Now’s The Perfect Time to Think About Your Heater!

October 14th, 2019

Okay sure, it’s still pretty darn warm here in Alabama, and while our neighbors in the North are celebrating the arrival of Autumn with warm sweaters, apple cider donuts, and pumpkin spiced lattes, we’ve still got plenty of sunshine to look forward to!

However, all this warm weather does not mean that you can just forget about your heater! Before you know it, winter will be here and we’ll be experiencing some pretty chilly days. Therefore, it is best that you prepare for the season ahead with heating maintenance in Birmingham, AL. 

Now is the perfect time to schedule your maintenance services! Don’t believe us? Keep reading below to find out more.

Continue Reading

When Does a House Need New Plumbing Pipes?

October 9th, 2019

Does your Birmingham, AL area home need new plumbing pipes? Many homeowners are unsure when pipe replacements are needed. The right answer for your household depends on the type of piping, the material of your current pipes, their age, and their condition. 

In this blog, we’ll cover the types of plumbing found in most homes, how long plumbing pipes last and common problems that require new pipe installation.

Plumbing Pipe Replacement by Type and Material

Birmingham homes have two types of plumbing pipes: supply pipes and drain lines. Supply pipes bring clean water into your home for use; drain lines carry wastewater out of your home. Brass, copper, and galvanized steel are common in supply pipes, while cast iron and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) are used for drain lines.

At different points throughout history, certain materials were preferred for use in new plumbing pipes. The age of your home and if pipes have been replaced before often dictate the type of pipe construction material. Your plumber assesses pipe material as well as condition to determine if you need to replace pipes.

Normal lifespans for plumbing pipe material types

  • Cast iron lasts 75 to 100 years.
  • Brass lasts 40 to 45 years.
  • Copper lasts 50 or more years.
  • Galvanized steel lasts 20 to 50 years.
  • PVC pipes have an indefinite lifespan.

If your home’s plumbing pipes have reached the expected lifespan per their material type, it is time to upgrade to new plumbing pipes. Additionally, you want to install new plumbing pipes if your home is currently equipped with pipes made from the following materials:


Between the 1970s and 1990s, builders installed polybutylene pipes in homes. North American building codes no longer recognize this type of piping because it does not stand up to typical water treatment chemicals. Polybutylene pipes are not repairable.

Galvanized iron

Galvanized iron pipes were installed prior to 1960. This steel pipe has a protective zinc coating, which has been shown to erode and increase leak risk as well as diminish water quality.

Signs of Pipe Damage Which Require New Plumbing Pipes

If your Birmingham home has relatively new plumbing pipes or your older pipes have not reached their expected lifespan, pipe damage is a potential issue that warrants the installation of new plumbing pipes. Signs indicating pipe damage and a failing plumbing system include:

  • Cracks in pipes
  • Corrosion on or within pipes
  • Pipe leaks
  • Low water pressure
  • Poor water quality
  • Wet areas around water-using appliances or sinks
  • Water stains
  • Warped floorboards
  • Damp crawl spaces
  • Mold growing in crawl spaces
  • Gurgling noises from pipes
  • Rumbling noises near the main water supply line
  • Foul odors from drain pipes
  • High water bills with no other explanation

Plumbing inspections reveal more

Some of these issues are easily noticed by homeowners, while some are not. Solution: request a professional plumbing inspection. An inspection surveys your home’s supply and drain plumbing pipes, evaluates their condition and determines the cause of any problems. 

With this information, your plumber makes a professional recommendation for the installation of new plumbing pipes or repairs. If everything’s fine, you have a good baseline for the future. A plumbing inspection is also a great idea before you purchase a home or plan to flip one. 

A general home inspection generally doesn’t cover plumbing in this detail and you could purchase a home that needs new plumbing pipes unknowingly.

Call Douglas Cooling & Heating for “New Plumbing Pipes and Sewer Services Near Me”

If you think your Birmingham, AL area home may need a licensed plumber, call Douglas Cooling & Heating for professional assistance. We inspect your piping to determine material and condition, and help you find an affordable and trusted solution for plumbing pipe replacement. 

Don’t forget, our licensed plumbers are ready to tackle any of your plumbing problems. Our local plumbers assist homeowners with water heaters, garbage disposals, leak detection, fixture installation, dripping faucets, running toilets, slow drains, clogged sewer pipes and more. Contact us today to schedule a visit with a licensed plumber from Douglas Cooling & Heating.

