close up of faucet

Causes & Fixes for Black Specks in Your Water

You’re never supposed to have black stuff in the water you get out of your home’s tap. Water from your home tap is supposed to be crystal clear without any visible contaminants (and hopefully as few invisible contaminants as possible).

If you turn on a water source and see black specks in hot water or black specks in cold water, there’s a problem present that needs to be investigated. If you’re wondering what causes black stuff in your water, then keep reading because we’ve laid out 7 reasons why you may have black stuff in water at home as well as solutions to each of these problems.

1. Decaying Rubber Gaskets or Washers

faucet coming off

Problem: If you find black stuff in your water coming from the tap in your home, this may be the result of decaying rubber gaskets or washers. Check the black specks to see if they’re at all rubbery.

If the black stuff is rubbery, then it’s likely that a decaying washer or gasket is the source of the issue. Rubber washers, gaskets, and even supply hoses are there to help make your plumbing water-tight and leak-proof. Over time, however, they can break down or come loose and will need to be replaced. 

Solution: To solve this problem, check all your water sources—showers and sinks—to see if there are black specks everywhere or just in one faucet. If the black specks are only coming out of one faucet, unscrew the head to check if the washer inside is decaying. Replace the washer and the faucet head, then see if the black stuff stops.

If there is black stuff in the water that comes from many faucets in your home, then you have a more serious issue at hand. You may have decaying supply hoses or many worn-down washers and gaskets. Consult a professional in this case for the best solution to your problem.

2. Rusting Hot Water Tank

Problem: If the black stuff in your water wasn’t due to pipe corrosion, it could be due to a corroded hot water heater. This is especially possible if you keep finding black specks in hot water but not the cold. The water can also appear rusty. In this case, check your hot water heater immediately.

The average lifespan for most hot water heater tanks is about 10-12 years—15 if you’re lucky and have been taking great care of your unit. If you know your unit is old and hasn’t been maintained in a while, then you find black specks in hot water, it’s likely that your hot water heater is to blame.

Solution: To solve this problem, you’ll likely need to replace your hot water heater altogether. If your hot water heater is new, it’s possible that you might be able to drain it and flush the lines, but in most cases, a replacement is necessary.

Contact your plumbing professional for advice on your corroded hot water heater.

3. Iron or Manganese Deposits

Problem: A somewhat harmless possibility for why you’re finding black specks in your water is mineral deposits. Trace amounts of iron or manganese can build up in your water supply, and while there is a filtration system in your plumbing to keep these deposits out, sometimes they make their way through.

Thankfully, mineral deposits typically aren’t harmful or toxic, so there’s nothing huge to be worried about in this scenario.

Solution: While the appearance of black specks in your water can be unpleasant, small traces of minerals aren't harmful to your health. However, it’s important to have the water tested to make sure the mineral levels are safe. Consult a professional plumber about additional filtration options to keep your water crystal clear.

4. Corroding Pipes

rusting water spouts

Problem: If you find black specks in hot or cold water coming from your home’s faucets, it could be due to a corroded pipe (or multiple pipes). This is more likely if your home is on the older side and hasn’t had its plumbing updated in a while.

Black specks in your water can be a clear warning that the insides of your home’s pipes are wearing away. As the corrosion flakes off, the black specks make their way into your water supply. You should stop using the water until you get the issue fixed.

Solution: Corrosion in your piping is a serious issue, so if you find black stuff in water coming from your home’s faucets, stop using it and don’t drink it, as there’s a risk of lead getting into your plumbing supply. At any sign of pipe corrosion, call your plumber to help get an idea of how much of your plumbing is compromised.

It could be that you only need partial repiping, but if the corroded pipes have created any leaks or if the issue is widespread, it could be a substantial repair. Get the issue fixed as quickly as possible to protect the health of you and your family and to prevent additional damage to your home.

5. Silt or Sand

Problem: If your home draws its water from a private well, it’s possible for trace amounts of sand or silt to make their way in. These tiny particles can be pumped in along with the water taken from the ground. While they aren’t typically harmful to drink in small quantities, they can be annoying, gritty, and damage your appliances.

Solution: To solve this problem, you’ll likely need to improve the filtration on your plumbing system. While your system likely has a filter already, you’ll need something designed to remove tiny sediments like sand and silt from your water if it continues to be a problem.

6. Granular Activated Carbon Particles

Problem: Carbon filters are a common means of water filtration. Any filter with granular activated carbon (GAC) has been proven to help remove certain chemicals from your water and keep your water safer for drinking and bathing. 

GAC filters work by removing certain chemicals—especially organic chemicals—that have been dissolved in water by forcing everything through a filter armed with GAC. This “trap” allows the GAC to absorb the chemicals and keep your water pure.

If used past their recommended duration, however, you can end up with particles from a GAC filter in your water that look somewhat like coffee grounds. 

Solution: To solve this problem, try replacing the filter. If you’re not sure how or if you don’t like the idea of finding granular activated carbon particles in your water ever again, consult with a professional to discuss other means of water filtration for your home.

7. Supply Hoses Connecting Plumbing

Problem: Similar to the way rubber gaskets and washers break down over time, your home’s supply hoses that connect to your plumbing can do the same thing. The black stuff in water can end up being decaying pieces of a supply hose.

Solution: While the decaying rubber gaskets and decaying supply hoses are similar, decaying supply hoses are a much more serious job that will require a professional plumber to fix. Don’t attempt to solve decaying supply hoses on your own, as you could end up causing far more harm than good. Call in a plumber you trust to handle the job.

Contact the Plumbers at John C. Flood

A safe rule of thumb to follow when you see black stuff in your water is to stop drinking it and call your plumber to get the issue inspected and resolved as quickly as possible. It’s crucial that your home’s drinking and bathing water is clean, and our expert team at John C. Flood can provide the professional plumbing services needed to keep you safe. Schedule a service with us online. 

Boiler vs Water Heater

Boilers vs. Water Heaters: 7 Key Differences

Making sure you have enough hot water for showers, dishes, laundry, and other daily activities is important to keeping your home operational. Heating your home during cold winter months is equally important.

But which will do the job better, a boiler or water heater?

Let’s explore boilers versus water heaters, seven key differences between the two, and how to decide which is right for your home.

What is a Boiler?

While its name might suggest that it boils water, it does not. In fact, a boiler is a little more complicated than it may seem. Boilers work by turning water into steam, which is an efficient, inexpensive way to transfer heat throughout a home. Steam can easily be pumped through pipes since the gaseous form weighs much less than liquid water, and the gas holds heat better than air.

Boiler Installation

A boiler works by bringing cool water into the heating chamber where a gas burner heats the water. This transforms the water into steam, which is then pushed through the pipes in the home. Boilers can heat water very quickly and are usually tankless—though some may come with a tank and cylinder hot water storage system. 

While some boilers can and are designed to heat potable water, it’s important to note that not all boilers are. Most boilers are on a closed-loop system—meaning they don’t use new water when sending steam through the home but rather recycle water that’s been sent through the system already. Used water simply returns to the starting point to get reheated and reused.

This is one of the key differences to remember between boilers versus water heaters.

What is a Water Heater?

A hot water heater (unlike a boiler) does exactly as its name suggests: it heats water. This water can be used in your showers, sinks, laundry room, and more, since your hot water heater takes cold water from your clean supply line.

Once quickly warmed up and used, the water drains into your sewage system. Water heaters are designed to heat potable water that is safe for cleaning, cooking, and drinking.

Residential Water Heater

The two types of water heaters you’ll find today are tanked and tankless water heaters. In a tanked water heater system, the cold water coming in is warmed by a gas or electric burner system within the tank. Once the water has reached the desired temperature, it’s stored inside the tank until you use it from your sink or shower.

A tankless water heater works instantaneously rather than keeping a supply of heated water on hand. When you turn on a faucet to the “hot” side, a tankless hot water heater heats up water as it goes up to the appropriate faucet and keeps heating it until you turn off the faucet.

As you compare boilers versus hot water heaters, keep in mind that the latter doesn’t send steam through your home to heat it; it sends hot water directly to the desired locations.

What are the Differences Between a Boiler and a Water Heater?

Let’s explore the seven key differences between a boilers and water heater, including comparisons of efficiency, cost, lifespan, and more.

