QEST Pipes: Keep, Repair or Replace?

Ever since QEST pipes were first installed in the late 70’s through the mid-90’s, there has been controversy.

QEST pipes (or polybutylene) are made of plastic resin. After several years of use, the pipes may flake and get very brittle. Once a section of the pipes has eroded, the pipes will eventually break and water stream out of the holes causing major water damage.  qest-fittings.jpeg

In fact, this plumbing system was so controversial, a class-action suit was filed and millions of dollars in repairs and replacements were awarded. Some homeowners have spent thousands of dollars replacing it while others have only made repairs. Ironically, others have continued to use QEST without any issues. Though these days you would be hard-pressed to find a newer home with QEST plumbing. Strict building codes in this area prohibit the installation of it.

Real estate agents also admit that it is more difficult to sell homes with this system. A home inspector may cite it as an issue but many prospective home buyers ignore it or decide to take their chances. Thankfully, there is no requirement to remove it. You just have to deal with it and make a decision if you do have it.

So, that brings up the major question: Should You Keep, Repair or Replace Your QEST Plumbing? There are several things to consider:

  1. Find out when QEST was installed. If it is ten years old or older, it may already be deteriorating. Typically, flaking has already occurred. There may be water damage evident on your ceilings. This damage may be in the
  2. See if there are any leaks. Some leaks can be replaced by splicing in a new section of PEX tubing. This worked sometimes but often one small repair soon led to more leaks.
  3. Check your local building codes. This one sounds quite boring but it is important. You may be required to replace it with metal water heater connections. If you plan to re-sell your home, you may also have some difficulty once a savvy prospect investigates and sees that it has QEST. You may have real difficulty selling it at your original market price.
  4. If any doubts, call your plumber. Have them inspect the pipes and make recommendations. A competent plumber will thoroughly check the pipes. Not all QEST needs to be replaced so beware of any plumber who says that without even inspecting it.

If you have QEST plumbing and need some advice, please call one of our licensed, professional plumbers at American Drain Cleaning and Plumbing in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Please visit our website at www.americandraincleaningandplumbing.com. You can also call us at (610) 342-6852.

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Five Tips on Buying A New Kitchen Sink

There are so many things in our home that we take for granted. From the commode to the dishwasher to the heat pump.

But, there is one we take for granted more than anything else because we use it constantly and never think about it: The Kitchen Sink. Your kitchen sink provides water, a disposal and a location to wash and prepare food. It is an essential in any home.american-drain-plumbing-kitchen-sink.jpg

There is a reason the cliche’, “everything but the kitchen sink” is used so often. Without one, you and your family would be in bad shape.

So, before you buy one to replace the one you have, here are Five Tips on Buying A New Kitchen Sink:

  1. Determine the bowl configuration.: If you wash a lot of dishes or vegetables, then a double sink is essential. One side is used for washing and disposal and the other side is used for  washing and draining. Two bowls are common now and recommended for most homeowners.
  2. Choose the correct finish.: There are many styles of sinks to choose from today. You can find brushed nickel, stainless steel, copper, ceramic, pewter and concrete. Stainless steel and copper are the more fashionable styles today. Brass does tarnish, however. Ceramic tends to be less expensive.
  3. Choose a durable sink.: Your sink should be able to withstand the daily use (and abuse) with little consequence. So, choose stainless steel if you need a sink that won’t be damaged by heavy pots and pans. You can also buy a sink that absorbs your pots and pans noises by installing one with pads.
  4. Match the sink with the countertop.: Your countertop choice cannot be underestimated. Granite, marble and tile are the popular ones. If you decide on a stainless steel, it will use an under-counter mount. Other types such as copper and ceramic are top-mounted. Best idea: Choose your new sink and countertop as a “package deal”.  Or, make sure the new sink matches your current countertop and can be mounted in it.
  5. Choose the proper accessories: In deciding on a faucet, you can buy a sprayer that attaches There are also single-lever tap which is great for busy hands as you can turn the faucet easier. You would also be wise to have an aerator which means using less water and saving money on water bills.

There a number of other factors that we can cover in a future blog. Just make sure you do your research.

