5 Most Common Plumbing Questions, Answered

We thought we’d take a look at some of the most common plumbing questions we get asked. Questions about plumbing fixtures, noises, and, of course, the infamous clogged drain, are among the most typical. We’re always happy to answer questions, and we love to have customers interested in something as important as their home’s plumbing system!

Why won’t my toilet stop running?

Yes, this is a very common concern for homeowners. A toilet that keeps running after being flushed. It’s not just aggravating, but a huge waste of water. Depending on your water pressure, a running toilet can waste over one gallon of water per hour.

Answer: 

There can be a few different reasons for a toilet to continue to run, but the most common are:

  • The handle is stuck in the down position.
  • You have a faulty flapper valve inside the tank.
  • The flapper chain is too short or misaligned.
  • There is sediment buildup affecting the flushing-filling cycle.

This is pretty easy fix. Purchase a toilet repair kit available at any hardware store. This should solve the problem. If it doesn’t, look for a silent leak.

Pro Tip:

Put some food coloring in the toilet tank and see if it makes its way to the bowl without flushing. This indicates your flapper valve is not sealing and a new one is needed.

How can I avoid frozen pipes?

Frozen pipes are a winter worry for most homeowners in our cold climate. When water freezes, it expands. When it is trapped in a small area such as a pipe, this expansion eventually compromises the integrity of the pipes and they burst. Indication of frozen pipes is poor or no water flow, and can lead to burst pipes. If a frozen pipe bursts, it can cause thousands of dollars in damages, so it’s smart to avoid the risk if at all possible.

Answer:

Damaged pipes cause major problems and expensive repairs. Here’s how frozen pipes:

  • Leave a slight trickle of water running from faucets when it’s particularly cold out.
  • Insulate exposed water pipes in your basement, crawl spaces, and attic.
  • Seal air leaks near pipes.
  • Drain your outdoor spigot.
  • Keep your inside temperatures moderate at 50 degrees or better.

How do I unclog a drain?

Hands down, clogged drains are the most common plumbing issue and question. Clogged drains are a pain in the neck and often smell bad. Sometimes a plunger will do the trick to loosen a clog so it will wash free. Other times, a more aggressive snaking procedure needs to be done by a professional.

Answer:

The best way to avoid a clogged drain is to take preventive measures to avoid a blockage in the first place. If you’ve tried the plunger route, here are some other tactics:

  • Mix equal parts of vinegar and baking soda and pour this mixture down the clogged drain. Let the foam work for a while, then run very hot water or pour boiling water down the drain.
  • Remove the drainpipe under the sink (get a bucket ready!), and push the clog out. It’s messy, but may be necessary.
  • Don’t treat any drain like a garbage disposal. NEVER flush food down the toilet or rinse even the smallest of leftovers off dishes into the sink.

Pro Tip:

Be very cautious using liquid drain cleaners. These harsh chemicals can actually cause additional damage to pipes. They are also very harmful to septic systems, terrible to breathe, and not good for the environment. It’s best to leave these toxic products on the store shelf.

Why is my faucet dripping?

Drip, drip, drip. A familiar sound that can drive anyone crazy – a leaking faucet. Beyond annoying, a dripping faucet can leak as much as 2,600 gallons per year! Mineral deposits, sediment, or just worn out parts are usually to blame. Save your sanity and your water bill by trying these fixes:

Answer:

  • Replace the O-Ring, the small rubber ring that fits on the stem screw and helps hold the handle in place.
  • Clean or replace the aerator (the mesh filter) at the end of the spigot.
  • Replace the valve seat and washer between the faucet and the spout.

Why is my water pressure so poor?

Low water pressure is another common concern of homeowners. Weak water pressure makes washing dishes and showering a pain, and causes you to use more water than necessary trying to accommodate for poor flow.

Answer:

  • Clean or replace your faucet or shower head.
  • Check for water leaks.
  • Have a licensed plumbing professional check your water valves and/or pipe levels.

Plumbing has a lot of mysterious sounds, smells, and issues. Many plumbing problems are territory for a licensed professional, but this list should give you some starting points to try to resolve the most common issues. We’re always here to help – don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions!

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