Bathroom Plumbing FAQ
The problem with flushable wipes is that while they do flush and go down the drain, they don’t disintegrate. When toilet paper is wet, it falls apart quickly because it is manufactured to dissolve. Flushable wipes do not fall apart when they are wet – they hold together better than paper towels.
The bottom line is that flushable wipes will most likely cause a sewage backup and should not be used under any circumstances.
If water is leaking from beneath the toilet, try tightening the closet bolts that secure the toilet to the floor. Use a putty knife or slotted screwdriver to pry off the bolt caps. Use a wrench to alternately tighten each bolt, a little at a time. Be careful not to apply too much pressure to avoid cracking the toilet’s base.
If tightening the bolts doesn’t help, a new wax ring needs to be installed. This can be an overwhelming do-it-yourself project. Give Capps Plumbing & Sewer a call – our professional plumbers are ready to help!
A stuck valve may only require a spray of lubricant. Spray the valve, let it rest to lubricate and then try to move the valve.
If the valve is partially closing, you will need to replace the valve.
If it’s leaking, this can mean the seal isn’t working. Try tightening the fitting and/or replacing the washer inside the valve. If neither of these fixes works, it is time to replace the valve.
Be careful of utilizing the boiling water/vinegar/baking soda method. If your drain is attached to PVC (plastic) pipes, the boiling water could melt or damage the plastic, creating a much larger problem.
One of the worst things you can do to unclog a drain is to use a chemical solution such as Drano. The chemicals in these products can corrode your pipes, increasing the risk of leaks, and can have potentially dangerous reactions to other things found in your plumbing system.
If you’re unable to clear the drain using the methods above, we can help.
Too much water in the tank.
The most common cause for a running toilet is overflow water leaking down into the bowl from the tank via the overflow tube. This happens when there’s too much water in the tank. You can adjust the water level by adjusting the height of the float. To lower the water in a toilet with a float arm, loosen or tighten the screw until the float arm lowers. To lower the water in a toilet with a column float attached to the fill valve, loosen the screw or clip, push down the float, and tighten everything back up again.
Another reason for a running toilet is an old flapper that needs to be replaced. When flappers get old, they don’t seal the way they should, and this allows water to pass constantly from the toilet tank into the bowl. To replace the flapper, simply remove the old one and replace it with a new one from the hardware store. Remove the old one by detaching the chain and taking the flapper off the pins on the side of the overflow tube. To attach the new one, connect the chain and attach the sides to the pins.
Tip: Drain the water from the tank before you replace the flapper. Shut off the water supply to the toilet, and then flush the toilet to drain the water.
Tip: If the chain is too long on the new flapper, you may need to shorten it. If it’s long enough to get caught underneath the flapper, you won’t get a good seal, and the toilet will continue to run.
The Refill Tube is Too Long.
Another cause of a running toilet could be that the refill tube is always pumping water into the bowl. This happens when the tube is too long and isn’t positioned properly. To shorten, pull the refill tube out of the overflow and hold it just above the opening of the overflow. Trim it off at that point and clip it to the side of the overflow tube to keep it in place.
If none of these remedies work, give us a call and we’ll be happy to diagnose and fix the problem.
New Year’s – Emergency hours begin at noon on New Year’s Eve Day and may be extended depending on the day of the week this holiday falls on. Check with our office for more details.
Memorial Day Weekend – Emergency hours begin at noon the Friday before. Regular hours resume on the Tuesday after the holiday.
Independence Day (4th of July) – Emergency hours may be extended depending on the day of the week this holiday falls on. Check with our office for more details.
Labor Day Weekend – Emergency hours begin at noon the Friday before. Regular hours resume on the Tuesday after the holiday.
Thanksgiving – Emergency hours being at noon the Wednesday before. Regular hours resume the Monday after the holiday.
Christmas – Emergency hours begin at noon on Christmas Eve day and may be extended depending on the day of the week this holiday falls on. Check with our office for more details.
Drain Clearing/Cleaning FAQ
The best way to keep drains clear is to limit what you put in them:
- Do not put hard food (food you wouldn’t give a baby), coffee grounds, and grease down your garbage disposal.
- Keep hair and soap scum out of bathroom drains. Cover your tub and shower drains with a mesh screen or a perforated shower drain hair catcher.
- Remove loose hair by brushing it before you take a shower or bath.
- If you wash your dog in the tub or shower, put a washcloth over the drain. The amount of hair a dog sheds during a bath can clog your regular shower drain hair catcher.
