Plumbing Repairs: What Needs an Emergency Plumber

May 6th, 2020
Man calling an emergency plumber because of a burst pipe

When Should I Call an Emergency Plumber?

Some plumbing problems are obvious emergencies. A burst pipe definitely requires emergency plumbing, but what about a leaky faucet? While flooding in your home is an emergency, all plumbing problems should be fixed sooner than later to prevent further damage. From a leaky sink to a sewer line problem, learn what plumbing repairs need to happen right away and should happen as soon as possible. 

Plumbing Emergencies

If you are experiencing one of the problems below, it’s time to call an emergency plumber. 

Burst Pipes

Especially in colder climates like Calgary’s, a burst pipe can happen because of freezing temperatures. In other cases, a burst pipe can be due to corrosion, oxidation, or rust. Whatever the cause, shut off the water supply and call an emergency plumber immediately. A burst pipe can cause extensive water damage in minutes and needs to be taken care of as soon as possible. 

Odours or Suds From Your Floor Drain

Your floor drain may not be what comes to mind when you think of plumbing problems, but it can signal some serious issues. Odours can be a sign of a dried out drain, or worse, a damaged sewer line.

Like odours, suds coming from the drain can be a sign of sewer line problems or incorrect pipe installation. Whatever the cause, odours and suds are signs of a plumbing emergency. If you notice either coming from your floor drain, it’s time to call an emergency plumber. 

Clogged or Overflowing Toilet

A clogged toilet is an obvious inconvenience, but an overflowing toilet is an emergency. It’s important to deal with a clogged toilet sooner rather than later to prevent overflows. If your toilet is overflowing, first shut off the water to your toilet. 

You might be able to then use a plunger to fix the clog, but serious clogs may require an emergency plumber. An emergency plumber will be able to use an auger to loosen the clog if a plunger doesn’t do the job. 

Leaking Washing Machine Hose

In most cases, washing machine leaks come from the hose. Even if the leak seems small, it’s important not to ignore it. A leaky washing machine hose can cause damage to the walls, floors, as well as rust and mould. 

Depending on the location of your washing machine and hose, you may not be able to notice small leaks either, which makes fixing the problem quickly that much more important. 

Water Heater Malfunction

An issue with your water heater won’t damage your home like some other plumbing emergencies might, but it is still an issue that needs to be fixed ASAP. No hot water makes it difficult to do household tasks like washing the dishes, not to mention unbearable to shower or bathe. 

There are a number of issues with your gas line or water heater itself that could leave you without hot water. The pressure relief valve can become stuck in the “open” position which will cause your tank to leak water and damage your home. If the valve is stuck in the closed position, it can cause an explosion. Given the potential hazards of your water heater, it’s best to have any issues checked by a professional.

Sump Pump

A broken sump pump can quickly cause other problems in your home. Because a sump pump is designed to prevent excess moisture and flooding your home, a faulty sump pump can allow moisture to collect. 

With that excess moisture, your basement or crawlspace could be at risk for mould and water damage. One of the most common issues with sump pumps is debris, so first check that the impeller isn’t blocked by debris. If that doesn’t solve the problem, it’s time to call an emergency plumber.

Sewer System Back-Up

A sewer system back-up can have many causes and is more common in older homes. Some of the most common reasons for a sewer back-up include ageing pipes, tree roots, melting snow, rain, or an issue with the city system. Improper sewer line bedding of the pipe could be another cause. If the pipe was laid on top of large rocks or construction debris, the pressure from the soil up can cause the pipe to fracture.

Whatever the cause, it’s important that a sewer system back-up is dealt with immediately. They are messy and can introduce hazardous materials into your home. To prevent a sewer system back-up, watch for signs like multiple drain clogs, gurgling toilets, and water pools in your basement.

Plumber fixing a clogged sink with a wrench

Non-Emergencies

While the following issues aren’t emergencies, they should still be fixed as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your home. When any plumbing problem is left unrepaired, it has the potential to cause further damage and other problems like mould. In some cases, the cost of the damage can easily exceed the original cost of repairs.

Clogged Sinks

Clogged sinks are certainly annoying, but usually don’t need to be fixed immediately. If you have a clogged sink, you can try a DIY method like baking soda and vinegar to try and fix the problem. However, avoid using chemicals to unclog your drain, they can cause more damage to pipes and cause fumes in your home. In the event a plunger and at-home methods don’t work, or if your sink won’t drain at all, it’s probably time to call a plumber. 

A plumber can use an auger (also known as a drain snake) and steam to eliminate stubborn clogs. A severely clogged sink not only hinders your daily activities but can lead to problems like leaks and bad smells. To help prevent clogged sinks, avoid putting things like coffee grounds and grease down the drain.

Leaky Toilet 

A leaky toilet is another annoying plumbing problem, although it is easy to ignore. While a leaky toilet doesn’t require emergency repair, it is something that’s important to fix. As your toilet leaks, 0you’re flushing money down the drain. The average home’s leaks can add up to over 37, 000 litres of wasted water in a year, which can really add up on your water bill. 

Mould growth can also be a side effect of a leaky toilet. To tell if you have a leak, place a few drops of food colouring in the toilet tank. If the colour shows up in the toilet bowl after 10 minutes, you have a leak. Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining, and call a plumber to have the problem repaired.

What to Do in an Emergency

If you have a plumbing emergency or problem with your water, here are some important things to know:

  1. Know where the main water shutoff is in your house.
  2. Know where the shutoff valves are for individual sinks and toilets.
  3. Always have a plunger on hand for clogs.

For everything else, it’s often best to call a professional plumber. No plumbing issues get better with time. In fact, plumbing problems only get worse if left unrepaired. Even if it’s not an emergency, it’s best to call your plumber and make an appointment for all plumbing issues to prevent further damage. 

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What Are Heat Recovery Ventilators & Why Should You Get One?

April 3rd, 2020
A family at home playing with their bunny.

Heat recovery ventilators (HRV) can help prevent your home from losing heat. They can also help with airflow, eliminating stale or stagnant air. Modern homes are well insulated and much more efficient than older homes. Prairie winters, like those in southern Alberta, can be very cold, making heat loss a serious problem. Though modern insulation is great for keeping the heat in, it can also trap humidity, which isn’t always ideal.

The Problem with Warm & Stale Air

Warm air tends to absorb increased humidity. Every time you use the shower, dishwasher, dryer, or washing machine, you raise the humidity level in your house. Unfortunately, when we vent humidity, it tends to take the heat with it.

Heating your home is expensive, which means that venting humid air can also cause your heating bill to rise. Failing to remove excess humidity from your home can have serious consequences in the long term, including mould and mildew forming in the walls and inner structure of the home.

A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) can help with both heat loss and air circulation. HRVs work first by circulating air indoors and then getting a flow of the air from indoors into a ventilator. The ventilator also has a cold air intake so it can mix these types of air.

The key to keeping your home both warm and dry is exchanging the heat between cold fresh air and hot and stale (humid) air, which can be accomplished by mixing the air with the help of a heat exchange. Aside from a heat exchange itself, your HRV will also need a fan to move heat-recovered air into the home. Putting another fan on the stale air intake can increase heat recovery further

Common Types of Heat Recovery Ventilators

There are a few common types of heat exchangers for heat recovery ventilators, each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and associated costs. To help you better narrow down your choices, we’ve compiled a list of common types of heat recovery ventilators below. However, before you make your final decision, you should consult with an experienced HVAC professional. 

Rotary Thermal Wheel

A rotary wheel uses circular motion to transfer heat from the stale air stream to the fresh air stream, allowing the cold intake air to collect heat off of a continually turning wheel, and return that heat to the home as warm air output.

Fixed Plate Heat Exchange

This style of heat recovery ventilator is the most common, and with an average success rate of 90%, it is often the most efficient. Multiple fixed plates collect heat as stale air flows through them and dissipate the heat into the fresh air that is being drawn into the home.

Heat Pipe

A heat pipe uses an evaporator and a condenser to take advantage of water changing from a liquid to a vapour and back again to cool stale exhaust air while warming fresh intake air. 

Run-around

A run-around leverages two heat exchange types in a combined system. They use gravity to drag air down from one heat exchange type (typically a fixed plate exchange) to a second, different style of heat exchanger (typically a heat pipe style exchange).

Phase Change Materials

Phase change materials (PCM) are a newer style of heat exchanger and don’t actually require a ventilator. They are typically built directly into the walls of newer houses and use beads that melt and solidify as the temperature changes to regulate the home’s internal temperature When the walls are warm in the summer, they have a cooling effect. When the walls are cool in the winter, they produce a heating effect.

A heat recovery ventilator.

The Difference Between ERV & HRV

An ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator) works in much the same way as an HRV, since it uses the same types of heat exchangers like fixed plate heat exchangers and rotary thermal wheels. The big difference is that ERVs remove heat from air-conditioned air so that the house stays cool.

