5 Common Reasons For Black Specks in Water

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Nothing beats a cold glass of fresh, clear water. But when you reach for your cup and see that the water is filled with tiny black specks, it’s concerning. Although these specks might be harmless to consume, they still quite unappealing and could signal a major issue with your plumbing.

5 reasons why you could be seeing specks in your water:

  • Pipe corrosion. If your home has aging metal pipes, the specks may come from corrosion. Rust or other metallic pieces can break off from the interior of the pipes and be sent up through your taps. This will likely occur only for cold water taps and is more prevalent after a period of rest for your pipes. You may need pipe repair or replacement, depending on the level of damage. Either way, get them looked at promptly to prevent major leaks from occurring.
  • Excess minerals. Iron and manganese are common minerals that show up in trace amounts in residential water supplies. Although typically not found in dangerous levels, it still results in unsightly black specks. Excess minerals could be coming from the municipal water supply, which can only be corrected by your local government. Have a plumber out to the home to test the water and pinpoint the problem.
  • Old water filters. Many residential water filters use a system called Granular Activated Carbon (GAC). GAC filters use the element carbon to scrub the water of impurities. As they get older, they begin to break down and you will find small flecks of carbon in your water. Simply have your filter replaced regularly to avoid this issue. Small, tap-based systems can easily have their filters replaced without professional help. If you have a larger system and are uncomfortable working with the filtration device, a professional will be able to take care of it without worries.
  • Corroded water heater. Your water heater has components that can corrode and end up in your water. If you notice black specks only when using the hot water tap, you can be pretty sure the water heater is the culprit. This can also mean that your heater is at the end of its life. The fix is to replace your water heater as soon as possible. Unless you’re experienced, water heater replacement can be dangerous, so go with a professional installer.
  • Broken parts. Are the black specks rubbery? It could mean that a rubber gasket or supply hose in your piping system has been damaged. Leaks can result in thousands of dollars in damage when not caught soon enough. Have a plumber inspect your system immediately to locate the problem and fix it.

Bieg Plumbing has the solution

If you notice black specks in your water, contact Bieg Plumbing. Bieg’s master plumbers have the experience to diagnose issues and fix them properly. Bieg Plumbing has served the St. Louis area for 60 years and is one of the region’s most trusted service providers.

Black specs got you saying, “Yuck!” Time to call the red truck!

What Happens if Your Water Pressure is Too High?

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High water pressure might feel nice when you’re taking a refreshing shower, but if it is too high, it can have harmful consequences. Your water bill will be higher than it otherwise would, ironically drying out your wallet. Even more importantly, it could do serious damage to your plumbing system. This can mean leaks, water damage, shortened life spans for water heaters and more. We’ll go into what causes high water pressure, common signs of it and how to fix it.

Causes of high water pressure

Most of the time, high water pressure isn’t the homeowner’s fault. For example, living close to a fire hydrant can result in higher water pressure. Usually, however, it has to do with your municipal water supply. It has to supply water to a vast area and therefore it pumps water throughout the city at higher pressures than what you want coming into your home. It’s recommended to keep your home’s water pressure between 40 and 60 PSI (pounds per square inch). It should never exceed 60 PSI, or significant damage can occur to your pipes, faucets, and appliances.

Signs of high water pressure

There are a few common signs of high water pressure you should watch for, including:

  • Noticeably high pressure. This is the easiest to spot, although if you’re used to the high pressure, you may not think about it. If water pelts you when you are taking a shower or it feels like a mini-explosion every time you turn on a faucet, you probably have high pressure.
  • Loud banging in the pipes. If you’ve been hearing loud noises in your pipes for a while, don’t ignore it. This is also known as “water hammer” and it occurs when the water pressure is too high.
  • Leaky faucets. Do your faucets leak when you use certain plumbing fixtures? Do the fixtures rattle around during use? High water pressure could be the issue.
  • Running toilets. Although rare, if your toilets suddenly start running constantly, high pressure is probably to blame.

