Baltimore County News
Steve Walsh, Director of Public Works
I am definitely not laughing out loud when a guy passes me at 70 mph and he’s texting behind the wheel. Not funny. We know what happens when you text and drive – you’re six times more likely to cause an accident than if you were drinking and driving. And, they say, one in four crashes involves a cell phone.
According to some statistics, a third of all drivers admit to reading or texting behind the wheel. I’m not the first to point out the dangers of this practice, of course, but as Director of Public Works, whose department is involved with roadway safety, I believe we all have a responsibility to speak out and to protect the innocent.
I understand the temptations of technology. I’ve got kids, so I see the lure of phones, computers, and tablets every day. But we need to remind ourselves of the statistics. In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in distraction-related crashes, according to Federal data.
A driver can safely glance away from the road for only about two seconds; answering a text takes five seconds. And at 55 miles per hour, five seconds is enough time to travel the length of a football field.
It’s common sense to stow your phone when you’re on the road. We should learn safe phone protocols the way we learned to use seat belts a couple of generations ago – buckling up (perhaps unwillingly at first) until safe practices become almost second nature.
Bill Witty, Chief Plumbing-Gasfitting Inspector
Department of Permits, Inspections and Approvals
With homeownership, it seems like there are a myriad of things that can go wrong. This is especially true when it comes to the pipes in your home. Plumbing systems are incredibly complex and can be expensive to repair. Sometimes people don’t recognize the value of hiring a professional so they attempt to do the repairs on their own. Unfortunately, attempting to DIY can often lead to more problems down the road. While there are some issues that can be easily fixed by a skilled homeowner, there are other jobs that should be left to a licensed plumber.
Many issues around the house can be avoided with proper maintenance or remedied with minor DIY repairs.
Don’t make these common mistakes
Here are some of the most common plumbing maintenance mistakes:
- Not knowing where all of the shut-off valves are and what they control is one of the biggest mistakes. This includes the main house shut-off. Valves should be shut off before any sort of plumbing project is started. Most of these valves are found in the basement, though some might be hidden behind access panels.
- Not insulating pipes for protection from extreme winter temperatures. Proper insulation of pipes can help prevent one of the most costly plumbing repairs - burst pipes. If you do experience a frozen pipe, you may be able to thaw it yourself. If you know exactly where the pipes are frozen and they are in an accessible location, you may be able to thaw the pipes using household items such as a hairdryer. Make sure the water is turned off first, and be cautious when warming the pipes as there may already be a split or crack present. If this is the case, water may spray from the split when thawed. The use of anything involving fire, such as a torch, is not advised.
- Not maintaining the washing machine hose is another common maintenance mistake. Washing machine hoses should be replaced every 3 to 5 years to avoid rusting and possibly bursting the hose. A burst hose can discharge hundreds of gallons of water per hour. Replacing the washing machine hose is an easy way to avoid this headache.
A leaky faucet can usually be fixed easily depending on the type of faucet. For most standard faucets, a slow drip can be fixed by simply replacing the washer.
Clogged drains can often be easily fixed, however, if the issue persists then it may require the help of a licensed Master Plumber. For most clogs, plungers are your best bet. There are many commercial drain cleaning solutions on the market, however continued use of these may cause pipes to wear and corrode. If you do choose to use drain cleaning chemicals, check to make sure they are safe for the type of pipes that are clogged.
In general, when a repair goes beyond your knowledge or skill level then it is time to call a plumber. There are certain jobs that require permits and inspections that can only be obtained by a Master Plumber licensed in Baltimore County.
When to call in reinforcements
In general, when a repair goes beyond your knowledge or skill level then it is time to call a plumber. There are certain jobs that require permits and inspections that can only be obtained by a Master Plumber licensed in Baltimore County. Here are some jobs that always require a licensed plumber:
- Renovations that involve expanding or moving the existing plumbing, installing new fixtures, or replacing existing ones. Some fixtures that require permits to change or install include bathtubs, sinks, and toilets.
- Repairing or replacing any gas appliance. It is imperative that this is done by a plumber licensed in Baltimore County. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odorless, tasteless gas that can make you sick or even cause death. Attempting to do gas work on your own is hazardous and can put you and your family in danger.
- Sump pumps, just like any other plumbing fixture in your home, will begin to wear down over time and may be in need of a replacement. Having a plumber come in to clean, check and repair your sump pump will ensure that you’re getting the work done properly.
- Repairs to main water and sewer lines should only be done by a master plumber. These are already costly repairs and further damage done by an inexperienced homeowner could result in needing a full replacement.
If you have any questions or are in doubt about whether or not a licensed plumber is required for a specific project, feel free to call the Plumbing Inspections Department at 410-887-3620.
Free resources to help you take care of yourself too!
Being a caregiver for a family member can take a toll. You might be caring for an ailing spouse, for your aging parents or in-laws, or for an elderly neighbor. For family caregivers of older relatives, challenges come in all forms — financial, physical, emotional and social.
Whether you live in the same house or across town from your loved one, you devote your time, your resources and your heart to ensuring the health and safety of the place they call home. In order to reduce the stress of these challenges, you are invited to the annual Caregivers Mini-Conference presented by Baltimore County Department of Aging (BCDA).
- Gather information about resources and programs that can aid you in your caregiving.
- Get a broader understanding about making advance health care decisions from a guest speaker with the Office of the Attorney General.
- Relax and unwind with a mindfulness session presented by a local meditation teacher.
- Receive a free Health Screening provided by University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center.
- Network with other caregivers while you enjoy a continental breakfast and beverages sponsored by AARP.
Caregivers Mini-Conference for family caregivers of older relatives
Saturday, April 16, 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Edgemere Senior Center, 6600 North Point Road, Sparrows Point 21219
Free admission; plenty of open seats, no advance registration will be taken. To receive an event flier and copy of the agenda, please contact the BCDA Caregivers Program at 410-887-4724.
Michelle Marseilles Bruns
Manager, Caregivers Program
Baltimore County Department of Aging
Revised September 26, 2016