Plumbing Questions Answered
What does it mean when I hear a rumbling sound coming from the water heater?
Rumbling sounds can be an indication that sediment has built up on the bottom of the water heater. Water can become trapped in this sediment and begin to boil. This means the water heater is not operating efficiently and the sediment isn’t allowing the heat to transfer to the water in the tank.
You may try draining a few gallons of water off the bottom of the water heater tank. This is done by attaching a drain hose to the valve at the bottom of the tank. Allow it to drain for about five minutes. Many newer models of water heaters have a new feature that prohibits the buildup of sediment in the tank. If your heater is an older model, it may be cost effective to replace the water heater if the buildup is severe.
Contact Benjamin Franklin Plumbing for membership opportunities in our Ben Franklin Society™, providing year-round maintenance of your water heater.
WARNING: Hot water is dangerous. Discharge the water into a floor drain, laundry tub or bathtub. Hot water will kill your grass if allowed to run on your lawn and will also crack a toilet bowl if discharged into the toilet. Turn off power to water heater prior to draining.
The temperature of my hot water seems to be higher than I think it needs to be.
The new standard temperature that manufacturers use when pre-setting your hot water heater at the factory is typically 120°F. This is a sufficient temperature for most households. If you have an older model, you can set the thermostat at medium. Gas models usually have a dial on the front of the gas valve. Electric models have thermostats (there may be two) that are concealed behind the two panels on the side of the tank. You can adjust the temperature to meet your needs. Keep in mind that hot water also helps in minimizing the growth of bacteria. Consult your Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® professional for the recommended temperatures for your particular needs.
NOTE: Turn off the electricity to the water heater before performing any maintenance. There can be exposed wires behind the panels that may result in extreme shock.
Is there any maintenance I can do for a water heater?
Yes, you should test the pressure relief valve regularly and replace it if it fails to operate. At least once a year you should flush out the sediments. As long as a tank has a functioning anode, it should not rust. Therefore you should have the anode checked, by a Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® professional about once every two years.
What happens when roots get inside drain lines?
If left undisturbed, roots from shrubs and trees will completely fill a pipe with multiple hair-like root masses at each point of entry. These root masses quickly become clogged with toilet tissue, grease and other debris flowing from your home to the main sewer, resulting in reduced flow, slow running drains and in most cases a complete blockage.
Once roots have entered the pipe, they continue to grow and expand, exerting considerable pressure at the crack or joint. This increased pressure often breaks the pipe and may result in total collapse, which requires repair or replacement.
Some pipe materials are more susceptible to root intrusion than others. Clay tile pipe is easily penetrated and damaged by tree roots. Concrete pipe and PVC pipe may also allow root intrusion, but to a lesser extent than clay pipe. PVC pipe usually has fewer joints and the tightly fitted joints are less likely to leak as a result of settlement around the pipe.
Allow Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® to use state-of-the-art in line drain cameras to view and record your drain problems with roots.
What is the white substance around my shower head/faucet?
The unsightly buildup is mineral deposit. To remove these deposits from the shower head, take a plastic bag and pour a cup of vinegar in it. Place the bag over the shower head and use a twist tie to hold it in place overnight. In the morning, remove the bag and use an old toothbrush to gently scrub off the deposits. You might be able to remove the aerators from the faucets and allow them to soak in the vinegar overnight. Your Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® professional can explain to you all about the water softening and conditioning options available to you through our plumbing pros.
How do I eliminate the odor coming from my disposal?
This is a common plumbing troubleshooting question. Foul odors occur from a buildup of food debris within the disposal. To eliminate odors, place ice cubes and lemon peels or orange peels in the disposal, and run for 30 seconds. Next, squirt a little liquid dish detergent into the disposer while it is still running. Finally, run cold water for about 30 seconds to rinse all the debris away.
What is the recommendation for replacing a toilet?
When considering any new fixture for your home, we recommend that you choose a fixture made by one of the major manufacturers. If cracks or fissures are present in the tank or bowl, this can impede the operation of the fixture. Poor mounting and deteriorating rings and seals can affect the operation as well. Keep in mind that many of the new toilets conform to new government standards that require they use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. If you are replacing an older model, this may take getting use to.
What could be the cause of my recent high water bills?
You may want to check to see if a toilet is leaking. Check the water level in the tank to see if water is overflowing into the overflow pipe. This is the pipe in the middle of the tank which has a small tube connected to it. In the event water is running into the overflow pipe, adjust the fill valve to stop the flow approximately one inch below the top of the overflow tube or to the water level mark stamped on the side of the tank. Periodic maintenance by a plumbing professional will ensure proper operation.
I have a problem with the plumbing in my house making groaning and honking noises.
It could be that you have lost your “air cushion.” To get it back, turn the water supply off at the main valve. Turn on all the faucets around your home. Then turn on the main valve again and shut off each faucet. This should take care of the problem.
I think my kitchen drains are partially clogged because the sink drains slowly. What do you recommend?
First, try using a plunger. Second, try using a liquid drain opener, but use caution and read the directions. Third, you can remove the trap and remove any debris. Be careful if you have used a liquid drain opener, because there may be some in the trap. Fourth, if the clog is beyond the trap, there are drain augers that extend from about 15 feet to about 50 feet. There are also special enzyme-based drain openers, like Benjamin Franklin Plumbing®’s BioBen®, that will help dissolve buildup in pipes in older homes.
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