Plumbing Facts

Ten things every home owner should know.

1. Dishwasher

Automatic dishwashers are another appliance that should last a decade or more. However, you often can save money by buying a newer energy-efficient unit.

Brand new units can be bought for $400-$600 while repairs of various operating mechanisms typically run $150 and up. If your dishwasher is getting near the 10-year mark, a major repair may be a signal that other components are also on their last legs. It won’t take many service calls to pay for a brand new unit.

2. Malfunctioning Disposal

This can be a messy headache for homeowners. Here are several tips to keep your unit in good working order.

When grinding food stuff, follow with a lot of water. Otherwise it will solidify and clog the drainbefore it gets to the main sewer. Do not put foods that are high in fiber such as potato peels. You can freshen up and clean deposits in your garbage disposal by grinding an ice cube or a small amount of lemon or orange peels.

3. Faucets

Replacing a cartridge, washer or other internal component can repair leaking faucets. Tarnishes and nicks are harder to fix.

Good faucets will give at least 5 or more years of trouble-free operation. With the hard water we have in San Diego, corrosion is a big problem in repairing faucets because the hard water deposits will eat away at the metal.

4. Dripping Faucets

This is an annoyance that most homeowners have to deal with from time to time as the washers in the faucets wear out with use. You can extend the life of your faucet washers by not turning them off with too much force.

You may also consider replacing your older faucets with those that feature washerless valve cartridges instead of rubber washers. Since the valve mechanism is contained in one cartridge, these faucets are easier to repair and replace. In addition, cartridges are generally more durable and do not leak because they do not deteriorate with friction or age as washers do.

5. Faucet Installation

Many homeowners replace faucets not only when they break down, but for decorative reasons as well. This is the ninth most common reason for a service call, according to the PHCIB.

A few people buy a faucet from a home center and then call a plumbing firm to do theinstallation. Be forewarned that the plumbing firm will warrant only its workmanship, not the faucet itself.

6. Leaking Pipes

In extreme cases, these can cause expensive damage to floors and belongings. One of the most common leaks is the hoses to the washing machine and the hoses (supply risers) from the shut off valve to either the toilet or faucet. You can also check your water meter when you do not have any water running and if the meter is spinning there is a leak somewhere.

7. Leaking Water Heaters

Most often when you have a leaker, it’s time to get rid of the water heater. Usually leaks indicate rusting through at the bottom of the storage tank, for which there is no good repair. 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.

8. Toilets, Running & Leaking Toilets

Toilets — Unless you crack the porcelain, a toilet can easily last a lifetime. What will wear out are the flushing mechanisms comprised of moving parts. Leakage may occur from the wax ring seal by the floor, but that can be fixed short of replacement.

Toilets are commonly replaced for reasons other than malfunction. Water conservation is one. Modern toilets operate with 1.6 gallons per flush or less compared with 3.5 -7.5 gallons for older models. Depending on water rates, sometimes you can save money by replacing a toilet.

Styling and quieter flushing are two other reasons to replace. This is a matter of homeowner choice more than necessity.

Running & Leaking Toilets — This is not only an annoyance, but also a waste of water and money. A constant running toilet can cost you more than $100 in a single billing period in your water bill. The most common reason a toilet is running is because the flapper needs to be replaced which can be an easy fix for homeowners.

9. Clogged Drain

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. If your kitchen has a disposal and you put food in it, follow it with a lot of hot water and some dish soap if you put something greasy in the drain. This way you are pushing it out to the main line drain and then to the city line.

Clogged toilets — with the low flow toilets you may need to flush more than once. Invest in a high quality plunger because that will usually take care of too much toilet paper. Never put “wet naps”, dental floss, tampons (even if the packaging says “flushable”, they are not), “Q-tips,” or small bits of trash in the toilet. These items are the most common cause for the Main Sewer Line to back up.

Clogged bathroom sink — the most common problem in a lavatory sink is hair. A simple fix is to undo the pop up and pull it out and clean out the debris that got caught in there.

If your drains do not have cross bars in them, keep a strainer over them. If a bottle cap or similar small plastic items get down your drain and you do not have cross bars, that can be a very expensive repair.

10. Water Pressure

When you have a Plumber come to your home, ask them to check your water pressure. Ideal pressure to a home should be between 45-65 PSI. If the pressure is too high you could be doing damage to your water heater and pipes, causing them to prematurely wear out. This can be solved by installing or replacing your existing Pressure Regulator.

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Scott Fiori

Phone: 858-277-1153
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Scott has been " San Diego Emergency Plumber " for over 20 years.

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