DIY-FAQ

SHOWERS
TOILETTES
SEPTIC SYSTEM
WATER QUALITY ISSUES
WATER PIPE ISSUES
DRAIN ISSUES
HOT WATER ISSUES

Question: Why does my water heater not work as well as it used to?

Answer: This is usually due to a sediment buildup in your tank. As water heaters grow older, they accumulate sediment and lime deposits. If these deposits are not removed periodically, the sediment will create a barrier between the burner and the water, greatly reducing the water heater’s performance level. The result is an increase in the amount of fuel required to deliver hot water.

Question: Why would a water heater run out of hot water faster than normal?

Answer: If your water heater is running cold easily or frequently then several things could be happening. First check the shower head volume if shower’s are too quick. A new shower head puts out about 2.5 gallons a minute. Some older heads put out 5 gallons a minute. Working with the shower head would double shower length in this case. In some cases, the dip tube on the cold water inlet has broken or worn. When this happens, it creates a short loop for the water, water at the bottom half of the tank will not be used, which makes half of your tank useless. Get it fixed as soon as possible.On electric water heaters, they commonly have two heating elements that work in turns. First the top element heats up the top of the tank, then power goes to the lower element. If the lower element is out, only the top of the tank gets heated. If the top element isn’t working, there will be no hot water. Sometimes the Reset button needs to be pushed or reset. If this doesn’t get the element working, use a continuity tester to determine if the element has shorted out. Replacement of the element may be needed.

Question: What causes the water temperature to change in the shower when someone flushes the toilet or runs another water appliance in the house?

Answer: At the time of install, it is important to run pipes with enough volume and pressure so that many fixtures can be used at the same time. Running only two fixtures on a 1/2″ line; so a standard bathroom would have a 3/4″ line for cold until one fixture is taken off. A 1/2″ line for the hot is fine. A nice follow guide now-adays is the plumbing code in many areas now. Get a pressure balanced tub and shower valve, which is a single handled valve that balances the hot and cold water to try to maintain a temperature range plus or minus 2 degrees.

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Question: When I fill a container with hot water it is milky, but after a few minutes, the water in the container clears up. What causes this?

Answer: Complaints of discolored water are commonly blamed on water heaters and storage tanks, but in fact, it is a rare occurrence for today’s high quality glass lined tanks to have a lining failure significant enough to allow water to contact enough bare metal to discolor the contents of even a small tank. The most common cause of “rusty” water is a non-toxic iron reducing bacteria, scientifically termed Crenothrix, Leptothrix, and Gallionella. Water heaters and storage tanks usually require new anode rods as presence of iron bacteria contributes to premature anode failure.

The simplest treatment available is shock-chlorination of the system. This is a surface treatment, and often requires repeated trials in heavily infected systems. The chlorination of a system requires that you follow each step explicitly to avoid an un-treated portion of the piping system from reinfecting another part.

SHOWERS:

Question: What is a pressure balancing valve and why should I install one on my shower systems?

Answer: Pressure-balancing valves prevent sudden temperature swings!It’s happened to everyone who showers: Elsewhere in the house a toilet is flushed, a faucet is opened, or the washing machine kicks on, and the once-temperate water coming from the showerhead is suddenly cold enough to make you jump or so hot you want to scream. A simple device called a pressure-balancing shower valve can help. By adjusting to pressure changes in water coming through the hot and cold supply lines, a piston in the valve automatically opens or closes small inlet ports to maintain a balance in pressure, which in turn keeps the water flowing at an ambient temperature. It reacts instantaneously. Pressure-balancing valves are now required in new residential construction in most states, depending on local plumbing codes. In addition to piston valves like the one shown above, some pressure valves use a wheellike diaphragm to trigger pistons that cover the hot-or cold-water ports. It involves cutting through the wall behind the shower, removing the old valve, and soldering on the new one. One of these valves will really keep you out of hot water. Give UnionJack Plumbing a call today if you would like a plumber to rush out to your residence and install a new pressure balancing valve into your shower systems.

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TOILETTES:

Question: My toilet randomly empties itself of water. What would make the toilet empty itself without anyone flushing it and how can I fix it?

Answer: Their are a couple answers to this question, but this solution fixes it 99% of the time. Poor venting or no venting of the fixture. Vents allow for air flow to the toilet sewage system. Without the vent, air pockets form in the waste branches witch can cause what is called back-siphonage. The air in the system which, without a vent, can only ecscape through the sewer. It can pull the water in the trap of the toilet with it.

Question: What causes my toilet to fill up with hot water instead of room temperature water? Is it bad for my toilet and does it cost extra money when it fills with hot water?

Answer: The main reason you may have hot water in your toilet is a bad flapper in the toilet tank or a bad fill valve. Either one of these can allow the water to seep into the tank. When you have a mixing valve on your toilet to prevent condensation, some hot water is introduced into the cold water line to warm the water just a little, but when the water just seeps a little at a time the hot water dominates the cold and you get a tank of hot water. It’s not bad for your toilet, but it could be hazardous to your wallet. Just like every other utility that uses hot water, the hot water being heating and leaking into the toilet takes gas and/or electricity and will run up your utility bill.

