Your plumbing system is one of the most important parts of your home. It can also be the trickiest to navigate. Let the pros at Martens Plumbing & Heating help you. Below, we’ll walk you through our very own plumbing 101 guide for some basic do’s and don’ts—and call us at 262-363-7146 for more advice.
Plumbing 101 — the Do’s
Have the Right Tools for the Job
Even basic plumbing can be challenging—if something goes wrong, it can have serious repercussions on your pipes. That’s why having and using the right tools for even minor updates is so important. Research how to perform the job first, then make sure you have everything you need instead of improvising solutions.
Turn off All Water Before You Start
Whether you’re fixing a running toilet or replacing a faucet, your first step should always be turning off your home’s water. That way you don’t make a mess or create plumbing issues bigger than the one you’re trying to fix.
Use Natural Methods to Unclog Your Drains
Nobody likes a backed-up shower or sink. But when they happen, don’t depend on store-bought chemicals to fix the problem. While effective, those solutions can wreak havoc on your pipes over time.
Instead, use items you already have in your house to help you, such as hot water, salt, baking soda, and vinegar.
Plumbing 101 — the Don’ts
Don’t Put Trash in Your Garbage Disposal
It’s easy to think of your disposal as a catch-all for food scraps. But if you put the wrong items down there, they can ruin or break your pipes and cause the whole system to break down. These items include:
- Cooking oils
- Coffee grounds
- Vegetable skins
Don’t Overtighten Plumbing Connections
There’s a reason that old adage “hand-tight is just right” has stood the test of time. When it comes to fittings and connections, tighten them only as far as you can with your hand. This helps prevent breaking bolts, cracking pipes or porcelain, and stripping screws.
Don’t Hesitate to Call for Help
If you’re in over your head, put down the tools and pick up the phone. Some plumbing work requires seasoned professionals to tackle—and that’s okay. When that happens, you just need to call the right team for assistance.
Choose Martens for All Your Plumbing Needs
Our licensed and bonded plumbers, state-of-the-art materials, and commitment to getting things right the first time set Martens Plumbing above all the rest. Whether you have questions on the plumbing basics or need a major repair, we’re here for you 24/7.
Just like a Bryant® heating or cooling system, replacing your water heater is a big investment. At Martens Plumbing & Heating, we want to make sure you pick the best unit possible for your home. Our experts are breaking down the differences between a tank vs tankless water heater below. Discover the pros and cons for yourself, then call our experts at 262-363-7146 to set you up with a new system.
How Does a Tankless Water Heater Work?
Tankless or instantaneous water heaters work only when hot water is needed. When you turn on your faucet, water runs through the system, where it’s heated by either gas or electricity (depending on your fuel source). You get a constant supply of hot water, ready to use when you need it, without wasting energy heating up a big tank.
Tankless Water Heater Pros and Cons
The top advantage of a tankless system is energy efficiency. In fact, according to the Department of Energy, homes that use less than 41 gallons of water daily are up to 34 percent more efficient with a tankless water heater vs a tank unit. Other benefits include:
- Lower energy bills due to efficient operation
- A compact design—perfect for installation in small areas or homes that need more space
- Longer system lifespan (usually last 20 to 30 years)
However, there is a downside to tankless water heaters. While they will save you in terms of energy use, these systems will cost more upfront than a more traditional heater. If you’re switching from a tank unit to tankless, you’ll also be paying more in terms of installation, as a plumber will need to retrofit your pipes for the new system type. And while you’ll get instant hot water when running the washing machine or taking a shower, a tankless unit will have a hard time keeping up with demand if you choose to do both at the same time.
Traditional Water Heater Pros and Cons
The advantages and disadvantages of a tank heater are almost the exact opposite of a tankless unit:
- Lower upfront cost
- Easier (and cheaper) to install in homes already fitted for storage tank systems
- Simple operation and fewer moving parts make for easy maintenance and repairs
- Ideal for multi-tasking (for example, doing laundry while washing the dishes)
- Inefficient operation
- Bulky design that takes up a lot of floor space
- Usually need replacing more often than tankless systems
Are Tankless Water Heaters Better?
Whether or not a tankless heater is worth it depends on your budget and home layout. But one thing is for sure: the licensed and bonded plumbers at Martens Plumbing can help you decide which system is right for you. Call us today at 262-363-7146 or contact us online.
