Morgan Miller Plumbing: Flowin with the Sump Pump Jams

Sump Pump Jams

The idea of water standing anywhere outside the designated areas of sinks, showers, tubs and toilets is enough to make any homeowner anxious. As innocuous as water may seem, it can cause serious damage to the walls, floors, furnishings and belongings if left standing. With this kind of scenario, it’s no wonder homeowners hold their breath when a long stretch of rainy days hits the metro.

Running Downhill

The power of gravity pulls water downhill to the lowest level. Outside, this could mean flowing water running through a storm drain or through the downspout of the gutter on a roofline. Inside, water also looks for the lowest level, which in many cases is the basement. The installation of a sump pump in the basement helps send water away from a home and can improve dampness when a water table sits above the foundation of a home. Dampness also has the potential to trigger rust, rot, mold and unhealthy indoor air in a home. In short, a sump pump is great insurance, stopping potential problems before they start.

Home’s Defense against Basement Floods

A flood in the lower level of your home is not only problematic to the furniture and articles stored in the basement; it’s also detrimental to the foundation of your home. The installation of a sump pump is a simple way to safeguard your investments and add a measure of assurance when the rain starts to fall. Relying on the same principle of gravity, water flows to the sump pump pit below the surface of the basement. When the water collected in the pit reaches a certain level, an automated floatation device signals the sump pump to remove water out from the area.

Importance of Regular Testing and Maintenance

In order to ensure your sump pump is ready to kick into action when the rain starts, it’s a good idea to test the sump pump. This can be particularly important before a forecast of heavy rain or precipitation over an extended timeframe. Testing is as simple as pouring water from a bucket into the sump pump basin until it triggers the pump. Typically, this is a fast process and only requires a couple gallons of water. Once the pump triggers, it will remove water from the basin and shut off. If there’s any delay in the process or the sump pump does not trigger, it’s a good time to call the plumbing specialists from Morgan Miller Plumbing for sump pump repairs.

Power in Numbers

One working sump pump is great. Two working sump pumps are even better. This is particularly true in the case of heavy rains that fall in a short amount of time. If a pump becomes overwhelmed with the amount of water, the second pump can help remove the water. A back-up battery system can also supply an additional level of protection by keeping the pump working in the case of a power outage during a storm.

Finding the Sump Pump that’s Right for You

Let the plumbing experts at Morgan Miller Plumbing determine your home’s specific sump pump needs, from grinder or ejector pumps to submersible and pedestal pumps, we’ve got you covered. With our 24-hour emergency service center, Morgan Miller Plumbing is here when you need us!


Morgan Miller Plumbing: Expansion Tank 101

Expansion Tank Hero

Why you need an Expansion Tank

Even thinking about a cold shower can be a miserable experience. Really, what could be worse than standing under the showerhead waiting for hot water to come pouring out and instead you’re greeted by a cold blast of chilling water? Definitely a buzz kill. Thankfully, a well-functioning water heater and thermal expansion tank is one of the best ways to ensure the levels of hot water are available when you want them.

Expansion Tank Shower


What Happens when the Water Gets Hot?

The act of heating water inside a hot water heater causes a form of natural expansion. This causes pressure to push outward from the inside to throughout the plumbing system. Kind of like a cartoon character who grows so angry they finally explode, a water heater has the ability to turn into a missile of enormous power if the system’s temperature and pressure, or T&P relief valve, is not in place. The T&P valve is the safety feature designed to relieve high levels of pressure. If this is not in place or working properly a hot water tank could explode, causing smoke, fire or structural damage.


From Open to Closed Systems

Years ago, most cities had “open systems.” This meant water drawn from the city supply could flow both ways. This was helpful for regulating the pressure in a home water heater. When too much pressure built up in the water tank, it could just flow back into the city’s larger water supply. Instances of back flow causing contamination found many cities opting for a “closed system.” This meant water trying to release pressure by flowing backward got stopped by a check valve installed at the city meter. As the populations of cities grew so did the number of “closed systems,” making the need for thermal expansion tanks necessary, according to Mack McClain and Associates.


Dealing with Heat and Thermal Expansion

Morgan Miller Pipes

Any time there’s a build-up of pressure in a plumbing system, there’s also a potential for chronic and continuous dripping of a T&P valve on the hot water heater. In addition, dripping faucets and leaking toilet tank ball cock valves are symptomatic of thermal expansion. With nowhere for the building pressure to go, water expanding through the heating process creates the potential for serious damage within a plumbing system. Similar to blowing off steam after a stressful encounter or conversation, the water from a hot water heater looks for another place to put water that doesn’t fit in the tank after expansion through heating.


Small but Mighty

The thermal expansion tank is a small vessel installed at the cold supply of the water heater. Inside, a rubber bladder separates the compartments for water and air. When the water expands with heating, the rubber bladder moves to the air side of the bladder, taking up the room it needs to expand. Even as the water replaces the air in the tank, water pressure isn’t affected.


