As a lay person, talking with tradespeople can be intimidating.  They speak the language of their trade fluently and joyfully in conversation, describing your plumbing or mechanical problem in great detail. It goes something like this:

Me:  “My toilet runs constantly. I wiggled and bent the long-arm thingy to rebalance the black rubber ball, but that only works for a day or two.  Can you take a look?”

Plumber (takes a look inside and around, the toilet):  “Well, ma’am, your stool is a 1970 American Standard ultra-deluxe-one-piece-silent-flush-vitreous-porcelain-model-with-a-side-mounted-push-button-flush valve – really a fine pot in its day.   But, over the years, the flapper has  deteriorated, the seals are bad, the diaphragm is leaky and the ball cock is shot.”

Me:  “So you said blah blah leaky diaphragm blah flapper, and the widgety doohickle is shot. I need new everything?” 

Plumber: “Yep.”

To help dissolve the plumbing language barrier, below are common plumbing terms that may sound like potty humor but are real-deal trade lingo. Enjoy.

• Ball Cock — The fill valve that controls the flow of water into  your toilet tank.
• Blow Bag – A device that uses a garden hose, water, and a rubber bladder to clear drain pipes.
• Cockhole Cover — A round metal plate (usually, stainless steel) used to cover unused/extra holes in your lavatory/kitchen sink faucet area.
• Diaphragm – One of several valve types used in plumbing.  A diaphragm approach uses a wheel or knob to regulate the flow of water through the valve.  Typically, diaphragm valves are used as shutoffs.
• Dump Valve – Also known as a blow-off valve (BOV).  This is a pressure-release device used in engines to prevent compression surge.
• Flapper – the small, round rubber device located in the bottom of your toilet tank. It’s a valve that opens to allow water to flow from the tank into the toilet bowl.
• Hose Bibb – an exterior faucet or a laundry faucet used to provide water to clothes washers.
• Locate and Trace – an approach to finding the sewer line (it’s route and depth) in one’s yard in order to avoid damaging the line during excavation projects. Locate and trace generally involves running an electric eel equipped with a metal probe (transmitter) through your sewer line and following the signal by using a hand held “receiver.”   A good locator will pinpoint the exact spot  of sewer trouble and keep heavy excavation to a minimum.
• Male/Female Connectors – Gender terms are rampant in the fitting business.  The female connector is socket-esque (it receives); the male connector is spigot-esque (it inserts).  The male connection goes into the female connection and they complete each other.  Just like in the movies.
• Nipple — a short length of pipe (usually threaded) that is installed between couplings or other fittings to create a pipe of the desired length.
• Pipe Dope – Slang for pipe joint sealing compound that is used in soldering copper together.
• Sill Cock – Another name for a hose bibb.
• Sweat the Pipes – Another way of saying “solder two pieces of copper pipe together.”
• Snake — a long, flexible metal coil used to clear clogs from sewer lines and drains.
• Tailpiece —  A piece of drain pipe (about 6-8” long) that runs between the drain opening of a sink or lavatory and the P-trap.

Water You Waiting For?  Ray and his team can speak the lingo AND take the time to explain it to you in common language.  Call him today for all your plumbing needs, questions, and emergencies.  (513) 396-5300.

Now that sunny days are at hand, the grass is growing, and oh, boy, is our lawn ever a mess. We stepped outside this week and put a critical eye towards our landscape. Just three days earlier, our lawn was a soupy mess from the rain. Now, our hard clay soil has developed more cracks than the dried up California delta. The spouse and I looked at the soil cracks, then at each other – he had a new bag of grass seed in hand. He’s hoping to patch in the back yard and overcome the worn paths that have developed from dogs, kids, and hauling the garbage cans out to the curb each week. I would just like a decent lawn.

We’ve come to the conclusion that if we are ever to sprout that grass seed and reclaim our backyard, we have two options: set up the sprinklers and the hose or install an in-ground sprinkler system. We’ve voted for the in-ground system (because we’ve been dragging that hose around the yard for decades and frankly, we’re tired of it).

Sprinkler System Design
After just 2 minutes Googling “lawn sprinkler systems”, we were overwhelmed. The “Introduction to Irrigation Design” tutorial on http://www.irrigationtutorials.com is informative – it’s clear that installing a system is more than us two working stiffs can manage. But, the site’s tips are helpful in understanding the scope of the project. Key points:

• Measure the yard, accurately.
• Water pressure/gallons-per-minute is important
• Select the sprinkler equipment (meters, backflow preventer, valves, sprinkler heads, and more)
• Determine where the sprinkler heads will be placed.
• Bells and whistles include automation and freeze protection.

Are Sprinkler Systems a DIY Job?
For us, the answer is decidedly “no.” We don’t have the equipment, backflow prevention knowledge, time or energy to install a sprinkler system. But, we want one and are convinced it’s a better way to improve our landscaping and also manage our outdoor water usage. We plan to remain in our home for another 15-20 years and believe in-ground sprinklers to be a good investment. We need professional assistance on this one.

