How Do I? Frequently Asked Plumbing Questions.2019-12-272019-12-27https://www.plumbinginclarkcounty.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/clark-county-plumbing.pngClark County Plumbing and Drain Serving Vancouver WA, Portland OR, and all of SW Washingtonhttps://www.plumbinginclarkcounty.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/clark-county-plumbing.png200px200px
How Do I? Frequently Asked Plumbing Questions.
We have decided to write a blog on frequently asked plumbing questions from our clients.
For instance, How do I flush my water heater? How often should I flush my water heater? How do I unclog my toilet? How do I keep my drains flowing clearly? How much does it cost? Why are plumbers so expensive?
How Often Should I Flush My Water Heater?
Depending on the model of your water heater and water quality, most manufacturers recommend flushing your water heater every once a year.
How to Flush My Water Heater
Water heaters come in three varieties: gas, electric, and tankless. This how-to tutorial will be showing a natural gas water heater. , so these instructions will be geared towards flushing a gas hot water heater. The biggest difference between gas and electric is that with gas, you’ll be turning off the gas to your appliance; with an electric, you’ll be turning off the electricity.
1. Turn the Knob on Your Hot Water Heater’s Thermostat to “Pilot Or Vacation”
The thermostat on a gas hot water heater is usually found near the bottom of the tank. Turning the thermostat to Vacation or Pilot mode will prevent the water heater firing while you are draining the tank.
If you have an electric hot water heater, you’ll want to find your electrical panel and turn off the breaker to your water heater. Generally, this is a 30 amp breaker
2. Turn Off the Cold Water Supply to Hot Water Heater
water heater shut off
The cold water valve is usually near the top of your hot water heater. Turn it to off
3. Connect Garden Hose to Drainage Spigot
Before you turn on the spigot, make sure the other end of the hose leads outside or at least into a bucket. If your hot water heater is in the basement, you may need to get a portable pump in order to pump water out of the basement and to the ground floor.
4. Turn on Spigot and Drain
Drain your tank until the water runs clear and no longer has sediment. If your tank has a lot of sediment, you may need to drain it completely. As you can see in this picture above, the water when we first started draining was a bit brown and there was a lot of sediment at the bottom of the bowl.
5. Open the Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve
This helps water flow more easily while draining and it allows you to test your pressure relief valve. Make sure you have a bucket beneath the drainage pipe on your pressure relief valve before opening as water will be rush out. Be careful. This water will likely be very hot. If water doesn’t come out, you’ve got a faulty pressure relief valve and it will need replacing.
After you’ve opened the pressure relief valve, let the water in your hot water tank drain out through the attached garden hose. Once the water has completely drained out close the Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve.
To flush your hot water tank, turn on the cold water shut off leading into your hot water tank. Let it run for a few minutes until the water exiting your hose runs clear.
This may take a bit. While the water might be running clear and isn’t brown, you may still have some sediment. Here’s a picture of the water coming from my tank when I first started flushing:
As you can see, I still had some sediment (can be seen at the bottom) coming out. Continue flushing until you have very little or no sediment in your water. Turn off the cold water spigot leading into your hot water tank.
Once the water is running clear, it’s time to put things back to the way they were.
Turn off the drainage spigot and disconnect hose.
Close the pressure relief valve if you opened it.
Open a hot side faucet on a sink or tub.
Turn on the cold water shut off leading to your hot water heater.
Once water is running clearly through the hot side sink faucet or tub you can close the faucet (be sure there is no air left in the tank).
If you shut off the gas to your hot water heater, turn it back on.
If you turned the thermostat off on your hot water heater, re-light the pilot light and then turn it to your desired temperature.
If you have an electric hot water heater, flip the breaker switch on your electrical panel that gives power to your water heater.
Wait about 30 to 40 minutes for the water to heat up. Turn on a hot water spigot somewhere in your house to ensure hot water is coming out.
Put it on your calendar to do it again in a year.
How Do I Unclog My Toilet?
1. Stop the Toilet Bowl From Filling Up.
If it looks like the water might overflow out of the toilet, take the lid off the tank as quickly as possible and close the toilet flapper. The flapper releases water from the tank into the bowl. If you’re worried that your flush has a good chance of turning into a flood, take off the top before you pull the handle. Then you can keep one hand close to the flapper while the other hands pushes the flusher. The minute it appears the water is rising, you’re ready to stop the flow of water.
2. Get the Right Plunger
Once the disaster has been averted, it’s time to unsheathe your plunger. To effectively use a plunger, you need a good seal between it and the toilet bowl. Funnel-cup plungers are the best plungers for this. They’re the ones with a flange, or added piece, extending off the bottom of the rubber cup.
3. Warm Up Your Plunger
Stiff, hard plungers don’t work as well as soft and pliant ones. Run your plunger under some hot water before you use it. This will soften up the rubber, which will help you get a better seal on the toilet bowl.
4. Plunge Correctly
Stick the plunger in the bowl and use it to form a solid seal over the exit hole. Give a few good up and down strokes with the plunger and flush the toilet. If the water clears from the toilet, then you’ve successfully unclogged it. If the toilet starts overflowing again, just close the flapper to stop water from entering the bowl. Repeat the plunge and flush sequence until your clog is gone.
