Frozen pipes are among the most dangerous plumbing emergencies. Not only are they challenging to fix, but they can also be extremely costly. So as temperatures continue to dip in Wisconsin, it’s more important than ever to ensure you don’t make this pricey mistake. Martens Plumbing & Heating is here to help you prevent frozen pipes in your home. In the meantime, don’t forget that our experts are happy to examine your plumbing if you’re unsure whether you’re at risk. Call us today.
What Causes Frozen Pipes?
Your home’s pipes will freeze if standing water is inside them when temperatures plunge. This is because water expands when it freezes. If this happens, it creates excess pressure on the pipes, causing problems from small cracks to major bursts. Identifying and fixing this damage can be both complicated and expensive, so it’s best to do everything you can to avoid it.
Frozen pipes most commonly occur when you forget to turn off your home water supply when outdoor temperatures are freezing. For example, you leave for a weekend and turn off your heat to save money on energy while you’re away. You might not think it matters because no one is home, but it actually matters quite a bit!
What Happens if Pipes Freeze?
If your pipes freeze and crack or burst, you can face serious water damage to your property. The frozen water that was trapped in the pipes will thaw once exposed to the warmer temperature inside your home. If you don’t catch it right away, it can lead to eventual mold or mildew growth—another complex and costly repair.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
There are a few things you can do to prevent frozen pipes. First, if you will be gone for longer than a day, be sure to turn off your main water supply. This will ensure that there’s no standing water in the pipes that’s at risk of freezing.
Second, check that any pipes running along the exterior walls are protected with insulation. If not, have these pipes or entire walls insulated if possible. This will help boost your home’s energy efficiency as well.
You can also reduce the amount of water leading to these pipes to the lightest trickle possible. Even the smallest amount of running water can decrease the chances of pipes freezing.
More Information on Home Winterization
If you need help with a burst pipe or are just looking for professional advice on how to avoid this problem in the winter, contact Martens Plumbing today. We can check over your home plumbing and help you identify areas that could be of concern.
Plumbing is one of those home systems we don’t spend much time thinking about–until an emergency arises. The good news is that you may be able to fix some of the more common plumbing emergencies yourself. Martens Plumbing & Heating breaks them down below. See what you can do, and if you need help, don’t hesitate to call.
Whether it happens in your toilet or sink, drain clogs are definitely an annoyance. If your sink or tub is slow to drain, it may be frustrating–but if you have a complete clog, it becomes an emergency. You can try to unclog it yourself using your fingers or a long, thin object like a clothes hanger or drain snake to loosen the blockage. If neither of these methods is successful, you’ll need to call in a professional.
Toilet clogs are also serious, especially if your toilet begins to overflow. If you find yourself in this situation, resist the urge to continuously flush the toilet. Try using a plunger to loosen the clog yourself. If repeated attempts don’t work, professional help is needed.
Limited/No Hot Water
There’s nothing like a nice, hot shower. So when your shower or bath water runs cold, you’ll definitely take notice. Not only does lack of hot water affect your comfort but also how your washing machine and dishwasher function.
Sometimes lack of hot water can be a fluke, but if you notice it’s gone for a day or more, it’s time to address the issue. It could be due to a problem with your hot water heater. In this case, it’s best to call for emergency service, since it could be difficult to pinpoint the exact problem with the water heater on your own.
If you live in an older home, or if your pipes freeze, they can be more susceptible to bursting. These are usually signaled by a large amount of water either rushing out of your pipes or flooding your basement.
To reduce the risk of burst pipes, never let the temperature in your home go below freezing. If your home is old, be sure to check your pipes every so often to make sure there are no leaks, as this could lead to an eventual burst. If it does happen, you will need to contact a plumber right away to fix the problem and avoid further damage.
Martens Plumbing Offers Regular and Emergency Service
Are you still having problems with your home plumbing? Martens Plumbing is at your service. Some of the many common plumbing emergencies we can assist with include kitchen and bathroom plumbing, sinks, toilets, bathtubs, showers, water leaks, garbage disposals, and clogged and frozen pipes. You can also check out our plumbing & water FAQs for more information.
