Posts tagged ‘Plumbing Parts’

Maple Grove plumbing company celebrates 90 years

Here’s a story about our stores 90th anniversary that was in February. We got our plumbing license from the city of Minneapolis on February 13th, 1923. We’ve done plumbing at: the University of Minnesota’s presidents house, TCF Bank Stadium, the artist that formerly called himself  the artist formerly known as Prince’s house, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice and NFL hall of famer Allen Page’s house, Tennant Company, Northwestern College, and hundred’s of other residential and commercial plumbing sites. It’s been quite a ride.

They say that only 30% of family business’ survive into the second generation, 12% are able to make it to the third generation, and only 3% make it to the fourth generation. We are on generation #4 and we don’t plan on giving up anytime soon.

Business Matters: Maple Grove company celebrates 90 years.


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

Business Matters: Maple Grove company celebrates 90 years

The Original LeVahn Brothers Plumbers

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

LeVahn Bros. Plumbing and Hardware is a fixture in Maple Grove today. But you have to go back to 1923, when Warren G. Harding was president, to discover the origins of this local company that’s celebrating 90 years in business in February.

At their retail shop in Maple Grove, LeVahn Bros. is the kind of place where you come to get answers. A fourth-generation family owned business, the hardware store has an old-school feel with aisles of tools and parts and employees that can answer questions about that doodad that you need to fix a leak or to install something.

“We try to stress the service and the expertise that we’ve got,” said store manager Andy LeVahn. “People keep coming back because they know they can come in and get something and get out quickly and get the right thing the first time.”

Andy LeVahn is the fourth generation of LeVahn’s to run the business, but it was his great–grandfather, Art, and his two brothers who started LeVahn Bros. Plumbing in North Minneapolis back in 1923.

At the Maple Grove store, old black and white photographs adorn a wall depicting the early days of the business. Back then plumbers used a horse and buggy and later a Model T Ford to answer service calls, and a receipt from 1923 shows outfitting an entire house in Minneapolis with plumbing cost $68.14.

A Plumbing bill from 1923 or $68.23

A LeVahn Brothers Plumbing bill from 1923

Today, the prices and the modes of transportation have changed, but LeVahn Bros is still a plumbing business. Andy’s father, Loren LeVahn, the current business owner, added a hardware store to the business in 1994. The retail business brought the company to Maple Grove, and the plumbing/hardware store pairing has helped sustain the business.

“When the hardware store gets slow, the business in the plumbing seems to be a little bit better, so they can help each other out that way,” said Andy LeVahn.

It’s customers like Dennis Peterson of Maple Grove that help explain the company’s true longevity though. Peterson is one of many loyal customers who frequent the shop on a regular basis.

“I’m sure I come in here at least once a month for something,” said Peterson. “Some things I really need some help on, I come here cause they can help you more than the big stores can.”

LeVahn Brothers Plumbings retail Hardware Hank Store

Our retail Hardware Hank store located In the Bass Lake Shopping Center

The roots of good customer service go back 90 years for LeVahn Bros., and the younger generation believes that’s just as relevant today as in 1923.

“My great-grandfather started it in Minneapolis. They always try to put the customer first, and that’s what we try to do also,” said Andy LeVahn.

Alexandra Renslo reporting

Here’s a link to the video  from Channel 12 TV: Business Matters: Maple Grove company celebrates 90 years.

LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware is located at 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

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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

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What causes a pinhole leak in a copper water pipe?


A pinhole leak is a small hole that develops in a pipe causing a mist or stream of water to shoot out. In most cases these leaks develop due to the pipe being eroded from the inside out. There are a number of factors as to why a leak happens. Some of the main factors that lead to a leak include: age, your municipalities water pressure, the amount of minerals found in your municipalities water, how the pipes are configured(i.e. elbows, bends, turns etc.), what season it is, and how the plumbing was installed.

Pin hole leak in copper pipe

In most cases the leaks occur near the water main inside the house. They occur near the water main because this is where the water pressure is the greatest in the home. Just like how water over time can cut deep into rock creating things like the Grand Canyon it also can erode the inside of your pipe. It slowly erodes the inside of the pipe until it eventually breaks through. This meter horn developed a leak at the bend on the left side. When a meter horn leaks you should check with your municipality to see if they are responsible for replacement, or if it’s up to you. In this case the resident was responsible for replacement so they came in and purchased one from us and installed it themselves.

Meter Horn with a pin hole leak

Most of the factors that cause pinhole leaks can’t be avoided. We can’t change the mineral content or temperature of the water coming into the home. Most leaks occur at or near a joint. In other words where a connection is. This could be an elbow or even a coupling. When water passes by a joint there is turbulence. The water swirls and spins as it passes through the joint. Preventing this is somewhat unavoidable. The turbulence causes the water to erode the pipe from the inside out.

copper fitting erosion

When a leak occurs at a joint it may be due to the installer failing to ream out the copper after cutting it.  When a copper pipe is cut with a pipe cutter it gets pinched as it’s being cut. This creates a lip on the inside of the pipe. This lip can exaggerate the amount of turbulence that occurs at the joint. The pipe in the picture below has multiple holes that probably occurred due to  the installer not reaming out the pipe after cutting it.

Pinhole leaks at solder joint

To help avoid this from occurring you should always use a pipe reaming tool to get rid of the edge that’s created when a pipe is cut. Some pipe cutting tools have a reamer attached right to them. If your pipe cutter doesn’t have a reamer, or if you don’t like that style, you can use a different style such as the one below. It is a very simple tool to use. All you need to do is run it along the inside edge of the pipe you cut and it takes off the lip created when the pipe was cut.

Copper tubing reaming tool

In Maple Grove and Plymouth Minnesota (the cities near where our store is located) there is high water pressure with lots of minerals in the water. These factors coupled with the average age of the homes (around 20-30 years old) means that we’ve had a large volume of pinhole leak calls in recent years. High mineral content in the water can cause multiple plumbing issues. Everything from water heaters to faucets and pipes are affected by the minerals. Softening your water doesn’t help much either. Softening water doesn’t remove many of the minerals that are present in the water.

If you get a pinhole leak what should you do? First you need to cut back the copper piping to a point where the copper is still sound. Remember that the pipe has been corroding from the inside out. The spot where the pin hole occurred is just the first place that it broke through. If you were to replace just the small section of piping where the pinhole is located you would probably be repairing another spot six months down the road.

Paper thin copper removed from a home in Maple Grove

Next you need to replace all the pipe and fittings that you’ve removed. I would recommend replacing the piping with a thicker commercial grade copper. Type “M”copper is the standard grade copper used for residential plumbing. Use a type “L” commercial grade copper instead. It costs a little more per foot but  it’s worth the investment. Make sure you ream out your cuts like mentioned above and solder everything back together.  If you don’t feel comfortable soldering a pipe and you’re going to have someone else do it make sure they cut enough of the bad pipe out and that they use type “L” copper when they replace it (you can also tell if it’s type “L” copper if the writing on it is blue, type “M” is red).

Type “M” (red) and type “L” (blue) copper

For more info on pipe leaks check out this blog: copper pipe leak

If you have any questions call us at 763-551-8990

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

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What to do for a frozen sump pump discharge line

Frozen Sump Pump Discharge Line

Sump pumps are a necessity in our area of Minnesota. Besides the ground being clay, we have developments all around us that were placed on top of back-filled swamps and marsh land. Residents of this area have their sump pumps run year round. Because the pumps run year round that creates issues when the temps are below freezing. If your sump pump seems to be running continuously it could mean one of two things: either your back flow check valve is failing or your discharge line is frozen.

Sump pump discharge lines can freeze causing the sump pump to run continuously, eventually burning up the pumps motor. It also means if the water has nowhere to go the sump pump basket may overflow flooding your basement.

A person can do a few different things to prevent this from happening. Often times the sump pump is hard piped from the sump pump to the outside of the house. Once the pipe is outside however it is often then attached to  flexible sump pump discharge tubing. This flexible discharge line should be removed in the fall so that it doesn’t freeze up. The problem with doing this is that if the sump pump needs to run in the winter it will be discharged right next to the house instead of away from the home. When that happens it is likely that the water that you just pumped out of the basement will make its way back to the basement again.  A homeowner should have a couple flexible discharge lines on hand so that if you have a period of heavy sump use you can throw a flex line on to get the water away from the house. Then, if and when the line freezes up, you can detach that line and put your other spare flex line on.

We do not recommend directing the water into a floor drain or laundry tub inside the house. This is considered an illegal hook-up of the sump discharge. However in an emergency situation this is an option.

Another option would be to use some kind of heat cable on the discharge line. You would only do this if your discharge line is hard piped with PVC. This is not something we recommend if you are using the thin flexible discharge line. You could use a roof and gutter de-icing cable and run it through the discharge line and plug it in as needed. DO NOT use pipe heat tape. Pipe heat tape is meant to be used on the outside of the pipe in indoor applications only and is not to be exposed to the elements.

De-Icing cable

It’s good practice to periodically check your sump basket to make sure that your pump is working properly. If you have a flex line on the sump make sure that it is free and clear of debris, snow, and ice during the cold winter months. You may also want to make sure that it is not discharging water that will freeze and create dangerously icy conditions in a spot that could cause you trouble. In other words don’t allow your sump pump to discharge massive quantities of water onto your sidewalk and driveway.

Check us out on a KSTP eyewitness news report talking about back-up sump systems

For more on sump pumps and flooding basements check out these other blogs: Sump pumps for a flooded basement, basement flooding and sump pumps, Product highlight: Liberty Sump jet sump back-up sump pump

For more info or to have a sump pump installed call us at 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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