Ask The Expert

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

Submersible (Sump) Pumps

Question:
I have a sump pump on a pedestal. I want to get a new one, however, what is out there? Are there better options for me?

Bill S.

Answer:
I prefer a submersible pump. A submersible pump is cooled by water in the crock so it won’t overheat. I also suggest to have a separate float/switch that is detachable from the pump. This gives the customer the ability to set the run time to be the most efficient. Many submersible pumps have the float/switch as part of the pump. This brings up (2) potential problems. One, if the switch goes bad, you have to change the pump too! The other problem is, you can’t adjust the run time to work efficiently. You usually are fighting mother nature and the pumps are running too often. We also have a battery back up system that sisters our pump and is very user friendly. Call us to help you out and to set up your pump correctly.

Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber

Sewer & Septic Advice

Question:
I live out in the country, in a small home with no basement. I woke up one day and my bathtub was full of water and had washed over onto the floor. I didn’t use any of my plumbing. What is going on? I don’t want this to happen again!

Annette R.

Answer:
I believe your sewer is plugged or your septic tank needs pumping out. You gave me a clue! You said that you lived in the country. I bet you have an iron filter or water softener. Softeners and iron filters are usually programmed to backwash during early morning to not bother you during the day and be ready for daily water usage. I believe your softener went into backwash mode due to the plugged sewer. Be grateful that the tub reservoir collected most of the water. A tub full of water could have caused great financial damage. If you need your sewer unplugged or pumped out, please call, we can help you with that.

Wes Rosenberg, Owner/Master Plumber