ABC Blog

Is Your Toilet Running Up Your Water Bill?

Put an end to high bills with professional help to stop this annoying and expensive problem

Is your toilet running? This might sound like a corny take on an old joke, but a toilet that runs when it hasn’t been flushed can be a big problem when it comes to your water bills.

The Phantom Flush

The noise you hear when your toilet suddenly starts running out of nowhere isn’t a flush. It’s actually the sound of water filling up the tank or bowl without stopping. This is a pretty good indication that there’s something wrong with the internal workings of your toilet and that you need to take a look before it starts costing you money. To determine if you are in fact dealing with a leak, place a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank and wait a little while. If the color winds up in the bowl, a … Read Full Post »

ABC Austin Featured on Time Warner Cable News


The Importance of Keeping an Eye Out for Leaks in Austin

Master Plumber Mike Yazalina and Arborist Scott Martin are members of ABC Home & Commercial Services’ Austin plumbing team, and they were recently featured in an article and video for Time Warner News (click here to view). The duo discussed some of the dangers that can be caused by leaky pipes, including unexpected tree root growth in undesirable areas.

How Do Leaks Impact Tree Roots?

When most people think of a leaky pipe, their primary concern is the many problems that water damage can cause within their home. However, it’s important to remember that not all of the piping that provides your house with water is positioned in a manner that would cause it to leak indoors. Instead, these leaks can go into the soil underneath and around your home, and this is a recipe for disaster if you have trees on … Read Full Post »

When Good Water Heaters Go Bad

Water heaters are one of those things that we tend to not think about until there’s a problem. We take a constant supply of hot water for granted, and as soon as that supply is interrupted, we panic. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to head off any issues with your water heater before they become big problems. Here are a few common reasons why water heaters go bad.

Listen, Smell and Taste

Although water heaters make some noise while they’re running, it’s not hard to distinguish between a good noise and a bad noise. Listen for loud cracks and pops during operation; they usually indicate that the heating elements are interacting with each other. This happens for a variety of reasons, but often because of mineral deposits or scales building up on moving parts.

Another quick test is to smell or taste the hot water at any faucet. If there’s a … Read Full Post »

Say Goodbye to Dry Hair With Water Softeners

Want your hair, skin and everything else to shine like it should?

At some point in your life, you’ve probably taken a shower that just didn’t make you feel very clean. It’s possible that the soap didn’t lather properly. Maybe your hair felt dry and frizzy as soon as you shook out the excess water. Whatever the effects of this unsettling experience, it’s likely that it was due to hard water. Many homes in the San Antonio area have hard water, but there’s a relatively easy fix that can preserve your sanity.

What Is Hard Water?

According to chemistry experts, hard water is any type of water that contains dissolved minerals. Just like there’s a pH scale to determine the concentration of oxygen and hydrogen ions in water, there’s a gradient scale that measures the “hardness” of water. Although municipal water is rarely as mineral-rich as water that occurs in nature, even small … Read Full Post »

Beat the Heat: What Summer Means for Your Pipes

Plumbing trouble isn’t just a cold-season phenomenon

Winter isn’t the only season that can wreak havoc on your pipes. In central Texas, the mercury exceeds 100 degrees on dozens of days per year, and an unprepared plumbing system can take a serious hit as a result. Below, we outline some of the most common hot-season plumbing problems and offer some common-sense tips for dealing with them.

Sweating Pipes

When the weather warms up, your skin isn’t the only thing that sweats. Poorly insulated pipes can “sweat” excess water and create serious leaks that eventually threaten the integrity of your ceilings or floors. Due to contraction in the pipes themselves, sweating pipes that are already constrained by clogs can suffer catastrophic backups.

Sewer Backups

Although summer tends to be a fairly dry season in central Texas, occasional thunderstorms and unseasonable rains can cause unexpected sewer backups that devastate your home’s lower levels or yard. Likewise, tree … Read Full Post »

10 Things You Should Never Put Down the Garbage Disposal

Save them for the trash bin—and save your garbage disposal’s motor

If you were fortunate enough to have a garbage disposal when you were growing up, you probably weren’t very careful about what you threw into it. After all, that scary motor seemed to take care of just about anything. Over time, though, you may have learned that garbage disposals are just as susceptible to clogs and breakdowns as other appliances. Now that you’re older and wiser, take care not to throw these 10 items down yours.