- Toilets are designed to only flush human waste and toilet paper. Dental floss, feminine hygiene products, and other household waste should go in the trash instead.
When it comes to landscaping, it’s important to know where your underground pipes, lines, and cables run. Limit the number of trees and find out which trees are safe to plant close to your sewage lines. If you can’t avoid planting trees close to your sewage line, make sure to plant slow-growing trees with small root balls that are unlikely to invade your pipes.
While preventative maintenance seems costly, it prevents high-cost repairs. When regular maintenance is performed, you can deal with any issues before they get worse. Routine video inspection and cleaning prevent roots from invading your pipes.
If you already have tree root damage, it’s important to get your sewer lines clean and work with us to develop a maintenance program. Ask about our root inhibitor treatment that kills roots up to 12” outside of your sewer pipe.
Drain clearing is considered more of a “quick fix” for clogged pipes. During clearing, the plumber breaks up the clog with a rodding machine. Rodding machines consist of heavy-duty cable and cutting blade attachments and are motor-powered. The blades are designed to spin and break up clogs when the motor is turned on. While a normal flow can typically resume once the clog is broken up (cleared, not cleaned), remnants of past clogs are left behind, which makes it more likely that you’ll experience another clog.
Drain cleaning uses a machine called a hydro jetter which runs highly pressurized water through your pipes. Clogs and/or grease buildup is removed (cleaned) from the walls of your pipes. Drain cleaning solves existing problems and helps prevent future buildup, which will save you money in the long run.
Power Rodding CLEARS your pipes. It carefully eases a stabilized metal cable into the pipe to avoid damaging the delicate plumbing system. At the end of this cable, is a cleaning head made of extremely sharp blades that are measured to the diameter of the pipe. The blades rotate at high speed breaking up the clog and scraping away accumulated sludge from the pipe walls, resulting in a clear sewer for water to flow.
General Plumbing FAQ
Below are some basic steps you can take to prevent frozen pipes:
- Keep garage doors closed, especially if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate the plumbing, especially if your sinks are on an exterior wall.
- Let cold water drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature during the day and night.
- If you plan to be away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, and set it to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
- For the long term, add insulation to attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in those areas. And to prevent drafts, seal cracks and openings around windows, doors, and sill plates, where the house rests on its foundation.
House: For most single-family homes, the shut-off valve is typically located within two feet of where the main water enters. If your water is supplied by the village and you have a water meter, two valves will shut off water to the entire home – one located on each side of the meter. It is important to always first shut off the valve located between the meter and the home (also known as the house-side valve). If that valve doesn’t work, only then attempt to shut off the shut between the meter and the outside of the home (also known as the street-side valve). If neither meter valve is operable and it is an emergency, contact us or your village to shut off the water from the exterior b-box. The exterior b-box requires a specific key to be turned off and should only be operated by village personnel or licensed plumbing professionals. WARNING: Do NOT tamper with the b-box or the meter itself. It is illegal to tamper with, obstruct access to, or remove a water meter. Be very careful, and if you have any doubts at all, give us a call.
- Evacuate the property immediately; leave doors and windows open (this will not stop a leak, but will help some of the gas escape)
- Do not use any electrical devices (cell phones, light switches, garage door openers, etc.) until you are at a safe distance from the property.
- Do not start a vehicle if it is on the property.
- Call your gas company.
- Call CAPPS at (847) 750-3117
PVC – Pipe made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is often used in a home’s sewage system because of its durability.
ABS – Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) black pipe is commonly found in sinks, tubs, or toilet drains.
Copper – Copper pipe is found in sinks, showers, tubs, and other fixtures. It is a favorite for water supply lines because the metal does not affect water quality.
Galvanized – Found in many older homes, galvanized pipe was once widely used, but is no longer used in new construction. Over time, this type of pipe rusts and causes pressure issues.
Cast Iron – Used for more than a century for home plumbing, cast iron pipes were commonly used in houses built before 1970.
