Spring Maintenance

It’s May and spring is in full swing!

Plumbing maintenance is a great addition to your spring cleaning list.

Exterior Home

Cleaning gutters isn’t a commonly favourite chore, but it needs to be done at least every spring. In addition to clearing leaves and debris from your gutters, don’t forget to clean the downspouts. These can get clogs too! A plumber’s auger can be used to clean downspouts to prevent leaks and water damage.

clean your gutters and downspouts

Check for birds’ nests in outdoor vents!

Inspect exterior hose bibs and faucets for signs of wear and tear. Make sure water can run freely. If there is no flow, it could indicate you have a cracked pipe caused by freezing weather. Hosebibs can also be replaced or repaired if they are not functioning adequately.

Basement and Crawlspace

When is the last time you paid attention to your water heater? Spring is a great time for an annual hot water tank flush. Sediment and debris should be flushed at least once a year to protect against corrosion and leaks. Flushing your water heater can add life to your hot water tank merely by performing this simple task. Also check to make sure there are no flammable chemicals or objects stored close to or on top of your tank, and clear any dust in the area.

yearly tank flush

Furnace filters should be changed twice a year in the fall and spring.

Check the pipes in your basement and crawlspace for signs of leaks. Turn your main water valves to make sure they move to open and close easily. Water valves can seize from lack of use so perform this check each year. When you have an emergency and the water needs to be turned off quickly, and the last thing you want is a shut-off valve that won’t move!

Interior Home

Check under your kitchen and bathroom sinks for leaks. Supply hoses for the dishwasher and washing machine should be looked at for wear and age as well. It is better to change an aging supply hose before it causes a problem than to find that your laundry room has flooded because the hose burst while you were away.

Test your toilet for leaks by putting a couple of drops of green or blue food colouring in the tank and wait about 20 minutes. (Don’t flush.) If the water in the bowl becomes coloured of coloured water drips down the tank or bowl, your toilet is leaking.

toilet tank leaking

maintenance plumbers

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How to Unclog Your Toilet

DIY: How To Unclog Your Toilet

Nobody wants a clogged toilet in their home or business. Luckily a toilet clog can usually be cleared using the easy tips below.

Tools required:

Plunger (flange or ball type, not the cup type which is used for bathtubs)

Toilet auger



  1. Don’t try to flush the toilet. It’s tempting to consider that perhaps by some miracle the toilet will unclog itself, but more often than not, this isn’t the case.
  2. Grab your plunger and slowly push it into the water to the bottom of the bowl. Fit the plunger around the water drain (hole) at the bottom of the bowl and push the handle up and down rapidly until you feel the stoppage release or see the water level drop in the toilet.
  3. Don’t flush the toilet yet. Remove the lid from the tank portion and very slowly lift the flapper seal at the bottom of the tank to allow some water to enter the toilet bowl. Be careful not to lift it all the way though as this will cause the toilet to flush. If the water in the toilet bowl leaves the bowl easily then your job is done! If not, move to step 4.


  1. Turn off the water supply to your toilet.
  2. Making sure the auger cable is fully retracted into the handle, put the auger into your toilet so that the curved part where the cable comes out of the handle is facing in the same direction that the toilet drains- either the front or back of the toilet bowl.
  3. Advance the auger cable into the toilet drain by cranking with gentle pressure until you feel the cable tighten or the handle stops turning as you’ve likely located the stoppage.
  4. Quickly crank the auger to break the stoppage up. If you get to a point where you can’t crank it anymore, crank in the reverse direction. Continue cranking until the auger cable has been inserted all the way. Be careful not to be forceful as it may damage your toilet and cause a bigger problem!
  5. When the stoppage has broken up and you’re able to run the entire auger cable into the toilet, remove the auger and plunge the toilet again.
  6. Don’t flush the toilet yet. Repeat Step 3 first. If the water leaves the bowl easily, then try flushing the toilet to see what happens.
  7. If your toilet flushes normally, turn the water supply back on then clean your toilet auger outside to avoid contamination. You can spray the cable with a lubricant like WD40 to get rid of remaining water/moisture after it has been cleaned to extend the life of your cables. Finally, hang it by the handle in a warm place to dry.


