What Causes Low Water Pressure

What Causes Low Water Pressure?

We’ve all been there...your faucets are taking forever to fill the bathtub, your showerhead is not giving you that strong spray you want after a long day. Maybe your dishwasher or washing machine is taking much longer to run a cycle than it should. The average in-home water pressure is about 40 to 45 pounds per square inch (or PSI). If you feel like you’re dealing with low water pressure, chances are your pressure has slipped below this number.

When only one fixture has low water pressure, it's likely that the problem can be remedied if you just focus on fixing that one fixture or the pipes serving it. Widespread water pressure issues, however, can affect the whole house and signify different problems. If your home water pressure seems low, then the first thing to do is to narrow down the cause. Read on to learn our top 5 causes for low water pressure in your home. 

1.The water meter valve is not fully open

If your water pressure is low throughout your house, especially after some work has been done on your plumbing system, it's possible that your water meter valve is not fully open. If you have recently had a repair done and are now noticing a reduction in the water pressure throughout your house, check the meter valve. It can be located on an outside wall of the house, in an underground box between the house and the street, or in an interior utility area, like a basement or attached garage. The valve is fully open when the valve handle (which may be just a metal tab that is turned with a special wrench) is parallel with the water pipe. If the handle is set at an angle to the pipe, it is not fully open.

2.The pressure regulator is failing

A pressure regulator is a control valve that reduces the input pressure in your plumbing system to a safe level that will not damage your pipes. Not all homes have them, but for those that do, a failing pressure regulator can cause a serious upward spike in water pressure. It can also have the opposite effect: a sudden reduction in your water pressure. When the pressure regulator fails, you will notice the effect on all of the fixtures in the home, and it can happen suddenly. Although a pressure regulator can sometimes be replaced by yourself with the same brand and size, in most cases is it better to call a professional to take care of it. Replacing it requires shutting off the water to the home at the water meter shutoff valve. 

3.The pipes are clogged

Believe it or not, clogs don’t just build up beneath drains. They can actually form in the depths of your piping, and even a small clog can reduce your water pressure. Because this kind of clog could be anywhere beneath your house, this is another one of those times where you’re going to want to call a plumber. The last thing you want to do is start pulling pipes apart and not being able to put them back together. Additionally, you may not know what you’re knocking loose or contaminating your pipes with. It’s one thing to put dangerous chemicals down your drain to eat away clogs, although that’s not always advisable. It’s another thing to use any questionable or hazardous chemicals in the pipes that are pumping in your drinking water, which is definitely dangerous. 

4.The pipes in your home are corroded

How much do you know about your house’s piping? Is it original to the house or was it updated recently? What material is it made from? Pipes, especially galvanized steel pipes, have an expiration date. In fact, galvanized steel pipes can begin to corrode after only 20 years. Copper pipes are usually good for 50 or more years and brass pipes should be fine for anywhere between 40 and 70 years. The possibility of corrosion increases if you have an older house. Newer pipes aren’t often made from galvanized steel and their plumbing should be fine for years to come, but older houses that haven’t been modernized may need to be re-piped. Corrosion may also be an issue if you have added plumbing fixtures to your home, like an extra bathroom or a washing machine, after the house was built. When you add plumbing fixtures to an already complete house, you are generally supposed to enlarge the branch lines of your piping. Otherwise, those portions of your pipes are working overtime and are going to corrode faster.

5.Your pipes are leaking

If your basement or foundation is flooded you already know your pipes are leaking. But it doesn’t always take a leak of that size to impact your water pressure. The leak is misdirecting your water supply so that even if everything else is working properly, you’re not getting the full flow. If you can access your pipes, go and take a look around and see if you find any wet spots or pooling water. Figure out which pipe is leaking and try to patch the leak if possible. However, even with a quick fix in place, call a plumber as soon as possible. Leaky pipes can damage your foundations but they can also contaminate your drinking water. If you’re noticing a big change in your water pressure as a result of leaky pipes, it’s very likely you’re probably dealing with more than one leak. 

Need help with your water pressure issue? Our plumbing service areas include Bend, Oregon and most of the Central Oregon region including Redmond, LaPine, Prineville, and Madras. If you’re in need of leak detection in Central Oregon, we would be happy to help!

 


Why are fire sprinkler systems important?

Why are Fire Sprinkler Systems Important?

As most of us know, many commercial buildings come equipped with professional sprinkler systems. Many cities and states mandate that structures of a certain construction type or specific types of business must, by law, have a sprinkler system installed. In fact, fire sprinklers have been commonplace in commercial buildings since the 1960s and in commercial-residential structures (hotels, apartment buildings, and condos), since the 1990s.

While sprinklers are pretty mainstream and common knowledge, we want to get into the details around why they’re so essential to life safety, fire safety, and avoiding massive fire damage. There are many benefits to having a fire suppression system in your home or business. Read on to find out our top 3 reasons for installing and properly maintaining a fire sprinkler system. 

1. They save lives

More than anything, the protection of life should always be the number one priority in any situation. When it comes to fire safety systems, nothing protects life more than a properly maintained automatic sprinkler system. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has stated that there has never been a record of more than two lives having been lost inside of a building where a full, automatic sprinkler system was in place that was well maintained. This single statistic perfectly illustrates their effectiveness.

2. They can cut property damage in half

The aftermath of a fire can be devastating to a family or a business, but sprinklers improve things dramatically. Businesses unprotected by sprinkler systems can literally burn to the ground. Even in cases where insurance covers the cost of rebuilding, the loss of patronage can sometimes be so devastating that the business never reopens. According to the NFPA, fire sprinklers have been found to greatly reduce damage from fires in restaurants, schools, health care facilities, offices, homes, and stores. Damages from fires cost on average $53,000 in restaurants without sprinkler systems, compared to $13,000 in restaurants with sprinkler systems.

3. They help contain fire damage in the moment

Smoke detectors, heat detectors, and flame detectors can all warn building occupants of a fire, but they can’t do anything to contain the situation. As soon as an automatic sprinkler head is heated to a specific temperature, it will open and start flooding the flame with water, this will not stop until the fire department turns off the water supply. A sprinkler system can completely suppress the fire before it has a chance to spread, or it can significantly slow down the spread of the flames, giving firefighters the critical time needed to save property and lives. In either case, it increases safety while decreasing property damage.

According to the NFPA, having a residential fire sprinkler system installed in your home can increase your survival expectancy during a fire by 80%. Residential fire sprinklers are effective because they activate faster than any other response mechanism and help to control the fire immediately at the point of origin. While fire sprinklers have been around for over a century and have proven themselves time and time again in saving property and lives, they still have more potential as their use is expanded across all types of structures, from commercial to residential. At Severson Fire Protection we specialize in all areas of fire protection installations, from residential homes to large commercial and industrial facilities. Contact us today, 541-382-3720.


Leaving for vacation? These are Your Plumbing Priorities

Leaving for Vacation? These are Your Plumbing Priorities

 

Summer is just around the corner and we’re daydreaming about exotic vacations, road trips, camping adventures, and more. But first, here’s our checklist to prep your plumbing for a getaway and ensure you aren’t coming home to a flooded home, ruined carpet, or thousands of dollars in water damage. The best part? Most of these steps will only take a few minutes.

Shut off Your Water Supply

This single, simple task is the best way to prevent a major flood in your home. If you happen to have a faulty pipe or plumbing fixture that bursts or leaks while you are away, turning off the main water supply ensures no additional water will leak into your home. If you have a sprinkler system or pool pump at your home that would make turning off the entire supply impractical, you can still turn off the water at each individual fixture to minimize flooding in case of an emergency.

Drain Your Outside Faucets & Disconnect Hoses

Once you’ve turned the water off, run your outside faucets and disconnect the hoses to remove all of the water from your pipes. You don’t want to go through the trouble of turning off the water, only to face a flooded home thanks to leaking pipes.

Drain or Turn off Your Water Heater

If you haven’t scheduled maintenance for your water heater yet, before leaving on vacation is a great time. A professional plumber can inspect it for leaks and help you drain it. If you don’t have time for an inspection, you can turn it off or set it to “vacation” mode. Traditional water heaters that run on electricity or natural gas are likely one of the largest energy consuming appliances in your home. Turning it off while you are away will not only reduce your chances of flooding your home, but it can significantly lower your utility bill.