Here are the 5 plumbing problems that are emergencies and need attention immediately:
- Gas Leak
- No Water
- Risk of Burst Pipe
- Risk of Flooding
- Sewer Backup
The most common reasons include:
- Leaking toilet
- Running toilet
- Dripping faucet
- Broken pipes
- Irrigation leaks
- Old, outdated fixtures and toilets
- Recent changes in water use
There are several reasons why you are experiencing low water pressure:
- Clogged Pipes
- Leaking Pipes
- Corroded Pipes
- Clogged or Faulty Fixtures
- Broken Pressure Regulator
- Emergency Shutoff Valve at Fixture Isn’t Open All the Way
- Water Meter Valve or Main House Valve Isn’t Open All the Way
- Your Water Supplier is Having an Issue
Causes of outside spigots leaking include:
- Loose packing nut
- Worn-out washers in the spigot assemblies
- Frost damage
- Damage to supply pipe
Kitchen Plumbing FAQ
Try using a plunger to push the clog out of and past the disposal and kitchen sink drain. Then flush it through the line with plenty of water.
If you’re unable to clear the clog, we can help!
Also, beware of utilizing the boiling water method. If your drain is attached to PVC (plastic) pipes, the boiling water could melt or damage the plastic, creating a much larger problem.
Check your garbage disposal. If the clog is in the disposal, check out our tips to unclog your garbage disposal.
If the disposal is not the problem, try using a plunger. If you have a flat-bottom plunger, use it. If not, a toilet plunger will work too. Remember, plungers work best when they are submerged in water.
A natural alternative to chemical cleaners is a mixture of baking soda and vinegar.
Follow these steps:
- Remove standing water from the sink with a cup or bowl.
- Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain, using a spatula or spoon to push the powder down the drain if necessary.
- Pour one cup of white vinegar down the drain opening.
- Place a stopper or cover on the drain to seal the opening.
- Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.
- Remove the cover and run hot tap water down the drain.
If you’re unable to clear the drain using the methods above, we’re here to help!
Foods that ARE NOT safe to put down the disposal:
- Fats, oils, and grease – While they go down the drain as a liquid, they will congeal causing clogs further down your system.
- Starchy foods – Rice, pasta, and potatoes break down into mush and can clog your drain and gum up your disposal.
- Fibrous vegetables and peels – Celery, corn husks, artichokes, and asparagus become stringy material that balls up and causes clogs.
- Eggshells, shellfish, and coffee grounds – They don’t decompose or break down easily, so a large accumulation will clog the drain.
Foods that ARE safe to put down the garbage disposal:
Any soft liquid or food – if you can feed it to a baby, you can put it down the disposal. If you wouldn’t feed it to a baby, do not put it down at your disposal!
There can be a few different reasons causing your sink to fill up with water when you run your dishwasher.
- Clogged Sink – A kitchen sink clog could prevent your dishwasher from draining properly. You might be able to fix the clog by running the garbage disposal, plunging the sink, or snaking the drain.
- Air Gap Blockage – Air gaps are installed in kitchen sinks next to the faucet. An air gap prevents wastewater from backing up into the dishwasher. If water is flowing in the sink from the air gap, look inside it and remove any debris causing the block.
- Garbage Disposal Drain Plug – The drain plug covers the hole connecting your garbage disposal to your dishwasher. Sometimes when a garbage disposal is installed, the drain plug is not removed. Simply remove it from the garbage disposal to resolve the issue.
If yours is the only house in the neighborhood with low water pressure you can check to make sure that your main valve is fully open and functioning.
If the problem is only in your kitchen faucet, the two most common reasons for low water pressure are a blocked aerator or a clogged cartridge.
Sewer & Water Line FAQ
There are many benefits to having an outside cleanout:
- Outside cleanouts provide a full-size access point for the effective sewer rodding to remove tree roots and other blockages. Because many sewers transition to a larger size outside, the outside cleanout allows the entry of a full-size rodding cutter to clear the entire diameter of the outside sewer pipe.
- With an outside cleanout, you avoid possible water damage and pipe damage when rodding is done from an inside cleanout.
- Outside cleanouts prevent a mess from being made in your home. When rodding from an outside cleanout, there’s no need for technicians to prep the area like they would do if rodding from an inside cleanout. Any overflow will occur outside your home – not in it!
- Stop running water – do not use the toilet, shower, dishwasher, or laundry.
- Check the water level in your septic tanks – it’s best to call a waste-water professional to do this.
- If your sewer line is clogged due to a damaged or warped pipe, schedule an appointment for repair and/or replacement.
There are several causes for a foul sewer smell in your home or basement:
- Dried out P-traps. Water in any trap under unused drains will eventually evaporate, allowing sewer gas to come up through the drain. Pour a pitcher of water followed by a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil down the drain. This restores the trapped water, and the floating seal of oil will keep the water from evaporating.
