Posts from the ‘Plumbing Parts’ Category

LeVahn Brothers Hardware Celebrates 90 Years | community businesses | Maple Grove Magazine

LeVahn Brothers Plumbing's original plumbing license from 1923

LeVahn Brothers Plumbing’s original Plumbing license from 1923

The Maple Grove landmark turns 90 this month.


“Get in, get help, get it done,” is the door sign that greets you when you walk into LeVahn Brothers Hardware. But the friendliness doesn’t stop there: Once you step into the store, you’re greeted by a smile and a kind, “Hi, how can I help you?”

This family owned establishment was started by brothers Arthur, Ernie and Ed LeVahn in 1923. The business thrived there until 1994, when it moved from its original North Minneapolis location into Maple Grove. There store is owned by Loren LeVahn and managed by his son, Andrew LeVahn. The store is celebrating its 90th anniversary this month.

The Original LeVahn Brothers Plumbers

The original LeVahn Brothers Oscar, Ed, and my Great Grandfather Art

They rent and repair, size and cut, sharpen and test—but that isn’t all they do. Their extensive plumbing knowledge, combined with the vast amount of plumbing parts they stock, is but one reason that several stores, including Lowe’s, send their customers to them.

Another unique aspect of the business is their popular blog, which brings inquiries from all over the country. This-easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide is written from experience, and gives customers all kinds of informative tips and tricks. Andrew LeVahn says he tries to post about things that are relevant to the time of year, as well as issues he has heard customers discussing. The blog is filled with pictures, recommendations and product highlights.

What it comes down to, though, are the customers, the LeVahn’s say. “We have very, very regular customers,” says Andrew. When a customer walks in, they try to take them to the item they are looking for, instead of just directing them to an aisle. Andrew says they have customers who tell them, “‘I don’t know what I would if you guys ever went out of business.’” He says he usually replies in kind: “‘We don’t know what we would do if we went out of business.’”

Their attitude is to try to do as much as they can for the customer, he says. Their biggest strengths are their longevity, knowledge and professionalism, Andrew says. They try to be as honest and professional as possible—meaning they do jobs right the first time and don’t charge their customers just to charge them. If it’s not broken, they won’t fix it—and furthermore, if they can help you fix it yourself, they will try their best to do so.

1923 Plumbing registration card from the city of Minneapolis

1923 Plumbing registration card from the city of Minneapolis

“We do work from restaurants, industrial buildings, universities to fixing the faucet at the person’s house down the road,” says Andrew.  Some eclectic jobs have included some work at Prince’s house and servicing Eastcliff, the President of University of Minnesota’s home.

LeVahn Brothers Hardware Celebrates 90 Years | community businesses | Maple Grove Magazine.

LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware is located a 12700 Bass Lake Rd in Maple Grove, MN 55369

Find us on the web at or on Facebook at


How to Repair a Leaking Toilet?

Plumbing and Hardware Maple Grove, MN

Have you ever been brushing your teeth at night and suddenly you hear the toilet refill on its own. It’s what we here at LeVahn Bros. Plumbing like to call a “ghost flush”. A ghost flush occurs when the water that is in the tank leaks out and the tank refills itself .  A toilet is a simple mechanical device that can be explained as follows. The toilet bowl is the area that waste is deposited (i.e. the business end of the toilet that we are all to familiar with). The tank is on the back of the toilet and it’s job is to hold water that is going to be used to “flush” out the contents of the bowl. This is the behind the scenes workings of a toilet that confuse the bejesus out of us. When we flush a toilet we push down on the flush handle which lifts the flapper up allowing the water to enter the bowl and expel its contents. The same flush could be done with a bucket of water but that’s  a bit of a pain to have to refill each time. When the water level in the tank goes down, the fill valve turns on to bring the water back up to a preset level.

