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PLUMBING FAQs

The quick answer is no. I know the packaging says “flushable,” but in all actuality this is a marketing tactic centered around the length of time that it takes for a wipe to deteriorate.  The “flushable” or “septic-safe” wipes do eventually break down just a little faster than the “non-flushable”, which both take longer than toilet paper. Along with the slower breakdown, the dimensions of the wipes when folded out are much larger than toilet paper squares.  As wipes flow through the piping they tend to open up and the wipes become larger than the diameter of the pipe.  This leads to an inverted parachute that will in effect plug the piping. This issue is also heightened when grease from the kitchen or fabric softener from laundry flows in a common drain pipe used by a toilet. When this happens, both can stick to the wall of the pipe catching the wipe when it tries to go by. Also when wipes are flushed, they can get caught up with other non-flushable items in your sewer line, like paper towels, cotton swabs, dental floss, or feminine products which will have a dam like affect. If the slow deteriorating wipes make their way to a septic system they tend to block the baffles in the septic or fill up the leach field lateral lines which blocks the draining of the septic system.  At this point the industry standard methods would be to have your septic tank pumped or leach field lateral lines replaced. For those fortunate enough to be connected to city utilities, even if it does make its way through your plumbing system, it causes a huge issue when it reaches the water treatment facility.

According to Defend Your Drains North Texas, “Every day the Trinity River Authority removes thousands of pounds of wipes and other items from their system that shouldn’t be there. Many times damaged pumps and equipment is a result of the blockage if it is left in the system.  This results in higher water costs for customers because of the constant maintenance and more frequent replacement of equipment.”

So, what is flushable? The safest answer is toilet paper. I know. I am sorry, I know how much everyone loves to use wipes. But they really are not good for your plumbing system and can cause costly damage. If you are looking for that refreshing feeling you get from using a wipe, we suggest a UPC-certified toilet bidet.

Hearing a noise coming from your water can be quite unsettling.  Popping is one of the most common sounds a water heater can make.  This is usually an indicator that the water heater has an excess of sediment or mineral deposits at the bottom of the tank.  As water is heated, the molecular bond of the H2O stretches, causing micro molecules of sand and debris to drop out. This results in sediment build up. This is especially problematic in areas like North Texas that have hard water.  According to North Texas Municipal Water District, “Hard water build-up comes from naturally occurring minerals — such as calcium bicarbonate, magnesium carbonate, iron, lime and others — that are present in lakes and other water sources across North Texas. The build up from mineral deposits, sand, or other debris that have made it through your system can stick to the bottom of your tank.  This not only makes your tank less efficient, but also puts undo stress on your water heater weakening it and shortening its lifespan.  Gas water heaters tend to pop more since the burner is at the bottom of the tank.  The heat from the burner had to heat its way through the sediment causing the popping noise while dramatically reducing efficacy. Since electric water heaters use heating elements that are submerged and suspended in the middle of the water heater, they tend to pop less.

So, what can you do?  The best way to prevent sediment build up is to properly flush/sanitize your water heater once a year. However, if this preventative maintenance has been neglected for an extended period it may be impossible to do this effectively and cause more damage than help.  If you have questions on how to best proceed it is always safest to have one of our licensed plumbers come and evaluate the situation and provide you with the best options.

This is a simple yearly maintenance project that most people don’t even know they should do.

As far as plumbing purchases go, your water heater is probably one of your biggest investments.  One way you can protect that investment is by flushing your water heater once a year. This is especially true for water heaters located in the attic, which is a common trend in the McKinney, Frisco, and Prosper area.  Water heaters in the attic are exposed to a harsher range of temperatures. This requires more preventative measures and maintenance tasks to ensure protection and longevity of your investment.

But what does flushing your water heater even mean and what am I flushing out?

The process differs between standard tank water heaters and tankless, but it is equally important. On standard tank water heaters sediment, mineral deposits, and debris can build up on the bottom of the storage tank. On tankless water heaters the same can build up on all those intricate parts and pipe on the inside on the heater. So how does that stuff even end up in my heater? Because Texas has “moderately hard” water according to North Texas Municipal Water District, naturally occurring minerals – such as calcium bicarbonate, magnesium carbonate, iron, lime, and others- can form “lime scale” from left over mineral deposits once hard water has evaporated.  In addition, debris such as dirt or sand can make its way through your system and get stuck at the bottom of your storage tank.  All this build up can not only make your water heater less effective, but it puts undo stress on your water heater and plumbing system.

And yes, a stressed-out water heater can also create a stressed-out plumbing system. 

