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Frequently Asked Questions About Plumbing

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At F.H Furr, we feel that a smart customer is an educated customer, and have come up with a list of frequently asked questions about plumbing that we have gotten over the years.

F.A.Q.s About Faucets

Why does my kitchen faucet have low water pressure?

Today’s faucets are designed to conserve water and almost always include aerators. The aerators are made up of a disk with many extremely small holes with which the water must flow through. Often times, these tiny holes get clogged with lime and/or sediment buildup which will block the water flow and minimize water pressure.

Thankfully, this is pretty simple to resolve. Follow these steps to remove and clean the aerator:

  1. Unscrew the aerator from the faucet by turning counterclockwise. If it will not unscrew by hand, cover the jaws of your pliers with masking tape (so as to not damage the faucet) and loosen the aerator. Once it is loosened, continue remove with your hand.
  2. Take apart the aerator and/or spray head.
  3. Dip a small brush in vinegar and gently scrub the parts clogged with sediment/lime.
  4. Reassemble the pieces and screw back onto the faucet.
My shower-head seems clogged. Can I clean this or do I need to purchase a new shower-head?

Shower-heads can get clogged with mineral deposits and sediment build-up. No need to run to the store though. The best way to clear a clog is to soak the shower-head in a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water. Soak for about one hour and then rinse clean.

Why is my faucet dripping?

Generally a scratched or torn o-ring, cartridge or grommet is the culprit for a dripping faucet. What exactly causes harm to the component is difficult to determine. However, a replacement o-ring or cartridge repair kit will often times correct the problem. Should the problem persist, contact FH Furr to determine the next steps to repair.

I have a 2-handle shower. Can I replace this with a single handle model?

Thanks to remodel cover plates, many 2 or 3-handle shower valves can be replaced with a fashionable single handle. The cover plates come in a variety of finishes and allow you to keep the existing tile or wall covering in tact.

I have a 2-handle bathroom faucet. Can I replace this with a single handle? And, do all faucets fit all bathroom sinks and tub/showers?

Yes. Because, the plumbing industry as a whole uses standard-size sink openings and faucet dimensions you can replace a 2-handle model with a single handle model. Please note that there are some exceptions to this rule so it is important to check sizes before making any purchases.

  • Bathroom Sinks: Many single- and two-handle faucets are on 4-inch centers, which is the distance between the centers of the hot and cold inlets or mounting bolts. Another popular style for two-handle faucets is the 8″ to 16″ widespread. These faucets come with flexible hook-ups to allow for most adjustments.
  • Tubs/Showers: The distance between hot and cold water supplies for two-handle faucets is generally 8″. The hole opening for single-handle tub/shower combinations may vary. The opening must be smaller than the faceplate of the unit you are installing for proper coverage.
What is a pop-up drain assembly?

A pop-up drain assembly a mechanical plug used to hold water in a sink. This is most often seen in bathroom sinks.

F.A.Q.s About Garbage Dispoasals

Why is my garbage disposal making a humming noise?

The garbage disposal is most likely jammed. Follow the following steps:

  1. Immediately turn the disposer off and unplug it from the wall socket (or at the circuit breaker).
  2. Remove any foreign objects from the disposer.
  3. Most garbage disposers have a port at the bottom where you can insert a ¼” Allen wrench (usually supplied with the disposer) to loosen any objects.
  4. Reset the disposer by pushing the red button located near the port at the bottom of the disposer.

If your disposer does not have a port at the bottom, or if you can’t turn the wrench to alleviate the issue, call F. H. Furr today.

What if nothing happens when I turn on my disposal?

Make sure there’s power getting to the garbage disposer by checking for a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse. Try plugging something else in the wall socket or check for power by using a voltmeter.

What can I do about the smell coming from my garbage disposal?

Combine a handful of ice cubes with citrus peels such as lemons, oranges or limes. Run the disposal for 15-30 seconds using cold water.

How can I get rid of grease buildup in my garbage disposal?

Run hot water for 15-30 seconds while disposal is running and add a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. Next, turn the disposal off and continue to run the hot water until the suds are gone.

Some additional tips:
  • Try not to grind really fibrous foods like onion skins, celery stalks, or asparagus
  • If the disposal tends to run intermittently, the switch or stopper may be defective. If so, contact F. H. Furr today for a replacement.
  • A loose connection, which can simply be tightened, might be the simple cause of a leaky garbage disposal and is not necessarily a symptom of rust.

F.A.Q.s About Polybutylene Pipes

How do I shut the water off to my entire house?

The main (shut off) valve turns off the water to the entire house and is usually located near the water meter where the service enters your home, or near the hot water heater. To close the valve, turn clockwise until it stops. In the event that you must contact the municipality to turn your water off, be advised there may be a service charge. If a registered plumber is doing any repairs they can make the request with the municipality on your behalf to either turn on or off the water.

What part of the water service is my responsibility?

The service line (lateral) from the property line to the house and all water pipes within the house/building are the responsibility of the homeowner. Service lines are generally ¾” to 1 ½” for private homes and up to 12″ for larger commercial buildings. Your municipality is responsible for the water service (lateral) from the water main to the property line.

Who should I call if there is a water leak on public property such as a street or shoulder of a road?

Call the emergency line for your local water and sewer company, provide any additional detailed information like the location and nearest cross street, and they will send someone to investigate the problem.

F.A.Q.s About Sump Pumps

Does my sump pump need a dedicated power supply?