Toilet Tank

When a “ghost flush” occurs it is because water is leaving the tank. After a while the water level lowers in the tank until it reaches the point when the fill valve turns on to bring the water level back up. There’s only two places for the water to go when it leaves a tank. The first place it could go is that it’s leaking out of the toilet itself. If this is occurring you would probably see evidence of water on the floor or on the base of the toilet. The most likely causes of this are: 1) you have a crack in your tank. 2) you have water leaking out through the holes where the tank bolts are. 3) your tank to bowl gasket is leaking. If your tank is cracked we would recommend that you buy a new toilet. You could also attempt to seal it with a two-part epoxy that can be applied when the surface is wet. If you have a leak occurring through the tank to bowl bolts you will need to replace the washers under the bolts. To do this you will first need to shut the water off to the toilet. Then you will drain the tank by flushing the toilet and sponging out any remaining water. Finally remove and replace the old washers with new washers that you have already purchased from your local hardware store:) If your tank to bowl gasket is leaking you will need to un-bolt the tank from the bowl and remove the old gasket. Bring the gasket as well as any make and model info you have for your toilet to the hardware store and get a replacement.

note: There is no such thing as a “universal” tank to bowl gasket so you need to make sure you get something that matches the one you removed from your toilet.

The other, more common, reason for water leaving the tank is through a faulty flapper. Normally you can not see or hear the water leaking out past the flapper. It leaks so slowly that it’s hardly detectable be sight or sound. There is a simple solution that is very effective to figure out if this is your problem. At our store we have free leak detectors that you add to the tank of the toilet.

Leaky Toilet Test

All you have to do is open up the leak detector, place it in the tank and let it work its magic. Essentially all it does it turn the water in the tank blue. What this does is  it allows you to see if water is getting past the flapper without you flushing the toilet. If you leave the toilet alone WITHOUT FLUSHING IT and after a few hours there is blue water in the bowl, you know that water is leaking past your flapper. It will look something like the picture below.

Leaky Toilet Test

Once you find out that your flapper is the problem shut the water off to the toilet flush it and remove the old flapper. Bring the flapper with you when you go to buy a new one because like toilet tank gaskets there is no such thing as a universal flapper. We must have 20 to 30 flapper styles here at our store and there are still some other unique ones out there that we don’t carry.  There are many different styles, especially since the addition of low flow toilet to the market. Here’s an image of the most common one we sell. We’ve changed over to using blue vinyl flappers when available because we’ve found that they seem to outlast the traditional black rubber models.

Toilet Flapper

There are a few reasons why a flapper goes bad. One reason is that it’s just old. The rubber doesn’t last forever and eventually it gets water-logged and broken down. The other major reason for a flapper failing is from the use of chlorine tablets in the toilet tank. Chlorine tablets are an effective way to keep your bowl looking it’s best but they eat the rubber seals in a toilet away in no time. The flapper, tank to bowl washers, and fill valve seals all get eaten away by the chlorine. If you want a very effective alternative you can use Fluidmasters  “Flush and Sparkle” bleach cartridges. We use them here in the restrooms here at our store and they do a great job of keeping the toilet clean without introducing bleach into the toilet tank (You can see the cartridge attached to the back of the toilet tank in the picture at the top of this post).

Fluidmaster Flush and Sparkle Bleach Cartridge

If you can’t find your exact flapper there may be a models that’s close enough. You may also want to clean the edge where the flapper is seating against the tank to make sure there is no debris holding up the flapper allowing water to get past. The use of a non-scratch scouring pad is advised for doing this. Whatever you do make sure you talk to someone who knows what they’re doing at the store you go in to. Nothing drives me crazier and makes me more thankful for my employees then when people tell me how incompetent the help is at the big box stores.  If that’s your only option I say, good luck to you.

Additional blogs you may be interested in-What to do for a leaky toilet, What to do for a leaky water heater, How to repair a copper pipe leak, How to repair a dripping faucet

For more Information call 763-551-8990

Stop in and see us in the Bass Lake shopping center at 12700 Bass Lake Road, Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at and at

For ordering appliance, electronics, lawn equipment and other parts visit

What to do if your water softener fails

Plumbing and Hardware Maple Grove, MN

Mortons system saver MSD34C

A water softener is one of those appliances that you don’t think much about. Besides the occasional bag of salt there isn’t much you need to do. So how do you know if it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing? Water softener failure can come in a few different forms some being much more devastating than others. Most times when a water softener fails it stops softening the water. When this happens you’ll notice that your dishes are cloudy or that it’s taking a lot more soap to suds up and get things clean. You also may notice that you’re not putting salt in at the rate that you used to. A simple water hardness test with a test strip can tell you right away whether you softener is still softening your water. The test strips are free and can be found at our retail store in Maple Grove.