Clean Your Drains

Without water running through them, any minor clogs or gunked up drains may start to smell. If it’s been a while since you’ve given your drains a thorough cleaning, now is the time.

Avoid Sink Stinkiness

The last thing you want to come home to is a foul odor emanating from your drains! Run some ice cubes and cold water through your garbage disposal before you leave.  This will push any food particles down the drain so they can properly wash away. Make sure to empty your dishwasher and washing machine too. Emptying these appliances will help prevent mold, mildew, and unpleasant odors, especially if you leave the doors open to air them out.   

Our list should help you spend your vacation relaxing and enjoying your summer, instead of worrying about your home. If you need assistance in preparing your home before you leave, or handling any issues when you return, please don’t hesitate to reach out: 541-382-3720. 

 


Bathroom Upgrades That Are Worth the Cost

 

Bathroom Upgrades That Are Worth the Cost

 

Wanting to enjoy your home more and add value to your property? Start in the bathroom. A bathroom renovation is the most popular of all home improvements, according to the National Association of Realtors...and it pays off! Based on data from Remodeling Magazine’s most recent cost vs. value report, returns on both midrange and upscale bathroom renovations are going up. On average, homeowners spend just over $20,000 on a midrange bathroom renovation project, and nearly $65,000 on an upscale bathroom renovation project. At resale, midrange renovations recoup 67.2% of their costs, while upscale renovations recoup 60.2%.

But where should you start when planning your renovation? Here’s our list of the top 5 things homeowners should consider when upgrading their bathroom.

1. Add Extra Storage: Bathroom storage is one of the features you may not think about initially but can make huge improvements in your lifestyle. Extra cabinets, built-in shelving, recessed shower shelves, and organizers make the difference in the aesthetics and functionality of your bathroom. Opt for upgrades that build out the space you have and help you keep your bathrooms totally organized.

2. Opt for a Separate Tub and Shower: One of the simplest bathroom upgrades with an excellent return is to install a separate tub and shower, especially when it comes to the master bath. Separate spaces increase your home’s worth and offer more functionality. The separation of the tub and shower is a symbol of luxury. Often found in 5-star hotels as the ultimate in pampering, this type of layout translates well when you remodel your own master bathroom into an in-home spa. One detail to note: before you add an extra-large tub, check that both your hot water heater and your water pressure are up to supplying its demands.

3. Give your Plumbing Fixtures a Facelift: This is a great way to make a big impact on a small budget in your bathroom. Kitchen and bath remodels recoup up to 85% of the initial cost, and many times you can make a noticeable impact simply by upgrading the fixtures in the room. For the budget-conscious family, changing out the plumbing fixtures in your home may be the best way to go. If upgrading the plumbing fixtures is the only change that you’re intending to make to the space, be sure that you pick fixtures that complement the rest of the bathroom. Even if you go a more modern route you’ll still want to match the rest of the colors in the room and the general style.

4. Focus on Energy Efficiency: Making your home more sustainable isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for your home’s resale value, too. Your shower, sink, and toilet can all be optimized for low flow, which means less water usage and more savings on your water bill. It’s a strong pull for buyers too, so when you’re making changes to fixtures in your bathroom go for the picks that promise to use energy.

5. Splurge on a Master Bathroom: If you’re planning a new build, always opt for a master bathroom; they’re one of the most desirable features for resale value. If you don’t have one in your current home, it might be worth the cost to build one in. You won’t regret it and will probably be one of the most used rooms in the house. According to Home Advisor, you can see a 53% return on investment for your bathroom addition. Adding one in could also be one of the more expensive upgrades you could choose, but you will undoubtedly get a big return on that investment.

Ready to upgrade your bathroom? Severson Plumbing can help! We are a family-owned business established in 1977 and have been taking care of Central Oregon’s plumbing needs for decades. Over the past 40 years, we have developed tremendous expertise in plumbing installations of all types and sizes. We are dedicated to providing dependable long-lasting plumbing in commercial, industrial, and residential facilities. Give us a call today at 541-382-3720.


How to create a family fire escape plan

How to Create a Family Fire Escape Plan

Home fires happen. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an average of 358,500 homes experience a structural fire each year. It can take just 30 seconds for a small flame to turn into a major blaze. When functioning properly, residential fire sprinklers control fires 96% of the time, according to NFPA. In homes with sprinklers, people are 81% less likely to die and property damage is reduced by about 70%. Whether you have a fire sprinkler system or not, read on for our recommendations on keeping you and your family safe.

If a fire does occur, a few seconds can make a big difference when it comes to helping you and your family escape quickly and safely. That’s why having a clear and predictable fire safety plan can be critical during the time of an emergency.

An important note before we get into the details of how to make a plan: your fire safety plan will only work if you have fully operational smoke detectors on each level of your home. Test your smoke alarms once a month and change the batteries twice a year. An NFPA report found that  60% of home fire deaths happened in homes with no smoke detectors or smoke alarms that didn’t work and in fires where smoke detectors were present but did not go off, 24% of homes had smoke alarms with dead batteries and 46% had no batteries or disconnected batteries. Smoke detectors save lives. 

Follow our 4 step process below to create a simple and effective fire safety plan for your family. 

 

  1. Gather everyone in your household and make a plan. Do a walk-through of your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. If you have children, consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Mark the location of each smoke alarm.
  2. If there are infants, older adults, or family members with mobility limitations, make sure someone is assigned to assist them in the event of an emergency. Assign a backup person too, in case the designee is not home during the emergency.
  3. Choose an outside meeting place (great examples include a neighbor's house, a nearby light post, your mailbox, or a stop sign) make sure your designated meeting location is a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can gather after they've escaped. Mark the location of the meeting place on your escape plan.
  4. Practice your home fire escape plan twice a year, making the drill as realistic as possible.

 

Residential fire sprinklers greatly improve life safety. They dramatically decrease the smoke, heat, and flames fires generate in homes. If you are interested in learning more, please do not hesitate to reach out. At Severson Fire Protection we specialize in all areas of fire protection installations, from residential homes to large commercial and industrial facilities. Contact us today, 541-382-3720.

 


When should you replace your toilet?

When Should You Replace Your Toilet?

While installing a new toilet can definitely be the best option for a troublesome fixture, it is not necessarily the only solution. When a few repairs will be enough to solve the problem, there is no reason to spend the extra money to buy a new toilet and take the time to install it. The key is knowing when to replace a toilet and when to repair it instead. Here are our top 5 tips for knowing when you need to invest in a new commode.

It needs too many repairs: 

Rebuilding a toilet can include quite a few items in the tank, like its handle, the flapper, flush valve, fill valve, and tank to bowl seal. Some of these repairs can be easily done, but it will cost you money and requires time. Weighing these repair costs versus a new toilet is a smart exercise. If you're planning on replacing your toilet anytime soon, then save the money on the repair and replace the toilet instead. This will often save you money in the long run, even though it will be a bigger expense upfront.

You’re experiencing excessive clogs:

Many of the older low-flush toilets require more than one flush most of the time. They are also often plagued with random stoppages. It is not pleasant to have to plunge the toilet on a regular basis. In some instances, it can be that the casting of the toilet bowl itself could be faulty creating obstructions within the integrated trap of the bowl. In other cases, there could be something stuck in the trap such as shampoo bottle caps, small toys, toilet paper holders, etc. In determining these issues, a plumber would normally pull the toilet, lay it on its side to examine if there are issues in the trap of the bowl. Either way, the bowl itself can be replaced if needed. If you decide to replace the whole toilet you won’t have to give up the water savings since low flush toilets have come a long way and the new line of water savers work much better.

The tank or bowl is cracked:

You can start with your own inspection to determine if your tank or bowl is, in fact, cracked. Examine both the inside and outside of the tank and bowl. Sometimes, a leak on the floor around the base of the toilet could mean that there is a crack in the tank or bowl that has gone unnoticed. Whether the tank or bowl has a crack that has gone unnoticed the option to replace either is available and in some cases could fall under the manufacturers’ warranty. Cracks on the tank or bowl aren’t always visible, especially if you have a hairline crack. If you can’t find a visible crack, a plumber should come in and do a more thorough inspection.

You’ve got a wobbler:

If your toilet wobbles, it may be a simple problem of loose toilet bolts. A plumber can easily tighten the bolts and ensure everything is properly placed. But wobbling can also signify a bigger problem. The Toilet Flange below could be broken or not properly fastened to the subfloor. Also, the floor beneath the toilet may be rotting away or water damaged, so if you notice wobbling, call a professional to check it out.

Your toilet is dated:

According to the Energy Policy Act of 1992, toilets installed after 1994 must have a flush volume of 1.6 gallons per flush. Toilets manufactured before this policy went into effect used between 3.5 to 5 gallons. The bottom line on aging toilets? If you know your toilet is at least 25 years old, consider replacing it.

 There can be several different signs that your toilet needs replacement, but no matter the reason, be sure you have a professional to help you to do the job. Severson Plumbing provides both residential and commercial plumbing service and repair for the entire Central Oregon region including Bend, Redmond, LaPine, Prineville, and Madras. We can replace your toilet efficiently, and we can help you find the right solution to your problem, contact us today, 541-382-3720!


Go Green with Eco-friendly Plumbing

 

Go Green with Eco-friendly Plumbing

Across Central Oregon, people are striving to be more green. As plumbers, we have a unique opportunity to affect the sustainability of our communities through eco-friendly plumbing and sewage business practices. We believe that our work, if done thoughtfully, can help reduce energy use, save water, reduce carbon emissions, and more. Thankfully, there are a lot of plumbing options that will help save water, cut costs, use less energy and be less harmful to the environment. Read on for some of our recommendations. 

 

Invest in Low Flow Fixtures:

  • Toilets: A great example of water conservation is the introduction of dual flush system toilets. This allows the user to choose how much water is needed to flush, which reduces overall consumption. There are even some options that are engineered towards saving water with every single flush. The new standard Gallons Per Flush (GPF) on toilets is 1.28 GPF. Toilets can range from up to 3 GPF all the way down to 1.5 GPF in homes. Simply switching to 1.28 GPF toilets in larger homes with multiple bathrooms or apartment buildings could save a lot of money on water usage down the road.
  • Showers: Changing up your showerhead can make a big difference in saving water. While the standard Gallon Per Minute is 2.5, there are new products on the market that use 40% less water (around 1.5 Gallons Per Minute) without sacrificing comfort or design.
  • Faucets: Use 30% less water by switching to a more efficient faucet. These fixtures feature modern designs that can complement any room’s style, and will help contribute to a lower water bill.

 

Take a Hard Look at Your Water Heater:

Your water heater can be a prime plumbing concern when it comes to appliances and our eco-footprint. Solar power and gas options can be used to heat water in a much eco-friendlier way.

We have also seen tankless water heaters rise in their popularity, and their energy efficiency makes them well-worth considering. Water heating is the second largest expense on a home's utility bill, electric tankless water heaters stop excessive energy consumption in its track by getting rid of the tank. Water is heated by thermal optic sensors that activate when water passes through, which heats the water on demand and avoids the ineffective process of having to reheat water. Additionally, no tank means no worries about rust! In fact, electric tankless water heaters often last five to ten years longer than other options.

Hot Water Recirculating Pumps also reduce water loss in a situation where the water heater is not in a central location to all of the fixtures within the home. Adding a Recirc Pump to the Water Heater decreases the wait time it takes to get hot water to the furthest fixture. This can be set up with a schedule timer so that you can prime the system prior to peak hours when you would normally take showers.

 

Efficiency Matters:

Ensuring your plumbing system is energy efficient will help you significantly lower energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint. How?

  • Insulate your pipes: Heat can escape through the pipes in your home. Insulating your pipes can prevent heat loss as the hot water travels from the heater to your faucet or shower. In between uses, it also helps to keep the hot water that sits in the pipe when the faucet is off from cooling rapidly. The water will be warmer when you turn the faucet on, and you’ll waste less of it waiting for your water to heat up.
  • Replace pipes with PEX: Most homes today are plumbed with copper or PVC and CPVC pipes. While these materials are perfectly acceptable, the recently introduced PEX plumbing material is much less prone to damage. Replacing existing plumbing with PEX whenever repairs are required will improve the overall efficiency of your plumbing system over time.

