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13 of Your Most Common Plumbing Repair Questions Answered

Whether you’re building a new home or moving into an existing house in Burnaby or Coquitlam, plumbing problems are inevitable. Here, we’ll list some of the most common residential plumbing issues and the answers to frequently asked plumbing repair questions.

1. Turning the Water Off Before Going on Vacation: Is It Necessary?

You’ve booked the hotel, bought plane tickets and found someone to take care of your pets. Every item on the pre-trip to-do list is done, but you still need to remember something.

Many Burnaby homeowners forget to shut off their water before vacation, which can be costly. While most trips are uneventful—and homes’ water systems are just fine while the owners are away—problems can still arise.

While the family is away, even a small leak or water backup can cause catastrophic damage. These issues may bring water into your home for days or weeks if left unattended. Keep water woes from ruining your vacation, and eliminate them by turning the main water supply off before departing. This simple but important step will minimize the risk of water damage and make for a more peaceful vacation.

2. Where’s the Main Water Supply Valve?

Finding the supply valve may be difficult if you’re shutting off the home’s water supply for the first time. This is crucial information, as it may be necessary to turn off the water quickly during a crisis.

Turning off the main water supply is a logical first step if there’s a burst pipe or a significant leak. Finding the shutoff valve is easier when you look around the home’s perimeter. These valves are typically placed about one meter below ground level; if it’s in the basement, the valve will be at eye level or even lower.

Water supply lines take the shortest route from the outside meter to the home, and the shutoff valve will be where the line and the home’s exterior meet. Home inspection reports are another tip-off as to where these valves are located.

3. My Water is Cloudy. How Can I Clear It Up?

Have you ever turned on the tap to fill a glass only to notice that the water looks milky? If the home’s water is cloudy, it’s likely because of the following:

  • Bubbles. This is, by far, the most common reason for water to be cloudy. Bubbles typically occur during cold weather, as temperature and pressure changes come. They’re harmless and will gradually dissipate, so let the water sit for a moment, and the bubbles will naturally disappear.
  • Dirt. In some cases, particles make their way into a home’s water supply. These tiny bits of dirt and sand become suspended in the water, causing cloudiness. While a small amount of water-borne dirt is harmless, it looks unpleasant. Clear the water by treating it with a sediment filter.
  • Sulfur. Does the home’s water smell like a rotten egg? If it does, there’s hydrogen sulfide in it. Sulfurous bacteria thrive in wells and plumbing systems with rotten organic matter and little oxygen. These bacteria emit hydrogen sulfide gas, which is then trapped in the water. Sulfur isn’t dangerous, but it’s essential to have the water tested to be safe.

The team at New West Plumbing can help the area’s homeowners with their water source, water heater, and filtration issues. Call today to schedule an appointment.

4. Why is Moisture Coming Out of the Ceiling Around the Light Fixtures?

It’s an unnerving sight. You’re enjoying a meal when the light fixture above fills with water. Why is it happening? Often, floors and walls conceal minor leaks, making them virtually undetectable. The first visible sign may come when the moisture finally finds its way into a light fixture. When this occurs, there’s a leak nearby. It happens more often than you’d think and it can be fixed with the following steps.

  • Don’t touch anything. Don’t handle the fixture or attempt to remove the water, and don’t use the light switch, as electricity and water don’t mix.
  • Turn off the power. Rather than turning the lights off, go to the home’s circuit breaker box and turn off the power at the source.
  • Shut off the water. If the water comes from an overflowing washing machine or sink, turn the supply off at the source. However, if you can’t find the source of it, turn off the main water supply at the shutoff valve.

After taking these steps, call the pros at New West Plumbing. Our Burnaby plumbers will find the leak and make the necessary repairs. It’s also a good idea to consult an electrician who can determine if they should replace the fixture.

5. My Spigots Are “Frost Free.” Should I Still Disconnect My Hoses During the Winter?

Winters in British Columbia can get bitterly cold, so Burnaby’s homeowners need to do what they can to prevent burst pipes. Many homes are equipped with “frost-free” fixtures, which leads some residents to assume there’s nothing left to do. However, that’s not true.

When garden hoses are used, water becomes trapped in the line leading to the spigot and stays once the hose is turned off. The water will freeze on a cold winter night, and the pipes may crack. With frost-free spigots, cracking will still occur, but the problem may be less noticeable, and water may get into your home before you know it.

Disrupt all garden hoses before cold weather sets in to reduce the risk of ruptured pipes and hidden leaks. For additional protection, use the shutoff valve located inside the home. If your home needs to be equipped with shutoff valves for outside faucets, one of our technicians can install them.

6. Why Is This Month’s Water Bill High?

Burnaby homeowners, like many others, budget for their monthly utilities. However, an unusually high water bill can ruin those plans. It may be due to multiple factors if you’ve noticed a steep increase in your monthly water bill—or if you’ve always paid a lot for water. Some of these are major plumbing issues, and others are minor problems that are easily resolved. These issues may include the following:

  • A leaking toilet. Toilets are the most significant source of home water use, accounting for almost one-fourth of the water a homeowner may use. If a toilet leaks, it may waste over a hundred liters daily.
  • Leaky faucets. Dripping faucets are another common bathroom plumbing problem. When faucets leak, they waste water and result in higher utility bills. If a faucet drips once per second, it may waste almost 12,000 liters of water annually.
  • A leaking sprinkler system. Do you have an irrigation system installed? Your high water bills may be due to a hidden leak. Check the lawn for patches of green growth and damp areas.
  • A ruptured water line. The pipes connecting your Burnaby home to the municipal water supply may be loose or cracked. Tree root intrusion and animal activity are common causes of water line breakage.
  • Old and outdated fixtures. How old are your home’s faucets, toilets, and kitchen appliances? Outdated fixtures are a leading cause of plumbing issues. Modern fixtures and appliances, however, are more efficient and reliable. Consider upgrading these items if you’re always dealing with high utility bills.
  • Changing lifestyles. Sometimes, a family’s water usage will change as the seasons do. For instance, many families fill their pools in the summer and do laundry more often in winter. Such changes can cause sudden spikes in water usage.
  • Wasting water. In some instances, high water bills are due to waste. Consider your family’s water usage patterns and look for areas to improve. Common water wastes include leaving the tap on while brushing teeth, running small laundry loads, and overwatering lawns. Decreasing usage will save natural resources and reduce your water bill.

While you can easily address some of these causes with DIY methods, others are more complicated. If you’re dealing with a burst pipe or outdated fixtures, the team at New West Plumbing can help. Call today to request additional information.

7. Why Are My Home’s Pipes So Noisy?

Does laundry day leave you with a headache? Your pipes may be to blame! Today’s appliances often work so fast and efficiently that they may cause a home’s pipes to move with every change in water pressure. If those pipes aren’t properly fastened, they might move so much that they make banging noises. While a bit of noise isn’t harmful, excessive banging can cause the pipes to wear out prematurely. Not only that, it’s a real bother to hear!

To prevent pipe noise, take one or more of these steps:

  • Find the noisy pipe and strap it in place. While most plumbing supply stores sell pipe straps, we make the installation easy.
  • If you can’t access the pipe, install special shock absorbers known as water hammer arrestors. These pieces keep the pipes from moving when the water pressure changes.

No matter the cause, noisy pipes are a genuine inconvenience. Call New West Plumbing today to learn about our pipe noise solutions.

8. Why Is My Toilet Always Running?

This is a common question among New West Plumbing customers, and the answer is simple. Toilets typically run nonstop because the flap at the bottom of the tank won’t seal shut. To check for this issue, remove the top from the tank and flush while observing the flap.

Does it close? If it doesn’t, some water flowing into the tank comes through the flap. Therefore, the water will keep running because the float never reaches the point it stops the water flow. That’s why jiggling the flush handle works. The handle is attached to the flap by a chain, and shaking it repositions the flap for a more secure seal.

9. Why Do We Run Out of Hot Water So Quickly?

There are a few reasons for the lack of hot water, depending on the unit’s condition, age, and type.

  • Electric water heaters usually have two elements, one at the top and one at the bottom. Either of these heating elements may fail. If the bottom heating element stops working, only the top half of the tank is heated. And, when that element finally malfunctions, there will be no hot water.
  • The reset button. Modern water heaters have reset buttons that, when tripped, causing the units to stop working. If your water heater’s reset button is tripped, there’s a problem.

When there needs to be more hot water to go around, frustration may build quickly. Save time and aggravation by calling New West Plumbing for fast, friendly, and efficient water heater repair and maintenance services.

10. My Water Bill is High, and None of My Faucets are Leaking. What Else Could It Be?

If you’re trying to determine why your water bill is so high, there are a few things to check. The first step is to check the home’s toilets, ensuring they’re free of leaks. The water level inside the tank should be about three centimeters below the overflow valve, and the flapper should create a tight seal after every flush.

11. Chemical Drain Cleaners: Are They Safe?

While they’re widely available, there are better choices than chemical drain cleaners for Burnaby homes. These concoctions are typically very toxic, which makes them dangerous in homes with pets and small children. The caustic chemicals can also damage your home’s pipes, causing them to deteriorate from the inside. When this occurs, the drain lines will eventually need to be replaced.

A few products on the market in Canada contain pipe-friendly enzymes and bacteria. These options work well to keep grease and sludge from clogging the insides of a home’s pipes. For stubborn clogs, though, you can always count on our Burnaby plumbing pros.

12. What’s Safe to Put Down the Garbage Disposal?

Garbage disposals are powerhouses that whisk food scraps and waste away, but their power has limits. They’re far from indestructible, and it’s your job to keep disposals running smoothly by not putting certain items in them.