An HRV will give your home the efficiency of giving your furnace a break and can improve your home’s air quality. While not all homes have air conditioners, almost every Canadian home has a furnace and could benefit from an HRV. Whatever style you go with, an HRV can help increase your furnace’s efficiency and lower your heating bill. 

Though they can represent a hefty up-front cost, adding an HRV can help reduce your heating bill, saving you money and paying for itself in the long run. HRVs offer the most bang for their buck in places like southern Alberta, where seasonal temperatures vary widely.

Can an HRV Save Me Money?

HRVs can help your home retain heat without getting stale or musty, saving you money and increasing your home’s air quality and removing excess humidity from your home. By removing excess humidity, you could save yourself costly repairs related to moisture from the air in your home seeping into the surrounding structure. 

Avoid Stale Air Buildup by Installing an HRV

Stale and humid air can cause a few problems. It can cause mould and mildew to grow in your flooring, walls, and ceiling, and left unchecked may negatively impact your health. Excessively stale or moist air may increase your chances of developing asthma and can encourage the growth of dust mites. 

Given how effective HRVs are at keeping humidity down, and how they can lower heating costs for homes running a furnace day and night during cold Calgary winters, an HRV is a worthwhile investment, especially for newer homes.


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5 Plumbing Problems to Watch for When Buying A House

April 3rd, 2020
A couple holding the keys to their new house.

Buying a new home can be daunting with so much to consider. Here is a checklist of potential plumbing problems you should be aware of to help you avoid potentially expensive plumbing problems down the road.

Dripping Faucets

Dripping faucets are one of the most common plumbing issues ailing both newer and older homes. The noise alone can be an unwelcome nagging in your kitchen or bathroom. The reasons behind faucet dripping can also be surprisingly difficult to diagnose with the untrained eye. 

Different types of faucets, mainly compression faucets are more susceptible to dripping. Ball, disc, and cartridge faucets are more recent innovations. Knowing which faucet your prospective home has can help you know how likely they are to leak and can ais in repair if necessary. Compression faucets for instance still use washers, whereas ball, disc and cartridge faucets do not, making them more inclined to leak.

Here’s how to tell which type of faucet you have:

  • Compression faucets have two very tight handles for both cold and hot water
  • Ball faucets have a single handle attached to a rounded cap above the spout
  • Disc faucets have a single lever on a cylindrical body
  • Cartridge faucets use a stem cartridge which moves up and down to adjust the flow of water

A poor sealant or poor sealant installation can also deteriorate over-time and cause leaking. This can be remedied by a plumber or by purchasing a higher quality sealant that is compatible with your type of faucet. 

If faucet leaks originate from the base or around the head of the spout, ageing or poor-quality sealant may be the culprit.

Slow Sink Drainage 

Sinks that drain slowly can be a truly infuriating experience for any homeowner. Sinks are engineered to drain water at a rapid rate to avoid pooling and stagnant water, which is not only an eye-sore but also prevents you from using your sink to its full potential.

Slow sink drainage is caused by debris in the drainpipe, which can be cleaned with regular and simple maintenance. If maintenance is less frequent, this problem can persist and rear it’s head more often as build-up accumulates. Drain cleaners, sink snakes, and plungers can be used to de-clog your sink, but proper drain cleaning and maintenance can help prevent the problem in the first place. A garburator can also help prevent clogs.

A toilet with 2 rolls of toilet paper stacked on top.

Toilets That Clog Easily

Toilets that flush improperly or lack power are more likely to become clogged or need replacing in the near future. Having toilets that are unable to flush properly can be a sign of something as simple as a faulty handle or as severe as a main sewer line issue which can threaten the health and safety of your family.

Ensuring your potential toilets have adequate power to flush and expel water all the way down into the bowl is a priority when assessing a property’s plumbing.

Water Damage Around the Toilet & Shower

Water damage around the toilet and shower can be highly destructive as tainted water can leach into the ground of your home. This is a plumbing emergency, as it can damage your home and even ruin the structural integrity if the issue persists. If this happens in a room with wood flooring, it can warp and rot, and assessing the damage after this happens will require you to dislodge the entire toilet altogether, which can be an time-consuming and expensive task.

Look for warping near the base of toilets on laminate and wood, or water damage on the ceiling underneath bathrooms to assess if there are stains, which indicate water damage.

Water Colour & Quality

Oddly coloured running water can be alarming when you first notice it. Depending on the colour of your water, you may not have an issue at all. On the other hand, some colours can indicate a plumbing problem.

Black water can mean that you have mold, which can make you and your family sick. If you have black water running from anywhere, call a professional plumber immediately.

