What everyone should know about plumbing

Everybody should know where the main water shut off valve is located. Make sure everyone understands how to identify the valve and shut it off. It is usually located in the front of the house at the foundation wall where the water line enters the building from the main street service line.

High water bill:
Check all faucets and fixtures: for dripping water or damp spots. Be sure to check under sinks for moisture or leaks in both drain and water lines. Repair all leaks promptly (leaks can not only cause large quantities of water loss, but if not repaired promptly can lead to further more expensive repairs or cause a fixture to need to be replaced entirely)
Check outdoor water faucets: (water spigots for outside use, i.e. garden hoses) both inside the house at supplying branch for spigot, and outside to see if they froze over the winter or if the valve deteriorated and is leaking
Check the basement: for puddles, or leaks in any of the overhead pipes.

Check your toilets for leaks

  • Place a few drops of food coloring in the tank – not the bowl.
  • Check the toilet after about 20 min to half an hour. If the water in the bowl has some of the color in it, the tank is leaking and the flapper or valve seat may need to be replaced.

Checking for leaks in the house:
Locate the water meter. It is usually located in the front of the house at the foundation wall where the water line enters the building from the main street service line.
When no one is using water examine the trickle indicator/ low flow indicator on the water meter dial. On many meters it is a small red triangle right of center; if it is slowly turning you have a leak.
An alternative way is to write down the numbers on your water meter before you go to work or leave the house. Compare the numbers on the meter when you return; if the number on the meter has increased since you originally wrote it down more then likely there is a leak somewhere in the house.

Hot Water Heater:

Make sure your water heater is insulated: If your water heater has a tag on the tank which reads ASHRAE / EIS rating of 90, then it is already factory insulated and does not need additional insulation. If not insulate it (huge energy saver)
• To maintain your water heater and avoid internal corrosion, drain out sediment that accumulates at the base of the water heater. (do this about every 6 months)
 Get a bucket or hose and connect it to the valve located at the base of the water tank. Carefully open the valve and watch as the water drains let the water run out until it runs clear. The water heater will fill it’s self. Make sure the valve is tightly closed once water has begun to run clear of sediment.
Use extreme caution when draining or working on a hot water heater the water is very HOT.

Instant hot water heater: Instant hot water heaters can be a real money saver; they also are compact and easily fit into tight areas. These units are unique and very efficient; however are not the right fit for all houses. Unlike traditional hot water heaters, instant hot water heaters only heat the water which is being used and when no water is being used, i.e. at night or when people are on vacation, the instant water heater is off and is using no energy. Traditional water heaters hold hot water in them at all times. Instant hot water is a great option for a summer home, Jacuzzis, hot tubs, bathtubs, and fixtures which require large quantities of hot water. They will also work well in many other situations. Give us a call and we will be glad to send someone out give you a free estimate or we can just walk you through your options over the phone.

Frozen Pipes:

Each year disconnect all garden hoses before freezing temperatures arrive. Close the shut-off valve on the pipe (in the basement) which leads to your outdoor faucet. Open the outdoor faucets, to allow all the water still remaining in the pipe to drain. Once all the water is drained shut off the faucet.

If your indoor faucets sometimes freeze in very cold weather:
Try to allow them to get a little more heat from the house by opening the cabinet doors or opening access to the pipes so the house can heat those areas to avoid freezing. .
In extreme situations let the water drip very slowly out of the faucet/ fixture.

Insulate water pipes: which could freeze in cold temperatures or wind. Water pipes which aren’t used during the winter months should be drained for the winter to avoid freezing.
If you have any plumbing in your garage, keep your garage door closed on cold days. All water pipes in unheated garages or basements should be insulated. (pipes can also freeze due to drafts of cold air from cracks in the foundation or doors left open)
If your pipes end up freezing:
Shut down the water at the main shut-off valve, so nothing will crack/ spray as the ice melts.
Leave the faucets on to reduce the pressure as the ice melts.
Use a heat gun or blow dryer to thaw frozen pipes (or turn up the heat in affected areas).

Drains/ Clogs:

Unclog a drain mechanically rather than chemically.
Never use chemical drain cleaners, especially if your pipes or traps are brass, steel, or cast-iron; chemicals may corrode metal pipes and in may cases over time will cause serious leaks in your plumbing system.
Preventative measures:
Place strainers over drains to avoid unwanted items/debris from getting into system and clogging the drain. Clean the strainer regularly.
Pour a cup of baking soda and then a cup of vinegar down your drain every couple of months.
Drains for showers and bathroom sinks typically need extra care; try pouring some boiling water down the bathroom drains about once a month which will help clear out hair and greasy particles.
Kitchen sinks:
Do not pour fats or cooking oils into your sink. Liquid fats can solidify in cold drain pipes, trap food particles, and clog the drains.
Don’t pour coffee grounds down the drain.
Rice is another no, it expands in the drain resulting in a sever clog.
If your drain is plugged up:
Try a plunger first. (For tubs and sinks make sure the overflow is plugged with either your hands or a wet rag. Use Gloves)
If the plunger doesn’t unplug the drain. Give us a call.


• Use cold water instead of hot when you run your disposal. Let the cold water run as long as the motor is running, and be sure to avoid overloading the disposal.
• Corn husks, artichokes, onion skins, celery, and other high-fiber material can clog your disposal. Some items are better thrown in the trash or composed instead of grinding them in the disposal, this will also extend the life of the disposal.

If your disposal is clogged: turn off the motor and the water.
Use the service wrench that came with your disposal, insert it into the hole on the bottom of the disposal. Turn it back and forth until it will freely turn.
Remove whatever caused the disposal to jam.
Finally, press the red “reset” button located on the bottom of the disposal.

Any Questions:
Was any of the information above confusing?
Still have questions?
Have any ideas of how to improve this section or helpful tips of your own?
Feel free to give us a call anytime! 617-436-5229 or shoot us an email.

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