Also, feel free to call me at American Drain Cleaning and Plumbing at (610) 342-6852, for advice. You can also visit my website, www.americandraincleaningandplumbing.com for more information about our many plumbing and heating services.

 

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Recent Phoenixville Plumbing Project Pictures

Here are some of our most recent plumbing pictures of a project we completed.

Looking for a local plumber in Pheonixville and surrounding areas. Click here for American Drain Cleaning and Plumbing 

As Seen On Grow Plumbing

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Danger! Danger!: Replace those Old Pipes before you replace a lot more.

“Danger, Will Robinson! Danger, Will Robinson!”

That is the famous cry of ‘Robby, the Robot’ as he warned the young Will Robinson of danger in an episode of “Lost in Space”.  (The show was actually before my time but I have seen it a few times on lazy Saturday afternoons.)

It’s a cry that’s appropriate for this blog. Only, I would change it to: “Danger, old pipes! Danger, old pipes!” OK, it’s not quite as catchy as the other one but it is actual fact not science fiction. If your pipes are old and haven’t been maintained or repaired, they could cause some serious damage.

new pipeOld pipes freeze, leak and burst causing thousands of dollars worth of damage. You might leave for work in the morning with your house intact and then return home in the evening to your bottom floor flooded with sewage or your top floor carpeting drenched.

Pipes are like any other item in your house, they need to be checked on occasionally. You may find them in bad shape or good shape. Regardless, I have a few ideas for you about those hidden but oh-so-important pipes that assist all of your plumbing in doing its job.

First, you need to find out a few items about your pipes:

  1. When was your house built? If your home was built in 1959 or earlier, you may need to replace your pipes.
  2. Were they replaced or repaired by the previous owners? (If you are fortunate to have records of such maintenance, check to see if the pipes have been serviced.)
  3. Are there any exposed pipes? If so, what is their condition?
  4. Do you have galvanized pipes? These are pre-WWII pipes which can develop pinholes. They also rot and petrify. Before long, they are as hard as Mount Rushmore and leaking water like Niagra Falls.
  5. Is it Orangeburg Pipe? This underground pipe is cheap, flimsy and rots. It’s like having tar-paper for pipes. Very bad stuff.

Then, once you have answered those questions you may want to examine your pipes on your own or have a licensed plumber do it for you. Here a few signs of old and deteriorating pipes:

  1. drain pipes that are rusting on the top of the pipe (not on the bottom)
  2. valves that are broken or don’t work at all as water can’t be shut off or it has to be shut off using the outside valve
  3. faucets that are so old that you can’t find parts for it (definite red flag)

Your licensed plumber will then do the following:

  1. look at the condition of your pipes (cuts, rotting, breaks, holes, etc.)
  2. examine the valves and check on their age
  3. check drain lines
  4. check on the ages of the faucets (as best that they can be determined)

Then, it’s not quite so complicated after that. If your pipes are a mess and no matter of repairs could adequately resolve the issue,  then your licensed plumber would:

  1. Replace the old pipes with PVC pipes which may last a lifetime, or,
  2. Old pipes are easy to replace with PEX (Call your licensed plumber. PEX has taken the place of copper.)

Something very important to keep in mind: Your plumber has to size the new drain lines.   If they are undersized then your pipes will not drain correctly.

Old pipes are easy to replace but your belongings, especially the sentimental ones, are not. Call a licensed master plumber at American Drain Cleaning and Plumbing today at (610) 342-5842. We’ll examine your pipes and eliminate that danger.

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Take the Pressure Off: Check those Pressure-Reducing Valves

So often life’s problems are caused by what we can’t see.

From clogged arteries to a tire nail, whether we see them or not, eventually they could cause severe damage. However, if we discover them in time, they can be resolved with medication or repair and life can go on.

firehoseIn my industry, it’s what you can’t see that can be so damaging. From leaks in dark corners to separations in underground pipes, these unseen hazards can remain undiscovered for years until the water heater explodes or the basement drains spout waste.

One of the reasons I write this blog is to fly a red flag (it has a wrench and a plunger on it) to warn you about potential hazards so you can do something about it. Yes, we plumbers want your business but we (the ethical ones) also want to save you money.

Today I’m planting that “red flag” next to your pressure-reducing valve. It’s usually located near your main water shut-off.