1. Types

When considering a boiler versus hot water heater, be sure you keep in mind the different types of each system. 

A boiler can come in two types: combination or conventional. A combination boiler (or a “combi” boiler) is a mix of a high-efficiency water heater and central heating boiler, all built into a single unit.

No type of water storage cylinder is needed with this unit. A conventional boiler works best within homes that already have a hot water heater system in place (for heating potable water) since it will likely be used to replace an older, already existing radiator system.

A hot water heater can also come in two types: tankless or conventional. As mentioned above, a tankless hot water heater doesn’t rely on hot water storage to heat your home’s water but rather heats the water as it’s required. A conventional hot water heater has a water storage tank and keeps hot water ready and waiting for when you need it.

2. Efficiency

It’s important to compare boiler and water heater efficiency when considering both systems. Most modern conventional boiler systems are capable of achieving efficiency ratings as high as 98 percent (which means they convert nearly all the energy used into heat for your home). Some older systems are in the 50-70 percent range. Most hot water heaters today have an Efficiency Factor of around 58-60 percent.

3. Cost

While the price of replacing a boiler or a hot water heater ranges pretty widely, there are some averages that can help you get an idea of what you’re dealing with.

Typically, a boiler replacement will cost anywhere from $4,000 to $7,500 and tends to include the removal of an old system and the installation of the new system. A new hot water heater can cost anywhere from $500 to $10,000 depending on the system you choose—though most are between $1,000 and $3,000.

Always be sure you work with a licensed professional when getting any plumbing work done, especially for something as important as a boiler or hot water heater installation. A bad installation job can end up costing you thousands in repairs or replacements down the road.

4. Water Storage

Most water heaters store hot water until it’s needed (unless it’s a tankless hot water heater) while boilers typically don’t store hot water at all. Most boilers heat water as it passes through the boiler system, which doesn’t require water storage.

5. Maintenance

Both boilers and hot water heaters require maintenance to remain operational. Since they both operate differently, however, they both require widely different maintenance jobs.

Water Heater Repair

A boiler’s vents and flues need to be kept clean. The water levels need to be monitored monthly (too little water can seriously damage your unit). The boiler needs to be inspected for leaks regularly.

All its moving parts require lubrication every six months. Any lime buildup needs to be descaled. The water needs to be flushed and replaced every six months.

For a hot water heater, the valve needs to be tested regularly to ensure it’s working properly. The anode rod must be checked and replaced if corroded. The drain tank needs to be kept clean. Pipes should be insulated to retain heat. The heater itself can be insulated to help keep stored water warm.

6. Lifespan

The average lifespan for a boiler is 15 to 20 years, though they should be properly maintained if you expect them to be around that long.

The average lifespan for a hot water heater is between 6 and 15 years. Again, well-maintained units are able to last much longer and units that are poorly maintained may quit on you early.

7. Versatility

Boilers can be used to heat the air of your home in forced air heating systems or floor radiating systems. They can be a fairly efficient way of heating your home and many homeowners enjoy the addition. Typically, boilers aren’t used to heat potable water in your home.

A hot water heater can be used to heat water wherever it is required: sinks, showers, dishwasher, laundry machine, etc. Hot water heaters aren’t usually used to heat the air in your home. 

How to Decide Which is Right For Your Home

When you really understand the difference between a boiler and a hot water heater, it should become much clearer which one you need for your home. While they both might sound like they do the same thing, a boiler is more like a furnace and is typically used in a radiator system to heat your home while a hot water heater is used to heat the water used in your home.

When trying to decide between a boiler versus a hot water heater, consider what you need most in your home and what system would best serve those needs.

Contact John C. Flood About Boilers and Water Heaters

Choosing between a boiler and a hot water heater for your home is complicated enough. Let us handle all the installation and repair work with our experienced and licensed team. John C. Flood can repair and install both boilers and water heaters, so reach out with any questions and schedule your service today.

Cleaning P Trap

How to Clean a P-Trap (7 DIY Steps)

The P-trap is the curved section of pipe you see under your kitchen sink, shaped remarkably like the letter “P” (which explains how it got its name). 

Many homeowners who deal with clogged or slow draining sinks don’t know that the P-trap can actually get bogged down with soap scum, hair, grease, and other debris that may have accidentally fallen down the drain. In your entire sewer system, the P-trap is the most common place to find a clog.

Knowing how to clean out your P-trap is a very useful skill as a homeowner, so let’s cover how to clean P-trap under a sink—specifically how to clean P-trap under a kitchen sink—in a few simple steps. 

Here are seven steps for how to clean your P-trap.

Cleaning a P-Trap

Knowing how to clean a P-trap can be incredibly helpful since you won’t have to wait on your plumber’s schedule or waste money on harmful chemicals that might not work and may end up damaging your sewage system. 

Here are seven DIY steps to help you learn how to clean P-trap under a sink:

1. Clear the Area Under Your Sink

Even if you’re a professional and already know how to clean P-trap under a kitchen sink, it’s still important to clear out the area. To properly clean the P-trap, you’ll need space, and you’ll want to be sure to get everything out of the way.

You don’t want anything to get damaged or soiled with dirty sewage water.

2. Place a Bucket Under the Pipes to Collect Water

Place a bucket or a large dishpan underneath the pipes once the area is clear. As you’re learning how to clean P-trap (or doing any under-sink plumbing), keep in mind that a bucket to catch water leakage is important.

If your sink is backed up or even slow to drain, you can expect there to be a lot of water waiting to pour out as you clean the P-trap.

3. Remove the Coupling Nuts Attached to the Drain Pipe

Once the bucket is properly placed, start removing the coupling nuts attached to the drain pipe. The nuts on each side of the trap must be loosened, which may be possible to do by hand.

If your plumbing is old or the nuts are too tight, however, then you can use a pair of channel lock pliers or a wrench to loosen the nuts. If you want to avoid scratching the metal, you can use a strap wrench or wrap a rag over the nuts before wrenching them loose.

Be prepared for the process to get messy. Water will likely begin draining out into your bucket at this point.

4.  Plug the Pipe Coming From the Wall

At this point in the process, you will want to plug the pipe coming from the wall. You can do this by stuffing a rag into the pipe, though you should make sure it doesn’t get lost or pushed too far down where it can’t be easily retrieved. This is to block any sewer gas from coming up the sewage pipe and into your home.

5.  Clean the Inside of the P-Trap

Now you can get to the part of the project you’ve been waiting for: cleaning the P-trap. To get a clean P-trap, you’ll want to use a bottle brush or another tool to clear out any debris found inside the trap.

Gently clean the piece coming from your sink and remove any dirt and grime that may be present in the pipe on the wall as well. If you want to, you can take the P-trap to another sink in your home and rinse it out.

Be sure to clean out all dirt, grime, soap scum, and hair trapped inside to prevent another clog from occurring anytime soon.

6.  Reassemble the P-Trap

Once you have a clean P-trap, it’s time to put it back together. Reassemble the P-trap and replace all the nuts as they were at the beginning. Leave the bucket or dishpan underneath the sink until you’ve tested the piping.

7. Run Water to Test if the P-Trap Leaks

It’s time to test it to be sure you did your work correctly. Run water for a few minutes down your sink drain and check for any leaks. If everything looks good, remove the bucket or dishpan and the job is done.

Should You Use a Drain Cleaner to Clean a P-Trap?

Using a chemical drain cleaner on your P-trap should absolutely be a last resort. While some drain cleaners are effective at removing clogs in drains, most of them are harsh on your plumbing and can end up causing more harm than good.

Some cleaners can corrode your piping and lead to massive plumbing expenses down the road, so it’s best to use safer methods when cleaning a P-trap.

How to Know You Need a New P-Trap

In most cases when your sink is clogged, cleaning the P-trap is enough to get everything working again, but in other cases, the P-trap may need to be replaced. How can you tell the difference?

Check to see if your P-trap is leaking water. If the nuts are properly tightened, but there’s still a leak coming from the P-trap itself, that means it’s malfunctioning or corroded and needs to be replaced.

If the P-trap is visually broken or corroded on the inside, it should be replaced. As you’re cleaning your P-trap, check the integrity of the trap itself for any signs of breakage or wear.

Contact the Plumbers at John C. Flood

If you can’t figure out how to clean P-trap under a sink, or if your sink keeps getting clogged despite cleanings, call the plumbers at John C. Flood. We can help you with all your sink clogs and any other related plumbing issues that may arise.

