Your Household Plumbing

Your plumbing includes all of the pipes and fixtures on your property, from the meter or valve near the street to the faucets inside your home. Here are a few important components to be familiar with:

Main Shutoff Valve

This valve is normally located where the water line enters your home through the foundation. It can be used to shut the water off in an emergency or when plumbing improvements are being made. It can also be turned off while the property is vacant to prevent water damage that unforeseen leaks might cause. To make sure this valve works properly, turn it off and verify that the water flow to your fixtures has stopped completely. When the valve is turned back on, it should be opened fully to allow unrestricted water flow.

Pressure Reducing Valve

The pressure reducing valve (PRV), which is normally located near the main water valve, is usually a bell-shaped device, approximately four inches in length, which are designed to keep the water pressure inside your home from exceeding a set limit. This helps prevents “knocking” in pipes and other stresses caused by high pressure.

Hot Water Heaters

Hot water heaters do just as their name suggests, provide a source of hot water for your home appliances requiring hot water. Hot water heaters manufactured between the years of 1993 and 1996 have the possibility of containing a defective dip tube. The dip tubes break down inside the heater and cause plastic white chips to flow to the water faucets. The white chips do not pose a health risk but can cause a decrease in water flow to faucets. To test whether the chips are from the dip tube, apply some heat to them. If they smoke and smell like plastic then they are from the dip tube. Another way to check is by placing the chips in a cup of water. Chips that float are from the dip tube. To fix the problem, you must replace the dip tube. Also, the hot water heater will have to be flushed to ensure that all white chips are out of the piping.

Sinks That Leak

Leaky sinks can be a major source of water waste and cost you money. According to the EPA, easily corrected household water leaks frequently rob consumers of eight percent of their water bill. The trick to fixing a leaky faucet is to know what kind you have. There are several different types of faucets, including a compression faucet, a ceramic disk faucet, a ball-type faucet, and a cartridge faucet. The compression faucets are usually of the two-handled variety. The ball-type and cartridge faucets are the single lever faucets commonly found in the kitchen. Faucet leaks are usually caused by worn-out seals. Since each type of faucet requires different materials to fix the leak, it is best to consult your local hardware store for the most accurate information or parts you’ll need to fix it.

Toilet Flappers

The toilet flapper is located at the bottom of the tank and seals the tank drain until the handle is pushed. If the seal is not tight, leakage can occur, resulting in the toilet unexpectedly refilling or making running water sounds. To check if the toilet flapper is working properly, there are two tests you can do:

  • Shred some toilet paper and toss it into the bowl. Flush the toilet and see if all the paper is gone. If it is not, then the flapper setting needs to be adjusted.
  • Add a few drops of food coloring to the tank behind the bowl. Wait 10 minutes without flushing. If the color appears in the bowl, the flapper is likely defective or leaking.

For further information regarding how to replace the toilet flapper, consult your local hardware store.

Pipes In Your Yard

Water and sewer service laterals are the pipes that run underground from the meter or valve near the street to the main water valve inside the house. They are typically made of copper, plastic, or sections of both and are your property and responsibility. If either line needs repair, Frederick Water may be able to assist with the location of the lines. Always contact Miss Utility prior to digging anywhere in your yard.

Preventing Sewer Backups

You can do this by ensuring nothing goes down the drain or flushed into the toilet that shouldn’t be. Items like cooking oil and pan grease should never be poured down the drain, nor should caustic liquid items, such as oven cleaner, or harder items like meat scraps, plastics, or metals.

Cross Connection Backflow

A cross connection is a temporary or permanent connection between a potable (drinking) water supply and a non-potable source. An example would be the pipes connecting the public water system to an irrigation system. Backflow is the undesirable flow of non-potable water or other substances through a cross connection back into the consumer’s plumbing system or public water system.

Sump Pumps

Discharge of surface or ground water to the sanitary sewer system is strictly prohibited. Under county code, violators are subject to termination of service and fines. If you have a sump pump dewatering fountain or area drain, ensure it discharges to surface drainage. Frederick Water will be glad to assist in making this determination and advice on corrective measures, if necessary.