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6 Handy Tips For Surviving Sochi

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Sochi is just underway and there has been a myriad of reported issues for reporters, guests and athletes alike. It’s been such a problem #SochiProblems is springing up all over Twitter. We here at Ritz wanted to lend some simple technical advice for plumbing, heating and water issues as well as a few bonus tips. If the games were anywhere in Southern California we’d be one call away but since we’re half-a-world away from Sochi, this post will have to suffice. Here are some quick tips to keep it all together in the face of unforseen technical glitches.

Bathroom Etiquette

No toilet paper Sochi

Many countries around the world have built their sewage systems to handle only one kind of solid: the solid that was the pressing issue when you shuffled your way to the nearest bathroom. We wanted to make this note for you before it was too late. The top trick for getting through your experience is to carry along One Wipe Charlies or baby-wipes. Other than that you best bet is to maintain a high-fiber diet.

No Hot Water

There’s nothing like coming home from a long day at work (or Olympic competition) only to find out your hot water heater has broken. It seems at least one hotel needs to have their hot water heaters serviced because Dan Wetzel reported his sochi experience has included non-existent hot water. When you’re at home the luxuries of a stove or microwave still exist, allowing you to easily heat water. What if you’re stranded in a hotel?

Dark Plastic Bag, Hanger & a Window: Grab yourself the darkest water-tight bag you can find, fill it with water, and hang it over a sturdy hanger next to your room’s window. The darker it it is, the more sunlight it will soak up and transform into glorious heat. When it’s warm enough to bear, hang it off your showerhead and poke several small holes in the bottom of it. Be prepared to shower vigorously before the water runs out.

Dealing With Bad Water

Bad water at Sochi

Based on initial reports from some of Sochi’s hotels, there’s some not-so-great water coming out of the pipes and faucets around town. Of course, your best move is to find bottled water. If for some reason you just can’t get any, here’s what you can do to at least ensure you’re washing up with the cleanest water possible.

Nylons, Socks or Bandanas: The first step is removing large particulates that are contaminating the water. Pour it through as many layers of clean cloth as possible.

Fire/Bleach: Step two to clean water is thorough sanitization. The easiest method is boiling the (heretofore) funky water. If there isn’t a way for you to get it to that magical bubbly temperature for at least one minute, bleach can be used instead.

Add 8 drops worth of unscented bleach to each gallon, shake, and let sit for 30 minutes. We recommend you only use this water for washing up.

Detecting Hidden Surveillance Devices

Earlier this week, Deputy Prime minister Dmitry Kozak addressed rampant negative publicity regarding the Sochi facilities by stating: “We have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day.”

Startling? Maybe. A stereotypically tone-deaf bluff? Probably. But going into the Olympics there was already concern over just what methods Russia would use to keep tabs on its visitors. Here are some quick tips to guard against becoming the victim of unwarranted surveillance:

Make A Call & Move Around: By waving a cellular phone in the vicinity of suspected speakers or cameras, you may be able to hear interference from devices nearby. You will hear it in the form of a clicking noise.

Shine a Light of Your Own: In a dark room, shining a flashlight on a mirror can reveal if it’s double-sided.

Look for Lights: The simplest way to spot cameras is to look for a small digital bulb that’s been left uncovered.

Get Your Hands On an EMF Meter: Electromagnetic field meters detect magnetic field activity in your area. You can buy them for several hundred dollars online but if you’re in a bind you can even download an app that turns your phone into an EMF Meter.

No Pillow, No Problem

There has been a shortage of pillows in Sochi’s Olympic Village and surrounding hotels. Reportedly, non-athletes were asked either to part with or remain calm in awaiting the arrival of their own pillows. If for some reason that pillow never arrives, there’s a simple way to keep your neck from kinking while you’re supposed to be having the time of your life:

Find a (Clean) Trash Bag: You can easily craft a pillow by either filling it with air or clothes before tying it up. Sound too haphazard? Put a t-shirt over it for a cool, comfortable, non-stick slumber.

Transportation

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Stretching along the Black Sea—at 145 Kilometers—Sochi is one of the longest cities in all of Europe. Conversely, the venue layout is actually the most compact of any Winter Olympics in history.