What to do when you notice high water pressure

To check your water pressure, you’ll need to attach a pressure gauge to the faucet closest to your water meter. When it’s obvious you have a pressure problem, the fix is usually to install a simple pressure-reducing valve, usually installed near your shut-off valve. This limits your water pressure to a certain range and takes the load off of your plumbing system. If your home was built after 2002, a PRV may already be installed, since that was the year it became required on all new homes. However, a typical PRV’s lifespan is about 7 to 12 years. 

We recommend having your new pressure-reducing valve installed by a trained professional, such as one of our master plumbers. Bieg Plumbing has served the St. Louis area for 60 years. Over that time, we’ve seen it all, so don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule an inspection. We’ll find the problem and fix it promptly.

Plumbing problem got you stuck? Call in the red truck!

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In the middle of the winter, hearing that you’re in for a warm spell can be a relief. However, many homeowners and property managers are unaware that thaw-outs can actually mean disaster for their plumbing systems and water pipes.

When water is frozen inside a pipe, it expands dramatically. That’s not a problem while the water remains frozen, but it becomes dangerous as temperatures rise and pipes begin to thaw. As the ice melts inside the pipes, the expanded volume of that ice-water puts immense pressure on pipes. In fact, previously frozen water can put up to 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch on pipes. That’s enough to rupture all but large, industrial-grade water pipes, and even those aren’t safe.

Ruptured pipes can cause significant internal damage to your home. Understanding how a thaw-out can cause plumbing problems – and how to prevent them – is a must for any homeowner.

Where the problem starts – frozen pipes

Pipes may burst when the weather gets warmer, but the problem starts with frozen pipes. If your pipes don’t freeze during the winter, you have nothing to worry about because your pipes won’t need to thaw. Learning how to identify a frozen pipe can help you prepare for a thaw-out and reduce the likelihood of burst pipes. Here’s what you should look for:

  • Your faucet’s water pressure is low, inconsistent or stops completely – the most common sign of a frozen pipe.
  • Your water is discolored.
  • Your pipes make unusual noises when you turn the water on.

Thaw-outs typically only burst pipes when the pipes heat up too quickly. If pipes are thawed gradually and frozen water trapped inside escapes slowly, it won’t put enough pressure on the pipes to burst them. Understanding how to properly thaw a pipe ahead of time can save your plumbing system when temperatures start to rise.

How to properly thaw a pipe

Fortunately, thawing a frozen water pipe is usually a fairly simple process. Thawing an exposed water pipe will be different than thawing a pipe that’s enclosed in a wall. Here’s how to thaw an exposed water pipe:

  • Use a hairdryer. Simply turn it on and blow warm air along the length of the pipe. If you don’t have a hairdryer, draping hot towels along the length of the pipe can also thaw it out.
  • Place a space heater or infrared/incandescent heat lamp near the pipe.
  • Run electrical heating tape along the pipe. You can buy heat tape from most hardware stores. Simply wrap it around the pipe and plug it in.

Here’s how to thaw an enclosed pipe:

  • Turn up the heat in your house. Open cabinets to help the heat reach the walls. Then, you just have to wait.
  • If you know exactly where the frozen pipe is, turn up the heat and point an infrared lamp at that section of the wall. This should speed up the thawing process.

To prevent frozen pipes and thaw-out problems altogether, we suggest leaving your faucets running at a drip on cold nights. We also suggest opening cabinets and drawers to allow heat to reach walls more easily.

Bieg Plumbing has been providing clients with high-quality plumbing services for over 60 years. To learn more about how we can help you thaw-proof your home, contact us today – we look forward to hearing from you.

Frozen pipes got you stuck? Call in the red truck!

What Should I Do if My Water Heater is Leaking?

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Sometimes, a leaking water heater is subtle, with water pooling at the bottom. Other times, the leak can be so significant that you’ll have no choice but to deal with it immediately. Regardless, you should understand the possible causes of water heater leaks and what you can do about them to ensure they don’t become a huge hassle.

