The Plumber's Blog


Merry Christmas from Superior Plumbing

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Clifford (the big red van) is in a Parade !

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“Clifford” – Superior Plumbing

parade 1

Clifford in the CKE Parade





Clifford again.








Everyone loves a parade, including Clifford, the big red van (named by my wife and kids). Superior Plumbing believes in supporting the community where we live and work. This past weekend CKE (Chinook Park/Kelvin Grove/Eagle Ridge) hosted a parade and homecoming barbecue. Superior Plumbing got a little “dressed” up and drove the route.



Admittedly, Clifford has a bit of a crush on a blue and white VW van in the neighbourhood, so jumped on the chance to follow “Buttercup” from Hip Image around the block.

"Buttercup"...from Hip Image

“Buttercup”…from Hip Image

Parade 2

The Parade !












…..I heart Buttercup




Talk the Trade – Common Plumbing Terms

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Like most professions, plumbers are known for using lingo, acronyms and plumbing “terms”. If you are a homeowner, it’s to your advantage to understand key terminology related to plumbing. Listed below are common terms used by Plumbers. Understanding these basic terms will help you with your next trip to the hardware store or in the event you have Superior Plumbing in your home !



Standing for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (thank goodness for this acronym), a black, rough plastic piping used in drainage

Access panel

Opening in a wall, floor or ceiling that allows plumbing or electrical service


Fitting that joins pipes together

Air Gap

The path of the water flow; for example, the distance from a faucet to a drain

“A” valve

Shuts off gas manually

Back vent

One of two vents that are part of a plumbing fixture

Backflow Preventer

Mechanical plumbing devices installed in a plumbing system to prevent water from flowing backward in the system.

Ball joint 

Sphere-shaped part of a joint that rests in a socket

Branch Drain

Drain that leads to the main drainage line of a plumbing system

Circuit Vent

In drainage systems, this vent runs from the final traps of a horizontal drain line to the primary stack of vents


One of the more helpful common plumbing terms when troubleshooting, a plug that is used to access the pipe in order to clear an obstruction

Closet Auger

Tool that removes toilet obstructions


Type of fitting with two female ends


Standing for Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride, this rough piping is used in water supply systems


Standing for polybutylene, a type of plastic tubing used for water systems in some parts of the country


Cross-linked polyethylene. PEX tubing, is commonly used for water supply lines and radiant floor heat systems.

Plumber’s putty 

Soft substance used to seal joints and fixture bases


Standing for Polyvinyl Vhloride and one of the more common plumbing terms, referring to white piping used in many home plumbing capacities


Fitting that connects one pipe to another that is smaller


Installation phase that covers waste and vent lines, drains and water

Shutoff Valve

Most commonly refers to the shut-off valve located under sinks and toilets. Valves are also installed on branch lines and alongside the meter.


Slang for soldering.

T&P Valve

Temperature and pressure valve. A valve that opens to release excess pressure and temperature in a system.

Tee Fitting

Fittings that allow pipes to be joined at a 90-degree angle. Tee-fittings for drain systems use a sweeping bend to prevent blockage. See Sweep.


A temperature control device, typically located on an inside wall that is used to set and maintain a desired room temperature


A fitting or portion of a fixture that, when properly vented, holds water to prevent entry of sewer gases.


A device that regulates the flow of water.

Vent Stack

The upper portion of the soil stack above the topmost fixture through which gases and odors escape.

For a full lists of terms and for all your plumbing needs call Blair – Superior plumbing.


Permits – to pull or not to pull?

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In the City of Calgary there are specific requirements as to when you are required to have a gas or plumbing permit pulled for work done in your home. Below are some circumstances where you are required and not required to pull a permit:


  • If you are planning on building, modifying or extending a plumbing system you are required to get a permit from the city prior to starting the work.
  • If you are planning on replacing water/sewer lines in and around your house you will need a permit from the City of Calgary.

Performing this type of work without a permit is against the City of Calgary by-laws. It’s always a good idea to get a permit for extensive plumbing work so that you can ensure it is completed properly, within code and will be covered by insurance.