From regular hose and sprinkler system use to doing extra loads of laundry, your plumbing system sees a lot of action in the summer. At Martens Plumbing & Heating, we know all about these problems—and we can help you fix and prevent them. We’re sharing three helpful summer plumbing tips below. Use them to keep your home running efficiently all season long, and call us at 262-363-7146 with questions.
Use the Garbage Disposal Sparingly
One of the best parts of summer is firing up the grill for any and all occasions. But be careful what you put down the garbage disposal—it’s not a catch-all for food scraps and waste. Fatty foods like hamburger meat and grease can easily stick to your drainpipe, build up, and cause stubborn clogs. In general, try to only put soft foods or liquid in the disposal.
Turn Down Your Water Heater While You’re Away
Summer is a great time to take a trip away from home. But before you go, turn down your water heater—after all, you won’t be using it, so you may as well give it a break. It’s a great way to save energy and unnecessary stress on your system.
Looking for other ways to save money? Try turning down your air conditioner, too.
Be Smart About Water Use
You may be tempted to take more frequent showers to keep cool in the warm weather or continuously run sprinklers on humid days. While both are necessities, being smart about how you use water can help you protect your pipes from overuse while also helping you save money on your utility bills.
Also consider investing in water-efficient appliances, such as dishwashers and washing machines, to take water conservation to the next level.
For More Summer Plumbing Tips, Contact Martens Today
No matter what problem your plumbing system might be facing, rest assured that our team has the perfect solution. We’ve mastered the art of plumbing repair—we have the expertise, skill, and tools to meet all your needs.
The longer you own a home, the more you learn about how to keep it safe and functional, whether it’s knowing how often you should replace your air filter or troubleshooting a faulty furnace. Plumbing is no different—and the experts at Martens Plumbing & Heating are sharing five simple plumbing tips that all homeowners should know. Read them over, then call us if you’re still having plumbing trouble: 262-363-7146.
1. Know Where the Water Shut off Valves Are
In case of emergencies—or if your sewer lines need to be cleaned out—you may have to shut off water to the entire house rather than just a single room. Knowing where the main shut off valve is can help you save time and plumbing headaches down the road.
2. Understand What Can and Can’t Go Down Drains
Be selective about what you’re putting down the drains, both in your kitchen and in the bathroom. Throw out things like coffee grounds, grease, and food scraps rather than letting your garbage disposal handle them—otherwise, you’ll have clogged pipes to deal with. Don’t confuse your toilet with a garbage can, either. Flushing anything other than toilet paper (“flushable” wipes included) will lead to system backups and future plumbing repairs.
3. Fix Leaky Fixtures Right Away
Leaky faucets and running toilets are more than just annoying to listen to—they are also huge water wasters. When neglected, leaking faucets can waste up to eight gallons of water per day, while a running toilet can waste up to a whopping 200 gallons per day. Save yourself the hassle down the road and fix these simple problems right when you notice them.
4. “Hand-Tight Is Just Right”
If you’re planning to tackle some simpler plumbing projects yourself—such as cleaning out sink traps, for example—make sure you don’t overtighten fittings and connections. Abide by the “hand-tight is just right” adage: Tighten plumbing connections by hand to prevent breaking bolts, cracking pipes or porcelain, and stripping screws. If you’re not sure your fittings are right, know that you can always contact our expert plumbers for help.
5. Get Rid of Clogs Without Chemicals
Pouring drain-clearing chemicals to remove clogs might seem like a good idea, but it can actually cause more harm than good. Instead, opt for a drain snake when you go to the hardware store. Fish that snake down your clogged drain—it’ll catch most of the hair and other debris without harming your pipes in the process.
For Plumbing Problems of All Sizes, Trust the Pros at Martens
If you still have questions or need more plumbing tips, don’t sweat it—Martens Plumbing has the answer you’re looking for. We can help you tackle whatever project you need help with, from repairing toilets and tubs to installing brand new sinks. Great service starts with a phone call: 262-363-7146.
All homeowners come face to face with clogged drains—it’s just a part of owning a house. While it may be easy and tempting to reach for liquid drain cleaner, there are much better ways to unclog a drain and ones that won’t hurt your pipes. The master plumbers at Martens Plumbing & Heating put together some of their favorite ways to unclog a drain, all using things you already have around the house.
