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An ounce of prevention will go a long way toward keeping your homeís plumbing in top working order Ė and youíll avoid costly repairs!

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.
Water Heater
  • 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 year, drain water from the tank. Over time sediment builds at the bottom of the heater, which can hamper performance, and draining a water heater once a year can double the life span of that heater.
  • You should also periodically inspect your water heater burner. The flame under the heater should appear blue with yellow tips. If itís mostly yellow, or if itís 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
Toilets
  • Toilet leaks can be wasteful and expensive. At least once a year, check your toilet for leaks by adding a small amount of green 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.
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.
  • 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 canít snake the drain yourself, contact a professional to do so.
Garbage Disposal
  • 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.
   

Can I increase the water pressure in my bathroom faucet?
First, check the emergency shutoff under your sink to make sure itís fully open. If rubber washers or seals have begun to deteriorate, youíll 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 youíll 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 theyíre 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, youíll 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 culprits are tree roots, and once theyíve 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, theyíre 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 canít 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 itís mostly yellow, or if itís 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.

Whatís 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 Ė 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.

Whatís 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.

 

- If you have any further questions that are not listed on this page, please send them to Jim Haag at Hub Plumbing

 

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