Prevent Common Plumbing Problems
Customers ask us from time to time what leads to most of our service calls. It varies by time of year and, especially, with weather-related events like flooding. But overall, in no particular order, here are some of the most common reasons we are likely to be called into action.
No hot water. This is a big bummer, and it always seems to happen at the most inconvenient time, like the day you’re hosting a party. Some water heater breakdowns are relatively simple to fix, while at other times nothing less than a full replacement will solve the problem – like when you have a leaker with water coming out through rust at the bottom of the storage tank. By the time this happens, the water heater is usually so old you’d benefit from replacing it with a more energy-efficient model anyway.
Replacement takes the better part of a day, so the best way to assure you don’t get caught by surprise is to have your water heater regularly checked and serviced once a year via our Family Plan service agreement. Industry studies have shown that water heaters typically last 12-15 years. If yours is beyond that time frame consider replacing it at a time of your convenience rather than face an emergency somewhere down the road. The replacement cost will be largely paid back in a few years thanks to reduced energy and water usage characteristic of newer models.
Clogged drains. Many of these calls could be avoided by taking greater care in what you put down drains — especially the kitchen sink drain, the most used and most clogged drain in the house. Read our “Garbage Disposal Do’s and Don’ts” blog for more detailed advice.
We also recommend regular treatment with Bio-Clean, a biological drain cleaner sold only through plumbing contractors, another feature of our Family Plan service agreements.
Dripping faucets. The washers and internal cartridges in faucets wear out over time, especially in areas with high mineral content (hard water). Sometimes we can replace the internal components but the service dispatch and labor cost of doing so usually make it more cost-effective to simply replace the faucet.
Many homeowners replace faucets not only when they break down but for decorative reasons as well. Some people buy a faucet from a home center and then call us to install it. This is okay, but be forewarned that in these cases we cannot guarantee the faucet’s performance. If you buy it from us, we’ll guarantee performance and replace it at our own expense if something doesn’t work right.
Running or leaking toilets. Leaky toilets can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in excessive water bills if the leaks persist for a long time. If you hear a low humming noise, or if the toilet continues to run into the bowl after the toilet is flushed, it indicates that some part of the mechanism is out of order. Sometimes a little jiggling of the ballcock or flush valve mechanism solves the problem. Otherwise you may need to call us to replace the flushing mechanism.
Malfunctioning food waste disposer. This can be a messy headache for homeowners. Be sure to always run cold water when grinding to move the waste all the way down the drain line. Fats and grease congeal and harden in cold water and can be flushed through the system. Hot water should not be used because it can dissolve fats and grease, which may then accumulate in the drain line.
See some other pointers in our “Garbage Disposal Do’s and Don’ts” blog.