Water Hardness Test Strip

Another issue that can occur is that a water softener can fail and backwash resin beads into your water system. This is the issue that I am going to focus mostly on in this article. A water softener has resin beads inside the brine tank that work to soften the water. The beads are periodically cleaned using the salt that you painstakingly put in the salt holding tank every few weeks. Usually set to go off at night, the system regenerates and cleans the resin beads and washes them clean. If for any reason the membrane breaks that is in place to hold the resin beads, the beads are free to travel throughout you water system. A sure sign of this would be low water pressure. Low water pressure is one of those generic symptoms that we see a lot of in plumbing. One of the main culprits of low water pressure is the water softener.

When the softener back washes resin beads the beads don’t go anywhere until there is movement in the system. In other words they don’t move if the water isn’t moving. Often times what occurs is that someone opens up a faucet in the morning to brush their teeth or to fill up their coffee maker and they notice very low water pressure. There’s little pressure because the faucet is plugged with tiny resin beads. If you notice a sudden change in water pressure shut the faucet off and if possible pull off the aerator and examine it. If the softener back washed you will see little tiny beads like the ones below in the aerator. Immediately go to your water softener and put it into “bypass” mode. Putting a water softener into bypass varies by manufacturer but normally it involves turning a valve off or like on the Mortons softener you push a valve in. This step makes it so the water no longer goes through your softener thus preventing the adding of additional beads.

Water softener resin beads

You now know that you have resin beads in your line and now you need to focus on getting them out which is not an easy or fun job. The first thing that you need to do is to tell the rest of the people in you house not to use ANY plumbing, especially hot water. Next you should shut off the cold water intake valve on the water heater to help ensure that no beads enter your tank.  Everything that you run water through will potentially get plugged with resin beads. This includes: faucets, toilets, showers, washing machines, etc. Next you should go to your laundry tub (make sure that it does not have an aerator on it) and open up the cold water valve fully. Try and look for resin beads in the laundry tub to see if you are getting the beads out. If needed try to catch them in a strainer so you can see if there are still beads leaving the system. run the water until it is clear of beads. Now you can move on to a bath tub and do the same procedure over again, running water until it is clear of beads.

If the hot water was turned on that means that there is a good chance that the resin beads are now inside your water heater. You will need to drain the heater to get the beads out. If you do not do this there is a good chance the beads will show up in your system later. Here is a link on how to drain a water heater.

Depending upon how much travel the beads had throughout your water system you may periodically see beads appear later on even after you’ve flushed them out. You may have issues with toilet valves getting clogged. If the toilet valves have an issue they will probably need to be replaced. Occasionally faucets may get plugged to the point where they also need to be replaced. If all of this seems over your head you can always call a professional plumber to do the flushing of your lines. We have seen it all when it comes to the extent of damage caused by a water softener backwash. We can flush your system and replace your water softener so that you can get back to flushing your toilets and taking hot showers again.

LeVahn Bros. Plumbing and Hardware  is located at 12700 Bass Lake Road in Maple Grove, MN 55369

You can contact us at 763-551-8990 or at

You can find us on the web at and on Facebook at

Back up sump pumps

Flooded basement sump pump

Wet Basement Floor

If you have a home that has a sump pump you may be familiar with that humming sound that happens every so often. You may also lie awake at night during the spring months worried when you don’t hear it. If this is you then you may want to ask yourself this question: what am I going to do when my sump pump fails? Sump pumps have a lifespan. A sump pump will last between 5-10 years depending on how often its used. The problem is, your pump won’t let you know when it’s dead. There’s no announcement, just a basement full of water.

Step one would be to test your sump pump periodically to make sure it’s still working. To test your pump all you need to do is lift the float up to see if it turns on. Pumps generally have three styles of switches on them. The first style is a  switch that is in a float that is tethered to the unit. You will need to lift this style switch almost vertical before it will turn on your pump. The second is a pump that has a float that travels up and down on a rod. The third switch is a pressure switch. To test the pressure switch model you would need to add water to the sump basket in order to turn it on. (Check out the slide show below for examples of these pumps.)

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Now that you know that your primary pump works you are going to want to consider what could happen if and when that pump fails or when you lose power (like during a heavy storm). The safest bet is to have a back-up system installed. That way, if your pump fails, there is something in place to save your basement man cave. A back-up unit is installed above the primary pump and will engage only if the water level reaches its switch. There are essentially two options when it comes to back-up systems. There is the battery back-up and the city water powered Sump Jet.

First I will talk about the battery back-up unit. A battery back up unit obviously works off of a battery. It uses a car battery sized battery that will need to be replaced about every four years. A battery back-up will run for about 7-8 hours before the battery runs out of juice. In other words, if your power is out for more than 8 hours you will be bailing out your basement. Also, if you happen to be out-of-town for a week and your sump fails the battery back-up unit won’t even give you a full day help.

battery back up sump pump

The other option is to have a Liberty Sump Jet back-up sump pump put in. This unit is powered by your city water so it takes no electricity to run. For every gallon of city water that is run through it, 2-3 gallons of water are pumped out of your sump basket. The downfall of this unit is that water lines will have to be run to it in order to power it. You also have to check with your municipalities for code issues with running the water lines. In some cities back flow check valves have to be installed in-line to prevent contamination of the water system. In other words a licensed professional plumber should be the one installing this particular pump. This unit along with a check valve and copper pipe to supply it end up being about the same cost in terms of materials as a lower end battery back up unit.

Liberty water powered back up sump pump

water powered back up sump pump by Liberty available at LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware


Check out this link to a news piece that we did on back -up sump pumps. Here’s a video of another news piece we did on sump pumps and back-ups:

For more information on sump pumps check out these other blogs: What to do for a frozen sump pump discharge line, Product Highlight Liberty Sump Jet, Sump pumps for a flooded basement

For all of the products mentioned above go to LeVahn Bros. Hardware Hank

Located at 12700 Bass Lake Road Maple Grove, Mn 55369

To contact us call 763-551-8990

Visit us on the web at

Also, come “like” us on Facebook

Product Highlight: Liberty back-up sump pump

Liberty Sump Jet back up sump pump

The product highlight for the week of February 21st is the Liberty Sump Jet back up sump pump. This is a back up sump pump for emergency use during pump failure or power outages. If you have a sump pump you may want to consider a back up for when you lose power or for when your main pump fails. It’s good peace of mind to know that you’re covered in case of an emergency.

The Liberty Sump Jet is a unique back-up pump that is powered by your houses city water supply. For this reason it will not work off of a well unit during power outages.  The Sump Jet removes two gallons of water from the basket for every one gallon of water supplied. It is superior to battery back up units because of the fact that it never has to have a very expensive battery replaced. It also won’t quit working after 4-6 hours of running like a battery back-up unit does. If you have prolonged power outage or if you can’t make it to a store for a day or more you don’t need to worry about this back up pump quitting.

The only issue involved in adding a Liberty Sump Jet unit is the fact that you need to have 3/4″ water line with a back flow preventer run to the unit. If your handy enough you can do this yourself but in most cases a person would want a professional licensed plumber do the work.

Check out LeVahn Bros. Plumbing on KSTP news in Minneapolis talking about back-up sump systems

For more info check out this link on sump pumps

For more info from Liberty check out their website here

To purchase a Liberty Sump Jet unit or for installation of a sump pump call LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware at 763-551-8990

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Road Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at

you can also come like us on Facebook

RPZ testing, rebuilding and repairing

An RPZ or RPZD valve is a “reduced pressure zone device”. It is a type of back-flow preventer whose purpose is to protect the water supply from contamination. Most commonly, RPZ valves are found in commercial spaces that have waters that can potentially be contaminated. They are also found in residential houses on some hot water boilers and also on irrigation systems.

