Plumbing Resolution for 2017

January 1, 2017

Plumbing Resolution for the New Year


A new year and a new year resolution. Why not make one of them to be more proactive about your home plumbing system.

Faucets- Take a walk around your home and check all the faucets in your bathrooms, laundry room and kitchen to make sure they do not leak or drip. Look under the counter and see if there are any wet spots or drips on the piping.

Sinks – Check that all your sinks are draining well. If you’re dealing with a slow drain, try using a snake to clear the blockage.

Washing Machine- Remember to check your washing machine supply lines (tubes that connect to your washing machine to the water supply) and see if there are any kinks, cracks or weakness in the supply tube.

Water Heater – A leaking water heater will cause havoc in your home if left unattended. Elements in the water when heated over a long period of time can cause corrosion in the tank and lead to rust, leaks, and damage to your flooring. Inspect your water heater on a regular basis to check on the structure and see if any rust or leaks appear.

Garburator– This year consider not using your garburator as much. Place the food waste in your compost/ green bin instead of putting it down the kitchen sink and potentially causing a sink clog. Using your garburator less often will help you use less water and electricity.

If you do have a clogged drain or line, you can always contact us at 604-283-2383 to schedule a plumber to take care of it for you.

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This post is in: Ashton Service Group, How To, Plumbing, Vancouver

Post-Christmas Plumbing Issues

December 28, 2016

penguin plumbing

We have gotten through the Christmas holiday and hosting guests, holding dinners and parties. You may have been using your kitchen more often than normal and busy kitchens may equal more grease and food waste down the kitchen drain and garburator.

People are so caught up in the holiday madness that plumbing and heating issues are the very last thing on their minds. By taking a few precautions, homeowners can prevent clogs and blockages so they do not have to place an emergency call to a plumber.

A few items to pay attention to in the kitchen are:

<> Avoid pouring fats or cooking oils down the drain, as they will solidify in pipes and cause clogs. Instead wipe the grease from pots and pans with paper towels, and deposit the paper towels in the compost bin.

<> Run cold water for 15 seconds before and after using the garburator to help flush and move the waste down the main sewer line.

<> Make sure the garburator is running when you put food into it instead of waiting to turn it on after you have placed all the food down the sink.

<> Run the dishwasher and washing machine at night or during non-peak times during the day to conserve water temperature and pressure for your guests. Too much demand and usage of water through out the house will result in low pressure and lack of hot water for everyone.

In the bathroom:

<> Prevent plumbing problems by planning ahead and spreading showers throughout the day, and waiting 10 minutes between showers so that slow drains have time clear the water and your water heater has a chance to recover so the next person does not end up with a lukewarm/cold shower.

<> Never flush cotton balls or swabs, hair, facial scrub pads or similar items down the toilet, as they don’t dissolve and are responsible for most clogs. Provide a trash bin in all your bathrooms so guests have a place to dispose of these items.

If your home does have clogged pipes or toilet and all the plunging you have done is not making progress, feel free to give Ashton Service Group a call at 604-283-2383.

We have technicians on call 24/7, 365 days a year to take care of inconveniences like this.

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Halloween is Over…Now What to Do with Your Pumpkin

November 1, 2016


Halloween 2016 has come and gone. Some had many trick or treaters, others in the office only a handful of visitors. Now it is very easy to take care of the leftover candy and chocolates but what to do with your jack-o-lantern/ pumpkin?

Eat It

Your pumpkin is in good shape having survived Halloween without being kicked or knocked over by people.  It was not painted or sprayed and if you used a real candle to light your pumpkin-  you have removed it and any burned sections or wax.

Why not try eating the pumpkin by making puree. Pumpkin puree can be used in many delicious recipes such as muffins, breads, soups, or pies. Good Housekeeping says making puree is relatively simple and you can boil, bake or steam it. If you cannot use all the puree at once, you can freeze it for future meal ideas.

Turn it into a birdfeeder

If you are a birder or have children who loves birds. Why not turn your pumpkin into a natural birdfeeder? All you need to do is cut your pumpkin in half , poke 4 holes into the pumpkin and use twine or string to hang the pumpkin up. If there is nowhere to hang it, leave it on a bench, table or chair and fill with bird seeds. Then sit back and watch the birds come for dinner.