You can easily schedule your service online or speak with our professionals for more information about your plumbing.

John C. Flood, Inc. cannot be held liable or responsible for any personal or property damages incurred if the end-user attempts any of the aforementioned DIY tips and instructions.  

Leaking Water Heater from the Bottom

How to Fix a Water Heater Leaking From the Bottom

A leaking water heater is never good news, so if you’ve noticed water pooling around the base of your water heater, prepare yourself for some emergency plumbing repair. Typically, a water heater leak is an easy fix and doesn’t always mean you’ll need to replace your heater.

That being said, it is always absolutely necessary to get to the source of the issue, especially when you find your hot water heater leaking from the bottom.

Here are five possible reasons why you found your water heater leaking from the bottom and how to solve each of them.

Drain Valve is Leaking

Problem: Believe it or not, this could be good news. Drain valve leaks are typically on the less expensive side of hot water heater repairs. If the water is leaking from the drain valve, it’s a sign that the drain valve is failing in some way. The leak may be slow and unnoticeable at first, but it still needs to be repaired or it could end up flooding your basement.

Solution: Call your plumber to have them replace your faulty drain valve if you determine it is in fact the reason you have water leaking from the bottom of the water heater. In some cases, a hot water heater leaking from the drain valve could be an indication that your hot water heater itself is failing, but usually, it’s due to an issue in the drain valve. An experienced plumber will be able to repair that quickly for you.

Broken Pressure Relief Valve

Problem: Regulating the water temperature and pressure inside your hot water heater is imperative to keeping your home safe. Without this, your hot water heater could end up exploding. The pressure relief valve is designed as a safety feature on your hot water heater.

When temperatures or pressure reach or exceed a certain level, the pressure relief valve opens to release some pressure and water, allowing cold air to enter the tank and lower both the temperature and pressure inside.

Your pressure release valve can leak or break for a couple of reasons, one being that it was triggered to open due to excessive pressure or temperatures. The other reason is that it was a faulty valve to begin with. 

Solution: If your pressure relief valve has opened due to excessive temperatures or pressure within your tank, then what looks like a leak is actually part of your unit’s normal working procedures. In this case, the water will drain out of the discharge pipe and everything should return to normal.

If your pressure relief valve is faulty, then that could be due to an inability to properly seal, or it could have gotten stuck in an open position. In this case, a professional plumber will need to inspect this section of your unit to identify the issue. They will probably need to replace the valve. 

Inside of Tank is Leaking

Problem: If you notice water leaking from the bottom of the water heater, but you cannot identify a valve or pipe that it seems to be coming from—rather, it seems to be coming from the tank itself—then there’s some bad news. If a leak is coming from the tank itself, the most likely reason for this is that sediment has built up inside your tank and caused corrosion on the inside.

Essentially, your hot water heater is corroding from the inside out which is extremely dangerous not only for your quality of water but also for your home. 

Solution: Contact a plumber immediately. Your hot water heater will need to be replaced as soon as possible. 

Anode Rod is Corroded

Problem: If you find your hot water heater leaking from the bottom, check your tank’s anode rod. The anode rod is a long, thin rod that sits inside your hot water heater. It is designed to absorb any and all corrosive materials that live inside your hot water heater—essentially so these materials “eat up” the anode rod and don’t corrode your actual hot water heater tank. 

If your anode rod has completely corroded, then there is nothing left to distract these corrosive materials, and they may end up going after the inside of your tank. 

Solution: Any time your anode rod has been all used up, it will need to be replaced to protect the integrity of your unit. Any time you leave your hot water heater to operate without an anode rod, you risk water leaking from the bottom of the water heater or even the top. Have a professional plumber come out to replace your tank’s anode rod as quickly as possible.

Condensation

Problem: If you find your hot water heater leaking from the bottom, check to be sure the moisture you’re finding is actually a leak and not condensation. Your hot water heater is capable of creating up to a half-gallon of water vapor per hour of operation due to the intense process of taking low-temperature water from piping and transferring it full of heat.

The condensation can collect on your unit, making it appear as though you have a water heater leaking from the bottom when in reality, it’s harmless condensation.

Solution: Condensation collecting on the outside of your unit is harmless to your hot water heater. It’s not actually a leak, so it doesn’t require any attention from a professional plumber. Make sure you always inspect any water collecting around your hot water heater, even if you think it is just condensation, to be sure a more serious issue isn’t present.

If what you thought was your hot water heater leaking from the bottom seam turns out to be condensation, don’t worry about it. This is normal for hot water heaters.

How to Prevent Leaks from the Bottom of Your Water Heater

It only makes sense that you would want to prevent your water heater leaking from the bottom as leaks can be dangerous and expensive. Keep in mind that the age of your unit, the quality of installation, and regular maintenance all have a huge effect on the health and working quality of your hot water heater.

Older units are more prone to leakage and while that’s something you cannot help, there are some things you do have control over: who you allow to work on your hot water heater. You can easily end up with a hot water heater leaking from the bottom if it was poorly installed. Always work with a professional when dealing with your plumbing installation and repairs.

Regular maintenance plays a big role in preventing your water heater leaking from the bottom since regular inspections and tune-ups allow you to catch a problem before it occurs. Things like faulty valves, corroding anode rods, pressure regulation, and more are all checked by a professional during regular hot water heater maintenance. The best thing you can do to keep your hot water heater leaking from bottom seams is to get it regularly serviced.

Call John C. Flood for Water Heater Repairs

If you cannot easily figure out the reason why your water heater is leaking from the bottom, you should call a professional plumbing service to get the issue repaired quickly and correctly. The skilled plumbers at John C. Flood can not only help you identify the source of your hot water heater leak, but they can also help you repair it and protect your home against additional water damages. Visit us online to schedule service today.

John C. Flood, Inc. cannot be held liable or responsible for any personal or property damages incurred if the end-user attempts any of the aforementioned DIY tips and instructions.  

john c flood water heaters

How to Fix a Water Heater Leaking from the Top

When your hot water heater leaks, you’ll usually find that leakage from the top is not as big of a problem as when the heater leaks from the bottom. Both types of leaks are serious, but if you’re going to face a leak, leaking from the top is the best scenario to find yourself in. 

Water leaking from the top of the water heater is almost always a repairable issue and doesn’t usually indicate that a replacement is necessary. If ignored, however, even this type of lower risk leak can lead to more serious problems and create expensive damage. Fixing the problem quickly is important.

Here are eight reasons why your hot water heater may be leaking from the top and how to solve each problem. 

1. Cold Water Inlet Valve

Problem: A cold water inlet valve is where cold water from the main water line enters your water heater. A pool of water on the top of your water heater can be an indication that the hot water heater is leaking from the top hot water outlet or inlet pipe. Always check the inlet pipe first, since this is more likely to be causing the water leakage. Something may have loosened, the valve may not be fitting properly, or the valve could have corroded.

Solution: Check the cold water inlet pipe and look for either a ball or gate valve that allows you to shut off the water. Check the valve for any signs of leakage. If you notice the pipe fitting has loosened and water is leaking from the valve, tighten it with a wrench. If the valve is still leaking after tightening, then the valve is likely faulty and will need to be replaced to prevent your hot water heater from leaking from the top hot water outlet or inlet.

2. TPR (Temperature and Pressure Relief) Valve

Problem: The TPR valve is typically located on the side of your tank, though it could also be located on the top. The purpose of this valve is to help release water, lowering the pressure in the tank if the temperature or pressure ever gets too high. If you notice water leaking out of the threads on the TPR valve, it will need to be removed to determine the source of the issue.

Solution: Look for any corroded or loose fittings on your TPR valve. If the valve is the source of the leak, it will likely need to be replaced with a new valve. The TPR valve is highly important in maintaining the safety of your unit, so you should not operate your hot water heater with a faulty TPR valve. Doing so could risk a hot water heater explosion.

3. Anode Rod Port

Problem: The anode rod is a long, thin rod inside your hot water heater that helps protect your hot water heater from corrosion. Over time, the corrosive agents inside the water would “eat” the inside of your hot water heater if the anode rod were not there to attract them first. The anode rod is used so your hot water tank doesn’t corrode, but if the anode rod isn't replaced, the corrosion will reach the top of the rod and bubble up. This could make your hot water heater leak from the top.