SPECIAL NOTE: If your toilet still won’t flush after you’ve used the hand auger, this means that the blockage is further down the pipe and will require some advanced tools & techniques to clear. Call the plumbing professionals at Plumbing & Drain Rescue to bail you out! 604-628-3333

How To Clean a Sink Sprayer

DIY: How to Clean a Sink Sprayer

Vancouver plumbers Plumbing and Drain Rescue bring you a step by step walkthrough of cleaning a sink sprayer. Sink sprayers are typical composed of the following parts: sprayer mount (mounts to sprayer hose in faucet), spring seat (base for spring)  and spring, cartridge cylinder (fits in sprayer body) and sprayer body, spray lever, insert (for spray outlets) and spray outlets, and an outlet cover.

Note: Above parts describe typical parts of a sink sprayer that has only the spray function. Multi-function sink sprayer parts will vary.

Step 1: Pry the sprayer head cover off and remove the perforated disk.

Step 2: Soak the disk overnight in a vinegar or lime dissolving solution.

Step 3: Brush the disk clean using a small wire brush, and using a paperclip, clean any clogged holes in the perforated disk. Replace any damaged parts or parts that cannot come clean.

Step 4: Reassemble the sink sprayer.

Note: Use white vinegar for the water-vinegar solution.

How to Clean an Aerator

DIY: How To Clean an Aerator

Vancouver Plumber Plumbing and Drain rescue knows the havoc that hard water can reek on your drains.Because hard water is rich in minerals, these minerals build up and may eventually cause a clog in your fixtures’ aerators, showerheads and sink sprayers. Cleaning an aerator is often as simple as removing the part and running water through it backwards. However, when the deposits harden it’s time to remove the parts, soak them and clean them. Soak the aerator in an equal parts hot water-to-vinegar or lime-dissolving solution. To clean it, use a small brush or a paperclip.

Cleaning a Faucet Aerator

Step 1: Using water pump pliers, unscrew the aerator from the faucet spout, being careful with the applied pressure so you don’t crush the aerator.

Tip: Wrapping the jaws of the pliers with masking tape will protect the surface of the aerator.


Step 2: Remove the parts of the aerator by pushing them out with your finger, then soak them in the vinegar or lime dissolving solution mentioned above. It is best to let the parts soak overnight, to ensure all mineral deposits have loosened.

Tip: If a part of the aerator is completely stuck, soak the aerator in a vinegar solution (see above for vinegar solution mixture,) then use tweezers or a pick to remove the pieces from the aerator.


Step 3: Remove the parts from the cleaning solution, wipe them dry, then using a small wire brush, remove the mineral deposits that loosened overnight. Parts may require additional soaking if not all mineral deposits have loosened. Replace any parts that are damaged or that cannot be cleaned.


Step 4: Reassemble the aerator and screw it back onto the spout, only as comfortably tight as your hand can make it. Turn on the tap and check for any leaks, and retighten as necessar

Note: Use white vinegar for the water-vinegar solution.

How to Shut Off Your Water

How to Shut Of Your Water

While it may seem like an obvious task, shutting off the water can be a tricky job on its own. Vancouver plumbers Plumbing and Drain Rescue have seen their fair share of water valve blunders.


Most homes built within the last 40 years have separate stop valves (a.k.a. fixture shutoff valves) for each toilet, faucet and fixture. Typically, a supply tube will run from the valve to the fixture.

(Keep in mind that faucets will have two supply tubes/stop valves- one for hot water and one for cold.)

If your fixture does not have a stop valve, you will need to shut off the water to all (or at least part) of your home before you start the job. Stop valves are typically chrome in color and are made for use in emergencies and repairs. That said, be careful not to crank on the stop valve or the handle may break. Also keep in mind that some stop valves will close after only a quarter turn. In addition, be aware that some tub/shower faucets may have in-faucet stop valves, one each for hot and cold water. For in-faucet stop valves, use a large slot screwdriver to turn the valve off.

Main Water Shutoff

Every home has at least one main shutoff for the main water supply pipe, however, there are often two located on either side of your water meter— one inside the home, and another outside. If you have difficulty finding the indoor valves, note that main shutoffs inside the home are generally located at the pipe’s point of entry—in a crawlspace or below the basement floor. When you locate the main pipe, follow its path to the shutoff.

If you live in an area with mild winters, your main shutoff will likely be outside where the main supply pipe branches off from the street’s main water line. In temperate regions, outdoor shutoffs may be located inside a plastic or concrete box called a Buffalo box, which you may need to dig up to locate. In colder regions, the shutoff will be below the frost line, typically in a tube covered in cast-iron. You may need a long-handled wrench to reach down to these shutoffs; your water utility department will often lend you a key for it. If you cannot locate your main supply pipe, call your water utility department for assistance.

