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Plumbing FAQ’s

Below are some of the most frequently asked plumbing questions. If you have a question (or questions) that are not answered below, please call and speak to a Christianson plumbing expert today.

What can I do if a sink drain is clogged?

In most cases, plunging the sink drain will dislodge the obstruction. If plunging the sink drain does not remove the obstruction and the sink doesn’t drain, you can remove the “trap” under the sink.

The trap is the part of the drain that looks like a ‘U’ (or similar). The trap can be detached by unscrewing it at both ends. Make sure you place a bucket under the trap to catch any water that may be in the drain pipes. Once the trap is off, look for and remove any obstructions.

At this point, it may be a good idea to call a plumbing expert if you cannot find or reach the obstruction. Or, if you happen to have one you can try using a plumber’s snake to clear the obstruction.

What is a faucet aerator?

An aerator is attached at the tip of the faucet. The purpose is the disperse the single stream of water into smaller streams, This helps to reduce excessive splashing and conserve water.

At times, small bits of sediment clog the aerator which reduces the flow of water. If you notice a reduction in the flow of water from a faucet, it is likely the aerator needs to be cleaned. Simply unscrew the aerator from the faucet, clean the screen or filter, and screw it back onto the aerator.

If my garbage disposal us jammed, what should I do?

First of all, if your garbage disposal is jammed do not use it. Using it may damage the motor or perhaps the electrical system. It may be possible to insert an Allen wrench into the bottom of the disposal and turn it to help free up a jam.

What is the difference between a tank-style water heaters and a tankless water heater?

The most common type of water heater in the U.S. is a tank-style water heater. These water heaters transfer heat from a burner or coil to water in an insulated tank. Energy is consumed even when there is no hot water is being used.

Tankless water heaters do not contain a storage tank and provide hot water on demand. A gas burner or electric element heats the water only when there is a demand for hot water.

My dishwater doesn’t drain. What should I do?

It is normal for dishwashers to leave some water in the bottom at the end of each cycle to keep the heating element from overheating.

There is a problem if the dishwasher doesn’t empty at all. Possible problems may be a clogged drain line, faulty motor or an electronic issue.

If I think I have a leak in my toilet, how can I tell?

Take some food coloring and place a few drops into your toilet tank. Wait a few minutes and if the water in the toilet bowl is the same color as the tank, then the toilet is leaking. Even a toilet with a slow leak can waste hundreds of gallons of water.

What is a vent and why are they part of the plumbing system?

Vents are critical in order for any plumbing system to operate properly, eliminate sewer gas buildup, and prevent sewer gas odors in the home or office. As sewer gases are created in the various drains, the vents capture those gases and eliminate them via the vents through the roof.

How do I clean the garbage disposal to eliminate odors?

Before you do anything make sure the power is off to the garbage disposal, and for that matter any kitchen appliance you may be working on. Below are a few things you can do that may eliminate odors and leave a fresh scent.

  • Take a tablespoon of bleach and mix it with a gallon of water, then pour it down the drain into the disposal. Let it sit for a few minutes then rinse the drain by letting cold water run through it for 30 – 45 seconds.
  • Fruit rinds such as orange peels can add a nice fresh scent. You place fruit (citrus) rinds with a few ice cubes into the disposal and turn it on. This will clean the blades of the garbage disposal while adding a fresh scent to the kitchen.
Where can I find the shutoff valve?

Typically found under or beside the actual plumbing fixture, a shutoff valve is used to stop the water supply to a specific fixture. For example, the shutoff valve to the kitchen faucet is typically directly under the sink. Shutoff valves should be turned off when replacing a plumbing fixture such as a faucet or toilet, or in the case of a leak.

Why does my hot water sometimes have a brownish color?

If the hot water appears dirty, it is typically caused by one of the following:

  • Certain chemicals can cause rust to enter the water lines
  • A water heater’s sediment can travel through the hot water supply which can possibly discolor the water.
  • A water heater’s lining may be defective which can cause rust and color the hot water

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