Continue Reading

Water Heater Troubleshooting Tips

October 2nd, 2019

When your Birmingham water heater does not deliver the hot water your household demands, you need easy water heater troubleshooting. Before you call a plumber for water heater repair, try these water heater troubleshooting tips from Douglas Cooling & Heating first. 

In this blog, we’ll cover common water heater problems and troubleshooting suggestions. Whether you have a tank or tankless water heater, we’ve got you covered! If, on the other hand, you’re ready to skip immediately to resolution, make an appointment now online. 

Tank and more recently, tankless water heaters, are common in Birmingham homes. These two types of hot water heaters operate differently and therefore experience unique issues. 

Tank Water Heater Troubleshooting Tips

Water Leaks

  • For leaks coming from the top of the unit, check the cold water inlet and hot water outlet pipes. Make sure they are tightly connected to the tank.
  • For leaks coming from the bottom of the unit, check the drain valve and ensure it is tightly closed. Turn it clockwise.
  • Bottom leaks may also stem from a leaking T & P valve, which allows water to release from the tank to correct excessive pressure within. Check the water heater thermostat and make sure its set temperature is not too high – keep it at 120 degrees for best efficiency and safety. If this does not resolve the leak, the T & P valve needs to be replaced.

Definition: A T & P valve, is a Temperature and Pressure relief valve. Because water expands when it’s heated, the T & P valve monitors the change inside the water heater during the heating process. It’s a safety feature and kicks in around 210 degrees Fahrenheit or a pressure of 150 psig, or pounds force per square inch gauge. 

No Hot Water

  • Ensure the unit has power. Check the circuit breaker for a tripped circuit or blown fuse dedicated to the hot water heater.
  • Check the thermostat limit/reset switch. This may trip if the water in the tank is too hot. Lower the temperature and reset.

Water Too Hot/Too Cold

  • Thermostat issues are often to blame for water that is too hot or too cold. Make adjustments to the thermostat to troubleshoot the issue. You may find it necessary to turn up the temperature of hot water over the winter months. Just remember to turn it back down once the weather warms up.

Tankless Water Heater Troubleshooting Tips

Tankless water heater models produce error codes and help homeowners pinpoint the system issue. Below, we cover common error codes and how to troubleshoot them.

No Ignition Error Code

  • Check your gas supply if your unit is gas-powered. Make sure gas valves are completely open and gas is coming into the home. Empty propane tanks are a common cause of no ignition in propane-powered homes.
  • Check the water valves to ensure they are fully open. The system is unable to ignite if the water supply is closed.

Flame Failure Error Code

  • Ensure gas is coming into the unit (if gas-powered). Check the gas valve is completely open, the propane tank is not empty (if applicable), and there is gas supply to the home.
  • Check the tankless water heater’s vents. Make sure they’re not blocked because a blockage has the potential to stop the flame.

Air Supply/Exhaust Blockage Code

  • Check for vent obstructions that block the air supply or exhaust vent piping.
  • Inspect the vent pipes for proper connection to the tankless unit. Make sure none are loose, and that there are no holes in the pipes.

Preventive Maintenance for Water Heaters

Preventive maintenance goes a long way toward water heater troubleshooting. This essential plumbing service ensures all components are correctly installed, tightened, and operational. Maintenance also cleans sediment from the unit to prevent damage to the system. Plumbers inspect and adjust water temperatures to ensure temperature demands are met while keeping your family safe.

Schedule water heater preventive maintenance annually to ensure your tank or tankless water heater is in good condition. Regular maintenance also helps extend the service life of your unit and helps your family save the expense of early water heater replacement.

Douglas Plumbing Solves Your Water Heater Problems!

For water heater help in the Birmingham, AL area, turn to Douglas Plumbing for quick and reliable repair service. When water heater troubleshooting doesn’t work, trust our team for an accurate diagnosis of your system issues as well as comprehensive solutions to prevent reoccurrence. 

Our licensed plumbers also assist homeowners with plumbing problems like a noisy toilet, slow drains, faucet or fixture installation, garbage disposal replacements, leaky pipes or sewer line clogs. 

We also provide emergency plumbing service if you have a water leak, burst pipes, backed up drains and other urgent issues. Call Douglas Plumbing today to schedule water heater repair or any plumbing assistance. 

Continue Reading

Should I Replace My Circuit Breaker?

September 30th, 2019

Of all the systems in your home, your electrical system is perhaps the most important! Therefore, you want to make sure that when certain components of your electrical system become worn out or obsolete that you make the necessary upgrades to keep you, your family, and your home as safe and as efficient as possible.

One component of your electrical system that you do not want to ignore is your circuit breaker. You see, over time, circuit breakers begin to wear out, which can be pretty problematic, especially in the event of a power surge! Below, we have listed some of the signs that suggest it’s time to replace your circuit breaker. All you’ve got to do is keep reading to find out more.

Continue Reading

Why Does My Shower Drain Smell Like Sewage?

September 18th, 2019

Why does my shower drain smell? If you’re one of the Birmingham homeowners whose nose has asked this question recently, Douglas Cooling & Heating is here to help. Learn the causes of shower drain odors as well as the solutions to stop them. When do-it-yourself solutions don’t eliminate the smell, contact your trusted, local plumber for professional solutions to stop the stench and protect your plumbing system.

Why Does My Shower Drain Smell?

Shower drain odors have a few common causes:

  • Mold growth in the drain
  • Clogs and debris in the drain
  • Sewer gasses escaping the drain

These causes produce different odors emanating from a shower drain. Identifying the scent of the odor helps homeowners pinpoint its cause.

Why Does My Shower Drain Smell Musty?

A musty smell rising from a shower drain is produced by mold growth. Underneath the shower drain cover, mold is able to grow. This is due to cellulose materials from the hair, body oils, and soap scum sticking in bathroom drains as wastewater flows out the drain pipe. Along with the moisture from the water, this creates an environment for mold growth in the drain system.

Why Do I Have a Sewer Smell Coming From My Drain?

If the drain smells like sewage or sewer gas, a sewage odor can indicate various plumbing system issues.

Biofilm Growth

A rotten egg smell is often caused by biofilm buildup. Biofilm is a sticky, slimy layer of bacteria that forms on surfaces over time, and it can be found in many places in our homes, including our showers. When biofilm begins to accumulate in your shower drain, it can lead to an unpleasant odor that can be hard to eliminate. The bacteria in the biofilm produce waste products that cause a distinctive smell, and the longer the biofilm is left untreated, the stronger the sewage odor will become. This is because biofilm is hard to remove and can continue to grow if not addressed properly.

Blocked Vent Pipe Allows Sewage Gasses to Back Up

Plumbing vents play an essential role in maintaining an efficient and healthy plumbing system. These vent pipes are designed to help regulate and control air pressure, thus preventing dangerous and toxic gasses from building up inside the drain line. When a vent pipe becomes blocked or clogged, it can cause a range of issues, such as unpleasant odors and a sewer smell coming from your shower drain. This occurrence is often due to sewage gasses building up in the pipeline, which can cause a foul odor that can be quite unpleasant.

Dry P-Trap Causes Sewage Gasses to Escape

A P-trap is a U-shaped pipe that is part of your drain line. Water is constantly flowing through the P-trap, thereby providing an almost permanent seal that blocks any gas from entering your home. Thanks to the unique structure of a P-trap, the curved section of the pipe helps in retaining a small amount of water between uses. This water serves as a barrier and acts as a cushion, blocking any such materials that might return through the drain. Without the P-trap, there would be no barrier, and sewer gasses would continuously enter your home, creating unhealthy and unpleasant sewer odors.

If you’re experiencing an unpleasant sewer smell emanating from your shower drain, there’s a high chance that it’s due to a P-trap that’s dry. Frequent gaps between shower usage can cause the water to evaporate, leaving an opening for the sewer gasses to seep into your home. Not only is this sewer gas odor repulsive, but inhaling sewer gas can potentially lead to health risks, making it all the more essential to address the issue.

A Clogged Shower Drain Leads to Sewage Smell

A sewage smell can also be an indicator of a drain clog. Clogged drains can occur due to a variety of reasons, such as the buildup of hair and soap scum, which causes a blockage in the drainage pipes. This blockage prevents water from properly flowing out of your shower drain, which in turn leads to stagnant water accumulating in the pipes, forming a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. A clogged drain not only results in an unpleasant odor but can also pose a risk to your health, particularly if you have a weakened immune system.

Leaking Drain Pipes Can Cause a Sewage Smell

If you’ve been struggling with a sewer smell emanating from your shower, the root cause might be damaged drain pipes. These pipes carry wastewater from your shower to your main sewer line and onto the municipal sewer system or septic tank. As they age, they can crack, rust, or develop leaks.

If this happens, wastewater won’t flow properly to the sewer line or septic tank. Instead, it can seep out into the surrounding area, including the flooring beneath your shower. Beyond the unpleasant smell, leaking wastewater can cause extensive damage and even pose a health risk. A foul odor is typically the first and most noticeable sign of damaged pipes, but you should also look out for discoloration or warping in nearby flooring or walls.

