FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can sprinkling your lawn have an impact on your well system?
During dryer weather periods many homeowners wish to maintain the lush green lawn and colorful flowerbeds they’ve enjoyed throughout the summer. Sprinkling can have an impact on your well system by placing strain on the pump. A properly functioning system will allow you to fill a 5-gallon bucket, after a period of sprinkling, before your pump starts working again. The best way to avoid problems and assure the flow of water you need is to properly maintain your equipment. Signs your system may need some attention are:
- Well pump frequently starts & stops
- Well pump runs continuously or for an extended period of time
- Well seems to pump less water
- Low water pressure after use
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, give us a call.
Just a reminder: If your well area was flooded or has standing water nearby, testing your well water for bacteria will give you peace of mind in knowing you and your family are drinking safe water.
How do I get my water heater working after a basement flood?
If flooding or back-up occurs, immediately shut off the gas or electricity to the unit. Schedule a service call with your plumber. Make arrangements to have the water pumped out of your basement. A professional will open up the water heater, remove, clean and dry the burner. He will check the thermocouple and replace. Once dry the burner assembly will be re-installed and the pilot re-lit. Your plumber will check for leaks and assure the unit is functioning properly and safely before leaving.
Can I be more environmentally friendly without it costing a lot of money?
Here are some simple ways to conserve water.
- Fixing a leaky faucet can save 20 gallons of water per day. Or, invest in a new faucet with a low-flow water aerator.
- Consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system. One unit can save up to 3,200 plastic water bottles per year (which never disintegrate).
- Take a shorter shower. Even the reduction of one minute will save 700 gallons per month.
- Run only full loads in your wash machine or dishwasher to save 300-800 gallons of water per month.
- Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your sidewalks/driveways to save 150 gallons of water each time you do this.
- Capture your tap water while waiting for hot water in your watering can for plants or garden.
- Don’t use toilets as ashtrays or wastebaskets and you’ll save 400-600 gallons each month.
Private well owners should have their wells tested annually or anytime there is a change in taste, odor or appearance. Some contaminants are odorless & tasteless and can be carried into well casings by insects or poorly sealed well covers.
Coliform bacteria, one of the most commonly found contaminants, is a micro-organism that can be found in animal waste, soil & on vegetation. Often present with other bacteria, viruses & parasites, coliform can cause flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fever & diarrhea.
Over one-fourth of the water used in the average home is flushed down the toilet. Kohler’s new High-Efficiency toilets conserve water without sacrificing performance. The dual flush gives users a choice between .8 gallons for liquid and 1.6 gallons for solid waste. These toilets can save an average family of four up to approximately 10,000 gallons of water/year if the household is using a 1.6 gallon toilet. Savings jump to 25,000 gallons/year with a 3.5 gallon toilet. Many older homes and apartments still use 3.5 gallon toilets.
How can I keep my garbage disposal running smoothly?
- Insert garbage loosely so it doesn’t jam
- Only put small amounts of vegetable peels in at a time with full water flow
- Do not put uncooked or liquid fat from meat in disposer
- Ok to grind small bones or ice; these will scour the grinding chamber
- Grinding citrus fruit peelings will freshen drain smells
- Run the disposer each time you put food waste in it
- Make sure all small objects are removed from sudsy water before draining sink & operating disposal
- Use a strong flow of COLD water & continue running at least 30 sec after grinding noise stops
Are rebates available for replacing my old water heater with a more energy efficient model?
Yes. Purchase & install a qualifying energy efficient water heater between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2011, and you can receive a Cash-Back Reward Incentive through Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy Program.
For detailed information on what federal tax credits are available, visit
Water soaks through the earth and picks up elements that can change its taste, color & safety, alter its feel, reduce its capacity to wash and clog & plumbing. High concentrates of calcium & magnesium make water “hard”. A water softening system eliminates hard water problems, making your clothes brighter, dishes clearer and helps your appliances last longer.
A simple water test will determine the amount of minerals in your water and what size water softener is right for your home and life style. If your water has a “rusty” color you may need an iron filter installed ahead of the softener.
Is bottled water safer than home filtered water?
Millions of dollars are spent each week by water bottlers to create the perception that bottled water comes from a magical pristine mountain spring. No one should assume that just because water comes from a bottle that it is necessarily any purer or safer than most tap water. 40% of all bottled water is actually tap water in a bottle. The FDA regulations governing the quality of bottled water only apply if it is transported across state lines and only require it to be “as good as” tap water, not better. Most bottlers sell their water in the same state to avoid Federal purity standards (60-70% of all bottled water).*
Filtering out the chlorine, lead and other contaminants with a quality home water filtration system, at the point of use, just prior to consumption, is the best way to know for sure about the quality of your drinking water. You can have better than bottled water quality, at the touch of a button, for under 10 cents a gallon.
