Plumbing FAQs

Plumbing FAQs Answered—From Our Expert Plumbers to You

Home plumbing can be complicated. If your toilet keeps running and you don’t know what to do or you’re unsure if you need a permit for plumbing work, our licensed plumbers are here to answer all of your questions and put your concerns to rest. Read through these common plumbing FAQs to learn more about the plumbing basics, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned homeowner.

Our plumbing experts answer your plumbing questions

What Should I Do If My Toilet Keeps Running?

If your toilet keeps running, it’s important to find the cause of the problem right away. Leaky toilets might seem like a small problem but they can cost you up to $70 more on monthly water bills—that’s more than $800 a year! Put a few drops of food coloring into the toilet tank and see if it seeps into the toilet bowl. If it does, one of these reasons may be to blame:

  • Check the chain length in your toilet tank—if it’s too short or too long, the flapper won’t be able to sit correctly.
  • Make sure the flapper hasn’t worn out or cracked. Any sort of wear and tear can compromise the seal and let water through.
  • Measure the water level in your toilet tank. If the water isn’t filled up to the line, your toilet will run consistently because it’s not receiving the correct amount of water. If there’s too much water, it will constantly fill the overflow tube and cause the toilet to run, too.
  • Jiggle the toilet handle up and down a few times. Some toilet handles will stick when you flush—a simple shake can fix the issue. But you’ll want to replace your handle to prevent the problem from continuing.

How Do I Clear a Clog Without Using Chemicals?

There are a few different ways to clear a clogged sink drain without chemicals:

  • Boil two liters of water and mix in a few tablespoons of dish soap. Slowly pour the mixture down the sink and repeat a few more times.
  • Put a 1/2 cup of baking soda down your drain and follow with a 1/2 cup of vinegar. Then plug your drain and let it sit for at least an hour. Unplug the drain and pour in boiling water down to flush the clog away.
  • Mix a 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda and pour down the drain. Let sit for at least 30 minutes (or as long as overnight) and then flush with a pot of boiling water.

How Do I Clean My Garbage Disposal and How Often Should I Do It?

Cleaning your garbage disposal is a necessity to prevent clogs and keep it running smoothly. To clean it, simply run a cold stream of water and pour some dish soap down while the disposal is running. The cold water will solidify any grease or oils so that the disposal can grind them up.

You can also pour a 1/2 cup of baking soda into the disposal followed by a 1/2 cup of vinegar. Place the sink stopper over the drain opening to keep the fizzy mixture in the disposal. Wait a few minutes, remove the stopper, and flush with hot water while running the disposal.

For routine deodorizing, grind up lemon peels. The fragrant peels help clean the disposal blades and leave behind a lemony-fresh scent.

Do I Need a Permit for Plumbing Work?

Yes—obtaining a plumbing permit (when required) is incredibly important in ensuring you meet city or county safety requirements. More than major remodels, even smaller plumbing projects can require a permit, including:

  • Re-piping
  • Drain line replacement
  • Sewer replacement
  • Water heater replacement
  • Plumbing fixture relocation

Keep in mind that a professional will know when a permit is required and oftentimes will pull a permit for you.

Why Don’t Water Heaters Last Longer? Is There Any Maintenance That Can Extend Its Life?

Water heaters run on their own timelines—often lasting eight to 12 years. This, of course, is subjective to its location, design, installation quality, water quality, and maintenance schedule. To keep your system going for longer:

  • Flush your water heater tank regularly—your system manual will tell you how often, but most suggest once a year. Our professionals can do this during a quick appointment.
  • Check and replace your anode rod if it’s corroded. The anode rod hangs in your tank and is far cheaper to replace than the entire water heater. Without a good anode rod, hot water will rapidly deteriorate the inside of your tank and lead to a shortened system lifespan.
  • Pipe insulation is a one-time task that may help improve your system’s efficiency.

Have questions about your water heater? You can trust our seasoned plumbers for honest advice and recommendations to keep things running smoothly for as long as possible.

How Often Should Piping Be Replaced? Does It Depend on the Type of Pipe?

Piping replacement depends on the type, water usage, home design, and many other factors. Because supply lines are under constant pressure and will do the most damage if not replaced in time, we recommend you keep an eye out for water pressure issues or leaking, and let us know at the first sign of a problem.

How Can I Prevent Frozen Pipes While I’m Away From Home?

If you leave your home for an extended period of time over winter, it’s important to prevent frozen pipes by:

  • Turning off your water supply at the main shutoff
  • Draining any remaining water from your faucets
  • Setting the thermostat to 60°F at the lowest
  • Opening cabinet doors for sinks on exterior walls
  • Scheduling furnace maintenance before you leave to reduce the chance for a breakdown
  • Having someone check on your home (just in case an emergency strikes)

Why Is My Sump Pump Running So Much? Do I Need a Backup Sump Pump?

Sump pumps run too much for a variety of reasons. If this happens to you, check to make sure the water is being pumped away from your home. If downspouts or gutters are clogged, water may be pooling around your home and end up in your sump pit. Or if the grade is not pitched away, water will continue to fill the pit.

If you receive too much water during a heavy rain or quick thaw, the sump pump will take on more water than normal. An independently piped battery backup system will help alleviate the extra water and protect you by kicking in and pumping the water away, even if your power goes out. Backup sump pumps have saved homeowners thousands of dollars in prevented water damage—ask us about installing one in your home today.

How Long Does a Kitchen or Bathroom Remodel Usually Take?

Project length depends on how extensively you’re remodeling, but the average is roughly six to eight weeks for a bathroom or kitchen remodel. If you’re interested in remodeling your home, schedule a no-pressure consultation with our pros. We’ll provide an estimate and timeline, and answer any questions you have.

Still Have a Plumbing Question? Our Pros Are Here to Help

Please contact us or call with any other questions you have about your home plumbing system. No two homes are alike so it’s important to get reassurance when it comes to your aging fixtures or routine maintenance. We’re here to help no matter what you need—that’s why we’re the better choice for home plumbing.