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Top 5 common plumbing problems and their fixes

Plumbing in Vancouver
Plumbing in VancouverHigh Mark Plumbing

It is common for homeowners to seek information regarding plumbing issues that arise, as the system located in your home can be complex and expensive to fix. Due to the potential cost savings, homeowners are constantly on the lookout for suggestions and ways to handle pluming issues themselves when a plumbing tragedy strikes. Below are the five most commonly asked questions and problems with plumbing, as well as how to detect and correct each.

1. Why does my toilet continue to run after being flushed?
A toilet that continues to run for a long duration post flush could indicate a leak. This is generally caused by a problem with your rubber flap located at the bottom of your toilet tank. If the rubber flap isn't closing properly, water can escape from the tank and make its way into the toilet bowl. If you can’t tell if this is the problem just by visual inspection, use a few drops of food coloring! You can purchase food coloring or dye tabs found at your local hardware store which are both water friendly. Clean your toilet prior to the test, and then proceed to drop the food coloring into the toilet tank. After approximately 15 minutes, if the dye is seen in your toilet bowl, this indicates you have a leak in your toilet flap. To fix this problem, you can purchase a new flap to install, but also check to make sure that the chain is properly connected to the flush handle and to the rubber flap.

2. Why is my water bill unusually high?
A high water bill can indicate that you likely have a leak somewhere or should investigate the option of installing low flow toilets. You’ll want to go through your house checking for running toilets and leaking faucets to determine if this is the case. Inspect all appliances, including your water heater for water leakage. Check carefully throughout your home for any damp or water spots on the ceilings, floors and walls, which could mean that your leak is coming from a pipe inside the wall. Even small leaks can add up to a large bill over time.

3. How can I fix my leaky faucet?
You will first need to turn the water off to your leaking faucet and plug your drain with a rag or sink plug so that you don’t lose a screw or washer down the drain. Under each sink there are visible pipes and handles attached to turn off clockwise. If you have a compression faucet, remove both handles first. You will then need to remove the nut with a wrench. At this point, you will see the stem, O-ring and a seat washer, which is most likely the culprit of your dripping faucet. Remove the stem. The thinner one is the O-ring, which should be replaced if the handles are leaking instead of the faucet, and the thicker one is the seat washer, which needs to be replaced if the faucet is the problem.

4. What do I do about a clogged toilet or drain?
Usually, a plunger will unclog you toilet, but when it doesn't, you can sometimes use an auger/snake. The auger will reach down in the toilet pipe and force the clog out. If neither works, you may have to result to removing your toilet from the floor and force the obstruction out yourself. For drains, you can try running hot water for five minutes, which may open up the drain. If it doesn't, you can turn to drain chemicals, a plunger and even a plumbing snake. If that doesn't do the trick, then you may have to get underneath to remove the P-trap and get the clog out yourself manually. “Plumbing snakes and tools purchased at local hardware stores are not usually as powerful as the equipment professional plumbing services utilize.” Ryan Wood from High Mark Plumbing, a plumbing company located in Vancouver, BC indicates. “Some clogs are stubborn, and the supplies you purchase don’t always work as well as you would like them to or are dangerous. You could end up spending money on a tool that does not work, and causes further damage and stress to you and your plumbing system. Sometimes it’s just best to contact the experts who know what they are doing to resolve the issue correctly and quickly.

5. How can I prevent frozen pipes?
Before cold weather approaches, it’s important to wrap all of your exposed pipes with some form of insulating materials. Utilize electrical tape to secure the material to ensure it stays put through the cold season. Any water faucets located on the outside of your home can be covered using faucet covers specifically intended for this purpose which can be purchased from any hardware store for around $2-$5. If you have pipes that are not easily accessed, then it is recommended you leave a faucet on a slight drip daily to keep water running through the pipes consistently, which keeps the pipes from freezing.

A few plumbing tools that every homeowner should own include a plunger, toilet auger, and a wet-dry shop vacuum. Not all plumbing issues can be fixed by yourself and you may need to call a professional for experienced service.