Yesterday, when walking through our kitchen, I noticed my wife pulling something like cookie dough out of the oven. It wasn’t cookie dough in color though. It was an interesting swirl of sky blue, white and tan. She was quickly stirring the weird batter in a bowl and then she spooned it out in a baking dish, spreading it to to an even consistency, like brownies. I quickly caught on that this substance wasn’t going to pile up on a plate for hungry teenagers. It was old bars of soap that got too small in the bathrooms to use. She was hoarding them in soap bar boxes under the sink. I often noticed them but didn’t make much of it (other than the fact that I needed to keep an eye on her hoarding).

Anyway, she let them cool, then cut them up like brownies and I gotta say, “What a great idea!” We got an extra twelve bars of soap out of the process. So, while this blog isn’t in Procter & Gamble’s best interest, it is a great plumber’s tip to make those too-liitle bars of soap have extra life instead of ending up in a landfill. It’s also old-school thrifty in a tough economy.

Now on to pressing tomatoes into paste, jarring and storing them in the basement root cellar. For this thrifty recipe, call Ray at Allied Reddi-Rooter: 513-396-5300.

One of today’s hottest plumbing topics is backflow prevention. It’s critical to maintaining a clean public water supply.

“Backflow” happens when our drinking water becomes co-mingled with waste water or polluted water.  According to Wikipedia, “In water supply systems, water is normally maintained at a significant pressure to enable water to flow from the tap, shower etc. When pressure fails or is reduced, (e.g., when a water main bursts, pipes freeze or there is unexpectedly high demand on the water system), then the reduced pressure in the pipe may allow contaminated water from the ground, storage or from other sources to be drawn up into the water supply system.”

In short “backflow” is an unwanted reversal of flow…nasty and unhealthy liquids/solids/gases that should be flowing away from our water are instead flowing into our water.

How is backflow prevented?
In plumbing, we call things what they are – backflow is stopped by installing a backflow prevention device.  You may have noticed these in some Cincinnati-area front yards (see image below, courtesy of Wikipedia).

A backflow preventer permits water to flow through in one direction but stops the water from flowing through in the reverse direction.  It’s a gating mechanism that stops water flow reversal and maintains a sanitary potable water supply.

Who needs a backflow preventer?
• Homes with automatic sprinkler/lawn irrigation systems that use the household water supply as the sprinkler water supply.
• Duplexes and apartments buildings with 2 or more meters on a single parcel of land.
• Homes/businesses with “alternate” sources of water (e.g., water is not supplied by a municipality).
• Homes/businesses with fire sprinkler systems.

Are backflow prevention devices expensive?
Generally, no.  The device cost is typically under $200 but it must be installed by a license plumber.

Water You Waiting For?  Allied Reddi-Rooter’s team of experienced and licensed plumbers are skilled at identifying backflow issues and installing prevention devices.  Contact Ray today and learn more about backflow or a free estimate. 513-396-5300.

Gas lines can be tricky 🙁 If you have the smallest question – Call Ray.

Dear Ray,
I recently bought a vintage home that is connected to city gas. The kitchen is all-electric; I’d like to switch out the electric range for gas – it’s less expensive, provides better cooking control as well as a more even distribution of heat. Is it hard to run an extension from my existing gas lines over to the kitchen area?

Ray: There are few things more exciting than installing new appliances. FWIW, it’s not hard or overly expensive to extend a pre-existing gas line to another part of the house. From our perspective, it’s a length of copper gas line (which is similar to a copper water line, but smaller in diameter), some fittings and soldering, running the new line through a wall or floor, making the connection to the new range and testing for leaks. Usually, this type of gas line work is a one-man job that takes 2-4 hours.

Dear Ray,
My sister has had the same a gas-run clothes dryer for over 20 years. I’m on my 2nd electric dryer in the same amount of time. My monthly electric is astronomical. Would it be worthwhile to replace my electric dryer with gas, and can the plumber make sure the new dryer is right next to my clothes washer? Currently, my dryer is 10 feet away from the washer (we have an 1920’s house with poorly designed laundry area in our unfinished).

Ray: You’ve noted something that’s a big plus: “unfinished basement”. Updating an old basement laundry area to suit modern appliances, lifestyles, and utility/usability designs is a value-added project for your home. Exposed piping and rafters make it much easier to efficiently install new gas lines and reduces our time on the job (a savings for you). Gas clothes dryers may be a little more costly up-front, but over time, you will see a savings in your monthly utility bill and in the longevity of the appliance – there is no electric heating element to go bad.

As with the question about changing an electric stove for a gas model, hooking up gas dryers is a fairly straightforward job, providing your home has an existing connection to city gas.

Water You Waiting For? If you’ve made the decision to bring more gas into your home or business, Allied Reddi-Rooter can help install the lines, fittings, and connections. Call Ray today for a free estimate and check out our coupons for savings on labor. 513-396-5300.

While cleaning the quarterly buildup of hair, soap gunk and who-knows-what-else out of the shower drain this weekend, two thoughts came to mind:

1. Yay! No more standing in water while taking a shower.
2. Hairy traps are disgusting. Blech.

Common Clogs
Indoor running water is a miracle of modern plumbing. Even more important, however, is a fully functioning drain that sends used water outside to the sanitary sewer system. Without a good drain, life gets messy, fast. Here’s a quick rundown of common clogs and the tools typically used to remove them:

Lavatory/Shower/Tub Clogs
· Hair
· Washcloths

Tools: Sink plunger (the type without the extension on the end of the suction cup), hand-cranked eel (for the wash cloth clog), or a “flexi-tool” with a Velcro-like tip. For an example, watch this video: http://flexisnakecanada.com/ The flexi-tool is our hands down favorite for bathroom sink hair removal. It’s inexpensive and highly effective.

Toilet Clogs
· Toilet paper, etc. (and you know what we mean by “etc.”)
· Washcloths/sponges
· Toys/toothbrush/comb/smart phones

Tools: Toilet plunger (the type with the extension on the end of the suction cup). This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wT5C09JvkAU) shows the proper types of toilet plungers and techniques for either a) retrieving the item causing the clog or b) sending the clog down the drain.

Kitchen Sinks/Garbage Disposals
· Food (especially stringy items such as celery and sauerkraut)
· Grease
· Candle wax

Tools: Sink plunger (see) This video (https://www.youtube.com/watchv=n3kVpCEsOqA&feature=player_embedded) is a good how-to (note he is using a sink plunger, not a toilet plunger). When dealing with grease clogs, a good first step is carefully pouring very hot water laced with heavy-duty dish soap is worth a try. If that fails, you may want to consult a plumber.

Water You Waiting For? At Allied Reddi-Rooter, we’re experts at removing clogs and fixing plugged drains. For sinks and lavatories, let us know if the water is draining s-l-o-w-l-y (a good sign) or if it’s completely plugged (a bad sign).

For toilets, call immediately at the first sign of a toilet paper-based clog. Those babies only get worse and our team would like to resolve them sooner rather than later. Call Ray today at 513-396-5300.