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Winter is coming. One should not simply ignore radiators and pipes.

As the leaves continue to fall and the air turns crisp, homeowners across the country will be firing up their thermostats possibly for the first time this season. Hot water radiators  will emit strange noises and smells from inactivity, and in some cases, may fail to heat properly due to trapped air filling the radiator.  Also, the cold temperatures will cause breaks and leaks in pipes as temperatures rapidly drop.  Preventative action against cold damage is never top-of-mind, but following a few winterization tips can save you lots of money against costly neglegence.  You are a burst pipe away from an emergency plumbing service call.

At Plumbing Supply Now, we want to offer a few tips on how to prepare for winter.  As plumbing contractors stock up on winterization items such as supply valves and circulator pumps, we want you to kick off the cold season in the know.

Do it Yourself:  How to Bleed a Hot Water Radiator

HotWaterRadiator

Hot Water Radiators:

Hot water radiators are a great source of heat, however it is recommended to bleed them once a year.  Your local plumber can easily do it during their checkup visit, but you can save a few dollars by taking preventative measures yourself to ensure longevity of your hot water radiator.

First, turn on the heat to allow the hot water radiator to reach capacity (we recommend doing this early in the fall before the tempuratures drop in case there is an issue).  If the top of the radiator feels cold and the bottom warm, it usually means there is air trapped in the top preventing the steam from filling the entire radiator.  If you have multiple radiators and they have the same issue as described, it could mean bigger things like your water heater is malfunctioning. (Please note, do not bleed a radiator unless the heat is OFF.  Step 1 is the initial test to make sure the radiator is functioning properly.  Allow enough time for the radiator to feel cold before performing the radiator bleed.)

Second, Open your radiator’s intake and exit valves.  Make sure both are turned to the “open” position.

BleedValve

Second, use a radiator key to open the bleed valve.  Most homeowners if they own an older home might not have one, but you can find them at most hardware stores or on our website at www.plumbingsupplynow.com.  Also you can use a small wrench if you have one to fit.  If bleeding more than one radiator, make sure to do them all at once.

Third, open the radiator bleed valve with the key or wrench by turning counter-clockwise.  Hold a small cup to catch water that will sputter from the bleed valve.  At this point, you will hear steam release in a hissing sound while the trapped cold air begins to escape from the top of the radiator.  When a steady stream of water comes out consistantly, you have released all of the air trapped in the radiator.

Next, re-tighten your bleed valve with your radiator key by turning the key clockwise.  Make sure no water is leaking from the bleed valve and wipe down any access water.

15psi

Finally, check your pressure level on your boiler. Most boilers maintain an average pressure of 12-15 psi.  If the pressure has dropped below this reading, you may have to add water manually but most boilers have an automatic fill system so you should be fine.


 

How to Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

So now that you have bled your hot water radiator and can feel the heat througout your house, there is still another part of winterization that is often overlooked.  Your pipes.  Imagine the nightmare of having your pipes burst on an 18 degree January night.  Your first step,  shut off your main water valve.  Do you know where it is?!?  (See previous blog for shutting off main water valve.)

What causes pipes to burst?  Well, quite simply ice.  When water freezes, it expands and creates internal pressure.  Steel, brass, and plastic pipes all will succumb to the pressure of water as it freezes on the inside and has nowhere to go but out.

Pipes that burst are due to exposure to the cold which makes it important to insulate and secure pipes most vulnerable to the elements.

FrozenPipes2.jpg

Do it Yourself:  How to protect your pipes and prevent damage from freezing.

  1. Inspect Your Property.  Examples of high risk pipes are sprinkler lines, pipes leading to your pool or jacuzzi, and water supply lines in attics, crawlspaces, storage sheds, basements, and garages.  These are areas mostly exposed to the outside winter temperatures.  If you walk your property, any pipe that is visibile to the eye is at risk.
  2. Insulation Sleeves.  You can purchase slip-on foam pipe sleeves or wrapping, but make sure there are no gaps or open areas as the cold will effect the unprotected surfaces.  Plastic piping is the most tolerant compared to copper and steel, but nothing is 100% safe.
  3. Detach all hoses from outdoor spigots.  A very common mistake people make is forgetting to shut off their outside water hoses from the summer months.  Make sure to leave the outdoor tap slightly open so there is a slow drip to prevent freezing.
  4. Keep your heat on, even when you are away.  We know its nice to save money on your electric or gas bill, but dont go too far.  Dropping your inside temperature too much can put your pipes at risk.  Be reasonable and keep your temerature above 55-60 degrees at least.

