The Cause of Bad Odors from Drains

August 15th, 2014 by Bill Chronister

A plumbing system in a home that generates foul, sewer-like odors is something that you want corrected right away. There are a number of reasons that drains can start to emit bad smells, from simple problems that you can fix yourself in a few minutes, to extensive troubles with the sewer system that require major repair work from professionals. Whatever the cause and whatever the remedy, take care of those smelly drains right away.

Here at Saddleback Plumbing, we’ve provided comprehensive plumbing repair in Lake Forest, CA and the rest of Orange County since 1981. We handle drain cleaning and sewer repairs that will take care of bad smelling drains or any other trouble. Make us your first call for all your plumbing needs.

Why Drains Can Develop Bad Odors

  • Dry p-trap: This is the simplest explanation, and also one that you can take care of on your own. The p-trap in a drain is the curved section of drainpipe directly beneath the sink. This shape is designed to trap water to serve as a plug against sewer gas that rises up from the wastewater system. If the sink is not used for a long period, the water in the p-trap will evaporate and allow sewer gas to escape out of the drain. If you notice the sewer odors coming from a sink in a guest room or some other sink that doesn’t receive much use, a dry p-trap is likely the source of the problem. Run water through the drain for a few minutes to restore the water plug, and that should take care of it.
  • Blocked drain vents: Your plumbing has vent pipes in the wastewater system to prevent a build-up of pressure from sewer gas. Gases from the plumbing rise up through these vent pipes and leave through vent openings on the roof. If these openings become blocked (animal nests, debris from bad weather, construction errors) it will force the sewer gas up through the p-trap and push it through the water. If you hear a gurgling sound from the bad-smelling drains, it probably means the plumbing vents are blocked. Don’t go to the roof to try to fix this: stay safe and call for professionals.
  • Sewer line damage: This is the most serious scenario. If you notice multiple drains in your home are emitting the bad smells, it may mean that the sewer line that carries the collected wastewater from your home to the municipal sewer system is damaged or blocked. This needs immediate attention, since it can lead to sewage flooding into your home’s foundations and up onto your yard. The repairs required are extensive and need the most skilled plumbers you can find to perform.

If you can’t solve the bad drain odors on your own with a little water poured down the drain pipes, call Saddleback Plumbing right away. One of our skilled plumbers will help you with the necessary plumbing repair in Lake Forest, CA that will eliminate those odors and protect your home’s plumbing.

Is a Standard Tank Water Heater Sometimes the Better Option?

August 8th, 2014 by Bill Chronister

Tankless water heaters have existed for many years now, but it was not until recently that they expanded their popularity from Europe to the U.S. Now many homeowners on this side of the Atlantic are enjoying the benefits of going tankless, which include never running out of hot water, saving space, lowering energy costs, and getting more years of service from their water heater.

But not everyone has switched from the old “tank” water heaters (storage water heaters) to the tankless models. There are some good reasons for this, and it isn’t just resistance to change. In certain situations, a storage water heater is a superior choice over a tankless one.

It will be hard to determine on your own which of these choices is best for you. You should also seek a professional opinion from a water heater installer and Laguna Hills, CA plumbing company. The team at Saddleback Plumbing is here to help answer your questions and then install the right system for you.

Why might a storage water heater work better for me?

The first consideration is cost: tankless systems cost more to install than standard tank water heaters. In some situations, the potential savings from a tankless system are insufficient to make them worth the upfront investment. How much water you use regularly and your immediate budget plans will affect how useful a tankless heater can be. If your use of water is moderate (usually because you have a small household) and your budget is currently tight, a storage water heater makes a perfectly acceptable option for hot water.

Tankless water heaters can sometimes lose efficiency if multiple taps turn on at once; if this is something that occurs regularly in your home, then you should also consider staying with a storage model.

However, in most homes there is very little to restrict you from choosing a tankless water heater. Considering their long lifespan (usually 5 years more than a storage water heater) they have a lengthy period to return your initial investment. Most owners will see the installation costs paid off in only a few years. Consult with an experienced plumber about installing a new water heater to find out which of the available models will bring you the amount of hot water you need at price that matches your budget.

Since 1981, Saddleback Plumbing has served Orange County with water heater installation. When you need expert work for you plumbing in Laguna Hills, CA, make us your first choice.