Our first tip is also the easiest—simply boil water in a pot. Once it’s ready, pour it down the clogged drain in shifts, waiting a few seconds in between each rinsing to let the hot water go to work dislodging and flushing away gunk and grime. You may have to repeat the process a couple times to completely unblock the drain, but this easy (and inexpensive) tip works on most blockages.
Another simple but effective way to unclog a drain is to grab a wire hangar from your closet. Straighten it out as much as you can, then curl one end into a small hook. Fish that end into the drain—the hook should catch around the hair and other gunk built up inside. Pull the hangar out, clean off the hook, and snake it down the drain until it stops pulling things up. When you’re done, run hot water through the drain to clear out any remaining debris.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
When combined, baking soda and vinegar work similarly to liquid drain cleaner but aren’t as harsh on your pipes. Mix together 1/3 cup of baking soda and 1/3 cup of vinegar. The result will fizz almost immediately—it’s important that you pour it down your clogged drain right away so you don’t lose the effects of that reaction. Let everything sit for at least an hour (if possible, leave it overnight for best result) before flushing the drain with hot water.
Baking Soda and Salt
Similar to the previous tip, the combination of baking soda and salt can help unclog a drain—the two create a chemical reaction that can help clear up even the worst of blockages. Mix ½ cup of salt and ½ cup of baking soda and pour it into your clogged pipe. Let the mixture sit for at least 15 minutes, then follow with boiling water to rinse everything away.
For More Plumbing Help, Turn to the Experts at Martens Plumbing
If you followed these tips and still experience drain clogs or water backups, call the master plumbers at Martens Plumbing. With state-of-the-art materials and our commitment to getting the job done right the first time, our team handles everything from cleaning drains and sewer lines to water treatment and fixture installations. Call us today for service at 262-363-7146 or make an appointment online.
Your basement stayed dry through the thaw and is surviving spring showers, but summer thunderstorms and heavy rains will continue to test your home’s resolve. Even a little water can mean big problems so the experts at Martens Plumbing & Heating recommend doubling your protection with both sump pump maintenance and a battery backup system.
Test Your Sump Pump to Protect Your Home From Flooding
A sump pump is standard equipment in most homes, but it won’t do you much good if you don’t maintain and test it occasionally. Like any motorized device, it can be bogged down with debris or wear out over time.
To see if your system will be ready when you need it, start at the source—the power source, that is. You should see two separate plugs—remove them both from the outlet, then plug in just the one for the pump. If it doesn’t immediately turn on, it probably needs repair. You can also test your sump pump by pouring enough water into the pit to raise the float (or you can raise it by hand). Your sump pump should turn on and pump the water away. Just remember to only let your pump run for a few seconds during testing or you could damage the motor.
Let Our Pros Repair or Replace Your Sump Pump
If your sump pump can’t pass these tests, our plumbing experts can repair it or install a replacement to help prevent what could be a very costly and unpleasant home emergency. Here are a few other tips to keep unsanitary water and mold out of your basement:
- Keep your pit (also called a crock) covered.
- Clear the pump inlet screen regularly to help keep your unit clean.
- Make sure your gutters are clear and downspouts are draining properly.
- Check your lower level after a heavy rain or whenever you see standing water on your property.
- Ask us about a water sensor that will sound an alarm or send an alert to your phone at the first sign of a leak.
- Schedule annual maintenance by a Martens Plumbing & Heating pro—we’ll clean the discharge opening and line, grease the bearings in the pump, and make repairs if we find a problem.
Be Prepared With a Battery Backup Sump Pump
With regular service your sump pump can last up to 10 years, but there are a lot of variables that could shorten its lifespan. Because you never know exactly when it will stop working, we always recommend a plan B in the form of a battery-powered backup sump pump. Not only will this unit step up if your sump pump fails, but it can also step in if your primary pump can’t keep up. Best of all, it runs off a powerful marine battery, so it’ll work even if you lose power at home. Considering that the same storms that bring heavy rains often cause electrical outages, this is an ideal way to get added protection and peace of mind.
From Cooling Systems to Sump Pumps, Trust Martens Plumbing & Heating for Help at Home
For help with all your home’s most important systems—from an energy-efficient Carrier® air conditioner to sump pumps and plumbing services—trust the company that understands urgency, integrity, fast response, and value: Martens Plumbing & Heating. We can also help with bathroom and kitchen remodeling to make your home the best it can be. Contact us anytime for more information or a free estimate from the Mukwonago plumbing and HVAC team that’s here for you.