Tips & Advice

Keeping Your Drains Clear and Unblocked

It’s no fun, but most of us have come across trouble with drainage at one point or another. Each day, the plumbers at Superior Plumbing and Gas race across the Bay of Plenty driving around Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa as they unclog, maintain and repair blocked drains.

To help you avoid this pesky problem, our plumbers and drainlayers wanted to share three common causes of blocked drains in the kitchen, bathroom and outdoors, and what to do when you find yourself in a muck.

Common Causes of Drain Blockages

Oils and Fats

A common myth is that a little hot water will help oils and fats go down the drain. In reality, greasy food products adhere to the sides of drains and pipes, building up until you’ve got yourself one nasty blocked drain. Avoid this by disposing of this waste properly: small amounts of oil can be wiped up with a handy towel, while larger amounts need to be collected in a container or jar and thrown away with the rubbish.

If you’ve been trying to flush oil down the drain with hot water, it might be a good idea to get a plumber in to have a look and unclog any blockages before you have a big mess on your hands.

Weather

Less controllable is the weather factor. Strong storms or downpours can cause drainage problems outside by causing drains to fill up too quickly and clogging them up with mud, leaves and debris.

When such materials accumulate in your drains, the pipes overflow and rainwater can end up flooding your driveway, lawn, garage and even your house. Keep your outdoor area free of leaves, dirt and excess grass and give the yard a once over ahead of a predicted storm.

Organic Materials

Organic materials being sent down the sink, shower or toilet is a major source of blocked drains. Plumbers have seen it all: food waste built up in the kitchen sink’s pipes; hair and soap in the shower; too much toilet paper in the bathroom. Simple solutions, like a strainer to catch food in the kitchen sink and a drain cover for hair in the shower, work but this problem is not one you can totally avoid so catching and dealing with a blockage when it first appears is best.

Unblocking Drains

If food waste, weather, materials or anything else has gotten the better of you and you’ve ended up with a blocked drain, worry not. Our Tauranga drain unblockers are well versed in unclogging drains both inside and outside your home. Whether it’s a small kitchen sink, a toilet that won’t flush or an outdoor drain that is backed up, we can diagnose the problem quickly and fix it efficiently so that your plumbing is back in working order in no time.

Is It Time to Get on the Central Heating Bandwagon?

Truth be told, New Zealand homes are cold. Poorly insulated, single glazed windows, drafts coming in under the front door and heating that doesn’t quite reach down the hall are all factors contributing to cold, damp, winter homes. And with cooler weather in Tauranga starting in May and lasting until August, it’s no surprise that many Kiwis want this to change.

Aside from major renovations or undertaking a new home build, one of the best things you can do to keep warm in the comfort of your own home is install a central heating system.

What are central heating systems?

Most countries with cold winters use central heating systems, yet they are still something of an anomaly in NZ. Unlike fire places, heat pumps or space heaters, central heating is designed to warm the entire house rather than just one room. It is a relatively clean and efficient heating system that suits a variety of properties from homes to commercial buildings, big or small, new or old.

How does it work?

The source of heat is set up in a central point of the house, usually just outside the lounge, with ducts or pipes transferring the heat from its origin source to the rest of the house. The heat can be from a variety of sources including gas, electricity, solar or wood. Your plumber or gas fitter will install the heating unit in a central location so that heat can be efficiently transferred through vents into each room.

What about the cost?

You’d be forgiven for assuming that a central heating system would cost an arm and a leg while warming the entire house. However, the reality is that the cost is similar to heating a single room, as the efficiency of the ducts transferring the heat help keep the cost down.

Benefits of central heating installation

• All rooms are heated and warm
• Contributes to a dry house with less mould and dampness
• Can control heat in each room separately
• Great for family homes and home-based workers
• Cost is similar to heating a single room

If you’ve struggled through one too many cold houses during a NZ winter and the idea of installing central heating keeps niggling at the back of your mind, it might be time to switch over. If you’re in the Tauranga, Mount Maunganui or Papamoa, give our central heating specialists at Superior Plumbing and Gas a call and we can discuss if it’s the right move for you.

Know the Facts – 6 Common Plumbing Myths

There are many misconceptions when it comes to plumbing. Some are harmless (which direction does toilet water drain?) while others can be downright dangerous (that’s you, flushable wipes!) So, to clear the air – and the pipes – we thought we’d dispel six of the most common plumbing myths we’ve encountered.

1 – Tightening a pipe always fixes the leak

Not wanting to involve a plumber for a small leak, many DIY-ers think that all you need to do to fix a leak is tighten a pipe. Twist, twist – done! In actual fact, you could be over-tightening the pipe, which will make the leak worse and cause more damage, so it’s always best to call in the expert to fix a leak or blocked drain in or around the house.

2 – “Flushable” wipes

The misleading of customers with the name “flushable wipes” is a scourge to plumbers everywhere! Flushing wet wipes down the toilet is a great way to block drains and end up needing plumbing repairs. Flushing these wipes is so common that they have caused mass citywide sewer blockages, which is inconvenient and bad for the environment. Don’t fall for the “flushable” scam!

3 – Hot water helps grease go down the drain

Pouring grease down the drain or toilet is never a good idea. Most people know this, yet they fall victim to the common believe that chasing the grease with hot water is a magic block-free potion. Not so! Hot or boiling water does nothing to breakdown fat and will not prevent blocked drains. Save yourself some water and power and dispose of grease properly in the rubbish, not the sink.

