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General Plumbing FAQ

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The plumbing system on your property is an important part of day to day life, so we take it very seriously. We know that you do too. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of frequently asked questions, to help you be more aware of your plumbing system’s functions and issues. Should you ever feel the need to clarify one of these questions, or maybe ask another that’s not found on this list, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly service staff. We’re happy to talk through any plumbing issues with our Contra Costa or Alameda area clients, and we welcome the opportunity to visit your property for an on-site inspection if the situation calls for that.

What should I do if my toilet becomes clogged?

Plugged toilets are one of the most common plumbing problems. Debris often gets lodged in one of the many bends within a toilet’s design. When a toilet clog occurs, of course the natural DIY solution is to use a plunger to dislodge the object. Most times that is an effective course of action. However, if toilet clogs become a regular problem in your property, there’s probably a bigger issue at hand. If you’re using a toilet plunger more than a couple of times each month, it’s a wise idea to give our team a call to come and inspect the problem. Our professional equipment will be able to determine the issue and provide a more suitable remedy.

I’m experiencing low water pressure on my property. What can be done?

A loss of water pressure is less of an inconvenience and more an indication of a bigger issue. Low water pressure can be caused by a blockage in the pipe or the fixture that definitely needs to be removed. However, that brings up the question of how the blockage got into the water line in the first place. There could be a break in the line that is causing both water to seep out and sediment (blockages) to seep in. Both the loss and the obstruction of the water are a big deal. Finally, low water pressure could be an indication of significant scaly build up from high mineral content. In that case, pipes should be thoroughly cleaned to allow for the restoration of proper water flow. When water pressure declines, be sure to call us right away.

There are soggy puddles in my yard. What could that mean?

Standing water on the exterior of a property is definitely not something to be ignored. The cause could be coming from a number of things. If water is pooling near the home, it could be an indication of a pipe break within the foundation, which will need to be addressed promptly. If the water is puddling further away, that could be a sign of a break in the sewer line, especially if it’s accompanied by a foul odor. In that case, a sewer camera inspection is advisable, in order to determine the extent of any damage. Soggy spots in the yard may not seem like a big deal because they don’t disrupt any interior functions, but they should still be examined by one of our trained professionals.

My sinks and tubs are not draining properly. What should I do?

Slow flowing drains mean that there is some type of blockage within the pipe. For the safety of your plumbing system, we recommend calling our office to schedule an appointment. Our team is trained to use professional tools including in-line cameras, long distance snakes, and hydro jetting equipment to take care of the issue. DIY clog removal methods may proof effective in the short run, but they can bring about long term damages that may be more costly overall.

I’ve got a water leak! What now?

Water leaks produce a feeling of dread in property owners, with good reason. Whether there is visible flooding, sounds of water dripping, or simply a discoloration on the ceiling, water leaks are problems that require a timely solution. The first course of action should always be turning off the water at the source. Locate the valve that leads to the leak and turn it off, so that more water is not allowed to escape and create additional damage. After that, give us a call for a more long term solution. After an examination of the situation, we’ll be able to tell you what type of repair or replacement is in order.

My water is discolored. Is this a problem?

Yes, this is a problem because the water that flows from your tap should be safe for human consumption. A brown or yellow tint means that there is foreign sediment in the water that may present health risks. Discolored water may be coming from deteriorating pipes, especially in older homes. Over time, the pipes can experience corrosion, and tiny particles can get into the water supply. Water may also become discolored due to a faulty hot water heater. Elements within the appliance are also subject to decay, which can affect the water color. Finally, a fracture in the pipeline may be allowing earth sediments to infiltrate the water, which would obviously cause water to look dirty. Discolored water can be dangerous to humans, and it can also cause damage to fixtures and enamel. We’d be glad to come inspect your plumbing system to help determine the cause of your discolored water and prescribe a fix.

I hear water running. What could it be?

The sound of running water is a red flag because it indicates that water is flowing somewhere in the household or place of business. The first step should always be to double check all faucets, including tubs, sinks, washbasins, and outdoor hose bibs. Observe each fixture, watching for any drips when turned completely off. In this way, you can determine if the problem is localized or global. If you cannot find any individual issues, there may be an unseen leak somewhere in the piping system. Whether the issue is at the fixture level of the pipe line level, we’ll be glad to help remedy the situation.

There is a damp spot in the cabinet below my sink. What is the cause?