What to do when you find a leak

If the leak is small, wipe up the standing water with a towel and check back in a few hours. If there’s no more standing water, it could mean it was an isolated issue. Just keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

If it’s a major leak or the water has returned when you check back, follow these steps:

  • Shut off the water. Most homes have a valve near the water heater that can be closed to prevent water from entering the tank. If you do not have one of these valves, or it is inaccessible, you can also use your property’s main shut off valve to cut water to the entire house. This stops the leak in its tracks. If you need to pinpoint the leak, you can have someone turn it back on while you look for it.
  • Shut off the power. Whether you have an electric or gas water heater, you don’t want to be messing around with either power supply. For an electric heater, simply go to your circuit breaker and shut off the one powering it. If you have a gas heater, most have a switch near the bottom that can be turned off to cut the gas.You can also close the gas valve leading into the heater, but these can be damaged through use, so be careful. If you have any reservations or are inexperienced in these matters, we always recommend having a  licensed plumber inspect it.
  • Locate the leak. There are many areas where leaks can occur.

Make sure to check common trouble spots:

  • Inlet and outlet connections. Your cold water inlet and hot water outlet are located at the top of the unit where the pipes connect to it. If the leaks are happening here, you may be able to fix the problem by tightening the fittings with a wrench.
  • Temperature and pressure relief valve. This valve can be located at the top or front of the heater and is designed to relieve pressure when it gets too high. If your heater has to chronically release pressure, this valve can be overused and damaged.Ensure you don’t have the temperature too high. The United States Department of Energy recommends setting the water temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Tanks. Tanks commonly leak from the bottom. So if you notice water pooling there on more than one occasion, it might be the problem. You may have to fully replace the unit once the tank begins to leak.
  • Drain valve. The drain valve is located near the bottom of the tank and is used when flushing your tank. Double-check to see if it’s completely closed. If not, close it and you should stop the leak.

Once you know where the leak is, you should call a plumbing professional to either repair or replace. Bieg Plumbing has been dealing with water heater repairs and replacements for nearly 60 years. We’re the name you can trust for all of your plumbing needs in the St. Louis area. Contact Bieg to schedule an inspection or consultation. 

Got a bad leak? No need for luck. Just call in the red truck!

7 Things To Do If A Frozen Pipe Bursts In Your Property

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Frozen pipes are more likely to burst during the winter because the pressure frozen water puts on pipes when it expands. Unfortunately for homeowners, frozen pipes can cause significant structural damage if they burst.

How to combat burst and leaking frozen pipes

If you think frozen pipes on your property have burst, there are several steps you should take:

  1. Shut off the water in your house.
  2. Once the water is shut off, turn your faucets on. This should vent most of the excess water trapped in the frozen pipes and decrease the pressure on the pipes.
  3. Call a plumber. Nobody will be able to handle a burst pipe better than someone who specializes in fixing them.
  4. Locate the leaking or burst pipe. If the pipe is in the wall, this should be reasonably easy. If you’ve been experiencing irregular or no water pressure from a faucet, the damaged frozen pipes are probably connected to that faucet.
  5. Be aware that flooding may occur if the frozen pipes are located in the floor. Take precautions and place valuables or furniture that can be damaged by water above floor-level. If the frozen pipes are located in the wall, avoid using electrical outlets situated on that wall and unplug devices currently connected to that wall.
  6. If you know where the damaged frozen pipes are located and can get to them quickly, try to repair them using a garden hose and clamps. Find a garden hose large enough to wrap around the pipe(s). Cut a section of the hose around 10 inches longer than the leak or hole in the pipe. Place the hose around the damaged section of the pipe and use clamps to tighten it.
    Note: this is a temporary repair method. It will only stop the material surrounding the pipe from being damaged. However, you should still have a certified plumber replace or repair the pipe.
  7. Finally,  record the damage and call your insurer if you think you may need to file a claim.

