Before you call us, look here for answers to some of the most frequently asked plumbing questions.
Why does the temperature of my hot water seem to be higher than what I think it needs to be?
When manufacturers pre-set your water heater before it leaves the factory, the standard practice is to set it at 120°F. This temperature will probably be suitable for your household, but older models should be kept on the “medium” setting.
Before you attempt any maintenance, be sure to remove the risk of electrocution (from exposed wires) by turning off the heater’s electricity.
If you need to adjust the temperature, here’s how to find your dial:
- If you have a gas model, the dial will be located on the gas valve face.
- If you have an electric model, you’ll find the thermostat, or pair of thermostats, on the side of the tank, hidden under the two side panels.
Only a professional, (like the plumbers at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® of Andover), can determine the best temperature for your household’s needs. Generally, hotter is better, as heat kills bacteria.
Why is my house's plumbing making groaning and honking noises?
These are likely the result of air in your pipes, meaning they’ve lost what we call their “air cushion.” You can easily fix this if you:
- Turn off the water supply at the main valve
- Turn on all your home’s faucets
- Turn the main valve back on
- Turn the faucets off
Why have my water bills been unusually high lately?
The most likely explanation for an unintentional increase in water use is a leaking toilet. You can test for a leak by checking the water level in the tank and seeing whether the overflow pipe has water flowing into it. (This pipe is located in the middle of the tank and is connected to a small tube).
If the overflow pipe does, in fact, have water running into it, you can stop the flow by adjusting the fill valve. Set it to about an inch below the overflow tube’s top, or look at the side of the tank and adjust it to the level of the water level mark you’ll see stamped there.
How do I know if my toilet needs replacement?
Your toilet may need replacement if you can see fissures or cracks in the bowl or tank, or if your mounting or rings show signs of deterioration.
When it’s time to choose a replacement, keep in mind that a toilet, like any plumbing fixture, will have the best chance of a long lifespan of use if it’s made by a well-known, widely respected manufacturer. Here at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® of Andover, we have many quality products to choose from, some of which can lower your water usage per flush.
How do I fix the foul odor coming from my garbage disposal?
Before discussing solutions, it’s important to understand the root cause of the problem. These odors typically come from food debris which has built up in your disposal over time.
Here’s our recipe for cleaning out the debris and eliminating these odors:
What you’ll need:
- Ice cubes
- Peels from a citrus fruit (either lemon or orange rinds)
- Liquid dish detergent
- Cold tap water
- Put the ice cubes and citrus peels into the disposal.
- Run the disposal for about half a minute.
- While the disposal is still running, put a squirt of dish detergent into the disposal.
- Rinse the debris away by running cold tap water down the disposal for about half a minute.
What is the white substance around my showerhead and faucet?
What you’re describing are mineral deposits, a sign that your home could benefit from water softening and conditioning from Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® of Andover through our H2O Harmony system.
This can prevent these deposits in the future, but to get them off your showerhead now, first pour a cup of vinegar into a plastic bag. Position this bag over the showerhead, with a twist tie placed around it to make sure it stays in place overnight. (You might also be able to remove the aerators from the faucet and give them an overnight soaking in vinegar).
The next morning, take the bag off the showerhead. By now, the vinegar will have reacted with the deposits, allowing them to be gently scrubbed off with a toothbrush.
What will happen if roots get inside my home's drain lines?
Short answer: nothing good.
Long answer: Root intrusion is common when shrub roots and tree roots are able to reach the points of entries of pipes. Soon, a pipe will be totally blocked by root masses, which only become worse clogs when they interrupt the flow to your home’s main sewer and attract and hold onto debris such as grease and toilet paper.
As a result, you’ll notice a reduction in your water flow, drains that run slower than they used to, and often total drain blockage. The problem can also cause damage to the pipe. Intruding roots continue to grow after they’ve entered a pipe, creating pressure that can lead to cracks and, ultimately, total pipe collapse.
Is there any maintenance for a water heater that I can do?
You can and should be doing regular water heater maintenance:
- Test your heater’s pressure relief valve. If it fails, it should be replaced.
- You should flush out sediments annually.
- Have a professional check the anode once every two years. This component prevents rust, making it vital to the heater’s functionality.
If you want to avoid the trouble of doing all this maintenance yourself, an annual water heater flush and inspection are included in our protection plans.
What does it mean when I hear a rumbling sound coming from the water heater?
Most likely, this is a sign of sediment build-up on the bottom of the heater. When water gets trapped in the sediment, it can boil, producing the sound you’re hearing. This indicates a lack of efficiency in the water heater’s operation, as sediment is preventing heat from transferring to the water stored in the tank.
For a solution, you can try hooking a drain hose up to the valve found at the bottom of the tank, in order to drain a few gallons of water. Allow the draining from the bottom of the tank to continue for about five minutes.
If you attempt this, here are some safety precautions:
- Turn off the water heater’s power before draining.
- Drain your water into a floor drain or tub.
- Do not drain your water outside (it will kill your grass) or into a toilet (it may cause the bowl to crack).
If you have sediment build-up, it probably means you have an old water heater model. Newer models are better at preventing build-up, so it may be more cost-effective to get a replacement than to attempt a repair. You may even consider a tankless water heater for increased efficiency.
My kitchen sink drains slowly, so I think my drains have a clog. What should I do?
You have several courses of action. Here they are, starting with the most basic:
- Try using a plunger.
- Try a liquid drain opener, following the directions on the bottle. For the best enzyme-based drain opener, try our original product, BioBen®.
- Remove debris by disassembling the drain trap. If you do this after a drain opener didn’t work, be careful of liquid in the trap.
- If none of these has worked, it’s likely that your clog is located beyond the trap. Use a drain auger to reach the clog.
For repairs I can’t do myself, which plumbing company should I call?
Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® of Andover!