Author: Oregon Cascade

Ladders: the Climb to Safety!

ladderLadders are the #1 source of fall injuries in the U.S. work place. Everyone has a ladder, and many people are not aware of the proper ways to use it safely.

Now that we are beginning the holiday outdoor decorating season (Halloween through Christmas), more people are using their ladders to decorate. Here are a few tips to remembers when using a ladder.

First, you need to inspect your ladder to make sure it is stable: no loose rungs, steps, connections, etc. You also need to be sure the ladder legs are able to give you a level, secure base when extended so you won’t tip. Also, check the weight allowance for the ladder.

Make sure the area where you will be setting up the ladder is free of debris or tools. Should you fall from the ladder, you certainly do not want to fall on a tool that is on the ground- that would cause some serious injury. Also, be sure you bring your tools down with you so they won’t fall on you when you need to move the ladder.

Always stabilize the ladder before climbing. If you are working on uneven ground, or if the ladder feels wobbly, know that the problem will get worse the higher you climb. Try to find a level area to support the ladder, or invest in a specialize ladder that compensates for the unevenness.

Wear proper shoes. Sandals, flip flops or bare feet pose too many risks on a ladder. Sandals & flip flops can get caught on a step or rung and bare feet are too exposed to falling debris or any sharp edges or snags from the ladder.

Ascend and descend the ladder the same way: facing the ladder. Never try to use the back side of the ladder; it is not designed for climbing. Only one person on the ladder at a time. There are specially designed ladder for 2 people, but generally most ladders are built for solo trips.

While climbing or working on the ladder, try to keep your hips positioned between the vertical rails. Leaning to one side or the other is placing yourself and the ladder in an off-balance situation and  that could cause a fall or ladder to become unstable.

Never, ever climb, sit or stand on the top rung or step of a ladder. It wouldn’t take much of a movement to cause the ladder to tip with all the weight at the top. And finally, read the directions that came with the ladder, if it is a new one!  Happy Decorating!

Think Winterization Now!

winterizeThe number one cause of water line breaks in the spring is lack of winterization in the fall/early winter.  Your outdoor hose bibb’s are the number one source.  Especially in older homes, if you do not drain the water source and insulate or protect the pipe, there is a very good chance that you will end up with a crack or split as warm up/freeze cycle takes over during the winter.

How to keep a happy hose bibb:

The first freeze is a definite signal that you should get your hose bibs and outside pipes drained or protected.  If you are dead set against turning off and draining the water, investing in coverings for the spigot/pipes might help.  When water freezes, it expands and forces the pipes to expand with it; then when a warm up comes, pipes will contract. All that movement can and most likely will lead to a split or crack in the pipes.

We could tell you horror stories about water damage to walls, floors, furniture and possessions from busted pipes.  It is a sad day for any homeowner to have to call a restoration service for something that could have been easily prevented. Vacation homes are also vulnerable, as owners do not think to winterize a place that they are in for just a short time of the year.

Investing in a frost free hose bibb can help, but you may want that “extra” layer of protection with proper insulation for the hose bibb or pipes.

You may opt to have all of your exposed pipes inspected for proper insulation and protection during the winter months when there are several freezing or sub-freezing days.  Ensuring your pipes are protected – especially if you are going to be away will bring you peace of mind that when the weather warms, those pipes that could have frozen, will have little change of leaking, splitting or bursting, causing any number of problems and damage to your home & property.

Call Firkus Plumbing  (541-382-7710) to schedule a professional to come and properly winterize your home.

Caution! Do Not Try This On Your Own!

don't even tryReplacing Your Old Plumbing

Plumbing is actually the skeleton of your home. It gives you such wonderful things like: water for your flush toilet, water to drink, hot water to bathe, wash clothes or dishes; heat your home, water your garden, etc. Why wouldn’t you want the strongest, most reliable pipes and plumbing throughout your house? A plumber has the education and experience to install new plumbing, fixtures and other items properly so they are safe and reliable. Cities & plumbing pipingmunicipalities require permits for new plumbing & a licensed professional must be the one pulling them. Installing new plumbing really isn’t a DIY project, unless you’re a licensed plumber!

Installing a New Gas Line

pilot lightYou are literally playing with fire if a gas line is not installed properly. A small nick that could cause a leak can send dangerous fumes into your home, making you and your family sick, not to mention the danger of explosion if the gas comes into contact with any kind of flame. It’s heavier than air & hangs around longer. This includes pilot lights, small sparks from electrical switches; even lighting a cigarette or candle. A licensed plumber knows how to properly install the correct size of gas piping for your home.

Bathroom Remodel

Seems like this might be something easy to do, but think again. Your clean water lines may need to be moved and quite possibly your sewer lines as well. Do you really want to get that involved? A licensed professional plumber knows exactly what is needed and required to get your bathroom working the way you want. He’s seen it all and bathroom remodelcan guide you in choices that will work best to give you the comfort, safety and look you desire. (You might be able to help).

Septic or No?

If you are not connected to a municipal sewer system, you probably have a septic tank. You should be aware that it takes special care to keep it healthy. Specifically this means NOT putting certain things in the drain; also scheduling periodic cleaning and draining. If the septic system is old, you might consider of replacing it. It is a messy and stinky job and there are a lot of moving parts. If not septic systeminstalled correctly, you could be looking at some very expensive repairs. You should definitely call a licensed plumber for the installation.