What to expect from a leaking or burst pipe

At this point, you may be wondering what to expect from burst frozen pipes on your property. The damage a leaking or burst pipe causes mostly depends on where the pipe is located:

  • If frozen pipes are located in the wall, insulation will probably be saturated. As a result, untreated pipe leaks in walls often lead to mold. Electricity may also short-circuit, increasing the risk of a fire due to sparks. If the leak is big enough, the wall may buckle or sag due to decreased stability.
  • If frozen pipes are located in the floor, flooding will probably occur. Depending on the floor material, structural damage will also take place. Wood may start to rot or become moldy, while linoleum or tile floors may crack and also develop mold.

If you’re worried about frozen pipes on your property, Bieg Plumbing can help. Bieg Plumbing has been providing clients with cutting-edge plumbing services for more than 60 years. To learn more, fill out Bieg’s contact form. We look forward to speaking with you.

How To Winterize Your Backflow Device

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Your backflow prevention device guards your drinking water against contaminants. Cold weather can cause problems for this critical system unless you take steps to winterize your backflow preventer device. We will tell you the most important things to do to protect your family’s clean water.

Contamination risks

Contaminants like lawn fertilizer, industrial chemicals, common household cleaners, animal waste, and sewage are normally kept out of pipes that carry drinking, or potable, water. If a drop in pressure occurs in the pipes that carry non-potable water, these contaminants can be pulled into potable water pipes. Homes that have lawn irrigation systems, boiler heaters, inground pools, dishwashers or washing machines are all at risk for backflow contamination.

Types of backflow prevention assemblies

A backflow prevention device works by simply resisting the pressure of an impure fluid. Missouri only allows three types of backflow device assemblies:

  • Double-Check (DC)
  • Air-gap assemblies
  • Reduced Pressure Zone (RPZ) assemblies\

In a high-pressure configuration, such as in a commercial building, the backflow device will either be a DC or an RPZ assembly.

Regardless of the type, if water freezes inside the backflow device, it can rupture pipes, causing extensive damage. Even if the pipes simply get bent out of alignment, the device will no longer function properly. This will require replacing the entire device at a significant cost.

If your backflow device is either DC or RPZ, you will not be able to drain water from the system without causing damage. Winterizing it will generally be done by clearing the relief valve so that the water can drain periodically and insulating the pipes to keep them from freezing.

A few minutes now, or a big pain later

Winterizing your backflow prevention device is quick, simple and inexpensive. We recommend inspecting and preparing your device for winter. If you are not comfortable doing this, you should have a licensed professional winterize it so that all the water is removed. We would love to not only winterize, but also test your backflow system. After all, backflow testing is mandated by the EPA and can only be performed by certified professionals like us.

We’ve been keeping pipes flowing in the greater St. Louis area for 60 years, regardless of the season. Keep your water clean and fresh by contacting us today.

Bieg Plumbing 2nd Annual Clothing Drive

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We are excited to announce that Bieg Plumbing will once again be partnering with the Santa’s Helpers to bring Holiday cheer to our local community!  Last year with the help of our employees we were able to provide much-needed clothes to Santa’s Helpers that serve underprivileged children and their family members. This year we are expanding the Clothing Drive to our customers and community so that we can donate even more!!

Since 1968, Santa’s Helpers has touched the lives of over 2,700 children and their families every holiday season by purchasing, wrapping and delivering gifts for Christmas and Hanukkah to deserving children whose names are provided by local schools and social service agencies. Santa’s Helpers, Inc. is a 100% volunteer-based non-profit organization with virtually zero overhead expense – even the warehouse space is donated – so they are able to focus all of their resources on serving St. Louis’s under-resourced and seriously ill children and their families. From December 3rd through the 24th, Bieg Plumbing will waive half of your $50 trip fee if you donate to this great cause!

How to Donate

Give your technician an unwrapped qualifying donation item at the end of the job and our office will waive $25 off your trip fee.  You can also bring your donation items into our office at 2015 Lemay Ferry Rd, St. Louis, MO 63125 and we will give you a $25 coupon for your next service call, redeemable at any time!  That way no one misses out on giving back to our local community or a good deal on plumbing services!

What to Donate

Clothing items should be new, packaged and unwrapped for children all ages.  However, they are specifically in need of children’s (3-18) socks, underwear, winter hats, gloves, scarves, coats (‘like new’ if cleaned and washed), stuffed animals and batteries (9V & AA – Duracell/Energizer).

