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All About Home Plumbing
Your home’s plumbing system is based on three things–gravity, pressure and water seeking its own level. The entire plumbing system can be organized into two subsystems; one that brings water in and one that takes it away. Water coming in to your home or apartment comes in under pressure. This allows it to travel anywhere inside a home or business. As the water comes in, it passes through a meter. This meter clocks your use or billing and conservation purposes. In an emergency where you may need to shut off the water for a burst pipe, the main stop valve that controls all the water, is typically located by the meter- sometimes inside the building or out by the street where the water main branches off into individual customers’ properties.
As water comes in, it comes to a “fork in the road” and is sent on one of two paths. The first path is your home’s cold water supply. It’s in the pipes under a bit of pressure and is ready to go as soon as any fixture opens a tap. The other path carries water from the main supply to your water heater. Once inside the tank, the water is heated and stored until you need it. When the time comes for a shower, doing the dishes or washing clothes, dedicated hot water pipes deliver the hot water where it’s needed at a typical temperature of between 140 and 160 degrees F which makes it very uncomfortable for microbes that usually like warm water.
The other half of the plumbing system, the drainage system, does not rely on pressure to move water, but on gravity. Drainage pipes are pitched downward, sometimes vertically. This helps and ensures that your waste water is carried out of the house. The only exception is when you have a fixture that is below the grade of the property’s sewer lines, like a toilet in a basement. In that case, tanks and pumps are used to push the wastewater above grade so that gravity can take over. Another name for the drainage system is the drain-waste-vent system or DWV.
It consists of vents, traps, clean outs and they ALL need to work together properly to ensure that wastewater is efficiently carried out of your home and into a public sewer or septic system. The iconic “S” configuration of the pipes under the sink is called a trap, and it’s a very important part of the DWV system. It holds a small amount of water in place to keep air from wafting up through your drains- air that has spent time in your sewer (and you know what that means!). When you run water into the trap, is displaces what’s there and flows out. When the water stops, some is retained and forms a seal against any fumes that would otherwise drift into your inside air.
The supply system that brings water in and the drainage system that takes water and water waste away always has a gap. Devices like washing machines, sinks and toilets are called fixtures, but can also be thought of like a bridge. Most fixtures have their own shutoff valve, meaning you can cut off the water supply to just that fixture when there’s a leak. For plumbing problems in between fixtures, you must shut off the main valve to the entire system.
What we do
Having a basic knowledge of how your plumbing works can help you to diagnose problems and understand something about why it’s happening. Some common services you may need from a licensed plumbing company are these:
Burst Pipe Repair
While there are many reasons for a pipe to undergo stress resulting in bursting flood damage, the reason for a break is usually one of four factors.
- Freezing- water freezes in the pipes; expands and increases pressure if taps or valves are closed and the expanding water has nowhere to go but out through a weak spot in the pipe.
- Movement – unsecured pipes can vibrate and move around when water is turned on and off
- High water pressure – most homes should be at 30 – 50 psi; 60 psi and above is too high
- Pipe corrosion – nothing is built to last forever; pipes will begin to break down over time, especially if your water has an improper pH balance
Correctly diagnosing the cause of a burst pipe can help to prevent the same thing from happening again. Pipes can be patched, but it’s only a temporary fix. Eventually, a new section of pipe will have to replace the cracked or split part.
When you notice pools of water around drains, strange odors in the kitchen and drains that take forever to drain, you’ve got a clogged drain. Most clogs are not serious and don’t require assistance. When the problem becomes too big for a plunger to handle there are other methods such as:
- Augers (drain snakes)
- Commercial chemical remedies like Drano ®
- Water Leak Detection – unlike burst pipes, obscured or underground leaks can go undetected for years. Most pipes are located inside walls making it more difficult to find the problem, so they’re underground where you can’t possibly see what’s happening. This is a time to call the professionals with special water leak detection equipment. They can come in, pinpoint the exact area of the leak and do the necessary repairs without too much disruption.
Slab Leak Repair
Slab leaks require professional help. They aren’t noticeable to the naked eye and chances are you don’t have the equipment to pinpoint where one could possibly be. When the pipes in the water or sewer lines beneath your home break, crack or burst, you have a slab leak. It’s important to call the professionals when you suspect a possible slab leak. Here are the signs:
- The sound of running water when all water is turned off
- Spinning water meter (when no water is running)- and the accompanying high water bill
- Cracks in your walls or flooring
- Mildew or noticeable moisture under carpets or flooring
- Smell of sewage
- Bug problem due to added ground moisture
This is the process by which all the cold and hot water pipes throughout the entire home are removed and replaced. Just thinking about what this will do to your wallet and overall comfort during the process can be daunting. Before you make the decision though, here are some signs you might need repiping:
Home is 50+ years old
Rust/mineral build up in your water
Multiple pipe leaks
Sewer Line Replacement
Much like the other plumbing problems that arise in the house, the same holds true for the sewer lines. Here are the signs that may lead you to call a professional to come out and get you squared away:
Sewers can become cracked, punctured or collapsed by shifting soil, frozen ground, or settling. They can acquire a “belly” if compressed from above and pushed down
Corrosion of lines especially if they are old and your water has unfriendly chemistry to pipes
Sewer Blockages – Grease buildup or foreign objects restrict or prohibit proper water flow and/or cleaning of the sewer line.
Leaking Joints – seals between pipes have decayed or broken
Tree Roots – Tree or shrub roots have invaded the sewer line
Badly made pipes – constructed of substandard or outdated material
Trenchless Sewer Repair
If the thought of repiping gives you nightmares, imagine having a sewer problem. Having your backyard dug up like an excavation site is not appealing, and the sewer lines might lie in a trench that is several feet deep. With trenchless sewer repair, a professional plumber will run a new pipe through an older one, so there only a horizontal excavation involving holes at the beginning and end of the pipe run.
