Frequently Asked Questions – Plumbing
Can I increase the water pressure in my bathroom faucet?
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.
What should I do to take care of my faucets and sinks?
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.
Can I replace my two-handled faucet with a single-handle faucet?
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.
How can I prevent clogged drains?
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.
What causes my kitchen sink and washing machine drains to clog?
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.
Should I close and open the main water supply shutoff valve periodically?
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.
Why do I hear a vibrating noise in my pipes?
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.
What can I do about a sewer line blockage?
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.
Are caustic liquid drain openers (like Drano or Liquid Plumber) harmful to pipes?
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.
Why doesn’t my old water heater work as well as it used to?
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.
What’s the best way to extend the life of my garbage disposal?
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!
What should I do if my garbage disposal stops working?
Before calling a professional, be sure to try the reset switch located on the bottom of most disposals.
What’s the best way to check for toilet leaks?
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.