All that build up and sediment can make it through your hot water lines eventually clogging your fixture cartridges preventing hot water from flowing to various fixtures in your home.  Flushing a water heater requires more than just connecting a hose on the bottom drain valve and allowing water to pass through.  A happy water heater makes for a happy home,  make your water heater happy by maintaining it yearly!

A service fee is actually standard within our industry.  Many companies will charge you a straight forward service (dispatch) fee to arrive at your home, while other companies hide their service fee in their first hourly charge, charging you time and a half for the first hour whether they are there for 5 minutes or 1 hour.  Still Waters Plumbing chooses to be up front with all charges and pricing.  Unfortunately, many of the “free estimate” business models change the pricing to account for unbilled labor and overhead.  Our pricing is established in our price book to ensure that pricing is consistent, but also allowing room for bundling discounts and the uniqueness of every call.  You will know exactly what the job will cost prior to starting any work.  In fact, one of our licensed, background checked, drug tested, technicians will arrive in what we like to call our Warehouse on Wheels.  It is a fully stocked van with almost all of the parts necessary for repairs we encounter on a regular basis. This saves you time and money.

At Still Waters Plumbing we love and recommend BioOne.  Some other drain cleaners contain caustic chemical that can not only be harmful for your pipes, but also be harmful to people, pets and the environment.  For that reason, we do not recommend any “emergency” drain cleaners.  We believe with drain cleaning it is best to take preventative measures so that your system is as healthy as it can be. BioOne is like a probiotic for your pipes.  It eats away at the fats, oils, grease and other organic material so that things like hair flow freely through your system. BioOne is composed of 100% live vegetative microbes that are non-pathogenic and non-hazardous because it is made from nature. BioOne requires no pH neutralizing and is performance ready. It thrives in any environment you introduce it to and contains no added enzymes or other emulsifying agents like other drain cleaning products, which only liquefy solid waste. BioOne’s bacteria eat and digests the solid waste without the unbalanced action of enzymes or surfactants.

This EPA Safer Choice product is not only good for your pipes, but it is also septic safe.  Septic systems require live bacteria to consume, digest, and degrade grease, oil, and other organic matter so that proper functioning can be maintained.  When a septic system is properly maintained, the drain field can also function properly.  BioOne maintains operation and restores normal flow of your drain lines and septic system.

They also go above and beyond with safety, each batch goes through over 100 quality control checks and is manufactures to food standards (even though it’s not a food product).  We are obsessed!  We love using safe products that actually work!

The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners is a great resource for this.  You can search for a license a couple of different ways including by name, city or county.  If a plumber is working on your home, they are required to have at least a Tradesman license unless they are an apprentice under direct supervision. There are four different types of plumbing licenses: Tradesman, Journeyman, Master, and Plumbing Inspector.  In addition to license types there are also several types of endorsements a plumber can have.

Why does it matter to you if your technician is licensed or not?  First, it is the law.  If a company is willing to send out unlicensed technicians, there is a high probability they are willing to cut corners in other areas as well.

At Still Waters Plumbing we refuse to cut corners.  We believe each job should be completed with the highest level of integrity and honesty.  Part of our core values is transparency.  We are transparent with who we hire, how we operate, pricing, etc.

Second, licensed technicians have put in the required hours and completed their annual continuing education.  Licensed plumbers have spent hours in apprenticeship programs learning the intricate details that plumbing has to offer from trained, experienced, and licensed plumbers before having the opportunity to take the exam. Plumbers are tested on each level of licensing as they gain experience. They must have knowledge on International Plumbing Code, Uniform Plumbing Code, city ordinances (which are always changing), be proficient in math, mechanics, manual dexterity and great problem-solving skills.

 In addition to passing a lengthy and difficult exam, plumbers must also pass a criminal background check and complete annual continuing education required by the board.

Also, one of the prerequisites of being a licensed plumbing company is liability insurance, so you can have peace of mind that you and your home are protected against any plumbing neglect or damage incurred by improper workmanship.

Hiring an unlicensed plumber can carry several risks for the home owner. Improper plumbing installation or repairs can be harmful to your health or cause severe injury or property damage.  Not to mention the cost of having to fix the improper plumbing.  Before hiring a plumbing company, we recommend you verify company’s licensing, in addition to the individual plumber servicing your home.  It is also important to verify their liability insurance as well as their workers compensation insurance.  Plumbing is an amazing trade and it is important that the integrity of the trade is upheld by the licensed plumbers that protect the health of the nation on a daily basis with their service.