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What are the most common plumbing problems?

Plumbing brings hot and cold water to the home or business and removes wastewater. Problems can occur over time anywhere in the system. Common problems include:

- Clogged drains, toilets, or sewer lines
- Leaks in water lines
- Failed water heaters
- Leaky faucets
- Toilets not shutting off completely
- Sewer line failures outside the home
- Sewage smells inside the home
- Low water pressure
- Jammed or failed garbage disposer

What type of plumbing materials might I find in my home?

Plumbing has changed over time as new materials have been developed. The type of plumbing in your home will depend on its age and whether any re-plumbing has been done in the past. We will list some materials from old to new to give you an idea of what may be in your home or business.

Cast Iron — Cast iron was used in many homes until the 1960s. It is usually has a black color, is  very heavy, and will attract a magnet. It was commonly used in drain and sewer lines.

Galvanized Steel — This is steel with a zinc coating for corrosion resistance that gives it a silver or grey color. It will also attract a magnet. It was used into the 1970s but was found to have a shorter life than other materials.

Copper — Copper pipe became the most popular plumbing material from the 1970s until the 2000s. It is more expensive than steel but has a useful life normally over 50 years. Copper is very shiny when new and eventually takes on a dark brown hue with age. It is non-magnetic and is easily cut and connected with soldered fittings.

Polybutylene (PB) — PB is flexible and normally a grey color, although it can come in other colors. It normally will have “PB2110” stamped on it.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Cross-Linked PVC (CPVC) — PVC plumbing has been very popular over the last 20 years or so. It is a plastic pipe that is easily cut and connected with glued fittings. CPVC is rated for hot water use. Both are white and will have a stamp stating which type of PVC is present. PVC plumbing can be used both for water supply lines and sewer lines  because it is strong yet lightweight and can be buried without as much concern for it being crushed.

Cross-Linked Polyethylene (PEX) — PEX is a flexible plastic pipe that is very popular in new construction and re-piping today for water supply lines. It can be placed within walls or existing structures with fewer openings needed to connect it. It can be found in different colors, but commonly blue is used for cold water and red for hot water. It is easily connected with compression fittings.

Why can I cause problems unclogging a drain myself?

Most do-it-yourself drain unclogging involves either putting a flexible snake into the drainpipe or adding a corrosive chemical to break up the clog. Both of these methods can create problems and can even damage your plumbing. Always call Ryan’s Plumbing to sort out your clogged drains.

A clog may not be located near a tub or sink that is draining slowly. If you use a snake you can simply push the clog further down the pipe. This can cause problems and water backups elsewhere in the home.

Drain chemicals are corrosive. Over time they can damage your plumbing and if not removed completely can leave a gummy residue that can make a clog occur more quickly. There are also safety hazards to using some of these chemicals so they should be avoided.

What is the best way to unclog a drain or sewer line?

Ryan’s Plumbing recommends hydro-jetting your drains and sewer line. This method uses water at increased pressure that safety and completely flushes all debris down the sewer line as it moves forward through the plumbing. It can even remove tree roots from underground sewer lines and will leave the piping very clean.

What are some ways to minimize the chance of clogged pipes?

There are some things you can do around the house to minimize the chance for clogging a drain:

  • Always run cold water when using your garbage disposer
  • If you don’t have a disposer, use a strainer or screen to catch larger debris before it goes in the drain and throw it in the trash
  • Never pour grease or oil down the drain — it will cool quickly and clog the plumbing somewhere down the line
  • Run hot water for a couple of minutes after washing greasy dishes
  • Never flush anything other than toilet tissue down your toilets
  • Never grind up coffee grounds, bones, or any fruit or vegetable peelings that have fibers to avoid clogging the garbage disposer
  • Clean drain stoppers in sinks and tubs regularly to prevent hair buildup
  • If you have one, pump out your septic tank every other year to prevent waste buildup
How do I determine whether a plumbing problem is routine or an emergency?

All plumbing problems are annoying but some may not be an emergency. A slow drain can be handled during normal business hours as long as water isn’t backing up into the home. There are plumbing issues that should be considered an emergency:

  • A broken water pipe flooding the home or your yard
  • Water leaking under a sink or from the water heater
  • Water backing up into tubs, showers, or sinks especially at more than one location
  • Wet walls or ceilings when it hasn’t rained

You should know how to shut off your main water supply in the event a pipe breaks. Shut off the water immediately then call Ryan’s Plumbing. We have 24-hour emergency service available.