5. Old Plumber Trick: Hot Water and Dishwasher Detergent.
Add a few cups of hot water to the toilet bowl before you start plunging. After you pour the hot water in, let it sit for a few minutes. This will make unclogging the toilet with the plunger much, much easier. The heat from the hot water can sometimes break up the clog without plunging, so this could be a good tactic to use if you clog a toilet at a friend’s house and you don’t want to face the embarrassment of asking for a plunger.
Also, try adding some dishwasher detergent to the mix. The soap can help break the clog up, as well.
6. Another Old Plumber Trick: Use Baking Soda and Vinegar
Another trick to unclog toilets comes from your elementary science fair project. Pour one cup of baking soda into the clogged toilet and then slowly pour one cup of vinegar into the bowl. The chemical reaction and fiz can help break down the clog.
Harder Clogs, Use an Auger
If the plunger doesn’t work, its time to use an auger. An auger is a cable-like device that you snake through the toilet hole to help loosen up a clog. You can find augers at most hardware stores.
To use an auger, you simply snake the cable down the hole. Start turning the crank on the end you are holding until it stops. This means you’ve reached your clog. The auger will either break up the clog or hook on to it. If it feels like you’ve hooked the clog, pull it out. Discard any waste on the end of the auger. Give the toilet a few plunges to clear up any leftover blockage. The toilet should drain when you have cleared the toilet. We suggest wearing rubber gloves for this job in case you need to clean off some… matter from the plumbing snake.
When Should I Call The Plumber?
There are times when your own efforts just aren’t enough. How do you know when it’s time to call in the professionals to battle your clog? If you see water backing up in the sinks or showers whenever you flush, it’s time to bring in a plumber. Water backing up in odd locations when you flush means you have a clogged mainline, not a clogged toilet. A plunger and auger won’t get the job done. Call Clark County Plumbing & Drain for a free in-home estimate 360-210-7933
How Do I Keep My Drains Flowing Clearly?
Bathroom sinks and tubs usually become slow and blocked for different reasons than kitchen sinks, so you have to deal with them in different ways. For cleaning bathroom drains, ordinary table salt can be a very effective ingredient in your toolbox. Pour at least one tablespoon of salt into your bathroom drain followed by 1⁄4 cup of plain white vinegar, and let it sit for an hour. Then, run HOT water to clear out all of the loosened substances from the drain. For best results do this once a month.
2. MAINTAIN YOUR SINKS
To keep your drain clear after you clean it out in this manner, from time to time pour a little bleach into the sink. Let it sit overnight or for at least an hour before you run water down the drain again. We do not recommend this if your home has a septic tank. We do not recommend using chemicals or acids to clear your drains they are bad for the environment and hard on your plumbing fixtures.
3. DITCH THE GREASE
Grease build-up in your kitchen sink drain can be remedied with liquid dish detergent and a large volume of boiling water. Put a big pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Squirt a generous amount of dish liquid (at least a tablespoon) directly into your drain and pour the boiling water into the drain, a little at a time. The rapidly boiling water will melt grease deposits while the detergent helps to dissolve grease and oil and allow the boiling water to flush it away. You may want to repeat this process two to three times if the grease build-up is substantial.
4. HOTTER THAN USUAL WATER
It may seem obvious, but simply putting hot water down your kitchen and bathroom sink drains at least weekly can go a long way to keeping them clean and clear. For the kitchen sink, hot water will help to melt and flush away light grease deposits. Bathroom drains also benefit from very hot water, since you normally wouldn’t use such hot water for washing your hands or face.
5. USE COLD WATER WISELY
Conversely, when running your garbage disposal, run copious amounts of COLD water down the drain, not hot. Coldwater will keep oils and grease in a solid-state so they can be broken up by the disposal, whereas hot water will melt and soften grease and encourage it to coat the inside of your drain. Only use hot water after you have already run the disposal to help remove any grease deposits that may have formed when you were washing pots and pans.
When Should I Call The Plumber?
When your drains are not draining at all when you have standing water in your sinks, tubs or showers generally do-it-yourself remedies do not work. If you have standing water in any of your fixtures it’s time to call the professionals. Call Clark County Plumbing & Drain for a free in-home estimate. 360-210-7933
How much does it cost?
Often times clients will call and ask to get a price over the phone for service. How much does it cost to replace a toilet? How much does it cost to replace a water heater? At Clark County Plumbing & Drain it is our policy to not give pricing over the phone for quite a few different reasons. We understand that our clients want to know how much something costs before they commit to having a plumber come out and that is completely understandable.
Here are a few reasons why we can not properly diagnose the plumbing issue over the phone.
When a client is looking for strictly a price over the phone they are assuming everything is created equal between Clark County Plumbing & Drain and Plumbing Company B.