Problems That Duct Sealing Will Solve

July 31st, 2014 by Bill Chronister

Regular duct cleaning is a necessity for modern homes. The ventilation system that circulates air through a house has an airtight seal along it to maintain air pressure, but this also allows dust and debris to start to build up along the walls of the ducts without any escape except back out into the rooms, where it will eventually re-enter the ventilation system through the return air vents. Over a period of two years (and sometimes less than that), the accumulation of debris and other contaminants can become quite heavy inside ducts.

However, breaks in this airtight seal can make the situation far worse; along with duct cleaning, you may occasionally need professional duct sealing for your home. Duct cleaners will usually catch these issues and help you schedule the necessary work. For duct cleaning and duct sealing service in Mission Viejo, CA, you can count on Saddleback Plumbing to take excellent care of you.

Issues That Duct Sealing Will Address

  • Additional pollutants and contaminants: Your ductwork already gathers dust and dirt during normal operation. Breaks and leaks along the air channels will make this accumulation worse, since these openings will probably occur in closed-off sections of your home, such as crawlspaces and between walls, that have large amounts of dust, dirt, and construction debris in them. The number of pollutants that enters you ductwork will steeply increase until you have the gaps sealed.
  • Mold, mildew, and other bacterial growth: Mold and bacteria developing inside your ductwork is one of the worst problems your HVAC system can encounter. It will severely lower your indoor air quality and cause major health issues. These growths will also increase damage to the ducts and weaken the material. Sealing gaps in the ducts will prevent moist air from entering and raising the humidity level that encourages these biological growths.
  • High utility bills: Even a small leak in a duct that breaks the airtight seal can cause a 33% drop in airflow form an AC or forced-air heater. This will put strain on the system to compensate for the loss of airflow, and it will start to drain money to obtain its regular levels of cooling or heating (and often fail). Keeping your ducts intact and all leaks sealed will prevent you from paying heavier costs to keep a home comfortable.
  • HVAC repairs: An over-strained AC or heater, or one dealing with excess contamination that can enter into its cabinet, is at higher risk for repairs. You can avoid these unnecessary repairs with proper sealing to keep the ducts airtight.

Saddleback Plumbing has helped homes in Mission Viejo, CA with duct sealing and duct cleaning since 1981. Make us your first call when you notice low airflow or odd musty smells coming from your vents, or when heating and cooling bills start to rise for no obvious reason. We’ll track the problem and fix it, whether with duct sealing or HVAC system repair.

How Often Should I Schedule Plumbing Maintenance?

July 30th, 2014 by Bill Chronister

The plumbing of your home does a tremendous amount of work each day, bringing in fresh water to multiple taps and appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers; running hot water from the water heater; and removing wastewater from drains to the sewer system. Considering the amount of punishment that plumbing can take over weeks, months, and years, it is surprising that homeowners don’t often consider scheduling regular maintenance to check on the integrity of the plumbing system.

Maintenance is something your plumbing must have in order to keep working optimally, without the risk of leaking, corrosion, breaks, and blockages. The complexity of the pipe system in a house, which consists of freshwater, wastewater, and hot water lines made from different types of material, requires that professionals handle the maintenance. Contact the experienced team at Saddleback Plumbing in Irvine, CA for plumbing maintenance that will keep your home’s vital water system in the best shape possible.

The Frequency of Plumbing Maintenance

How often is it necessary to have a maintenance inspection for your plumbing? Annually, just as you do for your heating and air conditioning system. (You are having those done annually, right?) Any major system in your home that received daily use needs to have a professional check-up once a year.

Consider all that a plumber needs to inspect during a maintenance visit, and you’ll understand why it is so important to have this work done every year:

  • Water pressure check to see if there are possible leaks or if the pressure is too high because of problems elsewhere in the system, such as mineral buildup from hard water.
  • Leak detection to spot places where hidden leaking may be occurring.
  • Garbage disposal check.
  • Backflow preventer check to make sure sewage can’t enter into the freshwater lines.
  • General drain cleaning service to clear out the buildup of residue inside frequently used drains like those in the kitchen.
  • Sewer line inspection to see that the line is in good shape and not in danger of blockages from tree roots.
  • Inspecting the water heater to see that it doesn’t have impending repair needs.

A thorough inspection will see that your plumbing is both safe and efficient. It will help you avoid repairs in the future and ensure that all parts of the system are working in peak condition.

Regardless of how well you maintain your plumbing, repair needs can crop up, so make sure that you have a reliable company in Irvine, CA for plumbing repairs that can get the work done fast and accurately. Look to the more than 30 years of experience at Saddleback Plumbing for repairs and maintenance that will keep your plumbing working for you instead of causing hassles.

