Avoid Plumbing Emergencies While Out of Town

While on vacation, you want to relax and not worry about what is going on at your house without you there. However, it is a fear in many people’s minds that they will return home after an extended trip to find a major plumbing problem wrecked their house.

You can take measures to avoid this plumbing emergency by preparing your plumbing system for your absence. These steps can significantly reduce your chances of serious flooding and water damage when you are not home. Check out tips from your plumbing expert that can help you prevent a plumbing disaster while you are out of town.

Avoid Plumbing Emergencies While Out of Town

Shut Off Your Main Water Supply

If you intend to travel for several weeks, you may want to shut off your main water valve. This refers to the primary pipe in your plumbing system that supplies water to your house. If you notice a plumbing emergency while at home, especially one that involves water seeping or flooding incessantly, you would turn off this valve. Then, water can no longer flow and cause these problems.

But if the issues occur while you are not there, then you cannot shut off this valve to stop the excess water. So if the problem develops, water can leak and wreak havoc on your property. That could leave you with extensive damage and expensive repairs.

Turning off this valve when you leave your house for a long period can give you some peace of mind that this emergency will not go unstopped during your trip. Make sure you know where this valve is in your home in the event of an emergency.

Examine Your Plumbing Before You Go

Before leaving for a long trip, you might want to take a walk around your home and examine your plumbing. Look for cracks in your walls, damp spots, or discoloration on the floors or ceiling. These signs could all point to a leak that could easily worsen while you are out of town.

You should also check for any musty odors that could signify standing water that might otherwise be hidden. Take a look at your drains as well. Clogs left in your plumbing over time can start to smell bad. This could make for an unpleasant return home at the end of your trip.

Ask a Friend to Check on Your Home

When you cannot get to your house but need some reassurance that your house and plumbing are in good standing, you might want to ask a friend if they would not mind checking on your home for you. Find someone you trust and leave them a key or another way to enter your home. They can ensure that no plumbing emergency occurred.

This way, if a problem does develop, someone can identify it. Then they can notify a plumber on your behalf for urgent repairs. Develop a plan to protect your property from potential plumber dangers.

Is Hair Bad for Your Drain?

Everyone sheds their hair naturally, and it seems like you notice many stray hairs in the shower in particular. This is because you are rinsing and manipulating already shed hair that will now wash away from your head and into your drain.

But hair is a primary cause behind many clogs in shower drains. While you might know that long head hair will create this problem, the short hair washed away as you shave your legs, face, or armpits will also pose a threat to your drain.

Clearing away clogs can be a hassle. Water alone will not wash away clumps of hair clogging your plumbing. And this type of clog will not respond to chemical drain cleaners either.

You will need to contact a plumber to remove these clogs in many cases. So to avoid this troublesome task, you will want to be careful about the hair that you send down your shower drain. Read on to learn more about how hair will affect the function of your bathroom drains and how you can avoid a clog.

Is Hair Bad for Your Drain

How Does Hair Impact a Drain?

When hair clogs a drain, you will notice that water will drain slowly or not at all in the case of a full blockage. Then you can start to notice a foul odor from the drain where the clog accumulates smelly residues and particles.

Hair has several features that make it particularly harmful to drains. Hair easily wraps and grips, as you may notice on your hairbrush or when you use styling tools. This makes it better able to cling to plumbing and then collect with other strands of hair to form a clog that blocks your drains and pipes.

Hair also contains natural oils that will further encourage clumping and therefore clogging. In conjunction with shampoos, soaps, and conditioners, a clog can be even more likely.

Hair expands when wet as well. That means that water going down the drain will make a clog even more problematic. This is why running water into the drain will not get rid of this clog.

Strong hair follicles also do not break down when exposed to chemical drain cleaners either. So these clogs will prove even more stubborn and difficult to remove. Plumbing experts promote preventative measures to avoid forming clogs in the first place for this reason.

How Can I Prevent Drain Clogs?

You should practice routine maintenance on shower drains to avoid clogging a drain with your hair. This will involve flushing the drain with hot water after each use. You may want to use a cleaning solution every so often to ensure the drain remains clean.

You may benefit from using a drain screen to catch stray hairs that would otherwise go down the drain. Then you can clean the screen rather than worry about hair clogging within your plumbing. Even if you try to remove shed hair with your hands and dispose of it outside of the shower, you will not catch every hair this way.

