Category Archives: Plumbing


It’s easy to take hot water for granted, but did you know it’s important to maintain your water heater annually? Whether you have a tankless or conventional water heater—electric, propane or gas—annual maintenance is essential for safety reasons, efficient/reliable operation, and to extend the serviceable life of the appliance. Here’s a great DIY resource giving tips and advice about maintaining water heaters. 

And, here’s a tip: If you have an electric water heater, consider purchasing replacement elements and thermostats (they’re inexpensive) and storing them next to the water heater. In this way, you’re prepared to quickly and easily replace elements/thermostats to restore hot water without making a long trip to the hardware store (fingers crossed that they have what you need). You’ll be a hero restoring hot water quickly, trust me! Finally, if you ever notice that your water heater tank is leaking or corroding, that’s your tell sign that the water heater is at end-of-life and requires replacement ASAP.   

If you have questions or comments about home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

Originally posted 2019-10-09 09:10:53.


Today, I’m going to write about a plumbing issue that is as easy to diagnose as counting “1-2-3,” or—more aptly—“A-B-C.”

I’m talking about “S-traps” and “P-traps.”  If you don’t know what these are, this video gives a nice overview. After watching this, you’ll better understand why you may want to consider making the switch from “S” to “P” in your home’s sinks.

I recently came across this very issue during an inspection on Fidalgo Island, where I found an “S-Trap” installed under the kitchen sink. As a result, I recommended the homeowner install a “P-Trap” in my report.

If you have questions or comments about plumbing issues, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

Originally posted 2019-08-14 11:50:10.


While I appreciate it when homeowners attempt to take on handyman repairs on their own, sometimes it’s best to leave things to the professionals.

Case in point: during a recent inspection on Shaw Island, I noticed handyman plumbing practices at a copper supply line within the kitchen sink base cabinet. Its execution left a bit to be desired. 

If you have questions or comments about plumbing issues, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).

Originally posted 2019-09-11 04:11:51.


If you don’t take care of leaks when they first occur, a funny thing begins to happen: they get worse. Recently, during an inspection in Langley, I discovered an active plumbing leak in the crawl space at the main water shutoff valve. 

I also noted corrosion at the galvanized pipe fitting. I stated in the report that my clients should consult a qualified plumbing contractor to take care of this before the problem worsened.

Do you have questions or comments about plumbing issues? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).


I use the word “unconventional” in my home inspection reports quite often when it comes to an assortment of issues. While “unconventional” may be a positive attribute in certain circumstances and specific industries (such as successful marketing or sales campaigns), it’s virtually always considered a negative adjective for home inspectors. In my field, uniformity is king!

This week, our “unconventional” examples originated during a recent inspection I conducted in Bellingham. I noticed an unconventional vent pipe protruding through a master bathroom toilet tank, and—admittedly—I had no idea as to its function. Funnily enough, I saw an identical issue in a separate bathroom toilet. 

In my report, I recommended the clients (potential buyers) inquire with the seller or a qualified plumbing contractor as to the function of the protrusion.

Do you have questions or comments about unconventional installations or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).

Originally posted 2019-02-13 08:07:05.

It’s hammer time!

Does your sink ever sing to you? I recently came across such a sink at a home in Oak Harbor. The song? A little ditty called “water hammer.” 

Water hammer is the result of waterline pressure causing water pipe movement when flow is stopped or started. The “hammer” noise—which is actually a shock wave within the pipes that can lead to pipe collapse–may happen for a host of different reasons, such as insecure pipes.

If you ever notice your sink bursting out into song, consider having it further evaluated by a qualified plumbing contractor to learn more about your options—or perhaps signing it up for “America’s Got Talent.” Thanks for watching!

Questions or comments about water hammer or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and let us know at @AIHomeInspect

Originally posted 2019-01-09 08:00:18.


Sometimes, home inspection problems can be hard to spot. And other times…

A recent inspection in Bow provided one of these “other times,” when I discovered an active plumbing leak in the bathroom. It was kind of impossible to miss the bright, yellow bucket that had been installed to catch the dripping water. 

It certainly made my job easier. 

If you have questions or comments about plumbing issues in general, tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).


During a recent home inspection on Orcas Island, I came across a bar sink drain line not connected to the home’s septic system. Furthermore, the sink’s line discharged directly onto the front lawn.

That can’t be good for the landscaping.

I recommended that my clients seek further evaluation and repair by a qualified plumbing contractor to address the issue.

Do you have questions or comments about home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).


Every month, we seek to bring our readers insight from the worlds of home construction, home repair, and home maintenance straight from local Northwest Washington contractors in a segment we call “3 Questions.” Yep, you guessed it: we ask three questions, and the contractors answer them.

This month, we talk water heaters with Brad Tully, president and owner of CPI Plumbing & Heating in Mount Vernon.

(1) Is it really necessary to service and flush water heaters annually? How much does this typically cost?

“Yes, it is necessary to maintain efficiency and prolong the longevity of water heaters. It is required by most water heater manufacturers to maintain warranty compliance. The cost to service/flush water heaters varies, but most residential water heaters can be drained/flushed under CPI Plumbing & Heating’s Club Membership program for $149.50 (plus tax), provided they are installed and meet the current Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) standards.”