The pressure-reducing valve has two main functions:

  1. It reduces the water pressure from the water entering your lines from a city water service after the meter. It could be extremely high and could causing potential problems to your plumbing fixtures.  
  2. It regulates the pressure throughout the home from 60 psi to 80 psi.

If your water-pressure valve is old or needs adjustment, you will probably see these signs:

  1. toilets constantly running
  2. shower faucet and shower head dripping
  3. water heater release valve dripping
  4. banging pipes

When this occurs, your pressure valve will need to be adjusted or replaced.

Recently, a commercial customer’s restaurant had the “mother of all restauranteur nightmares” when his patrons discovered that when they tried flushing the commodes in his establishment, they refused to flush.  So, the bathrooms began to stink up with clogged commodes…well, you get the picture.

He called me at American Drain Cleaning and Plumbing. I ran over, installed a new  pressure-reducing valve replacing the one that was around since Ben Franklin was a baby and flushed the commodes. Problem solved and the patrons returned. Restaurant business saved.

Another customer called me about quite the opposite: Water was blasting out of her faucets like Philly’s Ladder Company 30 responding to a three-alarm fire. It was over 100 psi and splattering all over the place.

When I arrived, I found that the pressure-reducing valve was very old and no longer even functioning. I replaced it with a new pressure-reducing valve and holding her hands under the faucets was safe again.

Adjusting most pressure-reducing valves, however, is a rarity. Most are too old and no longer reducing any water pressure. You find out, unfortunately, when you, like my customer, turn on the faucet and your hands are almost blown off.

The best step to take is to call a licensed plumber to check it. We check the water pressure from your faucets and shower heads. (Sometimes heavy water pressure or dipping faucets are incorrectly diagnosed as the faucet needing a new washer.) Then, run a test on it and check the psi.

Then, based on the test, appearance or age, we can tell if it just needs adjustment or replacement. It’s really that simple.

So, just like clogged arteries or tire nails, old or maladjusted water pressure-reducing valves can be hazardous or cause more damage unless they’re caught early. When you notice the signs, call a licensed plumber with American Drain Cleaning and Plumbing at (610) 342-6852. We serve Phoenixville, Evansburg, Plymouth Valley, Ambler, Exton and the surrounding counties. Check out our website at www.americandraincleaningandplumbing.com and take the pressure off!

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Puddles, Rust and Leaks: It May be Time to Replace your Water Heater

Would you put a new patch on an old, beaten-up and ripped pair of blue jeans?

Would you paint a rickety, old AMC Pacer but not repair the slipping transmission and bad rotors?

Finally, would you keep a decade-old water heater that is leaking and barely running?

waterheaterUnfortunately, even though most sane people would throw the ripped jeans away and tow the dead car to the junkyard, they will keep the musty, dusty water heater until it breaks down, or worse, could burst and possibly cause thousands of dollars in water damage.  There’s a simple way to avoid that and keep your water heated without any delay. (I mean who really wants to take a cold shower? I didn’t think so.)

First, let’s talk about your water heater. There are two types of water heaters: 

  1. Electric: It operates using a thermostat. When the water is heated, the thermostat shuts it down and cools. When the hot water valve is turned back on, the thermostat calls for more hot water and heats the water back up.
  2. Gas: There is a thermocouple that goes into the the gas valve. It will heat the water up to the set temperature and then it shuts off. It cools off and then reheats when it is turned on again.

A typical water heater lasts for about ten to twelve (10-12) years. After that time, it begins to break down and needs to be replaced.

You can examine your water heater and see the tell-tale signs of deterioration:

  1. The gas valve no longer works.
  2. The pilot light doesn’t stay lit.
  3. There are puddles of water at the base of the heater.
  4. There is water constantly dripping at the bottom of the heater.
  5. There is a rust ring at the bottom.

When you see any of the above, it’s time to replace your water heater.  It’s ten-year life is coming to an end and, just like the junk car and the holey jeans, you need to ditch this tin can quick.

Why quickly? Well, the continued use of a deteriorating water heater could be disastrous. I have received calls from frantic and bewildered customers telling me that their water heater just exploded. Yes, you heard me right. It exploded like the villain’s car in a James Bond movie.  It was ugly and cost them thousands of dollars in home repairs, not to mention a new water heater.