Do Ductless ACs Really Work?

July 25th, 2014 by Bill Chronister

There are a lot of options these days when it comes to choosing an air conditioner for your home, and one that has gained popularity over the last few years is the ductless AC. The question of do they work is simple: yes, they do. But the more important question is: is a ductless AC right for your air conditioning in Trabuco Canyon, CA? The best way to truly answer this question is by working with an air conditioning specialist, like the ones at Saddleback Plumbing, but to get you started, it helps to understand how a ductless system works and what its benefits are.

How Does a Ductless AC Work?

A ductless air conditioner is similar to a traditional split-system AC in that it has an outdoor unit that houses the condenser and compressor, but instead of using ducts to deliver the cool air, it uses individual blowers. These blowers are connected to the outdoor unit via a small conduit placed in an exterior wall that carries refrigerant to the blowers; the conduit also holds the drain pipe and a power line. The blowers can be mounted against walls and ceilings, hung from ceilings or left free-standing; they just need to be close to, or on, an exterior wall so that it can be connected to the outdoor unit. When a blower is turned on, the refrigerant begins to flow and the normal air conditioning cycle begins. Each blower is independently operated and a single outdoor unit can support up to 4 blowers.

Benefits of a Ductless AC System

There are benefits to a ductless air conditioner that you may not see with a traditional split system or window unit:

  • No ducts needed – as the name indicates, and as explained above, you do not need to install expensive ductwork to accommodate this type of system.
  • Better energy efficiency – because each blower operates on its own, you automatically have zone control; in other words, you only cool the areas you want and need to. This saves on energy usage, which you’ll see in your monthly energy bills.
  • Customized comfort – each blower is fully programmable and comes with a remote control for easy use. You are in total control of the temperature all the time.
  • Easier installation – the conduit to connect the blowers to the outside unit requires a small, drilled hole, about 3” in diameter, in an exterior wall. This is far easier than dealing with ductwork.

Is a Ductless Air Conditioner A Good Choice for You?

The best way to determine if any air conditioning system is the best fit for your home is to work with a trained professional. Since 1981, Saddleback Plumbing has helped many customers in Trabuco Canyon, CA install great air conditioning systems into their homes.

If you have questions about whether or not a ductless air conditioner is right for you, call Saddleback Plumbing and schedule an appointment with one of our installation specialists.

What Does the U-Bend in My Plumbing Do?

July 17th, 2014 by Bill Chronister

It is often items we see every day that escape our attention the most. For example, the U-shaped bend in the drainpipe under a sink: You’ve seen this often in the fixtures of your home and many other places. But have you ever wondered why so many drainpipes have this same specific shape? The answer is interesting, and it’s not quite what people expect.

When you need answers for all of your plumbing questions, call Saddleback Plumbing. Since 1980, we have delivered quality services for plumbing in Laguna Niguel, CA and the rest of Orange County. We’re here for your heating and cooling needs as well.

That “U-bend” is Actually the “P-Trap”

The plumber’s name for that distinctive drainpipe bend is “p-trap.” Although it may seem U-shaped when you look at it from the front, if you take a view from the side you’ll see the similarity to a capital letter “P”.

The p-trap’s function is to create a water seal between the opening of the drain in a sink and the wastewater further down the pipe. The decomposition of wastewater in the plumbing releases sewer gases with unpleasant odor, and this gas naturally rises back up the plumbing. However, gravity traps water inside the dip in the p-trap, and this water plug prevents the sewer gas from escaping up through the drain and into a house.

If you ever detect the smell of sewage coming from a sink that hasn’t been used much, the reason is probably because the p-trap has dried up and there is no water to halt the sewer gas. Turn on the taps and run water down the drain for about a minute to restore the water plug, and this should solve the problem. (If it doesn’t, call for a plumber; you may have more serious issues down in the sewer line.)

The p-trap can turn into an issue for your plumbing, since it will often catch more than water: soap scum, hair, and grease will begin to build up inside it, and this can eventually lead to serious clogging. If you cannot clear out the clog using a plunger, call a plumber instead of resorting to using toxic and acidic chemical cleaners that could damage your pipes. A plumber can use a motorized drain snake or a hydro-jetter to remove the obstructions, and in extreme cases can detach the p-trap from the other pipes and clean it.