Whether you’ve been in the garden or working in your home, it’s common to start cleaning up by washing your hands in the sink. But can your drains handle the liquids or substances you’re washing off? Martens Plumbing & Heating is here to help prevent clogs by sharing a few unexpected things not to put down the drain. Learn what they are below and call us if you have questions.
Throw These Things in the Trash, Not the Sink
1. Cooking Grease
The grease you drain while cooking meat is just liquid, right? It is while hot, but it hardens when it cools, which can lead to build-up in your pipes. Instead of dumping grease down the drain, pour it into an empty can instead, then dispose of the can.
Who hasn’t thrown their eggshells down the drain, assuming that the garbage disposal will pulverize them to bits? While a garbage disposal will help break up the shells, what’s left will be sharp, jagged pieces that will catch other food or particles that also come down the drain. This can lead to more significant clogs over time.
3. Produce Stickers
It’s amazing how every little piece of produce comes with its own sticker. Though they might seem harmless, they’re not. A buildup of these stickers in your drain over time can block filters and lead to a plumbing service call.
4. Coffee Grounds
Though they may seem like a liquid when mixed with water, coffee grounds are solids that will eventually build up in your drain. In fact, they’re a common source of drain clogs. Avoid this issue altogether by throwing your used filters in the trash. Also, be careful of the excess grounds in the bottom of your cup before tossing them down the drain with your leftover coffee.
5. Foods That Can Absorb Water
Certain foods, such as pasta and rice, expand when soaked in water. Left to build up in your drain, these foods can grow even larger, and if left unchecked, can lead to blockages.
Though you probably don’t intend to throw hair down your drain, it still ends up there. Too much hair will eventually lead to a clog. If you know this is a potential issue in your home, install a guard to collect any strands that make their way toward the drain to avoid a major plumbing inconvenience.
You should never toss anything down your drain that’s toxic—and that includes paint. But toxicity aside, paint is a thick substance that can build up, especially if it dries before it’s washed away.
If you’re still unsure about putting a particular substance down the drain, do yourself (and your pipes) a favor and just throw it out instead. It’s easier to do than worry about what effects it might have down the road.
Count on Martens’ Expert Plumbing Services
Despite your best efforts, drain clogs and other plumbing issues can still occur. If you’re experiencing problems or need advice on things not to put down the drain, reach out to Martens Plumbing today. Give us a call or contact us online the next time you have a plumbing concern.
Whether it’s due to poor water pressure or you’re looking for a way to decrease your water usage, knowing how to replace a shower head is important for every homeowner. The master plumbers at Martens Plumbing & Heating want to help. Below are our step-by-step instructions on how to install a new shower head. Have questions? Give us a call now at 262-363-7146.
Shower Head Replacement—Getting Started
Replacing your shower head is a relatively simple task that should only take a few minutes to complete. In addition to having your new shower head ready, make sure you have the following tools on-hand before you get started:
- Adjustable wrench
- Teflon tape (also known as plumber’s tape)
Use your wrench to loosen and remove the old shower head by rotating it counterclockwise. Clean off any dirt or other debris leftover in the threads of the shower arm.
Take your Teflon tape and wrap it around the threads of the shower arm two to three times clockwise. Make sure the tape is taut to help prevent leaks.
Next, grab your replacement shower head and screw it on clockwise by hand. Be careful not to overtighten it (“hand-tight is just right”), as it may crack internal components. Once it’s secured, turn on the water. If there are leaks, try slowly tightening the shower head a quarter-turn at a time.
Did You Know?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average family uses around 40 gallons of water in the shower per day. You can cut down on that number with newer shower heads that use less water. Plus, you can choose from a variety of designs, including ones that mimic rainfall or have detachable heads.
Your water quality is so important to the safety and well-being of you and your family. Bad water will not only taste or smell bad, but it can also cause staining or worse yet, make someone seriously ill. That’s where Martens Plumbing & Heating can help—below we’re sharing these and some of our other top reasons to have your water tested today.
