The plumbing in your house is made up of two systems: the clean-water supply system and the wastewater system. Both systems require periodic attention to keep in good operating condition. However, before you make any major changes in your plumbing, find out what your local plumbing codes require. Most communities have adopted some type of plumbing code.
Clean Water Supply
You have a water meter to measure water consumption for billing purposes if you are on a city water supply or if you purchase your water from a local water association.
You may use the meter, however, to discover how much water you are using for a particular job. First, you must learn how to read it. Locate your meter and study the dial carefully. You can usually tell how to read it. One type reads like a car odometer; a second type reads like your electric meter. Each of the five or six dials contributes one number to the total digit. All meters have a special pointer that makes a complete revolution for each cubic foot of water consumed at a given time.
To measure the amount of water you use for a specific task, such as sprinkling the lawn, read the water meter, perform the task, and then read the meter again.
The most important thing to know about the plumbing in the house is the location of the main shutoff valve. If a pipe breaks or the water heater bursts, turn off the main shutoff valve fast. There also should be various “local” shutoff valves. Locate them, too. There should be one under each sink, on toilet tanks, and on the washing machine.
Detecting Water Leaks
If you want to find out if the water stain on your ceiling is caused by a water leak or a faulty roof, use your meter. Make sure all faucets are off, then watch for 20 minutes the one-foot pointer on your meter. If it moves, even slowly, there is a leak.
If you do not have a meter, plumbing supply stores have available amplifying devices to help determine possible leaks. If you are not confident to find the leaks by yourself, contact a professional company like AB Construction to do this work for you.
“Water hammer” is annoying but not serious. It is a phenomenon that occurs when a valve abruptly stops the flow of incoming water.
The problem may be corrected by one of these methods:
- Replacing an “offending” faucet that is spring-closed with one that is manually closed. The manually closed one operates more slowly.
- Reducing the high water pressure by closing the main shutoff valve slightly.
- Checking the temperature on the hot water heater. It should never be above 140 degrees F.
- Installing a shock absorber to prevent the vibration. This is a job for a professional plumber rather than a do-it-yourselfer.
Repair Leaking Faucets
Leaks are annoying, wasteful, cost money, and stain fixtures. Most leaking faucets are caused by worn out washers.
Supplies Needed To Repair Faucets:
- Box of assorted sizes of washers, unless you know the size
- Adjustable wrench
How To Repair:
- First, turn off the water at the shutoff valve nearest the faucet you are going to repair, then turn on the faucet until the water stops flowing.
- Loosen packing nuts with wrench. Most nuts loosen by turning counterclockwise. Use the handle to pull out the valve unit.
- Remove the screw holding the old washer at the bottom of the valve unit.
- Put in a new washer and replace the screw.
- Put the valve unit back in the faucet and turn the handle to the proper position.
- Tighten the packing nut.
- Turn on the water at the shutoff valve.
Faucets may look different, but they are all built about the same. Mixing faucets used on sinks, laundry tubs, and bathtubs are two units with the same spout. You’ll need to repair each unit separately.
Is water leaking around the packing nut? Try tightening the nut. If it still leaks, remove the handle and loosen the packing nut. If there is a washer under it, replace the washer. If there’s no washer, you may need to wrap the spindle with “packing wicking”; replace packing nut and handle. Turn the water back on at the shutoff valve.