FAQs

Some FAQs to help around the house

Plumbing emergencies can happen anytime. Thankfully, you can take care of some relatively simple plumbing situations yourself. More complex plumbing emergencies should be handled by professionals only. Below are some of the most commonly asked plumbing questions.

Problems With Drains

Can I prevent drains from clogging altogether?
Yes you can. Place strainers over tubs, sinks and shower drains to prevent solids from entering the drains. Also, don’t dispose of cooking oils and fats in your kitchen sink’s drain.
Is it okay if I use chemical drain cleaners (say Liquid Plumber or Drain-o) to unclog the drains?
No! Chemical cleaners corrode metal pipes and soften the plastic ones. They kill the useful bacteria found in septic systems as well. We recommend using drain snakes for unclogging your drains.
What is that foul odor coming from my drains?
The odor is from sewer gases that are being emitted from the drain trap. This usually happens when drains are left unused for a long time. The internal traps that lodge water and prevent sewer gases from rising become empty and fail in blocking the gases. You can pour several quarts of water in the drain to fill the traps again. This will help alleviate the problem. If the odor persists, it could be an indication of a larger problem. Please contact us immediately for further assistance.

Problems With Garbage Disposals

What is that foul odor coming from my garbage disposal?
It’s from bacteria feeding on food debris. The more debris that builds up, the stronger the smell. Add orange or lemon rinds to two cups of ice and empty the contents into your garbage disposal. Grind them to get rid of the smell. You can substitute the rinds with two cups of lemon or orange juice.
If the smell persists, empty two cups of baking soda and two cups of vinegar into the disposal to kill the bacteria. Once the odor is removed, let hot water run through the disposal. This will ensure no debris from the rind stays behind, preventing more bacteria from forming.
Why is my garbage disposal not working? Is it broken?
Not necessarily. The disposal’s motor may have been overloaded. This often causes a temporary stoppage. The unit located beneath the sink has a reset button, red in color, which will have popped out because of the overload. Press it back in, and your garbage disposal should start working. If operations don’t resume, the problem is bigger than overload. Please contact us immediately for further assistance.

Problems With Water Heaters

How often should I drain my water heater?
You should drain it once a year at the very least. Annual draining, when done correctly, not only ensures proper functioning but also prolongs the life of your water heater.
Why does the pilot turn off automatically on my water heater?
The thermocouple most likely needs to be replaced. A well-functioning thermocouple keeps the water heater pilot lit at all times.
Can I prolong the life of my water heater?
Yes you can! Typical water heaters can last from 10 to 20 years, depending upon the make/model of the heater and the quality of the water in your house. Tankless heaters and indirect water heaters can last up to 30 years. Aside from having them drained at least once a year, have maintenance professionals inspect and tune-up your water heater to prolong its life.

Problems With Bathrooms

Is there an easy way to remove minerals that have accumulated on my showerhead?
Yes! Pour vinegar (one cup should work) into a plastic bag and place it over the shower head. Leave it on overnight to allow for the vinegar to loosen the buildup of minerals. Use a brush to scrub off the softened deposits in the morning and voila! Your showerhead is as good as new!
Is there an easy way to prevent getting frozen or scalded in the shower when someone flushes the toilet?
Yes there is! You can have a tempura valve installed. Alternatively, you can simply replace the shower valve which should resolve the situation.
Why does my toilet keep running long after it is flushed?
Problems with the fill valve or the flush valve can cause toilets to keep running after flushing. These assemblies can be rather complex to fix. Contact us immediately for further assistance.
Why does my toilet make that gurgling sound?
It can be an indication of problems in the plumbing installation. On the roof of your home, ice, snow, and even small animals can clog the vent line, giving rise to the gurgling sound in the sink, bathtub or toilet. Protecting the vent pipe against these elements will help prevent the problem.

Cover the end of the vent to prevent small animals from entering the pipe. Use vent extension supplies to elongate the plumbing vent and to prevent snow from causing problems. Use a larger top piece of pipe (up to four inches) to prevent ice from building up. If the problem persists, contact us immediately for further assistance.

And some miscellaneous problems

What can I do about low water pressure?
First, check to see if your neighbors have good water pressure. If they do, the problem exists between your home and the water meter. It could be one or more of the following – a) a buildup of deposits in older pipes, b) a malfunctioning shut off valve, c) a partially-closed shut off valve or d) a folded or creased water line. You can call us to diagnose the exact problem, and we can help you resume normal water pressure.
Why are strange sounds coming from my pipes?
This can happen for several reasons:

1) Water pressure often increases when the direction or speed of water changes suddenly inside of pipes. This causes a thumping sound, followed by vibrations after the water is turned off. You can have a pressure minimizing valve installed to take care of this problem. TIP: Have it done ASAP because high pressure can damage appliances and other pipes as well.

2) Lack of sufficient wall and base support causes pipes to vibrate, they often bang against each other and create sounds. Even normal water pressure can cause this. To help, you can have a pipe support system installed.

3) Sudden, large changes in water temperature can give rise to knocking, tapping or ticking sounds within the pipes. This occurs when extremely hot water (over 120 degree Fahrenheit) flows from the water heater into the pipes, causing them to expand due to the heat. Have your pipes insulated and ensure you don’t set your water heater to temperatures above 120F.

4) Air bubbles in the pipe can cause noises due to vibrations, sputtering and spitting inside the pipes. Run all faucets to drive the air bubbles out. Once they are removed, you should notice that water flow has resumed to normal and the sounds have stopped. It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact reason without professional help and you already know who to call!

What causes low water pressure and what can I do about it?
There are several things that could cause low water pressure, including a partially closed or malfunctioning shut off valve, a crimped water line, or deposits that gather in older galvanized pipes. If your neighbors have strong water pressure, the problem is most likely between the water meter and your home. A qualified WaterWork plumbing technician will be able to identify the problem and explain your options.