Is Water Hammer Hurting Your Pipes

One common plumbing problem many homeowners experience is water hammer. It can cause some serious problems if left unaddressed, so here is a little info about what water hammer is, what it does to your pipes, and how it can be fixed.

What Is Water Hammer

Water hammer is a condition in which water rushing through pipes at high velocity suddenly stops or shifts directions. The result is a shockwave that literally causes a banging or hammering sound in your water pipes.

What Causes Water Hammer

There can be several causes of water hammer in different situations, but generally the condition is caused when water flows through your pipes at high speed, and when the water flow is shut off, that water suddenly stops and causes the shockwave.

Many home plumbing systems have short lengths of pipe called “risers,” which are capped at one end and installed vertically. These risers are filled with a cushion of air to act as shock absorbers to prevent water hammer.

Also, new homes are often designed with larger-diameter pipes to reduce water pressure and slow down the water velocity, thereby reducing water hammer.

While the risers are an effective fix, water hammer can still occur when these air-filled risers become blocked and fill up with water, debris, and mineral deposits. It’s similar to the way arteries in the body become clogged with cholesterol over the years.

If your house is showing signs of water hammer, you should address the issue immediately before the problem causes permanent damage.

MisterSewer---CTA---May-2015-Whitepaper-(720-x-300)(1)

How Does Water Hammer Damage Your Plumbing

Water hammer causes shockwaves that travel through your pipes and cause pressure in excess of 1,000 psi. That is a lot of force, and over time it can cause valves and water pipes to fail or burst, causing major damage inside the walls of your home. This should be avoided at all costs, as the cleanup and repair costs can be astronomical.

How Can You Fix Water Hammer

If you’re on a tight budget and want to try some low-cost options before searching for Pittsburgh plumbing services, there are some options you can try yourself to see if the problem can be fixed without professional assistance.

Water hammer arresters are small fixtures that can be installed near valves. They take the place of risers by accomplishing the same thing: they act as shock absorbers. You can also try installing low-flow water fixtures, such as water-saving WaterSense showerheads and faucets. These reduce the speed of water flowing through your pipes, so that when the faucets are shut off and water flow stops, the pressure is low enough to reduce the chances of a shockwave being produced.

Another possibility is to install a pressure regulator on your main line and set it to 40 psi. This limits the water flowing into your home at the source and will reduce water velocity throughout the entire system. You may need to call in a plumber on this one, but keep in mind that it won’t be appropriate for all homes, as reducing water pressure too much can result in a trickle of water flow in some fixtures when multiple water outlets are in use simultaneously (e.g. running an upstairs faucet while the clothes washing machine downstairs is also filling with water).

Hopefully one of these options will remedy the issue. But if these DIY plumbing repairs haven’t resolved your water hammer problem – or if these are simply beyond your ability to perform yourself – then it’s time to call in Mister Sewer.  The professional plumbers at Mister Sewer are ready to help with all of your plumbing needs.  Call today!

Avoiding Plumbing Emergencies When You Head Away on Vacation

Many families look forward to summer for months on end: backyard barbecues, pool parties, beach weather, and traveling out of town. If you’re planning on hitting the road for an extended time this summer, make sure to take certain precautions to prevent plumbing emergencies in your absence. Doing so may save you from having to call on emergency Pittsburgh plumbing services when you return from your trip!

Below are three ways to prevent plumbing emergencies while you are away on your summer vacation.

Shut Off the Water

The most obvious way to prevent leaks and water damage while you’re on vacation is simply to shut off the main water line that leads into your home. The shutoff valve for your house’s main line might be in a vault (plastic or concrete box) buried in the ground out by the street. If this is the case, you should be able to lift the lid, reach in, and turn the valve handle clockwise all the way. Be sure to call your local water utility for guidance if you have any questions or concerns.

For other homes, the water shut-off valve may be in the basement or outside storage room, with a lever attached under or near your water heater. This type of lever uses a ball valve and simply requires that you turn the handle 90 degrees to shut off.

Once you’ve shut off your main line and are ready to leave for your trip, run the faucets to double-check that the water has been shut off properly.

