Whole-House Shut Off Valve: Where It is and How to Use It!

This week we would like to share a very important tip about your home: how to turn off your water. The past two weeks have been a busy time for us and all the plumbing industry as there have been an overwhelming number of burst pipes due to extremely low prolonged temperatures.  This has lead to many emergencies, where customers are experiencing water shooting throughout their house, pouring down walls, and streaming through ceilings. In some instances, they are unable to locate the source as the water continues to do expensive damage to their home.

The BEST way a home owner can protect themselves from flooding, costly water damage, and the formation of mold is to know that they CAN and SHOULD turn the water off to their home in the event of a leak. Several customers were unsure as to how to turn off their water, and we would love to change that!

Every home is equipped with a whole-house shut off valve. This controls all the incoming water to your home, and is typically simple to use. We recommend you locate yours, and tell your family where it is and how to use it (even your well-behaved kids)!!  Knowing the location of this valve and how to use it is vital to your family to protect your home and provide peace of mind in the event of a flooding emergency. Typically, these valves are located in your basement or an area of your home that has your water heater or other major plumbing. This could also be a utility room or a laundry room. If the valve is not easily accessible, we recommend you move unnecessary items or keep a step stool near it if need be for easy access.

The valve itself is typically either a ball valve or a gate valve. Both should be easy to turn, and follow the old adage of “right-y, tight-y, left-y, loose-y”. Theball valve has a small ball on the inside that is rotated when you turn the handle. It allows water to flow freely when turned to the left, and causes the ball to block the flow of water when turned to the right. This type of valve is the easiest to turn and the easiest to judge as to whether the water is on or off. Gate valves, on the other hand, have a small device in them that acts like a gate and goes up and down as you turn it. They can be susceptible to corroding over time, and are harder to open and close. If left somewhere between the open and close position, gate valves vibrate and can be damaged.

For these reasons, we always recommend a ball valve for your main shut off valve. Check yours out today, and if it is hard to turn or doesn’t turn at all give us a call before you need it and it doesn’t turn!

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Employee of the Month Spotlight: Jennifer

We are going to take the time to highlight one of our employees every month. This month, we have chosen Jennifer!  Jennifer is a great VP, who motivates us all with her determination and positivity. She takes care of our office family, just as she takes care of her own. She handles much of the behind-the-scenes in the office, and is a fantastic asset to our team. Here is a short interview with Jennifer!

Q– Before working at DB’s Plumbing and Drain, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

A- “When I was in the Air Force, I worked at the Combined Air Operations Center in Italy during the Kosovo Campaign in 1999. We worked 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week. I got to witness some pretty cool stuff, that I can’t talk about.”

Q– If you could switch your job with anyone else within DB’s Plumbing and Drain, whose job would you want?

A- “I would want to switch with David. He gets to go out and meet our customers face-to-face and gets to do some plumbing, as well!”

Q- What is your favorite part about being a small business owner?

A- “My favorite part of being a small business owner is providing jobs and benefits to people in our community. It’s a really good feeling. Knowing our employees and celebrating their successes with them is great. We also can build close relationships with our customers, and being small allows us to do that.”

Q– How do you define success?

A- “Making a measurable and attainable goal and achieving it. This is both personal and business.”

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Plumbing Tips to Get Ready for the Holidays

Here at DB’s Plumbing and Drain, we take the holiday season SERIOUSLY. This year, we are celebrating as a company by having a holiday party at our shop, complete with a Secret Santa and fun Christmas sweaters! We’re excited to see what our team found for their teammates.

We would love to share a few plumbing tips to make your holiday go more smoothly that you may not have thought of, and ensure any friends or family coming to your home will have the best, most stress-free holiday possible.

  1. Make sure those hose bibs have been winterized! We are certainly getting into freezing temperatures in the region, and the last thing any of us need around the holiday season is a burst pipe! While you may not notice your hose bib froze during the winter until Spring, why not make sure they are winterized and you won’t have to worry at all!


