It’s Christmas Time!

christmas around the world 3We’re currently celebrating Hanukkah (until December 10th)  and it’s coming up to Christmas and Kwanzaa as well as several other celebrations of the season.

Have you ever wondered how other countries celebrate Christmas? Here in the U.S., we generally gather family and friends on Christmas Eve and/or day for a gift exchange and dinner. Of course, Santa visits households secretly to drop off special gifts for good little boys and girls.

In the Philippines, they hold a colorful, giant lantern festival. In Japan, it’s celebrated with a “Kentucky Fried Christmas Dinner”.  In Germany, St. Nicholas travels the country leaving chocolate, coins, oranges and small toys for the kiddos.

One of the most unusual traditions is in Norway. People hide their booms, as they believe witches and evil spirits come out to steal them for transportation!

Here’s another “different” tradition: in Venezuela, people use roller skates and blades to attend midnight services! We guess they are working up an appetite for the big holiday dinner to follow.

Greece’s tradition includes wooden boats. Children will carol in the streets with small boats decorated with nuts that are painted gold. The town square may also have a giant sail boat made from lights. This tradition goes back many, many years.

Santa must really enjoy his stops in New Zealand & Australia. There the kids leave out beer and pineapple chunks when he visits their homes!

South Korea has declared Christmas an official government holiday that people have off from work and school. There are a lot of decorations around the towns and some homes. The popular gift is money. Santa can sometimes be clothed in a blue outfit rather than red. The popular dessert is a sponge cake covered in cream.

Jamaica has a business and consumers dream: all night markets to buy and party at! Many people will purchase new clothes just to attend the “Grand Market” event. There are plenty of vendors hawking their holiday food and other items to buy. There is a continuous party all night. Another Jamaican tradition is that people paint their houses and hang new curtains.

These are just a small sampling of how Christmas is celebrated around the world. For more information on many countries, click here:  https://www.whychristmas.com/cultures/

Without Plumbing, Life Itself Would Miserable!

outhouseIf you are alive today, you can thank a plumber. Why? If it were not for plumbers and plumbing, your water supply would probably be a disease filled undulating pool of germs waiting to strike and sicken anyone and everyone.

If you look back over the centuries, all of the diseases that wiped out hundreds of thousands of people are attributed to lack of sanitation and sanitary plumbing.

In fact after the fall of the Roman Empire, most people were afraid to bathe. They thought that getting wet caused illness. That fear of bathing persisted into the 1800’s. At one point the City of Boston outlawed bathing, except with a doctor’s orders. In 1652, Boston did build a waterworks system; but it was used to put out fires.

Until the early 1800’s, your toilette comprised a pitcher of water, a basin and a chamber pot or commode. Waste was just tossed into the street! It attracted rats and mice; that brought disease right back to the population.

A crude, fresh water delivery system was developed: it was hollowed out logs! In 1804, the city of Philadelphia passed a code installing cast iron pipes for water delivery. By 1855, the city of Chicago developed the first sewer system.

Now that you know a little of the history, here are the stats: the Black Plague killed between 75-200 million people. It was spread because of a lack of sanitation. Some people even threw their waste into the rivers used for drinking water! Polio thrives in fecal matter. Maybe some of you remember having to get the polio vaccine at school. Polio was declared officially eradicated in 2014.

Here’s an interesting story: the European morality rate was quite high in the 1800’s . Then came the Cholera epidemic. There are reports of about 500 people dying in one week alone. Most people used communal wells to get their drinking water. “Cesspools” were sometimes located near those wells and the groundwater seeped into the drinking water.

Yes there are vaccines, but having access to clean drinking water and a sanitary waste system almost puts the brakes on disease.

Today there are still issues with clean drinking water in many parts of the world, as well as sanitary waste disposal.

Modern plumbing and sanitation does prevent the spread of disease. It’s a documented fact. The Romans were aware of the correlation between sanitary water, waste collection and disease; they had a system in place to protect the population. But when the Roman Empire fell their ideas went with them.

So, if you are here with us today, you can thank a plumber!

Pets and Plumbing

PETS AND PLUMBING

Here in Central Oregon, we are quite proud to boast that over 60% of households have a pet; primarily a dog. And we love our dogs but we don’t love them coming in from outside after rolling around in the dirt or mud! Since there are so many places outdoors to take your pet; having an encounter with a skunk or something equally as stinky or dirty can be something we dread.

If you want to bring in your pet after an outing, rinse them off while outside to get rid of as much mud and nature (grass, pine needles, etc.) as possible. Give your plumbing a fighting chance and leave the debris outside!

You’re going to have to feel around for clumps of stuff that are matted on the fur; or even just matted fur itself. You may need to do a pre-bath brushing to get rid of hairy situations.

If you have a cat that happens to get muddy, do your best to rinse them off before bringing them inside.

Be sure to have a drain strainer in the tub or sink to catch fur that will be shed when you are bathing your pet. It will go a long way in keeping the pipes clear.

BTW: Dogs and cats have body temperature regulators that are much more efficient than a humans; they can tolerate a longer exposure to cold and cold water much better than we can!

Those exposed pipes kinda look chewable!dog chew

PEX piping can look like a chew toy. The polyethylene could attract the attention of a dog or puppy, especially if they are a chewer. Exposed PEX could be a real draw for bored pets. If you have cabinets where PEX is exposed, try to keep the doors shut. If you can’t do that; try to hide the PEX in some manner. How creative can you get? *The same applies to wiring. Cats and dogs love to chew wires!