Question: How do you get water in the toilet tank to stop over flowing?

Answer: The fill valve in the tank has a leak in it. Also, if the fill valve has been replaced recently it is possible that it has been set too high. If the fill valve is old, it could do you no harm to replace it. Sometimes the shaft or wire that is used to set the level, corrodes off. By replacing it your problem should be fixed.

Question: What could contribute to a high water bill besides leaking faucets and/or pipes?

Answer: Ninety percent of all leaks in residential plumbing systems are found in the toilet tank. Toilet tank leaks typically result from worn parts or improper alignment of some part of the flushing mechanism. It is very important to stop the leak. Stop the leak and stop the expensive water bill from hitting you every month.

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Question: My toilet bowl has been “sweating” lately, is there anything I can do to fix it?

Answer: If toilet tank sweating is your problem then here are 3 options we recommend:

1. You could install insulating foam products to isolate the water from the tank sides. Home Depot carries it for a reasonable price. I think they are about $7-$10. Read the directions for complete directions, but you should completely empty the water from the tank, then use a hairdryer to ensure that the sides are absolutely dry. Cut the foam and apply adhesive. Let it sit for 6 – 8 (time approximates) hours and it will be ready to be refilled and useable. This usually works but is not a guarantee.

2. The second option is to install a mixer valve which uses both hot and cold water to “mix” the water and adjust the temperature as you need to or until the condensation or sweating stops. Depending on how far away the hot water heater is, it may take quite awhile for the hot water to get there so in some cases, just running a hot water line is sufficient. Works well but you will most likely need to call UnionJack Plumbing for assistance.

3. Total toilet replacement – Pressure Assisted Toilet – should you need to replace your old toilet. This toilet has a pressure tank in it inside the water tank. Guaranteed to do the job and you get a great new toilet that works well.

SEPTIC SYSTEM:

Question: How often should I inspect my septic tank system?

Answer: Septic systems should be inspected and pumped a minimum of once every three to four years. You may not be experiencing any problem now, but a full septic tank may allow unwanted solids to flow into the drain field, which is the part of the system that consists of a distribution box, with a series of connected pipes. Each pipe allows water to flow into a bed of stones, which drain into the ground. If paper and other solids flow into the drain field it becomes blocked and ineffective. A blocked drain field is costly to repair or replace. Make sure to get your tank inspected whenever you feel necessary to prevent this costly maintenance.

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WATER QUALITY ISSUES:

Question: What causes my hot water to smell like rotten eggs? My cold water doesn’t smell, what is the solution for this problem?

Answer: The most common cause of “smelly water” is a non-toxic sulfate reducing bacteria, scientifically termed Divibrio Sulfurcans. This bacteria often enters the water system through construction or a break in ground piping. The bacteria creates the energy it needs to survive by converting sulfate (SO4) to hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas you smell in the water. Hydrogen sulfide gas is distinctive because of its rotten egg-like stench. Its presence can severely affect the taste as well as the odor of the water.

The simplest treatment available is the shock-chlorination of the system. This is a surface treatment, and often requires repeated trials in heavily infected systems. The chlorination of a system requires that you follow each step explicitly to avoid an un-treated portion of the piping system from reinfecting another part. Longer lasting solutions include chlorination or aeration of the water supply.

WATER PIPE ISSUES:

Question: What makes my plumbing & drain pipes rattle and clang all the time? This is a good question as this problem may cause serious damage if not urgently addressed.

Answer: 1. This problem is usually caused by the water lines not being properly isolated. It can be easily fixed but only if your water lines are easily accessible. It means that either in one or many places your water lines come into contact with the wood of your floor joists. All you need to do is get plastic pipe hangers that go between your water lines and your joists. For Help installing them please give UnionJack Plumbing a call to get it fixed as soon as possible.

2. This could be caused by a high-pressure issue often referred to as “pipe hammer”.

  • A pressure-reducing valve (PRV) can be installed to restore correct working pressure (56-60 psi).
  • A pipe hammer arrestor may also be installed inline nearest to the affected fixture.

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DRAIN ISSUES:

Question: Why does my drains gurgle and bubble?

Answer:

  1. You may have a blockage in the line, which only allows the air to escape back through the effected drains. To alleviate this problem we recommend clearing the line with a sewer machine cable (snake). We also recommend starting a Bio-Clean regiment
  2. Another solution may include a plumbing system vent, which is basically used to “vent” the plumbing system in your home or commercial building. If you would like to see a plumbing vent, look on your roof, you will see pipes sticking out of the roof aprox. 12″ high. For every pipe that goes down, one needs to go up. The obvious reason we have vents is that sewer gases need to be vented outside of the dwelling. Not so obvious is what happens if they are not included in the waste and vent design. When liquid goes down a pipe, air needs to follow it. Without the vent pipe, the draining liquid will try to suck air through the P-traps on the plumbing fixtures,(tub, sink, etc.) glurp, glurp! If it manages to do so, you may know it from the “smell” coming from the now dry seal on the P-trap. Without vents, draining one fixture may cause another fixture in the house to back up. A waste and vent system should keep sewer gas out of the dwelling and drain every fixture well.