How to Protect Your Toilet

Your toilet is a staple in your household, and it can be easy to take this plumbing essential for granted. It runs and disposes of waste efficiently, so when it no longer functions properly, you can see your entire schedule disrupted. A major toilet problem might need attention from a plumber and costly repairs.

But you can keep your toilet looking and feeling its best when you take good care of this appliance. Routine maintenance and proper usage will help to keep a toilet running smoothly. Read on to find three tips from your local plumber that can reduce your chances of forming clogs and other problems with your toilet.

How to Protect Your Toilet

Be Careful What You Flush

The pipes within your toilet are designed to handle water, toilet tissue, and human waste. Anything else, including feminine hygiene products, could create problems in the sewage system or block the pipes. You should throw these items in the trash instead of flushing them to protect your plumbing.

Teach children not to flush outside items down the toilet too. Kids’ curiosity can lead them to try flushing toys and other objects, which will seriously damage the toilet.

To discourage kids and pets from reaching the toilet, keep the toilet lid closed when not in use. This has the added benefit of improving sanitation in the bathroom and preventing accidental clogs if something should fall into the toilet.

Keep Your Toilet Clean

Cleaning your toilet with a brush and mild cleaner will eliminate harmful germs and bacteria from the appliance. It will keep it looking and smelling fresh as well. But you should complete regular cleaning of your toilet to ensure it runs properly as well.

Plus, if you keep the toilet clean, you can more clearly see if a problem arises. An untidy toilet and surrounding area may hide a leak or clog. So do not delay cleaning this appliance, and avoid harsh cleaning materials that might damage the toilet and septic system as it cleans.

Address Toilet Concerns Promptly

If you do spot any changes in the way your toilet functions or any problems, address them in a timely fashion. Ignoring an issue with your toilet will give it time to worsen. And you could then face more extensive and costly repairs to get it running again as a result.

If you notice a constant sound of running water, for instance, look into fixing the issue. This type of leak will run up your water bill too, so you do not want to lose money by dismissing the problem.

You can fix most minor clogs in a toilet using a plunger. But a stubborn clog might need the more in-depth tools and training that a plumber can provide.

Do not be afraid to call a plumber for help with more complicated concerns about your toilet. This early intervention from a professional can stop a plumbing emergency from progressing in your toilet, sewage system, or plumbing.

Fixing Garbage Disposal Problems

A garbage disposal is a useful device that you can install under a kitchen sink. It separates the drain from the trap that leads to the rest of your plumbing system. When turned on, the machine will shred waste that accumulates down the sink drain so that it can easily pass through the plumbing.

This tool helps to prevent clogs from forming in your plumbing, especially in your kitchen where food scraps can easily enter this drain and cause problems. But if your disposal does not function properly, you can notice the water is unable to pass properly down this drain.

A number of concerns could interrupt the usage of your garbage disposal, and your plumber can fix them as needed. But knowing more about these concerns can help you avoid them in the first place. Read on to learn more about potential issues that might develop with your garbage disposal as well as how to prevent them from happening.

Fixing Garbage Disposal Problems

Plumbing-Related Garbage Disposal Concerns

If your sink seems to drain slowly or not at all, this is a common sign that you have a clog in your piping. This will prove true with an issue with your garbage disposal too. Sometimes, even with the shredding power of the disposal, the machine can form a blockage.

Try turning the device on and off as you run water through the disposal. The force of the water can clear many small clogs. But for more stubborn blockages, you can try using a plunger.

If these methods do not work, turn the garbage disposal completely off and examine the drain for a visible blockage. Use tongs or a similar tool to remove it. You might also need to unscrew the pipe from the disposal to see a deeper clog and remove it. Contact a plumbing expert if you do not feel comfortable completing this task on your own.

Electrical Issues with Your Garbage Disposal

Many garbage disposals rely on electricity to power them into motion when you turn on the device. A disposal that will not turn on or off when you flip the switch could indicate a problem with the power source. But the device might also overheat. Turn off the disposal and let it cool down before trying to use it again.

Check the circuit breaker or reset button for any tripped breakers. But if this does not resolve the issue, you might need to contact an electrician. Avoid overworking the disposal to prevent these concerns.

Regular Garbage Disposal Maintenance

You can prevent these disruptive problems with your garbage disposal when you take proper care of this device. This means allowing only smaller, softer types of waste to pass through it. Larger and more solid foods or oils could create a clog.

Allow water to run through the garbage disposal for a few seconds after shredding before turning it off. This ensures the device is clean and clear after use. Deep clean the garbage disposal every two or three weeks with a safe method like baking soda and vinegar.

