Why does my sink or bathtub drain so slowly?
Slow drains in sinks or bathtubs can point to a variety of plumbing issues. If only one drain in your home is slow, it is likely that the drain has a clog that is preventing the clear flow of water. Clogged kitchen sinks may be caused either by grease or by particles of food that weren’t ground up by a garbage disposal. Avoid using drain-cleaning liquids in your sinks and bathtub as they can be highly corrosive and may damage your pipes.
If you’ve noticed slow drains throughout your entire house, your plumbing system may be suffering from a blocked vent. These vents are designed to equalize the pressure in your pipes, so the disruption of airflow can also cause changes in drain speed. A plumber can help you find the block or clear clogs so that your sinks and bathtubs drain efficiently.
Why does my faucet drip non-stop even after I've turned it off?
Leaky faucets that drip constantly are not only annoying, but can lead to a huge waste of water over time. If your faucet drips non-stop even when you’ve turned it off, it’s likely that some part of the faucet mechanism is broken or faulty. After you’ve identified the issue, replace the faulty part to avoid more costly repairs in the future. If you’re unable to find the faulty part, ask a plumber to help.
Problems with the O ring, a screw designed to hold the faucet handle in place, are a leading culprit when it comes to leaky faucets. It’s also common for a worn-out washer or a washer that hasn’t been installed correctly to cause continuous dripping. Washers can be replaced easily by most homeowners. If all seals and washers are in good condition, you may have a problem with the valve seat, which connects the faucet with the pressure mechanism’s spout. Get professional help to clean or replace a valve seat.
My toilet won't stop running. What should I do?
A running toilet can be a serious nuisance, especially if it flushes fine but just doesn’t know when to stop filling with water. Before you get started, take the lid off your toilet tank and flush the toilet several times. Pay attention to how all of the components in the tank work together. You should be able to pinpoint the issue with simple observation.
The most common culprit is a faulty flapper. This is a flap of plastic that looks like a drain cover. The flapper is attached to a chain that lifts it up when the toilet is flushed. This changes pressure inside the toilet, allowing dirty water to escape. After dirty water has been cleared from the toilet, the bowl and tank begin to fill. The tank is fitted with a special float that is designed to stop the tank from filling once it has reached a certain level.
If your toilet won’t stop running, check to see if the flapper is closing all the way. If it isn’t, figure out what the problem is and fix it. You might need to replace the chain or buy a new flapper. If the chain is getting caught under the flapper, shorten it so that this can’t happen again. If this doesn’t fix the problem, make sure that the valve is open all the way and adjust the float arm. If you discover that your toilet has faulty valves, rely on a professional to take care of repairs.
How can I safely unclog a drain or toilet at home?
When it comes to tackling clogged drains and toilets at home, many individuals head for the cleaning products aisle and purchase drain cleaners. However, these products are extremely caustic and can cause damage to your plumbing system. Avoid using them, especially if you rent a home or apartment. Most leases expressly forbid tenants from using drain cleaners.
Instead, attempt to clear the clog first by using a plunger. You can use a plunger in your bathroom or kitchen sinks in much the same way as you use it in your toilet. If a plunger doesn’t work, try removing the stopper on your sink’s drain to see if something near the surface is clogging the pipe.
Many homeowners have success clearing small clogs by pouring boiling hot water down the drain or by pouring equal parts of baking soda and white vinegar down the drain. If none of these basic remedies work, you may need to talk to a professional plumber about having your drains snaked. Snaking can break up tough clogs, but you should also take care to cover drains and avoid dumping grease down them so that clogs don’t build up again in a few weeks.
Why won't my garbage disposal turn on?
You rely on your garbage disposal to eliminate small scraps of food and keep your drain clean. It can be extremely inconvenient if you go to use the disposal and it simply doesn’t turn on or makes a soft, whirring noise when turned on. If the disposal won’t turn on, check to be sure that it is firmly plugged into the power outlet beneath your sink. Plug a small appliance, such as a lamp or hand mixer, into the outlet to be sure that the problem isn’t with the power source.
If your disposal has power, be sure that it’s switch is in the off position and run the water for at least one minute. Then, take a pair of tongs and stick them down the drain, running them around the disposal. Check to be sure that no objects are stuck. Remove the tongs, turn on the water and try running the disposal again. If it still won’t work, it’s time to call a plumber.
What does it mean when a foul smell is coming from my sink or garbage disposal?
Foul smells emanating from your sink or garbage disposal generally indicate that a piece of food or other organic matter is caught in the pipes. As the food decomposes, it releases a foul odor that is drawn up into your kitchen through the drain. Foul smells can also be caused by a bacterial imbalance in your pipes. Pour a solution of equal parts baking soda and vinegar down the drain. Wait five minutes, then pour boiling water down the drain. If this doesn’t eliminate the stench, call a plumber.
Can poor water pressure be fixed? How is it done?
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to wash your hair or do household chores with insufficient water pressure. While some water pressure problems may be caused by issues on the municipal end of your water delivery system, other pressure issues can be addressed at home. Ask a professional plumber to help you identify what’s causing poor water pressure so that it can be addressed. Common causes include:
- Debris or dirt in the water.
- Mineral deposits in your plumbing line or faucets.
- Faulty pressure regulators and water valves.
- Low municipal water pressure.
- Leaky or faulty pipes.
Cleaning your faucets and showerheads can help restore good water pressure. If basic cleaning doesn’t help, have a plumber inspect your home’s plumbing system. Your plumber will be able to fix any faulty valves or leaky pipes. Your plumber can also talk to you about using a pressure boost system or having larger pipes installed in your home.
How often should my septic tank be pumped?
Keeping up on regular septic tank maintenance ensures that your tank will work for the long haul. Pumping your septic tank on a regular basis also ensures that sludge levels don’t become too high, causing waste matter to be pumped out before it has settled. While the maintenance demands of septic tanks vary, most tanks are designed to be pumped out every three to five years. Check your owner’s manual and talk with your plumber to set the right maintenance schedule for your septic tank.
How can I tell if my pipes are leaking?
If you’ve recently had plumbing problems or live in a house that is more than 30 years old, you may be concerned that your pipes are leaking. Before you start budgeting for replacement of leaky or broken pipes, you should take some time to evaluate whether your pipes are leaking or if your plumbing problems are caused by something else. Do the following to check for leaks:
- Put a drop or two of food coloring in your toilet’s tank. If the coloring moves to the toilet bowl, there is a leak between the flapper in the tank and the toilet bowl.
- Locate your water meter. Turn off the water shutoff valve closest to your house. If the meter is still turning, there is a leak between your meter and your home.
- Find your home’s hose bib, which is the pipe to which hoses are hooked. Listen carefully for the sound of running water.
- Check outdoor hoses and sprinkler systems to see if the ground around them is soaked with water.
When should I opt for drain cleaning?
Most homeowners will struggling with a slow-moving or clogged drain at some point in time. If you’re frustrated by drain problems, you might wonder if you should opt for comprehensive drain cleaning. It’s a good idea to choose drain cleaning if you’ve had small but persistent plumbing problems that either cause inconvenience or drive up your water bills. You should also opt for drain cleaning if you plan to replace old fixtures and faucets so that your new devices don’t become clogged with dirt and grime as soon as they are installed.
What products are available to seal pipes?
If you’re plagued by a leaking pipe and want to try a do-it-yourself fix, you might be considering pipe sealants. Before you use any of these products, familiarize yourself with what each does and how it can be used in your home:
- Pipe clamps: These clamps can be fitted directly over your pipe and screwed down. They feature a rubber gasket to create a water-tight seal.
- Pipe thread sealant: These sealants are applied directly to the pipe, creating a lock-tight seal when the pipes are then joined together.
- Sealing wrap: Sealing wrap, which looks like pipe or plumbing tape, is applied to the male end of a threaded pipe to create extra traction between male and female pipe ends.
