Your Most Pressing Plumbing Questions Answered
As a homeowner, you might know enough about plumbing to be dangerous. Or maybe you admit complete ignorance on this front. That’s ok — we don’t expect you to be an expert in the trades. That’s why we’re here, to help guide and educate you on all matters plumbing related.
That said, we wanted to share a few of the most-frequently questions we encounter, to save you time and frustration. (Google isn’t always the most reliable source.)
Q: I think we have a leak. What’s the best way to confirm an issue, and how do I address it?
A: Listen to your gut and look at the facts. It’s important to note that not all leaks can be easily spotted with the naked eye or are obvious. However, if you feel something is amiss, your water bill is unusually high, or you hear running water out of the blue, don’t wait. Call a licensed plumber right away.
Q: Why should I hire a licensed plumber?
A: In essence, it boils down to peace of mind. The issuance of a license by an authoritative body means that the holder is qualified both theoretically and practically and meets or exceeds the standards of the code.
It’s not unlike other professions that require a high degree of skill. You wouldn’t want to see a medical professional who simply learned “on the job.” There’s too much at stake. In the case of plumbing, licensed contractors are held to certain standards of accountability. That’s to say they must do the work correctly or else be liable for the consequences caused by a mistake. Also, they’re usually required to carry some form of bonding or insurance as a safeguard in case something goes wrong.
So, while you might be tempted to just hire the neighborhood handyman to save a few dollars, you’re taking a chance. It’s best to pay up for the expertise, experience and credentials that a licensed plumber offers.
Q: What is plumbing code?
A: Plumbing code refers to best practices to be used in plumbing jobs. But these aren’t just rules for the sake of rules. Public health and safety are at stake and can be protected by sound code provisions.
The code refers to rules and regulations imposed by municipalities on anyone who performs work related to the installation of drinking water, sewer or toilet facilities in homes, offices, factories, schools and hospitals. Code is especially important because failure to follow these prescriptions can so cause an outbreak of widespread disease.
Plumbers in most geographic areas within the United States typically follow the Universal Plumbing Code (UPC) set forth by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO). This handbook of sorts is updated every few years to reflect new technologies and knowledge impacting the industry. While the UPC is typically the guiding light for plumbing codes, know that your city, town, county, or state might impose additional provisions.
When in doubt, it’s best to get in touch with local authorities before pursuing any DIY plumbing project. It’s always best to hire a licensed plumbing contractor regardless of the size or scope of the work to ensure it gets done safely and efficiently.
Q: Can I repair a cracked toilet tank?
A: Yes. Start by turning off the water supply to the tank and removing the remaining water with a suction device. Allow the tank to dry out and then apply epoxy to fill the gap. Make sure the epoxy is evenly distributed and wait for it to dry and then proceed with the repair.
Q: Why is my faucet leaking?
A: The culprit is usually worn rubber washers, which wear out due to valve seat friction. Usually replacing the washers addresses the problem.
Q: Why is my shower pressure low?
A: If the issue occurs when other faucets in the house are running, your household’s water supply is likely lacking due to an aging plumbing system. If the problem lingers when all other faucets are off, it’s likely related to pipe or patch leaks.
Q: How can I unclog my drain without using chemicals?
A: This one is pretty straightforward. You can clear the blockage by using baking soda and vinegar. Pour half a box of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar down the drain. Then plug the faucet with a plunger for 30 seconds to prevent a volcano-like eruption. Let the mixture sit for about a half hour. Finish with a kettle of boiled water to clear the congestion.
Q: When do I need to call a plumber to handle a clogged drain?
A: You might need to call in help if DIY methods don’t work or if you’re unsure about the right way to go about it.
Q: How can I prevent clogged drains in the first place?
A: A little foresight can go a long way in terms of prevention. Take care that hair, oils, grease, coffee grinds, pasta, or organic debris don’t go down the drain. A drain stopper or filter can help in this way.
Q: How do I clean a dishwasher?
A: You can clean the unit by filling a detergent container with white vinegar and running it (without dishes) on a long, hot cycle.
Q: Why is my dishwasher not draining?
A: This can be a sign of a leaky inlet valve or mineral deposits in the pipes. It’s recommended to empty the dishwasher and start a new cycle on empty. Cancel the cycle after a few seconds and then open the door. If the water is drained, the dishwasher is probably working properly. If not, it’s a sign that the inlet valve should be replaced.
Q: How can I prevent frozen pipes?
A: When the temperature dips, your pipes are most susceptible to freezing. You can prevent this from happening by allowing sink faucets to slightly drip non-stop, especially if you’ll be away.
Q: How often should I have my septic system inspected?
A: You should have your septic system inspected every three to five years so you can address any issues before they become costly or disastrous.
Do you have a plumbing-related question or concern? We’re happy to help you get to the bottom of it. Trust the opinions of hundreds of area homeowners who have hired us for their plumbing maintenance and repair jobs. Give us a call at (800) 621-6679 to learn more.