The symptoms of plumbing issues may build over time or happen suddenly. Since you don’t see most of your plumbing system, it can be quite stressful when things go wrong. At Express Plumbing Heating & Air, we get many questions from customers; here are some of the most common plumbing questions we receive and some answers to help you decide what to do next.

Your Plumbing Questions Answered

1. Why Do My Drains Keep Clogging Up?

Drain usually get clogged because of what gets into them. Soap and hair are common culprits in bathroom drains, while grease and food scraps more often affect kitchen drains. Slow drains can be caused by a range of issues. They can be addressed with hot water, baking soda, and vinegar but you can also use a plumbing snake or sink auger. If using a liquid drain cleaner, make sure the product doesn’t have toxic or corrosive ingredients.

2. How Do I Turn Off My Main Water Shut Off Valve?

First, it’s important to know where it is. Located on the main water line, the shut off valve is usually near an exterior wall outside the house, or in a basement or crawl space. The hot water shutoff valve is on the water heater. These valves are very useful during emergencies because you can shut off the water quickly, stopping a potential flood. To turn off the water, move the valve clockwise, or to the right. This is also a good idea if you’re going on vacation, so your home doesn’t flood should a plumbing failure occur.

3. What’s Causing the Water Pressure to Drop?

Low water pressure is usually related to another plumbing problem, which may be a leak in a faucet or pipe, or a clogged drain. Defective faucet aerators can affect water pressure as well; fixing or replacing them can resolve the problem. Unless you can clear a clogged drain on your own, it’s time to hire a plumber to inspect your plumbing system for hidden issues and fix them. You can also contact your local water company in case the issue is with municipal water pipes.

4. Why Did My Water Bill Go Up So Much?

A sudden spike in your water bill is generally due to an increase in water usage. If you haven’t willingly consumed more water, the culprit is often a running toilet. A “ghost toilet” is one that seems to flush on its own. A worn flapper is often the cause, but other components may be involved.

At just one drop per second, a leaky faucet can waste over 3,000 gallons per year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It will therefore increase your utility bill. A leak in a lawn sprinkler system or an underground pipe can contribute to increased costs, while outdated, inefficient fixtures are often problematic.

5. Why Does My Home Smell Like Sewage?

Your plumbing contains sewer traps that prevent sewage and odors from backing up. If you have foul odors inside, a sewer trap may have dried up or a sewer trap plug may be loose or missing. However, if the problem is with your municipal sewer line, you may experience the same odor outside. In that case, the problem isn’t in your home and the utility company will have to resolve it.

6. What’s Causing My Toilet to Continue Running?

Common reasons include a worn flapper, which can be damaged and shrunk by chemicals in the water supply. The fill valve may wear out and not regulate the tank water level as it should, or the gasket in the fill tube assembly may leak. Is the toilet itself leaking? You can find out by putting food coloring into the tank; if it appears in the bowl after a few minutes, there’s a leak. A plumber should then repair your toilet or replace it with a newer, more efficient one.

7. Where Did the Hot Water Go?

If you have a gas water heater, a lack of hot water can be due to a disruption in the gas supply (potentially a dangerous gas leak). Call a plumber right away to address the problem. Another factor is tank size; smaller tanks tend to run out of hot water more quickly. With electric water heaters, the issue may be with the thermostat or other faulty electrical component. A tripped circuit breaker can result in cold water as well.

8. Can I Fix or Flush a Leaky Water Heater?

If your water heater is leaking, turn the water and gas supply off to the unit, open hot water fixtures to relieve excess pressure, and turn the fixtures off; then call a plumber to repair the water heater. Don’t attempt to fix a gas water heater yourself as this can be extremely dangerous.

As sediment builds up in the tank, overheating can cause serious damage. It can affect recirculation lines, the recirculation pump, and drain valve too. To flush the water heater of sediment:

  • Turn off the cold inlet valve and, for a gas unit, set the control valve to “pilot”; for an electric unit, turn off the breaker.
  • Connect a garden hose to the drain valve and then open it.
  • Pull the lever on the temperature and pressure valve to let air into the tank.
  • With the unit fully drained, open the water valve on the inlet side to flush the sediment.
  • Close the drain and temperature and pressure valves.
  • Set the control valve to “hot” (on a gas unit) or turn on the breaker (electric).

9. How Come My Pipes Make Noise?

Plumbing pipes may start banging if not tightly secured. A hot water pipe may make noise because of thermal expansion. If you hear banging when flushing the toilet, the fill valve may be closing too quickly, causing a pressure effect known as “water hammer”. The same effect can happen with washing machines, ice makers, and dishwashers. A squealing sound from your bathroom may indicate a slow toilet leak that triggers the water metering valve to fill it.

10. Why Does My Tap Water Look Cloudy or Dirty?

Air bubbles are the most common reason for tap water to look cloudy. Sediment and particulates can cause the appearance of tap water to change as well, which is most common for well-fed supplies. However, city water supplies can have this problem too. If your water smells like rotten eggs, there’s hydrogen sulfide that’s produced by bacteria or chemical reactions in your water heater. Your water supply should be tested to determine the source of the odor, cloudiness, or dirt.

Contact an Experienced Plumber in Boise

At Express Plumbing Heating & Air, we can address all your plumbing questions and concerns. We’re a full-service plumbing company and use the latest tools and technology to fix any problem. For 24/7 service and fast response times, contact us online or call (208) 398-0309

Brad Jordan

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