Living in Calgary, whether you are in Rocky Ridge, Lake Bonavista, or Aspen, occasionally we all feel the pressure to fix something on our own. How many times have you tried to fix a toilet, check on your hot water tank, repair a faucet or install a plumbing fixture? Fixing residential or commercial broken plumbing issues can be very rewarding. If you are a DIY type of person, keep reading!
Honestly, one of the reasons I became a plumber was the pure satisfaction of having a problem, making a plan, and then taking action to resolve it. When I tested my work and saw the result of something that was broken and that I had turned into being fully operational, it provided my soul with total gratification.
You may not realize it, but I have already given you the keys on how to solve your own plumbing problems (reread above paragraph), BUT there are a couple variables that tend to make your confidence shake.
3 Reasons People Hesitate to Do Their Own Plumbing
The top 3 reasons people hesitate are because (1) they are afraid of flooding their property and making something worse, and (2) they do not have the right plumbing or heating (gasfitting) tools and/or (3) they are missing the correct parts to do the plumbing repairs themselves.
How can you overcome these big issues?
If you are feeling confident and want to tackle fixing your shower, water softener, toilet, garburator, pipes, or any of the many plumbing elements that are in your home or business, then read on.
Educating yourself online prior to starting can be very helpful, especially through video instructions that take you step by step through the process. Youtube is full of people who will have tips and how-to videos on how to do a large variety of tasks such as change your kitchen faucet, replace your garburator, install a water softener, repair a plugged toilet, tighten a showerhead or simply turn off your shut off valve. Watch a few videos and find one that seems to match your problem in your home. Be careful though, not all video tutorials will be correct or match your exact plumbing / heating situation. Although not every scenario is exactly the same and variables may come up, this has been the easiest way to make sure you are on the right track to success. With a good how-to video, caution and confidence (plus the right tools and parts), most people can remedy various plumbing problems that arise in their home or office.
Covid 19 impacts
Since COVID-19, things have changed and adaptation has become so important for people and businesses. As part of our initiative to reduce person-to-person contact, at Aquality Plumbing & Heating we adapted something that we have done for years with our Realtor clients, and we are now utilizing Facetime and Zoom with all our customers in Calgary, Airdrie, Cochrane, and Chestermere. We use these platforms to help Do-it-Yourselfers stay on the right track with plumbing or heating repairs, or to receive a quote on work they are looking to have done by our team. Imagine a private interactive session with a Calgary plumber looking at your home or business, and advising how you can get it done on your own. And it’s FREE! I feel this has become the best way to get the information you need to get your repair or renovation moving.
Sometimes it is too much without a Professional’s help
If you try to solve an issue on your own, but run into one of the top 3 issues listed above (worried about making the situation worse, lacking tools or missing parts) then you may need help. There could just be too many steps that overwhelm you and the value in having a professional deal with the issue, is probably the right move. It could also be that gasfitting is involved and the safety and insurance risks of working on gas as a homeowner or business owner are way too high. That is why you cannot pull a gas permit within Calgary on your own – it has to be done by a licensed gasfitting contractor.
We are here to help with plumbing and heating repairs, installations and problems. Many times, we have assisted Calgarians with resolving their own plumbing issues. That is our ultimate goal, if that is what your goal is. You see at Aquality, our vision is to be the trusted plumbing and heating expert by building honest relationships. We feel this is a great way to start your relationship with us.
With COVID-19 leading the way as our highest priority, we are all working hard to respect social distancing. This has us spending more time at home and increasing our potential risk of being exposed to radon more than normal. The more time we spend in an environment with radon, the greater our risk of developing cancer from this gas that lives in many of our homes.
What is radon?
The Government of Canada defines radon as a radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rock. It is invisible, odourless and tasteless. When radon is released from the ground into the outdoor air, it is diluted and is not a concern. However, in enclosed spaces, like homes, it can accumulate to high levels and become a risk to the health of you and your family.
How can we help you?
Aquality Plumbing & Heating recognizes the importance of having Certified Radon Professional come into your home, and Steve Sims, is our resident expert on this topic. He has put countless hours into training on this topic over the past year to ensure we deliver the best service and information to educate and assist people like you. Calgary, and surrounding areas, has some of the highest risk areas in all of Canada, and just like with your plumbing, we want to keep you safe while creating a relationship with you.
Why do I need a Certified Radon Professional with the C-NRPP (Canadian – National Radon Proficiency Program)?