Where do the donations go?

The donations are taken to the Santa’s Helper’s warehouse where the gifts get sorted by family and bundled into large black trash bags, which are stacked in the warehouse awaiting volunteer Santas to hand them out on Christmas Day.

Santa’s Helpers are always looking for assistance in their warehouse. Throughout the year they will meet at the warehouse to do inventory, stock shelves, clean and organize and package up gifts for the Santa’s to deliver during the holiday. If you would like to talk to someone about volunteering or monetary donations, visit their site or call (314) 647-1800.

 

Together we can make a difference!

 

Winterize Your Sprinkler System in 4 Easy Steps

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With the winter months approaching, now would be a great time to winterize your sprinkler or irrigation system. If left alone, the low temperatures of winter can freeze the water left standing in your irrigation pipes, causing leaks, burst pipes, and malfunctions. Keep your system in great shape and working for years to come by following these instructions.

Steps to winterize your sprinkler system

  1. Drain your system. Most irrigation systems are connected to the home’s water source and have a backflow preventer that stops the flow of sprinkler water into your house. Find it and close the backflow valve before opening the manual drain valve. This allows gravity to do most of the work to drain the pipes. Remember to shut off the water supply to the system as well.
  2. Perform a blow-out procedure. While much of the water can be manually drained, it’s probable that your underground sprinkler pipes have low spots and areas where water still collects. Any water left in these pipes is potentially dangerous, so don’t take a chance. Use a 10 CFM (cubic feet per minute) air compressor to blow all of the excess water from the system. This is easily done by closing the backflow valve on your backflow preventer and finding the blow-out port. Attach a blow-out plug to the port and affix the compressor’s air hose to it. Turn on the compressor to no more than 80 PSI for PVC pipes or 50 PSI for polyethylene pipes, and blow out any leftover water. You may have to do this for each separate sprinkler zone in your system in order to avoid damage. As with any time you’re using compressed air, ensure you’re wearing ANSI approved safety glasses and not standing directly over the compressor. Safety first!
  3. Insulate the system. Keeping your system warm not only prevents any residual water from freezing and causing trouble but also protects valves and important mechanical components. Wrap the main shut-off valve and any above-ground pipes with insulating foam. Use a heavy-duty tape to make sure it stays on throughout the entire winter.
  4. Turn off the controller. You don’t want any automatic valves or pumps to be engaged when there is no water supply, as this could cause significant damage. Take care to cut the power to your automatic controller during these months. If you have a complicated timing schedule programmed into your system and don’t want to be bothered with setting it all up again in the spring, look for the controller’s “rain mode,” which will keep the valves dormant. The safest way to ensure there are no issues is to simply cut the power, however.

If you follow these steps, your system should be well protected against the season’s falling temperatures. If any step confuses you or you are unsure about how to get started, it’s better to call in the professionals. At Bieg Plumbing, we know how to properly drain a sprinkler system and would be happy to make a visit to your home.

To schedule an appointment or request an estimate, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

6 Warning Signs You Need to Replace Your Cast Iron Plumbing Stack

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Your home’s plumbing stack is one of its most vital components. It serves as the main hub where your property’s plumbing fixtures branch from. It is the pipe system that wastewater and sewage flow into to be expelled into the sewer line below your house. It also vents any noxious gas through a ventilation system in your roof. If you have an older cast iron plumbing stack, you need to watch for these warning signs that a replacement will soon be necessary.

6 warning signs your cast iron plumbing stacks need to be replaced:

  1. Slow drainage. If your toilets or sinks have started to drain slowly, and normal unclogging procedures aren’t working, you could have sediment buildup that is clogging your pipes.

  2. Discolored water. If your faucet or toilet water is brown, orange or otherwise discolored, your cast iron pipes could be significantly rusted. Cast iron is known to have rust issues, so this should be checked by a professional plumber immediately.