Your dog views your toilet a one big ‘ol water bowl.

dog drink toiletYour pet will find water anywhere it can if it’s thirsty. Be sure to keep a tab on water bowls and feeders. Keep them filled and for Pete’s sake, close the toilet lid! There will be lingering chemicals from cleaning your toilet.  If they can’t get into the toilet bowl, they will always go to the proper water bowls.

And speaking of toilets; never flush kitty litter down the toilet! Even if it says “flushable”- it really isn’t (it becomes like cement). It will clog up your pipes (same is true for those “flushable” toilet wipes for humans- bad idea!

Banging Boilers

A boiler making banging sounds does not always mean it’s about to blow. It might be just asking for your attebanging boilersntion. We’ll share with you some possible reasons for noise coming from your boiler; but it will be in your best interest to call in a professional to diagnose and solve the problem.

Over time, air gets built up in the system and pipes. Locate the pressure release valve (or bleeder valve) for the system and s-l-o-w-l-y open to let the air escape. You will probably hear it hissing. Barring any other problem with the boiler, this should take care of the banging.

Again over time, there could be some sediment built up in the system. The heating element is stressed while heating up when there is sediment buildup. The element will create steam as it heats up the water faster due to the sediment and the banging could be coming from the pressure of the steam.

You could have an expansion tank that has begun to fail and will need to be repaired or most likely replaced. Another place to look for the banging is with the zone valve. We recommend hiring a service technician to take care of these issues for your safety and peace of mind.

 

 

 

Take A Seat!

toiletLet’s face it; nothing takes more abuse than your toilet seat! It’s dropped on to the porcelain bowl, plopped on when you’re in a hurry and scrubbed to within an inch of existence! Unless you want to replace the whole shootin’ match, you can just replace the toilet seat and you’re good to “go.”

But not all seats are built the same; there are various standard sizes you need to be aware of. Here are some pointers for measuring your toilet seat to help get the right one for the job.

  1. Measure the distance (inches) between the bolts where the seat attaches to the bowl. It should be around 5 – 6 inches.
  2. Measure the width of your bowl at the widest point, making sure it’s outside the brim.
  3. Measure the bowl length from the outside front edge of the bowl to a spot between the bolts at the back, where you first measured. Round bowls are about 16 ½ inches; oblong bowls should measure around 18 – 18 ½ inches.

There are many choices when it comes to toilet seats. The most common is a high-impact plastic or a wood composite seat with a plastic covering. Many people choose a regular wood seat. They are heavier and warmer to sit on, but more expensive than a plastic seat.

Also there are soft toilet seats. These usually have a foam layer that will breathe when you sit. It will give you a cushy landing for your tush. They are generally warmer, which is a welcome greeting on cold nights! The downside: they are much harder to clean. The covering is porous; meaning there are microscopic holes that allows air out when you sit. But that also means bacteria and moisture can get in, making cleaning and sanitizing harder.

Now, to answer a burning question: Have you noticed that in most public restrooms the toilet seats are shaped differently than your home toilet? They usually have an opening toilet seat1at the front. Why? Well, it is commonly thought that designers wanted to create a toilet seat that accommodates everyone, making it easier to complete their visit without touching the seat.

Of course, you may choose a seat by taking into consideration your décor and comfort preference. There are hundreds of choices from standard white to wildly decorated.

Someone has cleverly invented an automatic seat cover that is being used in many public restrooms now. Yes, you read that right. Automatic seat covers! A dispenser is attached to the toilet seat that will automatically push a plastic sleeve around the seat. When done, or before the next person uses it, you can automatically dispose of the used cover and place a new one on the seat by waiving your hand or pressing a button! Very clever.

**Remember when installing your new toilet seat, to thoroughly clean and dry all surfaces. Any grime or wetness that gets trapped where the connections are could cause a rust issue or prevent the seat from a good bond because of the grime.

Word of the Day: Hydration!

The summer is upon us and heat waves are inevitable. Start gearing up your body with a hydration routine well before that thermometer reaches the OMG stage. If you are already there, keep that water a-comin’. If hot temperatures (over 90°) are in the forecast, you will be much more comfortable if you begin drinking more water NOW.

Getting your body ready to sweat means your body can react more efficiently to cool down and the possibility of dehydration is lessened. When it’s super-hot, you don’t realize just how much water your body loses by sweating. It’s not just your head and neck, your limbs and even feet sweat, and valuable moisture evaporates faster than your realize.

Sweat contains salt that your body needs to function. You want to replace that salt if you are sweating a lot, as soon as you can. Sport drinks contain sodium to help replenish that salt.

If you are lucky enough to spend your days in a pool, lake, stream or ocean, your evaporation rate is somewhat lessened as you won’t sweat as much because the water cools you. (Note: the ocean is salty, so you need to drink extra water or fluids when in the ocean. Ironic isn’t it?)

So start drinking more water today! And if you work where there is heavy manual labor, having sport drinks available is a good idea.  And take a cooling break often.

 

Dig Safe!

dig safe

Are you getting ready to do DIY projects this summer? Some projects include having to dig for landscaping, adding a gas line or hot tub, etc. We can’t stress enough the importance of calling 8-1-1 to schedule a utilities locate on your property. It’s free and could be a life saver!

The technician will clearly mark where underground electrical, gas, water and sewer lines are so you or the excavator will know where and how to dig. This not only can save you money, you won’t have angry neighbors should you hit a utility that serves the neighborhood.

*Note: the utilities locator will not be able to identify where a leak may be; they will only mark where the utilities are per the maps they have on file.