Sewer Camera Inspection – to help keep repair costs low, a sewer camera is inserted into the pipe and can detect the following: root intrusion or another debris blockage, separated, cracked or otherwise leaking pipe joints, deteriorated pipes, and any other visible problems from street to house.
Toilet Repair and Installation
Whether your toilet is actually broken, uncomfortable, outdated or just plain ugly, calling a professional to repair or replace is the smart move. A lot of the signs that point towards a broken toilet are the same for most plumbing problems: leaking, constant running, foul odor, etc. Besides a better bathroom experience, replacing or repairing your toilet can result in a reduction of water usage by nearly a gallon per flush, with cuts down on septic and sewer waste flow.
Gas Line Repair and Installation
Just like the pipes for your plumbing, gas lines will corrode over time. With gas lines, you’ll want to find the absolute best for the job. This will ensure your safety and the safety of your family, as well as cut down on costs.
Water Heater Installation and Repair
Every homeowner has nightmares about waking up or coming home to a leaking or non-functioning water heater. While it’s possible to troubleshoot through some minor water heater problems, you’ll want to call the professionals for any major work. Some signs that your water heater needs repair are:
- Water Leaking From the Top or Bottom
- No Hot Water or Not Enough hot water or Water is too hot
- Water Takes Too Long to Reheat
- Low Hot Water Pressure
- Low Hot Water Pressure
- Dirty, Rusty or Smelly water
Tankless Water Heater Installation and Repair
The immediate advantages of a tankless water heater are Up to 50% less energy usage, Instant hot water, and a continuous supply of hot water.
The installation for tankless water heaters that use high powered burners (they run on propane or natural gas) can be quite involved and somewhat expensive, with special venting and fireproofing requirements.
Shower and Tubs
Need to unclog your tub? Plumbers have more than a few specialized tools that can destroy clogs quickly. If you’re not up for a DIY fix, or the problem has progressed out of your control, call a professional plumber out to get you back on track.
Replacing fixtures can be difficult and you don’t want to make a mistake with all the water involved! Plus these items can be difficult and heavy to handle on your own.
Water Filtration Systems
For those that question the quality of their water, a new filtration system might be the way to go. There are two kinds: point-of-use system and point-of-entry system. Point of use is typically installed under the sink, while the point of entry systems are installed in a basement. Point of entry will filter all water that comes into the house, the point of use is for a specific water supply.
Water Softener Installation
calcium, magnesium, and certain other metal cations in water cause it to be “hard”. Water softening is the removal of these metal cations which can lead to limescale buildup and galvanic corrosion. Get the right chemistry to your water supply and you won’t have to deal with the yucky buildup in your shower head or sink fixtures.
Since the major activities in a bathroom involve water, it makes sense that a plumber would be involved. Some plumbing contractors can also do the carpentry needed, but they certainly can advise you on fixtures and install them in coordination with a contractor. Moving water supplies and creating an efficient design that saves water and keeps you clean and comfortable is exactly what a plumber is ready for.
Backflow Testing and Certification
Backflow is the reversal of the flow of water or mixtures of water and other undesirable substances from any source into the distribution pipes of the potable water system. What that means is that it’s possible for water pressures to change such that the contents of your indoor system or irrigation system can leak back into the public water supply possible carrying bacteria or other contaminants. Many homes have a backflow preventer installed in their home plumbing, but sometimes they fail or wear out.
Well Pump Installation and Repair
You may prefer to have a well water source in your yard. You may already have one. Either way, this is a job best left to the professionals. Signs of a damaged well pump are:
- Dirty Water
- Abnormal Noise
- Air “Spitting” from Faucet
- High electric bill
Due to the complex nature of the equipment pieces used in pump installation and repair, it’s best to not DIY this project. You could do it incorrectly and possibly cause dangerous repercussions.
Your Plumbing is Important to us!
Thompson and Thompson have a long history of providing excellent results for customers in the Savannah GA area. We can diagnose and solve any commercial or residential plumbing issue, or install new piping in just about any project. The Thompson and Thompson difference is in the care we take to respect your property and your concerns as a homeowner. Being fully licensed and bonded is only the beginning of our value-driven performance.
In fact, we wrote it into our Core Purpose statement: “To Help All People Live In Greater Safety And Comfort.” That holds us to a higher standard than simply making a profit from your leaks and clogged pipes.
We’re local, so you know you’re getting the best in supplies, equipment, and technicians. We live here too! As neighbors, we take pride in the infrastructure of our towns and homes and count it a privilege to serve the community, making all our lives better, happier, safer and trouble-free.
Burst pipe emergency? When you need a fast fix, call us in Savannah or Brunswick. Clogged or backed up toilets? We’ve seen our share of those. Our expert help is available all day and all night.
When we work in your home, you’ll get more than you expected in terms of professionalism, efficiency, thoroughness and friendly service. In addition to tackling your specific problem, we take the time to inspect your plumbing system for any additional problems that might occur in the future. We really do believe that a knowledgeable customer is the best kind.
We like to say that if we can’t fix it, no one can! From leaky faucets to entire piping systems, we do it all. Thompson and Thompson have a unique team mindset that makes it possible to complete just about any job on time and on budget. Thompson and Thompson is the one call to make whether you have a dripping kitchen tap or a high water bill with no visible indication of a leak. You really can’t beat our high quality, commitment to excellence, skilled people and wide experience in southeastern Georgia.
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