This means once you’ve reached the venues you should be set. But what’s the best way to get where you’re going? Here’s the official transportation site for visitors attending the games. A combination of rail, taxis and busses will be transporting thousands to this year’s events.

Let’s hope the games themselves go better than the initial rollout. We wish the best of luck not only to the US athletes but to everyone competing.

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Faucets & Sinks

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Customer Symptoms:

A distressed homeowner contacted us complaining of a leaking sink. He said that the problem had been ongoing, and he had tried to tighten washers in an attempt to fix it.

Issue:

While the homeowner considered himself a handyman around the house, the technician was dispatched to assess the situation. After checking to ensure the washer seat was clear of debris and that the fixture was tightly mounted to the sink, the technician discussed a full faucet replacement.

Resolution:

The homeowner did not want to lose any more money on excess water bills so he agreed to a replacement. The technician turned off the water supply to the home, unbolted the current faucet from the sink and set it to the side. He removed any remaining caulk before setting the new faucet on top of the base. Before applying new caulk, he made sure that the spray hose would line up in the new faucet. It was a tight fit, and the technician had to tweak the fixture so that the hose would be in sync. He then tightened the nuts to ensure that the new faucet was securely mounted on the sink. After reconnecting the water lines and turning the water on in the home, he tested the unit to make sure the installation was successful.

Sewer Repair

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Customer Symptoms:

A homeowner contacted us with reports of a clogged sewer. Before we sent a technician to her home, she was able to tell us that she had recently purchased her home and that it was a few decades old.

Issue:

Armed with this information, the technician asked the homeowner if she knew if she had clay tile pipes in her sewer system. She was not certain, but the technician explained that the roots of the trees in her yard may often be drawn to the warmth and moisture in the sewer lines; clay pipes provide a great way for roots to access the water.

Resolution:

After using a camera to view the pipes, the technician verified that the system was, indeed, made of clay and that the roots had been growing into the loose joints and tiny cracks that had developed over time. Fortunately, the damage had only been done in one area of the pipe, under a particularly large tree, so the technician was confident that he could cut through the roots to remove the clog. However, he suggested that the homeowner consider replacing her pipes with newer PVC or concrete pipes to prevent the situation from reoccurring in the future. The homeowner said she would consider it and contact us to schedule a future appointment.

Drain Cleaning Repair

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Customer Symptoms:

A client called us to ask us if there was any way to unclog the drain in her garage. The strainer was not completely secured on the drain hole when she had been sweeping the garage early, and she reported that she had accidently swept leaves and grass clippings into the pipe.

Issue:

The technician was dispatched to her location to assist her and to determine if the drain needed to be cleaned or if the clog was due to a blockage that was beyond repair.

Resolution:

Our technician first removed the strainer from the drain and fed a cable into the drain pipe. He was then able to plug in the power augur near the drain. The technician set it to function in a clockwise motion and turned on the unit before pushing into the drain. Once he located the source of resistance, he repeatedly pulled the cable out and placed it back into the drain until he was able to successfully break up the clog. He ensured the drain was clean by pouring three buckets of hot water into the pipe.

Installation of Gas Line

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Customer Symptoms:

A business owner called to report that his company was not able to have hot water at his location. He was unsure of the cause, as the hot water had been working the previous day.

Issue:

The technician met the owner to discuss the possible causes of the hot water malfunctioning. After ruling out leaking pipes, the technician determined that the gas line was either clogged or needed to be repaired.

Resolution:

Our technician used an inline camera to detect the source of the issue and found that both the pilot light needed to be relit and that the gas line required replacement. He explained to the customer that over time, the gas lines can become corroded and worn, thus negatively affecting the ability to provide hot water. While the customer was surprised that the technician needed to install a new gas line, he was relieved that we were able to solve the problem before a serious gas leak occurred.

Low Water Pressure

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Customer Symptoms:

A landlord received complaints from multiple tenants in his building that the water pressure was very poor.

Issue:

Although he attributed the first report as merely a problem with a single faucet in the apartment and had previously called a repairman to inspect the unit, after he received calls from every client, he realized that the whole building needed to be checked.

Resolution:

The technician needed to narrow down the cause of the low water pressure. He first checked the water meter to ensure that it was turned on the whole way and that the repairman had not turned it back. He found that the meter itself was not completely on and mentioned this to the client. The client remembered that he had called a repairman to look at one apartment after he received the first call and realized that the repairman may have forgotten to turn it back on the rest of the way. The client thanked the technician for being thorough and narrowing down the cause of the low water pressure so quickly.

