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Norman Bundrant M-37850

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Things to Consider Before You Call a Plumber

If you need a plumber, ask your friends and relatives for a referral. If they canít help you, call your local chamber of commerce or a plumbing-supply or fixture store. These are your best bet for recommendations. People wonít refer a plumber they didnít like or trust.

Monday is the day wives call us to repair whatever their husbands "fixed" over the weekend.

Burst washing machine hoses top the homeowner-insurance claim list. Replace rubber hoses with stainless steel braided flood stop hoses.

Donít put a brick or jug in the toilet tank. The toilet was designed to flush with the amount of water in the tank. If you want to save water, invest in a new, low volume toilet.

Donít use liquid drain cleaners. They donít really work and they corrode the pipes. Use a plunger or auger instead. Both are inexpensive, reusable and effective.

Be familiar with your home. Know the location of the main shutoff valve. If you have a leak or broken pipe, turn off the valve and remove the water as much as you can ASAP. This can save you a big headache and water removal/restoration bill.

Avoid a clog at every opportunity. An inexpensive drain strainer or a hair snare will catch anything going down the drain. Clear it out as often as possible.

Toilets are designed to flush human waste and toilet paper only. Just because the label says "flushable" does not mean thatís a good idea. Instead, use the trash for baby wipes, facial tissue and personal hygiene products. These do not break down the way toilet paper does.

Plumbers can charge by the hour or by a flat job rate. Know what youíre paying for. Your estimate should show the breakout of materials and labor. Make sure your plumber knows local ordinances and plumbing codes.

If youíre always jiggling the toilet handle, just replace the flap valve. Parts are inexpensive and itís easy to do yourself.

If your garbage disposal jams, donít stick a broom in it - check for a reset button or use an Allen wrench (many times, one comes with the garbage disposal). Use the directions in the manual.

A toiIet seat is easy to repair or replace. You can do it yourself, it doesnít require any special skills from the plumber.

Winterize your outside faucets by making sure they are turned completely off and hoses are removed. If you leave on vacation, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve. If you have any exposed pipes outside, or even in your garage or attic, buy and install some pipe insulation. Itís a small investment in time and money to avoid a costly repair.

When you have a repair that requires a plumber, get at least 3 estimates. Cheaper is not always better. Go with a moderately priced, reputable company - especially if you get a good referral from someone you trust. Make sure you ask about warranties up front.

Always ask any service contractor to see their licenses. In Texas, plumbers are required to be licensed by the state. They are required to carry their license card at all times. Any reputable contractor will be happy to comply. If they refuse, or donít have a license, donít hire them. This protects you on insurance claims and ensures the contractor is competent.

A small drip can waste more water than you think. Fix small drips or leaks before they become big ones.

Most plumbing companies will perform a whole-house plumbing inspection free of charge. The plumber will be able to bring your attention to anything that may become a problem in the future.

Reputable contractors will not enter a home without a responsible adult present.