DIY Solutions to Get Rid of the Smell in Your Bathroom

Try the following DIY solutions to eliminate foul shower drain smells.

Manually Clean Drain

After each shower, clear the drain cover of hair and soap scum buildup. Pull as much of this material out of the drain as possible. Use a drain cleaning tool like a drain snake to reach deeper below the drain opening. 

Treat Drains for Mold Growth

Prevent mold growth and a musty shower drain odors –  treat your drains using this process:

  1. Remove the drain strainer and clean it.
  2. Use an old toothbrush or drain brush to scrub the drain and sprinkle one cup baking soda down the drain. 
  3. Next, add one cup of white vinegar, slowly pouring it into the drain. 
  4. Cover the drain and allow the baking soda and vinegar solution to fizz and soak, working to kill mold and other odor-causing bacteria. 
  5. Flush with hot water after about 10 minutes.

Fix a Dry P-Trap

When a P-trap goes dry, sewage odor often results. Look down your drain – do you see water? If not, the P-trap is dry. Remedy a dry P-trap with the following process:

  1. Pour up to two cups of water into the drain.
  2. Wait one hour.
  3. Look into the drain to see if water remains – if not, time to call a plumber for P-trap repair.
  4. If the shower isn’t regularly used, also add four ounces of mineral oil to the water to prevent evaporation.

Clear a Blocked Vent Pipe

During extreme temperatures, plumbing vents on the roof may become blocked by snow and ice, causing sewer odor backup in your shower drain. Safely clear the roof of snow and ice. If plumbing vents have iced up, locate the vent in the home’s attic and use a hairdryer at the vent’s roof exit to melt the blockage.

Let a Professional Plumber Help with Your Smelly Drains

When the above DIY solutions don’t offer relief, the professional plumber technicians at Douglas Cooling & Heating have advanced solutions to eliminate foul shower drain smells. Depending on the source of your shower drain smell, the following solutions provide relief:

  • Drain cleaning: Our professional drain cleaning methods clear tough bathroom plumbing clogs that homeowners cannot fully access.
  • Pipe repair: If leaking pipes are causing your shower to smell like sewage, we can fix your damaged drain lines to stop leaks and bad odors.
  • P-trap repair or replacement: A cracked P-trap doesn’t hold the water necessary to do its job. We will make repairs or replace the P-trap components so water stays in, which also prevents leaks and water damage beneath the shower drain.
  • Plumbing vent inspection: Our team will inspect plumbing vents for blockages and damage that cause sewer odor backup in your drains. We identify the issue and make the appropriate repairs.

Douglas Cooling & Heating Rids Your Bathroom of Drain Odors

If you smell sewage or a sewer gas smell from the drain in your shower, do not let the problem go unresolved. If the above DIY solutions haven’t helped, call Douglas Cooling & Heating for professional drain cleaning and plumbing services to rid your shower and bathtub drains of clogs and other issues causing the sewage smell.

Continue Reading

Here’s Why Your Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping!

September 16th, 2019

Have you ever been in the middle of blowing drying your air when all of a sudden, the power goes out? Now, not only do you have a wet head, but you also have to march yourself down into the basement, reset the circuit breaker, and climb all the way back up the stairs! Pretty annoying, huh?

It’s quite normal for this to happen every once in a while, however, if the circuit breaker in your home is constantly tripping, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. In fact, there are a number of reasons why your circuit breaker might be constantly tripping, and below, we’ve listed a number of them for you. All you’ve got to do is keep reading to find out more! (And, of course, remember to contact our team for all your electrical repairs in Birmingham!)

Continue Reading

What Is Hydro Jetting? (How Do I Know If I Need It?)

September 4th, 2019

What is hydro jetting? What does it do for Birmingham homes and why do homeowners need to schedule this specialized plumbing service? 

Our licensed plumbers hear these common questions from our Birmingham, AL area customers all the time. In this blog, we provide a detailed look into what is hydro jetting, how it’s different from other plumbing services and what it does for the home’s plumbing system. Could your home plumbing system benefit from this service? Let’s learn more.

What Is Hydro Jetting?

Hydro jetting is a process used to clean the interiors of plumbing pipes throughout a home plumbing system. High-pressure water flows through the plumbing system and removes build-up inside pipes. This provides a thorough clean and prevents backups by flushing plumbing piping of clogs and potentially damaging materials, including:

  • Grease
  • Mineral scale
  • Debris
  • Tree roots

What’s the Difference Between Hydro Jetting and Snaking a Drain?

