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How to Save Money and Prevent Big Plumbing Screw-Ups

Technicians report that up to 30 percent of their service calls require only the push of a button or the flip of a switch. Those small actions can cost you a minimum service charge (typically $50 to $100)—plus embarrassment. Try these tactics first. 

Get a Low-Flow Showerhead Showerheads are the second-heaviest water users—and also major energy eaters, since 70 percent of the water used is heated. By reducing hot-water consumption, a low-flow unit can pay for itself in just one month. And you don’t have to settle for subpar water pressure. Many of today’s water-efficient showerheads use new technology to provide a high-flow feel. 

Fill Gaps Under Sinks Pull back the escutcheons (metal plates) where pipes enter exterior walls, and you may see gaps around the pipes. Use expanding foam to seal those gaps. Shake the can vigorously, then squirt the foam around the pipes inside the wall. Don’t completely fill the gaps—the foam will expand. 

Mold could mean a leak If you see this fungus near water pipes, waste lines, ice-maker lines, or plumbing fixtures, chances are it’s feeding off a nearby leak. Let the water run while you check the pipes and surrounding area for damp spots. If you see mold on or near ceilings, suspect roof leaks. Water can travel in any direction—down, sideways, even up, if it wicks into absorbent material like drywall—so the source of the leak may be some distance from the mold.

 A puddle near the water heater could become a lake Water heaters sometimes leak from the drain or relief valves, which are easy to replace. But if a leak is coming from the tank, watch out. The tank is lined with a thin coat of glass. Over the years, that glass could crack, causing the steel to rust away and a puddle to appear. Left alone, a damaged tank will eventually rupture, causing an instant flood. It might take months or only days for a leak to become a flood—but it will happen. Don’t gamble; replace that time bomb now. 

Should you fix or replace a water heater? A water heater’s life expectancy is ten to 15 years. A small repair will cost at least 10 percent of the cost of replacement; 20 to 30 percent is more likely. If yours is ten years old, replacement is usually smarter. Even if it’s just eight years old, consider a new one. 

Stop a Running Toilet The most common cause is a worn flapper that no longer seals properly, allowing water to constantly seep into the bowl. Press lightly on the flapper with a yardstick. If the sound of running water stops, you know that the problem is related to the flapper. Before you replace it, run your finger around the opening that the flapper rests on. Mineral deposits on the rim could be preventing the flapper from sealing. In that case, scrubbing the deposits with an abrasive sponge may solve the problem. If it doesn’t, replace the flapper. 

Unclog a Sink  In kitchen sinks, there’s a baffle just above the trap that directs water down the drain. But that baffle is also a notorious clog causer, especially if you frequently use the garbage disposal. Bend a coat hanger or other stiff wire, and slip it down the drain. When you feel the wire hook onto the baffle, jiggle it to dislodge the clog. This also works in bathroom sinks, tubs, and showers.

Thank you to Reader's Digests for the above information. 

For plumbing services for your home, rental properties or business, call C & D Plumbing for "Professional Plumbing & Friendly Service".


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