What type of piping is best for my home?
When it comes to choosing new pipes for a home, most owners have two primary options: PEX or copper. While these pipe types are suitable for most situations, other types of material can also be used to replace or retrofit plumbing systems. Before you make a final choice, talk with a licensed plumber and familiarize yourself with these four options:
- Copper: Copper pipes have long been used in plumbing thanks to their durability and recyclability. Copper is a great choice if you need long-lasting piping and can afford to pay premium prices for this popular material.
- PEX: PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) pipe is highly flexible and can be snaked through walls with ease. Though PEX pipes have only been in use for 30 years, they’ve shown good durability.
- CPVC: CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) pipes are ideal for homeowners who want to take care of installation themselves. These pipes are relatively flexible and are installed with a simple joint system.
- Polypropylene (PP): PP pipe, which is used throughout Europe, is similar to PVC pipe but is joined together with heat instead of chemicals. It is considered the top choice when water safety is a concern.
How do I know what size water heater I should buy?
Choosing a water heater of the correct size will help you cut down on electricity bills while enjoying an ample supply of heated water for your home. How you size a water heater will depend on the type of heater that you buy.
If you plan on buying a demand or tankless water heater, you’ll first need to determine the flow rate and temperature rise required to provide sufficient water to your home. You can calculate the flow rate by making a list of all appliances in your home that use hot water and noting how many gallons of water each appliance uses per minute. Add all of these flow rates up to determine the minimum flow rate needed for your home.
Then, subtract the temperature of the incoming water from the desired water temperature. If you don’t know the input temperature, assume it is 50 degrees. Subtract 50 degrees from the maximum temperature to which you need water heated. This is the temperature rise needed for your home. Look for a water heater that meets both your flow rate and temperature rise needs. A professional plumber can easily make these measurements for you when you decide it is time to purchase or replace a water heater.
If you want to buy a solar water heater or a traditional, tank-based model, ask a plumber or HVAC contractor to help you with sizing calculations. Your contractor will be able to manipulate calculations to meet your efficiency needs.
Why doesn't my water get hot enough?
If your water heater isn’t producing water warm enough for your hygiene or household needs, check the thermostat. Consult your owner’s manual if you’re unsure of where the thermostat is located or how to change temperature settings. Try turning the thermostat up slightly to see if that corrects the problem. If your water still isn’t hot enough, call a plumber. You may need to have your water heater cleaned or it may be time to replace its heating coil.
My water gets too hot. What should I do?
A hot water heater that consistently produces water that is too hot can pose a serious safety risk, especially if you live in a household with small children. If your water is too hot, check the water heater’s thermostat first and see if it needs to be turned down. If the thermostat is at an acceptable level and the emergency shut off switch hasn’t been tripped, it’s time to call a plumber. It’s likely that your water heater’s thermostat is faulty.
Do I need water heater maintenance? How often should maintenance be performed?
Regular maintenance helps protect your water heater from breakdowns and prevents the buildup of mineral deposits that can shorten the device’s lifespan or interfere with the production of hot water. If you use a hot water heater with a tank, you should flush out and refill the tank every four months to remove sediments. Remember to turn off the unit’s power and water before flushing the tank. You should also opt for professional maintenance and service for your water heater at least once a year. Opt for maintenance twice a year if you live in an area with very hard water.
How can I get rid of roots in or around my drains and pipes?
Tree roots can invade your plumbing system and cause major problems. If you find roots in or around your drains and pipes, it is essential that they be removed as quickly as possible. While you may be able to combat roots with chemicals that cause them to die over time, it’s better to ask a professional plumber to complete pipelining. This modification will eliminate roots from pipes and prevent them from causing problems again.
Why isn't my toilet filling up completely?
If your toilet won’t fill completely, check the float in the toilet tank. If the float arm has become bent, the ball may be stopping water from entering the tank prematurely. Adjust the float and make sure that the water valve for the toilet is completely open. If this doesn’t fix the problem, call a plumber to help.