Ask The Expert

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

Water Heater vs. Shower Valve

Question:
My water heater is 5 years old and I don’t seem to get enough hot water out of my shower. I had my husband turn up the heater and now the water is too hot throughout the house. My husband thinks the thermostat is bad on the heater. Do we need a new heater? It is only 5 years old.

Karen F.

Answer:
The majority of residential water heaters have a 6-year warranty on the tank and 1 year on the parts, however, I’m suspecting that if you have a single handle shower valve, it is more than likely the shower valve cartridge is in need of replacement. That would be the cheapest way to address what is really going on. You could turn the water heater down to a safe temperature and see if that resolves the problem.

Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Empty Toilet Tank

Question:
I flush my toilet, then about two hours later, the tank is empty and I get a very weak flush. What is going on? There is no leak on the floor or in the basement. Can this be repaired?

Denise

Answer:
I believe the problem is on the flapper or flushing mechanism of the toilet. Usually, the flapper is rubber and can have a flaw or can become distorted over time. With this flaw, the water is escaping the tank and draining into the bowl. It can easily be repaired and relatively affordable. Call us and we can get this repaired for you.

Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Proper Garbage Disposal Usage

Question:
My husband and I are having a debate pertaining to what can be put into the garbage disposal. My winning this debate is in your hands. What can be put in a garbage disposal?

Elaina J.

Answer:
The rule of thumb for what can be put in a disposal is, any food can be put in the disposal that you can chew with your teeth. Now, a fork or a steak bone will not generally be consumed by a human so those items would not be allowed. The real problem begins after the disposal in the waste piping. Oil and grease are things NOT to put in the disposal as they will adhere to the sidewalls on the inside of the piping and start choking down the flow. If I had to put grease in the piping, I would put it down with cold water to try and solidify the grease. Potato peelings and such should be placed in the disposal in small portions with a lot of water.

Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Refrigerator Water Dispenser/Ice Maker

Question:
My mother just purchased a new refrigerator with a water/ice maker on the door. She doesn’t have water feeding into it right now. What does it take to hook up the water to this unit?

Anthony L.

Answer:
State code states that a needle valve/clamp on a saddle valve is illegal for the installation of an ice maker. An actual tee with a valve needs to be installed on a cold-water supply pipe in the basement. They have kits available for this, however, they are furnished with plastic tubing. I like to use copper tubing for my installations. The reason I prefer copper is because over a period of time, the chlorine in the water makes the plastic brittle and it can easily break, which could cause extensive financial damage to floors and finished basements. When installing, I also like to have a couple loops of slack behind the refrigerator in case I need to pull the fridge out without ripping apart the connection in the back. If you need a hand, please call me!

Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

AC and a Clammy Home

Question:
Hello, my wife and I had a new air conditioning unit installed in our home earlier this year, (not by your company). The new AC unit keeps the house cool, but now it's always kind of clammy in our home. Is it because of the type of refrigerant used in our specific unit? What can be done about it? The old unit didn’t do this.

Lance H.

Answer:
When we get this time of a complaint, a few things come to mind. One thing is that the unit could be oversized, or the unit is not set up properly. In the case of it being oversized, the unit will not run long enough to pull the humidity out of the space and technically, be short cycling. Bigger is not always better. You could run a separate dehumidifier in your home as well to get rid of some of the humidity. Please call us if you would like us to assess the set up of that unit.

Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Check Valves & Discharge Pipes

Question:
With all this rain, my pump keeps turning on and the piping keeps blowing apart inside the house spewing water everywhere! This may be a stupid question with a simple answer, but I’d like to know how you keep that check valve from blowing apart? I’ve tightened it as much as possible using tools.

Tony S.

Answer:
From what you’re telling me it seems the check valve is tight enough. What I think is happening is that the discharge pipe is going outside above the ground, then turns down into the ground and runs underneath to a place of termination. I believe with all the rain and current snow melt, your discharge pipe underground may still be frozen and not allowing water to escape to the termination area. The pump can’t pump the water out and the check valve is the weakest joint in the system, thus blowing apart at the point. That pipe outside should be disconnected (temporarily) until the ground thaws, and then reconnected. In the event you need help with this, please call us!

Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber