Author: <span class="vcard">David Conklin</span>

When you buy your first home you discover there are quite a few things in your home that can very easily go awry. From heating to roofing to floods and more, it can be quite daunting at first. However, experienced homeowners will always tell you that having first-hand knowledge of a few simple home repair skills can truly be a lifesaver.

This can be especially true when it comes to plumbing. As many homes will have any number of toilets, sinks, washbasins, dishwashers, baths, and more in their home, there can be problems just lurking around the corner. So, the very best thing a new homeowner can do is to get yourself a few simple supplies that will enable you to fix any minor issues that may come up. Save the big problems for your trusted local plumber.

The number one supply in any home should be the plunger. Let’s face it, things with drains clog, for a variety of reasons, it is one of the most common plumbing issues out there, and you don’t need to be stumped when it happens to you. Make sure you have a good quality plunger that forms a really tight seal and get pumping.

Plunger Demo

Another indispensable tool is an auger. You may not have heard of an auger, but you probably have seen one, another term used for it commonly is a plumbers snake. Essentially it is a very long steel cable that gets cranked out to untangle a clog. The benefit of this is that it can reach clogs that are further down the toilet or drain than you cannot get to manually. Augers can come quite in handy, so it is a great tool to have. Here’s a little more detail on why drains get plugged.

Pliers and wrenches are also good to have around the house, not just for plumbing, either. Pliers and wrenches come in a few different types, so it’s a good idea to take a peek around your home to see which kinds you will need, but generally speaking having a nice set of pliers and wrenches will be able to tackle any sort of loosening or tightening that you would need to perform on any pipes, nuts or bolts around your home.

Teflon tape is one of the best things to have in your toolbox in case of a plumbing emergency. If a pipe springs a leak, get your Teflon tape out and wrap it around the leak as well as the surrounding area, this will make a huge difference in stopping water damage, and should be able to hold the situation steady until a professional plumber arrives.

As you can see, all it takes are just a handful of tools to get yourself started. This way, you will be able to tackle a variety of small issues right away before they might become big problems down the road, saving you quite a bit of time, energy and money later on.

If you think there is something more serious looming in your plumbing  system then read our article on how to avoid a serious plumbing problem.


emergency plumber

Many people do not consider the value of a quality plumbing system expert, until the basement floods or one of the pipes burst. When a overnight plumbing emergency occurs, not just any type of plumbing contractor is a good choice. When you’re wanting to hire someone on short notice, there are a few questions you should ask. You will want to know is whether he has a certificate and proper insurance. It is also important that they carry workers compensation in case someone gets hurt on the job. You don’t want to be held liable for injuries of this nature, especially when the best course of action is to sue.


As soon as you have confirmed that the company is appropriately qualified, learn just how long they have been in business. Fly by night companies are usually start up’s and will not have any references. Another way to do a quick search on a companies integrity is to look for online reviews. A good company will have at least 50% or more of their reviews positive. Any less than that and you might want to look further. Don’t get turned off by one of two bad reviews among lots of good ones, sometimes competitors will post negative comments to hurt the other guys.

Some plumbing companies do not have a lot of reviews, but it doesn’t mean they are no good. For example the vancouver plumbing company Pioneer Plumbing is a great resource if you want a quality plumber to do the work for you. If price is more of a concern then you should call around for quotes and find a handyman you are comfortable dealing with. If you have a plumbing issues you want fixed right then use a licensed plumbing contractor who specializes in solving these type of problems.


Ask about the prices and the quality of parts they use. Another good question is about any kind of assurance they offer. A reputable plumber will freely offer all their connections and associations. A shady guy will hum and haw trying to beat around the bush.

If you are somewhat handy you should be able to stop the water fro flooding your basement if you know where the main shut off valve is. If you are reading this for the information, take a few minutes and get familiar with where that is. Another thing you can do is walk around and do a simple inspection of the visible plumbing in your home. Here are a few tips for taking care of the simplest stuff. Catching something before it becomes a major problem is well worth an hour or two of your time each year.

If you ever have the lousy experience of a sewer overflow remember how to look for a reputable plumber, if you don’t already know one.


landscape-design-300x224The term “natural landscaping” can include various definitions. In this article I’ll be referring to “natural” in the sense of an un-winded design verses a formal style landscape. Natural landscapes can be incorporated on every property, however you ought to initially consider the architecture of your home and the naturally existing environments to make sure a natural style landscape will contribute. Material choice plays a large part in producing a natural landscape. You’ll normally find indigenous products being executed in different applications throughout the design.

A natural landscape needs to be one that’s simplistic in blending colors, shapes and patterns. When developing a less official landscape, we tend to use more natural shape for patio’s, walkways and bed lines. Within the growing bed, mass plantings of perennials or bushes will certainly produce a basic yet aesthetically striking impact.

Certain Garden Types

Meadow style is one that first comes to mind and contributes to mass plantings and a great deal of repeating. You will typically discover native ornamental grasses and wildflowers at the heart of the design.

Home yards are also considered to be a natural design of landscape and in this design you will typically see less mass plantings of one certain plant and use more specimen-type plants. Cottage yards also include meandering paths generally made from natural stone or pavers and are used to connect outdoor rooms and yards.

Woodland gardens are another terrific example of a natural style landscape and include shade loving plants in a mix of mass’s and samplings. Woodland yards can likewise be based around native choices of plants, which will supply constant seasonal interest. When developing a woodland yard envision exactly what you would see in a forest and obtain its design.

Design of Architecture

Homeowner should identify whether or not their surroundings and design of architecture work with a natural landscape. If your style is natural however your houses architecture is not, you can still designate a location for a natural yard. Do not hesitate to mix a little bit of natural with formal; when succeeded the overall look is unique and one of a kind. An example of blending natural with formal is using an upright/columnar ornamental yard which is natural however yet the upright form is considered to be official. With natural landscaping along with any style of landscaping the objective is to produce a connection in between the home, naturally existing elements and the landscape design.

Material options for a natural landscape are normally indigenous, but there are exceptions to the policy. For the most part natural style and native plants go hand in hand but it’s crucial to integrate some sampling plants that could or might not be native. Duplicating plant product and planting in masses produces a unity considered the landscape and is visually striking. It’s essential to utilize a mixture of sizes when very first setting up plants to achieve some instant effect. Likewise, remember the modification of periods and incorporate plants that will offer something distinct such as flowers, berries and fall color.

How to Lay Out Gravel Landscaping

The hard scape material be used can likewise be native. In Minnesota, you will usually find field stone, Virginia slate, trap rock and limestone. Using wood that is native to the area such as Ironwood for decks or pergolas is an excellent method to make a connection to nature.

In order to create an ageless, beautiful landscape a strategy is an essential part of the procedure. Let our design group at Pine to Prairie help you in developing a landscape that fits your style – call us today!


Installing a new toilet will revitalize an old-looking bathroom. This process is not that difficult, though it does take care and the ability to precisely follow instructions. A poorly-installed toilet may cause the toilet to function improperly, causing damage to the bathroom and – possibly – the entire house.

Removing Existing Toilet

Before beginning the removal of the toilet, turn the water supply off by means of the shut-off valve behind the toilet. Once the water has been turned off, flush the toilet. Some water will remain in the toilet and this should be removed by forcing it down using a plunger. Soaking up the remaining water with a sponge will minimize the amount of water that will get on your floor when the toilet is removed.

At this point, the water line at the back of the toilet can be removed with a wrench.

Removing the bolts on the bottom of the toilet is next. They may have plastic covers over them, but they can be pulled off using only your fingers.

Now remove the bolts that connect the water tank to the toilet bowl. Placing your hands on either side of the bottom of the tank, carefully lift it from the toilet by gently rocking it from side to side. There will be a little water still in the tank, so sit it on a garbage bag on the floor.

The toilet can now be removed and disposed of.

Installing the New Toilet

  • First, plugging the drain hole with a rag will prevent smelly gases from rising into the bathroom. It might also prevent tools from disappearing! Just remember to remove the rag before installing a new toilet.
  • Pull the old bolts out of the flange.
  • Use a putty knife to scrape off the wax seal. Wipe it clean when you’re done.
  • At this point is a good idea to inspect the round metal or plastic flange that was under the wax. If it looks damaged, replace it.
  • Now put the new bolts in the flange. They go in special channels, sort of like the keyhole slots on the back of picture frames for hanging the picture on a nail.
  • Put the new was seal in place, with the plastic or rubber facing out. Push down hard and twist it to get it really stuck in place.
  • Now is the time to remove the rag you put in the hole at Step 1.
  • Set the new toilet in place over the anchor bolts. If the toilet came pre-assembled with a new tank, removing the tank (which is easy) will make it a lot easier to handle the toilet. Press on the toilet bowl and rock it to help seal it to the wax ring.
  • Reinstall the washers and nuts on the bolts at the base of the toilet, followed by the plastic caps. Be careful not to over-tighten the nuts, as this could crack your new toilet.
  • Next, place the water tank on its side and insert tank bolts and washers from the inside and put a new gasket around the hole where it will attach to the toilet.
  • Place the tank on the toilet, fitting nuts onto the bolts and tightening them gently.
  • If your tank does not have the toilet valve assembly pre-installed, do that now. Dry test your flapper valve to see if seems to seal properly.
  • Reconnect the water supply line, turn the water on and allow the tank to fill. Flush the toilet several times while watching to see if any water appears at the floor, around the base of the toilet, or between the toilet bowl and tank.
  • Once you are sure there are no leaks, apply some caulking around the base of the toilet where it meets the floor. And there you have it.

If you feel this job is too big to handle you are not alone. Many people will hire a local plumber to take care of a new toilet installation or plumbing repair. It’s messy and requires tools you may not have.


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With a combined 20 years under our belts, our experienced heating technician journeymen provide the highest standards of service combined with honesty and integrity. We want to be your go-to heating professionals for life.

Home Heating Services

We offer a full range of heating and air conditioning service including repairs, and installation on all models:

Why Air Quality Matters

We realize your home is your castle and that you expect your central heating system to keep your family warm and healthy. North American homes need to either be heated or cooled all year round. It is a smart move to have someone do an annual tune-up to maintain peak efficiency. One way or the other you pay for heat, either with regular maintenance and lower utilities or by occasional Vancouver furnace repair or replacement.

Clean Air

It may sound strange, but air pollution can be worse inside your home than outside. Modern homes are built to be airtight in order to save money on heating bills, but that can trap air pollutants in your home as well. Good ventilation is a must for any well-sealed home and a heat recovery ventilator provides even more energy-efficient ventilation. Regular duct cleaning also helps remove dust or dirt particles hidden inside your home’s duct-work, keeping everyone healthy and saving on fuel bills. Most people are unaware that less than 1mm of dust can dramatically reduce air flow and heating efficiency.

Call us today to set up an annual heat system inspection and maintenance schedule that will reduce heating bills, extend the life of your heating system and keep everyone in your home warm and healthy.

We Service and Install All Brands

Regardless the brand of your furnace or boiler, we are familiar with it and can provide the very best service at reasonable rates. Our vehicles are stocked with the most common parts for all major brands.

We also install heating systems in new homes and replace them in older homes. If you think your home is ready for an upgrade to a new high-efficiency heating system, we will be happy to visit and advise you on the options that will best suit your needs and budget.

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