1. Non-Organic Trash

It might seem obvious, but plastic and metal can seriously damage your garbage disposal blades. Even smaller items like paper and cigarette butts can wreak havoc.

2. Grease and Animal Fat

Once it passes through the disposal, this stuff can congeal in your pipes. This often has devastating effects for your plumbing system.

3. Rice, Pasta and Other Starches

This stuff expands dramatically when soaked and is … Read Full Post »

More Than a Trickle, Less Than a Flood: Achieving the Perfect Water Pressure

It’s not as hard as it sounds!

We’ve all been there before. You turn on your faucet or shower and are blindsided by a deluge of fluid that practically knocks you off your feet. Alternatively, you’re greeted with a pathetic trickle that’s barely enough to get your skin wet. In either case, your home’s water pressure needs adjusting—and fast. While this might seem like a task for a professional plumber, it’s possible to do on your own. Your family is sure to thank you for it.

How Can You Adjust Water Pressure on Your Own?

Every residential structure that doesn’t use groundwater is outfitted with a pressure regulator that protects its water system from the industrial-strength flow of water through municipal pipes. This reduces the average flow into your home from about 200 psi—an extreme torrent—to about 50 psi. However, various factors can interfere with this flow, and your regulator can fail as … Read Full Post »

Hair Balls and Bath Toys and Dirt Clods, Oh My!

Keeping your drains free and clear

Nothing is more annoying than a slow-moving drain or a drain that just won’t clear at all. Whether you’re stuck with a slow-running toilet or are trying to figure out why it takes so long for your kitchen sink to clear, it pays to think about common causes of clogged drains. Figuring out what’s slowing down your drains is key to addressing the issue and preventing future problems.

What’s Stuck Down Your Drains?

Almost all San Antonio homeowners will experience plumbing problems at some point in time. Among the most common of these problems are clogged or slow-moving drains, which can cause inconvenience and seriously impact the performance of your plumbing system. The first step in treating and preventing such clogs is understanding what causes them. Some of the most common causes of clogged drains are:

• Fats and greases that make their way down the kitchen sink
• … Read Full Post »

The Sticker Shock of High Water Bills

Finding the leaks and plumbing problems that are sabotaging your budget

Are hidden water leaks making your water bills skyrocket? Try these tips for finding the source.

Trust the Meter

Your water meter is the best tool you have for leak detection. When you suspect you have a leak, turn off everything in your home that uses water and go take a look at the meter. There should be a small red triangle on the face of it, which is known as the low flow indicator. If it’s moving, you have a leak.

Tricky Toilets

“Phantom flushing” in toilets can waste as much as 4,000 gallons of water per day. To test for a toilet leak, drip food coloring into the tank and wait about five minutes. If the water in the bowl becomes colored, you’re likely dealing with a leaking rubber flapper valve. Constantly hearing water trickle inside the tank could be a sign … Read Full Post »

The Ancient Romans Had a Goddess of Sewers and Drains

Her name was Cloacina, and she meant business

Ancient mythology is filled with some incredible characters, but few are as memorable as the Romans’ goddess of sewers and drains. Known as Cloacina, she was initially imagined to have presided over the city of Rome’s Cloaca Maxima, the city’s primary drainage tube. Over time, she came to be known as the patron of many additional things, including actual sewage, sexual intercourse between spouses and personal cleanliness.

A Brief History of Rome’s Sewers

As one of the ancient world’s most advanced civilizations, Rome has a long history of public sanitation. Along with its satellites, the city had open sewers since its founding. Beginning in the 6th century B.C., engineers constructed the first segments of covered sewers within the city limits. As Rome expanded, its sewer system grew along with it. Although its drains and tubes have mostly been filled in or built over, modern Rome … Read Full Post »