When you return from your trip, be sure to leave the faucets open before you turn your main water line back on again. This can prevent sudden spurts in water pressure that can damage your pipes and valves.

MisterSewer---CTA---May-2015-Whitepaper-(720-x-300)(1)

Clean Your Sprinkler Heads

Now, shutting off the water is great for those of you who don’t plan on watering the lawn while you’re away. But if you continue to water your lawn in the summer, especially using an automated sprinkler system, then you should clean your sprinkler heads before taking that long trip. If the heads become clogged they can cause major problems while you’re away – like leaks in the pipes inside and outside your home. And even if they’re only partially clogged, that can still result in a lot of wasted water which soaks the area near the sprinkler head but leaves your lawn with yellow patches of dead grass. You don’t want to come home to that!

Have a Neighbor, Friend Or Relative Check On Your Home

Even with the precautions above, there’s no way to know that everything is fine while you’re on vacation, because there’s nobody there to double-check. That’s why it’s ideal to have a next-door neighbor keep an eye on things while you’re gone. If you aren’t very close with your neighbors, then try to at least have a trusted friend or family member stop by daily for a property a walk-through.

While you’re on vacation this summer, the last thing you want to do is worry about the condition of your home, so take some precautions to prevent possible plumbing problems. If you’re not able to do these things yourself, then call reputable plumbers to take care of it for you. Better to be safe than sorry.  The professionals at Mister Sewer will help you to take every precaution in order to keep your plumbing in tip top shape for your return!

Fixing a Toilet That Just Won’t Flush

There could be several reasons why your toilet won’t flush properly.  Common causes can be a lack of water, a lack of drainage, problems with the chain, or problems with the flapper. Some of this fixes may be easy to handle yourself, while others may need the help of a professional.

There Isn’t Any Water Coming Into the Tank

You can’t flush a toilet with air, so if no water is coming into the toilet bowl when you flush, lift the lid off the tank and take a look inside. Is there any water in the tank? If its bone dry, then you’ll need to check if there is water coming. If the sink faucet works, then the household water is on, so you can rule out a problem with the water coming in to the house. It might be that someone shut off the water at the valve coming out of the wall to your toilet, so double check that the valve is turned to the open position.

If there is water coming into the tank, but it doesn’t fill up and just trickles into the toilet bowl, then that means the flapper isn’t shutting all the way to allow the tank to fill.

The Toilet Is Clogged and Cannot Drain

If water flows into the bowl when you flush, but it fills up and almost overflows, then your toilet or pipe is clogged. Hopefully it’s just the toilet itself, because that can be a quick fix. Carefully work your plunger to pump the clog down through the pipes and get things flowing again. When inserting the plunger into the toilet bowl, do so at an angle to allow water to fill the bulb. This may help the plunger work more effectively.

If working the clog with the plunger does not dislodge the clog, then it may be time to call a professional plumber to have your toilet augured or snaked.

MisterSewer---CTA---May-2015-Whitepaper-(720-x-300)(1)

The Chain Is Slack, Tangled, Disconnected or Broken

If the toilet isn’t clogged and there is water flowing into the tank, then check the chain. If the tank is full but won’t drain into the bowl when you flush, it may be too long or too slack and won’t lift the flap high enough. Cut a couple links off or just detach it and re-attach it a couple of links down from the end to effectively reduce the length.

It may also be tangled a little. If so, just untangle it and see if that fixes the problem. If the chain is broken, then you’ll need to replace it. Look carefully at how the old one attaches before you take it off and throw it away. Then just attach the new chain the same way and adjust the length as needed for proper flushing.

The Flapper Is Damaged or Warped

If there’s water flowing in, there’s no clog, and the chain looks good, then the flapper may be the culprit. Those rubber flappers can bend, warp and deteriorate over the years. If that’s the case, then you can replace it yourself without too much trouble. The new flapper will keep water from trickling out into the bowl and create a nice seal so that the tank can fill properly again. There are many different flappers available and it is important that you replace your old flapper with a new one suited for your toilet.

If these tips don’t seem to fix the problem, or if putting your hands down in there just isn’t an option, then call a professional plumber in Pittsburgh like Mister Sewer! Our friendly staff and experienced staff will help to get your toilet up and running in no time!