Green or blue water can mean that there is a possible corrosion issue which, if untreated, can damage your pipes and cause water breaks. Solving this typically requires a plumbing professional to look at your water line.

Yellow, red, or orange water indicate age or poor maintenance of pipes and faucets. High levels of sediment deposits in your tap water can also cause this tinting. 

Clean, transparent water means your water supply and plumbing are working in harmony.

You’re Not In This Alone!

Making sure your potential new house has functioning plumbing is a crucial part of evaluating any new home. Avoiding plumbing pit-falls can save you the headache of costly and lengthy repairs, and allow you to truly enjoy your new home.

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How to Unclog Your Drain with Baking Soda & Vinegar, Plus Other DIY Decloggers

February 10th, 2020

The Process

Clogs in your drain can be a nuisance and can lead to expensive repairs if left untreated for too long. Fortunately, there are DIY processes that can get your drains back to their intended smooth working order.

Baking soda and vinegar are useful household staples that can help break down stubborn clogs. All you need is water, baking soda, and vinegar.

Here’s the process:

  1. Boil a pot of water and slowly pour it down the clogged drain.
  2. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain.
  3. Mix equal parts vinegar and water (1 cup of each) together and pour it following the baking soda.
  4. Cover the drain with a drain plug and let it sit 5-10 minutes.
  5. Flush the drain with boiling water.

Why It Works

The baking soda and vinegar will cause a bubbling reaction that helps loosen the clog from the drain, and the boiling water helps to flush it through the pipes.

The science behind it has to do with the pH values of the baking soda and vinegar. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a base, and vinegar, or acetic acid, is an acid. When you combine these two things, a reaction occurs that creates carbon dioxide and water which bubbles around and through the clog, breaking it up. The boiling water adds pressure to your water system, and gravity helps to pull the water and the clog through the pipe.

Other DIY Decloggers

If you find yourself faced with a stubborn clog, all hope is not lost. There are several ways you can tackle drain clogs before having to call a plumber.

Wire Coat Hanger

Simple but effective, a wire coat hanger can help break up a clog or hook and pull out the nasty stuff that’s blocking the drain. All you have to do is straighten out your coat hanger and push it past the drain cover. When you feel you’ve gotten most of the clog out, pour some hot water down the drain to flush it out.

Boiling Water

If you catch a clog in its early stages, plain boiling water can do the trick to wash away anything mucking up your pipes. Boil water and pour it down the drain in two or three stages, giving it a few seconds to work between pours.

Caustic Soda

Caustic soda, or sodium hydroxide, works similarly to baking soda and vinegar. You can purchase it from any hardware store, but be very careful handling it as it can cause chemical burns. Mix 3 cups of caustic soda in a mop bucket with cold water and stir well. The mix will react and begin to fizz and heat up. You can then pour it down the drain and leave for 20-30 minutes. Be sure to flush the drain with boiling water afterward.

If you use caustic soda and have to call a professional afterwards, please inform your plumber so he can take appropriate measures to avoid chemical burns.

Drain Snake

A drain auger or “snake” is a long, coiled, spiral snake that you push through the drain to break up and pull out any gunk that is obstructing the pipe. This tool is handy for clogs that are deep in a pipe and inaccessible by other methods.

Wet & Dry Vacuum

Although it is not always successful, a wet & dry vacuum is powerful enough to pull out clogs. Make sure it is on the liquid setting, and ensure it is on the highest power. Create a tight seal over the drain, cover the vent, and turn it on. If it works, it will suck up the clog into the vacuum bag.

Of course, if all else fails, call us today to have your drains cleaned and any clogs are taken care of fast and efficiently.

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Plumbing Maintenance: How to Lengthen the Lifespan of Your Pipes

February 10th, 2020

Types of Household Pipes and Their Lifespans

You can see what type of pipes you have on your home inspection report that you should have received when you purchased your home. You can also have a plumber perform an inspection of your system.

Supply pipes are the pipes that supply water to your faucets and showers. They are under constant pressure and may eventually begin to leak. These pipes are commonly made from brass, copper, or galvanized steel.

Brass pipes are the most sturdy, usually lasting between 40-70 years. Copper pipes last around 50 years, while galvanized steel may need to be replaced during the time you own your home, lasting between 20-50 years.

Drain lines are under less pressure, so they last much longer. They are usually made from cast iron, which lasts up to 100 years, or polyvinyl chloride (also known as PVC), which do not have a definite lifespan.

Prevent Clogs

One of the most common reasons you’ll need to call a plumber is due to clogs in your drains. Clogs can easily be prevented with proper knowledge of what can go down the drain and what cannot. 