Repiping a House

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Customer Symptoms:

Our company received a call from a customer who was suffering from defective galvanized pipes throughout his home. He requested that we send a technician to repipe his entire house to ensure that his property and family would be safe from leaking pipes or other subsequent water damage.

Issue:

In order to completely repipe the home, we needed to bypass the existing distribution system starting at the middle point between the interior and exterior pipes and finishing at different fixtures such as faucets and sinks throughout the house.

Resolution:

As our technician began to work, he noticed that the old pipes had developed many pinhole leaks that were resulting in mold growth in the walls. The technician reassured the homeowner that he did the right thing by calling a plumber because if he had let the problem go much longer, he would have been faced with expensive damages. In addition to replacing the pipes, the technician also repaired the places in the drywall where he had previously accessed the system.

Dishwasher Repair

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Customer Symptoms:

A frustrated homeowner contacted us with a claim that her dishwasher simply wasn’t getting her dishes clean. With four young children and an always-hungry husband, she was becoming increasingly frustrated with doing dishes three times to get them clean.

Issue:

The customer had acknowledged that she had tried different soaps and tablets in an effort to clean her dishes, but nothing was working. The technician assessed the unit and determined that the dishwasher may not be receiving the proper amount of water.

Resolution:

To confirm his suspicion, the technician checked the electrical valve in the unit. This water inlet valve should open up to allow hot water into the unit when it is working properly. However, the technician found that the valve had failed, thus resulting in the lack of water to clean the cookware. The valve was old and beyond repair, so our technician was able to remove it and replace it with a new model. The homeowner already had dishes waiting to go, so the technician remained in her home to verify that the cycle would be completed properly.

24 Hour Plumbing

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Customer Symptoms:

We received a call from a client who was experiencing flood-like waters in her basement. She did not know where the water was coming from and was concerned for the protection of her valuables and furniture.

Issue:

We know how important emergency issues can be so our 24 hour plumber responded within the hour. We surveyed the situation and determined that the excess water was the result of a clogged sewer drain. We asked the customer if she had been experiencing delaying flushes or prolonged refilling times when she used her toilet, and she reported that she had experienced difficulty earlier that day.

Resolution:

We used state-of-the-art equipment and technology to locate the source of the problem. Our technician found that the best method to find the clog was to thread a camera into the drainage system rather than begin digging in areas simply to guess where the issue began. After locating the clog, the technician was able to quickly and efficiently restore the sewer system with minimal damage to the customer’s property. She was happy to know that we took the effort to accurately find the troubled area before we started to rectify the problem.

Sump Pump Installation

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Customer Symptoms:

We received a call from a client requesting that our technicians install a sump pump in her home. She had been experiencing a leaking basement and had a feeling that the old sump pump was to blame.

Issue:

We verified that the sump pump did, in fact, need to be replaced. The client was more than willing to allow us to complete the task because she did not want to have any more water leaking into her basement as she was making plans to furnish it.

Resolution:

Our technician determined where the utility, sewer and water lines were and designated a spot away from this area at the lowest point of the basement. The technician dug a whole to the manufacturer’s recommended depth and put the liner into the hole. He then filled the hole with gravel and attached the discharge pipe to the sump pump. He finished the job by caulking to guard against leaking and adjusting the float valve on the sump pump.

Sprinkler Repair

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Customer Symptoms:

A business owner had contacted us with concerns that his current sprinkler system was not functioning properly. The sprinkler heads would spray water wildly at some times or they would not work at all.

Issue:

He claimed that the sprinkler heads were not directing water correctly and that they appeared to be clogged. We examined the heads and looked for broken and cracked plastic casing to verify that we needed to replace them. We explained to the customer that over time, the heads can become worn due to constant use, weather elements and careless lawn mowers.

Resolution:

Our technician was able to turn off the water system and dig a three-foot diameter ditch around the sprinkler heads. He removed the sprinkler head from the riser using a wrench. The technician attached a new sprinkler head by screwing it back onto the riser. Before he filled the hole, he turned the water supply on to test the system and set the sprinkler pattern to the customer’s needs.