Should I Use Plumbing Tape?

Plumbing tape refers to a helpful tool used by plumbers and property owners to improve the connection between pipes or other plumbing fixtures. It features durable, smooth, waterproof plastic that differs from traditional tape because neither side is sticky. However, the material will still stay firmly in place wrapped around your piping.

You can purchase this tape from your local shop, but how do you know when to employ this tool yourself? When not sure, consult with a plumber to determine the best way to amend and preserve your plumbing system. But you can also read on to learn more about plumbing tape and the benefits it can provide for your residential or commercial building.

Should I Use Plumbing Tape

How to Use Plumbing Tape

Plumbing tape is applied at connecting points between parts of your plumbing that do not have rubber seals included. It makes the connection smoother and easier to attach while also ensuring water cannot escape through this tight connection. Examples of where to apply this tape include the ends of pipes, valves, showerheads, faucets, or other fixtures attached to a plumbing spout.

If you intend to use the tape yourself, the first step is to ensure the parts in question are clean and dry. You will need to ensure the water main is off to avoid leaks or disruptions to this project.

You can rip off and apply sections of plumbing tape by hand at the end of the connection. Wrap the tape in the opposite direction it will screw into place so that the tape will not dislodge. Do this between two and four times for optimal results.

Wrapping too many times might lead to an insecure connection that could result in leaking. Check that the tape is pulled tightly so that it remains secure, and smooth out the end.

Longevity of Plumbing Tape Benefits

Plumbing tape can endure for years, and plumbers agree this can be a long-term solution for your plumbing system. Other types of tape will not last as long, so make sure you use the right material for the job.

This tape can also fix a leak, blocking water from escaping from damaged or ill-fitting parts of your plumbing system. This fix can also last for several years, but you should still talk to a plumber if you spot a leak or other issue with your plumbing.

When Not to Use Plumbing Tape

The benefits of plumbing tape are clear, but this tool is not always the optimal choice for every plumbing job. You do not need to use this tape for connections with existing rubber seals, for instance. Applying tape to an already sealed part could interrupt the connection and create a leak.

If in doubt, a plumber can let you know the best course of action for your system. When you do use plumbing tape, make sure you apply it properly so that it can function as well as possible.

Notice Smells from Your Plumbing?

Bad smells in your home can happen for many reasons and cause serious disruption in your everyday life. If they continue, you might start to feel ill and not want other people to come to your house. If you cannot pinpoint the cause of household odors and they persist, it might be your plumbing.

You can resolve some of these problems on your own, but bigger concerns might need attention from your local plumber. The type of smell might suggest the problem’s source. Read on to learn about smells your plumbing might emit and what they could mean.

signs of plumbing problems

What Do Bad Plumbing Smells Mean?

Sewage Odor

Does your home smell like a waste treatment plant? A lingering sewage smell from your bathroom can be extremely disruptive. Not only does it make your home feel gross, but it can cause headaches and other health problems.

It can stem from a number of sources, but a common one is a toilet that is not used often. Plumbing in the bathroom uses U-shaped pipes that will collect water in this bend. If you do not use that toilet, the leftover water there will have time to evaporate and release unpleasant smells.

The same problem can occur in shower drains not used often too. Pour water down the affected drain to resolve the issue. But if the bad smell persists, the issue could point to a different concern.

Your toilet or another part of your plumbing might be broken or installed improperly. Consult with your plumber about this issue to fix it and get rid of that foul odor.

Musty Smells

If you notice a musty, old smell coming from your plumbing, this is a sign of mold and mildew. These types of fungi thrive in moist environments, making your pipes and drains a common target for this growth. If you deposit food down the drain, this can help mold grow even faster.

Mold and mildew can cause respiratory health problems when breathed, and the smell can be overwhelming and unpleasant. Get rid of mold and this odor with a cleaning regimen.

Pour half a cup of baking soda down the affected drain, leave it for 20 minutes, and then add one cup of hydrogen peroxide. Then put vinegar into the drain, pause until the resulting frothing stops, and then pour hot water down it. Wait five minutes or so before rinsing the drain and completing this process.

Other Foul Scents

Other bad smells like decay or ammonia could suggest plumbing issues as well. Ammonia has an unappealing metallic scent and could signify mold growth.

A rotting odor points to the decomposition of something stuck in the drain, suggesting a blockage. Call a plumber to clear clogs in your plumbing and keep water flowing smoothly and cleanly through your home. Do not ignore unpleasant smells because they may point to an issue you might not otherwise know about.

