Damage Caused by Household Drain Clogs

In the past couple of posts, we’ve been talking about identifying household clogs and different ways they can be fixed. Another concern that has immediate consequences for homeowners is the potential damage that can occur due to clogs.

At Boulden Brothers, we’ve seen the extensive damage that can be caused by clogged drains firsthand. Homeowners go through significant stress when a toilet is clogged because gray water needs to be properly (and safely) cleaned.

Toilet, shower, or sink back ups also have the potential to cause mold and mildew if any moisture remains. This is especially worrisome because moisture is often inconspicuous. Ultimately, drain issues have the potential to cause the same problems as flooding caused by broken pipes.

While we aren’t a professional cleaning service, we will come to the rescue with your plumbing issue as fast as possible. Our professional plumbers have the proper tools to get the job done, and we will clean the areas that we are capable of (depending on the severity of the situation). If the damage is too significant, we will refer you to a qualified professional cleaner.

Not only does gray water produce a foul smell, but there are significant health considerations as well. Homeowners need to get their problem handled quickly and correctly, and the Boulden Brothers are here to help.

If you ever find yourself with an emergency toilet issue caused by a clogged drain, or if you think that remaining moisture is a concern that needs to be eliminated, give us a call.

Chilling Chores: Tricks and Tips for Winterizing your Home

Sure, ghouls and goblins are scary. But, so is getting atop a tall ladder to clear out gutters or worming around in small and dirty crawlspaces to check pipes and vents. What is even scarier, however, is all of the problems that can occur if you don’t do these home maintenance chores. When it comes to winterizing your home, here are the regular maintenance issues that scare us the most:

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  1. Check your crawlspaces and underneath your house for moisture penetration and water buildup. Use weatherproof caulk and expandable foam spray to seal up any cracks and leaks you find.
  2. Make sure gutters are free of debris and water spouts are diverting water away from your home’s foundation. Getting atop a tall ladder is one of the most common fears, and rightly so. Be careful up there! You may have to clean out the gutters again at the end of fall, when all the leaves have fallen. While you are up there, inspect the status of your gutters and make sure to tighten brackets if needed. If they are beyond repair, install new gutters (w/ leaf guards).
  3. Is your basement always wet after a heavy rain? Learn how to waterproof a basement here.
  4. Replace your furnace or heater filter. Have an extra filter on hand for when you need to change it next.
  5. Inspect your roof for damaged shingles. Damaged/Missing shingles can be a warning sign for a more serious problem. You can inspect your roof yourself and even replace shingles by yourself, but if you have leaks or water coming into your house, you should have a professional roofer assess the situation.
  6. Drain and winterize any outdoor faucets and irrigation systems. Inspect all outdoor water faucets for damage. If they have a shut-off valve, close it off and turn on the faucet to drain any excess water in the faucets. For irrigation pipes, shut off the water supply and manually open all of the drain valves For more information about how to drain and winterize faucets and irrigation systems, click here. To help winterize your outdoor plumbing, hire a local plumber to ensure the job is done right.
  7. Schedule your annual furnace tune-up before winter starts up! Have your furnace serviced regularly and check the filter every month. Filters need to be changed every 30 to 60 months.
  8. Have your local HVAC technician inspect your fireplace and heating system to make sure that everything is running properly and that you are using fuel/energy in the most efficient way to save money and make your heating system last longer. It is very important that your heating system is in working order before you fire it up for the winter. I know it is scary, but go down to your boiler/furnace room and test to see if it runs. That way, you can take advantage of pre-season deals and won’t have to put on a waiting list for your work order.
  9. Reverse your the direction of your ceiling fans so that it is redistributing the warm air near the ceiling.
  10. Last, but not least, make sure you winterize your yard equipment like lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and chain saws. To avoid start-up issues in the spring, make sure you drain all of the fuel from all of your gas-powered yard equipment. Make sure these items are stored in a safe location. You don’t want your kids thinking it is a good idea to use your chainsaw to liven up their Halloween costume or party.

 

And lastly, the scariest thing we can think of is a home fire. Unless a smoldering pile of ash is what you’re going for this Halloween, make sure to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed outside of every sleeping area in your home. Over 60% of all home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke detectors.