  3. Wet spots. If your interior walls start to show wet spots, your plumbing stack could have sprung a leak. Since the pipe diameter of a plumbing stack is fairly wide, a major leak could be a huge problem. Don’t wait for minor leaks to turn into significant damage when the pipe bursts later.

  4. Bad odor. Your plumbing stack is normally an airtight system, with noxious gas expelled through a vent system in your roof. If you consistently notice a foul smell in your home, a leak in your plumbing stack could be the culprit. This is a potentially dangerous problem and certainly lowers the quality of life for residents. It is something that needs to be dealt with promptly.

  5. Mold. If your interior walls are showing signs of mold, a leak in your plumbing stack could be providing the moist environment. It really could be leaks in any of your piping, but the situation would be especially dire if it were the stack.

  6. Barnacles. No, not the barnacles you’d find on a ship. It’s just another name for tiny rust spots appearing on the pipes of your stack. These spots weaken the structural integrity of the metal and lead to leaks, or potentially something worse. It can be difficult to notice this if your plumbing stack isn’t normally exposed, but if for any reason you see these spots appearing, you should call a plumber. This issue can then be resolved without a leak actually happening.

Bieg Plumbing always replaces cast iron plumbing stacks with modern PVC pipes. PVC is extremely durable, resistant to rust and more versatile when it comes to accommodating future renovations. If you’ve noticed any of the signs above, or know that your plumbing stack is 60 or more years old, have one of our certified professionals assess the situation. Catching problems early is crucial to preventing severe issues. We’ve seen it all throughout our decades of operation in the St. Louis area. Contact us today and we’ll help fix any of your plumbing issues properly and quickly.

Don’t want to get down in the muck? Call in the red truck!

Why is The Day After Thanksgiving so Busy for Plumbing Companies?

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The day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, is actually one of the busiest days of the year for plumbers. It’s estimated that plumbers receive approximately 50% more service calls on Black Friday. We’ll go over the most common problems and how you can avoid them. We think Black Friday should be a day for half-priced televisions and not plumbing emergencies, so follow our advice to save yourself the headaches.

Why are there more plumbing issues on Black Friday?

A couple of key factors seem to cause more service calls on the day after Thanksgiving, including:

  • Careless waste disposal. This is the biggest contributing factor to this plumbing phenomenon. Thanksgiving dinner is a big event that requires a lot of effort. You may not be thinking about your pipes before you put your turkey scraps down the drain, but you should if you want to avoid problems. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, celery, carrots can do a number on your pipes. Put too much of these down the garbage disposal, and you’re looking at a major clog. Likewise, fats such as turkey scraps, gravy and leftover oils also wreak havoc on the plumbing. We recommend attempting to empty all of these wastes into your garbage can rather than the disposal or drain. Please do not attempt to flush any large food wastes down the toilet when you can’t fit them down the drain. We’ve seen horror stories of flushed leftover turkey clogging toilets and causing major backups. Trust us and just use the trash can whenever possible.
  • More house guests. Thanksgiving dinner also means more people than usual will be in your home. You may even have family or friends staying overnight or throughout the weekend. This large increase in usage can tax a plumbing system past its breaking point, especially if you aren’t careful about waste disposal on Thanksgiving! More people lead to more showers, toilet flushing and laundry loads. You can help offset this problem by making sure to not be careless about food waste, and spacing out water use the best you can. This may mean not having multiple showers running at a time or delaying your dishwasher and laundry loads to off-peak plumbing hours.

The reason plumbers are so busy on Black Friday rather than Thanksgiving itself is that residents are likely to put off a call to a plumber until after the holiday. After a long day of work getting dinner on the table, the last thing people want to do is have a plumber come in to fix a drain. Whatever the case is, we’re sure this Black Friday will be busy.

Bieg Plumbing has served the St. Louis area for nearly 60 years, and we’re thankful to have earned your trust as a plumbing authority. Whether it’s turkey day or not, you can count on us to fix your plumbing issues quickly. We guarantee high-quality work, so contact us any time you’re experiencing a problem.

Turkey scraps down the drain got you stuck? Call in the red truck!