Author Archives: Author

Expansion tanks – are they really necessary?

Today we explore a common question from homeowners who might have received some incomplete information. “Are expansion tanks really necessary?”  The correct answer is: it depends. First let’s talk about why we use an expansion tank.

A thermal expansion tank is designed to maintain safe water pressure in a homes where a backflow preventer is in use. Backflow preventers are installed in newer homes or homes that have well water and they create what’s called a closed loop system.  When your hot water heater comes on the water expands and in a closed loop system it has nowhere to expand to which causes high operating pressures. In a good scenario it may cause the water heater safety relief valve to open.  In a bad scenario you could be looking at flooding due to broken plumbing components.  Installing an expansion tank on the cold water side of the water heater creates a cushion for unintended pressure spikes.  

If a home does not have some form of backflow preventer this pressure is put back into the municipal system.  

The bottom line is if your home has well water or a back flow preventer you need an expansion tank for safety (according to current Ohio Plumbing Code).  If you’re on city water and have no backflow preventer your home does not need an expansion tank. In the second case it does not hurt to put one in but it is not absolutely necessary.

Expansion tank mystery solved.

8 Years Running – Angie’s List Super Service!

Mackin & Sons Plumbing Earns Esteemed 2017 Angie’s List Super Service Award

Award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service

Akron, Ohio  January 17, 2018 – Mackin & Sons Plumbing is proud to announce that it has earned the home service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award (SSA). This award honors service professionals who have maintained exceptional service ratings and reviews on Angie’s List in 2017.

“The service providers that receive our Angie’s List Super Service Award demonstrate the level of excellence that members have come to expect,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “These pros are top-notch and absolutely deserve recognition for the trustworthy and exemplary customer service they exhibited in the past year and overall.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2017 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include maintaining an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade and review period grade. The SSA winners must be in good standing with Angie’s List, pass a background check, record a current trade license attestation and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

“Superior Service with a Smile.”

Mackin & Sons Plumbing has been listed on Angie’s List since 2010. This is the eighth year Mackin & Sons has received this honor.

Service company ratings are updated continually on Angie’s List as new, verified consumer reviews are submitted. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in multiple fields ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality.

For over two decades Angie’s List has been a trusted name for connecting consumers to top-rated service professionals. Angie’s List provides unique tools and support designed to improve the local service experience for both consumers and service professionals.


Licensed & insured plumbers providing peace of mind. We offer a 5 year guarantee on all labor and are prompt and professional. We serve our neighbors in Summit, Medina and South Cuyahoga counties. Award winning.


Mackin & Sons Plumbing
3088 Wadsworth Rd.
Norton, OH 44203
(330) 850-3080

3 Things That Make Plumbers Cringe!

In our line of work we get into some pretty gross jobs. And as cringe-worthy as a backed up toilet may be (take our word: it can be BAD!) grossness doesn’t phase us. It can’t.

What does make us cringe? What causes a plumber to shriek inside with misery and loathing? What keeps us up at night in anguish? What makes us recoil in horror each time we see them?

1. Saddle or Needle Valves
These little gems are like weeds that just won’t go away. They are used as an easy and cheap way to provide water to humidifiers and ice-makers. They clamp over a water line and have small, sharp needle that pierces the pipe and allows water to flow through the attached tubing. Sounds great! … but they only work about 50% of the time. Worst of all the homeowner may never know it’s not working and, honestly, they don’t last. Trying to turn off an older saddle valve is like trying to bend a sewing needle in half in the dark. Just yesterday we had a customer call to have his week-old saddle valve replaced with a proper shut off valve (like you’d find under your sink) because it wasn’t working. Thankfully, the Ohio Plumbing Code prohibits them so you won’t be finding any on our vans. We recommend cutting a tee into the pipe and installing a quarter turn shut-off valve.

2. Accordion Drains
What can we say about this marvel of modern shortcuts? The accordion drain is a dead give-a-way that something about sink drainage isn’t right. What most people don’t know about this simple “solution” is that the accordion part usually ends up leaking or causing a leak on nearby piping. Whenever we see one of these we determine the reason it was “needed” and correct the problem properly, as a craftsman should.

3. The $19 Faucet
Call us snobs … yet no one would drive a “new” $2000 car or feel very safe going to the “discount heart surgeon” for a deep discount triple bypass. What about putting a roof over your head for only $600 when the average cost is $6,000? The same goes for buying a faucet. Sure, it’s not your heart but when it breaks in a month or so that leak may just ruin your sink cabinet. Actually, these all plastic faucets usually break while being installed – they’re that flimsy. And forget about repairing it! Faucets this cheap don’t have replacement parts. We recommend choosing manufacturers that specialize in making plumbing such as Delta, Moen, or Kohler. They’re durable and come with warranties – the kind where you call up the company and they send you replacements, typically free of charge.

Now that we got that off our chest we probably have some hair to pull out of a drain!

My Shower Isn’t Hot Enough!

Common query: “Is there anything you can do to make my shower hotter?”

We get this question so often we call it “TAD” (Temperature Adjustment Deficiency).

Typically, when we arrive at a customer’s home the first thing we do is turn on a sink faucet nearby. Without fail the water at the sink is steaming hot. And that’s when we know we’re dealing with case of TAD.

We trace back the problem to when the shower faucet was installed. Understand that ALL tub shower faucets have a safety device called a”high temperature limit stop” which, in all fairness, does a pretty good job at protecting you and your loved ones against scalding yourself. These devices are meant to be adjusted, however, all too often they’re installed hastily and your plumber doesn’t take the time to properly set these units.

Now the good news: there’s hope. TAD shouldn’t ruin your shower on cold winter Akron mornings. One call to the TAD Hotline and lukewarm showers are a thing of the past.

Let Mackin & Sons Plumbing help you embrace your new steaming hot morning shower.

Don’t Dump Chemicals Down the Drain!

Just yesterday a customer asked if she should use drain cleaning products (such as the ones you’d find at your grocery store). The plumber she spoke with felt obliged to warn her that while those products will break through the blockage they’re acid, and in reality, burn through the blockage.

Here’s the trouble: the acid isn’t picky. It will happily eat through your older pipes (causing serious damage), destroy your carpet if you accidentally spill it, or cause blindness if it splashes in your eyes.  Sounds safe, doesn’t it??

That’s why we recommend using starting with tried old favorite drain cleaner. Our favorite recipe is organic is made up of common, non-toxic household items. (even better, it’s cheap!)

Simply pour 1/2 cup of Baking Soda down the drain and follow it with 1 cup of Vinegar.  Place a pot of water on the stove with 2 cups of water and bring to boil while you allow that solution to sit for ~15 minutes.  Then pour 1-2 cups of boiling hot water down the drain – make sure you cover up the drain hole in between steps in case a little vinegar splashes out!

REMEMBER: don’t give up! Sometimes it takes repeating the process a few times. If that doesn’t do the trick, give us a call and we’ll get it cleaned with our specialty drain cleaning equipment.

A Water Heater that Detects Leaks

When’s the last time you went down the basement and looked in the utility room to see if there were any leaks? A few weeks… a few months… sometime in the 90’s? The majority of our leaking water heater calls come following a homeowner’s bi-annual trip to the basement only to find their floor soaking wet.

Yesterday that scenario played out with a customer in Stow.  As we discussed his water heater replacement options we covered the Floodmaster Water Heater Leak Alarm and Shut-Off System. We added it on to the install; the customer is thankful for the peace of mind it brings!
Here are our thoughts on this simple and brilliant piece of equipment.

How Does It Work

The Floodmaster valve is installed on the water heater’s cold water inlet. A water sensor is placed in a water heater pan or on the floor, connected to the unit on the cold inlet side. When the sensor detects a leak (gets wet) the solenoid closes a valve thereby shutting off the water coming into the water heater. A loud, audible alarm sounds alerts the homeowner that the sensor has been tripped.

The Pro’s

The device is very simple to install and works reliably each and every time. The audible alarm is quite loud, prompting a check of the racket in your basement.  Even you don’t hear the alarm, you’d figure out soon enough as there’ll be no hot water at the faucets. Big bonus: we can also wire the device to send a signal your homes alarm system.

The Con’s

The sensor “puck” you put on the floor is a bit too large to fit in most water heater pans so you have to buy a sensor “rope” which fits much better.  There’s a really loud alarm that might wake you up if you have a leak in the middle of the night!

The Bottom Line

We really like this product and truly recommend it, that is, if you’re concerned about flooding damage to your basement. There are several products that can help prevent flooding from water line leaks (including a unit that will shut off water to the entire house and send a message to your phone – thank you modern technology!). To schedule a quote or for more information regarding  on installing this device in you home just give us a call to schedule you in.

Three Reasons for a Professional Appliance Install

You’ve put a million miles on your car, spent hundreds of dollars on paper plates (and new underwear!), and wasted what seems like ages looking for the right refrigerator, washer, dryer (right color, size, features, recommendations, warranty).  There it is: you’ve tracked down the pristine model from Consumer Reports, got the extended warranty thrown in, and the store has a two day 10% off special!  The sky clears, the sun comes out… things are looking up now that your diatribe is over.  And yes! The Big Box Store says they can deliver it tomorrow and provide installation for a small fee.


The following three scenarios could cause violent, unlaced profanity leading to irrational outburst from even the most rational adults.