Solution: If your anode rod is the culprit, it will need to be replaced with a new rod. If you don’t get the anode rod replaced, then the hot water heater itself will begin to corrode, leading to far more expensive repairs down the road—even a full replacement.

4. Loose or Corroded Pipes Fittings

Problem: The problem could simply be due to loose or corroded pipe fittings. This can happen naturally over time as your unit is used and often isn’t a huge problem.

Solution

5. Leaking Expansion Tank

Problem: Most hot water heaters are installed alongside a smaller tank that is called an expansion tank. The expansion tank typically sits up to the side of your hot water heater. Its purpose is to collect excess water coming from your hot water heater. As water heats up, it expands, meaning it will outgrow the space within your hot water tank. The water goes up into your expansion tank to help lower pressure levels inside your hot water heater. Over time and use, the expansion tank can start leaking.

Solution: Inspect your expansion tank and hot water heater to identify the source of the leak. Check the pipe fittings on the expansion tank and tighten any loose, leaking fittings with a wrench. If this doesn’t resolve the leakage or if the leak is coming from the expansion tank, then the expansion tank will likely need to be replaced.

6. Hole in the Top

Problem: Corrosion is a real problem with hot water heaters, especially if you don’t keep up with replacing your unit’s anode rod. Your hot water heater tank can corrode from the inside out, resulting in a hole on the top of your hot water heater where it is able to leak.

Solution: Unfortunately, if you find any rust or corrosion on the inside or top of your hot water heater—especially an amount that leads to a hole in the top of your tank—your hot water heater will need to be replaced.

7. Condensation

Problem: Sometimes when you find moisture on your hot water heater, the problem isn’t a leak but rather condensation. Essentially, condensate is airborne water vapor chilled below the dew point (the temperature where water vapor becomes a liquid). When low-temperature water comes into your piping and the heating process begins, your hot water heater can create up to a half-gallon of water vapor per hour of operation. This can create a lot of condensation on your unit.

Solution: Finding condensation on your unit is not a problem that needs to be fixed. It is a normal part of hot water heater operation. If you find moisture on your hot water heater, make sure to inspect it thoroughly to be sure it isn’t a leak. If it’s just condensation, there is no need to worry about it.

8. Rainwater

Problem: Rainwater can collect on the top of your hot water heater, especially after severe storms with heavy rainfall. Many homeowners mistake this puddle of water for a leak in their hot water heater.

Solution: If rainwater collects on the top of your hot water heater, this is not a serious problem. However, the water should be removed to prevent any corrosion from occurring. It’s also important to remove the water to be sure it was caused by a rainstorm and not a leak in your hot water heater.

How to Prevent a Water Heater From Leaking at the Top

Preventing your hot water heater from leaking is one of the best ways to protect your home from serious damage and expensive repairs. Most hot water heaters are hidden away in basements, garages, or utility closets, so it can be easy for a big leak to go unnoticed. 

That’s why it’s so important to get your hot water heater inspected and tuned up regularly by a professional. Regular maintenance on your home’s hot water heater can help prevent breakdowns and leaks, helping you save money on costly repairs and water damage in the long run.

Additionally, you can install a leak detector on the floor near your hot water heater to help alert you at the earliest signs of a leak. These devices let off loud signals and some can even be synced with your home’s internet to send you alerts if a leak occurs. 

Call Professional Plumbing Services to Fix Your Water Heater Leaking from the Top

If your hot water heater continues leaking from the top despite the fixes you make, don’t waste any time and call in a professional plumbing service right away. All leaks—even hot water heater leaking from the top—are serious issues that need to be addressed quickly to help prevent serious damages from occurring. Contact John C. Flood today to get all your hot water heater questions answered and schedule your service

Why Your Sink Fills Up When You Run the Dishwasher

Washing dishes by hand is an arduous task, so having a dishwasher readily available in your kitchen is ideal for many homeowners. It saves a lot of time, energy, and even water in many cases. There are some times, however, when owning a dishwasher is inconvenient. Like when issues arise with your dishwasher backing up into the sink

It’s actually a common problem for your sink to fill up when the dishwasher runs, but thankfully, there are preventative measures you can take on your own as a homeowner to resolve this.

Here are four causes for your sink filling up when you run the dishwasher and how to solve each of them.

Dishwasher Drain is Clogged

If your dishwasher is backing up into your sink, it might be because the dishwasher drain is clogged. One common way of connecting the dishwasher to your home’s drainage system is to utilize a small drain inlet that exists on the side of a garbage disposal. This connection from the dishwasher to the sink is meant to make drainage easier, but it also means you can end up with the kitchen sink and dishwasher backed up

If there is standing water at the bottom of your dishwasher, that means it isn’t able to drain properly, and the drain is in some way obstructed. To resolve this problem, you should check to see if there is anything visible covering the drain at the back or bottom of your dishwasher. 

If you see anything that can easily be removed, do so. Otherwise, you may need to check your dishwasher’s drain hose to clear any obstruction, straighten out a kink in the line, or resolve any other reason for the blockage.

Always be sure to only use dishwasher parts that are suited to your specific dishwasher brand, and use the correct amount of dishwasher detergent to help reduce buildup and the risk of clogging your drain over time. 

Kitchen Sink is Clogged

If your sink backs up when the dishwasher runs, it could be due to a clog in your kitchen sink rather than your dishwasher. If you haven’t checked your kitchen drain in a while or cleared out any debris, now is a good time to do so. Here’s what you can do:

  • Run your garbage disposal if you have one. Let the disposal run for a few seconds before starting your dishwasher to be sure that there isn’t anything in your kitchen drain blocking your dishwasher from working. 
  • Snake the drain. If the garbage disposal doesn’t end up clearing the clog, you can try clearing the drain with a drain snake purchased from your local hardware store. This may help your dishwasher run smoother, your sink drain easier, and stop that annoying dishwasher filling the sink problem.
  • Use safe sink cleaners. Always be careful when using any type of chemicals in your drains since some of them can end up corroding your piping. Some sink cleaners can help clear away bacteria build up and other clogs and are safe for your pipes. Check with your plumbing professional if you’re unsure what’s safe to use on your sink drain.

Garbage Disposal Drain Plug

If you’re dealing with your dishwasher backing up into the sink, then your garbage disposal drain plug could be the culprit. This drain plug can cover the hole where the disposal and dishwasher connect with each other. If it’s left on, the water won’t drain properly, leading to the big problem: the sink backs up when the dishwasher runs.

Thankfully, this is an easy fix. Simply take the garbage disposal drain plug out and your drainage problem should be resolved. 

Air Gap in Sink is Blocked

When your kitchen sink and dishwasher are backed up, that could be because the air gap in the sink was blocked. Some sinks are installed with air gaps. Unfortunately, air gaps can actually prevent the dishwasher from properly draining when they get clogged. 

As a result of this, the sink fills up when the dishwasher runs.

The best way to resolve issues like this is to clean your air gap. Air gaps are typically located at the top of your sink, beside the faucet, and are used as a backflow prevention device. 

To clean it, remove the top cover of the air gap, unscrew the inner protective cap, and then check to see if there is any debris or dirt that can be easily removed. Once it’s cleaned, replace the protective cap and exterior cap and test your dishwasher to see if the issue is resolved. 

Call John C. Flood to Repair Your Dishwasher and Sink

If you work through all these troubleshooting tasks but your sink still backs up when the dishwasher runs, then it’s time to contact professional plumbing repair. 

You can contact our expert technicians online to ask questions about your specific problem or schedule a service yourself online. It’s time to get your dishwasher and sink working right.

Basement Floor

How to Unclog a Basement Floor Drain

Finding your basement drain clogged is a fairly common occurrence. Many homes end up with this problem at some point or another, making it a valuable skill for any homeowner to understand how to proceed when facing this issue.

You shouldn’t attempt a maintenance project, even attempting to unclog the main drain in the basement, without proper understanding of the job.

Keep in mind, you can always call in a professional plumber to unclog a basement drain for you, and this is often the best course of action for serious clogs.

Causes of a Clogged Basement Floor Drain

Not all basement drains clog the same way, so if you're experiencing this problem, you may not be able to fix it, even if you want to. Some more benign clogs, however, can usually be easily fixed.

