Plumbing How To Instructions

Basic Water Heater Maintenance Tips

Most of us lead very busy lives, and when it comes to home maintenance, we tend to think more about tune-ups for our heating system and water being wasted by dripping faucets, then we do about making sure our tank style water heater is running efficiently. Here’s a few simple maintenance tips that are not costly or too time consuming for the average homeowner.

Do you know what temperature your water heater is set at? The Dept. of Energy suggests a temperature of 120 degrees for the average home. Water heater manufacturers often ship their units with a setting of 140 degrees. You may save yourself some dollars by checking.

Your particular unit may have a gauge easily visible on the side of the tank, or it may have a cover that needs to be removed. If it is covered, unscrew it and use a flathead screwdriver to adjust the temperature setting. Then replace the cover. Easy enough?

A water heater produces hot water. So it makes sense that we want to keep that heat from escaping as much as possible. Pipe insulation can be added to the pipes, and water heater blankets can be found at most hardware stores. Just remember, do not cover any of the gaauges, valves, caps or covers so that you can still have easy access when you need it.

Temperature & Pressure (T&P) Valve
Your T&P valve is a safety feature that is built into your water heater and should be tested every year. It is located at the top or side of the unit and will have a discharge tube that runs down toward the base of the water heater.

Place a bucket under the discharge tube.Open the valve by lifting up on the valve. You may hear a hissing sound from the pressure being released. Hot water should drain down into the bucket. Hold this open for a few seconds, then release it. Did the water shut off correctly? Is it leaking?

Small Water Heater Flush
Empty the bucket you just used and then place it under the drain valve. You should find that near the bottom of the heater tank. Open the valve and run about 1-2 gallons of water into the bucket. Close the valve. Is the water cloudy or clear? If the water is not clear you should plan time for a more complete flush to remove sediment that may affect the life and efficiency of your water heater.

The easiest thing that any home owner can do is to make a regular visual inspection of their  water heater. Look for rusting or leaks that you didn’t notice before. They are warning signals that your water heater may need maintenance or is nearing the end of its usefulness.

Waldman Plumbing & Heating has been helping the residents of Lynn and the North Shore area for over 100 years with their water heater repair and installations. If you’d like help with your water heater maintenance, check out our coupons and then give us a call for an appointment.

How to do I unblock a sink trap?

Today most sinks have a pipe underneath that have a “U” shape called a sink trap. That is an important part of the pipe running from your sink. It has two important jobs.

1. To trap debris  coming from your drain. It is much easier to deal with a clog under your sink, then further down the plumbing system.

2. A sink trap keeps filled with water in order to form a seal against sewer gas. I don’t think any of us want to smell that coming up from our sink.

Checking the Sink Trap

A plugged drain can be caused by many things. And if  the sink trap is next on your list to check, here’s a few steps to help you unblock it. You will need a few things before you get started:

  • Bucket
  • Cleaning brush that will fit inside the pipe
  • Clothing suitable for sitting under your sink.

First, have your bucket underneath the sink trap.  Then after you are sitting as comfortably as possible under your sink, begin to loosen that part of the pipe. Be prepared for water  and debris to make this a dirty job.

Use the brush to check for any blockages inside the pipe. Hopefully you’ll be able to solve the problem. Once you’ve done all you can from that part of the pipe, return the sink trap to its original position.

Now, test your work and see if that has solved the problem by running the water. Is it flowing freely down the drain now, or is there still a clog somewhere in the system? If your sink still begins to fill up, you may need professional assistance. Give us a call and we’ll get your drains running smoothly again.

Waldman Plumbing & Heating has been helping the residents of Swampscott and the North Shore area for over 100 years with their plumbing system repairs and installations. Check out our coupons and then give us a call for an appointment.

How to Fix a Clogged Kitchen Sink in Lynn, MA

It’s a beautiful morning in Lynn, MA. Well, it was, until you noticed your kitchen sink is not draining. Something happened between last night and this morning … and now you’ve got to fix the problem or worry about it all day while you’re at work. Here’s a few things to try before scheduling a plumber’s visit for later.

How Do I Unclog My Kitchen Sink in Lynn, MA?

Check the Obvious. Run your garbage disposal. It may seem obvious, but it is the easiest fix to a clogged drain and worth double checking.

Empty Out Your Sink. You’re going to need room to work with. If you have any dishes that are waiting to be cleaned, put them aside and you can take care of them later … hopefully with a cleared drain.

Plunger Time. Every house should have a plunger. If you don’t, put it on your shopping list. A little bit of energy plunging that sink could be just enough to get it flowing again.

Natural drain cleaning solution. Now you’re going to need to remove any standing water left in the sink. Once you’ve taken care of that, pour 1 cup of baking soda and then 1 cup of vinegar down the drain. See the bubbling? Let’s hope it’s working on that clog of yours. Once the bubbling is over, plug up the drain and waiting 15 minutes. Now try running hot water down the drain to see if the clog has cleared. You might need to try this process a couple of times.

