Plumbing Maintenance Tips
Some general plumbing advice for new home buyers.
Is your hot water too hot?
Why? If you have small children, and you find the hot water for the baths or sinks is too hot, there is an easy fix. Sometimes, the previous owner may have left the water temperature of the hot water tank set too high.
How? At your water tank (gas fuelled) there should be a gas valve at the bottom and on the valve, there should be a dial similar to the photo below. Just turn the dial o a lower temperature setting.
Winterization of hose bibbs
Why? If you have an older hose bibb, you should “winterize the hose bibb”.
How? Prevent water in the pipes from freezing, expanding, and cracking the hose bibb water pipe. Before winter arrives, you should follow some easy steps.
- Shut off the water valve in the house connected to the outside hose bibb.
- Remove any attachments to the hose bibb.
- Open the hose to remove any water in the pipe, then close the valve.
The photo shows shut off valve in the house for the outdoor hose bibb
Upgrade your old hose bibb
Why? In Canadian winters, your old outdoor hose bibb can freeze with water, expand and then crack the piping. One way to avoid this is to install a "Frost-Free Hose Bibb". The homeowner can turn off the hose bibb as normal, but it moves the shut-off valve of the hose bibb inside the house, so there is no water exposed to the outside to freeze the water.
Integrated hose bibb with vacuum breaker. Avoiding water contamination in outdoor hose bibb. The hose could be submerged in water and under certain circumstances could result in water contamination. Installing a backflow preventer device (atmospheric vacuum breaker) in the faucet adds a level of protection against contaminated water coming back into the home.
Why do my water pipes make a banging noise?
Why? One possible reason is water hammer. When a valve is closed quickly, the water hits the valve hard and bounces back, creating a vacuum. The vacuum in turn attracts the water back to the closed valve, hitting it again. This reverberation sounds like a hammer hitting a metal pipe. It also may cause loose pipes or leaks.
How? There are possible fixes for the water hammer.
A) Extend vertical pipes at least 12”. This allows for a cushion of air to shock absorb the water flow.
B) Anti-water hammer arrestors. These devices have a small diaphragm tank with air acting as an air cushion.
Problems with some sink traps
- In the home, there should only be “P” traps. A trap keeps sewer gases from entering the home. Some fixtures may have traps that are called an “S” trap—as they resemble the letter “S”. The design of an “S” trap can lead to siphoning of the water in the trap, and letting sewer gases enter the home.
- Many kitchens or bathrooms may have double sinks. Each sink will have a trap, but you may notice some installed with “double trapping”. This is where one trap is connected directly to the next trap. This can result in clogging of the trap because the velocity of the water has been reduced to the point that solids can stop moving at the second trap. Remove, if you have a double-trapped drain.
- Install new traps with a cleanout at the bottom of the trap. This makes it much easier to clean clogged traps.
Older houses with no venting?
How do you know? When you run water from a fixture and the water drains, you may not have proper venting if there is a gurgling noise at the end. You need venting for fixtures, so air can escape, and water/waste can drain. The noise is from water being pulled from the trap via siphoning because of the lack of venting in the system.
How? One inexpensive solution would be to add an air admittance valve. An older version was called an automatic air vent, which is no longer used.
Air admittance valves work based on differences in pressure from the air in the surroundings to the air in the piping. Negative pressure opens the valve and lets the air into the drain, positive pressure ensures sewer gases do not escape. This device helps eliminate the siphoning of the traps. But unlike a proper vent, it does not allow sewer gases to escape out of the house.
The diagram shows where the air admittance valve should be installed in your drainage system.