If you have any further questions on winterizing your home, talk to the licensed, trained technicians at Boulden Brothers. We want to help you have a safe and happy Halloween. Visit us on our website, Facebook, and Twitter or give us a call at (302) 368-3848. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you might have.

Cut Heating Bills in Half

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For those of you who don’t know, October is Energy Awareness Month! And if that isn’t incentive enough, know that saving the planet and saving money go hand-in-hand. To help save you energy and money, we show you what you can do right now to cut heating bills by up to 50% before the winter weather hits.

When it comes to saving money on your monthly bills, it’s all about strategy. The list is big because we want you to save BIG.

* Schedule your annual furnace tune-up before winter starts up! Have your furnace serviced regularly and check the filter every month. Filters need to be changed every 1 to 3 months.

* Install a programmable thermostat so that you are not heating your home when no one is there or when people are sleeping. There are even apps that you can download so you can monitor and adjust the temperature of your home from a remote location.

* Save as much as 10% annually on heating costs by turn the temperature back 10-15% while away. We recommend lowering your thermostat to 68 degrees while away from your home.

* Make sure your fireplace has heat-retaining features. We highly recommend using fake, eco-friendly logs.

* Keep any shades or curtains on the south side of your home open during the day to allow for solar heating. Keep all curtains and blinds closed at night to prevent heat from escaping through your windows.

* Lock any windows not being used, as the tightness gets rid of any drafts. Consider putting Window Shrink Film over any windows that you don’t plan on opening all winter. Make sure to attach it to the frame of the window and not the window itself. Use a hair dryer to seal the plastic in place. You won’t even notice it’s there!

* Seal air leaks around doors and windows by adding caulk or weatherstripping. Use an incense stick to detect air leaks by holding the lit incense around areas that you suspect are drafty.

* Just like you checked the inside of your home for cracks and other air leaks, do the same thing for the outside of your home. Walk around the perimeter of your house and look for areas where pipes and wires enter your home in addition to the edges of any windows or other openings. For openings greater than a quarter of an inch, use Expandable Foam Spray; for cracks less than a quarter of an inch, use a weather-proof caulk.

* Turn down the temperature of your water heater to a warm 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

* Keep vents and radiators clean and unobstructed.

* Close doors to rooms that are not used. On the other hand, do not close vents in unused rooms; it causes the system to be unbalanced and may cause unwanted pressure in your air ducts that lead to air duct leaks.

* Use mastic sealing to cover up any air duct leaks. Consider having your air ducts cleaned by a professional at Boulden Brothers. We will also be able to seal any leaks that we find. Dirty air ducts have a detrimental impact on the performance of your heating system and the quality of your indoor air.

* Fire places may be a good source of heat, but they are also a perfect place for heat to escape your home. If it doesn’t have a glass door, make sure to close the damper that’s inside, when the fireplace is not in use.

* Use Foam Pipe Insulation and a Boiler Blanket to keep the heat around your heating system where it belongs.

* Be mindful of the meals you prepare. It takes significantly more energy to prepare meat than it does to prepare a vegetable or other plant based meal.

* Leave the thermostat at around 72 degrees ans wear sweaters, blankets, and Snuggies to stay warm and cozy.

* If you replace an old furnace or boiler, you may be entitled to an energy tax credit.

* Have an energy audit scheduled to inform you of the performance and efficiency of your HVAC system. This includes performing a “blower-door test” to tell how much air is leaking out and into your home. Following the energy audit, your Boulden Bros. technician will recommend various improvements to be done to save you money and energy. Sometimes, your utility company will even offer you a rebate for performing an energy audit. Call Boulden Brothers to find out more!

* Your utility company might also offer free programmable thermostats and any subsidies for major repairs, like roof and boiler replacement.

Although it won’t save you money or energy, it definitely saves lives to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed outside of every sleeping area in your home. Over 60% of all home fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke detectors.

If you have any further questions on how to save money and energy this fall and winter, talk to the licensed, trained technicians at Boulden Brothers. Visit us on our website, Facebook, and Twitter or give us a call at (302) 368-3848. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you might have.

Second Opinions

Second opinions are important, so we try to make it very easy for anyone who wants to get one. Because we’re dealing with items like the plumbing/drain cleaning system, water conditioning system, or propane accessories for the house, the client may not have extensive knowledge on the subject. They may get a contractor in their home that is recommending something that they are unsure or unconfident about. Because of this, we want to make it easy for them to get another opinion.

