Spring Plumbing Tips

During this time of year, most people are looking to clean up and clean out, finding things they don’t have use for and throwing them away, or in some cases, finally figuring out a way to use what they have in a better way. Service Line Warranties of Canada is doing some spring cleaning of its own. We are working on revamping and improving our blogs and social media, and we will be debuting our new format next week!

This week check out some helpful spring plumbing tips:

Indoors

  • Clean all drain strainers in the sink and showers to prevent hair, soap and debris from clogging drain lines.
  • Check toilets for leaks by adding a few drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. If the color appears in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak.
  • Clear mineral deposits from shower heads by soaking them in a plastic bag with vinegar overnight and then gently scrubbing with a toothbrush.
  • Check appliances with water hoses, such as the washing machine, ice maker and dishwasher, for bulges, leaks and hose weakness.
  • Clean the washing machine tub and lint trap to maximize performance.
  • Pour a gallon of water into infrequently used drains, including floor drains, to fill the trap and prevent odors. Slow floor drains should be snaked so they perform as expected in the event of a flood.
  • Inspect your home for leaks by taking a water meter reading before bed and then again the next morning where no water was used overnight. If the reading has changed, you have a leak.

Outside

  • Make sure yard drains, gutters and downspouts are clear and free of leaks and debris from the winter months.
  • Check outdoor faucets and hoses for cracks or leaks.
  • Check for unusually damp spots or soft ground in the yard, which may indicate a plumbing problem.

 

For more information on other ways to be prepared for spring, visit www.slwofc.ca.

Myths Busted! Water and sewer lines never break

Repair water pipe

A common myth is that water and sewer lines never break. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind – because the service lines usually lie underground and buried beneath our homes, we don’t think about them. Yet, more than 850 water main breaks occur in North America every day according to www.watermainbreakclock.com!  It is only when the water or sewer line fails (clogs, leaks or breaks) that we give them any thought. Often the pipes or lines for which homeowners are responsible are generally believed to last for 40, 50 or even 60 years.  Many factors contribute to the useful lifetime of a homeowner’s water and sewer pipes or service lines, some of which include the material from which the lines are made, the weather and soil conditions.

What causes water and sewer lines to fail?
Root Intrusion
Do you often admire the saplings the former property owner planted some 40 years ago? The roots of those now full-grown trees stretch deep into the ground and could very well be permeating the small cracks in your service lines that are as old or older. The roots grow in the direction of the water source to thrive and, once a small opening in the service line is found, will begin to penetrate the line. Roots invading sewer lines could cause clogs and result in raw sewage seeping into the yard, not to mention an unpleasant odor and soil contamination.

Ground Shifting
As a result of ground movement or shifting, water and sewer line joints may become loosened or dislodged, often causing the pipes to crack, misalign or collapse. Once this happens, it becomes an easy entry point for clay and debris, which will eventually cause the line to clog.

Especially susceptible to shifting are the areas where earthquakes occurs. The shifts can be of such magnitude that damages to the public water and sewer lines could hamper the delivery of fresh, clean water to communities for several days.

Weather
We’ve experienced some extreme fluctuations in temperature, drought conditions and record amounts of rain and snowfall during the past few years. These extremes can cause water and sewer line corrosion and accelerated soil erosion, which affects the quality of the lines. A slight change of only a few degrees in air or water temperatures can cause significant stress on service lines. For example, water temperatures below 4 degrees can cause the pipes to become brittle and air temperatures at or below 0 degrees cause the ground above it to freeze, thereby increasing stress on the line.

The bottom line – water and sewer lines can and will break.

 

21st Century Television Discusses Service Line Warranty

Trump Video Screen ShotService Line Warranties of Canada’s parent company, Utility Service Partners, Inc. (USP), was delighted to be featured August 17 on Bloomberg Television (as paid programming) when USP Chief Executive Officer Philip E. Riley, Jr. discussed the Service Line Warranty Program available in the United States and Canada with special guest host Donald Trump, Jr.

“I’m very excited for the opportunity to discuss the importance of protecting homeowner infrastructure and providing an affordable solution for protection,” said Riley. “Every day water and sewer lines are failing and we can help.”

Water and sewer lines are part of an aging infrastructure issue that is being addressed in many cities. Private lines, subjected to the same elements that cause public lines to fail, are the responsibility of homeowners. While cities and utilities are repairing and replacing the water and sewer lines that comprise the public infrastructure, costs for maintenance of the lines on a homeowner’s property come out of the homeowner’s pocket. USP works with cities to offer homeowners affordable utility line repair protection that covers the high cost of line repair and replacement while also protecting the environment.Homeowners will recognize the program under the brand name, Service Line Warranties of Canada, USP’s consumer division.