Not Required:

  • Repair leaks in water or draining systems
  • Replacing faucets and fixtures
  • Repairing or replacing a hot water tanks
  • Removing blockages in the drainage system.

A city-qualified tradesperson can pull a plumbing permit with the City of Calgary. A City qualified tradesperson has been pre-approved, understands what is necessary in the permit application and can apply on-line. At Superior Plumbing, we are city-qualified tradespeople with the City of Calgary and are set up to pull permits for your plumbing jobs.

If you are looking to have any gas work done in and around your home, a permit can ONLY be pulled by a certified gasfitter. Superior Plumbing employs certified gasfitters and are qualified to pull permits within the City of Calgary.

Here is a list of FAQ from the City of Calgary Technical Assistance Center, further information can be found on their website.

City of Calgary – Technical Assistance Center

Do I need to pull a permit for my new hot tub?

Yes, Electrical and Plumbing Permits are required. Depending on the structure that the tub is built on and around a Building Permit may also be required. If the hot tub is installed on the interior of a building then a HVAC permit may also be required for ventilation. A Development Permit may also be required depending on where on your property you want to place the hot tub.

Do I need a permit to replace my hot water heater?

Not normally, however if there changes to the gas line or venting, a permit may be required.

Can a homeowner apply for a gas permit?

No. Only a licensed gasfitter is allowed to apply for a gas permit.

Do I need a permit to replace bathroom or kitchen fixtures?

No, a permit is not required to replace fixtures. It is only required if you modify the plumbing system or change the location of the fixtures.


We are not called Superior Plumbing for nothing !

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Another Superior Transformation ! 


Depending on your needs and wants, almost anything can be accomplished when it comes to transforming or creating a bathroom. It is important to keep an open mind and understand that things could get messy! Extensive bathroom renovations may require busting up floors, moving or adding sewer and water lines.  After all plumbing isn’t all about shiny chrome, stylish toilets and rain shower heads. The majority of plumbing is done where you can’t see it, behind walls and underground.


This job consisted of an extensive basement renovation. The original basement had a two-piece bathroom, built in the 1960s (unfortunately, I don’t have many “before” pictures to show). The original bathroom was somewhat multifunctional as it was home to a large storage cupboard originally used for storing canning and kitchen supplies. In addition, the bathroom had an interior door that led to the storage area under the stairs; not the kind of layout or multifunctional use that the clients were looking for. They were looking for a large bathroom where they could enjoy a nice steam and an overall spa experience. In order to achieve this goal we completely gutted the original bathroom and extended it out into an area that was originally designed to be a 1960’s retro bar, mirrors and all ! This extension allowed room for a 7 1/2 x 5 foot steam shower, equipped with seating for 2.


Plumbing isn’t always glamorous !


New ABS sewer line laid down with backflow preventer.

Half way through busting up the floor, the decision was made to add in a second bathroom in the guest room; a smart decision in the end.


The total plumbing work involved busting up approximately 75 square feet of concrete. This was hard manual work. All the excess gravel and concrete had to be carried up the stairs in buckets, all 2500 lbs of it! Of course all of this had to be re-cemented once the new plumbing was laid, equally as hard is hauling 45 to 50,  60 lb concrete bags down the stairs.

Some of the old Cast Iron that I removed and replaced.

I removed the entire old cast iron sewer pipe and replaced with new ABS pipe. I installed all new plumbing (sewer and water) to the new guest bathroom and ran new water and drain lines to accommodate for the steam shower. The steam shower is a Thermosal Steamer. The fixtures used are Delta, Moen and Toto Drake. I also installed a Backflow valve/preventer that will prevent a sewer backup. All homeowners should consider doing this if you don’t have one.

This is the retro bar we took out to make room for the Steam Shower.

This is the retro bar we took out to make room for the Steam Shower.