We think this resource should be readily available to customers as a no-pressure, no-charge second opinion. We go to the client’s home to learn about their system and whatever problem they are experiencing, what they are trying to accomplish, and also to be there as a trusted resource if they do decide to choose us for that work. More importantly, we give the peace of mind in knowing that whether they choose—us or someone else—the job will be in their best interest.

Our pricing in general is not based on huge markups just so we can give a huge discount later after the client gets a second opinion. We want to give a fair price up-front so there is no need for haggling. Like we’ve said before, we care about providing education as a service to our clients.

What makes us unique is that we educate everyone in our organization about our core values and who we are. This includes how we protect our customers with our warrantees and guarantees. When we do a good job, we end up with thousands of people each year that say they are confident to put their trust in Boulden Brothers.

Call us when you need a plumber.

We Treat Everybody Like Family

We’re very grateful whenever a client calls us to visit their home and solve the problem they are having. How we deal with that opportunity is what makes us unique.

We think it is of the utmost importance to treat the client’s home as if it was our mother’s or grandmother’s home. We take the same level of care and concern that we have for our loved ones and apply it to others. How would we act if we were at their home? That’s the standard that we set for all our employees—that’s who we are, and that’s also part of our core values.

We won’t install anything in our clients’homes that we wouldn’t install in our family’s home. It has to be good enough for our homes before it can be good enough to go in anybody else’s. If a client wants us to do something that we know isn’t the best quality, we would rather tell them up front and have them be dissatisfied by someone else’s work instead of being dissatisfied with us. If it’s not in their best interest, we’re simply not going to do it. We’re interested in being a trusted provider that has a long-term relationship with our customers.

We train every day—we provide both technical training and customer service training. Whenever a tech is at a client’s house, we want them to be capable of educating them about their home, plumbing system/drain system, water conditioning, or even their propane system. If they have a better understanding of how it works, we can work from there.

Call us when you need help at your home.

Don’t Get Taken Advantage of by Contractors

Almost anyone would become a little bit leery after being taken advantage of by a business. I would love to say that most people aren’t taken advantage of by their contractors. The reality is, however, that most people will be at some point in their lives. Even I have been taken advantage of in the past. You would think that I of all people would have been able to avoid it, since I’m in the contracting industry myself. That’s not the case—I ended up getting into a drawn out legal battle. Even though I won all the judgements at the end, I collected almost none of the money that was awarded to me.

Because we are familiar with what it is like to be taken advantage of, we are dedicated to making sure our customers don’t ever have to suffer the same fate. At Boulden Brothers, we work extra hard to give our customers an overall great experience and peace of mind.

Our business was started in 1946 as a coal company, and we later expanded in scope as an oil company. A large part of our business philosophy has been taking on a client for life. Everybody that puts their trust in Boulden Brothers becomes someone that we want to help for many years to come. To do that, we make our clients secure in knowing that if and when they have a problem, we will be there to help.

We’re very proud of the fact that our company now spans three generations. Not many other companies out there can say the same thing. We’ve stood the test of time thanks to our clients’support. Our reputation is very important, and word of mouth about positive experiences goes a long way. Whenever our clients rave about the service and tell their friends, neighbors, and family, we know that we’re doing something right.

This is one of the main reasons why at Boulden Brothers, we want to make sure we do everything in our power to place our clients’interests above all else. We have extensive warranties and guarantees in place so clients will clearly understand that they are fully taken care of. This is deeply engrained into our company’s history, and it permeates through the minds of every single person in our organization. We will do right by our customers in every situation.

Clear communication is very important not only with the initial experience, but with support and followups as well. We know that people are counting on us, and we need to be there for them. This starts with giving our clients easy-to-understand explanations of exactly what we’re doing. Some terms commonly used in the industry are nearly incomprehensible to the general public, so we make sure to ditch the lingo as much as possible.

We know that the best thing we can do is educate our clients about what is in their best interests. If we are successful in doing that, they will end up making sound decisions that will protect themselves, their home, and their family.

If you have any questions about how Boulden Brothers can give you peace of mind with an outstanding experience, give us a call today. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sprucing up the Kitchen and Bathroom with Fixture Upgrades

Many times, people want to spruce up their kitchen or bathroom but they don’t want to go through the expense of a whole remodel. One of the best investments you can make in your home is kitchen and bathroom fixture upgrades. These rooms can gain a completely different look and feel just by changing the countertop, sink, toilet, and faucet, along with giving the room a new coat of paint.

