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Top 5 Plumbing Questions and Answers

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It’s only natural for homeowners to have plumbing questions. Plumbing problems can be quite complicated and expensive to handle. That means homeowners have a great interest in understanding plumbing as much as possible in order to make the best decision when the next plumbing calamity strikes.

What follows are arguably the top 5 plumbing questions and answers, arranged in no particular order.

Q: What’s the best way to choose a plumber?

A: Assuming that the plumbing problem is not an emergency, it’s always smart to do as much research as possible before choosing a plumber. Check to make sure the plumber is licensed in your local area or state. Consult the Better Business Bureau to learn about complaints filed against the plumber or his company, and whether the plumber has a good record handling disputes. Ask the plumber for references and call those previous clients to get their opinion of the plumber’s work. Finally, ask for a free estimate on the repair job that has caused you to look for a plumber in the first place. Don’t be shy about getting a few estimates. The figures are important, but so is the reputation of the plumber in your community.

Q: How do you avoid frozen pipes?

A: If the pipes are exposed in an unheated area or outside, wrap the pipes with foam or some type of insulating material and bind it with electrical tape. Another possibility is an electrical wire heating wrap that will keep the pipes above freezing even in very cold weather. If you are concerned about pipes within a wall with no other access, you can poke small holes through the wall and cover the pipes with insulating foam. Finally, if the pipes are totally inaccessible, leave a trickle of water running, which works to warm the pipe slightly and slow down the freezing process.

Q: My water bill is unusually high; what should I do?

A: This is a plumbing question that needs to be answered quickly. The most likely explanation for a high water bill is a leak somewhere within your home’s water system. Look carefully at all faucets for leaks and check toilets to see if they are running even when not in use. Check all appliances for leaks, particularly the water heater. Finally, make a careful assessment throughout your house, looking for damp spots on the walls, floors and ceilings that would indicate leaking pipes inside the walls.

Q: What consumes the most water in my house?

A: While it may seem that the bath or shower is the culprit, the real water hog is the toilet, which is why it’s particularly important to immediately repair a toilet that runs even when not in use. A toilet running off and on 24 hours a day can lead to a huge water bill.

Q: What are the most important plumbing tools to keep at home?

A: Right near the top of the list is a toilet auger, which can be used to penetrate and eliminate clogged toilets. A plunger is also a valuable tool that often can take care of clogs in toilets, showers and sinks. A wet-dry shop vac, though not strictly a pluming tool, can be a lifesaver if a pipe or appliance has sent water into a room. Getting the water up as quickly as possible can be the difference between saving a floor and having to replace one.

The answers to these common plumbing questions may provide some help in either avoiding or dealing with the next plumbing problem.

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