Healthy Water Is Vital for Good Immune Systems
The fact is that some of our loved ones are more prone to fall ill from contaminated water than others. Pregnant women, infants and young children, seniors, and those with weakened immune systems need the cleanest water possible for healthy development and lifestyles. Water testing will help identify any harmful bacteria or chemicals that might lead to health issues.
Private Well Water May Be Riper for Contaminants
Did you know around 25 percent of Wisconsinites drink from private wells? While the state helps protect public water systems, private wells are another story.
These water sources can be more subject to nitrates and bacteria from nearby livestock that penetrate the water you use every day. Both the EPA and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources suggest you have your well water tested annually for a variety of Water Quality Indicators (WQIs). Even though your well water might look and taste just fine, you’ll be better served by getting that annual water test.
Enhance the Look, Taste, and Smell of Your Water
Discolored water in your Mukwonago home may just be the result of the water lines being flushed. That’s a temporary issue that can be fixed by running all your faucets for a few minutes. But if your water doesn’t look, taste, or smell right for a longer period, that could be a much bigger issue.
For example, too much hydrogen sulfide gives water that rotten egg smell (common with well water). Too much iron or lead gives water that metallic taste and smell. Sometimes the problem can even relate back to your water heater or softener. The only way to know for sure is to have your water tested by a professional.
How You Can Get Your Water Tested in Your Mukwonago Home
Looking for more reasons to have your water tested? Martens Plumbing & Heating is an expert in virtually all Mukwonago-area water system testing and solutions. To schedule your water for testing, call 262-363-7146 or contact us today.
Updating your plumbing is often a task that’s beyond a homeowner’s level of comfort. That’s why it’s important to rely on experts like those at Martens Plumbing & Heating to help you. Below, we’re sharing three popular plumbing upgrades that can make a huge difference in your Mukwonago-area home. Read them over, then call us at 262-363-7146 to see how we can help you implement them.
Replacing an Old Water Heater
Most water heaters will last you anywhere from 10 to 20 years. So if yours falls on the longer end of that timeframe or it shows one of these signs, it may be time to start thinking about a new, more energy-efficient replacement:
- Water puddles
- Unusual sounds
- Discolored water
- Limited hot water
- Multiple repairs
Martens offers both water heater repair and total replacement. We can help you assess whether it’s worth it to prolong your water heater with a minor repair, routine maintenance, or replacement part—or if you’d be better off with a newer unit.
Our experts can install a full line of energy-efficient water heaters from top brands. We’ll help you find the best system based on your home’s size and daily needs.
Martens provides full-service plumbing for complete bathroom remodels or renovations in Mukwonago. But you don’t have to totally redo your bathroom to make a huge improvement. Just a new toilet, shower, sink, tub, or some combination can make a world of difference in your bathroom.
Our licensed, insured, and bonded experts can tackle almost any bathroom remodel in both existing homes and new construction. As a family-owned business dedicated to our customers’ needs, we’ll gladly handle all the paperwork and secure any necessary permits to save you time and hassle.
Sewer Line Repair or Piping Updates
Understandably, sewer line failure is usually at the top of the list of most dreaded problems any homeowner faces. The smell of rotten eggs or the sound of a gurgling toilet can almost always be traced back to a broken seal or backed-up sewage. Older homes especially are also notorious for pipe corrosion and malfunction, while expanded tree root systems can affect any home’s underground piping.
Martens uses special sewer cameras for thorough inspection inside your sewer lines and piping to pinpoint the exact cause—or causes—of failure. From there, we can provide the necessary cleaning, repair, or replacement recommendation. If excavation is needed, we’ll take all the appropriate safety measures to get to the heart of the issue.
New sewer lines can help preserve the value of your home and offer peace of mind.
Greater Mukwonago’s Friendly Neighborhood Plumbing Service
Martens Plumbing will schedule a convenient time to come to your home to discuss your plumbing upgrades. Our licensed and insured experts will take the time to understand your goals and budget before agreeing on any work—call 262-363-7146 or send us a message to get started. As always, estimates are 100% free.
And if you’re looking for inspiration, check out our design center and showroom at 117 MacArthur Dr. in Mukwonago, just off Highway 83.
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.