Sinks

It can be intimidating for homeowners to decide on a new sink. In many cases, the decision of which sink to install is mainly aesthetic, based off of the intended look and feel of the kitchen or bathroom. The sink can be stainless steel, porcelain, or even made out of elegant glass that glows with an under-light.

For kitchen sinks, some of the decision will be based upon functionality. Sinks can be tailored to exactly how you use your kitchen. It can be a one, two, or three bowl sink, and it can have a garbage disposal or pull-out faucet as well.

Toilets

As toilets age over the years, they will slowly accumulate calcium and magnesium buildup due to water hardness. This makes them flush less strongly compared to when they were new. Installing a new toilet will have many immediate benefits, not only functionally, but also aesthetically.

Choosing a toilet is a fairly straightforward process—sizes are mostly universal, but some decisions will have to be made regarding the height and length of the toilet. An immediately obvious benefit of the new toilet is its ability to flush better while also using less water. The water conserved due to the toilet’s higher efficiency will end up saving money in the long run.

Extras

There are many other components that may be worth upgrading when doing a kitchen or bath remodel. For example, the safety shutoff valves in the walls are there for a very important reason: If your fixture (or pipe leading to the fixture) sprang a leak, these valves would allow you to immediately shut off the water. Unfortunately, these valves are not usually tested on a regular basis to make sure they still function properly. If an unexpected leak were to occur, these valves would be a crucial component that could prevent expensive damage to the home.

Other accessories such as shower heads, cabinet knobs, and towel hangers can nicely complement new fixtures or paint jobs.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

One place you can go wrong is selecting a fixture that does not fit the room. Before selecting any new components, make sure to measure the room to make sure it will be a good fit. This is especially true in the kitchen, where the kitchen sink and cabinets can vary in size.

Let’s talk upgrades. Contact us today.

How to Prevent Water Damage in Your Home

Water damage is a nightmare that no homeowner wants to experience. The extent of the damage can be severe and the cost of repair can be significant.

Proactive maintenance is the most important way that homeowners can prevent water damage. Here are some of the most common components in the home that should be regularly examined.

Water Heaters

The water heater can be one of the main points of failure in the home. An unfortunately common scenario that we regularly see is a family that leaves for vacation, work, or school and ends up returning to find that their water heater has ruptured.

Once the base of a water heater loses its integrity, water can flow out at a pace of 30 to 40 gallons a minute. This would result in a significant amount of damage in the area the water heater is located. The basement would become flooded, or if the water heater is on the first floor, the flood will spread into the basement below. This can all be prevented with proper maintenance.

We suggest a full water heater inspection every one to two years, including flushing the sediment inside of the tank to reduce the chance of corrosion. Any sediment buildup is rough enough to scratch the glass lining inside of the tank. Additionally, any hard water buildup in the form of calcium and magnesium will end up accumulating at the bottom of the tank. This creates unnecessary stress on the water heater, and the gas burner has to run longer to heat the water.

There is also a sacrificial anode in the tank that attracts any of the corrosive properties in the water. Instead of harmful corrosion occurring on the tank itself, the anode will be the first component to deteriorate. We inspect and offer to replace this anode, because it is a highly important factor in preserving the integrity of the tank.

Because of the hard water in our area, the average lifespan of a water heater is about 10 years. Before the water heater fails, many homeowners decide to have it replaced proactively so they will not have to worry about any potential leaks or failures. That is one of the reasons why we provide a trade-in allowance for any water heater that is older than 8 years. We want our clients to be aware of the potential concerns of water heater lifespans, and we want to make replacements as easy as possible.

There is no way to detect in advance that a water heater is going to leak. This is why preventative maintenance is so important.

Washing Machine Hoses

People don’t often think about the hoses on their washing machine because they tend to be out of sight and out of mind. These are the hoses that connect the washing machine to the shutoff valve and the wall. If you were to read the owner’s manual for your washing machine, it probably suggests that you shut off the water after every use. This is because the hose is relatively inexpensive and made out of rubber that can easily become punctured or broken due to physical stress.

