Ask The Expert

Leaky Valve

Question:

I have a leaky handle on a valve in my basement!  It has a flower type knob on it and it leaks.  I would like it changed or repaired.  What type of valve do you suggest to have it replaced with?

- Kelsey H

 

Answer:

There are many types of valves out there and those knob or flower looking handle valves are kind of an old technology. For your home, I would suggest a lever handle valve. They are durable and give you a sound shut off with just a quarter of a turn!   In the event you have CPVC piping in your home, I suggest transitioning to a lever handle brass valve.  The CPVC quarter turn valves tend to freeze up over time and are often useless in about 2 years.

 Reach out and have us come out and change that valve for you!

- Owner/Master Plumber, Wesley Rosenberg

 

Well Water

Question: 

I’m on a well and I want to transition over to municipal water and abandon the well, I never could stand the taste of well water, what would something like that cost?

- Tim K.

Answer:

Good morning Tim, 

Transitioning over is something we can do, however, from a financial perspective, I would transition over for your drinking water and washing needs only and keep your hose bibs or lawn faucets on the well.  Your exterior plants would grow healthier and the cost of abandoning a well ( regulated by the DNR ) is astronomically expensive.  It costs around $10 - 15k to abandon the well properly.  It would be cheaper for you to separate the hose bibs in the house and keep the well too. If there is anything we can do for you with this, just give us a call.  

- Owner, Wesley Rosenberg

Holding Tank

Question:  
Good morning,

I live out in the county and have a holding tank. The tank holds a couple thousand gallons of water.  I had the tank changed recently, but for some reason it fills with water way too fast and we constantly have to get it pumped out sooner than we used to.  It’s almost like it is taking in too much water.  Wife and I went on vacation for 2 weeks and came home to the alarm on and the tank full.  What should we do? 

- Anthony E

 

Good morning Anthony,

Answer:
There are a couple things that could be going on. The tank has been replaced, so I’m assuming that it doesn’t leak.  When we approach a situation like this, we check the cheapest resolutions first.  I would check to see if one of the toilets is running a lot first.  A continuous running toilet could and would fill that tank.  Another cheap check is identifying if the softener discharge from backwash is going into the sanitary system. In the event it was back wash, that would add a ton of water to the tank and should discharge outside. If those two items are not the problem, there is likely a leak at the pipe penetration of the tank or the pipe itself is compromised.  Now it’s going to start costing money!  I would have the tank pumped out and send a mirror down in the tank and inspect the junction where the pipe penetrates the tank. Then I would send a camera down the pipe and check for cracks or compromised piping. It’s also very possible that ground water is getting through the compromised pipe!  Please call us to help you out.

-Owner, Wesley Rosenberg

 

Bathtub Clog

Question:
Hi, my bathtub plugs quite often, I have an older home and there is a contraption, about the size of a coffee can, that the drain goes into and runs out of. It’s mounted under the tub and on the ceiling of the basement. I’ve purchased a little hand snake from the store but, when I try to clean the drain out, it seems to get stuck in the coffee can thing and I can’t clean out beyond that point. What is it?  It’s got a cover on it and I can’t get that off.

   - Janna S

Answer:
Hi Janna,

That contraption is called a drum trap. It looks like a little drum and it’s intention was to capture hair and such and allow the water to pass through. The problem is that they plug all of the time, and when you remove the cover, resealing them is difficult to accomplish. They are also now illegal in the state of Wisconsin. We cut them out and replace them with a regular trap. In the event you need help with this issue, please call our office and make an appointment to have that contraption replaced and your bathtub issue resolved.

- Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Milwaukee Real Producers Interview

Founder Wes Rosenberg shares the history and mission of Building Waters.

Water Heater Maintenance

Question:
I just had a new water heater installed. Is there any preventative maintenance that I can do to extend the life of the heater? It was quite expensive.

Greg J.

