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.

Don’t Burn the House Down!

It’s been a rough winter in Canada with frigid temperatures causing many water lines to freeze.

When water lines freeze, many homeowners think they can just fix the problem themselves, but as two Hamilton homeowners found out – it’s not that easy and you could potentially cause a lot of damage.

Just a few weeks ago, two homeowners set their houses on fire while trying to thaw frozen water pipes after the temperature dipped to minus 23 degrees Celsius. Thankfully no one was injured, but the blazes caused more than $160,000 in damages and left homeowners out in the cold seeking temporary shelter.

If you suspect you have frozen water pipes and have the Water Line Warranty or In-Home Plumbing and Drainage Protection with Service Line Warranties of Canada, contact our claims center immediately to file a claim.

If you do not have protection with Service Line Warranties of Canada and your situation doesn’t improve by allowing heat to access the pipes, contact a certified local plumber to perform a repair. Never, under any circumstances, use an open flame to attempt to thaw frozen pipes.

According to Dan Milovanovic, platoon chief for the City of Hamilton Fire Department in the Hamilton Spectator, using any sort of open flame to thaw frozen pipes is “incredibly risky” — but also not uncommon. “We see it from time to time … The message here is it’s not worth it,” he said.

Additionally, the use of space heaters isn’t advised to do the job. If you don’t want to hire a contractor, the Fire Department recommends attempting to use a hair dryer, small heater, hot water bottles or towels to slowly thaw the pipe, but this is also very risky. When the frozen water expands, you run the risk of cracking or breaking the pipe.

The best course of action is to prevent pipes from freezing by insulating walls or running a trickle of water through pipes during extremely cold weather.

If you currently do not have the Water Line Warranty or In-Home Plumbing and Drainage Protection, visit www.slwofc.ca to learn more.

Protect Your Home from Water Damage

iStock_000006953014XSmall WP Plumbing

Did you know, water damage is more likely to occur in your home than fire damage? We protect our homes from catastrophes, but water damage could be just as dangerous.

Plumbing leaks are common anywhere there is running water, such as:

  • Toilets
  • Faucets/Sinks
  • Dishwashers
  • Ice makers
  • Water heaters
  • Tubs/showers
  • Washing machines
  • Internal pipes and hoses

Water damage isn’t only a problem financially; it can lead to serious health risks from chemicals, toxins and mold, such as rashes, asthma or other chronic health conditions. Additionally, recent studies have shown that children with prolonged exposure to water damaged rooms in their home are at a higher risk of developing eczema.

Whether from a slow leak or flooded basement, water damage can be devastating, but there are things that a homeowner can do to mitigate or minimize the extent of the damage.

  • Check for leaks or cracks in hoses that run to the washing machine, dishwasher and refrigerator at least once a year and replace these hoses every five to seven years.
  • Be sure the caulking around tubs and showers is free of cracks.
  • Know where your water main is located and how to shut it off.
  • Install floor pans under appliances to prevent damage from slow, undetected leaks.
  • Use water leak alarms, which will alert you to a leak in basements, laundry rooms, bathrooms, kitchens and sump pumps.
  • Buy a water flow monitoring system, which attaches to your water main and, if flow that exceeds normal use is detected, will automatically shut off the flow of water into your home.

Fall Weather Tips

iStock_000014942576XLargeFall has officially arrived, which means it’s time to prepare your home for winter while the weather is still cooperative.

Freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall and extensive rain or drought can wreak havoc on the condition of your home. Seasonal maintenance and weather proofing can help prevent expensive repairs and inconvenience.

  • Cover external pipes with an insulation kit, which will prevent freezing and ice buildup. For added protection, turn off external faucet shut-off valves. External pipes and faucets are extremely susceptible to cold weather since they are exposed to snow and ice.
  • Drain garden hoses and store them in a dry place. Water left in a hose can freeze and cause the hose to crack or split. This could be problematic next spring when you’re ready to water the plants.
  • Wrap exterior faucets with insulation tape to protect against freezing pipes. Even indoor pipes can freeze with extreme temperature changes, so make sure internal pipes remain warm throughout the winter.
  • Seal leaks around windows and doors to prevent cold air from entering your home and warm air from escaping. Cold air leaks may cause your furnace to work harder to keep the home’s interior warm and increase heating bill costs.
  • Flush water heaters to remove sediment buildup, which can damage the tank. By performing a flush twice a year in the fall and spring, you can increase the tank’s life expectancy.
  • Clear leaves and debris from outside gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage and prevent ice buildup. As the snow and ice begin to melt, it’s important to have free-flowing spouts to properly remove water from your roof.
  • Test smoke detector functionality and change batteries as needed. Test the functionality of the smoke detector by having someone go to the furthest point in the house away from the detector while you spray test smoke (available at most hardware stores) near the detector to ensure the alarm is activated and can be heard.
  • Examine your walkways and driveways for loose pavement that could become slippery or dangerous when ice or snow-covered.
  • Hire a chimney sweep to inspect and clean the chimney before the first use.

Snow, ice and freezing temperatures will be in the forecast soon, so prepare your home today.

Why are water costs rising?

iStock_000003907033MediumUS water sewer service provider

Rising water costs have been affecting homeowners across North America. According to a 2013 article on CBC News, “in June 2012, the average home used 192 cubic metres of water.” While that number is quite an improvement over the average usage in 2005, which was 256 cubic metres, that decrease has not translated to a reduced cost for the homeowner. Instead, average rates have increased by more than $150 annually.

Water rate increases are nothing new. Many utilities are finding the increases are necessary to make repairs to aging infrastructure, such as Halifax Water, who faced a $2.6 billion bill for upgrades to the outdated water and sewer system in 2013. Their proposed increase would bring the average water bill to $842.87 per year for homeowners.

As water rates continue to rise, protecting private infrastructure becomes more important each day. Repairing a break or leak may seem simple, but if left unattended, could cost you thousands of dollars in not only repair costs, but also lost water. With any kind of water leak, your money is just dripping away and contributing to the overall rise in rates.

Water rates are driven by a variety of factors such as:

  • Upgrades to aging water systems to ensure you are receiving safe drinking water
  • Increased operation costs, including staff, electric, chemical treatment, infrastructure upgrades and fuel
  • Government rules and regulations, including water protection systems
  • Unique geographic conditions and circumstances that could limit availability, such as drought, areas prone to natural disasters, etc.

With many areas experiencing record-breaking drought conditions, water conservation has become extremely important, dictating extensive infrastructure improvements to fix failing pipelines to protect this precious resource.

Ultimately, when repairs need to be made to infrastructure, the cost is passed down to the consumer by raising rates in an effort to ensure adequate infrastructure repairs and upgrades are not left undone, costing consumers more in the long run.

As far as protection from the high cost of rising water bills, homeowners who conserve water can decrease their water bill. (Check out our previous blog articles about water conservation in the home and yard.) However, water conservation provides only some protection. While consumption may drop, increases in the cost of production, supply and operations may still result in an increased cost for the consumer. Additionally, some water companies in drought-stricken areas in the United States have imposed additional fees on customers who use more than an identified amount of water per month. In California, fines have even been imposed on those wasting water.

As a homeowner, your infrastructure is subject to the same failure potential as that of municipal infrastructure. When private water and sewer lines fail, the repair cost could be thousands of dollars, depending on the length of the line, the location of the line and the problem – costs the homeowner would be responsible for. For many homeowners, it’s not “if these private lines fail” – it’s “when these private lines fail, how will I handle the repair?” Homeowners who want to be prepared have options. They can add funds for service line repairs to their rainy day fund, or they can choose to enroll in warranty programs such as those offered by Service Line Warranties of Canada. For more information about Service Line Warranties of Canada’s programs, 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.