Here are some possible reasons why your basement floor drain clogged up.

Accumulation of Dirt and Debris

As your basement drainage line gets used through the years, it can start accumulating dirt and debris to a point of developing a clog. Sediment, dust, and other things flowing through your drain pipe collect until things can’t drain easily.

In cases like these, you need to be able to locate the clog, dislodge it or clean it out, and your water flow should begin draining again like normal.

Damaged Pipes

Infiltrating tree roots, deteriorating pipes, and other plumbing damage could be the source of your basement drain clog. If your task is to unclog the basement floor drain but a damaged pipe is the culprit, you should consult with a professional plumber immediately.

Water Flow Issues

A basement floor drain can clog due to water flow issues as well. A flat spot or a dip can occur in the main drainage line as the ground settles around your piping.

If this is the case, your pipe will need to be replaced to resolve the clog. You could have issues with water flow through your home as well, resulting in difficulties draining in multiple places. Have a professional plumber inspect your home’s drainage system if this is your issue.

Fixes for a Clogged Basement Floor Drain

The task at hand: unclog the basement floor drain yourself. There are many methods for unclogging a basement floor drain. Choosing the right method depends on what has caused the clog initially.

If you have invasive tree roots, deteriorating pipes, or water flow issues, you’ll need help from professional plumbing services. If you just have a small clog due to accumulated debris, here are some DIY fixes.

Use a Plunger

If you just have a small clog in your basement drain, then a plunger could easily dislodge it. Seal the plunger over the drain and give it a few good pumps.

Pour Baking Soda and Vinegar

Try pouring some baking soda down your basement drain, and follow it with some vinegar. This reaction can often remove whatever debris is causing the clog and help your drain work properly again.

Snake the Drain

Snaking the drain is a great way to reach deeper into your pipe and pull out any messy clogs that could be backing it up. Always follow the directions on the packaging and wear gloves to keep your hands clean and safe from bacteria.

Remove all Debris from the Trap

Locate where the backflow preventer is in your basement then remove its cap. Use a chisel to loosen the ring and the backflow ball, then grab your shop vacuum and suck up all the build up and sediment in the trap.

Once fully cleaned, remove the clean out plug. Next, attach a strong cable to a power drill then spin it around the pipe’s opening, hopefully clearing any clogs.

Never Use Harmful Chemicals

When working to unclog a basement drain, be careful to not reach for chemicals. You could unknowingly be using toxic chemicals or even a chemical that will corrode your plumbing, causing even more severe issues. Leave the chemicals to the professionals when solving this issue.

Call Professional Plumbing Services

Knowing the difference between DIY fixes and those that require professional plumbing services can save you time, energy and money — as well as prevent possible damage to your systems. If your basement drain is clogged, we understand it's disruptive to your daily life. 

If your task is to unclog the main drain in the basement, but none of these DIY fixes worked, then it’s time to call in a professional plumber to resolve the issue using professional plumbing services.

Contact our team at John C. Flood and schedule an appointment to get your basement drain unclogged as fast as possible. 

8 Reasons Your Air Conditioner is so Loud

Your air conditioner is a highly complicated appliance that normally makes a bit of noise when it starts up and operates. Hearing occasional noises from your air conditioner isn't a reason to be alarmed. However, if you’re constantly wondering, “Why is my AC so loud?” and identifying clattering, buzzing, or other strange sounds, something could be amiss. Air Conditioner

It could be malfunctioning and need a repair. While occasional noises are normal, when they become louder or more frequent, you should investigate. Here are 8 reasons why your air conditioner may be loud.

1. Refrigerant Line Leaking

If you’re hearing a loud hissing noise coming from your AC unit, the problem could be related to a refrigerant line leak.

Refrigerant leaks can happen for a variety of reasons, and resolving the issue depends on the location and cause. For example, the issue could be:

  • a screw rubbing against your coils
  • the evaporator coils vibrating or coming loose
  • the condenser coils leaking the refrigerant

If the loud noise coming from your AC is due to a refrigerant leak, it’s important to consult your HVAC professional because you could end up doing more damage if you ignore the problem or attempt to fix it on your own.

2. Debris Lodged in AC Unit

Why is my AC unit making a loud noise? The answer could be debris. If it sounds like there’s a lot of internal clattering, some type of debris could be lodged inside your AC unit.

If a bolt or screw came loose within your unit, it could have been blown into the wrong place. Your unit will need to be thoroughly inspected in this case to identify what type of debris is lodged inside your unit and how to safely remove it and fix any damage it caused.

3. Misaligned or Loose Fan Blades

The answer to your question about why your AC is loud could be your fan blades are loose or misaligned. This tends to cause a loud rattling sound.

In this situation, your fan blades may need to be tightened, straightened, or replaced altogether if they’ve become too warped to operate properly.

4. Damaged Blower Motor

Why does your AC sound like it's screeching? Your blower motor could be damaged. This could mean the motor needs a quick tune up, or it could require a more expensive fix such as a full replacement. Responding quickly to a screeching sound coming from your AC can help reduce the damage.

5. Circuit Breaker Isn’t Tripped

Your AC might also make a buzzing noise. Unfortunately, buzzing sounds coming from your AC are never good. It’s usually a sign of some type of electrical issue, such as electrical arcing—a type of electrical discharge that happens when the electricity is jumping circuitry. Fixing an AC

Never attempt to fix an electrical issue on your own. Stop using your AC unit and have a professional inspect it as soon as possible.

6. AC Unit is Passed it’s Lifespan

A loud, buzzing noise coming from your AC can also be other bad news: Your AC unit could have reached its end point. In a case like this, the repairs necessary will far outweigh the cost of fully replacing your AC unit.

If you know the age of your AC unit, this can help you identify if it’s nearing or past its predicted lifespan. Either way, it will need to be repaired or replaced, so give your HVAC company a call for a professional opinion. 

7. Ductwork is Undersized

Why is your AC so loud inside and making whistling sounds? It's likely because your ductwork is too small. This means your airflow will be restricted, resulting in a lack of comfort in your home on top of the loud whistling noises. Your HVAC technician can conduct a pressure test to identify if your ductwork was improperly installed.

8. Loose Fan Belt

A loud squeaking noise from your AC unit usually is because your fan belt has come loose. That could mean it simply needs to be repositioned, or it could have broken and need to be replaced.

In other situations, something else in your unit could have broken to loosen your belt in the first place, in which case a repair is necessary. Consult your HVAC technician to get to the bottom of this issue.

Contact John C. Flood to Fix Your Loud Air Conditioning

If you’re constantly wondering about your loud AC, don’t wait for your unit to stop working before addressing the issue. Leaving the issue unattended can worsen the damage and lead to more expensive repairs, so don’t sit around waiting for your unit to break down. 

Contact John C. Flood to get your AC unit inspected, repaired, and working properly again. You can schedule a service appointment online or talk with one of our experienced staff to get your AC working well again.

8 Reasons There's a Burning Smell From Your Heater

If you’re smelling any type of burning odor from your heater, that signals an immediate reason for concern. While heaters are designed to heat up and warm your home, burning smells are a sign that something is operating incorrectly.

Identifying the source of the burning smell is necessary to determine how to resolve the issue.

Here are 8 common causes of a burning smell from the heater as well as potential solutions to the problem to help keep you and your home safe.

1. Burning Rubber or Plastic

A well-working heater should never emit smells like burning plastic or rubber, so if you notice that your heat smells like burning plastic, you know there’s a problem. If the turned on heater smells like burning plastic, the most likely thing is that some type of object has fallen into your heating unit and is sending fumes through the rest of your home.

Shut off your HVAC system and see if any of your children’s toys have gotten lodged nearby. If a visual inspection doesn’t identify the problem and your heater smells like burning plastic still, have a HVAC professional complete a more thorough inspection.

2. Oil or Smoke

If you have an oil furnace and are constantly thinking, “My heater smells like burning oil or smoke,” then check to see when the last time your oil filter was changed. Going too long without changing your oil filter can cause a lot of nasty buildup, resulting in burning oil or even smoke.

Once you change out your oil filter, run your heater like normal. If the smell continues, turn off your unit and have your HVAC technician come inspect the problem. Don’t continue using your heater if you smell burning oil or smoke since it could be a fire hazard.