- A broken seal around the toilet in the wax ring or caulk. If the wax ring is broken, you’ll need to remove the toilet and replace the wax ring. If there is a crack in the caulk, apply a bead or line of caulk around the exposed area.
- Cleanout plug issues. Remove the grate that covers the opening and make sure there’s a plug inside the drain bowl. If the plug is missing, there’s a direct path for sewer gas to bypass the water trap. Sometimes, the plugs are removed to clean sewer lines and not replaced. Buy a replacement plug at a hardware store.
- While unlikely, the water in the toilet trap also could have evaporated. Weeks of no use could cause this. Flushing will restore that water.
- Broken or cracked sewer pipe. You’ll need to call a plumber to do a video inspection to determine the severity of the problem.
What Should I Expect When My Sewer Needs Repair or Replacement?
- We apply for a permit with your city to doing the job.
- Before excavation, we contact JULIE (Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators) to mark underground utility lines.
- Once the site is ready for excavation, plywood is laid down to protect the yard as much as possible.
- If needed, a portion of the street is blocked off so our crew can complete in-street work safely and efficiently.
- We use excavation equipment to dig up the length of the pipe that needs to be replaced. All excavated material is dumped onto the plywood to help protect landscaping. We haul away all concrete and/or asphalt that is dug up.
- Brand new PVC pipe is installed.
- We call the city to inspect the work.
- We backfill the excavated yard material.
- We fill the concrete and asphalt holes to grade with new stone.
- We will provide estimates for landscape, asphalt, and concrete restoration if requested.
Sump Pump/Ejector Pump FAQ
- If the drainpipe, also called the discharge pipe, gets clogged, the pump can’t move water from your basement to the outside of your home. If the water in your sump pit is moving slowly, or not at all, the drainpipe may be blocked by debris. You can repair this by cleaning the pipe. Remove the screen at the end of the drainpipe, if your pipe has one, and rinse off any debris that has built up on the screen. The end of the drainpipe will be outside your home, with the pipe draining on a downslope leading away from the house.
- Check the pipe for any obvious blockages and remove, and replace the screen.
- Unplug the pump or turn off the power at the circuit breaker.
- Remove the water in the sump pit using a wet-dry vacuum.
- Grab the pump by the handle or the pump body and remove the sump pump unit from the pit. Do not lift the pump by the float switch or power cord.
- Loosen the clamp that holds the drainpipe in place and remove the drainpipe from the main body of the sump pump.
- Insert a plumber’s snake into the end of the pipe that was connected to the pump, and then try to push the snake through toward the other end.
- Hold the pipe over a bucket or sink, and spray water down the pipe using a garden hose with a high-pressure nozzle if the plumber’s snake doesn’t remove the blockage.
- Run the plumber’s snake through again to loosen any remaining material inside the pipe.
- Spray water into the pipe a final time to rinse the remaining debris from the pipe.
- Attach the drainpipe to the pump and tighten the clamp to secure it in place.
- Set the pump gently back into the pit and reconnect the power. Turn the pump on and pour water into the pit to make sure the assembly works as it should.
An ejector pump moves wastewater up into the main sewer line. Homes that have bathrooms and/or water-using appliances installed in the basement or lower level need an ejector pump. Because these fixtures are lower than the home’s main sewer line, wastewater cannot flow out utilizing gravity – therefore a pump is needed to pump it up and out of the home.
The main difference between a sump pump and an ejector pump is the presence of sewage. Ejector pump failure can cause raw sewage to enter your basement. Sump pump failure causes flooding and water damage.
- Jammed float switch
- Underground leak
- Check valve failure
- High water table
- Clogged or frozen discharge pipe
Water Heater FAQ
Both tank and tankless water heaters run on gas or electricity.
Some reasons for a pilot light that won’t stay lit:
- Dirty Pilot Tube – dirt and debris can collect in the pilot tube, causing the flow of gas to be blocked. As a result, the pilot doesn’t get enough fuel to stay lit. This is also a likely cause if the pilot won’t ignite at all.
- Kink in the Flex Tube – The flex tube provides fuel via the gas controller. On occasion, the tube can become kinked, interrupting the flow of gas.
- Obstruction in or Damage to the Thermocouple – the thermocouple picks up an electrical signal from the pilot light’s heat to determine whether the pilot is on. Interference with or damage to interferes with this signal, leading the thermocouple to believe the pilot has gone out. It then shuts off the gas supply as a safety precaution.
- Main Control Valve – With all other options ruled out, a problem with the main valve control is almost certainly the culprit.