Use as a plant pot

Pumpkins usually last for a few more weeks after Halloween and takes a while for them to decompose. You can use the pumpkin as planter by placing a small potted plant into it and draw the nutrients from the pumpkin.

Compost it

If you want to just be rid of your pumpkin and don’t want to try any of the above ideas, you can recycle it. Cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces and put it in your garden compost pile. The pumpkin will decompose and release the nutrients into the soil. If you do not have a compost or garden, you can place the pumpkin in your green (food waste) bin for pick up.

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Samsung Washing Machine Safety Advisory

October 20, 2016

washing machine

Samsung is working with Health Canada to address potential safety issues with certain top-loading, high-efficiency washing machines that can vibrate so much to cause a risk of injury or damage property.

Washing bedding, bulky items such as winter coats or a load of jeans on certain settings may cause the washers to vibrate abnormally and customers should only use the delicate cycle when washing these items. This warning only applies to washing machines that were manufactured between March 2011 and April 2106.

Some machines under the Kenmore brand may be affected too. Fortunately there have no reports of injuries in Canada. Samsung’s Canadian operation has set up a toll free phone number and has provided two websites for people to enter their 15-digit serial number (found at the back of the washer) to check if your washing machine is part of the notice.

If you have any concerns with your Samsung/Kenmore top loading washing machines please check the website or  1-866-264-5636 (8AM to 10PM EST, 7 days a week).

While checking to see if your washing machine is one of the affected matters, take a look and see if your washing machine is connect to bare rubber hoses or if they are ones that are encased in a metal sleeve. Washing machine hoses are prone to leaks or even bursting as they are under constant water pressure. The metal sleeve no-burst hoses prevent weak spots in the rubber from developing into leaks and possible thousands of dollars worth of water damage.

Some insurance companies provide savings in their policy to home owners if they can show they are taking precautions in reducing leaks in their home such as replacing laundry hoses or having a leak/ water detection system.

You can call Ashton Service Group at 604-283-2383 to help replace your laundry machine hoses but we do not work or repair appliances such as washer or dryers.

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Natural Gas Safety Tips

October 12, 2016

natural gas safety

There are also a number of things you can do to keep your natural gas appliances and ventilation and air supply piping and gas line well-maintained and safe for everyone.

Seven (7) Natural Gas Safety Tips

  • Keep all your appliances owners’ manuals. You may think you have no use for them now but they come in handy for troubleshooting and diagnosing problems. They are the best source of information on maintenance and operation of your natural gas appliances.
  • Make sure the areas around your natural gas appliances and vent pipes are kept clear of combustible materials like laundry, cardboard boxes, paper, paints, solvents and propane cylinders.
  • Don’t store lawnmowers, motorcycles and other gasoline-powered equipment or vehicles indoors or near natural gas appliances.
  • Natural gas appliances have open flames and can be a source of ignition.  Be smart and don’t use solvents or glues in the area.
  • Make sure there’s an enough air flow to your natural gas appliances. This means making sure the fresh air pipe to your furnace, boiler or water heater is not blocked. If you plan to enclose your water heater or furnace, check with a licensed gas contractor first to see if it is safe to do so.
  • Check and, if necessary, change your furnace filter every three to six months. This helps to ensure there is adequate air flowing through the appliance and throughout the home.
  • Know where to find the shut-off valve for each appliance and how to use it. The gas is “off” when the valve handle is at a right angle to the gas pipe. This is extremely helpful to know if you will be away from home for a while or if there is a natural disaster.

It is important to have an annual maintenance on your boiler/service to ensure it is working efficiently and to check there are no issues before the start of fall.

From now until October 31st Fortis BC is offering a $25 rebate/credit on your natural gas account if you have your boiler or furnace inspected as well as another $25 for a fireplace service.

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Natural Gas Rate Increase for BC

October 5, 2016

natural gas rate increase

In case you missed the announcement, Fortis BC has been approved by the BC Utilities Commission to increase their natural gas rate by 80%.

Starting October 1st, residential customers will pay $2.05 per gigajoule, up from $1.14. Because the price of gas only makes up only a part of the overall bill that you receive, the average homeowner can expect to see an increase of $82 per year, based on the average use of 90 gigajoules per year.

Fortis BC blames the increase of global prices and increased demand due to the hot summer weather across North America leading to more people using their air conditioner.

“The hotter-than-normal summer, for most of Canada and the US, has resulted in higher-than-expected continental demand for electricity, which is often generated by natural gas,” says Dennis Swanson, vice-president of energy supply at Fortis BC. “This combined with a slowdown in natural gas production has led to an increase in prices during the past few months.”

Rates are reset every three months based on market conditions and Fortis BC does not mark up the price of gas for customers. The company makes many on the delivery charge which is added to every bill.

Lower Mainland Service Area Rates
(Effective October 1, 2016)
Basic charge per day $0.389
Delivery charge per GJ $4.018
Storage and transport charge per GJ $0.921
Cost of gas per GJ $2.05


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Signs Your Furnace is Not Working Properly

September 15, 2016

A furnace does not usually stop working no apparent reason.

There are almost always signs that the furnace is not working properly prior to the furnace stopping.


Be on the look out for and aware of the eight (8) following signs:

  • Observe a yellow or wavering flame
  • The pilot light goes out a lot (note not all furnaces have standing pilot lights, refer to your manual if you are unsure)
  • Furnace is producing too much or not enough heat
  • Delayed ignition (mid- and high-efficiency furnaces have an intentional delay)
  • There is excessive soot or corrosion on the furnace or vent system (white, brown or black streaks)
  • Signs that the flame has ‘rolled-out’ of the furnace — scorch marks by the door or other opening
  • Presence of a lingering or intermittent odour (“rotten egg” smell or a sharp odour that may can make the eyes sting)
  • Symptoms of the presence of carbon monoxide: nausea, headaches, lethargy or other flu-like symptoms.

If your pilot light goes out, you can relight it by following manufacturer’s instructions that are usually located on a metal plate near the furnace burner to gas controls. Most natural gas appliances with pilot lights are designed to shut off automatically if the pilot goes out (Many newer models of gas furnaces do not have a standing pilot light.

If you are unable to get it relit, turn off the manual valve in the natural gas supply and call a licensed gas contractor.

Ashton Service Group employs trained and certified gas fitters to install and service natural gas equipment.  If you need help with your furnace, please call us at 604-283-2383.

We are listed with Fortis BC’s Trade Ally Network of approved contractors.

Need to meet their requirements of:

  • possessing a minimum of $2 million liability and third-party insurance
  • have a business licence for each community they serve
  • have been in business for a minimum of three years
  • are informed about FortisBC energy efficiency rebates and innovative technologies


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This post is in: Furnace Repairs, Heating, How To, Vancouver

Tips to Reduce Heat Loss in Your Home This Fall

September 9, 2016

Summer is coming to an end. It may not be officially Fall as that is not until September 22nd- but when Labour Day has come and gone it is time to get ready for fall. While people are putting away their summer clothing and taking out their fall clothing- you should think about getting your home ready for the cooler weather too other than getting out those blankets and throws for the couch.

Cover Drafty Windows

  • Tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame that will help improve energy efficiency. Also can install insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.

Adjust the Temperature in Your Home

  • When there are people at home, set your thermostat as low as it is comfortable. Wear a sweater or cardigan and socks if you are cool.
  • When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat down 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. A programmable thermostat makes it easy to change temperatures. Set it and forget it.

Maintain Your Heating Systems

  • Schedule an annual service/inspection of your heating system before the start of fall. An inspection will check to make sure your boiler or furnace is operating efficiently and will last through the winter.
  • Remember to change your furnace filter as needed as a plugged filter will reduce the amount of warm air flowing throughout your home.

Reduce Heat Loss from the Fireplace


  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Leaving the damper open is like having a window wide open during the winter; allowing warm air to go right up and out the chimney.
  • When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly–approximately 1 inch–and close doors leading into the room.
  • If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue to reduce the loss of heat.
  • If you use the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warm air back into the room.
  • Add caulking around the fireplace hearth to reduce heat loss slipping through the cracks.

Lower Water Heating Costs

Water heating accounts for about 18% of the energy consumed in your home. Think about all the hot water you use to wash dishes, clothes, showering, cleaning etc. If you know and are comfortable touching your hot water tank, turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (49°C). You’ll not only save energy, you’ll avoid scalding your hands.