In Central Oregon that would be

Firkus Plumbing 541-382-7710

Does It Seem Your Water Heater Is Getting Temperamental?

water heater problemYour old reliable water heater may be aging a bit, giving inconsistent hot-warm-cold water. Why is it doing this?

Sediment

Especially in places where the water is hard, sediment buildup is a common issue. If there is thick sediment build up in the bottom of the water heater, it will affect its performance. This buildup may be covering the heating assembly, preventing it from heating the water adequately. To keep it in check, it’s recommended to flush out your water heater annually.

Heating Element or Burners

As mentioned above, sediment may be the problem; and for electric water heaters, the coils may be wearing down. Replacing the coil is an easy fix. For tankless water heaters, the burner assembly may have become clogged and should be cleared. In fact it is probably a good idea to have everything checked out annually.

Dip Tube

The dip tube is the part inside the water heater that delivers the cold water into the tank to be heated. If your hot water is suddenly warm, the dip tube may have a crack in it (mixing cold water with the warm near the top) and needs replacement.

Circulator Pumps

Commonly known as “circ pumps” in the plumbers world; this pump may be broken. A circ pump boosts the heated water to the various outlets in your home. Again, it is an easy and fairly inexpensive fix.

For all of your plumbing needs, you can count on us; we’re Firkus Plumbing, one of Central Oregon’s oldest family owned plumbing service. Call us today for a water heater checkup or any plumbing issue: 541-382-7710.

Hydro Jetting – It’s Exactly What It Sounds Like

hydro jetHydro jetting is a process where a high pressure jet-spray of water (up to 4000 psi) is used to clean out blockages in pipes (not toilets). Usually restaurants schedule a regular drain cleaning to get rid of grease and other food build up.

In a residence a big clog might be more than something flushed down the drain, i.e. hair, toys, clothing, paper, etc.  It may be tree roots that have invaded the pipe. Hydro jetting can cut through some of them, but you probably should get a snake involved to break up the larger roots.

One caution about tree roots; most likely they got in there through a small crack in the pipes and hydro jetting and snaking may make the problem worse. So we recommend having the sewer line inspected with a camera. This can be arranged through a licensed plumber.

Since hydro jetting uses only water, it is environmentally friendly. It cleans out all the residue on the pipe walls, where snaking just removes the clog.

Hydro jetting should be done by a professional. The high-pressure could damage lines if not properly monitored and performed.  If you would like to have your pipes hydro jetted, give a call! Firkus Plumbing 541.382.7710

Thinking of Replacing Your Toilet?

There comes a time in life when you think about replacing the most used fixture in your home: your toilet.toilet2

If you’ve had the toilet for a number of years, you probably don’t give it a second thought until you need a repair or the “flapper” changed. But maybe you’re thinking of replacing that porcelain throne with something a little different.

Before we get to the new stuff, let’s review the old stuff.  As hardy as porcelain is, it can develop hairline fractures that will widen over time. Because the toilet bowl & tank are holding water, the fracture can become a leaky crack quickly.

Another common complaint is a wiggly toilet. This could be a simple fix; the bolts may have become loose and need tightening. Or, it’s possible that water has leaked under the toilet and now the flooring has weakened and it could be rotting, causing the toilet to wobble.

There are any number of reasons why you want to replace your toilet.

toilet futureYou can get overwhelmed with all the choices available today. You may want a toilet that is higher, especially if you have a bad back or knees. Also, there is an elongated seat, which many find much more comfortable to sit on. There are toilets that have bidets built in; (some with a seat warmer) the list seems to stretch as far as your imagination.

Most contemporary toilets have been engineered for efficient flushing. Older models can use 1 ½ gallons or more to flush. Today’s newer models cap it off at 1.25 gallons or less. Some models even have a choice of flush: one of solids and another for liquid waste.

If you are considering a bathroom remodel or just want to change out your toilet, Firkus Plumbing would be glad to help! Give us a call today at 541-382-7710.

Drain Clearing Errors!

Most of us are not exactly excited to call a plumber to clear a drain clog. Having a long history in the plumbing profession, we’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to DIY drain cleaning.

Drain auger (a.k.a. snake): Unless you really know what you’re doing, using a drain drain snakeauger means you may be risking the health of your pipes by placing extra stress on them from the power of the auger and the coil at the end. An auger can damage the pipes, and if you do not have the correct size, will be ineffective.

Coat Hanger: Do you see how skinny they are? They will be the most ineffective “tool” you can use, plus there is a chance that it will get stuck.

Chemical Drain Cleaners: As convincing as the advertising is, by and large they won’t drain cleanerdestroy the clog. Add to that the abrasive and corrosive chemical ingredient; you’ve got a recipe for a dangerous situation should it splash back or break something.

The Garden Hose: There are very few circumstances where the water pressure from a garden hose can dislodge a clog and 99% of the time, it won’t work for garden hoseyou. The most likely result will be a big wet mess. It’s best to have a plumber dislodge a clog with a garden hose as they have been trained on how to do it correctly.

Mr. Fix-It Yourself: Unless you have experience or knowledge in plumbing, the possibility that you will over tighten something or damage a pipe when you remove or replace it is just too probable. Leave it to a plumber.

The best fix it is: clog prevention! Don’t flush anything down the toilet that could cause the clog. Diapers, feminine products, toys, etc., all are the usual suspects when clogs occur. For sink or tubs: hair is the #1 culprit. In the kitchen, grease & food particles, including vegetable peels, are excellent sources of clogging. As Ben Franklin says: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”