Answer:
Annually, you should hook up a hose to the bottom of the heater and open the boiler drain just above the hose connection. I would let it run approximately 10 minutes into the drain. People always ask, “Should I shut the inlet valve on the top of the water heater before I open the bottom valve?” My answer is, no. I wouldn’t touch the valve on top of the heater. I like to use the incoming water pressure to flush the debris of lime out of the heater. Doing this removes the debris from attaching to the lower part of the inner tank and starting the process of the tank prematurely. Taking the plate off the bottom of the gas heater and vacuuming out the burner area is another thing that can be performed. The air inlet screens can be vacuumed as well to assure proper air to the burner assembly. If you are unsure or need help, feel free to call us.

Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Water Softener Resin Bead Replacement

Question:
How frequently do resin beads in a water softener need to be changed? What is the cost for doing that?

Robert T.

Answer:
Resin beads have a life expectancy of 10-12 years. The cost of the resin and the labor of the replacement of the resin runs around $800-$1,000. In most cases, life expectancy of a softener is 10-12 years. Most people just replace the softener since it is more cost effective. Replacing the resin can bring other problems such as gaskets on sealing the system will not reseat properly and leak. This often leads to additional costs. We strongly recommend replacing the unit as a whole. You would receive a new warranty with a new unit. I hope I have answered your questions.

Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Water in Basement During Storms

Question:
Every time is rains; I get water coming up my floor drain in the basement. I think it’s the city sewer backing up into my basement. They say it’s not. What can I do to stop the madness?

Matt K.

Answer:
The city, in most cases, is correct in their convictions, however, I believe from your address and location, you have an older sewer lateral and the material used in that area at the time of installation was clay tile or cast-iron piping. Over the years, the connection joints on those sewers deteriorate and allow the acceptance of tree roots to infiltrate the sewer line. So, during rain storms, you are taking in a lot of ground water through the joints and tree roots are hindering the capacity the pipe can accept. Cheap fix? No. Affordable manageable fix? Yes. A sewer cleaning is in order for your situation and after cutting out the roots and cleaning the sewer, we maintain the sewer with a tree root killer annually. This root killer will keep the roots from infiltrating the sewer and keep them at bay, without killing the tree. The root killer kills the roots up to 3 feet outside of the pipe only.

Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Leaky Furnace in Hot Weather

Question:
During the hot weather last week, my furnace was leaking water profusely all over the floor and I had the air conditioner on - not the furnace. What can be done to stop this in hot weather?

Leslie L.

Answer:
The air conditioner coil is usually mounted on the top of the furnace, and is in use during the hot season. A couple of things could be happening. In the event your condensate line is plugged (condensate line is a little plastic tube coming from the furnace apparatus that usually runs to the floor drain), this tube can usually be pulled off and blown out to unclog. And/or you may need to change your air filter. If the air filter is dirty, there is not enough air flow running past the coil and it will start making a ball of ice. If the coil accumulates too big of an ice ball, you won’t receive cool air either. To rectify this in hot weather, you should shut the air off, let the ice ball melt, and change the air filter. How long does that take you may ask? Well, if you ever thawed out a big fat pot roast in the sink, you will know it is going to take a few hours to thaw out. If we can help you in any way, please call us.

Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Dripping Water Heater

Question:
My water heater has a little valve on the outside of the tank near the top. This valve is slowly dripping a little water on the floor. It’s not doing any damage but it irritates me. There is a pipe thread on it and it goes nowhere. Do I need this? Can I purchase a plug and stop the leak? I assume that the pipe thread is to have a pipe piped into it. Am I to hook a hose into it? What is it for?

Olivia G.

Answer:
That valve is called a relief valve. A relief valve is designed to stay closed. In the event that the pressure would increase in the tank of the heater due to overheating, the relief valve would relieve pressure in the tank and blow off. You cannot plug that off because that would leave the heater in an unsafe state and have the potential of the heater blowing up and someone could get hurt. If it leaks, it should be changed. State code says to have a piece of rigid pipe screwed in it and also terminate 1-6 inches from the floor. If it were to blow off under extreme heat and pressure with no pipe screwed into it, you wouldn’t have the ability to approach the heater to shut it down. State code also says no valves are allowed downstream of the relief valve. Please call and we will replace the leaky valve.

Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber