3 More Things To Watch Out For In Unscrupulous Plumbers

3-more-thingsIn our previous blog we discussed the first four things you should watch out for when hiring a plumber, including their lack of history with clients, a price so low that no one could offer it and make money, and the fact that they’re going door to door looking for work. Any of these is enough to raise red flags and cause you to go with a more reputable company.

As it turns out, those aren’t the only things you should be looking for. We’re back this week to give you a few more tips on what you should be wary of when you’re vetting a plumber or sewer cleaner.

Lack of References

It’s incredibly important to get references when it comes to anything having to do with your home. After all, you’re letting a person come in and fix the parts of your home that deal with life-giving water and human waste removal, neither of which is to be taken lightly. If that person can’t give you five references off the top of his or her head, there’s a good chance that they haven’t been making their customers happy.

Even if it’s a brand new company, the training a plumber has to go through before they can strike off on their own will leave them with enough references. Always ask for references or read testimonials!

Lack Of Certification

Considering the job of a plumber is to help you bring in fresh water and remove harmful blackwater, it’s understandable why it would be a regulated trade. Plumbers are required to have licenses in 44 states, and Colorado is one of them. If your plumber can’t show you a license and proof of insurance, there’s really no reason to hire them no matter how good the price is.

They Have No Signage

There have probably been times when you open the front door to a tradesman you’ve called — maybe a landscaper or roofer — and they have absolutely no identifying characteristics to prove that they’re from the company you hired. They have no embroidered shirts and no markings on their van. It just doesn’t feel right, does it?

In cases like this, one of two things has probably happened. First, you might have found a new plumber. There’s nothing wrong with that; we understand that every new plumbing company has to start somewhere, and we welcome the competition. But doesn’t it seem weird that they’d invest thousands of dollars in plumbing equipment and not spend $100 to get a uniform and van decals? What are they trying to hide?

The other possibility is that someone has sent you a subcontractor. You called a company, and their one guy turns out to be busy that day. So they called their handyman friend (who may or may not be a plumber) and sent him to your house. The reason he doesn’t have any identifying characteristics is that he works for one company on Monday and then two different companies on Tuesday. Garvin’s will never send you a subcontractor, and we’ll always arrive in a marked van and identifying Garvin’s clothing.

Unfortunately, you’ve got to be careful out there. Try Garvin’s plumbing and sewer service once and you’ll be convinced that going with long-lasting professional is the right choice.

 

 

Hiring A Plumber In The Denver Area? Here Are Four Red Flags To Watch For

red-flags-to-watch-forWhen you’re in need of plumbing services, you don’t want to mess around. After all, getting fresh water into your home and getting rid of wastewater are two of the most important aspects of an advanced civilization. (It might sound like we’re exaggerating, but we’d pick clean drinking water and a flush toilet over an iPhone any day!)

Unfortunately, not everyone in the business is as grounded and honest as Garvin’s, whether you’re talking about emergency plumbing or sewer cleaning. We want you to call Garvin’s when you have plumbing problems, but even more so we want you to not fall victim to unscrupulous plumbers in Northern Colorado. Here are some warning signs to look for that can tell you if you’ve encountered those plumbers you should avoid.

They Knock On Your Door

Now don’t get us wrong, we’re going to knock on your door after you give us a call. After all, we’re not going to just barge in without letting you know we’re there!

What we’re talking about are the people who knock on your front door and offer you services. They might say “other people in your neighborhood have been hiring us for sewer cleaning, you should get yours cleaned too,” or maybe they’ll let you know about a special on rooter service. The fact is, sewer problems are individual to each house, and you might never need a sewer jetter down your pipes. If you don’t notice a problem, there’s probably no problem.

Plumbers don’t go door to door. With over 75 years in business, people call us when they have plumbing and sewer needs.

The Price is Too Good To Be True

Let’s say you don’t need an emergency plumber but are still looking for some plumbing help. You call around and get four quotes: $349, $425, $399, $449. The fifth call you makes get you a quote for $99 dollars! That’s a good deal, right? Right? Well, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The Website is Brand New

Every business has to start somewhere, but if a plumber says that they’ve been around for years but their website is only a few months old, that’s a hard story to swallow. It’s likely that they had to close up shop when the old business went under and start up a new one…something they might do over and over as they ruin their reputation each time.