The power supply to a sump pump should not only have a dedicated outlet, but should also be a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. The sump pump needs its own circuit breaker to prevent tripping of the breaker and the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter is essential in preventing electrical shock.

Is it safe to use an extension cord with my sump pump?

For your safety, an extension cord should never be used. The dedicated outlet should be installed above the pump so it can be plugged directly into the outlet. Always unplug the sump pump before working on or near the pump.

How often do I need to clean my pump?

Every 3-4 months. If the pump is used to dispose of water from a washing machine, the lint from the clothes can quickly clog the intake filter and cleaning may need to be done more frequently.

How do I prevent debris from entering the sump pit?

Install a screen to prevent the largest pieces from interfering with the sump pump.

What size pump should I purchase?

To combat Mother Nature’s fury, it is highly recommended you purchase as much power as possible. More power means faster pumping and increased pumping capabilities to greater heights.

F.A.Q.s About Toilets

It sounds as if water is constantly running, what’s causing this and what can I do?

Chances are likely the fill valve is set at such a tall height that the water level doesn’t completely shut off because the float doesn’t rise enough to shut if off. You need to either adjust or replace your fill valve.

I notice that some moisture may be coming up from under the tank, what do I need to do?

If the leak is coming from where the supply line meets the toilet or where the tank bolts hold the tank to the base of the toilet. If it’s coming from the bolts, shut the water off and replace the tank bolts by removing the tank.

Why does it sound like the toilet water is trickling between flushes?

If you hear water running in your toilet tank for extended periods of time, then your toilet is leaking. The problem may be a corroded overflow pipe, flush valve assembly or a worn out flapper valve. The flapper valve shuts off the flow of water and allows the tank to refill. If it’s corroded or the chain is trapped under the flapper, a tight seal can’t be created resulting in water waste up to 200 gallons of water daily.

F.A.Q.s About Water Heaters

Why am I not getting enough hot water?

It could be a number of reasons from your water heater being too small in which case you may need a larger capacity model, or it could be that you have low gas pressures, or you may need to increase the temperature on your thermostat. But be careful, increasing the temperature can lead to burns and scalding. Another possible cause could be the increase of lime or sediment build-up in your tank. Draining this build-up could help.

Why does it take so long to reheat the water?

Again, it could be a number of reasons from your water heater being too small in which case you may need a larger capacity model, or you may need to increase the temperature on your thermostat. But be careful, increasing the temperature can lead to burns and scalding. Another possible cause could be the increase of lime or sediment build-up in your tank. Draining this build-up could help.

I think my pressure relief valve may be leaking, what do I need to do?

Either your valve has failed and requires replacement or your water temperature is set too high in which case you need to turn down the thermostat. Your water pressure level could also be too high. Try using a pressure-reducing valve in the supply line.

I think my drain valve may be leaking, what do I need to do?

Many water heaters use a low quality valve that can be difficult to close tightly. Turn the valve closed by using slip joint pliers being careful to not apply too much force resulting in the valve snapping off. Another possible cause could be that the valve has failed and requires replacement.

How many years does a water heater last and what can I do to extend its life?

Most water heaters last over 10 years but it’s a good idea to start researching for a replacement after approximately seven years of usage.

  • To make your water heater last longer, try setting the temperature to no more than 115°F. This will provide comfortable hot water for most uses and could potentially add a few years onto the life of your water heater.
  • Another way to extend the life of your water heater is to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. To do this, drain approximately a quart of water from your tank every three months. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations based on the type of water tank you have.

F.A.Q.s About Water Pressure Regulators

What does a Water Pressure-Regulating Valve do?

A water pressure-regulating valve reduces the incoming water pressure from the city’s main water line in order to provide your home with a lower, more functional water pressure level. This valve also regulates the pressure to ensure your home is provided with consistent water pressure (typically 50 lbs). By keeping the water pressure consistent and at lower levels, your home piping and appliances are operating under safe and reasonable pressure.

Is High Water Pressure a Bad thing?

It depends. High water pressure is generally considered anything above 60 lbs. Although in some situations, such as firefighting, high water pressure is a good thing, in a home plumbing system it can cause unnecessary damage. Excessive water pressure can erode or deteriorate various plumbing components ultimately causing leaks, banging pipes, dripping faucets, or appliance breakdowns. Not only can high water pressure in the home reduce the life of your appliances, but is also wasteful and leads to higher utility bills.

Do Water Pressure Regulators Save on Energy?

Yes! Water pressure regulators do save energy. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), up to 30% of the water used in a home is heated. Since regulators reduce the amount of water consumed in a home, then the amount of hot water used is reduced which means, less energy is needed to heat water. Another way to look at this is:

  • Regulators help reduce the amount of water consumed in a home
  • Less water consumed means less water heated
  • Less hot water needed means less energy required to heat water
Can regulators save on maintenance?

Excessive water pressure can erode or deteriorate various plumbing components ultimately causing leaks, banging pipes, dripping faucets, or appliance breakdowns.

Using a water pressure regulator can reduce your home’s water pressure to an acceptable level reducing not only the service calls but ultimately the life expectancy of your appliances and plumbing components.

How can I tell if my water pressure is too high?

If your pipes are banging or water is splashing in your sink, then most likely your water pressure is too high. For an accurate water pressure reading, it is best to use a pressure gauge. If you do not have access to or are not comfortable using a pressure gauge, call F. H. Furr to get a plumber in your home for FREE to have your water pressure tested.