• Cold Winter Temperatures can Cause Frozen Pipes

    Winter is approaching. Have you taken the necessary precautions against frozen pipes? Temperatures in Monroe Township are sure to drop below the danger threshold for frozen pipes this year, so learn now what you must do to be ready.

    Why Do Frozen Pipes Matter?

    It’s easy to think that frozen pipes are no big deal. After all, the pipes will thaw when temperatures warm up, and then everything goes back to normal, right?

    In reality, frozen pipes are a major concern because, not only do they restrict water flow, but the expanding pressure of ice in your pipes can cause them to burst. Then, when the pipes thaw, your home is at risk of substantial water damage.

    Where are Frozen Pipes Most Common?

    Of course, sub-freezing temperatures in northern regions, including New Jersey, are more likely to cause frozen pipes than warmer weather in southern states. However, occasional cold snaps in places that don’t usually experience frosty weather can make homes in these regions uniquely susceptible to frozen pipes.

    The location of your plumbing also affects its vulnerability. If you have pipes running along exterior walls or through unheated interior spaces, such as the attic or garage, these exposed sections are more likely to encounter freezing conditions when the temperature drops outside.

    At What Temperature Do Pipes Freeze?

    It’s possible for uninsulated pipes to freeze any time the temperature drops below freezing, but the official temperature alert threshold is 20 degrees F. When bitter conditions are in the forecast, keep an eye out for low water pressure and frost on exposed plumbing, which are the first signs of frozen pipes.

    How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

    In an ideal world, all plumbing would be located in heated and insulated areas of the home. If rerouting your pipes isn’t practical, prevent frozen pipes with these tips:

    • Seal air leaks in the attic, garage, unfinished basement or other unconditioned spaces where plumbing is present.
    • Set up a space heater near exposed pipes on extra cold nights to keep the temperature just above freezing.
    • Install heat tape, insulation or both on exposed pipes.
    • Leave the water trickling from a faucet on cold nights to prevent pressure buildup inside your plumbing.
    • Set the thermostat to 55 degrees or higher at all times, even when you’re on vacation.

    How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

    If you think your pipes have frozen, call Bob Hoegler Plumbing right away. While you wait for one of our experienced plumbers to arrive, complete these tasks:

    • Shut off the main water line.
    • Open a faucet to reduce pressure.
    • Apply heat to the pipe with a portable space heater, electric heating pad, blow dryer or infrared light. Avoid using open flames to thaw frozen pipes.
    • If you can’t access the frozen pipe, let a plumber perform the thawing process.

    For help preparing your pipes for winter, or for help thawing frozen pipes, contact Bob Hoegler Plumbing at 732-521-0133 and schedule services in Monroe Township.

     

  • Drain Cleaning: Calling a Plumber vs. Chemical Drain Cleaners

    Got clogged drains? It can happen to anyone, even if you don’t do anything wrong. After all, much more than just water flows down your sink, shower and tub drains – it’s the grease, oil, hair, dead skin, soap, detergent and other gunk that build up on the inside of your pipes. Over time, this can cause a slow drain or a complete blockage.

    The question is this: should you use a chemical drain cleaner or call a plumber to clear the clog? We’ll explore the pros and cons of these options, as well as a few other drain-cleaning methods you might try.

    Chemical Drain Cleaners

    Unfortunately, the easiest option – pouring a few cups of chemical cleaner down the drain – is also the most harmful. Many of these products contain bleach, lye, acid or other harsh substances that generate heat and break away the gunk in your pipes. It may sound effective, but caustic chemicals can eat away at your pipes if used frequently. They also contaminate the municipal water supply.

    If you go the route of drain cleaning products, opt for a natural biological version that uses bacteria to eat through gunk in your drains. The results aren’t as immediate, but when used as a preventative measure, bio drain cleaners can stop clogs before they start.

    Other DIY Drain Cleaning Methods

    If you’re not ready to call a plumber just yet, there are other chemical-free methods you can use to clear your backed up drains.

    First, try pulling the blockage out. One option is to straighten a metal coat hanger with pliers and bend the tip into a small hook.  Insert this into the drain and fish out debris lodged as far down as the trap, the U-shaped pipe located right below the sink.

    If the blockage is out of reach of your coat hanger, try a plumber’s auger next. You can find this tool, also known as a plumbing snake, at a local hardware store.

    Another option is to plunge the drain – but don’t grab the toilet plunger to unclog other drains. Hardware stores sell small plungers designed for use in sinks, showers and bathtubs.