Intermediate Shutoffs

When looking for shutoffs, you may find additional shutoff valves on exposed pipe i.e., in your crawlspace, basement or access panel behind a bathtub. These are called intermediate shutoffs. Intermediate shutoffs are typically in pairs (for hot and cold water pipes,) and can shutoff water to just a portion of your home. To test what portion of your home’s water supply is controlled by each shut off valve, shut off a valve and then run water from each fixture in your home to see which fixtures have (and no longer have) water flowing to them. Remember to listen to see if your toilet tank refills after flushing, as you will always get one flush after the water supply gets turned off!

For more plumbing tips, follow us on twitter @plumbingrescue and follow @yourwaterheater for water heater tips!

Ready, Set, Start Plumbing!

Vancouver Plumbers Blog

As Vancouver plumbers we make it our responsibility to help homeowners who shy away from plumbing tasks because they are often viewed as difficult and potentially messy jobs. Unfortunately homeowners who take on even the most skilled plumbing jobs end up with messy results. The best way to be prepared is to have a basic understanding of plumbing in general, and an advanced understanding of your home’s plumbing system in particular.

Typically, any plumbing that is exposed- that is, not hidden behind a wall- is easy for a handy DIY person to tackle. Using inexpensive tools, exposed p-traps and faucets can be unclogged, taken apart, replaced or repaired with relative ease! As the fixtures you work on become bulkier and more complex, so too will the plumbing job. For example, a kitchen sink is more difficult to install than a bathroom sink due to the amount of plumbing underneath the fixture.

On the same note, dealing with bathroom fixtures such as showers may require additional skills due to the shower supply lines being hidden behind walls. It is also important to note that when you move on to more complex projects such as installing fixtures and pipes in a new location, you need to follow local codes and have your project inspected by your local building department.

After you’ve scoped out your plumbing job, consider putting down a kneeling pad or drop cloth to cushion your knees, put a flashlight in place if the area is dark, and shut off the water supply to the fixture/area you will be working in. Next, test to ensure the water is off, and consider putting down a bucket or some old towels to catch the small amount of water that maybe dribble from open pipes.

Plumbing and Drain Rescue are your greater Vancouver plumbing experts! Check back often to our blog to see whats new or call 604-628-3333 today!

Home Plumbing Systems

Home Plumbing Systems

The first thing you should know once you’ve decided to become a DIY plumber is how water gets to your home. Residential plumbing requires three systems: a supply system, a drain system and a vent system.

1) Supply system: Typical to new homes, a single supply pipe will bring water through a 1 inch diameter (though sometimes larger) pipe. This pipe runs through one or two shut off valves, a water meter, then into your water heater where it branches into hot and cold pipes. Hot and cold pipes travel in pairs towards the plumbing fixtures in your home, such as the kitchen sink or bathtub. Newer homes use copper, plastic (CPVC), or polyethylene (PE or PEX) pipe, as they are not prone to corrosion or deposit build up, unlike the galvanized steel pipes used in older homes. The diameter of pipes used inside your home is narrower than supply pipes- typically ¾ inch to ½ inch in diameter. Each fixture in your home should have stop valves (a.k.a. fixture shutoffs) for both hot and cold pipes, and from the stop valves a supply tube leads right into the fixture.

2) Drain system: Drainpipes can be tricky as they have to be installed according to exact specifications. Always check local building departments before installing or working on drainpipes. Older homes typically have cast-iron or galvanized steel drainpipes, while newer homes have white PVC, black ABS, or copper drainpipes. Drainpipes lead from faucets to the main drain, which connects to the main vent stack. The main stack is typically 3 or 4 inches in diameter and runs up through your roof to vent, and down to the sewer line. Some homes may have secondary stacks 2 or 3 inches in diameter to provide drainage from a specific room; typically the kitchen. Branch pipes 1 ½ to 2 inches in diameter travel horizontally from fixtures to the stack, and must slope at ¼ inch (minimum) per foot at all points. Special p-shaped P-traps allow for a slug of water to form a seal between drainpipes and drain lines, and prevent gas from entering the room. Finally, cleanouts allow for access to auger pipes— good drain systems will have cleanouts in easily accessible places, such as basements.

3) Vent system: Venting systems allow air to enter pipes to aide in the smooth flow of water, and they also allow noxious, harmful gases such as methane to escape through the roof. Plumbing codes are specific about the location, means, and size of vent pipes. Branch vents lead to vent stacks and the part of the main or secondary stack that extends through the roof is called the main or secondary vent. The larger the drainpipe, the less likely it is to become completely filled with water, thus acting as its own vent. Every plumbing fixture must connect to a vent and meet plumbing codes; sometimes an air admittance valve (AAV) can augment or substitute for a vent that runs through the roof.