Sometimes a hose failure will be the size of a pinhole, resulting in a small water leak. Other times it will fail completely, resulting in up to 40 gallons of water a minute spilling onto the floor. This can quickly cause flooding to all lower levels of the home, resulting in expensive damages. The last thing a homeowner wants is to return to a horrific mess due to something that could have been caught early on.

The first way to prevent this from happening is by simply turning off the valve when the washing machine is not in use. Secondly, you can visually inspect the hoses regularly to make sure there are no bulges or visual anomalies indicating weak spots. Finally, we offer a braided stainless steel hose that is much stronger and more durable.

If you would like to learn more about how you can prevent water damage from occurring in your home, give Boulden Brothers a call today.

Extend The Life of Your Plumbing Fixtures

Plumbing equipment can be expensive to repair or replace. That’s why it is important for homeowners to maximize the lifespan of every component in their home. By paying attention to a few simple pointers, the equipment that so many of us take for granted will last for many years to come.

Water Chlorination

The quality of the water coming into your house has a drastic effect on the longevity of plumbing fixtures. In our area, we often see levels of chlorine that even exceed what would be found in the average swimming pool. Water treated with chlorine can be beneficial because it kills bacteria—at the same time, it is not desirable to drink. In addition to unpalatability, excessive amounts of chlorine in the water can also drastically shorten the life of plumbing fixtures. Toilets and faucets contain parts that are made of plastic (such as the flapper valve, fill valve, gaskets, or o-rings), which can break down after prolonged exposure to high levels of chlorine.

Hard Water

There is hard water in our area, meaning the water contains high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium. One of the telltale signs that your home has hard water is a visible white crust on the faucet. This hardness will build up on many of the components in your home (such as the pipes and the water heater) and can be very hard to remove.

Hard water makes doing the laundry or washing the dishes more difficult because more soap must be used to get the job done. As the minerals from hard water build up along the sides of a home’s pipes, they can become clogged enough to make it difficult for water to flow through. This is actually very similar to the way cholesterol can clog a person’s arteries. (You might have seen pictures of pipes that once had a half-inch diameter which eventually became constricted to the size of a straw.)

There are a couple of ways to mitigate hard water: There is a traditional system that uses salt, and there is also a newer product on the market called a descaler. Descalers do not actually remove calcium and magnesium from the water. Instead, they change the chemical property of the water so these minerals do not attach themselves to fixtures. While this extends the life of the plumbing, it also makes it easier to clean the entire house. Tubs, showers, and sinks will no longer accumulate residue from mineral buildup.

High Water Pressure

Many homeowners will be surprised to learn that water pressure is even a factor in the longevity of their plumbing equipment. While not common in our area, excessive water pressure can be detrimental to plumbing fixtures. All appliances in the home are manufactured with a specific pressure in mind. Whenever we encounter situations where a homeowner expresses concern regarding water pressure, we will check the pressure and then determine if a pressure regulator should be installed.

Sending The Right Person to Your Home

A lot of times, the decision of who to send to a customer’s home isn’t made that same day—it’s made during the hiring process. We go through preemployment testing and an extensive interview process to make sure that we add the right people to our team. When the time comes that you need us to be there, we have many capable people we can send to get the job done right.

The quality of the people being added to our team is very important to us. It’s not just their technical knowledge that’s important. (Once we get someone on our team, we can always improve their technical knowledge.) Instead, it’s more important to focus on finding a great person that has a desire to serve the customer. This is the type of person that will do everything to keep our clients’ best interests at heart. Whenever we hire someone new, we make sure that they share our values.

If we send someone to your home, we do everything necessary to make sure that person will treat you the way we would want to be treated. When a client calls us, we believe we have an opportunity to treat their home like we would treat our mother’s or grandmother’s home. If we take that to heart and maintain that central objective every time we go serve someone, we’re going to be successful.

We have very few one-strike-and-you’re-out rules in our business, but there is one that all of the people on our team know about. That is, if at any time they do anything to intentionally take advantage of our client, they will be asked to leave employment with Boulden Brothers immediately. We know that people make honest mistakes sometimes, so we’re not talking about something like an accidentally scratched floor. Instead, we’re talking about finding out that an employee has intentionally acted against our customer’s best interests. Because of our long-standing reputation, we take this extremely seriously.

We will take action even if an employee is a top performer. If an employee goes out on the field without having our clients’ best interests at heart, we’re going to make a change.