At Yes! Plumbing we run a lot of service calls in families’ homes in our service area.
Because we have been doing this for over 26 years, we have a lot of history to draw from.
So we can say with great confidence that we can identify the most common problems that occur in homes for which you may have to call your local plumber.
Here’s a list in no particular order identifying what the common problems are and how to recognize them before they become a disastrous emergency.
1. Plugged sink or tub/shower
Almost everybody waits to have their sinks power rodded until they are completely plugged up. The reason for this is anybody’s guess. All we can say is that most of the time the sinks we power rod are completely full of water when we arrive.
And usually that water is of the type one does not want filling the sink or tub. For a couple of reasons, the best course of action to take in this case is to have the fixture power rodded prior to it completely plugging.
The first and most obvious reason is sanitation. Waste water, even if from washing hands or shaving, is full of bacteria that will usually only multiply and become more hazardous as time passes.
You can avoid that hazard by having the fixture lines rodded when the drain is only slow. Once we open the drain, we will provide you with a FREE 7 year supply of drain maintenance product which, when used as directed, will practically guarantee you will never have that expense or problem again.
Second, in our experience, many times a faucet has been or starts leaking uncontrollably just about the time the sink plugs up. Unless you can control the water (this is not the time to find out) the sink will overflow causing property damage and mildew/mold problems.
This can be way more costly that the expense of rodding the sink.
Third, even drain maintenance products and liquid drain openers will usually not work once the drain is completely plugged up. The products can only work by gravity so they usually will only go as far as the bottom of the trap under the fixture.
What you wind up with is a very caustic mix of sludge sitting in the pipes, creating noxious gasses and their own hazards which will have to be dealt with by you or a professional.
Even if the drain opener does manage to work its way through the clog it will completely drain away as soon as it creates a hole the size of a pencil lead. That hole is so small, it will easily plug up again with soap scum, hair, shaving residue and you will be in the same boat again.
Not only that, but some of those products are very harmful to your plumbing system when left for long periods of time.
2. Broken or faulty shutoff values
When we get the call for a broken shutoff valve it can be one of the most panic-driven calls we receive. If your house is constructed according to current codes, you will have a shutoff valve for the water lines at each fixture.
You will also have larger valves on the water supply line coming into your home and other large water fed appliances such as water softeners and water heaters. Failure of any of these valves can result in a minor inconvenience, a major inconvenience such as having the entire water system in your home shut down until repairs are effected, or, in the case of a blown out main valve or a failure of the outside shut off valve in the ground, a major flood in the home.
Our clients have experienced all of these. Fortunately, these faulty valves can usually be identified and replaced without an emergency situation or a catastrophe ensuing as a result.
For instance, In order to provide extra value for all of our Premium Club Members, Yes! Plumbing performs a FREE yearly home maintenance service as part of the benefit they receive from their membership.
Just one of the things we do during each and every annual plumbing service is to manually identify and check the functionality of each valve in the home. This is what’s known as “exercising the valve”.
When we do this yearly it has a few benefits….
First, we can identify any valve that is not functioning or is leaking when operated. The least convenient time to find out the valve is dysfunctional is when the top of that faucet handle just blew off and the water is spraying everywhere. Then we can replace that faulty valve without creating an emergency situation, saving inconvenience, property damage and aggravation.
Second, it’s a well-known fact that valves which are not used for long periods of time can become seized or “frozen” in place, no longer serving the purpose for which they are intended.
However, when the valve is operated on a regular basis, it maintains its functionality and can be counted to serve the purpose for which it was intended—control of the water flow in the event of emergency.
3. Failed Water Heater
Nothing’s worse than getting in the shower only to find the water won’t get hot. If the heater is leaking from the tank, it’s time to replace the water heater.
There’s just no way to economically repair a leaky tank, and even if there were, almost all water heaters that leak are at the end of their useful life anyway.
Putting money into a building that is going to fall down anyway is never a good choice.
That leaves us with the water heater that is not leaking, but still won’t produce enough or any hot water. 99% of these can be repaired, if the parts are readily available. Yes! Plumbing carries the common parts for the usual culprits.
Some on the other hand, like many of the “brands” sold by the hardware and home centers, have no parts readily available. Just call up the local Cheapot Depot and ask if they carry parts for the gas water heaters they sell. You will get a resounding “No” every time.
They will almost always refer you to the manufacturer’s website to start the arduous process of finding part numbers etc. Arduous, because what you would assume is the manufacturer’s name (the name you see on the water heater) is not really the manufacturer in most cases.
One home center sells heaters labeled “Whirlpool”. Fact is Whirlpool doesn’t and never has made water heaters. The home center is just paying then a fee to use the name on “their” brand of water heater.
Water heaters are way more complex today than you father’s water heater was. Used to be mechanical components that were easy to troubleshoot. Even better, almost all of them used exactly the same parts so the local hardware store could stock anything needed to repair them.
The latest generation of water heaters are explosion proof, digitally controlled, electronically monitored beasts which have a myriad of government required “enhancements” designed to insure that you burn 40.00 less gas over the life of the heater and in the event you spill a can of flammable liquid in front of the burner, it will not ignite.
At the same time, because of those government required enhancements, you new heater will cost 4 to 5 times what your dad’s heater cost. Another effect is that in order to achieve the government mandated criteria, manufacturers have been forced to almost completely redesign the residential water heater, making it no longer the simple appliance it once was.
Parts are no longer standardized and as the manufacturers struggled to comply with ever changing mandates, they became unable to maintain parts standardization in even their own brands. Common parts from the same size and brand of water heater may have four different part numbers over a period of 6-8 years due to trial and error or changes in requirements.
There are many more common problem areas we address at Yes! Plumbing when serving Schererville and surrounding communities. We’ll try to cover those in later blogs. Until then, give us a call if you have any questions or need service on any of the plumbing items in your home.