Frequently Asked Plumbing Questions
Our plumbing techs and staff get asked plumbing questions all the time, so we decided to compile some of the most common plumbing questions on our FAQ page. Please click on the links below to learn more about plumbing, clogged pipes, drain cleaning, sewer pipes and more. If you can’t find the answer to your plumbing questions below, give us a call.
Most leaks in residential plumbing systems are found in the toilet tank and result from worn parts or improper alignment of the flushing mechanism. Once the leak is stopped, your water bill will go down.
Turn the shut off valves under your toilet off, is there is none, or the valve is broken or you can get it to turn off, shut the water off to your entire house at the valve attached to the main house water supply, to give you time to assess the problem.
You may have a bad flapper in the toilet tank, high water pressure, or a bad fill valve. All three can allow the water to seep into the tank and will run up your utility bill.
Pressure-balancing valves prevent sudden water temperature changes caused by flushing toilets or running sinks. By adjusting to pressure changes in water coming through the hot and cold supply lines, a piston in the valve automatically opens or closes small inlet ports to maintain a balance in pressure, which in turn keeps the water flowing at an ambient temperature. It reacts instantaneously.
Yes, you can have your toilet refinished, which requires taking the toilet out, in which case you’ll need a back-up restroom. Another option is to buy porcelain patch and do it yourself. Shut off your angle valve and flush the toilet until it is almost empty. Do not turn the water back on until the patch is completely dry.
This distance between the faucet and the top of the sink or bathtub (one inch or more) is required by plumbing codes. Without the “gap”, waste water could siphon back into the drinking supply.
The most common cause of “milky” water is a non-toxic iron reducing bacteria. The simplest treatment available is shock-chlorination of the system. This is a surface treatment, and often requires repeated trials in heavily infected systems. The chlorination of a system requires that you follow each step explicitly to avoid an un-treated portion of the piping system from re-infecting another part.
120 degrees for more than 5 minutes. 125 degrees for more than 2 minutes. 130 degrees for about 30 seconds
Toilet leaks can be wasteful and expensive. At least once a year, check your toilet for leaks by adding a small amount of red food coloring to the tank, and then check the toilet bowl later. If the toilet bowl water is colored red, water is seeping through from the tank. If it is leaking, you should replace the tank ball.
Before calling a professional, be sure to try the reset switch located on the bottom of most disposals.
Always use plenty of cold water when running your disposal, and avoid overloading it. Never dispose of very hard items like bones or corn husks. And never use a caustic drain opener. You can extend the life of your hands by never using them to remove items dropped inside – use tongs instead!
This is usually due to a sediment buildup in your tank. As water heaters grow older, they accumulate sediment and lime deposits. If these deposits are not removed periodically, the sediment will create a barrier between the burner and the water, greatly reducing the water heater’s performance level. At least once every three months, drain water from the tank. Draining a gallon or so on a regular basis helps remove the sediment. You should also periodically inspect your water heater burner. The flame under the heater should appear blue with yellow tips. If it’s mostly yellow, or if it’s sooty under there, your flue may be clogged, which is a dangerous situation. Contact a professional to check it out. At least once every two years, have your water heater inspected by a service technician. He or she will also check the drain valve for signs of leakage, and the anode rods for corrosion.
For minor clogs, they’re fine, but never use them on a drain that is completely clogged. The caustic ingredients are trapped in your pipes, and it can severely damage them. If you can’t snake the drain yourself, contact a professional to do so. Never use caustic drain openers in a drain that has a garbage disposal.
The main culprit is tree roots, and once they’ve blocked the line, there is very little you can do. A plumbing professional can snake the line to get it as clear as possible, and then use copper sulfide products to kill the remaining vegetation. But odds are the sewer line will most likely need to be replaced.
Noises can be fairly common in plumbing supply lines. If a washer in a faucet or valve is loose, you’ll hear it rattling or knocking. If the sound occurs when you open and close faucets rapidly, it generally means pipes are loose, and can be corrected by anchoring pipes more securely. If it really bothers you, you can add air chambers at the end of long pipe runs. Their installation will probably require a plumbing professional.
Yes. You want to make sure they’re not stuck in the open position just when you have a water emergency! Do the same periodic check for the shutoff valves on your sinks, tubs, and toilets, too.
In most homes, the kitchen and laundry drains are connected. When the lint from the laundry drains meets the grease buildup from soap and food products, a nearly solid substance is formed, causing blockage. Using filters and strainers will help, but you’ll also need to get the drains snaked periodically as well.
Do not rinse fats or cooking oils down the kitchen sink. Liquid fats solidify in the cold pipes and create clogs. To help prevent clogs, fit all your tubs and shower drains with a strainer that catches hair and soap chips, and clean the strainer regularly.
Usually, faucet dimensions and sink openings are standard throughout the plumbing industry, so the answer is usually yes. There are a few exceptions, so check the size of the sink opening before you buy new fixtures.
Even small drips can waste thousands of gallons of water, as much as 150 gallons a day! Be sure to check under sinks for moisture or small leaks. And always repair leaky faucets right away to avoid paying for wasted water, and also to avoid water damage to your fixtures and pipes. Remove and clean your faucet aerators annually to ensure an even flow of water. Make sure overflow holes on tubs and vanities are clear and open to prevent water damage to floors and ceilings.
First, check the emergency shutoff under your sink to make sure it’s fully open. If rubber washers or seals have begun to deteriorate, you’ll also lose water pressure, so check those. Calcium and lime buildup will also cause low water pressure.