The past few months, we’ve been spending loads of time in the bowels of public spaces: baseball stadiums, airports, hotels, grocery stores, and office buildings. There’s a common theme: the restroom facilities are typically less-than-desirable experiences. Sadly, the state of what should be sanitary public areas is decidedly unsanitary. Restrooms are understaffed, under-plumbed, and generally worn and unclean. Yuck. A few observations:

• The Kroger Company recognizes the importance of clean bathrooms as an integral part of customer satisfaction. Store managers are graded throughout the year on ‘restroom cleanliness’ – a smart approach. It’s in his or her career interest to keep restrooms in good working (and smelling) order.

• The Cincinnati Reds Stadium is at the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s not uncommon to find wet floors, malfunctioning toilets, and ‘creative urinal approaches’ developed by desperate fans. In their defense, the volume of users and outbound fluids makes restroom management a challenge. That 7th inning stretch really does a number on the facilities.

• Airports have found a reasonable middle ground – facilities are usually staffed by pleasant attendants and in good working order. The plastic-wrapped peppermints are a nice touch, too.

• Hotel public restrooms can generally be assessed by the category of the hotel: Major chains (the multi-story hotels) are fair, but may require key-card access.

• Public library restrooms are frequent stopping points for people who may not have a restroom of their own.

• Gas station restrooms should be a last resort, but they are frequently a first resort when the need is urgent. Yes, they are common and easily accessible…and that’s about all they have going for them.

Tips for Managing the Experience
Truly, we’re most comfortable within the confines of our own bath area (even when the dog follows, the kids stick their fingers under the door, or the spouse jokes “hope everything comes out all right”). With a little planning and forethought, it’s totally possible to have a good public restroom experience.

• In a metro area such as downtown Cincinnati, seek out “historic” hotels. The Netherland Plaza (Mezzanine level) and The Cincinnatian are two outstanding examples of public restrooms. We’re talking country-club quality – luxurious marble interiors, seating/resting areas, linen-like hand towels, and on occasion, free samples of ladylike toiletries.

• Connected? Try Charmin’s “Sit or Squat?” app (https://sitorsquat.com/). It’s top-notch for times when you find yourself in need of a pit stop. Bonus: It’s interactive – you can add bathrooms to the app and leave feedback as well.

• Corporate office parks are good “go” destinations. Look for multi-story office buildings with multiple tenants, nice lobby, and a helpful security guard (the Ohio National building in Blue Ash is a fine example).

• Family bathrooms. Have you seen these? Talk about being THE business for your business! Designed for people with children, family bathrooms are underused hidden gems in public toileting. In the Charlotte, NC airport, the family restroom is a roomy, wheelchair accessible, one-toilet space with a locking door. Typically located in close proximity to the “general public” set of stalls, family bathrooms are ideal when you need a quiet moment, even when you are traveling sans children.

• Have a “bathroom bag” – ours includes a package of Chlorox antiseptic wipes for wiping door handles, faucet handles, countertops and seats. Let’s face it – who knows when the area was last cleaned? You do, when you bring your own wipes.

• If you find a restroom to be lacking, speak up. Stalls run out of TP for many reasons, oversight being one. Discreetly stating “the restroom needs some attention” to an employee can work wonders.

Water You Waiting For? Allied Reddi-Rooter places high value on pleasant bathroom experiences at home, at the office, at a restaurant, or on the road. If the public areas in your life could use some relief, Ray’s team of experienced plumbers can have your toilet area running neatly in no time. Call Ray today: (513) 396-5300.

In plumbing, there are generally two types of re-piping jobs: one involves foreclosed “fixer-upper” homes (stolen copper) and the other involves the pipe infrastructure in older, yet structurally sound, homes and commercial buildings.

Re-Piping a Foreclosure
We’ve all seen the “No Copper” signs in various neighborhoods around town. In order to bring a house with stolen copper back up to code (and return it to a bright spot in the neighborhood), re-piping is a necessity.

Re-Piping Your Home
In some areas, especially those with a large number of homes or buildings from the early- to late-20th century, cast iron, galvanized and “soft copper” pipes are common. Over time, those types pipes can become leaky – corrosive sewer gasses, sediment-filled sewage stacks eventually lead to irreversible damage.

Clues that your building may be a candidate for a whole-house pipe replacement include:
· A noticeable lack of water pressure
· Being scalded in the shower when someone flushes or turns on the dishwasher/tap
· Bitter/metallic tasting tap water
· Rusty water in your shower and toilet bowl
· A clothes washer that takes an excessively long time to fill.

If you notice any of the above, we recommend a whole house pipe inspection from a trusted local plumber.

Budgeting for Replacement Pipes
On a large project such as this, it’s important to start with a budget in mind. Consider the following:
· Purchase materials that last – you only want to do this one time, right?
· Copper, PVC, CPVC and PEX are all good options.
· Consult with your plumbing inspector to work out a schedule/understanding of the materials and expenses involved.

Water You Waiting For? A whole-house re-piping job is not for the DIY enthusiast. It is an extensive and intense home repair that requires special skills and licensed tradespeople. If you would like to learn more, contact Ray today. He’ll listen to your situation and offer “next steps.” Call today: 513-396-5300.