Tips & FAQs

Ask the Master Plumber
Here at Goodbee Plumbing we’re here to solve your plumbing issues. To aid in that, you are always welcome to call us with your plumbing questions and concerns. We have also put tips and answers to common questions here for your convenience.

Tips & Answers to Common Plumbing Questions:

Things Homeowners Should Know About Plumbing
Learning a little about your home’s plumbing will help you make simple repairs. Anything other than small repairs require the advice and skill of a trained plumber, but some simple jobs can be accomplished by the home do-it-yourselfer.

First, understand the materials you will use. Not using the right type of pipe can damage the line and can put your home in violation of local building codes. Many homes have copper piping. This cannot be bent. It requires soldering at joints and tees. If you have never soldered, contact a professional to ensure that the job is done correctly. Other homes use flexible copper, plastic PVC, ABS, PEX, and galvanized steel. Familiarize yourself with these various types of pipes before you begin any project in your home.

Fixing leaks are the most common plumbing problem that the average do-it-yourselfer attempts to fix without professional support. For faucets that leak, tightening the nut below the hand wheel can often fix the problem.
Be aware that you can damage the valve if you tighten it too much.

Practice proper safety. Invest in a good pair of safety goggles, and consider protective clothing. Only perform these tasks when someone else is home with you. This ensures someone is around to help if an accident occurs. 
Any time your plumbing problem includes replacing a major component, such as a toilet, water softener, or water heater, call a plumber. Also, if you do not feel comfortable with fixing your plumbing problem yourself, call a professional. Attempting a repair that you are not comfortable with can cause expensive problems. It’s far better to hire a professional at the beginning than risk causing damage to your home.

“Thanks for such a quick response!” – Jolie Goodreau

Water Saving Tips
A drip from a faucet of 1/32 of an inch will lose 25 gallons of hot water per day and a 1/16 inch drip will waste over 100 gallons a day?

Do you have long runs of exposed piping? Valuable heat is lost through uninsulated pipes.

The gallons per minute flow rate of standard shower heads vary greatly. “Luxury” type shower heads disperse  from five to twelve gallons per minute. Reducing the flow rate at the shower, or other fixtures will conserve hot water.

High water pressure will cause higher usage of hot water. A fixture which dispenses three gallons per minutes at 50 LBS of pressure will increase to four gallons per minute at 80 LBS of pressure. Reducing the water pressure will stretch the available hot water.

Causes of Clogged Drains
Sometimes things get poured into sinks that cause other kinds of problems. Never pour insecticides, household paint, gasoline, acids, kerosene or any toxic chemicals down the drain. They are hard on your drains and pipes, make the treating of sewage more difficult, and can damage your water treatment system which increases operating costs.

Avoid using liquid drain cleaners (Liquid Plumber, Drano, etc.). The acidic ingredients are trapped in your pipes, and it can cause severe damage to them. If you can’t snake the drain yourself call us.

Other clog causes include:

Kitchen grease… collect it in a container and throw it away.

Rags and paper towels and sanitary napkins… clogs pipes. Throw them away.

Candles… Wax can clog pipes. Never put them down the garbage disposal.

Picnic Items… like plasticware should be kept out of the garbage disposal.

Coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, fruit peelings & pits, fish shells… should be kept out of the garbage disposal.

Motor and lubricating oil… clogs drains by catching and holding unwanted debris in your pipes. Most full-service gas stations will accept used oil for recycling.

Excess hair… clogs drains and pipes. Use a strainer in the tub, shower and bathroom sink to keep hair out of your drains and pipes.

Large clumps of tissue paper… They dissolve too slowly.

Other Plumbing Tips and Suggestions:

Toilets– Look in the tank. If the bolts that connect the tank to the bowl are rusted or corroded you have the potential for a flood if the tank starts to leak. Touch the rubber parts in the tank. If you get black residue on your finger or if the rubber is brittle and crumbling then you have the potential for leaks.

Check your toilet for leaks by adding a small amount of food coloring to the tank, and check the toilet bowl later. If the toilet bowl water is colored, water is seeping through from the tank. If this is the case, you should have us come out and see what is causing the leak and replace the necessary parts.

Water Heater- In the morning, before any hot water is used, fill a large WHITE bowl with hot water. If you see any rusty orange or brown colored water, chances are your water heater tank is about to fail. It should be replaced before the tank begins to leak.

