To help you stay ahead of home maintenance problems, we recently asked Seattleites to send us their questions and concerns about plumbing. From leaky faucets to frozen pipes, we compiled your Qs and have Kirk Thompson, a certified plumber at South West, here to answer.
Q: I am concerned about frozen piping as it gets colder. How can I tell if my plumbing is at risk?
A: There are a few things to check when it comes to protecting your home from frozen piping. A plumbing professional should be able to evaluate all of these items and offer solutions as needed.
- Pipe insulation should be used within unheated spaces.
- Leaky outdoor faucets should be repaired or replaced.
- Older outdoor faucets that are not of the “frost-free” type should be replaced or protected.
- Yard sprinklers should be winterized.
- Condensate discharge piping can freeze. It should be protected with insulation or possibly heat tape.
Q: Are there strategies to help prevent sink and bath clogs before they get bad enough to call a plumber? And are there environmentally-friendly ways to do this?
A: The best strategy to help prevent sink and bath clogs is to be conscious of what is going down the drain. Hair is the most common cause of a clogged bathtub and bathroom sink. Fun fact: Excess toothpaste can also harden on the walls of the piping and build up over time.
There are products on the market that you can buy that will help to catch hair before it makes it down the drain and into piping. As always, research which product will work best for your specific situation.
If you do experience a clog in the piping, it’s usually best to call a professional to deal with the situation. Once the drain is flowing, consider enzyme treatment to keep the piping clean and healthy.
Q: How do I get my toilet to stop running?
A: A running toilet can be annoying, and depending on the severity, can cause a significant increase to your water bill.
The most common cause of a running toilet is the flapper. Over time, the rubber flapper can rip, tear, degrade, or warp. When this happens, it no longer makes a positive seal at the base of the toilet tank. This means that water will constantly be flowing. Having the flapper replaced should solve this type of issue.
The other cause of a running toilet is a failed fill valve. When the water level in the tank rises, it causes a float to also rise. When the fill valve fails, the water level keeps rising and eventually spills into an overflow tube, and the water will continue to flow this way. Having the fill valve replaced will typically resolve this type of issue.
Q: It takes several minutes to get hot water to the bathroom at the far end of the house. What, if anything, can be done about this?
A: Unfortunately, waiting for hot water at the farthest plumbing fixtures is not uncommon. A circulation pump is an affordable way to get almost instant water to those far-away faucets. It circulates hot water to the farthest plumbing fixture, then returns it to the inlet side of the heater.
Q: I think my water pressure is fantastic, but my neighbor says it is way too high. What’s the truth about water pressure?
A: High water pressure seems fantastic when washing the car or getting the soap out of your hair. According to the plumbing code, 80psi is the maximum water pressure that should be in your home.
High water pressure will cause the water to flow faster through the piping, which can cause copper piping to develop pinhole leaks that require the replacement of the affected piping. Additionally, high water pressure puts unnecessary stress on your water-using appliances such as dishwashers, a water heater, and the refrigerator. This can cause the appliance in question to fail prematurely.
If you have high water pressure, then it is recommended to have a plumbing professional install a pressure regulator on the main water supply pipe for the home, which will limit the water pressure to 70-75psi.
Q: Do I really need a water heater flush?
A: Many homeowners never flush out their water heater, and never have any noticeable issues. That said, there are a few benefits to having the tank flushed yearly by a professional that you should know about.
Taking the time to drain the water from the water heater to remove sediment and calcium carbonate buildup that’s accumulating in the bottom of the tank will increase the life of your water heater. Having a new water heater installed because your old one failed prematurely can be frustrating. Water heaters can also be costly to replace; the more often you have to do it, the more costly it will be over time.
If you happen to run into an emergency this winter, call or text South West at (206) 495-6478. Their technicians are available 24/7 to help facilitate emergency appointments.
What plumbing problems are you dealing with in your home? Let us know here.*