P-trap. Look under your sink and locate the curve in your drain pipe. Put a bucket under that area. Remove the nuts and loosen up the ring to get access to the P-trap. Let any water or debris fall into the bucket. See anything else that could be clogging up the drain? Reassemble and try running water through it.

Plumber’s Snake. If you already own a plumber’s snake, then now would be the time to give it a whirl. We’ll be discussing its usage in a future blog.

If your clog persists, check out our coupons and then give us a call for an appointment. Waldman Plumbing & Heating has been clearing drains in Lynn, MA and the North Shore area for over 100 years.

How to Fix a Running Toilet in Marblehead, MA

There are certain things we’ve come to rely on when we enter our bathroom; hot water runs when we want to take a shower, and cold water emerges from the sink faucet when we want to brush our teeth.

But what do we expect most from our toilet? Yes, that’s right. When we push down on the handle, clean water will appear to freshen up the bowl for the next visitor.

But what if your toilet has been running, and there is no water in the tank? Then you need to take some simple steps to decide if a plumber needs to be called ASAP.

How Does My Toilet Work in Marblehead, MA?

I’m sure you’ve been diligent about keeping the outside of your toilet clean, but have you ever looked inside the tank? Remove the lid and take a look inside. It’s not too confusing. It only takes a couple moving parts working in unison to allow your toilet to do its job.

When you pushed on the handle, it should have opened the hole to release water into the bowl by pulling up the flapper. Does it look like it is opening and closing properly?

Inside the tank you’ll also see a plastic float. When water drains into the toilet bowl, that float drops and the valve knows to fill up the tank again. When the float levels off, the valve knows to stop adding water to the tank.

A minor adjustment to either of those may be all it needs. If you are still faced with the same dilemma, or have only been able to create a temporary fix, we can help!

Check out our coupons and then give us a call for an appointment. Waldman Plumbing & Heating have been fixing these same kind of problems in Marblehead and the North Shore area for over 100 years.

Get a Handle on Learning How to Shut Off Your Main Water Valve in Reading MA and the North Shore

Water valve set in the building, Control water flow by valve,Learning where your home’s main water valve is and how to properly operate it is one of the best ways to prepare for a plumbing emergency and feel confident about controlling it until you can call a professional plumber for help. Shutting it off in the event of a plumbing catastrophe such as frozen and burst piping will significantly reduce the mess and risk of water damage!

Here at Waldman Plumbing and Heating, Inc., we’re dedicated to ensuring your comfort and safety. Our variety of plumbing services, including main water valve repair services can help you to better understand your home’s plumbing.

Follow these easy steps to find your main water valve and learn how to shut it off.

Locate your main water valve

Depending on the climate you live in your main water valve will either be located in or outside your home. They can be found in the basement or in an area such as a crawlspace or utility room or outside your home along a wall. Here in the northeast, you’ll find it inside your home where it’s less likely to freeze. Main water valves are usually located close to water meters. Look for brass pipes or valves with either a flat handle or a round, wheel-like valve. A flat handle that looks like a popsicle stick is referred to as ball valve and a round handle is known as a gate valve. Be sure to share this location with your family as well so they’re aware of it in case of an emergency!

Always turn clockwise

Turning the valve to the right or clockwise will turn off the flow of water, making any appliances inside your home that use water inoperable until the water is turned back on by turning the valve counterclockwise or to the left. Ball valves only have a 90 degree range of motion and can be turned off by turning the valve until its perpendicular to the pipe, whereas you may need to turn a gate valve several times until it can no longer move. If you’re unable to turn either kind of valve by hand, use a wrench.

Turn on all your faucets

It may seem a little strange to turn your faucets on after shutting your water off but doing so helps to remove any leftover water from your system. Just turn your faucets all the way into the on position and allow the water to drain. Before you turn your water back on, it’s important to unscrew the aerator or tiny screen found at the end of the faucet to remove and scale or debris that may have broken off while draining it.

Shutting off the main water supply to your home is not the same as shutting it off from the street’s water meter. You may only have to do this for one of three reasons including: your home’s main water valve failed to shut off the water, there’s a leak in the line between your home’s main water valve and the street’s, or your main water valve is being fixed. To be on the safe side, always contact your water company to inform them you need to shut off the water supply to your home before doing so. While most companies allow this, it doesn’t hurt to let them know.

Often located in boxes with access covers, street shut off valves and meters work in the exactly the same way as your home’s main shut off valve does. Just like your home’s, you may need to a wrench to turn the valve clockwise if you’re unable to do so with your hand.

At Waldman Plumbing and Heating, Inc., we strive to take the guesswork out of troubleshooting plumbing emergencies and problems. If you have any questions or concerns regarding how to operate your main water valve in Reading, MA or the North Shore, don’t hesitate to give us a call right away!