Did you know only a Certified Radon Professional is insured to work in your home on Radon? As well, they have also spent 48 hours in classroom time, plus independent hours preparing for tests that must be completed in order to receive their certification. These professionals work to increase homeowner awareness of radon, so you can benefit from their knowledge and skill set while maintaining the highest standards of work and ethics in their practice.
How does radon mitigation work?
What if a radon test determines that your home has high levels of radon? What can you do to decrease the risk to the people and pets in your house? The best solution is one that is customized to your house and a trained professional will likely use several techniques that ensure quality testing and appropriate mitigation.
For example, the inline fans used for radon testing can pull up to 50% of radon-rich air from the basement making this an ideal living space area for testing. Backdrafting of appliances, including fireplaces can become an issue if not tested. It can be a lengthy trial and error process to get the radon levels down to an acceptable level, and as trained professionals, we know how to test the foundation in the basement to ensure we are going to get good suction across it and how to correctly seal it.
A lot of time and money can be wasted working on unnecessary areas. Training and knowledge are key to getting any job done properly and we want to ensure it’s the right solution for each home.
The extensive process is part of the journey
Radon systems control radon, they don’t eliminate it. A properly installed system is crucial. Follow up with post-mitigation is key – we will be testing your home 24 hrs after mitigation. From then, we will follow up with testing within 12 months, and again within 2 years. We want you to be healthy and with radon levels safe for you to live in your home.
Contact us today to set up an initial phone call with Steve, and see if setting up your FREE Radon Education Session is your next best move.
You may be
thinking, “You actually trust trade’s people?”
The answer is “Yes,
I really do! But there is more to my answer – let me explain.”
When I was young, I
developed a fear of people taking advantage of me. It guided my decisions even
as a child because I really didn’t want to be “ripped off” or lied to. It’s
possible that many times I missed out on opportunities due to my lack of trust,
but I learned to follow my gut and I felt pretty good about my decisions.
As I grew up, I was
intrigued with the fact that many people have a higher than normal level of
distrust for trades people. I was hooked! I learned everything I could
about trust and the trades.
Today, I can
proudly tell you that I have the secret to trusting trades. I also offer
clients a trust-worthy option as the owner of Aquality Plumbing & Heating,
based upon ensuring our clients never feel taken advantage of.
So how do you know
if you can trust a trade?
To be honest, this
works for anything or anyone, and I believe it is the best way to avoid dealing
with people that cannot be trusted. For many years, I relied on gut instinct
alone, and although that worked reasonably well, I soon discovered the
following solid methodology.
The challenge when trusting trades
The reason trades
are one of the toughest to trust for me, is because we need them but don’t want
them. Harsh but true. To make it even tougher, it’s the last thing we
want to spend money on, or planned to spend money on. Granted, we do at
times plan a renovation or new build, yet we still feel like we pay too much
for heat, hot water, and even lighting. The difference in some of these
is perspective. Lighting gets exciting when we get to pick the light itself,
yet the wires to make it work clearly cost too much because they get buried in
a wall. We use hot water every day and consider it a life source. We heat
our homes for about 9 months a year most of the time in Calgary. If one of
these goes down, man are we bitter! What’s important to realize is why we are
so upset this happened. At this stage it isn’t even about the trade, it’s
about me, and the lack of desire to spend money on something that doesn’t give
us the exciting emotional connection material things typically do.
3 keys to Trusting a Trade
Even with that, we
need help! Enter The Trade…and this is where the trifecta of tips may
help you out. In my experience, you need to look for 3 key components.
Expert Advice/Ability to Educate
Integrity by Consistency
Reputation is a
quick investigation to see how likely it is that you will develop a positive
relationship. If a trade has a positive reputation, it is more likely that you
will too. This does not have to be a 100% transactional relationship.
Personally, I have become friends to many of our clients. Even if that is not
the case, people learn that I will give my best thoughts toward their concern
so they get a solution for their problem. You are assessing if the trade has
your best interest at heart.
2. Ability to
educate and learn from one another
At Aquality, we always
think about other people’s issues as if it were our own, and then use our
expertise to educate clients on solutions. That is a huge part of the
relationship, the expert knowledge and how it is shared. That reminds me of a
funny story, a person actually did this to me at an estimate many years ago.