3. Musty Smell

Sometimes a turned on heater smells like burning plastic or oil, and other times it smells like a wet basement: dirty, musty, and gross. If this is the case, it’s likely that dust and dirt particles have collected in your air ducts and encountered some type of moisture, leading to mustiness and even mold growth.

In a situation like this, you will need to get your ducts cleaned to remove any trapped mold, mildew, dirt, and moisture. While you can clean your own air vents and air ducts, you can also have a HVAC team handle the project for you.

4. Electrical Burning

Most heaters are designed to power down when they overheat, but if that feature in your heater is broken, you could end up with a burning smell from the heater that’s more electrically based.

If your electrical furnace is overheating, it’s at risk of an electrical fire so have an HVAC specialist examine your unit thoroughly if you smell electrical burning coming from your vents. 

5. Clogged Air Filter

If it’s been a while since you’ve changed your air filter and you’re smelling burning odors coming from your heater, it’s possible your unit is overheating due to being overworked.

Always change your air filter to help keep your unit from clogging up, prevent dirt and dust layers from building up, and to allow your unit to run smoothly.

6. Smell of Gunpowder

If your unit’s fan motor or circuit board overheats, it may give off a smell like gunpowder. In this case, shut off your unit so as not to cause further damage and have a trusted professional inspect your unit. Don’t attempt any DIY fixes on the internal portions of your unit since you could end up causing more damage. 

7. Sulfur or Rotten Eggs

If you find your heater smells like sulfur or rotten eggs, immediately shut off your gas furnace and call your HVAC company to inspect your unit. Sulfur and rotten egg smells coming from your furnace indicate a gas leak which needs to be taken incredibly seriously.

Don’t attempt a DIY fix on a gas leak without the skills and experience necessary to handle the issue. 

8. Burning Dust

If you’re getting a burning smell from the heater but it’s the first time you’ve turned on your heater in months, that smell could just be the dust settled in your heater burning off.

After months of not getting used, heaters can accumulate a layer of dust that burns off and produces a burning smell.

If the smell doesn’t dissipate after thirty minutes or less, contact your HVAC technician to be sure that the burning smell from the heater isn’t anything to worry about.

Is it Dangerous if There’s a Burning Smell From Your Heater?

In most cases, a burning smell coming from your heater doesn’t indicate imminent danger to you, your home, or your family.

However, it’s incredibly important to address all burning smells since they indicate a potentially serious problem. Leaving your heater running when you smell burning smells could end up causing more harm to your system and put your home at risk of a fire.

Always address it if your heater smells like burning materials and call in a professional HVAC team.

Call John C. Flood for Heating Repair Services

If you keep finding that your heater smells like it’s burning something but you can’t identify or seem to resolve the issue, John C. Flood’s team of licensed HVAC technicians can help you.

Our team of heating repair pros can diagnose and fix a burning smell coming from your heater in no time. 

Attic heating and air conditioning unit inspection

What to do About a Clogged AC Drain Line

Did you know that a common culprit for air conditioning malfunctions is a clogged drain line? The AC drain line is a critical component of your HVAC system, and a clogged air conditioner drain line can lead to increased humidity levels, unwanted mold growth and musty odors, and a variety of other issues.

To help you maintain your unit all season long, we’ve identified exactly what you need to know about your air conditioner drain line: why your AC drain line clogged, how to unclog your AC drain line, and how to prevent an AC drain clog in the future.

Causes of a Clogged AC Drain Line

Algae Growth

This is the most likely reason that your AC drain line clogged. Due to the warm air blowing over your AC unit’s evaporator coils, the drain pipe actually gets pretty warm and moist, creating perfect conditions for algae to survive.

In situations like these, the more you run your AC unit, the more likely it is to clog up with algae, mold, or mildew. It’s important to address issues like these right away since mold and algae growth in your AC unit can lead to serious health risks for your family.

Leaves and Debris

If you live in an area with a lot of trees, then leaves, branches, and sticks can easily collect around your AC drain line. Over time, this collection can grow to cause a backup in your drain line. Without the ability to fully drain, you’re likely to find your AC drain line clogged. This can lead to a lot of negative effects for your unit overall.

Extreme Temperatures

If your AC drain line keeps clogging, check recent temperatures to see if that has anything to do with it. Extremely cold temperatures can present a lot of problems for your home, including frozen pipes or clogged AC drain lines. If possible, check your AC drain, make sure there’s no debris blocking its ability to drain, and check that nothing is frozen and coincidentally clogging the drain.

Steps to Unclog Your Air Conditioner Drain Line

1. Shut Off Your AC and Locate Your Drain Line

Whenever you’re attempting to do any work on your HVAC unit, even to quickly unclog the air conditioner drain line, it’s necessary to shut off the power so you reduce the risk of injury. Once this is safely done, you need to locate the HVAC drain line, which is usually a PVC pipe outside your home, near your condenser unit. You’ll need to identify an access point on your drain line, which is usually a T-shaped vent with a cap.

2. Assess the Clog

Not all drain pipe clogs are a DIY fix. Check your drain pipe to see if the blockage is visible and easily removable. Always wear protective gloves when attempting to handle any type of clog in your drain pipe. If the clog is too deep to reach, then move on to the next step.

3. Flush with Vinegar

Mix some white vinegar with some warm, soapy water and pour it into your clogged AC drain line. Allow the solution to sit for 30 minutes before rinsing with water. Repeat this once a month to help keep your AC drain line unclogged. 

If this solution didn’t resolve the clog and your AC drain pipe is still clogged, then the situation will need to be fixed by a professional. 

Prevent Your AC Drain Line from Clogging

Regular care and maintenance of your air conditioning unit are essential to keep it operating at peak capacity. Drain tubes should be cleaned at least once a year to keep them free of algae and clogs. Here’s how you can perform air conditioner maintenance on your drain line:

Push clogs out with a vacuum. 

If you notice a clog starting to form, you may be able to remove it with a vacuum. First, remove the paper filter on the drain line. Then, try attaching a wet/dry vacuum to your outside drain line and use it to suck the clog out. Since it’s a lot easier to clean a line that isn’t fully clogged, this method works well to keep your line clear throughout the year.  

Break up the clog with a water hose. 

If you can locate a drain line end, you may be able to break up a clog using a garden hose. Using a hose nozzle, slowly apply water pressure into the drain pipe with small short bursts. Once it’s broken up, pour some hot water down the drain at the air handler to push the clog out. 

Try algae tabs. 

Algae tabs, which are small tabs used to prevent growth in your AC line, can be used in your drain pan once or twice a year to contain algae growth and help unclog the air conditioner drain line. While algae tabs aren’t known to entirely prevent formation, they may minimize growth.

Get Your HVAC Serviced Regularly

One of the best ways to keep your HVAC system in peak condition, and to unclog the air conditioner drain line is to have it regularly inspected by a professional HVAC technician. This will keep your air conditioner working properly, and catch potential malfunctions before they become severe issues—and if your AC drain line keeps clogging, they’ll be able to resolve it.

Call Professional Plumbing Services

If these DIY solutions didn’t work to resolve your AC drain line clog, then it’s time to call in the professionals. Our expert team at John C. Flood can specifically inspect the drain line of your AC unit and get the clog removed right away, allowing your HVAC unit to be up and running in no time. Contact us at (703) 783-0247 or online to schedule your service.

How to Unclog a Shower Drain With a Plunger

Shower drains get clogged surprisingly easily. Soap scum, body oils, hair, and other buildup collects quickly to develop a clog somewhere in your drain. Addressing the issue as quickly as possible is important to protecting the integrity of your shower drain and keeping your shower in proper working condition.

While many homeowners might reach for chemical cleaning products or even drain snakes to clear out a clog, these items don’t always do the job. If you’re looking for other DIY options and wondering how to unclog a shower drain with a plunger, you’ve come to the right place. The next time the opportunity presents itself, try using a plunger for shower drain clogs and you might be surprised at how handy a tool it is.

Can You Use a Plunger On a Shower Drain?

It’s a logical question: can a plunger unclog a shower drain? They work so well on toilets, so why not a shower drain? Not only can you use a plunger for shower drain clogs, but it actually might be the perfect tool for your situation!