Scenario Number 1: The customer calls Clark County Plumbing & Drain and asks “how much do you charge to unclog my kitchen drain” Clark County Plumbing & Drain says $300 the customer then calls Plumbing Company B and asks the same question and Plumbing company B says $150. The Customer is strictly looking at the price assuming both companies are created equal. But what if Plumbing Company B is not properly insured? What if Plumbing Company B’s employee is not properly background checked? What if Plumbing Company B’s employee doesn’t wear shoe covers and gets mud on your carpet? What if Plumbing Company B’s employee isn’t trained properly and breaks something on your drain line? Is the additional $150 that you would have paid Clark County Plumbing & Drain worth it then?
Scenario Number 2: The customer calls Plumbing Company B and asks ” how much do you charge to replace my water heater” Plumbing Company B says $1600 the customer agrees to the price and schedules the appointment. When Plumbing Company B arrives at the customer’s house and looks at the water heater they see that the water heater does not have a proper drain valve on it, they notice that there is a shelving unit that needs to be removed and that it is located in the basement and will need a second employee to remove the old water heater. The employee for Plumbing Company B tells the customer that it will cost $2100 to replace the water heater. Now the customer is upset and says ” I was told $1600 over the phone”. Plumbing Company B either has to do the job for the quoted price of $1600 and not be profitable or charge the customer $2100 and have the customer upset and feel like they were taken advantage of. Either way is a lose-lose
Scenario Number 3: The Customer calls Clark County Plumbing & Drain and asks ” how much do you charge to replace my water heater” Clark County Plumbing & Drain states that they do not offer estimates over the phone but they do offer Free In-Home Estimates with no obligations to the customer. The customer agrees and schedules an appointment. On the day of the appointment, Clark County Plumbing & Drains technician calls the customer to let them know what time he will be arriving. Upon arrival, Clark County Plumbing & Drain’s technician wears shoe covers before entering the home. He then does a thorough inspection of not only the water heater but the entire plumbing system to ensure that the water heater does in fact need to be replaced. After he determines that the water heater does need to be replaced he provides the customer with 2 high-end options 2 mid-range options and 2 budget options that best fitt the customer’s needs. The customer can then choose the best option for their needs and budget. Once the Customer chooses and option Clark County Plumbing & Drain’s technician starts the work. If the customer does not like any of the options then Clark County Plumbing & Drain’s technician leaves with no charge or obligation to the customer. It is a win-win situation for everyone.
Why Are Plumbers So Expensive?
Insurence: Water is a destructive and powerful force. Water is constantly trying to deteriorate and damage pipes, fixtures, and faucets. Therefore plumbing is considered a high-risk business. Plumbing insurance is very expensive because of this fact. To be properly insured in case of an accident plumbing companies have to charge properly to cover this expense.
Labor: Since the early 2000’s there has been a shortage of skilled labor in the trades. The shortage of skilled labor means that the supply and demand of the labor force dictates that there are higher wages for quality employees. To cover the higher labor cost of quality employees companies have to charge properly to cover this expense.
Marketing and Advertising: The age of smartphones and social media has changed the way customers find plumbing companies. This is great for customers because you can have multiple plumbing companies at the tip of your finger. This adds extra expense to plumbing companies because in order to stay relevant they need to advertise in every media source. Plumbing companies have to charge properly to cover this expense.
How Do I Hire A Plumber?
There is a myth that plumbers are dirty scoundrels that are out to steal every penny you have. The truth be told is that most plumbers and plumbing companies mean well. There are the rare few like in any business that are just no good.
When hiring a plumber or any contractor do your research. Online reviews are a great way to get a feel for what a company is like and how they treat their customers.
Get a referral, ask your friends and family if they have experience with a plumbing company. Chances are if your family had a good experience with Plumbing Company A, so will you.
Get a second opinion, on jobs that are more than $1500 call more than one plumbing company. Be sure that both companies are comparing apples to apples.
Don’t be cheap, just because a plumbing company gives you an estimate for more than what your budget allows does not mean that they are trying to take advantage of you. Customers often go with a cheaper company because the price fits into their budget. This scenario may cost you more in the long run because the cheaper company does not do the job properly. If you have done your research properly the price, online reviews and referrals should all align.
On several occasions, we have heard stories from our clients that they hired a plumber to repair something, they paid him and later had problems with whatever was repaired. When they called the plumber to come back he does not answer or return their phone calls. The majority of the time we find out that they chose this plumber because he was the cheapest. The customers state “that he was really nice and did really good work, he just doesn’t return our phone calls” From our experience we find that the plumber did do good work and perhaps he is a good person but that he did not charge enough to cover in case something went wrong. He can’t afford to go to a call back because he’s not even making a profit on the jobs that he’s charging for. In other words, he doesn’t know the cost of running a business. Does this mean he’s a bad guy or tried to rip someone off? Not intentionally, but the customer ends up paying twice because they tried to go with the cheaper plumber first.
We hope that this helps to answer some questions when it comes to hiring a plumber or dealing with plumbing issues. Please call
Clark County Plumbing & Drain for your free in-home estimate 360-210-7933
How Do I? Frequently Asked Plumbing Questions. IN VANCOUVER WA AND CAMAS WA
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Clark County Plumbing & Drain is a family owned plumbing company operating out of Camas, Washington. We strongly believe in building sustainable relationships with our customers. Call today for an estimate!