Unlike snaking a drain, hydro jetting has the power to break up tough clogs AND remove materials from interior pipe walls. Plumbing snakes just puncture the clog and help break it apart. Hydro jetting offers a thorough maintenance cleaning of the plumbing pipes to prevent future clogs and more expensive sewer repairs.

Steps in the Hydro Jetting Process

Here’s what occurs when you schedule this service:

1. Your licensed plumber locates the plumbing system cleanout, which gives an easy access point to the piping throughout your home.

2. He or she uses a  camera to inspect your plumbing pipes and drain prior to jetting. This step searches for damage within the system, such as cracked or crumbling pipes, which could be worsened by the process. 

3. Your plumber inserts the jetting hose downstream into the plumbing lines. This durable hose attaches to a water tank that pressurizes water.

4. Your plumber adjusts the water pressure to appropriate levels for pipe conditions. Hydro jetting typically involves water pressure up to 35,000 psi.

5. Once the high-pressured water begins, the tool moves upstream through the plumbing lines as it scours the interior pipe walls. 

6. The tool removes built-up debris from the inside of the pipe walls. Gravity pulls the debris down through the home plumbing system and safely flushes it out of the home.

Demonstration of Hydro Jetting Power

Here is a video showing the power of a hydro jet flow: 

Does Hydro Jetting Work on Tree Roots?

The hydro jetting process is commonly used to clear tree root penetrations in underground plumbing pipes. Some extra precautions are required to ensure problem resolution and to protect the integrity of the piping. Always work with a licensed Alabama plumber to protect your home’s plumbing system.

It’s critical to use a sewer line camera to visualize the tree root issue prior to drain cleaning. This video inspection allows your plumber to inspect for damage to the piping. Just like a surgeon preps for surgery, the plumber wants to avoid any surprises. As long as the pipe is not significantly damaged or its waterproof coating compromised, hydro jetting is often a safe and efficient method to break up and remove root penetrations.

In Conclusion: Schedule Plumbing Services and Enjoy Better Water Flow

Clear your pipe system of clog-causing debris with plumbing and sewer services from Douglas Plumbing. Our plumbers take great care to protect the integrity of your plumbing system as they eliminate buildup and clear clogs. 

Don’t risk damage to your plumbing system with improper cleaning! Trust our licensed plumbers to thoroughly inspect and safely hydro jet your plumbing pipes. Our plumbers in your area are also available for plumbing repairs like running toilets, leaky pipes and to install fixtures or garbage disposals. 

Schedule a licensed plumber for your Birmingham area home today.

Continue Reading

Be Prepared for Hurricane Dorian!

September 3rd, 2019

When severe weather strikes Florida, there is always the chance that Alabama will be affected too, and with Hurricane Dorian making national headlines, you want to be prepared! Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to get ready:

  • Shut off power to the major appliances in your home: You want to turn off the power to appliances like your air conditioner in order to protect them against power surges.
  • Gather the essentials: Make sure you’ve got a fresh supply of water, some canned food, a can opener, a flashlight, extra batteries, a first aid kit, garbage bags, some basic tools, and a whistle.
  • Make sure your whole-house generator is up and running: You want to be absolutely certain that your whole-house generator is fully equipped to keep you and your family safe during the storm. To do that, schedule your generator services with our team now!

The team here at Douglas Cooling & Heating wishes you the best of luck over the next few days. Stay safe, everyone!

To schedule your generator services, contact the team at Douglas Cooling, Heating, and Electrical. 


Continue Reading

Ductless is the Way to Go!

September 2nd, 2019

Okay, we know we’ve talked about ductless systems before, but really, there are just so many reasons to consider making the switch! These little systems are efficient, effective, take up very little space, and are well-known for their ability to provide year-round comfort with just the flip of a switch (but more on that later!)

Of course, we understand that choosing the right HVAC system for your home isn’t as simple as reading a blog, but at least we can give you a bit of a head start in your research. Below, we’ve explained exactly what a ductless system is and the benefits of installing one in your home. Keep reading to find out more!

Continue Reading

Is It Time to Replace Your Heat Pump?

August 19th, 2019

If you own a heat pump, you know just how great they are — these nifty little HVAC systems are efficient, effective, and can provide year-round comfort with just the flip of a switch! But, no matter how great your heat pump is, eventually, it is going to need to be replaced.

Like all HVAC systems, heat pumps have an average life expectancy. Surely, not all cases are the same, but there are quite a few signs that suggest the time for replacement has come. So below, we have listed some of these signs for you. All you have to do is keep reading to find out more.

Continue Reading