Bathroom Plumbing FAQ

QUESTION: Help! My toilet just exploded with sewage. Why?

ANSWER:

A sudden explosion of sewage from a toilet is much more than a run of the mill clog. It could mean that you have a significant blockage in the branch line between the sewer main and your bathroom. Your best option is to call a professional to clear out the drain line. In most cases, they will use a cable outfitted with three-inch blades. If you do not have a large enough clean-out port to accommodate the cable, the plumber may have to remove your toilet in order to snake the line.

When cleaning up following a sewage backup, be sure to take appropriate precautions, including wearing a mask and gloves to avoid making yourself, your family, and even your pets sick. Salmonella, Helicobacter pylori, and E. coli are just a few of bacteria found in sewage that can cause everything from gastrointestinal upset to hepatitis.

QUESTION: What’s an easy way to remove a brass compression ring?

ANSWER:

Homeowners attempting to replace the water valve on their toilet often find that the brass compression ring has become stuck on the copper pipe. Reusing the old ring can result in slow drips and generally is not the best solution. There is not an easy way to remove a stuck compression ring. The best option is to use a tool similar to a bearing puller that is specially designed for removing compression rings. The tool fits behind the compression nut for a secure grip. You keep turning the toggle nut until the ring and nut come off the pipe. When choosing a compression sleeve puller, it is usually best to select a heftier tool. It will last longer and work better on hard-to-remove fittings. Once you have removed the compression ring and nut, you will need to make sure the pipe is in good condition to ensure that the new fittings will seal properly.

QUESTION: The spout on my bathtub slowly drips. Why?

ANSWER:

Several different issues can cause a few drops of water to drop from your bathtub spout. If your spout has a diverter, the water drops are perfectly normal. A small amount of water is allowed to bypass the diverter so that the diverter will reset. This allows the water to come from the tub spout instead of the shower head the next time the shower is used. If the amount of water coming from the tub spout affects the water volume of the shower head, it probably needs to be replaced.

The drip could also be caused by a worn washer in the shower faucet. This is probably the case if the drip continues all day. If the drips stop after about an hour, it is most likely water draining from the shower head.

QUESTION: How do I prevent high water pressure from making my toilet run all the time?

ANSWER:

If your toilet is constantly running, you should first check for leaks or see if the flapper or chain needs to be adjusted. These are the most common issues that would cause a toilet to run and are the easiest to fix. If these issues are not the problem, then it may be high water pressure that is causing your toilet to run. If not addressed, high water pressure can eventually cause leaks in other bathroom fixtures. The increased pressure can also cause the pipes inside your walls to vibrate against one another, which can damage your walls or even cause the pipes to burst.

If you get your water from a local water district or municipality, the problem may be on the provider’s end. Your water company may be willing to check the water pressure going into your home. If the pressure is high, they may also be able to install a pressure-reducing valve to bring your water pressure down to an acceptable level.

If you are on well water and in some municipalities, you may be responsible for resolving the pressure issue on your own. A licensed plumbing professional can verify if you have high water pressure and install a pressure-reducing valve if necessary.

QUESTION: My faucet is leaking. What’s causing it?

ANSWER:

A leaky faucet can add hundreds of dollars to your water bill. A persistent leak can also be a sign of a much bigger plumbing problem.

The location of the leak is the first clue as to the source of the problem. Water leaking from under the faucet handle may be due to faulty O-ring. The O-ring is small rubber ring located around the valve stem. Simply replacing the O-ring will typically solve the problem.

A damaged or loose seat washer may cause your faucet to drip or chatter even after it is turned off. This usually occurs when the faucet is used repeatedly. If you have a newer faucet, the plastic valve cartridge or seat and spring may need to be replaced.

A faucet may develop a leak if the valve seat becomes corroded. Older valve seats, which were typically brass, could be resurfaced and reused. Today’s plastic valve seats must be replaced.

Another common problem is water leaking from around the base of a kitchen faucet spout. This normally entails removing the spout and replacing two O-rings. If the spout is badly pitted, the new O-rings may not seal properly. In this situation, the best option is to replace the entire faucet. If the spout is still in good condition, you should be able to fix the problem with new O-rings. It is important to rub plumber’s grease into the O-rings before replacing the faucet over the base. This repair can be a little difficult to get right, so you may want to contact a professional.

This may sound unusual, but it is actually a rather common problem. All of your bathroom fixtures are connected to the same supply pipes inside the walls of your bathroom. The toilet, tub, shower, and sink are all connected to the line in the same way, so a problem with one faucet may be related to the pipes leading to one of the other bathroom fixtures.

QUESTION:Why Does My Bathroom Faucet Drip When I Flush the Toilet?

ANSWER:

The most common issue that would cause a faucet to leak as the toilet is flushed is high water pressure. Normal residential water pressure is between 50 and 70 psi. If the pressure exceeds 80 psi, it can cause complications. Under normal circumstances, the water flows in from the supply line and refills the tank whenever you flush the toilet. Once the tank is full, the pipe between the water supply line and the tank is automatically closed to keep the toilet from overflowing. When this happens, the water is forced backward. If you have high water pressure, water can be forced through a worn or deteriorated seat washer, which can cause the faucet to drip. The drip will normally stop once the pressure decreases; however, it can cause more problems over time.

If your home is equipped with a pressure-reducing valve, you may want to have a professional inspect it to see why it is not properly regulating your water pressure.

QUESTION: My toilet tank has no water flowing. Why?

ANSWER:

The first step is to check the valve located behind the toilet to ensure that it is in the open position. If that is not the issue, you will need to shut off the water supply before removing the cap on top of the fill valve in the middle of the tank. Once you have removed the cap, you will need to turn on the water supply. Be sure to place a small bowl over the valve to redirect the water back into the tank. If water does not come out of the valve after removing all of the components, you most likely have a clog in the line leading to the fill valve.

To clear the line, you will need to turn the water off again so that you disconnect the supply line from the bottom of your toilet. While holding the end of the line over a bowl or bucket, turn on the water. If you still do not get water, you will need to shut off the water supply to the entire house. You may have a clog at the valve inlet, so you will need to remove the valve from the wall. If you still do not find the blockage, you will need to work your way back to the meter by removing sections of pipe until you find the blockage.

QUESTION: Why does my bathtub have a pink/orange stain?

ANSWER:

In most cases, a pink or orange residue or stain on your tub or fixtures indicates that you have a lot of iron content in your water. You can purchase a testing kit locally or online that will allow you to determine the exact mineral content of your water. If you use well water, you will probably need a filtering device or water softener to remove the excess minerals from the water before they enter your pipes.

The longer hard water stains remain on your tub and fixtures, the harder they are to remove. If the stains are minimal, you may be able to remove them with simple scouring power. You should avoid using anything with chlorine bleach. The bleach will actually set the stains and make them worse. Moderate to stubborn stains may require trisodium phosphate, muriatic acid, or oxalic acid. If using these products, be sure to read the directions carefully and follow all safety precautions.

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