(2) In your experience, how long do water heaters last (gas and electric) and what are typical replacement costs? 

“Water heater longevity is determined by a variety of factors, including water quality, maintenance, anode rod replacement, etc. A typical water heater will last from eight to 12 years. The cost of water heater replacement varies depending on size, fuel type, code updates, permitting, etc.”

(3) Seismic straps are always called out by home inspectors and real estate appraisers. Is this easy to do and what kind of fee would you normally charge to double-strap a water heater?

“Seismic strapping is required, per UPC standards. The cost varies based on a variety of factors—including the size of the water heater, water heater location, anchoring points/accessibility, etc. CPI Plumbing & Heating technicians can easily assist with getting a home’s seismic straps up to code, as we’re just a call away!”

BONUS: Do you have any water heater pet peeves or advice you’d like to share with our audience?

“Most homeowners don’t realize that there is a sacrificial rod (an anode rod) inside the water heater. The sacrificial rod allows minerals to consume the rod instead of the interior tank lining of the water heater. Draining and flushing the water heater, alongside periodic inspection/replacement of the anode rod, could in many cases double the life expectancy of a water heater.”

About CPI Plumbing & Heating

CPI Plumbing & Heating provides repair, installation, and maintenance service solutions for plumbing, heating and cooling problems for residential and light commercial customers. Its service area includes communities in Skagit, Island, Whatcom and North Snohomish counties.

The business was founded in 1986. Since then, the company has won numerous prestigious awards, including the National Plumbing Contractor of the Year Award in 2013 and the George Brazil Trailblazer Award in 2014.

For more information, visit

And finally, a big “thanks” to Brad Tully for his responses.


Every month, we seek to bring our readers insight from the worlds of home construction, home repair, and home maintenance straight from local Northwest Washington contractors in a segment we call “3 Questions.” Yep, you guessed it: we ask three questions, and the contractors answer them. This month, we learn about structural issues with Dale Kimber, president at Bay Point Plumbing.

Q1: A “Johnson Tee” is another way to vent a dishwasher drain which is somewhat common in the Seattle area, but less common in our local area. Can you tell us about the “Johnson Tee” and if you like this method of vent for dishwasher appliances?

Johnson tees have been used to protect homeowners from drains back-siphoning sewage into appliances like dishwashers and clothes washers. Johnson tees are less commonly used as they are an “old school” method. Johnson tees can only be installed when U.P.C. listed as an approved fitting. 

Here at Bay Point Plumbing, we prefer to protect dishwashers and clothes washers by using physical air gaps and/or approved air gap dishwasher fittings. Always consult with your local jurisdiction about their provisions on the code (See the paragraph below).

The Uniform Plumbing Code section 807.4 of the uniform plumbing code states: “No domestic dishwashing machine shall be directly connected to a drainage system or food waste disposer without the use of an Approved dishwasher airgap fitting on the discharge side of the dishwashing machine. Listed airgaps shall be installed with the flood-level [FL] marking at or above the flood level of the sink or drainboard, whichever is higher.”

Q2: Can you tell us about AAVs or Air Admittance Valves? In what general situations would one use such a device?

Air Admittance Valves are not allowed in most jurisdictions. They can be used in Island County and Anacortes city limits. AAVs are typically used to substitute installing a vent pipe from one sink to the outside air. AAVs should be installed in a vertical manner, 4” above the p-trap weir, and 6” above its highest flood level rim. 

Bay Point Plumbing does not like to install Air Admittance Valves as they are a mechanical device that will eventually fail. We install pipes venting directly to the outside air and contain no mechanical components.

Q3: New technology uses “Push-On” connectors to easily and without tools join PEX, copper, CPVC water supply piping. Is this a good route for DIY homeowner-plumber?

Push-on connectors are great for homeowners connecting to old copper piping, CPVC piping, or polybutylene piping. Most Push-on connector manufacturer’s warranty their products for 25 years which will usually exceed the life of the mentioned above. Make sure you have a push-on connector specifically designed for the material of piping that you are using and following the manufacturer installation instructions.

Bay Point Plumbing does not recommend using Push-on connectors when joining PEX-to-PEX, because the push-on connector will probably not last as long as PEX fittings.

About Bay Point Plumbing

In 1989, Gary Jones founded what would become Bay Point Plumbing while working out of his home. Gary’s goal was simple: to bring much-needed professional plumbing and mechanical services to Whatcom County, Wash., and the surrounding areas, Bay Point Plumbing employs a whole team of expert, certified, and licensed technicians. Gary’s philosophy was to work exclusively with the area’s best technicians, recruiting local talent to fill out his crew. This expansion led to the hiring of Dale Kimber, a certified plumber. Dale brings years of industry experience to the job and holds certifications in plumbing, gas fitting, pipefitting, and backflow testing. Under Dale’s expert guidance, Bay Point Plumbing has continued to expand to deliver on Gary’s vision. For expert commercial and residential plumbing and mechanical services, contact Bay Point Plumbing today at

A big “thanks” to Dale for his responses!If you have questions or comments about plumbing issues or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).