  • Coffee grounds. They have a h2 smell, which leads many residents to empty them into the garbage disposal to eliminate odors. However, doing so will create drain clogs.
  • Eggshells. While the occasional shell won’t cause problems, regularly dumping them into the disposal will eventually create a buildup.
  • Shellfish scraps. Oyster and clam shells are hard; your disposal can’t grind them up. It’s also a good idea to leave lobster shells and shrimp tails out, as they also create clogs.
  • Very starchy foods. Don’t put starchy foods like oatmeal, beans, pasta, and rice down the disposal. They expand when wet, which creates a greater risk of drain clogs.
  • Bones. Though small bones can safely go down the garbage disposal, the same isn’t true of larger pieces.
  • Fat, grease, and oil. Grease is liquefied after cooking but solidifies when it’s left to cool. That’s why it’s best not to pour fats, oils, and grease down the garbage disposal. It may make it part of the way through your pipes, but it will create a clog at some point. The same applies to fatty foods like nuts, poultry skin, and raw meat.
  • Vegetable peels and fibrous produce. Most veggies can go down the disposal, but a few exceptions exist. For instance, celery, banana peels, and potato peelings will create bothersome clogs.
  • Paint and chemicals. Don’t pour them down the drain, as they’re corrosive. Furthermore, latex paints will cling to the inner drain lines and create clogs.

While we hope your garbage disposal functions well for years, we’re here to help when problems arise. Call today to schedule disposal repair or replacement.

13. Why Is My Water Heater Rumbling?

The most common causes of water heater noise are sediment and steam in the tank. You can often address steam-related issues by turning down the thermostat. If you think the thermostat has failed, turn it down to its lowest setting. If it doesn’t shut off, replace it.

To eliminate sediment in a water heater tank, open the drain valve at the bottom and let the water flow out until it’s clear. Removing the sediment and checking for steam issues should reduce noise problems and allow your water heater to operate smoothly.

The Importance of Hiring a Professional Plumber for Your Burnaby Home

Is your home’s plumbing past its prime? If you’ve recently noticed water heater issues, slow drains, or a dripping faucet, it’s important to address the problem correctly and promptly. While do-it-yourself repairs may sometimes work, they’re, at best, a temporary fix. Below, we’ll list why hiring New West Plumbing is the right decision.

  • Staying safe. Depending on the nature of the repair, scalding burns, water quality, or even electrocution could result from DIY repairs. Don’t risk your safety or your family’s health—leave the job to our trained professionals.
  • Leveraging our years of experience and training. Our plumbers in Burnaby have undergone the training and education to perform Canada’s most complicated plumbing jobs. While many of the area’s homeowners are pretty handy, it’s best to call the pros when there’s a plumbing problem.
  • Access to special equipment. Do you have a tube cutter, plumbing auger, sewer camera, hydro-jetting equipment, and other industrial tools in your garage? If not, you’ll spend time and money buying or renting them. Skip the frustration, expense, and inconvenience by hiring New West Plumbing to do the job.
  • Preventing property damage. Taking on simple plumbing projects is doable sometimes, but if the job is more complex, it’s best to leave it to a licensed plumber. Hiring a pro will reduce the risk of property damage but could be time-consuming and costly.
  • Enjoying greater peace of mind. When homeowners tackle their plumbing jobs, it’s impossible to ensure that the work has been done correctly. DIY repairs don’t have guarantees, and the fixes might not last. Conversely, our professionals offer labor and parts warranties for your reassurance.
  • Detecting minor problems before they turn into big ones. When fixing an issue, a do-it-yourselfer may overlook other problems that may eventually worsen. However, our trained plumbers know just what to look for. By evaluating the entire plumbing system, our plumbing experts will get to the bottom of the issue and prevent trouble before it even starts.
  • Long-term savings. Though many homeowners attempt to do their plumbing repairs as a cost-cutting measure, they often pay much more when their repairs don’t last. You will save money in the long term by hiring us, and we’ll do the job right the first time.

Whether you need scheduled plumbing maintenance or major pipe repairs, we offer unparalleled customer service. Learn more about our services online or call today to schedule an appointment with a Burnaby plumber.

Do You Have Plumbing Questions? New West Has the Answers!

Residential plumbing may seem simple, but a lot is happening behind your home’s walls and under its floors. A small issue can quickly become a big and expensive problem, so it’s best to address it before it gets out of hand.

Do you have any questions or concerns or need to request assistance with a plumbing project? Our team is here to help. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Burnaby plumbers. Our experienced plumbers in Burnaby can help you with anything from a slow-draining shower to a stopped-up toilet.

Don’t stress over when to call for plumbing help, as we’re ready to help with issues of all types and complexities. Contact us to request additional information for routine or emergency service. We look forward to helping you with all your residential plumbing maintenance and repair needs.