Popular drain cleaning chemicals and even natural remedies like chasing baking soda with vinegar in your drain are capable of clearing away some smaller clogs, but these remedies don’t work well for everything. If you’ve tried all the drain cleaning methods you can think of, then it may be time to use the plunger. Pressurizing water against the clog in your drain can help loosen anything that’s trapped and clear your drain.

How the Overflow Drain Works

If your shower or bathtub has an overflow drain, you’ll need to understand how it works to properly plunge your shower drain clog.

Overflow drains allow water to exit your basin and go into your sewer lines to help prevent overflowing water in case the drain is clogged or closed. The overflow drain is often located directly below your shower faucet and typically consists of a circular metal plate and a drain hole. This hole routes to your drainage system, giving excess water another means of exit.

How to unclog a shower drain with a plunger begins with carefully removing the overflow drainage plate. Then you will need to block the overflow drain with a wet rag to make sure any force you exert onto your shower drain only goes down to dislodge the clog, and not out the overflow drain.

Steps to Unclog a Shower Drain with a Plunger

1. Seal the Overflow Drain

As mentioned above, you will need to seal your overflow drain if you’re hoping to learn how to unclog the shower drain with a plunger. You can do this by blocking it up with a wet rag after removing the overflow plate. This is a necessary step to protect your overflow drain from breaking and help make your plunger effective.

2. Prepare the Bathtub

To make your plunger effective, you will need to prepare your tub properly. Make sure to fill it with a small amount of water, enough to fully cover the bottom part of the plunger. This gives the plunger something other than air to force against the clog in your shower drain.

3. Position the Plunger

Place your plunger carefully over the drain of your shower, making sure to seal it completely. If it's not sealed completely, your efforts won't be as effective.

4. Plunge the Drain 

Once everything is prepared and your plunger is positioned, begin the process of plunging using strong upward and downward movements. Most clogs in shower drains will dislodge after five or six solid, strong, forceful rhythms of plunging. Lift the plunger to see if the water is beginning to drain at its normal rate. If not, plunge again.

5. Ensure Overflow Drain is In Working Condition

Once your shower drain is beginning to drain water properly, it’s time to rinse out your shower and replace the overflow drain. Once you’ve done this, fill your tub to test the overflow drain and make sure it’s working properly and draining any overflow water.

Call John C. Flood for Plumbing Services

Can a plunger unclog a shower drain? Absolutely. Now you’ve learned all the steps. If this process works and you’ve successfully dislodged your shower drain, then congratulations! In the case that it didn’t work or you have more serious plumbing issues on hand, you should always call a professional plumbing team to handle it. Never attempt to deconstruct your shower drain to solve the clog or else you could cause more serious harm. Call the plumbing experts at John C. Flood to schedule a service appointment.

How to Tell if a Pipe Has Burst

How to Tell if a Pipe Has Burst in Your Home

A burst pipe is an emergency plumbing situation. There's no doubt about it. That’s why it’s important to be able to recognize when you have a burst pipe, and it’s important to find out quickly. Burst pipes can cause massive pools of running water, resulting in huge amounts of water damage to your home if left unchecked.

While the results may be obvious, not all signs of a broken pipe are as blatant, so before you run into this problem (or if you believe you could have a burst pipe already needs to be addressed) it’s important to learn how to tell if a pipe has burst.

Signs a Pipe has Burst

As a homeowner, it's important to know how to tell if a pipe burst and recognize the signs. Learning how to tell if a pipe burst can save you from a lot of expensive water damage repairs. Not all of these automatically indicate that your pipe has definitely burst, but they are important signs that your plumbing may need professional attention. 

Water Pressure Fluctuates

Pay attention to your water pressure. If there isn’t any water or if the water pressure fluctuates, this is a clear sign that your water is going somewhere else. So if you’re washing your hands or standing in the shower and you notice a drastic drop in pressure, you may have a burst pipe.

Water has a Brownish Tint

If the water running from your faucet is brownish, don’t drink it. A brownish tint to your water could mean you have rust in your pipes, that your pipes are corroded, or that there are some other contaminants in your water. If this is the case, your pipes could be so corroded that they’re about to burst or there could even be a burst pipe letting in contaminated water.

Wet Stains on Walls

How to tell if you have a burst pipe: look to your walls. Discoloration on your walls or ceiling is an immediate red flag since it’s a clear sign that there is water in your home where it shouldn’t be. Water discoloration on the ceiling could mean you have a burst pipe leading to an upstairs bathroom, while stains on the walls usually means a pipe running through your wall is leaking in some way. Either way, it needs to be addressed by a professional.

Pipes Smell

If your pipe has burst because of a clog, then the backup that’s built up in the pipes can cause a foul smell. Since the only place for that smell to escape is back up, that smell can come up through your kitchen, bathrooms, or anywhere else you have a water supply line.

Your Water Bill Goes Up

Your wallet may know how to tell if a pipe has burst. If your water bill spikes without any significant increase in your water usage, that’s a clear sign that an excess of water is heading somewhere. Have your pipes checked by a professional plumber to see what’s caused the spike in your water bill.

What to do if You Notice a Pipe has Burst

When you realize that you have a burst pipe, here are the immediate steps you should follow:

  • Shut off your water
  • Contact your insurance company
  • Contact a plumbing professional
  • Document the damage (with photos if possible)
  • Clean up water and allow things to dry out

How to Prevent Pipes From Freezing or Bursting

To help protect your pipes from freezing and bursting in the wintertime, it’s important to drain any water from all exterior water supply lines. Close any valves supplying water to exterior hoses, then open up the exterior valves so any water can drain out. Keep your attics and basements insulated to keep the temperatures safe around your piping. Insulate hot and cold water pipe lines. Consider relocating any exposed pipes to help increase the protection from freezing temperatures.

Call John C. Flood for Water and Sewer Pipe Repairs

Now that you know how to tell if a pipe burst, you’re better prepared to react to the situation quickly and appropriately. Turning your water off immediately and calling in John C. Flood for an emergency plumbing appointment can help save you from severe water damages. Don’t wait for the flooding to get bad. Get your plumbing repaired right away.

Why Is My Furnace Leaking Water?

So, you’ve just discovered a pool of water puddling up in front of your furnace. How did this happen? Why would a furnace leak water? More importantly, you’re probably wondering, “why is my furnace leaking water?”

These are all important questions. Keep in mind that while a leaking furnace can be a symptom of a serious internal problem, it isn’t typically a huge repair and in most cases can be easily fixed. Don’t delay the repair process and don’t attempt to handle it yourself without the right training. Call a skilled professional to handle the issue before it gets worse.

Types of Furnaces

Every homeowner facing this type of problem wants to know the answer: why does my furnace leak water? While there are several reasons why a furnace would leak water, an HVAC technician will need to know what type of furnace you have to be able to more easily identify the source of a leak.

Do you have a high-efficiency condensing furnace or a conventional furnace? A conventional furnace exhausts gases out of the home, typically through the roof, while a high-efficiency condensing furnace requires unique venting but heats air from condensed exhaust gases using a second heat exchanger, helping your furnace reach higher efficiencies.

If you’re not sure what type of furnace you have, there are some telltale signs on your actual unit. If the exhaust pipe to your furnace is a white PVC pipe as opposed to a metal pipe, that means you have a high-efficiency furnace. Additionally, a furnace with an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating that is 90 percent or higher is a high-efficiency furnace. 

Knowing what type of furnace you have helps determine why it might be leaking.

Why Do Furnaces Leak Water?

Issues with Heat Exchanger

This is one of the most expensive problems you could be facing if your furnace is leaking water. A faulty heat exchanger can cause water leakage for high-efficiency furnaces and this problem typically means you’ll need a full furnace replacement.

Condensation Leaks

Why does my furnace leak water? The most common reason is a condensation leak. If the leak is caused due to a condensation leak, it’s possible your furnace has a clogged condensation drain, clogged tubing, a broken condensation line, or other issues in the condensate pump.

Clogged Filter

Regularly changing your air filter can prevent a host of issues with your furnace, including leakage. When your furnace filter is clogged, it reduces the airflow going to your furnace coils which can cause the coils to freeze over and water collection.

Your AC is Leaking

Why is my furnace leaking? Perhaps your AC is actually to blame. Your AC often shares a drainage line with your furnace so if your AC isn’t working properly and is leaking, a puddle of water could collect around your furnace.