The point of a RPZ is to prevent contaminants from entering back into the clean water supply. Back-flow preventers or double-check valves are often not permitted because, unlike RPZ’s, they cannot be tested to make sure that they are functioning properly. Federal, state, and local regulations require yearly RPZ testing. They also need to be rebuilt every 5 years. This helps insure proper function of the valve.

Like anything else in plumbing, RPZ valves can leak and will need to be repaired. If you have a valve that needs to be repaired you need to know the manufacturer. There are a number of different RPZ valve manufacturers and all use different parts. To have your valve tested, rebuilt or repaired call a professional, licensed plumber. You need to use specific RPZ testing equipment. This is not something that a business or home owner can do on their own.

If you are in need of RPZ testing, repairing, or rebuilding and are in the Twin cities Metro area, contact LeVahn Brothers Plumbing at 763-551-8990

Or, stop by and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Rd Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at

Which water heater should you buy?

Rheem 40 Gal Water Heater

Water heaters are not all the same. For the most part they look the same on the outside, but they are made differently. When purchasing a water heater you need to take a few things into consideration.

Size: You need to figure out what size water heater meets your hot water consumption needs. 30 Gallon water heaters are almost never installed unless there is a space issue. They are more expensive than a 40 gallon and hold 10 less gallons. 40 gallons is the “standard” size.  This heater will take care of most households that have 1-5 people living under one roof. A 50 Gallon is needed when a family tends to use more than the average amount of hot water. This size is being installed more and more for those people who want the assurance that they’re not going to run out of hot water. A 75 gallon unit is needed (for a single family home) if a person has a jacuzzi tub that needs to be filled.

Venting: Do you have a gravity vented heater or do you need a

Standard vented water heater

power vented heater? A gravity vented heater is vented vertically out of the top of the heater and is usually tied into a chimney. It has galvanized metal piping coming off of the top of the unit that carries the exhaust up and out of the home.A power vented heater is needed when there isn’t a way to gravity vent the heater (ie. you do not have a chimney in your home). This style heater has a blower motor on top of it that blows the exhaust horizontally out of the home usually through PVC piping.

Brands: There are only a handful of manufacturers that make all the water heaters on the market. These manufacturers make different grades of water heaters to meet different price points. When they make a cheaper priced heater they make it to different specifications to meet that price. The privately labeled water heaters that are out there (ie. State, Richmond, GE, Whirlpool, etc. ) are made to meet Home Depot, Menards, Lowes, and Wal-Mart’s price needs. Because of this the best quality water heaters to buy are the heaters that have the actual manufacturers name on them. Examples of these would be A.O. Smith and Rheem. They may cost a fraction more to begin with but they tend to last longer and have less issues than the cheaper models. In other words, you get what you pay for.

Efficiency: How much energy does the water heater consume vs. how much the water heater costs. High efficiency water heaters cost significantly more than standard heaters. A high-efficiency heater isn’t usually practical because you don’t save enough gas to make it worth the extra cost of the unit.

Warranty: The last thing to consider is the warranty of the heater. The

New and old anode rods

standard in the industry for a warranty is 6 years. Heaters that have longer warranties on them aren’t necessarily better heaters. Usually the difference between a longer warranty heater and a standard 6 year warranty heater is the number of anode rods in the heater. An anode rod is a “sacrificial lamb” placed in a water heater to take the brunt of the abuse that your city water dishes out. It attracts the minerals in the water that would normally wreak havoc on the tank itself. It is put there to be destroyed. A heater with a longer warranty usually has 2 anode rods inside the tank, thus doubling the protection and in theory increasing the life of the heater.

Here at LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware we prefer to install Rheem and A.O. Smith water heaters. We can get them in any size and style to meet your needs.

To reach us call 763-551-8990

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Rd. Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at

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