Stay Informed:

You might not be able to make sweeping eco-friendly changes right away in your home, but staying informed about your water consumption and environmental footprint is an easy place to start. Here are three next steps you can take without spending a dime:

  • Ask a plumber about eco-friendly options.
  • Record monthly water usage and differences.
  • Check for leaks often.

We would love to help you and discuss ways you can go green with your plumbing system. Severson provides both residential and commercial plumbing service and repair for the entire Central Oregon region including Bend, Redmond, LaPine, Prineville, and Madras. 

 


Be a Leak Detective!

Be a Leak Detective!

Plumbing in Bend, Oregon and the surrounding areas can be tricky. We handle huge temperature fluctuations, freezing temperatures, and dry conditions in the Summer that call for lots of water usage. If you own a home here, you will have to deal with plumbing leaks at some point. Leaks can feel overwhelming, but with the right knowledge, and the right help, you can have leaks detected and repaired in no time. Here are some of our helpful hints regarding leak detection in Central Oregon.

 

Knowing When You Have a Leak:

Even if you can’t see standing water or dripping pipes, you can still detect a water leak in your house by:

  • Checking your water usage regularly so you can note any sudden increases that you can’t account for (having visitors, for example, or watering the garden more in hot weather), which could be a sign of a leak. 
  • Noticing a drop in water pressure when you’re filling the bath or taking a shower, this could be a sign of a leak. 

 

Common Culprits:

Think you have a leak but not sure where to start? From the Top Down per fixture is the best method. The process of elimination is key to narrowing down a leak. Within your home these areas are worth checking first:

  • Water Heaters or Boilers: Check the Hot/Cold connections to the unit for any drips, and check the top of the Water Heater for any pooling of water. Water on the floor in the garage or in the pan under the unit could mean that the Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve is blowing off which, in most cases means that the Expansion Tank above the unit needs to be changed.  
  • Toilets: Because of how much we use them, it’s common for a toilet to start leaking. This is often an easy fix, but it can be costly if it’s continuously running. 
  • Shower Valves: Much like toilets, we use showers on a very regular basis. This means the parts start to wear down. A drippy Shower Head or Tub Spout means that the Cartridge/Seals in the valve are no longer able to seal in the off position. This can be remedied by replacing the Cartridge or Seals.
  • Appliances: Specifically Clothes Washers, Refrigerators/Icemakers, etc. Through everyday use, appliances can shift slightly from their original position, which can loosen valves and pipes and lead to leaks. Clothes Washers can leak behind the appliance without any visual cues. The same with Icemaker supplies to the Fridge. Check behind the Clothes Washer to make sure the Hot/Cold supplies are secure or that there is no moisture on the wall or floor behind. Refrigerator Icemaker lines can leak undetected as well, so it is good to take a peek under the fridge for moisture.

 

What if the Leak is Outside?

If you think the leak is outside, start looking for signs. This might include seeing if there are muddy patches around exterior water pipes or noting if the grass seems to be growing better in particular parts of your lawn. Unfortunately, finding out how bad the leak is can sometimes involve digging up your lawn. 

 

When Should I Call a Plumber?

Sooner is always better when it comes to leak detection and repair. The longer leaks go untreated, the worse they can get. They could potentially lead to burst pipes, catastrophic water damage, broken appliances, and worse. Trust us, you do not want things to get to that point. 

 

If you want to hire a professional to find the source of your problem, we handle water leaks located inside, outside, underground, and under-slab. We offer location accuracy guaranteed to within 3 feet of the leak and accomplished this using a 3-step process: 

(1) Gather a base of information on the suspected leak 

(2) Isolate the problem area by doing a pressure test

(3) Pinpoint the leak using electronic listening equipment.

 

Our leak detection technician has been trained and certified by Precision Utility Locating in Prescott, Arizona. We do not use journeyman plumbers for leak detection and encourage customers to arrange for their plumber of choice to do the necessary repairs. Severson Plumbing can also provide needed excavation at the job site to expose the leak for repair. Our plumbing service areas include Bend, Oregon and most of the Central Oregon region including Redmond, LaPine, Prineville, and Madras. If you’re in need of leak detection in Central Oregon, we would be happy to help!