I went to do an
estimate for a possible client whose hot water ruptured and they wanted to go
tankless. I didn’t know at the time but I was the third Plumber in that
day. She was super friendly although she wanted answers right when I came
in. I responded by saying I could get a better feel for what she needs if
I could see her current set up. She agreed with no issues and we went to
the basement to check it out. Although my common sense told me right away, I
can’t quote you this from your front hallway, I did not know I was the only one
to not give her tons of options before going downstairs. Two of the other
plumbers did go down, but one never even had to take his shoes off, as he was
confident in his quote without ever seeing her mechanical room! (Extra Tip- If shoes don’t
come off at a quote or it isn’t offered, think twice before hiring)
Once we were
looking at the set up, she told me the tankless model she wanted installed.
I’d never heard of it, and told her I would need to do some research
after we were done and get back to her as I had never heard of this brand or
model before. I can assure you one thing, there are a lot of products and
information in our trade, there will never be a day I know everything
To my surprise, she
asked me what I would recommend because she wants me to do the work. I
was confused, but to her, I passed her test upstairs and showed I was
interested in her home and what she needed, and I was the only one to admit I
had no idea the unit she wanted to use even existed. Little did I know, the
card she held, was she had made up the brand and unit of the tankless water
heater! Yet the other two plumbers spoke
highly of her choice and one even said he has put in tons of them!! (No wonder
people don’t trust some trades!) I suggested two options that would
give her range on efficiency, size, and price. Still a client to this day….and life
lessons of which I will never let go.
integrity by consistency
It’s easy to do the
right thing once, but to do it every time, now that’s integrity by consistency.
The real trust comes from watching a trade consistently deliver good service
and products. I always look for proof of a company willing to deliver
consistent service year after year, customer after customer.
I’m super fortunate
to have a team that knows their trade and can educate clients beyond their
expectations. What I’ve helped them learn, is to listen to what our
clients want before they go into their encyclopedia of information in their
This is why long
standing clients who love our service over and over, remain strong supporters
of Aquality Plumbing & Heating. I’ve built a team that consists of
people who value trustworthy relationships, communication, accountability and
integrity so much that its core to how they work and live their lives.
Well, when it comes to safety, the answer in our opinion is no. BUT, for many other health and proactive reasons, it is a definite YES! Confused? Let us explain by some facts:
Hard Water makes many people’s skin irritated and dry.
Hard Water leaves deposits in piping.
Hard Water scales on fixture surfaces.
Hard Water plugs fixtures and appliances.
Hard Water leaves a white film on glass.
And it is a resounding fact that Calgary indeed has hard water. How do we know this? It is easy to determine with a simple test. Even our amazing City posts the results for the public on their website. Some of you may not know that it is different for North Calgary then South. Either way, you have hard water with the Northside slightly less than in the South. What is also interesting is looking at the times of year the water is harder than others. Each year we see spikes for approximately 4 months through our winter season.
Bearspaw Treatment Plant Effluent Water Hardness (mg CaCO3) for 2017
mg/L CaCO 3
Glenmore Treatment Plant Effluent Water Hardness (mg CaCO3) for 2017
mg/L CaCO 3
So now that you know the facts, how can improve your situation by protecting your home and your skin all at the same time. As a bonus you will use less soap to do dishes, in your washing machine, and be protecting expensive appliances and your water heater. Did you know if you have a tankless water heater you are voiding the manufacturer’s warranty if you do not have a hardness level below their stated levels (Yup, Calgary is way above those levels).
Installing a true water softener is the key to ensure you are getting the soft water you want. There are alternative’s and unfortunately most do not hold up to expectation. If you do want an alternative we suggest a unit utilizing a time-release citrus filter. This will limit scale but will not be effective in turning water from hard to soft. The reason a water softener is able to do this magic trick is because it is performing a true ion exchange. Water Softener’s, that use salt, exchange calcium and magnesium (which makes the water hard) for sodium ions. And voila! You have soft water. It is able to do this repeated times through a regeneration of its resin bed.
Our units are High Efficient and use almost no more electricity than a plug in clock. They also last a long time! The cabinet and tank are even a Lifetime Warranty. With it’s upflow design it has by far the most efficient regeneration on the market, as well as a cool municipal feature which creates less regeneration required. It even recognizes if you left town and have not been using it, so again no regeneration is need, but will keep fluid in the brine to ensure bridging and other common issues do not occur with your unit.
So, now you have the details and facts and you may decide you are just fine without a water softener. And hey, that is totally cool with us. BUT, if you realize there is a better life for your skin and home just around the corner, give us a call at 403-205-2782 or reach out at aqualityplumber.com. We would be happy to discuss this further.