If you have a clogged p-trap in your plumbing in Laguna Niguel, CA, call Saddleback Plumbing today and let our fast and professional plumbers take care of it.

What Does Low Pressure in My Plumbing Mean?

July 15th, 2014 by Bill Chronister

Although it’s possible for you to still take care of a number of basic chores in your home after you experience a drop in water pressure from your faucets, shower heads, and other fixtures, it’s not only and inconvenience, it’s also a warning that there may be a serious issue in your plumbing that needs repair—before it worsens.

There are a number of reasons for a pressure drop in your plumbing, ranging from benign to major emergencies. When you have any doubt about the cause, call for professional plumbing repair services from Saddleback Plumbing. We have handled professional plumbing repair in Tustin, CA since 1981, and have the skill and experience to find the source of the water pressure drop and fix it fast and correctly.

Some of the Reasons for a Drop in Water Pressure

It’s possible that the low pressure comes from issues in the municipal system, such as an abrupt drain on the water supply because of firefighting. Check with your neighbors to see if they are also experiencing water pressure troubles before you proceed with any other steps. Make a call to the utility company if you want to double check.

Pipe leaks are the most common cause for water pressure drops, and are one of the important early warnings you can receive that leaking is occurring. (Pipes with leaks are often concealed behind walls and floorboards.) For this job, you will need plumbers with experience performing leak detection to find the spots that need repairs.

The most serious possible cause for water pressure decline is trouble with the water main that brings in water from the municipal system. If this line breaks or develops blockage, it will threaten your entire water supply, and it could also lead to flooding on your yard or into your home. This is one of the reasons you should always have professionals investigate water pressure problems: the cause might be minor… or it might be a water line break.

In some cases, the water line isn’t damaged; it is simply too small for the amount of water your home now uses. Replacing the smaller water line with a larger one will help your plumbing keep up with water demands.

Don’t “Tolerate” Low Water Pressure

If you shrug off low water pressure and wait for it to improve, you might place the water supply and risk and even allow damage to your home. Although it is possible for the water pressure to return if the issue is with the utility company, don’t take the chance. Once you’ve checked on the possibility of an external reason for the drop in pressure, call Saddleback Plumbing to handle the necessary plumbing repair in Tustin, CA that will get your running water back to running the way it should.

What’s Causing Problems with My Water Treatment System?

July 10th, 2014 by Bill Chronister

When it comes to protecting our health in our homes, and protecting our plumbing systems as well, a good whole-house water treatment system is often a necessity. You can’t always trust the water from the Orange County municipal supply to be free of unhealthy contaminants and the minerals that create hard water. With the right water treatment systems in an Irvine, CA home, you can have protection from nitrates, arsenic, pesticides, calcium, magnesium, sulfurous oxide, and other chemicals and pollutants that enter the water supply.

Water treatment systems sometimes need help as well, both through regular maintenance and from repairs. If your water treatment begins to fail at its job, call for repairs from Saddleback Plumbing right away, and we’ll find what out what is plaguing your water treatment and fix it.

What Can Go Wrong with Water Treatment Systems

  • Clogged or bad filters: This is the most common reason for problems in a whole-house water treatment system. If the system uses filters to clean water, those filters will eventually become clogged, which will not only stop the filter from working properly, it will lead to a reduction in water pressure. To help avoid these problems, arrange for yearly maintenance for your water treatment system, which will make sure the filters are cleaned and/or replaced as necessary.
  • The wrong system was installed: It’s extremely important to have professionals install your water treatment system. Amateur installation often means receiving a system that either a) doesn’t treat the specific problems in your water you need, or 2) is the wrong size to properly do its job. There is a great variety of water treatment systems available, each designed to target different issues in the water, and installers need to know exactly what problems in the water need remedy before choosing a system. They then need to size it right for the level of water use in your home. If your whole-house water treatment system does not appear to be improving the water quality, call on professionals to see if the right unit was originally installed.
  • Excess salt from a water softener: An issue that homeowners sometimes encounter when they install a water softener is that it adds too much salt to the water in order to balance the calcium and magnesium ions. If you start to notice salty-tasting water, you might need to install a reverse osmosis system to balance the pH level from the water softener.

There are many other possibilities for water treatment malfunction. We recommend annual check-ups and maintenance to keep your home’s treatment system working as well as possible. Call Saddleback Plumbing today to arrange for a maintenance visit, or for plumbing repairs for your Irvine, CA home.

