Plumbing Tips

Garbage Disposals

Usually garbage disposals require no maintenance or cleaning. However, a garbage disposal that doesn’t work properly can mean an unpleasant problem. Here are some tips that will keep your disposal problem-free for years.

Do:

  • Grind food waste with a moderate flow of cold water.
  • Grind ice. A scouring action is created by the ice inside the grind chamber.
  • Grind peelings from citrus fruits to freshen up drain smells.
  • Flush disposer for cleaning. Allow disposer and cold water to run after grinding or after draining sink of dishwater. Some detergents are caustic; flushing will pass such material into the drain line without disposer damage.
  • Use a disposer cleaner, degreaser, or deodorizer as necessary.

Don’t:

  • Use hot water when grinding food waste. It is OK to drain hot water into the disposer between grinding periods.
  • Turn off motor or water until grinding is completed.
  • Be alarmed if a brown discoloration appears on the face of the grinding disc. This is normal. It is surface discoloration only and will not affect the life or performance of the disposer.
  • Grind extremely fibrous material like corn husks, artichokes, etc. to avoid possible drain blockage

Water Heater Leaks

When a water heater leaks most people want to know if it can be repaired rather than replaced. The life of a water heater is usually about ten years. If the heater is ten years or older, the homeowner may want to replace it for the sake of peace of mind. If the leak at the water heater is from a fitting, it can be repaired. However, if the tank itself is leaking, there is no other alternative but to replace it.

Sewer Gas

Occasionally a homeowner will notice a bad smell coming from the vicinity of plumbing fixtures in the home. This may be caused by “dry trap.” If a fixture such as a shower or bathtub has not been used in a long time, the trap may dry out and thus allow sewer gas to come back into the home. The solution is to run water into the fixture and allow the trap to again fill up with water. If this does not solve the problem, it is time to call a professional from Waters Plumbing to check it out and make a repair.

High Water Bills

There are several ways to find out if your water bills are higher than they need to be:

  • Check faucets for dripping water. Fix a leaky faucet promptly.
  • Be sure to check under sinks for moisture or leaks.
  • Periodically check your toilets for leaks: Place a few drops of food coloring in the tank—not the bowl. A couple of tablespoons of instant coffee or Kool-Aid will work too.
  • Check the toilet after about thirty minutes. If the water in the bowl has some of the color in it, the tank is leaking and the tank may need to be rebuilt.
  • Check for underground leaks or undetected leaks in the home: Turn off the main water valve inside your home and then go outside and check your water meter. If it is still turning you may have an underground leak.
  • Alternatively, write down the numbers on your water meter at the beginning of a period when your home is going to be unoccupied for a few hours. Check the meter when you return; if the numbers have changed, there may be a leak somewhere inside the home.

Frozen Pipes

  • Don’t let your outdoor faucets freeze up in the winter.
  • Disconnect garden hoses before freezing temperatures arrive.
  • Close the shut off valve for the pipes which lead to the hose bibs.
  • Then open the hose bibs so that any residual water can drain out.

To prevent indoor faucets from freezing in very cold weather:

  • Leave the cabinet doors open under the faucets so they can get a bit more heat.
  • In extreme cases let the water trickle very slowly into the sink.
  • Insulate water pipes that may be exposed to freezing temperatures or wind.
  • Water pipes that are not being used should be drained for the winter in areas where there may be severely cold weather.
  • If there is plumbing in your garage, be sure to keep your garage door closed when it is very cold. Pipes in unheated garages or basements should be insulated.

If your pipes do freeze:

  • Turn off the water at the main shut off valve so that you don’t have problems as the ice melts.
  • Leave the faucets on to relieve pressure as the ice melts.
  • Use a blow dryer or heat gun to thaw frozen pipes.
  • Don’t even think about using a blowtorch! It’s too dangerous.