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Controlling the water pressure to your home

Friday, October 4th, 2013

You’ll probably only ever think about the water pressure in your home when it’s too low. The fact is, however, the pressure can also be too high. This can damage appliances that utilize your plumbing system, including the washing machine, the water heater and the dishwasher.

When it comes to pressure that is too high, the force of the flowing erodes materials within the plumbing components, such as seals. In turn, this can cause your water heater or other appliance to start leaking. Additionally, overly high pressure can cause “water hammer,” a situation in which an appliance’s valve is suddenly closed. This may cause annoyances like noise, but in more serious cases it can cause pipes to fail and shorten the life of those expensive and essential appliances.

Further, you should consider the annual savings you can realize on your water bill. For instance, if water pressure is reduced from 100 pounds per square inch (psi) to 50, you can reap a one-third savings on your annual water bill.

If the water pressure in your home is high, hire a licensed plumber to install a regulator. This can reduce pressure to your appliances without affecting areas where it ought to be higher, such as the garden hose or the shower. A very common task for a plumber, installing a regulator also can bring savings on the maintenance and repair of your plumbing system and appliances. Hiring a plumber to take care of this task for you will not only ensure that the part is installed properly but that it is adjusted properly, as well.

If you have any doubt about the pressure in your home or are experiencing any of the signs of high pressure, such as water hammer, be sure to contact a licensed plumber sooner rather than later to prevent serious damage.


No Hot Water? Call a Pro!

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Nothing wakes you up like the cold adrenaline rush you get when you step into the shower and discover … no hot water! A lack of hot water can be caused by any number of problems. There are a few things you can do to help your plumbing professional diagnose your hot water problem.

If you see water leaking from the bottom of the water heater, the unit may have an internal crack. This means that you will need a new water heater. Other problems are less catastrophic and can typically be repaired by a plumbing professional.

On the other hand, if your water heater is leaking from the top of the unit, the culprit is most likely a malfunctioning fitting or other part. In most cases, it’s a simple repair.

Some problems leading to a lack of hot water are because of the unit itself. If your hot water heater runs on natural gas and you don’t have hot water, it may be that your pilot light is out. This may be something you can fix yourself, but natural gas is nothing to play around with. Be safe and contact a professional to get your pilot relit and to make sure there’s not a bigger underlying problem.

On electric units, check to make sure that a circuit breaker has not tripped. If all breakers are intact and you still have no hot water, your unit’s thermostat may have failed. Again, this is a repairable situation and can be fixed quickly by a plumbing professional.

Sometimes a water heater is simply unable to keep up with a household’s demand. This can be caused by wear and tear, sediment buildup or simply increased demand. Whatever the cause, if you are experiencing a lack of hot water, don’t hesitate to call a pumbing professional right away.


Troubleshooting Your Sump Pump Noise

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

A sump pump is one of those things in life that you never think about until it stops working. Oftentimes, you won’t know there is something wrong until you’re ankle-deep in water. Sometimes, though, you may get lucky and notice sump pump noise, a telltale sign that trouble is down the road. Keep an ear out for uncommon noises like banging, gurgling and humming, and conduct routine maintenance for years of worry-free use.

Here’s what to do if you hear those uncommon sounds from your sump pump.

Gurgling: This sump pump noise usually indicates that water is flowing back down the pipes after the pumping cycle. A common cause for this is a lack of or a malfunction in your check valve, which opens as water rushes up from the pump and closes when flow lessens. If your model has a check valve, you can find it on the PVC or ABS pipe directly above the sump basin. It is fitted with rubber slide sleeves and held on with radiator clamps, so you can fix it relatively easily by loosening the clamps and replacing the valve. ALWAYS be sure to unplug the pump before making any repairs.

Banging: A banging or thudding noise is usually caused by a rush of water streaming back down the pipe and hitting the closed check valve. If you have a particularly long rise of pipe from the basin, having the check valve installed higher up might lessen the thud. Since this requires cutting into the line, it is a good idea to have a licensed, professional plumber do the job.

These sounds can also be caused by pipes hitting wall joists or other framing structures. A simple way to check for this problem is by grabbing onto the pipe when the pump kicks on, as vibration can rattle the pipes. If this is the problem, securing the pipe with additional clamps should alleviate it.

Humming: This is a common sound when the pump is running, but if the noise is constant, then the system might be running without actually moving any water. A common cause for this is the lack of a relief hole between the pump and the check valve, which will develop an air lock in your system. Drill a 1/16- to 1/8-inch hole into the plastic PVC or ABS pipe at a downward angle, so water shoots out back into the basin between the pump and check valve.

Another cause could be a clog somewhere in the line, most commonly at the pump itself. This can be fixed by removing the sump pump, taking its bottom plate off and clearing away any debris. If the problem persists, call a licensed plumber, as the problem is probably further down the line.

Humming can also be an indication that the pump’s motor has failed, which means you will have to replace the unit.


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