Don’t Ignore Minor Plumbing Concerns

You use the plumbing system in your home and place of business frequently throughout the day, often without even thinking about it. But when something goes wrong with your plumbing, you will notice. Minor concerns might seem annoying, but they could point to a larger issue that requires urgent attention.

Even if you think you can power through the disruption of a plumbing inconvenience, you should not ignore it. Address the problem and contact your plumber for an evaluation. Read on to find three common plumbing issues that seem small but could lead to major damage without prompt repairs.

fix leaky faucets and other plumbing problems

Which Plumbing Issues Need Urgent Attention?

Clogged Drains

Drains in your sink, bathtub, and shower carry away used water from your property, ensuring it gets disposed of properly through the pipes in your plumbing. But over time, drains can grow clogged for a number of reasons. This can lead to slow or completely stopped drainage of water that allows water to pool in these appliances.

If this occurs, dirty water will collect bacteria that could make you and others in the area sick. It can also lead to bad smells in the building that will make the space feel unpleasant.

Then if you ignore a clog, it can worsen, making it more difficult to remove when you finally deign to get rid of it. It may lead to more significant damage to your plumbing in the long run, leaving you to take the brunt of costly repairs. Take care of clogged drains in a prompt manner to avoid this issue.

Low Water Pressure

If you notice that the water coming from your showerhead or sink faucet seems slower or weaker, this could point to a number of plumbing concerns. Low water pressure seems frustrating and inconvenient, but it could signify a major break in the plumbing system.

If water is not flowing as it should, it may mean the water is ending up somewhere else. You have a leak somewhere in the plumbing system, even if you do not see other signs of this problem. But this can worsen, and accumulating water will damage your property.

Consult with a plumber to find this leak and amend it as soon as you can. They can employ video technology to locate and treat any leaks in your plumbing system.

Leaky Faucets

Have you noticed that your sink does not turn off properly? Is there a slight drip of water even when shutting off your faucet completely? This leaky faucet can produce an annoying and constant sound, but it can pose a threat to your property as well.

The gathering moisture from dripping faucets makes an ideal breeding ground for mold, which can create health risks as well as structural ones. And over time, the regular water emissions will crank up the costs of your utility bill.

So make sure you resolve a leaky faucet as soon as possible. If you worry about other leaks or efficiency in your plumbing, give your local plumber a call.

Common Causes of Sewer Line Clogs

A clogged sewer line can be a messy and expensive affair. You will need emergency plumbing services to fix this blockage in your plumbing and allow water and fluids to flow away from your property without issue again.

You can see signs of a clogged sewer easily, such as a backup in your drains, malfunctioning in your plumbing, or changes in your lawn’s surface. But if you know the culprits behind these clogs, you can better prevent them from affecting your plumbing system. Read on to learn about three of the major causes behind main sewer line clogs.

clogged pipes in sewer line

Why Is My Sewer Line Clogged?

Grease, Fat, and Debris

Like a clog within a drain or any other pipe, a clog in a sewer line can occur due to a blockage. This may come in the form of debris accumulation, such as toilet paper or a foreign object that may have been flushed down a toilet. Or it could accrue gradually as build-up from soap scum or grease.

Many people may pour grease or oil from cooking down their sink drain and think that running water will clear it from their plumbing. But these fatty materials will easily stick in pipes where they will harden as they cool.

This can then build up until it creates a blockage that disrupts your sewage system. So take care not to empty these materials down your drain. These should be disposed of by alternative means to protect your sewage system. Consider using stoppers or strainers in your sink too to avoid foreign items going down the drain and creating a blockage.

Tree Roots

A major threat to your sewer line comes from tree roots, which may surprise many people. Even if you think trees are nowhere near your sewer line, the roots can extend further than you might guess.

Tree roots tend to seek moisture and grow toward your main sewer line where they can crack into the pipes and form a blockage. Pay attention to the location of your landscaping on your property in relation to your plumbing. And when planting new trees, avoid your sewer line as much as possible.

Damaged Pipes

Sometimes a clog in a sewer line comes from problems with the pipes in your plumbing system themselves. Over time, the structure of pipes may begin to deteriorate. This could cause leaks in the plumbing, but it may also allow dirt to enter the system where it can create clogs.

Additionally, old sewer lines might start to sag as the earth around the pipes shifts or sinks. Then wastewater will collect into pools rather than flow away from the property as intended. Eventually, this can make the pipes back up, resulting in these fluids heading back the way they came.