Leading the Way with Independence Days!

July 4th, 2014 by Bill Chronister

The term “Fourth of July” is the popular name for the U.S. federal holiday officially known as Independence Day. It isn’t surprising that we would come up with a different name from the official one, since “Independence Day” is one of the most common holiday names across the globe. Most of the nations in existence today won their independence from another power, whether through wars, treaties, or long transitions.

What might surprise many people is how old U.S. Independence Day actually is compared to the similar holidays of other nations. Although the U.S. is still considered a young nation, it was one of the first to make a full break for its colonial master with a new constitution. Most countries that celebrate a national Independence Day are commemorating events that occurred in the second half of the 20th century, when many older empires at last relinquished control over their colonies.

How substantial is the difference in time for the U.S.A. and the rest of the world? U.S. Independence Day celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1776, making our country unusual in that almost no existing nations celebrate an independence event from the eighteenth century.

In terms of age, there is only a tiny handful current countries that celebrate an independence day that occurred earlier than the United States. Switzerland celebrates its independence from the Holy Roman Empire of the Germans in 1291 with “Swiss National Day,” held every August 1—although this only gained status as a national holiday in 1994. Sweden Celebrates “National Day of Sweden” to commemorate events in 1523 and the election of King Gustav I during the War of Liberation against Christian II of Denmark and Norway. Romania comes almost a hundred years after U.S. Independence, with its 1877 freedom from Turkish rule.

The most recent Independence Days to come into existence are for Montenegro, which gained independence from Serbia in 2006 and celebrates the day on May 21, and South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011 and celebrates the day only a day after the U.S., on July 5.

Does anyone else celebrate a literal “Fourth of July,” an Independence Day that also falls on the fourth day of the seventh month? Yes: Abkhazia, a small Central Asian country that declared its independence from the Republic of Georgia in 1999 (although not all countries recognize it). Coming a day (like South Sudan) on July 5 is the independence of the small Atlantic island nation of Cape Verde, which became free from Portugal through signed agreement in 1975.

Everyone at Saddleback Plumbing hopes you and your family enjoy a vibrant Independence Day/Fourth of July this year!

Signs of Damage to Your Water Line

June 27th, 2014 by Bill Chronister

When you consider the amount of water that you use in your house on a daily basis—for cooking, cleaning, bathing, drinking—it’s astonishing that the pipeline that carries the fresh water into your home can endure as long as it does. But the continuous movement of water will eventually take a toll and you will end up with clogs, breaks, or leaks in the water main. In Southern California, damage from earthquakes are a particular worry, although you may not notice issues in the pipe immediately after a temblor.

Aside from outright losing your water supply, there are a number of specific signs to look for that can warn it’s time to call a plumber to investigate potential damages that may require the water line repair. For Mission Viejo, CA water lines, you can trust the job to Saddleback Plumbing; we’ve served Orange County with quality plumbing for over three decades.

Watch for These Indications of a Damaged Water Line

  • Drop in water pressure: One of the earliest warnings that there is a leak or block in the water line is when the water pressure suddenly plunges. If you notice that faucets and showerheads throughout your home have lost pressure and the flow of water is weak, the problem might lie with a damaged water line. (It’s also possible that there is an issue in the municipal system, so you should check with neighbors to see if they are experiencing similar troubles.)
  • Contamination in the water: Breaks in the water main will allow dirt and soil to enter into the pipes. Should your water take on a sudden reddish-brown discoloration, or an unpleasant taste, the issue is likely because of a breach in the water main. Call for repairs immediately.
  • Water flow in your yard: Should the water line spring a leak, the escaping water will flow up into your yard, and sometimes come through cracks in the sidewalk. The problem could come from unrelated pipes, but you nonetheless need to contact a plumber to determine the source of the leak.
  • Hissing and rumbling noises: The point where the water main enters your house will make hissing and rumbling sounds when water is flowing from a tap in your home; this is normal. But if you hear this sound when there is no water flowing inside the house, it indicates that water is running out of the line somewhere between where it exits the municipal supply and where it enters your home. Call right away for plumbers to look into the situation.

You don’t want to have your water supply abruptly vanish because of a damaged water line, so pay attention to any of these warning signs and call for a team of plumbers that knows how to handle plumbing repairs in Mission Viejo, CA that include water line damage. Trust the work to Saddleback Plumbing for fast and professional service. Contact us today to schedule a plumber at the first sign of damage to your water line.