M.T. Dunn Plumbing Tips

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Avoiding Frozen Pipes

  • As temperatures reach freezing, close all air vents and other openings in the crawl space under your house. (Note: Monitor temperature, and open one or two vents in warmer weather for ventilation.)
  • In freezing weather, never set your home’s thermostat below 55 degrees.
  • Insulate pipes that are prone to freezing (ex: pipes near an outside wall), in unheated areas of your home or that are exposed (ex: outside spigots). In an emergency, several layers of newspapers or rags can be used for temporary insulation.
  • Keep the cover to your water meter box securely in place to prevent the meter from freezing.
  • In extremely cold weather, leave cabinet doors under sinks open to keep warm air circulating.
  • If temperatures are expected to fall below 20 degrees, leave water dripping slowly from faucets.
  • Locate your home’s master valve so you can shut off the water temporarily if a line does break. The master valve is typically located where the water line from the meter enters the house. This can be in the crawl space under your house or in the utility room near the hot-water tank or clothes washer.

Winterizing outside spigots & hosebibs:

From November 15 to April 15 your hosebibs should be winterized to prevent a pipe burst. Some home centers sell an insulated cover that fits over the outside faucet which seems to work well enough. But, if you live in an area where it gets windy and cold, follow these tips to avoid a disaster:

  • On November 15th, inside the house, locate and close the valves that control each outside hosebib.
  • Open each outside hosebib and leave open.
  • Go back inside and open the bleeder on the inside valves that control the outside hosebibs.
  • Make sure you have a small cup handy to catch any dripping water from the bleeder.

On April 15th just reverse the process making sure you close the bleeder valve.

If Your Pipes Freeze:

  • Open the cold-water faucet nearest the freeze to relieve pressure and reduce the likelihood of breakage.
  • Use a heat lamp or light bulb to gradually warm and thaw the frozen pipe. Too much heat in one spot, however, can burst the pipe, so be sure heat is evenly distributed over a large area of the pipe. Be extremely cautious if using any electrical appliance to thaw a pipe. The appliance could become wet, increasing your danger of electrocution.
  • DO NOT use a blow torch or any type of flame to thaw a frozen line. In addition to the danger of fire, extreme heat could thaw the pipe too rapidly, causing it to burst and resulting in potential injury.
  • If you cannot locate the freeze and no water is coming out of any tap, there is a chance that your service line or your meter is frozen. Call your local Water utility and request someone to check your meter. If your meter is not frozen, it is likely that the service line to your home is. In this case since all lines on your side of the meter box are the property owner’s responsibility, you may need the assistance of a plumber - Call MT Dunn Plumbing in an emergency  503.640.2458

Noisy Water pipes:

Noises range from loud hammering sounds to high-pitched squeaks. The causes may be loose pipes, water logged air chambers, or water pressure that's too high. Anchoring exposed pipes is a simple solution; other remedies such as anchoring pipes concealed inside walls, floors or ceilings, you may need to call a licensed professional.

Waste pipe noises:

These noises sound like a tick or a drip sound. The cause is almost always improper installation of waste pipes through wooden joists or studs. Waste lines should always have some room to expand and contract through holes drilled through wooden joists or studs. The sound happens when hot water expands the pipe and rubs against the wood causing an annoying ticking sound. If the pipe is accessible, see if a wedge was inserted in the hole and remove it. Otherwise do not widen the hole. Call a licensed carpenter to help remedy the situation so the integrity of the structure remains sturdy and safe.

Water Heater Maintenance:

This simple maintenance tip may save you hundreds in plumbing costs. And it’s as easy as turning on a faucet. Twice a year attach a hose to the drain located on the bottom of your water heater. Run the hose outside or in the bath tub. Then just open the valve for about 45 seconds. This will flush out sediment that can lower your water heater capacity and prevent your thermostat from making an incorrect reading. It can also prevent a costly Element replacement repair.

Avoiding Clogged Kitchen Drains:

This tip is good all year round, but especially in winter. When the temperature drops, the waste pipes from the kitchen sink become slow and in the worst case will clog. One way to help avoid this problem is to always use cold water when using the disposal to clear the sink.  The COLD water will allow any oils or grease to clump and help to flush them down the pipes.  If HOT water is used, the oils stay liquid and will coat the inside of the pipes which will build up quickly. Also, avoid putting anything down the drain like coffee grounds, as they will quickly stick to the grease and help to build the grease layer faster. The waste food gets stuck in the grease layer that lines the pipes and you get stuck doing dishes in the bathroom sink!

  • Never put oils or grease down the drain, put things like bacon grease and cooking oils in a can and into the garbage. (after cool of course)
  • Always use COLD water when using the disposal
  • Never put things like coffee grounds down the kitchen drain.

Avoid Clogged Drains


  • Never put oils or grease down the drain, put things like bacon grease and cooking oils in a can and into the garbage. (after cool of course)
  • Always use COLD water when using the disposal
  • Never put things like coffee grounds down the kitchen drain.
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