight seal. This will include having to apply flux to the insides of the fittings and outside the pipes that need it. Heating the pipes along the joints with the blow torch will help the solder to suck into the joints for the best possible seal when applied directly to those heated joints.

After the watertight seal is achieved, simply place the assembly into the access panel and make sure the body of the valve is lined up with the center of the hole. All of the disconnected pipes will need to be soldered together, mainly to the tub spout and shower head.This step is a great time to use pipe clips and a drill driver to secure the pipes to the surrounding structure to prevent them from banging inside the wall during use.

Lastly, connect the hot and cold water lines to the pipes in the appropriate locations to make sure all of your work is not done in vain! Then, test everything by turning the water back on and checking for leaks. Installing the trim over the shower valve completes the process and, of course, repairing the access hole you created to begin with.

That’s about it, and once you’re finished, you won’t have to worry about those lulls of drippy water or sudden sharp blasts happening while you take your showers, and best of all, you know you had fixed it yourself! Now if you want to achieve the same wonderful outcomes and don’t feel confident in doing the work, simply give your local plumbing professionals at Jack Ward & Sons a call today at (615) 227-2811.

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BIO: Bartley Burnette is the grandson of Jack Ward. He has worked at Jack Ward & Sons for his entire career. Bartley’s uncle, Tommy Ward, purchased the family business from Jack securing the second generation of local plumbers. Tommy ran the company for some time and trained Mr. Burnette in the plumbing trade.

1100 Tuckahoe Drive,
Nashville, TN 37207, USA

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1100 Tuckahoe Drive,
Nashville, TN 37207, USA

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BIO: Bartley Burnette is the grandson of Jack Ward. He has worked at Jack Ward & Sons for his entire career. Bartley’s uncle, Tommy Ward, purchased the family business from Jack securing the second generation of local plumbers. Tommy ran the company for some time and trained Mr. Burnette in the plumbing trade.