How can I prevent my water pipes from freezing in cold temperatures?
The most important tactic is to keep the area around your water pipes warm.Cold air seeps in through cracks, around windows and poorly insulated areas, falls to the floor and freezes everything, including pressure tanks & water pipes.
Here are a few preventative ideas:
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage
- Open Kitchen & Bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing
- Running water through the pipe – even a trickle – helps prevent exposed pipes from freezing
- Keep your thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night
- If you do have a frozen pipe and must leave your home, shut off the water supply
- If a pipe is ruptured, you will prevent water from damaging your property when the pipe thaws
When the weather is warmer take preventative action for next winter:
- Consider relocating exposed pipes
- Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces
- Seal cracks, doors and around windows
- Take care to insulate the building to keep the cold air from reaching the pipes, not to insulate the pipes to keep the home’s warmth from the pipes
How can I prevent my hose bibb from freezing this winter and my outside faucet from dripping in the spring?
Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the strength of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibbs.
- Do not leave your hose connected to the outside hose bibb over the winter months
- Store all outdoor hoses indoors, being sure to close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibbs
- Open the outside hose taps to allow water to drain
- Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe has the ability to expand without causing the pipe to break
Can I connect my patio gas grill to natural gas?
Most gas fired outdoor grills come in a natural gas version – stores will have them available or can order. If you already have a gas grill contact the manufacturer about getting a conversion kit. Conversion can take only a few minutes with little more than a wrench. Now all you need is a gas line run to a convenient patio location.
Call O’Leary Plumbing and Heating to learn more. Let us make your summer grilling easier and more relaxing.
What can I do to make my septic system work properly?
Attention to the care of your septic system can prevent problems & save the cost of repair or early replacement. Here are some tips:
- Regular pumping: Rule of thumb is to have system pumped every other year. (even if the county mandates every 3 years)
- Do not put fats & oils down the drain & keep food wastes out of your system, i.e. coffee grounds, egg shells.
- Keep non-degradable materials out of system, i.e. disposable diapers, paper towels, sanitary napkins, cigarette butts or plastic.
- Never flush old medicine down system.
- Do not use toilet bowl disinfectants or “hang in the tank” cakes.
- Do not use antibacterial soaps as they kill the “good” bacteria needed to make system work properly.
How can I conserve water inside and outside my home?
May is water conservation month. Here are a few tips showing how minor adjustments can make a difference.
- Only run full loads in your dishwasher & washing machines – saves about 800 gallons a month.
- Use water-saving showerheads & take shorter showers – a 5 minute shower saves about 600 gallons a month.
- Fix leaky faucets & toilets – saves about 140 gallons a month.
- Use a broom to clean driveways & walkways – saves about 150 gallons each time.
- Make sure your sprinkler is directed toward your yard – not sidewalks/driveway.
- Water yard/gardens in early morning to save evaporation.
Are all water softeners created equal?
Household water is not created equal. Water that has soaked through the earth picks up a number of elements that can change its taste and color, compromise its safety, alter its feel (make it slippery), reduce its capacity to wash, and may even clog up your home's plumbing.
Water with high concentrations of minerals like calcium and magnesium is called "hard." Water softeners neutralize the minerals by exchanging them with sodium that comes from a saltwater brine. Though a relatively simple process, it requires a complex apparatus that houses the little beads that make up the salt water exchange medium and flush the medium when it has become saturated with the minerals you are trying to remove.
When comparing water softeners, check these details:
- Capacity - units have different sizes to correspond to different degrees of water hardness (measured in units called grains) and demands for water. Test your water for hardness to get the right size for your water hardness and the number of residents in your house.
- Dimensions - units come in different sizes and shapes from ones that look like one or two small water tanks to those that are larger. Pick a unit that fits your household water supply and space.
- Reloading - because a saltwater solution recharges the exchange medium, your unit will require reloading with salt (how often you reload a unit is determined by how hard the water is, the salt capacity of your unit, and how much water your household uses.) The lower the unit and the larger the opening to pour salt into, the easier and neater the job.
- Timing and regeneration - some units regenerate on a regular schedule (time clock), others when they have determined that the exchange medium is about exhausted (metered). The regeneration itself can take several hours and makes about as much noise as a dishwasher. You want the process to be as quiet and fast as possible.
The water quality experts at O’Leary Plumbing & Heating can help. First, they’ll test your water to recommend the correct softener for your home and life style, then install and maintain the unit. (Your investment will last from 15 to 20 years.) O’Leary only installs metered softeners, saving from 30% to 50% salt usage over other softeners and reducing extra discharge into our sewer systems, making it more environmentally friendly.
If you’re tired of buying bottled water because your water has an unpleasant odor or taste’s funny - talk with O’Leary’s to learn how fresh, clean smelling, great tasting water can be yours again with a reverse osmosis drinking filter system.