Check Those Sprinkler Heads!

I was out walking early this morning and I came across a home with a broken sprinkler head. While the new “water feature” looked great, the entire zone was not working and the lawn was all brown.

Most people set their systems to run in the early morning so they do not lose water to evaporation during the day. The downside is that they don’t see the system running so unless some good Samaritan lets them know about the broken head it may be too late when they finally figure it out.

The best idea is to test the system once a month. Most systems will allow you to run each zone manually for a couple of minutes so you can quickly check to make sure the system is running properly. Broken heads can be replaced for a couple of dollars and a few minutes of your time.

Do yourself and your lawn a favor–check out your sprinkler system!

Photo Copyright 2012 – Tom Branch 

Trim Those Trees Off The Roof!

Trre Limbs Touching RoofI was out showing homes in one of the older neighborhoods in Plano yesterday. What makes these areas nice are the mature trees that provide shade and character to the homes.

What caught my eye was that many homeowners had not taken care of their trees and many of them had were in direct contact with the composite shingles on the roofs. While shade can help keep the attics cooler and reduce cooling costs in the hot Texas heat, it’s a bad idea to allow the trees to come in contact with the roof.

When the tree limbs are allowed to touch the roof, the tend to move in the wind and can damage the composite shingles. This damage can allow water to penetrate the structure and cause damage to the insulation and ceilings below. It can even lead to mold if it is not detected and repaired quickly.

Climbing on roofs or placing ladders in trees is dangerous and we encourage homeowners to seek professional assistance in trimming trees.

Photo Copyright 2012 – Imaged2Sell

My Air Conditioning Is Leaking

I received an email from a client this evening. It read, “My AC is leaking!”

It’s that time of year in Texas. We’ve had temperatures into the low 90’s and people are firing up their air conditioning systems for the first time. Some people never notice the water dripping from a pipe that exits over a window while other people think it is normal. I’ve ever seen one where the owner placed a large potted plant under the drip! Why waste water?

It’s not normal! If you see water dripping, most likely your primary AC drain is plugged.

Basic HVAC Plumbing

The water produced by the AC normally drains into the primary drain that is attached to the home’s plumbing. At the end of last season there was water in the trap that dried out leaving mold, lint, and other residue that clogs the trap. When that happens, the water overflows into the Overflow Pan and runs out through the overflow drain which usually exits the home over a window.

Don’t panic! It’s easy to fix. 

Pour a little chlorine beach into the primary drain (the cap on the top of the drain comes off), let it sit for a few minutes, and then wash it down with plenty of clean water. This usually clears out the trap and everything is fine again.

If this does not clear the clog or you’re not comfortable with this process, you should call an HVAC technician who can repair it for you.

Photo Copyright 2012 Imaged2Sell

I Ran My Jetted Tub and There’s Black Stuff in the Water

Master Bath with Jetted Tub

I received a call from one of my clients today. They recently moved into a home and after unpacking they decided to take a nice soak in the jetted tub. They filled the tub, grabbed a bottle of Champagne, and got ready to get into the tub. When they tuned on the jets, a bunch of “black stuff” came out of the jets. They were upset and were going to call out a plumber to look at it.

First, don’t panic! The “black stuff” occurs when the tub is not used for extended periods of time. The water left over in the plumbing for the jets dries out leaving behind the residue my clients noted in the tub.

While it looks bad, it is easy to fix. I had them add a little chlorine bleach (note you should not get into the water with the bleach in it!) to the bath water, run it for a while, and then drain all the water. Once the tub is refilled and the jets turned on, it was normal again.

If you’re having this kind of problem, try the chlorine bleach cleaning before you call the plumber.

Photo – Copyright 2011 Imaged2Sell

Weep Holes – Those Holes in the Bottom of the Brick

Weep Holes

Gina was out showing homes this morning. When she returned she told me about a house where the owner had filled the holes in the bottom of the brick. While this might seem like a good idea…it’s not for a number of reasons.

Most building codes require builders to leave weep holes along the bottom row of bricks. These holes allow any water that might get behind the brick to drain. If the water gets trapped behind the brick, mold can form and the water may damage the supporting structure behind the brick.

When the home is sold, these plugged weep holes will be caught by the inspector and most buyers will want them opened up again.

The homeowner in the right-hand picture above has used expanding foam to seal the weep holes. This will be almost impossible to correct later depending upon the amount of foam injected into the weep holes.

Plumbing Hints

Nations Home Warranty

Galvanized pipes have a coating on the inside that protects them from rusting. Over time harsh drain cleaners will eat away the coating and eventually the pipe itself. 

Fix a slow drain: pour in 1/2 cup of baking soda, add 1/2 cup white vinegar and follow with a pot of hot water when it stops bubbling.

Tubs and showers should be fitted with strainers that catch hair and soap chips. Clean the strainers regularly. 

Garbage Disposal:

• No bones and always use cold water
• Use small pieces of citrus fruits to freshen
• Though ice does not sharpen the blades as commonly mistaken, it does knock off debris and keeps it cleaner.
• Freeze lemon juice and grind small pieces in the garbage disposal – smells good and disinfects, too.

In a plumbing emergency, you’ll need to stop the flow of water quickly. To do this, you and each member of your family need to know the location of the shutoff valve for every fixture and appliance, as well as the main shutoff valve for the house, and how they operate. Operate these valves at least once a year to prevent seizing.

Souce: Sharon Harrison, Nations Home Warranty

Avoiding The Number One Source of Home Flooding

Washing Machine Hoses

It’s a terrible feeling. You drive up to your home after being gone all day or from a short vacation and find a river of water running down the driveway. Did a water pipe burst? Probably not. The number one source of home flooding is a broken washing machine hose.

Most hoses are nothing more than reinforced rubber. Yet they sit behind the washing machine under full pressure for years. Some will give you a warning when they develop a bulge, but few people even check them.

Check the hoses on your washing machine regularly.

Even better, invest in reinforced or flood-proof hoses. Reinforced hoses are encased in braided steel or other materials that help prevent them from blowing out. Flood-proof hoses have a built-in valve that detects uncontrolled running and cuts off the flow of water.

Save yourself the nightmare and tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

Photo: Copyright 2011 Tom Branch