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Parts of a Toilet

August 26, 2016

Parts of a toilet

Toilets are composed of two main pieces: the tank and the bowl.

Tank: The purpose of the tank is to act like a bucket of water. You have to get enough water into the bowl fast enough to activate the siphon. The tank holds several litres of water, which it takes about 30 to 60 seconds to accumulate. When you flush, all of the water in the tank is dumped into the bowl in about three seconds.

Lift chain: connects the flush lever (handle) to the flush valve and opens the flapper.

Flush lever and flush valve: There is a chain attached to the handle (flush lever) on the side of the tank. When you push on the handle, it pulls the chain, which is connected to the flush valve. The chain lifts the flush valve, which then floats out of the way, revealing a 5.08- to 7.62-cm diameter drain hole. Uncovering this hole allows water to enter the bowl. In most toilets, the bowl has been molded so that the water enters the rim, and some of it drains out through holes in the rim. A good portion of the water flows down to a larger hole at the bottom of the bowl.

Siphon tube/ Siphone jet: The hole located at the bottom of the bowl is known as the siphon jet. It releases most of the water directly into the siphon tube. Because all of the water in the bowl enters the tank in about three seconds, it is enough to fill and activate the siphon effect, and all of the water and waste in the bowl is sucked out. The siphon sucks the water out of the bowl and down the sewer line. As soon as the bowl empties, air enters the siphon tube, producing that gurgling sound and stopping the siphoning process.

Flapper (flush valve seat): A flapper is located at the bottom of the tank. The flapper lifts when the toilet is flushed and lets the water flow from the tank into the bowl. When water seems to trickle through a toilet long after it has been flushed, a worn rubber flapper valve at the bottom of the tank is probably to blame.

The purpose of the toilet tank and the flush valve is to hold and then dump about 2 gallons (7.6 L) of water very quickly into the bowl. Once the tank has emptied, the flush valve sits back at the bottom of the tank, covering the drain hole so the tank can be refilled. It is the job of the refill mechanism to fill the tank back up with enough water to start the whole process again.

Filler float aka ball float: The refill mechanism valve turns the water on when the filler float falls. The float falls when the water level in the tank falls.

Filler valve: The filler valve (or refill valve) sends water in two directions. Some of the water goes down the refill tube and starts refilling the tank. The rest goes through the bowl refill tube, and down the overflow tube into the bowl. This refills the bowl slowly. As the water level in the tank rises, so does the float. When the float rises high enough it turns the valve off.

Overflow tube: The overflow tube is present to prevent the toilet tank from overflowing and flooding the bathroom. It directs the extra water into the bowl instead of onto the floor.

Trap: Holds water in the bowl, blocking the entry of sewer gases, until the flow from the tank pushes the water over the weir.

Weir: The S-shape visibly snaking out the back of most toilets. When water reaches the top of the trapway also called the weir when the toilet is flushed, gravity pulls it into the downward leg of the S.

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Prevent Your Home Against Water Damage

August 15, 2016

Water damage is one of the most common and costly challenges facing homeowners. Below are four things a homeowner can do to safeguard their home against preventable and expensive water damage.

Ways to minimize the risk of water damage

Install water alarm system. Operates like smoke detectors but warns of leaks from toilets, water heaters, overflowing baths and sinks. Simply place a sensor near any water source and a high-pitched alarm will sound to alert you to a water leak. There are sophisticated ones where they can send you messages, alerts or text messages to your phone if you are out of town or away.

Install stainless steel braided hoses.

braided hoses

Stainless steel hoses are less likely to deteriorate than the plastic hoses. Dishwasher and washing machine hoses should be inspected and replaced every 3-5 years as they experience wear and tear over time.

Use a rain barrel.

rain barrel

Rain barrels keep rainwater out of overloaded storm sewer infrastructures and provide water for use in your garden and trees.

Connect an eavestrough downspout extension.

Extend the eavestrough at least 6 feet from foundation walls to prevent water from draining into your basement, and direct it towards the street.

Protecting your home from inside and outside leaks can prevent expensive and time-consuming repairs. This will also protect your family from the moisture, mildew and mold that comes from water damage.

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