You know your home pretty well. You know what not to cook on the stove if you want to avoid setting the fire alarm off. You know how long it takes for your air conditioner to cool each room. You know the best times to open your windows to let a cool breeze roll through.
But of all aspects of your home, you’re probably least familiar with its plumbing system. You have no idea where those drains and pipes lead, after all. To help you feel more familiar and comfortable with your home’s plumbing system, we’ve answered six common plumbing questions.
1. How Do I Shut Off My House’s Water?
You shouldn’t wait until your pipes burst or freeze to locate your water main. Learn how to shut your home’s water off now to prevent water damage should an accident occur in the future.
Locate the main shut off valve inside your home. The shut off valve is a brass valve that has a round handle or a lever. You’ll find it wherever water enters your home-generally in the garage, laundry room or in front of the house.
- Turn the valve all the way to one direction (usually toward the right) to block water flow into your house.
- Find your home’s main water valve, which is outside. The main valve should be near the street in the side walk.
- Turn the handle all the way to one direction to block water flow. This should shut off your home’s water entirely.
2. Why Is My Water Pressure So Low?
Low water pressure can be attributed to the age of your pipes. Over time, rust accumulates in the pipes, causing their diameter to shrink. As a result, less water flows through your pipes, thereby leading to low water pressure.
Leaks can also cause low water pressure, so if you haven’t had your pipes inspected in the last five years, call a plumber to inspect them.
3. Is The Black Ring Around My Toilet Mold?
Have you noticed a black ring around the base of your toilet? If so, the wax seal underneath your toilet is probably leaking. The black ring you see might be mold, or it could just be bacteria buildup.
Call a plumber as soon as you notice this problem-they’ll have to completely remove the toilet to replace the seal and clean the mold or bacteria.
4. Why Does My Faucet Drip So Much?
Leaky faucets prove both annoying and expensive. They generally result from worn or broken mechanisms within the faucet. Fortunately, it’s easy to replace these mechanisms. You can buy replacement parts at your local hardware store, or you can call a plumber to do the job.
To avoid drippy faucets in the future, turn your faucets off and on gently. Too much force puts excess stress on the faucet, thereby causing leaks.
5. Why Is My Water Discolored?
Every time you turn on a faucet, you expect to see crystal clear water come through. So when any other color comes through, you’ll probably feel shocked and alarmed.
- Yellow water most often indicates that you have rust buildup in your pipes. Rust particles can come loose from the side of your pipes and mix with the water, causing it to turn yellow or even orange.
- You’ll need to replace your pipes if this occurs. Brown water is a sign that you have an overabundance of iron or manganese in your water. Iron occurs naturally in the soil, which could seep into your pipes. Manganese in your water heater can also contaminate your water if you haven’t flushed the tanks in several years. Contact a plumber to determine the source of your brown water.
- Black water only occurs when mold has contaminated your water supply. Contact a plumber right away if you notice black water coming from your pipes.
6. What Should I Do If My Pipes Freeze?
Although temperatures in the Las Vegas area rarely get low enough to cause your pipes to freeze, we have had some chilly days in the last few years. You’ll need to prepare and educate yourself in the event your pipes do freeze.
First, turn off your home’s water supply using the steps outlined in the first section. Then, wrap any exposed outdoor pipes with warm towels. Next, open your utility closet doors to circulate warm air to the indoor pipes.
To speed the thawing process, use a hair dryer to warm the pipes. Start near the faucet, then work your way outside toward the cold section of the pipe. Never use an open flame to thaw your pipes, as this could ignite beams or insulation near the pipe and cause a fire.
If you have additional plumbing questions, don’t hesitate to call a plumber in your area. Or, take a look at our other blogs (https://rakeman.com/blog) to learn more about your home’s plumbing system.