Websites have been a necessity for every business for years, and Garvin’s has been providing Denver with advice since 2009 with over 230 blogs! And speaking of the web…

Check Reviews

It might sound obvious, but be sure to check reviews online. Check to see how many reviews they have, because the number of reviews can lead to getting a better plumber. It’s normal for a company to have one bad review out of fifty, because you simply can’t meet everyone’s unrealistic expectations. But you don’t want to hire a place that has two reviews that are both 5 out of 5 stars…because those reviews were left by the owner and his brother!

When you’re dealing with your home, you don’t want to trust it to just anyone. You want sewer service that is reputable and reasonably priced. If you’ve decided on the plumbing and sewer service experts at Garvin’s, contact us here.

 

How To Spot the Signs of Leaky Freshwater Pipes

spot-the-signsYou come home from eating at a nice restaurant in Lodo and park your car in the garage. Uh oh, there’s water coming from under the door! You rush in and discover that there’s a burst pipe that’s spewing gallons and gallons of water all over your kitchen! You obviously need plumbing repair, and fast!

Not all leaks are that obvious, though. Sometimes leaks can go for days, months, or years before you notice anything is wrong. While that might at first seem reassuring, leaks in the walls and under sinks can cause mold and mildew to grow, causing your family respiratory problems. So no matter how bad the leak is, you want to get the best plumbing services to take care of it as soon as possible. Here are a few ways to discover leaks before they get any worse.

Unexpected Rust In The Walls

Let’s say you’re repainting a room. You obviously need to take down framed art that’s on the wall, which means you’ll also be removing the nails from the walls. If you pull out the nail and it’s rusty, you’re going to want to check for other signs of moisture that might be in your walls. If you find any other indications of a leaky pipe or if it’s a wall in which you’re sure there are pipes, contact your local plumber immediately. (If you’re certain that there are no pipes in those walls but still find rust, you might want to have a roofer check for leaks in your shingles or siding.)

Bad Water

If your freshwater is tainted in any way, give a plumber a call. This includes bad smells as well as any discoloration. Even if you run it through a water filtration system, something could be wrong with it; a leaky pipe somewhere in your freshwater pipes could be the culprit.

Moisture

If you’re walking across the carpet one day and your sock gets wet, you’ll probably think that someone simply spilled some water. But if it happens again, look up…it might be dripping from above.

The same is true with spots on the carpet that you can’t explain. If you start seeing multiple spots in places you’re sure have never seen a spill, those might be due to moisture from a leaky pipe.

Low Water Pressure

If you’ve lived in your house for any length of time, you’ll be familiar with your water pressure. Even if you don’t consciously know the exact number of seconds it takes to fill a glass of water, you’ll know something’s off. If you have a feeling your water pressure isn’t normal, give a plumbing contractor a call and we can help you investigate any leaks in your home.

If you’re a homeowner, it pays to be diligent when it comes to your pipes. Like we said before, you know your house and can tell when something is wrong, so make sure to follow up on that bad feeling and investigate any signs of leaks. If you want more help, we’ll be there for you. Contact Garvin’s at the first sign of trouble!

One More Blog About How Your Local Plumber Can Save You Water in Denver

one-more-blogWe’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Denver is a pretty dry place. While it’s not technically a desert, we get less than twice the amount of rainfall of many deserts. When summer rolls around, we hate to hear about watering restrictions as much as you do. As your local plumbing service experts, we’re more than happy to help as many people as possible conserve water.

In the previous blog, we touched on two specific electric appliances that can help you save energy. Simply upgrading your clothes washer and your dishwasher can save you over 15,000 gallons a year (based on using them each once a day). From a single house, that means 15,000 more gallons that remain in our lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. It also means 15,000 fewer gallons that have to treated at the water treatment facility. Oh, and it’s 15,000 extra gallons that you don’t have to pay for!

But those aren’t the only ways you can save water. What about the fixtures you use every day that use water? Today we’re talking about how new toilets, shower heads, and faucets can save you big money.

Toilets

We already wrote a great blog about low flow toilets, but it’s always a good idea to remind people of how efficient they are. Did you know that many toilets manufactured prior to 1994 used between 3.5 and 5 gallons of water per flush? Today’s models typically use around 1.6 gallons per flush, but that can down to .8 gallons for ultra-high-efficiency models. In fact, you can even get rebates from Denver Water by replacing your old toilets with the most efficient models out there.

Shower Heads

Another great place to save water (and money) is by replacing old shower heads. While you use toilets intermittently, shower heads are going full-blast the entire time you’re in there. Shower heads that are more than 30 years old might be pumping out more than eight gallons of water per minute! Multiply that by the average 12-minute American shower and you quickly realize how much water you’re wasting with old shower heads.

Modern high-efficiency shower heads such as those with the WaterSense label will use only 1.5 to 2 gallons per minute. The great things is that you won’t even notice the difference, because you’ll be getting just as clean. How? New shower heads simply direct and disperse the water more efficiently. This alone could save a family of four over 100,000 gallons a year!

Sink Faucets

While you’ve probably heard about the advances in shower heads and toilets, the sink faucet revolution has been much quieter. While you’ll want to buy a more water-efficient faucet the next time you replace your sink, you can also easily retrofit your current faucet to reduce the amount you use with a faucet aerator. Aerators mix air with the water, causing you to use less while getting everything just as clean. There are different aerators for different faucets, depending on the force of water you need to maintain.

Well there you go: three simple ways to save many more thousands of gallons of water per year. If you’d like a local plumber to come in and help you install these, we’d be happy to help. Contact Garvin’s today!

The Appliance Upgrades That Can Save You Water

appliances-upgradesIn our most recent blog we discussed some of the best ways to save water in the Denver area, changes that are so easy that you don’t even need to call your local plumber to make them happen. These included replacing your lawn with xeriscaping so that you don’t need to use water, replacing your thirsty grass with grass that does better in an arid climate, collecting rain in rain barrels and using it to water, and keeping an eye on your water bill to watch for spikes that could indicate a hidden leak.

This week we’re going to suggest a few changes that can save you even more water, and therefore more money. If the store you buy from doesn’t do installations, call for our plumbing services and Garvin’s will be there to help you install your new appliance.

Washing Machines

When it comes to appliances, the biggest change you can make to your water bill comes with the new clothes washing machine. Check out these stats from denverwater.org:

  • Older top loading washing machines can use 40 or 50 gallons per wash cycle.
  • Newer front loading washing machines can use as little as 10 gallons (reducing your water bill).
  • The high speed horizontal spinning forces more water out of clothes, thus requiring less drying time (reducing your energy bill)
  • No agitators in front loading machines and less time in the dryer means your clothes will last longer (reducing your clothing budget).
  • Less water used means less water needs to be treated at the water treatment plant.

Oh, and here’s a bonus tip: stop washing clothes that aren’t dirty! Sure, you need to wash your underwear and your workout clothes every day. But jeans can be worn at least a couple of days before it’s time to wash them, as can that shirt that you only wore for two hours last night. Avoiding washing the clothes too much also means that you’ll put less wear and tear on your washing machine and the clothes.

Dishwashers

Some studies show that washing dishes by hand saves you water. Other studies show the opposite. Either way it’s unlikely you’ll spend an extra 20 minutes a day to give up your dishwasher!

If you have an old dishwasher, it might be costing you more than it’s worth on your water and power bills. Newer dishwashers are surprisingly energy and water efficiency, using less than four gallons of water per wash cycle. That old dishwasher could be an energy hog and be using upwards of six gallons of water per cycle, even more if it’s really old. And if it’s really old, you’re also more likely to have leaks. The next time you dishwasher goes on the fritz and you consider repairing it, think about the water savings you’ll experience by purchasing a new one.

Those two simple upgrades will end up saving you water, power, and will help the environment. It’s a win-win-win that shouldn’t be ignored. And if you need help with installation, contact Garvin’s!

 

 

3 Ways Your Local Plumber Wants To Help You Conserve Water

3-ways-to-conserve-waterHere at Garvin’s, we’re big believers in letting the experts do their jobs. When the furnace breaks down, we call our favorite HVAC company. If we need a transmission rebuilt on one of our plumbing trucks, we’re not heading out there ourselves with a screwdriver. So, even though we make our living as professional plumbers, we’d suggest calling the pros for major plumbing problems even if we weren’t in the business.

Still, it doesn’t take an expert to tell you that saving water is a good idea. Colorado might not be a desert, but much of it is arid despite our mountains being a major water supplier for many states. Saving water also saves you money, because the more you use the higher your water bill.

What steps can you take on your own to save money? Here are some things you can do without the help of a professional.

Rain Barrels!

Who would have thought this would have been such a big deal, but it took a law taking effect August 10, 2016 to make it legal for Coloradans to collect rainwater in rain barrels. You’re allowed to collect two 55-gallon barrels of rainwater; simply attach it to a gutter and let the barrels fill. This water is perfect for watering plants on your property, but you certainly shouldn’t drink it (shingle/gutter water doesn’t taste very good). Also, make sure to keep it covered so that the mosquitoes don’t use it as a breeding location.

Be Careful With That Lawn Watering

Watering the lawn is one of the biggest uses of water for many households, and there are many steps you can take to reduce the amount of water you use. First of all, you can eliminate your grass completely and replace it with xeriscaping materials. This will reduce your watering by 90%, and maybe even 100% when the plants become established.

If you can’t give up the grass, make sure you have the right variety. Some grasses are thirstier than others, requiring much more water to stay green. Find the right type of grass for Colorado and you’ll have a grass that lasts through the entire season while requiring less water.

Also, know when to water. Watering during the hottest part of the day is counterproductive, because much of the water evaporates before it even hits the ground. After that the hot sun will evaporate the droplets from the grass blades before the water can soak into the ground.

Finally, maybe it’s time to change the way you water. Drip irrigation can help make watering more efficient for your landscape by keeping the water closer to the ground, avoiding the wind and sun as much as possible.

Watch Your Water Bill and Water Meter

Most of us are aware of what we’re paying for our utilities. The internet bill stays the same, natural gas prices go up in winter, and as long as something isn’t completely out of the ordinary you simply pay bills and move on. But with so many of us utilizing autopay systems and electronic bill paying, it can be harder to notice when the water bill is spiking. Be sure to take a look at the actual bill, not just the payment amount on the bill.

Do you know how to read your water meter? Most people don’t. After all, you don’t actually own the water meter, and with most of them in out-of-the-way places at the side of the house it’s not something that most people think about that often. But if you suspect a leak due to your diligent water bill reviews, learning how to read the meter can help you verify the problem. You might have hidden leaks in your house that are costing you a ton.

Those are three great ways to save water here in Colorado, and you didn’t even have to call your local plumber! We have some more ideas you’ll want to check out in our next blog, so check back!

 

 

How To Fix a Frozen (But Not Broken) Pipe

 

Not every frozen pipe bursts. While gushing water is certainly the most obvious indication that you have a broken pipe, sometimes it’s considerably more subtle than that. If you return from vacation and you turn on the faucet only to discover that no water is coming out, you probably have a frozen pipe.

Frozen pipes are more likely to occur with pipes that are against exterior walls or where the pipe emerges from your foundation. Pipes can also become frozen if you went on vacation and didn’t leave you furnace high enough (around 55 degrees) or if something happened to cause your furnace to go out while you were gone.

If you suspect a frozen pipe, here are a few methods that can help it warm up. Not comfortable with doing any of these on your own, or you suspect it might be something far more sinister? Time to contact you local plumber to make sure everything turns out alright.

Turn On The Faucet

“But I turned it on and nothing happened!” you might say. Sure, you realized that there was no water coming out, but when you follow the steps below you’re going to want to know when it starts working.

Also, moving water melts frozen water. If you’ve even “drilled” a hole in an ice cube with a thin stream of water, you know it to be true. Even with a trickle, frozen water in the pipes is forced to mix with the relatively warm water that’s been underground all of this time, warming up the water that’s been uninsulated.

Warm It Up

First, feel free to turn up the heat in your home if your furnace is working. Next, choose the method to heat up your pipes that you’re most comfortable with:

  • Use an electric space heater (make sure the cord is away from all water)
  • Wrap an electric heating pad around the pipe (be careful of the cord and water)
  • Use an electric hair dryer (watch the cord…are you seeing a pattern?)
  • Wrap hot, wet towels around the frozen pipe and replace often (you’ll have to use a different sink!)

Even if you don’t notice water at first, keep an eye open. As the frozen pipe warms up, you might find that your pipe actually is broken. Contact your local plumber.

DO NOT USE A FLAME!

Some people will use any opportunity to pull out that blowtorch. Need the grill lit? Blowtorch. Having a celebratory cigar? Blowtorch. Birthday candles? Blowtorch blowtorch BLOWTORCH! Frozen pipes are one situation in which you should leave the blowtorch out in the garage. Avoid anything with an open flame, including a charcoal stove, propane heater, or kerosene heater. If your pipes froze because your furnace went out, you could have a gas leak (get out and and HVAC expert). And let’s be honest, flames are overkill when compared to the methods mentioned above. Why?

The key is to warm up your pipes slowly so that they’re not put under any undue stress. Warm them up too quickly and the structural integrity could be compromised, causing them to burst at an unexpected time and requiring the service of a professional emergency plumber.

If you have a frozen pipe, we hope that the above suggestions help get your water flowing again. If you’re not comfortable taking care of it, we’re more than happy to stop by and make sure everything is working perfectly. If this is the case, go ahead and give Garvin’s a call today!

 

 

Keep Your Garbage Disposal Running

An overlooked aspect of healthy plumbing and drains is your garbage disposal. When food and other miscellaneous items don’t pass through a garbage disposal properly, the entirety of your kitchen sink plumbing can go down the drain pretty quickly (we’re sorry). We have some tips to help you keep your garbage disposal in running order. garbage-disposal

Use Cold Water When Running the Disposal

Cold water, not hot, will help you when using your garbage disposal. Hot water has several negative effects on a disposal, which includes the potential of overheating or allowing things like grease to continue to spread throughout the inside of your disposal. Instead, cold water will help food items remain in a solid state so it can be broken up by the blades with minimal resistance.

Avoid Fibrous Foods

Corn husks, banana peels, celery and other fibrous foods are the things you should avoid putting down the drain. When these and similar stringy foods are placed in your disposal, they are shredded and instead of being pushed through, they wrap around the blades. This buildup will also cause the line to become clogged and make your drain nearly useless.

Use Ice Cubes to Sharpen the Blades

Just like a knife, the blades in your garbage disposal need to stay sharp in order to remain effective. There are numerous solutions for this out there, such using egg shells. However, the inner membrane of the egg shell can cause the same problem of wrapping around the blades as things like corn husks and other fibrous foods. Instead, grinding ice cubes and even a bit of rock salt in your disposal will help sharpen the edges and, because the ice will melt, there is no fear of it clogging the line and becoming counterproductive.

Unfortunately, you can’t always prevent drain clogging, garbage disposal issues, and other plumbing problems in your home. If these things do arise, Garvin’s Sewer Service is here to help you with 75 years of plumbing and sewer expertise. Give us a call or fill out our free quote form today!

Protecting Those Indoor Pipes this Winter

 

dreamstime_xxl_11871242In our last blog we told you about the most important outdoor pipes to protect now that winter is coming, including sprinkler systems, outdoor spigots, and swimming pools. Ignore prepping those pipes for winter and you’ll be calling an emergency plumber this spring.

Now it’s time to talk about those indoor pipes. In most circumstances you don’t have to worry about indoor pipes much. After all, your house is relatively warm, even if you keep the thermostat at 60-degrees and wear a bunch of sweaters. But there are times when it’s important to take extra precautions to ensure that your pipes don’t freeze.

But first…Why Do Pipes Freeze? Freshwater pipes freeze because they’re constantly filled with water. If you think about it, when you turn on your kitchen sink it’s not sending the signal to your local water company to send you water; it’s using the water that’s already in your house and in your pipes. That water has a lot of pressure behind it. When water freezes, it expands. If that expansion has nowhere to go, it’s going to force it’s way out anyway it can and cause your pipes to break. Strangely, water is the only liquid on earth that expands when heated and when frozen. If it acted like everything else, we’d never have to deal with this problem!

Now, on to your local plumber’s advice…

Pipes in Cold Areas

If you look at the blueprints of most homes, the location of the water pipes is already helping you prevent frozen pipes. Pipes are often kept between interior walls instead of exterior walls. But not all homes designs allow for this trick, so it’s important to baby the pipes a little on the coldest days if you have pipes that are more exposed.

If you have pipes that run through your garage, makes sure to keep your garage door closed. Closing your garage door will not only help keep your pipes warm but will also help keep your entire house warm. Pipes that are in crawl spaces should be insulated.

Let It Drip

If your pipes are prone to freezing and the weatherman is predicting a record cold, you might want to leave your faucets dripping a little. While we usually don’t advocate wasting water, a pipe with any water flowing through it is less likely to freeze than one that has still water. This is because a drip will allow warmer water that been heated by the constant temperature underground to mix with the colder water that has been cooled by the uninsulated air. (And hey, if you put a pot under your faucet, you can save that water and have spaghetti the next day!)

Going On Vacation

plumber-3Most people will turn down the thermostat when they go on vacation. It really does make sense, because it will save you money on your heating bill. Still, you should keep it above 55 degrees to ensure that your pipes don’t freeze. You can also open open the cabinets that are under bathroom sinks and kitchen sinks in order to facilitate warm airflow around the pipes. (Because of the chemicals that are often kept under there, make sure that you wait until any little kids are already bundled up in the van before you do this, or remove any chemicals or cleaning agents from these areas completely.)

Winter in Denver is certainly a lot easier to survive than it was a hundred years ago, but we still have a few problems we have to deal with living in such a cold climate. We’d love to help you with our plumbing needs, but we certainly hope you’ll follow the above advice so that you don’t have to call and emergency plumber when spring comes around…or sooner! If that does happen, call us and we’ll take care of you.

 

 

 

How Do You Avoid Frozen Pipes Outdoors This Winter?

dreamstime_xxl_11801197
Winter may still be a couple of months away…aww, who are we kidding? It’s Colorado! While we have actually had something of a fall over the last few weeks, winter could show up
tomorrow and send us well below freezing.

So with the coldest days not too far away, it’s time to start looking at what you should do in order to prevent all of your outdoor pipes from freezing. It’s the surest way to prevent calling an emergency plumber in December or having to have a plumbing contractor fix your outdoor pipes when spring comes.

Hoses and Bibs

When winter is on its way, make sure to drain you garden hose so that it doesn’t burst when the water inside freezes. Storing it in your basement or garage is the most thorough way of making sure it doesn’t suffer through the winter. After all, just getting it away from the harmful UV rays of sunlight for the next five months could go a long way to helping it last many more years.

What does your garden hose hook up to outside? It has so many names, including spigot, sillcock, bib, or wall hydrant. The most thorough way of ensuring that outdoor spigots make it through the winter is to turn off the water to that particular spigot indoors and then open the outdoor valve. After it drains, leave the outdoor valve open; if you leave it closed, perpetual drips from a faulty indoor valve could build up and cause your pipe or outdoor spigot to freeze. When spring comes around, you’ll be using harsh language it if it starts to spray into your basement!

Sprinkler Systems

Maybe you do it yourself, maybe you have a nice neighbor, maybe you hire one of the many companies that have compressors to come and blow out your sprinklers. Now is the time to have your sprinkler systems blown out. Your grass doesn’t need the water anymore, and you want to get it taken care of before that first heavy freeze.

In most cases, sprinkler pipes are safely below ground, and that constant temperature tends to prevent them from freezing. But the sprinkler heads are susceptible to freezing, and the pressure vacuum valves at the sprinkler station are likely to freeze and break, causing at least a $100 dollar repair. Getting your sprinkler system blown out will save you a lot of trouble this spring.

Pools

In-ground home pools aren’t really that popular here in Colorado. While they’re a status symbol in some parts of the country and incredibly common in others (think Florida and California), pools never really caught on in Colorado, most likely because of the short swimming season. But if you do have a pool, make sure to drain the water from it and its water supply lines. Failing to do so could cause damages that will cost thousands of dollars.

Winter is never far away in Colorado, so it’s important to take care of all of your outdoor pipes and water fixtures before it starts to freeze. If you need any help, contact your local plumbers here at Garvin’s Sewer Service and we can make sure you won’t be cursing when spring rolls around…in May or June!

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