If these tips don’t pan out and your DIY has gone awry, call Vancouver plumbers Plumbing and Drain Rescue at 604-628-3333!

Plumbing Safety

Plumbing Safety

Basic plumbing safety from Vancouver plumber Plumbing and Drain Rescue

• If a job causes you to get wet, keep away from electrical outlets/fixtures. You can also shut off the power at the service panel.
• Always follow manufacturer instructions and take proper precautions when dealing with electrical work in combination with plumbing.
• Avoid touching electrical outlets and do not ignite any sparks.
• When working near gas pipes, shut off the gas at a point prior to the location you’re working in, and make sure the area is well-ventilated.
• Wear a respirator when working with chemicals and a dust mask when cutting materials.
• When working on drainpipes, be sure to seal the pipes with a rag as they may contain hazardous smelly or odorless gases.
• Install a CO2 detector in any room containing a gas-burning appliance, as well as in living areas.
• When soldering pipe, protect any flammable surfaces and keep a fire extinguisher handy.
• Only use the tools designed for the job to avoid damage and injury.
• Protect your eyes with safety goggles, especially when soldering, cutting, pounding, or working over your head.
• Wear heavy, long sleeved shirts and long-legged pants to protect yourself from injury and contamination from potential highly bacteria-ridden wastewater.
• Wear gloves when handling chemicals, sharp objects, or heavy and awkward loads.
• Launder worn clothing and wash your hands upon completion of a job.
• If you’re ever in doubt, stop working. Consult your plumbing resources and call your local Vancouver plumbers at Plumbing & Drain Rescue at 604-628-3333!

Plumbing Tips

DIY Plumbing Tips

As advocates of DIY plumbing, we want people to know the proper steps to take. Read this blog for diy home plumbing tips.

Know Your Limits

It is important to understand when you get into plumbing that some projects will be time-consuming and may require skills and knowledge beyond plumbing. Set aside an extended amount of time to begin and complete projects, and keep in mind that certain fixtures may be inoperable until the job is done. Compared to an experienced plumber, novice plumbers require approximately 3 times the amount of designated time to complete a job.

Helpful Pre-Project Tips

Before you start ANY project, remember to turn off the water! Test that the water has been correctly shut off by turning on a faucet. As you may be required to work in cramped spaces, make sure that the area you will be in is comfortable. Place some folded towels on the ground to act as cushions, have a flashlight nearby to illuminate dark areas, and designate a rag to become your drop cloth, which will catch any falling water or grime.

Need Help? Call a Local Vancouver Plumber

Always keep in mind that while you may have the know-how to complete a project, you may not necessarily have enough free time. If you find yourself living in a perpetual work site, it may be worth it to call on an expert plumber to complete the task or work as a consultant. Also be aware of local codes as certain codes may require that only licensed professionals do the job. The plumbers at Plumbing & Drain Rescue will be ready for your call!

Picking A Plumber in Vancouver

When considering a major plumbing job, it is best to get quotes from a few plumbers for comparison. Remember to ask about any additional fees, such as permits. If a plumber tells you there is an “inspection fee” always clarify exactly what the inspection entails. Ensure that the plumber you choose is licensed, bonded, and has liability and worker’s compensation insurance.

Home Plumbing

Home Plumbing

We want to debunk some popular myths about home plumbing.

In the old days, water was transported from one place to another via cast iron and lead pipes. This required certain skills and experience with these materials, which deterred homeowners and DIY-ers from tackling home plumbing projects. In recent times and along with advances in the technology and materials being used by plumbers, many DIY types still stray from plumbing jobs. However, the materials used in plumbing nowadays are safer, last longer, and are easier to work with compared to cast iron and lead pipe. The truth is that anyone who is willing to invest some time and wants to save money is essentially able to take on a plumbing project!

Installation has become simplified and manufacturers provide detailed instructions and technical support. And of course, you can always refer to your local plumbing experts at Plumbing & Drain Rescue for tips and advice!

Although certain jobs such as fixing a toilet or unclogging a drain may not seem entirely exhilarating, the materials that are required to do a plumbing job are inexpensive compared to other DIY jobs. The DIY skills you will develop as a DIY plumber may help to diagnose and potentially fix other plumbing issues that may arise in the future. In addition to all this, the skills you learn can save you money in the long-term!

Come back often for Vancouver plumber tips and news. Contact us for any of your local plumbing needs, 604-628-3333!