  1. Just recently a customer in Cuyahoga Falls – after waiting the better part of a week to have her new washer delivered – discovered that the appliance company would not install it because the laundry hose valves would not shut off. Her dirty laundry pile had to wait another day until we could get out there and replace the hose valves and properly install her washer. More than half the time you’re going to need a plumber because appliance “installation” companies won’t touch faulty water supply valves.
  2. Dishwashers are extremely difficult to install properly. Imagine this: the dishwasher requires a water connection, yes, but also an electrical connection and the drain connection… as well as physically mounting the unit to an adjacent counter top or cabinetry. There’s a lot that can go wrong here and we see it all the time.
    a) Dishwashers that wobble.
    b) Dishwashers that developed a leak at the door seam because they’re not completely level.
    c) Dishwashers that are so crooked it’s noticeable from across the room.
    d) Dishwashers that aren’t really attached to anything just because it was too difficult.
    Dishwashers are difficult to install properly, however, a qualified plumber can install a dishwasher properly the first time.
  3. You know one of the most common insurance loss claims we see? Completely ruined floors by your silent, hidden friend: your refrigerators ice maker.
    It may look simple yet connecting a small tube to the back of the refrigerator and pushing the refrigerator all the way to the wall, potentially crushing the tubing, happens quite frequently. Not long ago we had a customer who’s ice maker installation resulted in water all over the kitchen floor. The culprit? An installation company. With a little effort and expertise we were able to fix the problem and ensure that it wouldn’t happen again.

It’s fun to get new appliances. It gives me a renewed sense of hope that I’ll actually have clean dishes and clean clothes! And while it doesn’t happen all the time, don’t let that fun be ruined by unqualified delivery folks who have no business installing appliances.  Call us at Mackin & Sons Plumbing for all your installation needs!

My Water Takes Forever to Warm Up!

Waiting around just to wash your hands is wasting water and costing your money. A recent customer in Norton found she was wasting about 4 gallons per day waiting for hot water to get to the kitchen sink. National estimates state the average home wastes over 31 gallons a day and over 11,000 gallons a year waiting for hot water. That’s not just wasted water: that’s wasted money and wasted time.

Thankfully, we’re fanatics about solving problems and we offer a couple solutions to get you hot water in seconds. Under the right conditions we can install a gravity re-circulation from your water heater by adding a third water line. Only downside is you need to have a one story house with an unfinished basement or we’ll have to cut out some drywall. Major benefit? No electricity required for a pump as it works on gravity.

The solution we use in most homes is to retrofit a re-circulating system. This system uses the cold water supply line as the “return-line” to the water heater. A circulation pump placed at the water heater, combined with a thermostatically controlled valve mounted under the sink (or the point furthest from the water heater), creates a loop that provides nearly instant hot water.

Stop wasting your time, water, and money while you wait to hop in the shower or wash your hands. Think of all you could finish by not waiting around all day! You could get into work earlier. Or exercise. Or clean the house. Wash the dog.  Play with the kids.  Do your taxes.  …ok, I’ll stop!

To schedule an appointment to evaluate if a re-circulating system makes sense for your home just get in touch.

Do Leak Detection Systems Really Work?

“Alexa, stop the flooding in my basement!!”

If only it was that easy! You use tech for your TV, not for your thermostat, right? Wrong.
Leak and flood detection has come a long way and should be in every home. Which sounds more important to you: getting a text that your fridge is out of butter or having your water turn off if your water heater springs a leak while you’re away?  I’d choose the latter any day.  The most common causes of basement flooding we see are the following:

  1. Sump pump failures
  2. Water heaters that leak
  3. Sewer back ups
  4. Water leaking through foundation walls

What kind of remedies are available?  Because here’s the truth: leak detection systems can and do prevent a flooded basement.

How do they work?

A electronic or flow rate based valve is installed where the water comes into the house. When leaks are detected, either by sensors or by pressure drops, the valve shuts off all water to the house. Depending on the system you’re notified by text alert or audible alarm.


YdroStop shuts off your water supply if it detects persistent continuous water flow, a leak, or a burst pipe. When a sudden break in a water pipe, hose, or water heater occurs, YdroStop shuts off the main water supply quickly. In response to continuous water flow (leaks, open faucets, etc.), YdroStop shuts off the water supply after a pre-set amount of time (anywhere from 15 min to 2 hrs).  After the pressure has regulated for at least 20 seconds the timer resets, thereby allowing water to flow back into the house once the problem has been fixed.  This is all done without electronics so you’re protected against a power outage causing problems in your home during a major storm. Big, big bonus! The only downside we see are that it has no alarm or text message notification and wouldn’t be much help if your sump pump failed.


leakSmart uses sensors – wireless and can be placed anywhere in your home – to signal the main valve to shut off when a leak is detected. This system offers maximum flexibility because of unlimited sensor locations and an electronic shut off valve can be placed either 1) at the main water supply to your home or 2) at your water heater. The benefit of the leakSmart is that it talks directly to your phone, alerting you of any issues and immediately shutting off your water. Another major selling point is that the system is easily set up with any Smart Home platform including Nest, Wink and Iris, allowing seamless integration with your home system. The downside? LeakSmart needs electricity.

You protect your home from fire and theft but studies show that water damage is nearly 10x more likely. If fact, insurance companies report that water damage is the second most common reason for insurance claims. So next time you tell Alexa or Echo to stop the ceiling fan think about having your devices at the ready to help stop the flooding!