As 21st Century Television Vice President of Programming J.L. Haber expresses, “For cities, critical utility systems can end up being a major expense. When we heard about how Utility Service Partners works to provide low cost warranties to cover repairs to these utility lines when something goes wrong, we had to get them on the show to spread the information.”

Those interested in learning more about how Utility Service Partners helps cities and homeowners can watch the entire interview online.

About 21st Century Television – 21st Century Television is an award-winning business and health program that is independently produced by MMP (USA), Inc. The show provides its viewers an in-depth opportunity to find solutions to industry problems from some of the top business leaders from across the world. With more than 5,000 companies participating on more than 500 shows, 21st Century Television continues to be the premier and targeted outlet for the latest business and health stories. 21st Century Television airs on cable networks available to more than 100 million television households.

 

About Utility Service Partners – Founded in 2003, Utility Service Partners, Inc. strives to be the leading provider of solutions to North American municipal and utility clients by delivering quality programs that bring value to both the client and their residents. Operating under the consumer brand Service Line Warranties of America (SLWA), USP and SLWA are committed to addressing aging infrastructure across the nation through public-private partnerships.

Call before you dig

Shovel in Dirt

Have you ever started to shovel in your yard and hit something hard? While you might think it’s just a rock or clay – it could be your water, sewer or gas line and accidentally puncturing it could be costly and potentially dangerous. While most utility and service lines are buried several feet beneath the ground’s surface, some areas have very shallow lines, which increase the chances of hitting a utility line located on your property. According to “The Top 5 Home Repairs You Should Never Do Yourself,” homeowners often get into trouble when they attempt to modify a plumbing system, like rerouting, repairing or replacing sewer pipes. Should a homeowner choose to repair or replace a utility line, a utility line location service is available to help determine the location of the lines.

Programs like Click Before You Dig provide homeowners a utility line location service. The service will provide a locator who will help a homeowner locate the utility lines on their property to keep them from inadvertently hitting an underground line while digging. Even repairing a failed water or sewer line caused by root infiltration could disrupt service to neighbors if a homeowner is unaware that the underground lines on their property are connected to a shared line, which could result in a hefty repair bill and city-imposed fines.

Homeowners can have the utility lines on their property marked for reference – what a great idea! Knowing where the water and sewer lines outside the home are located will enable homeowners to monitor ground conditions for potential leaks or breaks via soft spots, pooling water or foul odors.

Calling programs like Click Before You Dig is simple from anywhere in the country. The number routes the call to a local call center that works with your local utility companies. Simply tell the agent your address and describe the intended project. Within a few days a locator will mark the approximate position of the pipes, lines and cables at your residence so digging can be done safely or noted for future reference.

 

Drought season brings thirsty roots

iStock_000014458292MediumWhen it’s hot outside, you might cool off with a refreshing drink of cold water. That same theory applies to plants during summer months. When the weather is hot, coupled with extended periods of drought, roots seek water and are naturally drawn to your water and sewer lines. If you have trees, bushes or other plants with deep-penetrating roots, your lines may be at risk of root intrusion, even if located across the yard.

To survive trees need water and when exposed to long periods without rain, their roots will seek other water sources such as sewer and water pipes. Typically, service pipes are cooler than the surrounding soil, which can create condensation on the outside surface of the line, thus attracting roots when they are thirsty. When trees are first exposed to drought, root growth may actually increase. Sewer lines can be significantly warmer than the surrounding soil, which promotes root growth, cell division and nutrient uptake causing roots to form around your pipes. As lines age or are compromised, it’s possible that tree roots will penetrate and clog the pipes. While shrubs are also problematic, their roots are generally not as long and their life span shorter than trees.

Roots do not typically follow a growth pattern because they are dependent on environmental conditions. While all roots pose a potential problem to water and sewer lines, some preventive measures can be taken to circumvent tree and shrub roots from penetrating your water and sewer lines, including planting at least 10-20 feet from any water or sewer line and avoiding plants with deep, invasive root systems such as

  • Poplar, Cottonwood and Aspen
  • Willow
  • American elm
  • Silver maple
  • Fig
  • Birch
  • Mulberry

Consider planting trees with minimally invasive root systems such as:

  • Japanese fir and maple
  • Acacia
  • Crabapple
  • Vine maple
  • Gingko

CalPoly’s Urban Forests Ecosystems Institute provides a list of plants with low root damage potential to help you avoid tree root problems. As a general rule of thumb – maintain a minimum boundary of 5-10′ between a tree and any underground utilities. Consider root control methods like creating a growth barrier with compact layers of soil, or air gaps using large stones or solid barriers like plastic, metal and wood. Landscape fabric with slow-release chemicals, such as sulfur, sodium, zinc, borate, salt or herbicides (which may be harmful to trees), is also an option. Finally, consider pruning tree roots every five years with the help of an experienced landscaper.