Wetness found below a sink is an indication of a slow leak in the pipes beneath the drain. Many times this is an easy fix. Replacing the trap and resealing the connections often does the trick. Still, this a job better left to professional plumbers, since working with pipe connections (especially on older systems) requires a certain degree of finesse that can only be obtained through experience. In the meantime, be sure to place a large bowl or small trash can under the sink to avoid any more water damage to the cabinet base.

My toilet/sink makes a bubbling sound. Is that normal?

A bubbling sound is definitely not normal. In fact, it’s a sign of unseen issues in the sewer line. A bubbling sound when a toilet is flushed or a sink is draining indicates that there may be a blockage that could be accumulating. The effect is similar to that of a soda bottle being poured out quickly. A properly functioning sewer line should not have these pockets of air. Give our General Plumbing and Rooter team a call to find and eliminate the blockage problem.

There’s an foul odor coming from my drains. How can I get rid of it?

A stinky odor coming from interior drains is more than just unpleasant-it’s actually an symptom of a malfunctioning sewer line. Blockages and build up can hinder the normal flow of waste water through the sewer line, which in turn leads to the escape of gas. In that case, the system likely needs to be thoroughly cleaned to rid it of the foul odors. It’s best to schedule an appointment like this sooner rather than later, before the waste water itself begins to back up into tubs and showers.

I have no hot water. What can be done?

First check other fixtures in your home or business. Is the hot water out in all areas or just one? Localized hot water issues probably mean a problem with the hot water line, whereas a complete absence of hot water means there’s an issue with the hot water heater. Either way it’s best to give us a call. We can help with piping problems as well as appliance problems. Often a hot water heater can be repaired, but if not, we can also recommend the most energy efficient new model to fit your needs.

My water is scalding hot. Could that be a bigger problem?

Scalding hot water is not only dangerous at the tap, but it’s also an issue for the life of the hot water heater. Water that’s too hot is an indication of a problem with the temperature regulator within the appliance. Often it’s a problem that can be repaired with a simple part replacement. If not, we can recommend an overall water heater replacement as well.

Is it alright to dispose of cooking grease down my kitchen drain?

Because cooking grease and oils can adhere to pipe linings, it’s best not to pour them down drains of any kind. Instead, it’s better for your plumbing if you catch cooking grease in a disposable cup or can and throw it away in the garbage. If you feel that your drains may have been exposed to too much cooking grease or other oily substances, our team would be glad to come out and perform a safe and effective hydro jet procedure to clean the drain lines.

How often should my commercial/residential drains be cleaned?

Because scheduled drain cleaning can increase the effectiveness and longevity of a plumbing system, we recommend a regular routine for all of our residential and commercial clients. Drain cleaning rids the system of an accumulation from grease, soaps, and organic matter, allowing water to flow as it was intended to. And because our hydro jetting procedure is safe and gentle, with no need for harsh chemicals, it’s the best way to achieve those desired results. During the first drain cleaning appointment, a regular maintenance schedule can be put together by our technician in order to best serve your property.

Why shouldn’t DIY drain cleaning chemicals be used to solve my plumbing clog issues?

Chemicals from the local home improvement store may prove effective for a singular issue. However, the long term effects of these harsh solutions may be damaging overall. Chemicals used for drain cleaning can have a negative effect on both the plumbing system as well as our larger Contra Costa environment. Gentler methods-such as our own hydro jet procedure-are preferred instead.

My water and energy bills have gone up considerably. Can anything be done?

Absolutely. A high water bill may be an indication of a leak somewhere in the system, especially when accompanied by decreased water pressure. Check all fixtures (including all outdoor hose connections) for any type of leaks first, and give us a call for a complete inspection if nothing turns up. A high energy bill can be remedied with a more efficient hot water heater. We’d be glad to recommend an energy efficient tank or tankless model that fits the needs of your household and can save you money in the long run.

How soon can I expect a General Plumbing and Rooter professional at my property?

Because our licensed professionals work throughout Contra Costa and Alameda counties, our customers have come to expect fast turnaround times for all plumbing services. We pride ourselves on same day responses with courteous customer care at every step in the process. From Alamo to Walnut Creek, Blackhawk to Pleasanton, we’re happy to serve our community with high-quality skills and time-tested products. Whether you’re experiencing one of these common plumbing problems, or a different issue that’s unique to your property, you can rest assured that our team will provide efficient, timely solutions that are tailored to fit your particular needs.

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