Whole-Home Humidifier is Leaking

Your furnace leaking water could be due to the whole-house humidifier if it’s connected to your furnace. Some malfunctions can cause a whole-house humidifier to leak inside your furnace, causing a pool of water on the floor just outside your furnace. Regular HVAC maintenance appointments can help prevent this issue.

Plumbing Leaks

Because your AC and furnace may share a drainage line, obstructions in the plumbing could easily cause a puddle of water to collect—even if there’s not an internal, mechanical issue with your HVAC system. Other kinds of plumbing leaks like poorly fitting pipes or clogged drains can also cause a puddle of water to occur.

Improper Installation

If you have a standard efficiency furnace and you have some type of water leak, it’s possible that the exhaust or flue piping was incorrectly sized upon installation. In this case, the ill-fitting piping will need to be removed and the properly sized piping installed.

How to Fix a Leaking Furnace

The first step to fixing a leaking furnace is to shut it off and put some towels down to quickly clean up the water. Check the air filter first to see if that’s the issue and replace if necessary. Next, it’s a good idea to vacuum around the PVC drain line to remove any clogs that could be present. Turn on your unit again to see if the leak is resolved.

Call John C. Flood for Furnace Repair Services

If changing out your air filter and removing any clogs in the drainage system didn’t resolve your leak, it’s time to contact John C. Flood and schedule an appointment for some help. A professional furnace repair team can inspect your furnace to fix any issues and prevent any future, more serious damage. 

How to Unclog a Kitchen Sink That’s Clogged on Both Sides

Clogs in any of your home’s drainage systems are problematic, but there’s nothing quite as annoying as walking in to find your kitchen sink clogged on both sides. It’s full of soggy food scraps that refuse to drain away, so you run the garbage disposal and flip on the tap water… only nothing happens. My kitchen sink is clogged on both sides. Now what do I do?

If you’ve found your kitchen sink backing up on both sides, do not attempt to fix the issue by yourself until you properly understand how your double sink works. This critical first step can make DIY fixes more successful. 

The Anatomy of Double Kitchen Sinks

One of the most popular basin style sinks today is the double basin sink. Generally these basins are the same size, but they don’t have to be. One can be smaller than the other and there are even models with unequal depths.

Double basin sinks offer a lot of versatility to your kitchen, allowing you to use the separate sides for different purposes. One side can be for food prep while the other is for dishes; one side can be for soaking dishes while the other can be for washing them; clean dishes can dry on one side while the other is kept open; and usually, if one side clogs up, the other remains clear.

Unfortunately, that last advantage isn't guaranteed. Finding your kitchen sink clogged on both sides is entirely possible, largely due to the anatomy of installation; while they may seem separate, both basins are connected. If you find your kitchen sink backing up on both sides, start by looking underneath the sink to better understand the drainage system. 

Typically, both sides of a double basin sink drain separately. Often one side drains into the garbage disposal while the other drains downward, but the two separate drains intersect at the main drainage line. This is where you may find the source of your clog.

Why Your Kitchen Sink is Clogged on Both Sides

Due to the anatomy of a double basin sink, if you find your kitchen sink clogged on both sides rather than just one side, it’s usually due to a clog in your garbage disposal or a blockage in the main drainage line.

Usually kitchen sink clogs are caused from excess food scraps, congealed oil and grease, or poor use of the garbage disposal. If you have a double basin sink, be sure to only put food down the drain with the garbage disposal to help prevent clogs from happening. 

How to Unclog a Double Kitchen Sink

If you already have a clog in your kitchen sink, then here are three ways to get it cleared up all on your own:

1. Plunge It

If you’ve found that your kitchen sink clogged up both sides, using a plunger on the drain can be enough to dislodge any small blockage. A simple plunger with a flat rim can seal over your sink’s hole to apply the necessary pressure to clear away any clogs. Don’t plunge the side of the sink with the garbage disposal since you could cause damage to it.

2. Clean the P Trap

The main drainage line and the P-trap are the most common place a clog occurs, resulting in a kitchen sink clogged up both sides. Clear out the cabinet under your sink and then place a bucket under the drains to catch any drainage that may fall. Use a wrench to remove the pipe, then check for any trapped debris. Clear any trapped debris and then replace all the piping.

3. Use a Sink Snake

If neither of these methods cleared up your double sink clog, you can try using a sink snake. Always wear gloves to protect your hands before feeding the cable down your sink and deep into your drainage line, then retreating it. Repeat the process multiple times to be sure you clear away the clog.

Sink Still Clogged?

If you’ve tried these fixes and are still dealing with a clog in your double basin sink—or even if you don’t want to go through the trouble of resolving your double sink clog on your own—feel free to give John C. Flood a call. Our experts will gladly do all the dirty work and get your sink working again.

Why Your Air Conditioner Smells Bad and How to Fix It

The nose knows. Why does my air conditioner stink? While all air has some type of scent, some smells are clear indicators of a problem with your unit or somewhere in your ductwork. Your AC unit can smell bad for a variety of reasons. We're breaking down common smells from your AC unit, what causes them, and what to do about them.

Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell like Gasoline or Skunk?

This is by far the most alarming smell, which is why it’s at the top of the list. If your air conditioner ever smells like gasoline, it indicates there is a gas leak somewhere in your system. This issue can also present itself like a skunk smell. Be well aware that if your AC starts smelling like a skunk, you’re not mistaking the smell for something else, and it likely means there is gas leaking through your ductwork.

In this situation, immediately turn off your AC’s gas supply and call in professional help.

Why Does My Air Conditioner Stink Like Mold or Mildew?

If you can connect the stinky smells to stale mold or mildew, this is a clear sign that moisture has accumulated somewhere in your drain pipe, drain lines, or even in the ductwork and has allowed some sort of mildew to grow. This is not only bad for your unit, but also bad for anyone to breathe in and must be cleaned out.

It’s possible that the moldy, mildew smells could be due to dirty filters that need to be changed out, especially if you live in climates that have high humidity levels. Moisture can accumulate in the filters and lead to mold or mildew growth. 

Mold and mildew in your ductwork can be remedied by a few DIY steps, but it more than likely requires the attention of a professional to make sure it’s all cleaned out.

Why Does My AC Smell Bad Like Car Exhaust?

There is never a good reason why your AC unit should smell like an internal combustion engine. If you’re smelling this from your air conditioner, it’s likely due to some type of leak. Air conditioners today use certain fluids to operate and when these fluids are heated improperly, it can cause smells similar to exhaust fumes.

A refrigerant leak is one of the most common reasons for this smell, so it’s important to call in a HVAC specialist right away since running your AC unit with a refrigerant leak can cause a lot of internal damage. 

Why Does My AC Smell Like Something is Burning?

If your AC unit smells like fire or burning materials, shut it off right away. Because so many elements of your HVAC system are electrical (circuit boards, compressors, fans, power wires, etc), a burning smell means that any one—if not multiple—of these are malfunctioning. Never attempt any sort of DIY fix on this type of problem; always call in help from a professional to help keep you, your family, and your home safe.

The only exception to this rule is if your air conditioner smells hot after being off for a long time. Long periods of inactivity can allow dust to settle inside your AC unit. Turning it back on and smelling burning could simply be the dust burning off. In this case, the smells should only be temporary, so if the odor continues, is very pungent, or your AC starts to misbehave, turn it off and consult help from a professional technician.

Why Does My Air Conditioner Stink Like Rotten Eggs?

This one is bad news as well. Foul, rotten smells coming from your air conditioner usually indicate that there’s a dead animal somewhere in your AC unit. Birds, rodents, insects, or other types of small critters might like to make a home inside your ductwork. Unfortunately, they can get trapped inside and be unable to get out. As time passes, the smells become more and more unpleasant—but can also potentially cause damage, so it should be removed immediately.

While you can absolutely call a HVAC technician to find and remove the animal, you can also do it yourself by locating the source of the smell, then use a screwdriver to remove the cover. Remove any carcasses using gloves, then wipe the area clean, make sure it’s dry, and replace the ductwork.

Don’t Live with Stinky Smells

Unpleasant odors coming from your AC unit are not only unpleasant but also potentially dangerous. If your air conditioner has been smelling funny, don’t wait for serious problems to happen before calling in some help. Call John C. Flood at  (703) 752-1266, or you can contact our experts online to schedule your HVAC inspection.