Plumbing Tips & FAQs
An ounce of prevention will go a long way toward keeping your home’s plumbing in top working order – and you’ll avoid costly repairs!
- 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 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 vanity are clear and open to prevent water damage to floors and ceilings.
- Before doing any maintenance on your water heater yourself, be sure to shut off the power and read your owner's manual.
- At least once every three months, drain water from the tank. Over time, sediment builds at the bottom of the heater, which can hamper performance. Draining a gallon or so 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.
Toilet leaks can be wasteful and expensive. You can 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. You should check for leaks in your toilet at least once a year.
- 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.
- Do not rinse fats or cooking oils down the kitchen sink. Liquid fats solidify in the cold pipes and create clogs.
- Avoid using caustic liquid drain openers (like Drano or Liquid Plumber) 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.
You can extend the life of your garbage disposal by:
- Using plenty of cold water when running it.
- Making sure you avoid overloading it.
- Never disposing of things like bones or corn husks.
- Never using a caustic drain opener.
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.
Faucet dimensions and sink openings are typically 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Before calling a professional, be sure to try the reset switch located on the bottom of most disposals.