By the way, if you made it to here, you get the best part. At the Calgary Fall Home Show, we have a Super Special on for $500 off our regular pricing. Just come by our booth, #441, and say Hi and we can book you in right there. And don’t forget to fill out a draw card too as someone is going to win a free unit installed valued at $1795.00! This is by far the best price we have ever done for these units, and we pulled favors to make this possible, so take advantage.
Toilet leaks may be an easy repair but sometimes detecting a leak can be the biggest part of the challenge, especially if it’s a silent leak.
Don’t be alarmed – there are many ways for you to check to see if your toilet is leaking, but the classic ‘leaking toilet dye-test’ isn’t one of them! In case you’ve forgotten the details, the leaking toilet test, is where you drop a few drops of food colouring or dye into the tank of your toilet, and wait a few moments to see if coloured water seeps or leaks down into your toilet bowl. It may sound pretty straightforward and foolproof, however it doesn’t always produce results you can count on!
When performing the test, we often found the dye would still leak into the toilet bowl, but it wasn’t necessarily because a leak was present. What most people don’t know is dye can still leak into your toilet bowl due to the differences ofviscosity in the liquids and dyes. After performing the test, it might tell you that you have a leaking toilet, when you really do not!
If you want to diagnose a leaking toilet, here are a few of myinsider tips and tricks you can try yourself:
1) Place your ear to the toilet tank after you’ve flushed. Continue to listen for a minute or two after the toilet has stopped filling. If the leak isn’t silent, you will be able to hear if water is still running. If you can still hear water running, it means you’ve most likely detected a leak.
2) After you’ve flushed, wait a few moments and then look into the toilet bowl. If you can still see water movement filling from the tank minutes later, you’ve most definitely spotted a leak.
3) If you can hear your toilet filling when no one has recently used it, it probably means you have a broken fill valve. This is known as the famous ‘Ghost Fill’.
Before you let your water bill double, give these tips a try to detect a leak right away. If you suspect you have a leaking toilet, contact us for a professional toilet check.
Ever wonder why you should compost if you already have a garburator? Doesn’t it all eventually end up back in mother earth anyway?
Kitchen waste is a major part of composting and once we own a garburator, we become conditioned to scrape plates and put everything we can down our garburator in our sink. This is still the best thing to do, right!?
At Aquality Plumbing & Heating, we want you to reconsider using your garburator for kitchen scraps! Please start composting and give your garburator a break.
Why would we suggest you compost instead of using a garburator?
Maybe you are surprised that a business that sells and installs garburators is pushing for composting, but to us, it makes complete sense. Aquality Plumbing & Heating is built on honesty and providing services for Calgarians that they actually really need. We are about being helpful – not for selling products if they won’t benefit you and make your life better.
Garburators have a place and as an owner of one in my home I see the value. In the past, I used my garburator to get rid of plate scraps and then cut up lemon or lime to keep the smell down as that kills bacteria from forming. (That’s a helpful tip for you Garb-people out there!). I also “flush” the kitchen sink once a week to keep it healthy. (Learn more about Sink Maintenance.)
Our home plumbing systems are not actually designed to have so much food debris running through them. In addition, the City’s water systems then have to work extra hard to screen this same debris out before it is processed back into our river system.
Can My Compost Bin Really Handle All Our Table Scraps?
With the City of Calgary having compost bins available, we finally have the best of both worlds. I no longer put table scraps into my sink even though I have a garburator. I get everything I can, even yogurt, into the compost as I know it will break down and create a sustainable fertilizer that will be used for so much good around the city!
In addition, I feel good knowing this saves space in our landfills: food waste is 50% of our current garbage!
Use Your Own Compost
Hey, you can even be selfish and compost at home and keep the goods for yourself and your yard! In the end, I am proud to say that my drains run clear which means I avoid a potentially costly service call for an augur service, that many garburator users and abusers will incur.
Compost. Not Garburator.
The truth is, we see a ton of people abuse their garburator by using it for items that it cannot fully break down. We even see people prepping for large meals and putting everything down the drain. To save yourself money in the long run and avoid the annoyance of a plugged line, put that food waste in the compost! It is smart and super easy!
What Should a Garburator be Used For?
In the end, I still have and use my garburator almost everyday for the little items that find a way in the sink. This ensures my drain stays clear. I just no longer use it to rid myself of all the food waste we produce in our home. Composting is designed to deal with all this material in the best way possible, our piping systems are not. ~ David H., Owner, Aquality Plumbing & Heating
Still not convinced? Check out these compelling reasons to compost, as listed by our awesome City of Calgary!