  1. Forgo putting anything down your kitchen sink drain that isn’t a liquid, and remember grease hardens! Potato peels, egg shells, and pasta noodles are common food items we see clogging drains past the point where a homeowner can get it unclogged. If the clog is severe enough, you may need a professional who has a series of methods at his disposal to get that material out of your drain.


  1. If you have any outside drains, make sure they are swept and clear of leaves, mud, or any other debris! These drains are typically in stairwells or near doors to provide good drainage. If they get blocked, they can cause flooding near your home, or even flooding that could come inside. Take care of these before you have any guests, and they won’t be an issue.
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Employee of the Month Spotlight: Cody

We are going to take the time to highlight one of our employees every month. This month, we have chosen Cody!  Cody is a helper in the field and part-time office staff. He is very helpful, always willing to adapt and change as the company needs him.  He also has quite the sense of humor! Here is a short interview with Cody!

Q– Before working at DB’s Plumbing and Drain, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

A- “Being a corpsman. I learned combat medicine, and I can use all my knowledge if there’s ever an emergency.

Q– If you could switch your job with anyone else within DB’s Plumbing and Drain, whose job would you want?

A- I would want Zack’s position. Every day is different for him, and he is at the level I would like to be at soon.”

Q- What is your favorite part about being a helper?
A- “I have Monday’s off…that’s pretty nice! I also get the opportunity to learn the trade from some great guys.”

Q– How do you define success?

A- “I define success as feeling satisfied with yourself, whatever that means to you. I feel successful always moving forward in life, learning every day.

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The Parts of a Toilet: Understanding your Commode

We all have them, we all use them, and we are grateful for them! Toilets!

This week, we thought we would take a moment to teach you about your toilet. We will go over how it works and symptoms you may have if it is not working properly! Feel free to take the cover off your tank and look inside, this is great knowledge to have and pass along!

The inside of your toilet tank is made up of a series of small parts, that do their job just right for the perfect flush. When you push the handle down, it lifts the flapper, allowing water to exit the tank. The water flows from the tank to the bowl by going through the flush valve. The flush valve then sits back where it belongs. The water rushing into the bowl is the visible flush we can easily see.
As the water in the tank lowers, the float lowers with it, triggering the fill valve to refill the tank and begin the process over again.

If any of these parts are faulty, you will not get your perfect flush every time. Your toilet may also leak from the tank or constantly run. Sometimes this is a simple fix that customers are comfortable with doing themselves, and sometimes it is necessary to call a professional. Every job is different!

We sincerely value your business and we give thanks for the honor of serving you in your home. If you have any plumbing concerns, please contact us!

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Employee Spotlight: Zack

We are going to take the time to highlight one of our employees every month. This month, we have chosen Zack! If Zack has been to your home, you know what a cheerful, nice guy Zack really is. He is also a great plumber, and works hard daily to take care of our customer’s needs. Here is a short interview with Zack!

Q– Before working at DB’s Plumbing and Drain, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

A- “I worked at a vineyard and did ground maintenance and tastings in the tasting room. I learned a lot about wine. I did two rounds of bottling from picking grapes to bottling. It was a great experience!”

Q– If you could switch your job with anyone else within DB’s Plumbing and Drain, whose job would you want?

A- “I would switch jobs with my owner, so I could experience the business side of our business. It would be interesting to learn what I don’t know about the company I work for!”

Q- What is your favorite part about being a plumber?

A- “I love doing things that the average person doesn’t want to do- the dirty side of the job. I like to clear drains and get in the dirt, it makes me feel knowledgeable and victorious.”

Q– How do you define success?

A- “Success is being able to provide for my family and being able to get my jobs done so the customer is taken care of.”

We sincerely value your business and the honor of serving you in your home. If you have any plumbing concerns, please contact us!

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No, that’s not a typo. “Coopetition” is a term that means we cooperate with those we are in competition with. We always strive to cooperate with those in our field from other companies to provide the best service to our customers. We work hard to work with our customer’s other service providers as well, i.e. HVAC, electrical, and general contracting. If there is ever a service the customer needs that we don’t provide, we do our best to find and deliver a top-notch referral, many of which are small local businesses that we use ourselves.

This willingness to cooperate on job sites, over the phone, and in person allows us to provide the best possible service to our customers. If you ever find yourself in need of some advice or a referral we may be able to provide, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We will always go above and beyond plumbing to do our best for you, as that is the service we wish to both provide, and receive as customers.

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How We Get to You in 2017

In the past, before all the wonderful technological advances that have taken place in the last several years, getting a technician to your home or business had many steps. The office would receive a phone call for an appointment and then they would page the technician. Pagers, the good old days before cell phones! There may be some of you who don’t even remember those devices!

The technician would then have to find a pay phone(another relic!) or public phone and call the office, who would then provide them with information for the call. The technician would use a paper ticket and write out the information, hoping it was all correct, and use a map to find their job. This process could add quite a few minutes or even hours to the booking process!

Things have certainly changed over the years! At DB’s Plumbing and Drain, when you call the office and make an appointment all the information you provide goes immediately into our software. This software is also on our technicians’ tablets, and they instantly receive all the data the office has.

They have no need to contact the office to get to you, and certainly no need to locate a public phone! We have access to your customer file, past work at your home, and Google maps instantly validates your address, to prohibit many mistakes that could be made.

With these great tools we have at our disposal in 2017, we are excited to see what technological advances become available in in the next 20 years!

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What is a Battery Back-Up Sump Pump?

Since our blog post about checking your sump pump went live last week, we have had quite a few inquires as to how a battery back-up sump pump works and how it can be installed. We would love to explain it so you will be educated about your options when it comes to replacing your existing sump pump or installing a new one!

A battery back-up sump pump is actually a unit that contains two sump pumps, one that operates regularly and a second that operates off of battery power. If the first one fails for any reason, the second one will automatically come on and handle any water that is in your basement. This system replaces your existing sump pump, rather than attaching to it.

The battery is similar to a car battery, and must be checked regularly to ensure it is charged and functioning.  This can be done easily by the home owner and a technician can show you the proper technique.  It is vital to maintain the battery so that your investment in a battery back-up sump pump will be worthwhile and prohibit any potential flooding in your home.

If you’re interested in installing this system in your home or have any questions we may be able to answer, feel free to contact us!

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Sump Pumps: When to Replace

We are a bit early to consider Hurricane Irma or any of the other strong storms that are brewing to be a threat to our area at this point. But there is always a chance this may happen at this time of year. We aren’t immune to large storms or heavy amounts of rain here in Northern Virginia and we have been known to weather a category 1 or 2 hurricane in the past.  We as a team watch the news and watch the frantic struggles of our southern neighbors to prepare their homes and businesses in Florida, and we can’t help but wonder if the same will happen here.

This brings us to a concern we all share for our customers: what about your sump pumps?  Are you aware they should be replaced every 5-7 years regardless of condition as this is their estimated lifespan? Unlike common plumbing pipes, there is no shut-off valve for sump pumps, which means the water will keep coming until it stops naturally.  So we ask you to ask yourself, “What condition is my sump pump in and when was it last replaced?”

If you wait until your sump pump fails, it’s too late to save your bottom level from water damage and potential mold. Assuming you’re not watching your pump the minute that it breaks and have a plumber available to respond within 10 minutes, you are potentially setting yourself up for a disaster within your home.

Furthermore, in this area, we have been known to run out of sump pumps when disaster strikes (which happened during multiple storms such as Hurricane Isabel). The pumps were not available for replacement for customers or plumbers, and even the manufacturers ran out as they couldn’t meet the demand. This isn’t intended to be a scare tactic in the least.  We prioritize ourselves on educating our customers and helping to prevent any problems that may occur in your home.

The only thing keeping you dry in a large storm with a lot of rain is a mechanical pump that needs regularly replaced. Lose power often? We have battery-backup options and water-powered back-up options available, as well.

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