Emergency Water Shutoffs- Know where your emergency shutoff valves are and how to work with them. Make sure they are working properly. If you cannot turn your water off in an emergency it could lead to costly damage to your home in the event of a leak or flood. We can show you how to turn your water off or we can replace your corroded shutoffs with new ones that are easier to operate.

Garbage Disposal-Look inside your garbage disposal. If there is rust inside, you have the potential for a stoppage in your sink. This is because the slingers inside need to move freely to grind the food up against the side walls of the disposal. If they can’t move freely the garbage disposal will not completely grind up the food. The food particles that go down the drain will be too big and may buildup and cause a drain stoppage.

You can extend the life of your garbage disposal by using plenty of cold water when running it, avoid overloading it, never disposing of things like bones and never using a chemical drain opener.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my water pressure low or my water flows too slow?
This is typically an issue with the water service, or with the pipes in the house. Actually, the pressure may be OK and there is simply a limit on the volume of water able to pass through the system. Many homes built before 1975 have galvanized water service lines, and many homes built before 1965 have galvanized piping throughout the house. Galvanized pipe rusts over time. Eventually the pipe fills with rust, choking the flow of water. You may see a major benefit by replacing the water service line, allowing you to run multiple fixtures  at one time  without the water volume dropping. If you would like us to diagnose the problem, give us a call.

Why is the water pressure in my kitchen bad compared to the rest of the house faucets?It is likely that either your shutoff valves are bad or your faucet. Both are inexpensive to replace.

What happens when roots get inside drain lines?
Roots from shrubs and trees will completely fill a pipe with multiple hair-like root masses at each point of entry. These root masses quickly become clogged, resulting in reduced flow, slow running drains and eventually complete blockages. After roots enter the pipe, they continue to grow and expand, exerting pressure at the crack or joint. This increased pressure can break the pipe and may result in total collapse, which requires repair or replacement. Have us use our state-of-the-art euipment to solve your drain problems with roots.

Do I need to replace my hot water heater if my hot water stops working?
Not always. Some common problems only require replacing a part. A bad igniter (gas) or heating element (electric) are examples of this. Pilot lights can sometimes blow out. If it’s leaking, it is more than likely you will need to replace it.

What is a normal lifespan for a water heater?
Typically, the top “professional” brands of gas and electric water heaters seem to last about 8 to 12 years, while the “consumer grade” units typically fail a bit sooner.

When showering, if a toilet is flushed, I’m either scalded or frozen! Can you fix this?
This is a classic problem. Homes built before the early 1990’s commonly lack “pressure-balanced valves”.  Depending on the house layout, we normally recommend replacing shower valves to fix this problem. Typically, we can do this without any tile work.

How come my toilet in the hall bathroom flushes slower than my master bath?
Most likely something is obstructing the flow in the toilet itself. This is an inexpensive fix.

I have a problem with the plumbing in my house making groaning and honking noises.
You may have lost your “air cushion.” Turn the water supply off at the main valve. Turn on all the faucets around your home. Then turn on the main valve again and shut off each faucet. This should fix the problem.

How do I eliminate the foul odor coming from my garbage disposal?
Foul odors are from a buildup of food debris within the disposal. To eliminate odors, place ice cubes and lemon peels or orange peels in the disposal, and run for 30 seconds. Next, squirt a little liquid dish detergent into the disposer while it is still running. Finally, run cold water for about 30 seconds to rinse all the debris away.

What is the white substance around my shower head and faucet?
This is mineral deposits. To remove these deposits, take a plastic bag and pour a cup of vinegar in it. Place the bag over the shower head and use a twist tie to hold it in place overnight. In the morning, remove the bag and use an old toothbrush to gently scrub off the deposits. You might be able to remove the aerators from the faucets and allow them to soak in the vinegar overnight. If this is a continuing problem, you may need water filtration equipment installed in your home. We can explain to you all about the water softening and conditioning options available to you.

My water bill this month is high, and my usage hasn’t changed — and I don’t have any leaks that I’m aware of. Is the local water department overcharging me?
This tends to be a leak in the water service line. If your service line is galvanized pipe it is usually more cost-effective to install a new water service line than to hunt for the leak in the old one. If your service line is copper or plastic continuous line, it might be worth the cost to search for the leak. But, generally we recommend replacement. We have some simple tests to figure out if there’s a leak in the water service line.

Sometimes, though, the water department may bill you based on a usage average.

How do I avoid costly plumbing repairs?
Call us first!