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3 Common Plumbing Questions Homeowners Ask

Plumbing problems are extremely frustrating, especially when having one prevents you from using your sink, shower or toilet! While we suggest you give 207 Plumbing & Heating a call for your plumbing issues, it’s helpful for any homeowner to have a good base of knowledge. We try to provide some of this base knowledge in our BLOG. Check out this list of some of the most common plumbing questions:

How do I unclog a drain?

Clogged drains are definitely one of the most common problems homeowners face. Clogs notoriously have bad timing too – they occur when you must get to work or you are having company over any minute. Luckily, a clogged drain is often an easy problem to fix! Here’s how to handle a clogged drain:

Get you plunger out – The simplest and most effective way to remove a small clog is to plunge it and hopefully free the clog. There are actually two types of plungers (sink and toilet plungers), so make sure you are using the correct, tightly fitting plunger.

Mix up some vinegar and baking soda – Mix equal parts of both ingredients and pour the mixture down the drain. The foam created will break up whatever is blocking your pipe. Let it set for a while and then run very hot water or boiling water down the drain (and cross your fingers!).

Get your hands dirty – For sink drain clogs, get out a bucket, put on some gloves, and get under the sink. These clogs can often be cleared by removing the drain pipe under the sink and pushing out the clog. It’s a messy job, so be ready!

Be careful about using liquid drain cleaners – Many drain cleaners have extremely harsh chemicals that will actually damage your pipes! They are also very harmful to septic systems, and terrible to breathe. These toxic products are best left on the shelves.

How do I prevent my pipes from freezing?

Winter in Maine can often mean temperatures well below freezing, which means exposed plumbing pipes are susceptible to freezing. When water freezes, it expands, so if it is within a restricted area such as a pipe, that expansion can cause the pipe to burst. Damaged pipes cause major problems and expensive repairs. Here’s how to avoid that happening:

Insulate pipes in your home’s attic, basement and crawl spaces – Exposed pipes are the most vulnerable. Use pipe insulation to wrap and tape them securely, and utilize insulation batting as well in the surrounding cavity. The more insulation you use, the better.

Seal air leaks that allow cold air to enter your house – Make sure you are not allowing frigid winter air to blow in near where plumbing pipes are located. Common culprits are where utilities enter the building, dryer vents, and window and door openings. Even a small opening can bring in enough air to freeze a nearby pipe.

Drain your exterior water faucet or install a frost-proof spigot – Always drain and shut off water to pipes leading to outside faucets.

Keep your inside temperature moderate – set you thermostat in your home to at least 55 degrees, and open your kitchen and bathroom sink cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing pipes.

Why does my toilet keep running?

A running toilet can be costly, easily wasting 200 gallons of water every day! The most common culprit is a faulty flapper valve inside the tank which controls the water that passes from the tank to the bowl. This is fairly straightforward fix with a toilet repair kit available at any hardware store.

Sometimes, the chain inside the tank is too short or has rotted and is catching when the plunging system moves up and down. Less commonly, a toilet may keep running because there is sediment built up affecting the flushing and filling cycle. A silent leak may be to blame, so do some detective work.

Tip: put some food coloring in the toilet tank and see if it makes its way to the bowl without flushing.