4 – Water drains the opposite way in the northern hemisphere

This one isn’t going to help you in any way (except maybe at a dinner party) but it is a pet peeve to plumbers everywhere. A commonly held belief is that water drains clockwise in the southern hemisphere and anti-clockwise in the north. Save yourself some time on your next trip over the equator: water drainage depends on the plumbing structure itself, not the Earth’s gravitational pull.

5 – Leaky taps are not a big concern

If you have a tap that has a regular but tiny amount of water dripping, you might be tempted to ignore the issue, brushing it off as insignificant and normal. Unfortunately, any leak is a leak and should be repaired. Not only will the leak likely get worse, but it is a major source of wasted water, which you are sure to notice on your next water bill. The good news is a small leak is a small repair, so get your local plumber from Superior Plumbing and Gas in sooner than later.

6 – All plumbers are equal

It’s worth shopping around to find a great plumber – one that is experienced in their trade, licensed and qualified, efficient and happy to tidy up. Hint, hint: we’re not called Superior Plumbing and Gas for nothing! Operating across Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa, our plumbers are top notch, happy and able to help with any plumbing maintenance, repair or installation needs.

A Few Aspects of Plumbing You Should Consider

Winter is just days away and apparently we are in for a cold one in Tauranga. Preparing your plumbing for the wintry months to come is a great way to avoid cold water surprises and damp, cold houses. Hot water cylinders, central heating and gas installation are three major plumbing maintenance areas to consider to keep your home warm and toasty this winter.

Hot Water Cylinders

There’s nothing worse than running out of hot water halfway through a shower in the middle of July, so you will want to make sure that your hot water cylinder is up to scratch.

If you want to install a new hot water cylinder, consider your options. Both electric and gas hot water cylinders are common, and the best choice depends on your situation. If you have other gas appliances, this can be a cost-effective option while houses with lower hot water needs are usually better off with electric.

If you are happy with your current cylinder…get a plumbing expert in to look at your hot water cylinder and make sure that it’s functioning well. Hot water cylinder maintenance often gets overlooked until a problem arises, however they do need some tune ups to function at their optimal level and last as long as possible. If it’s been five years or more, it’s definitely time to get a plumber in for a check-up.

Central Heating

Despite being the heating of choice in many parts of the world, central heating is not the most common type of heating in NZ homes. But its popularity is on the rise because of its ability to efficiently heat and dry out the entire house.

If you want to install a central heating system, first get a professional plumber to assess if your house is appropriate for central heating and get a quote on the price ahead of installation.

If you already have central heating…now is a good time to maintain your central heating system and make any repairs. We recommend getting a plumber to check your central heating systems yearly to keep it working well and stop any little problems from turning into something serious.

Gas Installation

Gas is a great choice for hot water, fireplaces and hobs and if you’re thinking of making the switch to these appliances, do it now so you can reap the rewards all winter long. The installation of gas appliances requires qualified professionals who will provide you with code compliance: luckily,

Superior Plumbing and Gas have a team of qualified and experienced gas fitters working across Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa and we’re happy to discuss the benefits of gas and install anything you need to stay warm.

 Hot Water Cylinders for the Winter Months Ahead 

Hot Water Cylinders for the Winter Months Ahead

As we head into the cold, winter months, heating and hot water are on many people’s minds. With hot water being one of the household’s most costly services, it’s important to understand your water heating options for the winter months ahead.

Technically there are several options for heating your water in the winter months, but most Kiwi houses either use a gas hot water cylinder or an electric one. Whichever you have, the most important thing is that you have a decent supply of hot water. Our plumbers at Superior Plumbing and Gas have seen people on both sides of the gas or electric debate, but ultimately many factors are involved to choose the best fit.

Electric Hot Water Cylinders

How it works: an element is encased within a water storage tank regulated by a thermostat, delivering water to your taps at up to 55 degrees Celsius. With modern electric cylinders, it’s hard to run out of hot water with regular use because the thermostat detects any dip in temperature, triggering the element to heat the water up.

Benefits: electric hot water cylinders are more energy efficient than gas. They have a large storage tank of water, so there is always plenty of water available. Having been used for many years, plumbers agree that they are reliable, efficient and long-lasting. Plus their upfront fees are lower than gas cylinders and they have the added bonus of being able to be turned off to save you money while on holiday.

Traditionally, electric hot water cylinders are more common, however more people are opting for gas.

Gas Hot Water Cylinders

How it works: Like electric, gas hot water cylinders use an insulated tank of water regulated by a thermostat, the difference being that the water is heated by gas, rather than electricity. Typically this is natural gas, but LPG bottles can be used when natural gas is not available.

Benefits: often located outside the house, gas hot water cylinders free up valuable space indoors. Also, as they do not rely on electricity, you still have hot water in a power failure. Gas hot water cylinders heat water up more quickly than electricity and, if other appliances are also running on gas, gas cylinders can be more cost-effective.

New and Old Cylinders

Switching from one cylinder to the other can be pricey, so you need to weigh up the installation cost and consider if you will be in the house long term for it to be worthwhile. For houses with medium to high hot water needs, gas is usually more cost-effective whereas households using less hot water generally find electric cylinders to cost less.

Before you chuck out the old electric hot water cylinder, there are some things to do to improve its performance, such as wrapping it in a cylinder wrap which insulates it and keeps the heat in. Unfortunately, it’s not safe to do so with gas.

Whether you want a new hot water cylinder, want to maintain your old one, or simply want to better understand your options, speak to the team of plumbing experts at Superior Plumbing and Gas.