Benefits of a Thermal Expansion Tank

expansion tanks

                 • Eliminates general wear and tear on plumbing fixtures

• Extends the life of the water heater

• Reduces leaks at connections within the plumbing system

• Prevents unnecessary damage to water heater and plumbing system

• Lowers the chance for future costly repairs

• Minimizes maintenance, can be included in annual plumbing inspection

• Adds value to the home


The Gamble: Forgoing the Thermal Expansion Tank

While the codes in many cities (including Kansas City) require the installation of a thermal expansion tank with all new water heaters, you might be wondering if it’s worthwhile to install an expansion tank on an older water heater. For this question, we consulted Sage Restoration, Kansas City’s go-to source for fire, water, mold and biohazard restoration services. Having dealt with the aftermath of way too many burst water heaters in their time, Sage Restoration knows first-hand the importance of having a thermal expansion tank to reduce the pressure and the amount of water dripping from a T&P valve. It’s also protects a home and its inhabitants from fire, smoke or structural damage associated with an exploding hot water heater. Water damage creates associated problems such as standing water and its threat of breeding bacteria and mold growth. Eliminating this possibility can be an important way to reduce the myriad of health risks associated with bacteria or mold growth.


Plumber’s Testing Protocol:

• Check the meter for the presence of a check valve

• Determine current water pressure (water pressure 80 PSI or higher requires a pressure reducing valve (PRV) and a thermal expansion tank is recommended)

• Look for signs of damage from thermal expansion


Do I need a Thermal Expansion Tank?

To determine if a thermal expansion tank could be beneficial to your home or business, call the licensed plumbers at Morgan Miller Plumbing. The Morgan Miller Plumbing team offers more than 100 years of combined plumbing experience. Our team of master plumbers and services technicians have “been there and done that.” Rest assured knowing our experts are here to service all your plumbing needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Associated Installation Cost and Warranties

The cost to install a thermal expansion tank can range from $300 to $400. Often the expense of the thermal expansion tank is included in the cost of the new water heater. Because of the safety benefits of thermal expansion tanks, many water heater manufacturers require the installation of thermal expansion tanks to receive the full warranty. Warranties can range from one to five years, and the less you pay, the lower the warranty coverage.

Sources: (Morgan Miller Plumbing, Sage Restoration Services and Mack McClain & Associates)


Morgan Miller Plumbing: Yikes Strange Drain Finds

Stange Drain Finds

Have you ever wondered what happens to little Goldy the goldfish after he was flushed down the drain? We like to think he eventually made his way to fishy heaven, but chances are Goldy ended up in the labyrinth of sewage tunnels in Kansas City….but stranger things have happened.

Here’s a list of five pretty strange things people have found in their drains:

  1. False Teeth: Many people with grandparents know about sterile liquid they drop their dentures in overnight for a good cleansing. False teeth are some of the most common clogs found by plumbers. Be sure to remind grandma and grandpa to lock their teeth in whenever they use the bathroom!
  2. Engagement Rings: A technician answered a house call to recover an engagement ring. A newly engaged woman accidentally dropped her engagement ring down the sink. The trusty plumber cut into the wall, ran a camera through the pipe, cut it and pulled out the bling with a pair of tweezers. Needless to say, her fiancée was happy to splurge on a house call to recover his $10,000 investment.
  3. Cell Phones: Smartphones have found their way down toilets. Everyone has passed the time on the john by surfing the web or playing Angry Birds. It’s no surprise that with these devices becoming smaller and sleeker, they sometimes slip out of our hands and into the pot on which we sit.
  4. Alligators: This is something you see more along the Coast. Some of these reptiles reportedly slithered their way up into the pipes of residential homes. Imagine the shock of the homeowner who made that house call!
  5. Toys: It’s well known that Toddlers are prone to give various toys and small objects the “flush test” to determine what swims and what sinks. Make sure you wrangle in  your little rascal before Malibu Barbie finds her way into a whirlpool.

Whatever weird object has created the stoppage in your sewer line, you can be sure to contact Morgan Miller Plumbing for all your plumbing needs!


Morgan Miller Plumbing: Smelly Disposal

Whenever the weather gets warm, we start getting complaints about garbage disposals beginning to reek. Here’s a fun & easy fix:


smelly disposal

Ice: Your Secret Weapon against a Disposal

Grab a dozen or so ice cubes, and let your garbage disposal do the work for you! The ice will help keep the rotors sharp and remove debris that has accumulated inside your disposal. Some folks put a small amount of lemon or lime rinds in as well, to freshen up the smell. Just be careful not to put too much of those in: no need the clog your drains on purpose. But no matter how new your disposal is, what ultimately matters is that drain line beyond your disposal.