So, pick up the flashlight and open the closet door or walk downstairs to your basement, wipe away the layer of dust and check the manufacturer’s date on your water heater. There are several ways to find the date:

  1. You’ll see a date on the top part near the manufacturer’s name and disclaimer.
  2. If it’s not on there, call the manufacturer, whose number should be on it, and give them serial number which can be easily found at the top of the heater.
  3. If none of those work, call us at American Drain Cleaning and Plumbing and we can figure it out.

I prefer Rheem or Bradford White water heaters. They are quality products and carry a six (6) year warranty.  Most plumbers can replace your water heater in about five (5) hours or less.

Bottom line: Water heaters, like blue jeans and AMC Pacers, don’t last forever. Examine yours today and replace it (if needed) before you have to replace everything around it, too.

Call a licensed plumber at American Drain Cleaning and Plumbing (610) 342-6852 or check out our website at www.americandraincleaningandplumbing.com and have us take a look at your water heater today. We serve Phoenixville, Royersford, Ardmore, Flourtown, Schwenksville and the surrounding counties.

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The Plumber is ‘In': Why You Should Have a “Plumbing System Checkup” (and soon)

doctorholdingxrayWe’ve all been told that no matter how healthy you may be, you should still see your doctor at least once every year or two for a checkup.

After all, that nagging cough or those persistent headaches could turn out to  be something serious. However, if you treat it early enough you may be able to save yourself a lot of pain and money. A little preventative maintenance for our health is a good practice to have.

Well, the same goes for the plumbing system in your home or business. A leak here or a crack there may just be annoying but, over time,  could end up costing you big time. If only you had called your friendly neighborhood plumber, that persistent leak would have been repaired and the gusher of money flowing from your checking account to pay for all of the ensuing repairs would have been averted.

Just look around and you will see that your residence or storefront has a lot of potential hazards:

  1. Water heater: It could burst. The thermostat may not be functioning properly. The exhaust flue may be blocked.
  2. Toilet(s): The wax ring is broken. The toilet is running on and off. The flapper inside the tank has eroded and is causing it to run. Small hairline cracks around the outside of the toilet. The line is clogged. Leaks between the toilet bowl and the tank. The flush may be weak or inconsistent.
  3. Faucets:  Steady and slow drip. The water pressure is either too weak or too strong.
  4. Sewer line: It’s blocked or clogged.
  5. Main plumbing line: It’s clogged with tree roots, dead animals, pools of water and other debris.

As you can see, any one of these, by itself, could turn into a major problem. You let it go and it could deteriorate into a major malfunction needing a major repair.

Even worse, a combination of these plumbing issues could be a huge financial setback for the home or business owner.  No one wants to drop thousands of dollars of repairs on something that can easily be avoided with a little prevention.

That’s why you should call your licensed plumber and have them do a “Plumbing Checkup”.   This checkup, which should be quite thorough and detailed, includes the following:

  1. Bathroom: Check the faucet, toilet and bathtub and look for leaks, cracks, stains and other leak-related issues. Has the wax ring around the toilet been replaced in the last three (3) years?  Also, check the drains to see if they’re clogged.
  2. Water heater: Check thermostat and flue.
  3. Plumbing system: Check the water pressure. Test it several times and see if it is consistent.
  4. Pipes: Check the copper piping for corrosion. Also, check all pipes for cracks and blockage.
  5. Main lines: See if they are clogged or broken.
  6. Sewer line: Check to see if erosion is occurring.

Once the licensed plumber has completed their checkup, they can recommend any repairs or replacements. Some may be basic repairs you might even be able to do yourself while others may be complicated and require the deft hands and experience of a plumbing professional.

Whether simple or complicated, a little preventative maintenance of your plumbing system, just like your physical health, is a smart thing to do.  So, call “Doctor Plumber” and have your system examined closely so you can have a clean bill of plumbing health.

Call a licensed plumber at American Drain Cleaning and Plumbing (610) 342-6852 or check out our website at www.americandraincleaningandplumbing.com and have us give your plumbing a thorough checkup. We serve Phoenixville, Blue Bell, Frazer, Skippack, Boyertown, Gilbertsville and the surrounding counties.

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