Renovation Reminders: 

  • Things are not always as simple as they appear
  • If you are planning a major renovation, plan it out carefully and call on the experts.
  • Always get at least three estimates.
  • Expect the unexpected, with big renovations like this it is possible that additional costs can occur.
  • Don’t try and cut corners just to save a few bucks. It is cheaper to do things right the first time !



New Bathroom !



Guest Bathroom Ensuite with Shower


photo 5

Steam shower with tiled bench seating.

photo 3

Delta Rain Shower Head





Fall Plumbing Tips by Blair at Superior Plumbing

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After such a great hot summer it’s hard to believe that fall is just around the corner. The leaves are starting to change and the cool mornings are a tell tale sign. As Fall approaches it’s a good reminder to follow these Fall Plumbing Tips to ensure your home is protected and properly maintained.


Blow out Sprinkler Lines – Before freezing occurs, give your yard a good watering and blow out the lines in the sprinkler system. This will help avoid your lines and sprinkler heads from freezing. You can do this yourself with a compressor.


Remove and drain garden hoses – Remove hoses and blow them out or drain them using gravity and store them in a shed or garage, preferably in a place where they won’t freeze as you risk cracking the hose.


Check Outdoor Faucets Matter – Make sure they aren’t dripping or leaking; if they are and aren’t fixed, this could lead to some nasty accidents in the future, especially when the temperature goes below the freezing point. Frost freeze taps are not a guarantee that they won’t freeze, it’s best to shut off the valve.



Close and Drain Shut-Off Valves Leading Outside – If your house is furnished with interior shut-off valves leading to any outside faucets, be sure to close them and drain the water from the outside lines. If the water remains in the lines and freezes, it could cause a good amount of damage and could cost you a pretty penny to repair.


Insulate exposed pipes – Take a walk through your basement, and insulate the pipes you can see.  Especially the ones near the outside walls, as they are the most susceptible to freezing.  You can use heat tape to warm that pipe throughout the winter.


Service your hot water tank – Servicing your water heater and getting it tuned up for the months ahead is a very important part of prepping for winter.  Check the bottom of the pan to look for any standing water if there is water leaking it may be time for a new tank – Call Superior Plumbing. If you have hard water it may be beneficial to flush out the tank to remove any buildup. You can do this by draining several gallons of water from the valve near the bottom of the tank.


Learn where your main water valve is in your home – Ensure family members are aware of the location of the main water valve in your home. In case of a pipe break or leak you need to know where the water shut off valves is in order to prevent possible water damage. A 1/2″ blown pipe can shoot out upwards of 10 gallons of water per minute if you have high-pressure plumbing in your house.


Gutters and Downspouts – Cleaning your gutters and downspouts should be done at least twice (or more as required) a year to help prevent clogging and flooding.  This is particularly important in areas impacted by large trees and leaves.


Insulate Any Open Spaces Where Air Can Blow On Your Pipes – Fall is a good time to insulate any open spaces where air can leak through and blow on exposed pipes.  Check for drafts around common spaces like windows, doors, crawl space hatches and attic hatches. This will also help you keep the heat in and save money on your winter heating bill.


Superior Plumbing supports local Community Fundraising Event.

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Superior Plumbing is proud to have sponsored this year’s sold-out Wine & Whiskey event held for the Chinook Park-Kelvin Grove-Eagle Ridge (CKE) Community Association on May 24, 2014.


“I’m very proud of our community,” says owner Blair Daigle. “I believe that what you give to your community you get back ten-fold. I am encouraged to see other local businesses supporting the neighborhood as well.” Superior Plumbing (appropriately) sponsored the portable toilets at the event – check out Blair below sitting on the steps.


Superior Plumbing provides plumbing and gas services to many CKE residents. Blair has become known as the friendly neighborhood plumber. Blair and his wife Robin have been involved in the community since they moved here four years ago and as a result, have made life-long friends.


Superior Plumbing also sponsors the CKE membership program and Robin sits on the CKE board and is involved in other fundraisers for the new community hall initiative.


We look forward to supporting again in 2015.



