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East Troy Plumbing & HVAC FAQs

Do You Have Questions About Your Plumbing or HVAC? We Can Help! We Serve Walworth County and Surrounding Areas!

At O'Leary Plumbing, Heating & Electrical, we are dedicated to helping you in every way we can. We understand that you may have some questions about your plumbing or HVAC that may not necessarily entail a service. With over 59 years of industry experience, our team is more than happy to share with you some nuggets of wisdom about day-to-day maintenance and other information about your plumbing, HVAC, as well as your water well to help you keep these home systems at peak performance.

  • FAQ

    • 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.

      Our East Troy water quality experts at O'Leary Plumbing, Heating & Electrical can help. First, we’ll test your water to recommend the correct softener for your home and lifestyle, then install and maintain the unit to help it last for at least 15 to 20 years. At our family-owned company, we only install metered softeners, saving from 30 to 50 percent 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, contact us to learn how fresh, clean smelling, great tasting water can be yours again with a reverse osmosis drinking filter system.

    • How Can I Conserve Water Inside & Outside My Home?

      O'Leary Plumbing, Heating & Electrical is dedicated to doing everything we can to help the environment and conserve water.

      Here are a few tips showing how minor adjustments can make a difference:

      • Running full loads in your dishwasher and washing machines can save about 800 gallons a month.
      • Use water-saving showerheads and take shorter showers. A five-minute shower saves about 600 gallons a month.
      • Fix leaky faucets & toilets to save about 140 gallons a month.
      • Use a broom to clean driveways & walkways to save about 150 gallons each time.
      • Make sure your sprinkler is directed toward your yard and not on sidewalks/driveway.
      • Water yard/gardens early in the morning to save evaporation.
    • What Can I Do to Make My Septic System Work Properly?

      Attention to the care of your septic system can prevent problems and save the cost of repair or early replacement.

      Here are some tips courtesy of our East Troy plumbers:

      • Regular pumping: Rule of thumb is to have your system pumped every other year (even if the county mandates every three years)
      • Do not put fats and oils down the drain and keep certain food wastes out of your system, i.e. coffee grounds and egg shells.
      • Keep non-degradable materials out of the system, i.e. disposable diapers, paper towels, sanitary napkins, cigarette butts or plastic.
      • Never flush old medicine down the 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 the system work properly.
    • Can I Connect My Patio Gas Grill to Natural Gas?

      Most gas-fired outdoor grills come in a natural gas version. Most stores will have them available or can order for you. 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.

      For more information, call O'Leary Plumbing, Heating & Electrical at (262) 314-4566. Let us make your summer grilling easier and more relaxing.

    • How Can I Prevent My Hose Bibb From Freezing?

      Water expands as it freezes. No matter the strength of a container, whether metal or plastic, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Since outdoor hose bibbs are exposed to the elements outside, they are types of plumbing pipes that freeze most frequently.

      Helpful tips to prevent your hose bibb from freezing:

      • Do not leave your hose connected to the outside hose bibb over the winter months
      • Store all outdoor hoses indoors, ensuring inside valves are turned off
      • Open the outside hose taps to allow water to drain
      • Keep the outside valve open to allow any water remaining in the pipe to expand without breaking the pipe
    • 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 and falls to the floor freezing everything, including pressure tanks and water pipes.

      Here are a few preventative ideas:

      • If you have pipes running through your garage, make sure to keep the doors closed
      • Allow some hot air to circulate around your plumbing by keeping your kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open
      • If you know that you’re in for a freezing cold night, open your faucet and run even just a trickle of water to prevent your pipes from freezing
      • Running water through the pipe—even a trickle—helps prevent exposed pipes from freezing
      • Keep your thermostat set at 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
    • 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. Just because water comes from a bottle, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s purer or safer than most tap water. 40 percent of all bottled water is actually tap water in a bottle. FDA regulations concerning bottled water only apply if it is transported across state lines and only require it to be “as good as” tap water, not necessarily better. Most bottlers sell their water in the same state to avoid Federal purity standards (60 to 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.

    • Do I Really Need a Water Softening System?

      Water soaks through the earth and picks up elements that can change its taste, color, and safety, alter its feel, reduce its capacity to wash, and clog plumbing. High concentrates of calcium and 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 number of minerals in your water and what size water softener is right for your home and lifestyle. If your water has a “rusty” color, you may need an iron filter installed ahead of the softener. Let our East Troy plumbers help you with your hard water or iron problems by contacting our office today.

    • Are Rebates Available for Replacing My Water Heater With a More Energy-Efficient Model?
      Yes. Through Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy Program, you can now receive a Cash-Back Reward Incentive when you purchase and install a qualifying energy-efficient water heater. O'Leary Plumbing, Heating & Electrical can help you select a water heater model that can best serve your needs as well as give you the incentives and savings you’re looking for. For detailed information on what federal tax credits are available, visit
    • How Can I Keep My Garbage Disposal Running Smoothly?

      Garbage disposals keep our kitchens clean and sanitary, which is why proper maintenance is important to keep them from encountering any problems.

      Some helpful tips for garbage disposal maintenance:

      • 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
      • It’s perfectly okay to grind small bones or ice to help 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 and operating disposal
      • Use a strong flow of cold water and continue running at least 30 seconds after grinding noise stops
    • Can I Be More Environmentally Friendly Without It Costing a Lot of Money?

      There are several ways that you can support eco-friendly practices without spending a lot of money. One of these is conserving water.

      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 to 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 to 600 gallons each month.

      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.

      Being a responsible well owner can also have a huge impact on the environment. 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.

    • Can Sprinkling Your Lawn Have an Impact on Your Well System?

      During drier 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 five-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. In addition, 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 our East Troy plumber and make arrangements to have the water pumped out of your basement. Our professional team will open up the water heater, remove, clean, and dry the burner. We will also check the thermocouple and replace this if needed. Once dry, the burner assembly will be re-installed and the pilot re-lit. Our team will check for leaks and assure the unit is functioning properly and safely before leaving.

    • 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 our East Troy plumber and make arrangements to have the water pumped out of your basement. Our professional team will open up the water heater, remove, clean, and dry the burner. We will also check the thermocouple and replace this if needed. Once dry, the burner assembly will be re-installed and the pilot re-lit. Our team will check for leaks and assure the unit is functioning properly and safely before leaving.
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For other questions or concerns about your plumbing, HVAC, electrical or water quality in East Troy, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (262) 314-4566!

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