Hopefully, these winterization pointers for your home will come in handy. If you arent sure about a few steps, ask your local Plumber.

Plumbing Supply Now is a full service plumbing supply warehouse for all plumbing essentials for all professionals and contractors.  Call today at 1-888-224-4995 to discuss what we can do to assist you and your business, or visit us at www.plumbingsupplynow.com.

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The Hurricane Aftermath… What’s Next? How do you prepare for a major storm?

Hurricane Aftermath. Whats Next? How do you prepare?

The aftermath of Hurricane Irma and Harvey for plumbing contractors has created an instant surge in demand that per the National Association of Homebuilders already has a shortage in the skilled trade industry to begin with.¹

As the waters recede and the damages are assessed by insurance companies in Southwest Florida and Southeast Texas, local plumbing contractors are facing a monumental task to meet the demands of phone calls they are starting to receive.

Evan Gartenberg, of Plumbing Supply Now, a New Jersey based plumbing supply facility are already shifting into high gear to stock up their in-house inventory to make sure plumbing and construction contractors can fulfill the heavy demand.

“Contractors are working around the clock as the endless number of requests keep pouring in.  Our responsibility as a plumbing supply company is to ensure we can keep items in stock and ship quickly to areas in Southwest Florida and Southeast Texas, as well as our current vendors across the country.”

“The unique situation with back to back hurricanes so close together is local warehouses and back stock get depleted almost daily, making it hard to tell initially what the long-term demand needs are.”  Per Gartenberg, many plumbing contractors are receiving over 100 calls a day with many customers not really knowing what are the issues.  “With the drain field levels, as high as they are, some of our customers have to wait out the water levels before assessing the real issues.”

“Most people do not think about their pipes in the event of a major storm, the first thought is food, water, and shelter, but with weather tracking technology today, usually we have 3 to 5 days to prepare and secure our homes and business the best we can,” says Gartenberg.

So far in 2017, it seems Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have put storm preparation into the forefront and how we need to protect against damage to our homes and businesses.

 Here are 5 Easy Tips from Plumbing Supply Now to prepare for a Major Storm:

  1. Show your family members where the main water valve is and shut it off.2_Valves

Ask yourself.  Do you know how to shut off the main water valve and where to locate it?  Show your spouse and/or children where to locate it and shut if off before a hurricane or major storm.  This will save you any trouble if the power should go out. You don’t want to be guessing in the dark!  Be prepared.

  1. Check and test your Sump Pump.3_SumpPump 

Most sump pumps are found in a crawl space or basement.  We advise you fill the basin with a few gallons of water to make sure it activates when triggered.  The crock should pump out the access water and keep flooding in your crawl space down.  It usually has a low-level hum you can hear when it runs so listen for your sump pump and make sure it’s ready to do the job. 

  1. Check your drains.3_Drains 

With the likelihood of massive flooding, check to make sure your drainage system around the house is clear of any debris or backups.  Traps and drain systems can get clogged which prevent any relief from runoff water.  This quick check can help prevent unnecessary pressure on your pipes which can cause more damage.

  1. Shut off the Water Heater.4_WaterHeater

 Shutting off the gas or electric that connects to your water heater will reduce the stress of heating and replenishing the tank during a flood.  Please make sure to check your manufacturer’s guide on how to turn it off.  Also, in the event of extended periods of time without electric, your water heater can serve as a water source in case of an emergency.

  1. Do a quick post storm test.5_StormDrains

 Following a major storm or hurricane, it’s important to allow all faucets to run for up to 5 minutes to clear out any air in the lines and flush out any bacteria that may start accumulating.  If your water valve has been shut off for an extended period of time, you should contact your water municipal to see what type of water usage is allowed.

 These basic tips are what you can do outside of contacting a local professional plumber.  It is strongly advised to have an inspection after a major storm if you are still unsure about what to do.  Most experienced plumbers maintain stock on their trucks and can make repairs in one visit.

With the hardest hit areas in Southwest Florida and Southeast Texas from the hurricanes, rebuilding and repair will be going on for several months and even years.  Plumbing Supply Now wants to make sure that orders from these afflicted areas can ship quickly and in bulk.

“Right now, we have to make sure we can service orders from all 50 states, but pay special attention to the needs of the hurricane ravaged areas,” says Gartenberg.

Evan Gartenberg is the head of Business Development at Plumbing Supply Now, a full service plumbing supply warehouse for all plumbing essentials for all professionals and contractors.  Call Evan today at 1-888-224-4995 to discuss what we can do to assist you and your business.

¹Moneywatch: Jonathan Berr Aug 31, 2017