Your local plumber can diagnose the precise issue with your sewer line with imaging technology. Then depending on the cause, they can fix the problem. Call early to prevent serious property damage from this plumbing issue.

Why Do I Have Low Water Pressure?

Have you noticed less water coming from your faucets when you turn them on? This decrease in water from your plumbing system can mean you have low water pressure. This issue may mean you spend more time at the sink or bath getting the water that you need, which may frustrate you.

Sometimes, changes in water pressure occur due to issues with the water supplier. You can confer with your neighbors to see if they experience the same problems that you do to confirm this.

If this is not the case, there are several other reasons you might experience low water pressure on your property. Read on to learn about three of these causes and how to resolve them.

water from bathroom shower head

Common Reasons for Low Water Pressure

Valve Blockages

If you have ever had a clog in your drain before, you know that this type of blockage can disrupt the flow of water through your plumbing system. Your system contains valves that can open and shut to control the flow of water in and out of your building.

If the main shutoff valve or the water meter valve is not open all the way, this creates enough of a blockage to impact your water pressure. Check the levers that control these valves to make sure they are in the open position.

Failing Pressure Regulator

Not all properties feature a pressure regulator. But if you do have one, and it is no longer working, this could force your system to have a lower water pressure. This device monitors the pressure passing through your water supply line and ensures it remains at a safe level.

If it does not take this measurement properly, it may let through a low pressure. You can test the pressure yourself, but it might be a good idea to consult with a plumber about this concern. They can replace the regulator if needed.

Pipe Damage

Your pipes carry water to and from your property. So if these fixtures sustain damage, you might notice a drop in the water pressure in your building. Like valve blockages, you might see low water pressure when the pipes form clogs. You should talk to your plumber about this possibility and how to remove the clog in question.

Pipes can begin to corrode after several decades of use. You might not be able to see this type of damage as it could exist in the pipes’ interior. Your plumber can use video technology to inspect the pipes for signs of this damage.

A leak in your plumbing system means that the water starts to redirect through this damaged part of the pipe, taking away from the water meant to flow where intended. You might spot leaks if you see accumulated water on your property. But you should contact a plumber to properly fix this issue. Temporary patchwork will not last long and could lead to structural damage to your property.

Is Your Water Heater Broken?

You might not realize that you rely as heavily on the hot water in your building as much as cold water. To get hot water on your property, you need a functioning water heater. This appliance uses gas or electric energy to warm up water within a designated tank that will then distribute through your plumbing system where needed.

Between showers, washing dishes, and laundry, hot water plays a major role in your daily life. A broken water heater could cause a major disruption in your home or commercial building.

You can better avoid this plumbing emergency when you know more about how this appliance works. Read on to learn how you can tell your water heater is failing as well as what repairs you can expect.

water heater plumbing repair expectations

What Are the Signs of Water Heater Failure?

Many people likely take for granted the easy access to heated water. If the water no longer runs hot or it cannot get hot enough, these are two major signs that the water heater in your building is failing. Cooler temperatures in the water can make for uncomfortable showers and other household dilemmas.

But these are not the only indicators that your water heater could be having problems. If hot water has an odd smell, taste, or appearance, this could point to corrosion in the pipes or tank leaching into the water supply.

Bacteria within the water may also generate a foul odor. Contaminated water could pose a risk to your health or your belongings. So seek prompt attention from a plumber about this problem.

Your water heater also should not make sounds, so if it seems noisy when running, it could have collected sediments. Without proper flushing, this could damage the appliance.

A leak in the tank could also put dangerous pressure on the water heater. Avoid major structural damage by seeking urgent maintenance if you notice this problem with your water heater.

What Repairs Will My Water Heater Need?

You can and should flush your water heater on an annual basis. This ensures the pressure valve works properly and that dangerous build-up does not hurt your appliance.

Bad smells, tastes, or looks in the water from the heated tank will often mean you need to clean your appliance. You will likely also need to replace the anode rod of the tank to get rid of corrosion.

When water can get warm but not hot enough, you might have an issue with the dip tube of the heater. A plumber can usually replace this part fairly easily. No hot water might point to an electrical issue, where the wiring will not allow the heater to function properly. Your plumber can evaluate the issue, find the malfunction, and replace or reconnect any necessary parts.

You can get a quote for your unique scenario when you contact your local plumbing expert in Annapolis, MD. In the event of an emergency, call their 24-hour response line at 301.685.5017.