Plumbing Trivia brought to you by Superior Plumbing

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“If I could do it all again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein

“If I could do it all again, I’d be a plumber.” – Albert Einstein

  1. The toilet is flushed more times during the super bowl halftime than at any time during the year.
  2. An average of three years of a person’s life is spent on the toilet
  3. Famous and often controversial rockstar Ozzy Osbourne was a plumber’s apprentice before getting into the music industry.
  4. Pipes haven’t always been made of metal or plastic. In the 1800s, both Boston and Montreal used wooden pipes; they were logs that were hollowed out and tapered at the ends.
  5. Why are manhole covers round instead of square? 
 Manhole covers are circular because if they’re turned sideways, they can’t fall through their own opening.
  6. The word “plumber” comes from the Latin word “plumbum,” which means “lead.”
  7. The most recognized video game character (s) in the world is a plumber Mario and Luigi of course !
  8. One of the biggest myths is on the direction the water in the toilet bowl swirls. Contrary to popular belief, the direction of the swirling water doesn’t depend on whether the toilet lies in the northern or southern hemisphere. Instead, the direction the water takes depends on the direction that the bowl’s rim jets are pointed. The water can be made to flush in either direction in either hemisphere.
  9. Albert Einstein was named an honorary member of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union after saying publicly that he would become a plumber if he had to do it all over again.
  10. In Japan, some urinals have voice-activated flush mechanisms. According to Wikipedia, these urinals respond to as many as 30 different languages and several terms, including “fire.”




Blair’s Spring Plumbing Tips – Superior Plumbing

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It has been a long winter in Calgary and spring has finally arrived. Spring is a good time to do maintenance and checks on various plumbing components in and around your home to prevent water damage.


Outdoor Maintenance:


1 – Outdoor faucet – Your water supply to your outdoor faucet should have been shut off over the cold winter months. Now is the time to open up the valve to the outdoor faucet and check for leaks on the faucet and hose bib. Make sure water flows freely. If an outdoor faucet drips or if there is a leak inside your home the first time you turn the hose on, you may have a frozen pipe that is cracked and in need of repair.


2 – Check for blockage from things like a birds nest in the plumbing vents pipes.


3 – Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clean and free from debris and water is directed well away from your foundation.


Indoor Maintenance:


1 – Clean your showerhead – Improve water flow from your shower by keeping the showerhead free from build up. Don’t spend money on toxic cleaners full of harsh chemicals, simply place your showerhead in a vinegar and water solution to break down the deposits.


2 – Toilet check – check for cracks, drips and hidden leaks – Take the

Leaky Toilet Test


Drop – put several drops of food colouring into the toilet tank and wait 20 minutes.

Peek – Look in the bowl. If the water changes colour, you have a leak.

Repair – Call Superior Plumbing.


3 – Test your sump pump – once the rain and runoff hit is not a good time to find out your sump pump is not working. Test it by pouring water into the sump  pit and then turn the pump on to ensure it is draining properly.


4 – Inspect your hot water heater – Check for signs that your hot water heater may be wearing out. Check for rust colored water and moisture around the hot water heater base. Spring is also a good time to think about lowering the temperature on your hot water heater. Lowering the temperature to 55 Degrees Celsius can save money.


5 – Check any exposed pipes in your basement and under sinks for any signs of cracks and leaks.



Metamucil doesn’t unclog everything. Don’t dump it down your drain!

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Clogged drains

Avoid clogged drains with a few tips

Metamucil is often used to “get things moving” however, it has the opposite effect when dumped down a drain. I recently received a call from an anxious homeowner who was dealing with the Dreaded Clogged Drain.


During my investigation into the problem, the homeowner mentioned that she had dumped expired Metamucil down her kitchen drain. Immediately, I knew that it was going to be a tough job. When Metamucil is not diluted and put down the drain, it turns into a very hard compound that will almost immediately block your drain; I would compare it to hard jello. This was a tough drain to cut through.


Metamucil is just an example of one of the many things that should NOT go down your drain. The following is a list of a few common items that can—and eventually will—clog your drain.

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