Ask The Plumber
Question 1: Recently my water bills appear to be rather
high. None of the faucets appear to leak. What else could contribute to
a high water bill?
Answer: You may want to check to see if a toilet is
leaking. First, check the water level to ensure that water is not
overflowing the tank by way of the overflow pipe. This is the pipe in
the middle of the tank. It has a small tube connected to it. If water is
running into the overflow, adjust the fill valve to stop the flow
approximately 1 inch below the top of the overflow tube or to the water
level mark stamped on the side of the tank. Second, put a few drops of
food coloring into the tank to test the flush valve mechanism. If the
water in the bowl changes color within 15 minutes, this is an indication
that water is leaking into the toilet bowl and that the ball or flapper
needs to be replaced.
Question 2: How often should I have my septic system
Answer: Septic systems should be inspected and pumped a
minimum of once every three to four years. You may not be experiencing
any problem now, but a full septic tank may allow unwanted solids to
flow into the drain field, which is the part of the system that consists
of a distribution box, with a series of connected pipes. Each pipe
allows water to flow into a bed of stone that drains into the ground. If
paper and other solids flow into the drain field it becomes blocked and
ineffective. A blocked drain field is costly to repair or replace.
Question 3: The temperature of my hot water seems to be
higher than what I think I need. How can I conserve energy, yet also be
sure that there is an adequate amount of hot water?
Answer: Most people are comfortable with their hot water
set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is also the new standard that
manufacturers use when pre-setting it at the factory. If you have an
older model, set the thermostat at medium. On a gas model, there is a
dial on the front of the gas valve. On electric models, the thermostats
(there may be two) are concealed behind the two panels on the side of
the tank. NOTE: Turn off the electricity before removing the panels.
There are exposed wires behind the panels containing HIGH VOLTAGE.
Question 4: I have a foul odor coming from my garbage
disposer. What can I do to eliminate this odor?
Answer: Foul odors occur from a buildup of food debris
within the disposer. To eliminate this odor, place ice cubes and lemon
or orange peels in the disposer and run for 30 seconds. Next, squirt a
little liquid dish detergent into the disposer while it is still
running. Finally, run cold water for about 30 seconds to rinse all the