    Calling a Plumber

    If your do-it-yourself methods aren’t enough to clear your clogged drain, it’s time to call in the professionals. Plumbers have a whole arsenal of tools at their disposal to help get your pipes back in shape.

    Motorized plumbing snakes with extra-long cables can reach clogs located deep within the pipe. That’s a good start, but hydro-jetting is even more effective. This involves inserting a special plumber’s snake with a camera on the end into the drain. When a blockage is spotted, the plumber blasts it away with a high-pressure stream of water. The toughest blockages – even those caused by tree roots – don’t stand a chance against hydro-jetting!

    If you need professional drain cleaning services in the Monroe Township, NJ area, please contact Bob Hoegler Plumbing today at 732-521-0133.

     

  • How to Prevent Plumbing Leaks

    Every system in your home degrades as it ages, including the plumbing. Unfortunately, this can result in leaks, which can cause water damage and affect the structural integrity of your home. Help your pipes age gracefully with these tips on how to prevent plumbing leaks.

    Decrease the Water Pressure

    While water pressure below 40 psi results in trickling faucets and pitiful showers, high water pressure can be even worse for your plumbing. If the pressure within the pipes exceeds 85 psi, the joints, valves and fixtures may suffer.

    To determine your water pressure, call a plumber to come take a look, or purchase a hose bib gauge to measure the pressure yourself. It’s possible to lower the psi by installing a pressure regulator. Remember, low-flow faucets and showerheads don’t reduce water pressure – they simply adjust how much flows out of the fixture.

    Use a Water Softener

    Hard water contains magnesium and calcium that can leave sediment buildup within your pipes. Not only does this restrict water pressure, but it can corrode joints and fittings over time. White, chalky buildup on plumbing fixtures is a telltale sign of hard water. The most effective way to counteract hard water is to install a water softener.

    Insulate Pipes to Prevent Them from Freezing

    When pipes freeze, the expanding ice inside can cause them to burst, resulting in a plumbing leak when the pipe thaws. One of the best ways to prevent frozen pipes in the attic, garage, basement or crawlspace is by insulating them with foam, rubber or fiberglass sleeves. Electric heating tape is even more effective at protecting particularly vulnerable pipes.

    Upgrade Plumbing Supply Lines

    One of the most common places for leaks to develop is between the wall and a plumbing fixture or appliance. Check the supply lines located behind your sinks, toilets, washing machine, dishwasher and freezer. If you find standard rubber hoses, consider upgrading them to steel braided versions. These are much more durable and will never rot or crack over time the way rubber hoses can.

    Perform Routine Plumbing Maintenance

    It’s easy to overlook your plumbing, but if you’re serious about preventing leaks, you should inspect and maintain your pipes and fixtures regularly. Here’s what to do:

    • Tighten all exposed pipe and supply line connections.
    • Regularly check under kitchen and bathroom sinks for signs of water damage.
    • Make sure the toilet is securely mounted to the floor and doesn’t rock back and forth.
    • Inspect tub and shower tiles for signs of leaks (and resulting mold growth) behind the walls.
    • Inspect and flush the water heater to remove sediment buildup.
    • Turn off the water at the main shut-off valve when you leave town so a leak doesn’t occur while you’re gone.

    If you need help implementing these tips to prevent plumbing leaks, or you’ve just discovered a leak somewhere, don’t hesitate to call Bob Hoegler Plumbing today at 732-521-0133. We’re a reliable emergency plumber in Monroe Township, NJ.

     

  • Common Plumbing Noises and When to Call Your Plumber

    Squeaky floors, popping ductwork and creaking framework – these are ordinary household sounds that result from the expansion and contraction of different building materials as they warm and cool throughout the day. If these are the type of noises you’re hearing, there’s nothing to get worked up about.

    However, your plumbing can make certain sounds that indicate something’s wrong. Listen for these problematic plumbing noises and know when to call your plumber.

    Slamming

    If you hear a loud slam or bang when you turn on a faucet, you have a water hammer issue. This is when a shockwave transmits through the water in your pipes. The problem occurs when a closed valve abruptly stops the flow of water. This can happen if air chambers in your pipe valves become clogged.

    Water hammer is a problem that demands your attention because it can damage pipes and loosen their fittings. To correct the issue, call a plumber to come clear the clogged pipe valve chambers and replace any damaged parts.

    Shaking

    The force of water rushing through your pipes causes them to shake, which is completely normal. However, if the shaking is loud enough to notice, the plumbing probably isn’t as secure as it should be. Loose mounting straps are the most likely culprit.

    You can fix this problem yourself by tightening or replacing the straps that have deteriorated or pulled away from the pipes. If you don’t feel comfortable performing these repairs yourself, call a plumber for help.

    Screeching

    When you turn on your faucet, you may hear a high-pitched squealing sound before the water comes rushing out. This most likely indicates a defective or loose part within the fixture itself.

    You may be able to repair your faucet if the problem relates to a loose washer or worn-out stem. If simple repairs don’t work, consider replacing your screeching faucet. You can do this yourself or leave it to a qualified plumber.

    Gurgling

    A gurgling, bubbling sound is the result of a partial blockage that slows the water as it flows down the drain. Cleaning the drain should resolve the issue.

    However, if all of the drains in your house gurgle, there’s probably an issue with the drain vents. The purpose of these plumbing components is to prevent air bubbles from entering the system. Replacing the drain vents is a job best left to a professional plumber.

    Call Your Monroe Township Plumber

    These are just a few of the common plumbing noises you might hear. If you notice more than just the ordinary squeaking, creaking and rubbing sounds of different building materials in your home, it’s reasonable for you to be concerned. If you think the plumbing is to blame, give Bob Hoegler Plumbing a call today at 732-521-0133. We serve residents in the Monroe Township, NJ area.

  • Common Causes of Toilet Clogs

    Everyone knows what usually clogs a toilet. Fortunately, most cases can be cleared up with a minute or two of vigorous plunging. However, to remedy more difficult situations, you may need a professional to help you out. Here are the most common reasons why customers call a plumber for help unclogging the toilet.

    Foreign Objects

    Toilets are designed to carry away human waste and toilet paper. If you flush anything else, you increase the chance of something getting caught in the U-shaped trap or further down the drain line. Seemingly innocent objects such as cotton balls, facial tissues, paper towels, dental floss and feminine products don’t readily dissolve the way toilet paper does. To keep your plumbing running smoothly, dispose of these items in the trash, not the toilet.

    It’s also common for curious children to place toys and other small objects in the toilet – and then flush it. If your child does this unbeknownst to you, the toilet may suddenly start clogging frequently because a foreign object is wedged in the trap. Make sure your children understand the toilet is not a toy.

    Weak Flush

    Ample water and power are needed to clear the contents of a toilet bowl. If the flapper in the toilet tank doesn’t open all the way, the resulting weak flush could result in frequent clogs. Adjusting the chain or replacing the flapper should solve the problem.

    First-generation low-flow toilets from the mid-90s are also prone to clogging. Newer versions are much more powerful while still conserving water. Consider replacing your toilet if it’s from this era.

    Hard Water

    Water with high mineral content can calcify, leaving deposits that eventually narrow the gap through which waste can pass. A quick fix is to flush out the toilet system with a solution that removes the mineral buildup. The long-term solution is to install a water softener.

    Blocked Drain Vents

    Plumbing fixtures usually vent to the roof so fresh air can replace the vacuum that forms when water drains. If bird nests, leaves or other debris block the vent, it can cause the toilet to flush in a slow, gurgling manner. The solution is to clear the vent opening on the roof.

    Tree Roots

    Sometimes, the blockage is located further down the sewer line. Tree roots are a common culprit. If they rupture your sewer line, none of your drains will flow smoothly, and the toilet may back up often. You’ll need to repair or replace your sewer line to restore proper function.

    Call a Plumber to Fix Your Clogged Toilet

    When you’re fed up with plunging the toilet only to have it clog again, a plumber can help you get to the bottom of it. At Bob Hoegler Plumbing, we’ll eliminate the clog and diagnose what caused it in the first place. Only then can we offer a more permanent solution to your toilet troubles.

    To schedule toilet repair or other plumbing services in Monroe Township, NJ, please contact us today at 732-521-0133.

  • The Problem with Hard Water

    Water with high magnesium and calcium content is considered “hard.” Groundwater easily picks up these dissolved minerals from rocks and soil before it enters your plumbing system. 85 percent of potable water in the US is hard, which means it probably affects your home in Monroe Township.

    Problems Caused by Hard Water

    While hard water doesn’t pose any health risks, it causes plenty of other problems, including:

    • Chalky residue: When hard water evaporates, it leaves minerals behind, creating unsightly white deposits known as limescale on plumbing fixtures, appliances and This residue is difficult to remove and even causes chemical reactions that limit the effectiveness of cleaning products.
    • Soap scum: As if the mineral deposits weren’t enough, hard water prevents soap from dissolving completely, leaving a film behind in sinks and bathtubs.
    • Clogged faucets and showerheads: The minerals in hard water build up in the tiny openings of faucets and showerheads, clogging them over time.
    • Damage to plumbing and appliances: A buildup of limescale in your plumbing can reduce water flow and gradually decrease the pressure. Steel pipes are more susceptible to this than copper and PVC pipes. Minerals also damage the rubber washers, valves and seals found in plumbing fixtures and appliances, causing leaks.
    • Decreased water heater efficiency: Deposits inside the tank impair performance, making your water heater work harder and driving up your energy costs. Limescale also shortens the life of your water heater.
    • Dingy clothes: Hard water makes your clothes look dingy, feel scratchy, and stretch and fade faster.
    • Lifeless hair and irritated skin: Showering in hard water causes minerals to build up in your hair, making it look dull and feel rough. A film also remains on your skin, allowing dirt and bacteria to linger and causing irritation for sensitive individuals.

    Cleaning Hard Water Mineral Deposits

    The key to removing chalky mineral deposits is to apply white vinegar to the affected surfaces. Try these tips:

    • Lay vinegar-saturated rags on faucets.
    • Spray sinks, tubs and shower doors with vinegar.
    • Soak showerheads in a bowl of vinegar overnight.
    • Run a cup of vinegar through the empty dishwasher.
    • Run a gallon of vinegar in the washing machine with hot water.
    • Run your coffee maker with the reservoir full of vinegar.

    How to Prevent Hard Water Stains

    While it’s possible to remove mineral deposits with a little vinegar, patience and elbow grease, prevention is always the best method. For instance, to keep the shower door looking nice, you should spray it with preventative shower cleaner or use a squeegee to remove water after each shower.

    To overcome all the problems with hard water, you must install a water softener. This removes minerals from the source before water travels through your pipes, helping to preserve everything from the water heater and dishwasher to your clothes and hair.

    For more useful plumbing tips, or to schedule services in Monroe Township, NJ, please contact Bob Hoegler Plumbing at 732-521-0133.

  • Tips to Extend Your Water Heater’s Life

    Tips to Extend Your Water Heater’s Life

    No one likes a cold shower, yet few homeowners make water heater maintenance a priority. By taking the following preventative measures every six months, you can extend your water heater’s life and avoid the need to call an emergency plumber in the middle of the night.

    Test the Pressure Relief Valve

    This valve is designed to open if the pressure inside the tank gets too high. To test that it’s working properly, place a bucket under the pipe leading to the pressure relief valve, which should be labeled. Lift the valve and let a little water trickle out. Now, let go of the valve; it should snap back into place. If the valve sticks or continues to allow water to escape, replace it.

    Warning: The water that drips from the valve could scald you, so don’t let it touch your skin!

    Flush the Tank

    Sediment collects on the bottom of the water heater, decreasing efficiency and eventually corroding the tank. A mini-flush every six months will help the appliance continue running smoothly.

    To begin, flip the circuit breaker at the junction box to cut the power to the water heater. Then, close the cold water inlet valve.

    Attach a hose to the drain valve, which is near the bottom of the tank, and run it to a floor drain or outside. Alternately, you can place a bucket directly below the drain valve. Turn the handle (or insert a flat-blade screwdriver into the handle-less stem) to open the valve. Open the pressure relief valve as well to help the tank drain more quickly.

    If using a bucket, empty it outside or down the kitchen sink each time it fills up. Continue this process until the water runs clear.

    Inspect the Anode Rod

    Following the mini-flush, inspect the anode rod before you restore power to the water heater and open the cold water inlet valve. This is a small piece of metal that attracts the corrosive elements inside your water heater, preventing the tank from rusting. As the anode rod corrodes, it leaves your tank vulnerable. Occasionally replacing the rod prevents this.

    Unscrew the anode rod, which is located on the top of the water heater tank. If it’s less than one-half inch thick or coated in a layer of calcium, replace it. Remember to wrap plumber’s tape around the threads of the new anode rod to ensure a tight fit.

    Set the Temperature and Add Insulation

    With the anode rod inspection complete, you can now restore power and open the water inlet valve to refill the tank. Set the temperature to an efficient 120 degrees rather than the standard 140 degrees. You can further promote efficient water heater performance by covering the tank with an insulating water heater jacket. Also, wrap pipe foam around the pipes leading to and from the water heater.

    For help maintaining your water heater, or to schedule water heater repair in Monroe Township, NJ, please contact Bob Hoegler Plumbing at 732-521-0133.