Tips & FAQ
Common Plumbing Questions
- How can I increase the water pressure in my bathroom faucet?
- What should I do to take care of my faucets and sinks?
- Can I replace my two-handled faucet with a single-handle faucet?
- How can I prevent clogged drains?
- What causes my kitchen sink and washing machine drains to clog?
- Should I close and open the main water supply shutoff valve periodically?
- Why do I hear a vibrating noise in my pipes?
- What can I do about a sewer Line blockage?
- Are caustic liquid drain openers (like Drano or Liquid Plumber) harmful to pipes?
- Why doesn’t my old water heater work as well as it used to?
- What’s the best way to extend the life of my garbage disposal?
- What should I do if my garbage disposal stops working?
- What’s the best way to check for toilet leaks?
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. Check the aerator on the spout to make sure it hasn’t clogged with sediment.
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. 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.
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. Alternatively, place a ruler alongside the faucet and take a photo of the faucet and ruler. E-mail the photo to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to advise you by return e-mail or telephone at no-charge.
Do not pour 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. Never place corn husks, artichokes, celery or stringy vegetables down the drain. Never flush sanitary napkins or paper towels down the toilet.
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.
Yes. That’s a good policy. If not used periodically, valves can become stuck in the open position. By exercising it periodically, if you ever need to use that valve in an emergency, you should find it operational. Do the same periodic exercising for the shutoff valves under your sinks and toilets, too.
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 the noise is bothersome, an anti-vibration air chamber can be installed to quiet the pipes. This installation will require a plumbing professional. Additionally, such sounds may indicate that there is excessive water pressure in the pipes. This can be damaging to all of the fixtures and equipment ion your home. In this case a plumbing professional can install a Pressure Reducing Valve to correct this situation.
Most sewer stoppages are caused by flushing foreign items or excessive paper down the drain. In such a case, a plumbing professional can usually snake the waste line to clear it. Sometimes the stoppage is caused by an outside source (typically tree roots). Once they’ve gained entrance into a sewer line, they can usually be snaked and the line cleared but the correction is typically temporary until the tree roots grow back again. Copper sulfide products can be flushed down the drain to help kill the roots and any remaining vegetation, but odds are good that the sewer line will eventually need to be replaced.
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. In addition, some caustic fluid drain openers, if left in your sink or tub, can destroy the sink or tubs finish. It’s usually safer to call a professional and have the drain snaked if you can’t do so yourself. Never use caustic drain openers in a drain that has a garbage disposal.
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 base of 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 very 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 built-in anode rods for corrosion.
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!
Before calling a professional, be sure to try the reset switch located on the bottom of most disposals. Also check the circuit breaker for that circuit.
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 (not the bowl). Don’t use the toilet for an hour or so. Then check the toilet bowl later. If the toilet bowl water is colored red, water is seeping through from the tank. If so, the tank ball must be replaced. If it continues to leak after replacing the tank ball, call a professional as the flush valve (under the tank ball) may require replacement – not typically a homeowner task.