Drain covers help to protect sink and shower drains from a buildup of hair, while ensuring only waste that was once food and toilet paper are flushed down toilets. Additionally, refraining from putting coffee grounds or excessively starchy substances down your garburator can help save your pipes.

Preventing clogs before they happen can both protect your pipes and your wallet.

Buy a Drain Snake

If you find yourself with a stubborn clog, you can purchase a drain snake from any plumbing or home supply store. They won’t be as effective or heavy-duty as a professional snake but will tackle any clogs you might encounter much more successfully than clog-clearing products such as Draino. 

Inspect Regularly

Keep your pipes in working order by regularly turning on faucets and flushing toilets that aren’t used very often. Check your pipes for cracks and rust regularly to catch issues before they become an expensive disaster. Monitoring your pipes and heating or cooling systems during severe weather changes can help prevent bursts or freezes, which can turn into very complicated and sometimes irreversible messes. 

How to Prepare When You Do Need a Plumber

Clear the Work Area

When you hire a plumber, you are paying for his services as well as his time. Most areas where drains are located sometimes double as storage areas or are hard to get to, ensure paths are clear and any space they may need to work in are clean. 

Cutting down the time your plumber spends waiting, cleaning, and prepping also minimizes the amount you’ll have to spend on getting your pipes fixed. Additionally, routinely keeping areas clean can help to alert you of any outwardly noticeable problems with your pipes, such as rust.

Combine Multiple Jobs

If you are calling in a professional for a plumbing emergency, see if you can combine several repair jobs into one visit. You can also get your plumber to inspect any areas you may be worried about which can provide peace of mind having a professional opinion on your pipes. 

If you would like a professional opinion on the state of your plumbing system or have an issue you’d like someone to look at, call us today to request a quote.

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The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

December 2nd, 2019
furnace-from-inside

If you have a furnace in your home, you need to understand the dangers of potential carbon monoxide poisoning. The vast majority of homeowners here in Okotoks choose to power their home’s furnace. We understand why—it’s an affordable and abundant resource. We’re not in the business of scaring our customers and we don’t want to make you afraid of living in your home. We just want you to remain safe and comfortable throughout the winter season.

You don’t have to worry about this on your own. You’re in the right place to get all the information that you need. You can come to us for furnace repair in Okotoks, AB. Make sure that you rely on professionals from our team for the work that you really need.

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Need Furnace Repair Services? Call Us

November 18th, 2019
inside-of-furnace

The cold weather has finally arrived in Langdon. While we’re sure you’re excited about the winter activities and holiday season ahead, we also realize that not everything always goes according to plan in a home. You might run into some heating problems in your home this winter and, if you do, we want to be there to help you through them.

Sometimes, you need a helping hand in your home, and you don’t know where to turn. There are a lot of HVAC companies in our area that promise the best of the best when it comes to heating and then deliver services that leave a lot to be desired. You never have to worry about that with our team though—we’ve served the Greater Calgary Area for years. Come to us for furnace repair in Langdon, AB.

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We’re Nominated for the Top Choice Awards 2020!

November 8th, 2019

We’re proud to say that we’re nominated for an Official 2020 Top Choice Award. The Top Choice Awards is the premier event to recognize business achievement.

We’re ecstatic that we’re nominated and thankful to all of you out there who took the time to nominate us. Now we just need your help to win! If you’re a supporter of the Ace Plumbing family, you can vote for our team members here.

You can vote for our team until December 20th, 2019. Your vote automatically enters you into a drawing for a cash prize of $2000 or a Toppy T-shirt.

We thank you for your support!

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Paranormal Plumbing Activity

October 21st, 2019
paranormal-plumbing-activity

Case 335142: The Phantom Flushing Toilet

(Based on a true story, names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

Stacey and Wil moved into a 24-year-old home. It was their first home and they were eager to spend their first night in their new home. After a calm evening consisting of their favorite movie and lots of buttery popcorn, Stacey and Wil fell asleep exhausted from the move.

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Get Ready for Winter with a Little Furnace Repair

October 7th, 2019
inside-of-furnace

Did your furnace act up last winter? Admit it, getting through the last stretch of winter with your current heater was really troublesome, right? You don’t have to bring those same problems into this season even if you didn’t handle them last year. It’s never too late for furnace repair in Langdon, AB.

There really isn’t much that’s more important than your heating services in Langdon. It’s one of those things that’s going to make or break your home comfort. If you struggle with your heater, you’re never going to be able to get comfortable in a timely fashion or for the right price. You can trust the professionals on our team to provide you with the right service in a timely fashion.

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