What are some signs I may have a water leak?

Water leaks can be difficult to detect, but anytime you see water where it doesn’t belong you should suspect a plumbing problem. In Florida, a roof leak can also cause water in the home so let Ryan’s Plumbing determine if the leak is plumbing-related. Other signs include:

  • Spongy subfloors or damp floors
  • Wet spots on walls particularly near sinks or bathrooms
  • Unexplained increases in your water bill
  • The sound of running water in the walls
  • Wet spots in your yard or near the slab when it isn’t raining
  • Lower than expected water pressure
What is a slab leak and how can it be fixed?

Many Florida homes are built on a concrete slab, and the piping and other utilities were placed inside the slab during the initial construction. Over time piping can fail and result in a slab leak. This can show up as wet spots on your floors, or evidence of water outside the home. Ryan’s Plumbing can determine where the leak exists and recommend either a spot repair or a re-piping if the slab plumbing has deteriorated to the point it needs to be replaced.

If my sewer line needs to be replaced, do you have to tear up my yard?
The best answer is “it depends”. There are sewer line replacement techniques that do not require digging, but they may not be possible in all cases due to the location of the home, damage to the existing line, and so forth. We will discuss options with you when we have determined the amount of damage and the condition of the current sewer line.
How long can I expect my water heater to last?
Water heater life varies for a number of reasons. Mineral buildup inside the heater can eventually cause them to fail. Most water heaters can be expected to work properly for 8-12 years. If your water heater is not leaking but doesn’t make hot water you may need a new heating element.
What is a good temperature for my water heater?
Hot water is recommended to be between 120 to 140 degrees F. This prevents bacteria from forming inside the heater and gives you good hot water temperatures throughout the home. A water heater set too high can put your family at risk for scalding burns, and it will also cost a lot more to keep water at a high temperature.
Are there ways I can unclog a toilet myself?
The most effective way to unclog a toilet is with a plunger you can buy at any home improvement store. Place the plunger into the toilet over the bottom drain hole and push the plunger up and down a few times. This forces water down onto the clog and will often clear it. Once the water is flowing again flush the toilet a couple of times to clear any residual waste. If that doesn’t work give Ryan’s Plumbing a call because the clog could be further down the sewer line.
Do toilets ever need replacing?
Toilets can fail as they age, but they are more likely to need replacement because they no longer fit our current lifestyle. New toilets often sit higher which makes it easier for older people to use them. They also have larger bowls and seats for additional comfort. If your toilet clogs repeatedly or has to be flushed repeatedly with each use you should consider replacing it.
Can I stop tree roots from damaging my sewer line?
Trees are always searching for water, and they can invade a sewer line if the piping is damaged in any way. If a tree repeatedly causes sewer line problems you may want to consider removing the tree to prevent further damage. Ryan’s Plumbing can do a camera inspection of your sewer line to determine the extent of tree root damage. This inspection can help diagnose small problems before they become bigger. We can also hydro-jet the sewer line to remove existing roots and clean the line.
Does my homeowners’ insurance cover damage from a burst pipe?

In most cases, water damage not caused by you is covered but you should discuss the details with your insurance agent. You should remain vigilant and regularly look for water problems before they become insurance issues:

  • Check for leaks under sinks
  • Check hoses for leaks for appliances such as the washing machine or dishwasher
  • Make sure tubs and sinks are properly caulked to prevent water damage in the walls
Do I have to worry about frozen pipes in Florida?

Winter weather in Florida can occasionally reach freezing temperatures, particularly the further north you are in the state. Most homes with slab foundations are protected from freezing because the plumbing is buried in the slab. However, you might have a bathroom sink or other water line on an outside wall. If you are concerned about it you may wish to open the wall and insulate the water lines. Another option is to let the faucet drip to keep water moving through the pipe in freezing weather. This wastes water but may be necessary if you can’t get access to the plumbing.

If you leave your home in the winter shut off the water and release the water pressure by opening faucets. Never shut the heat completely off in your home when you are gone, as this can make the home damp as well as increasing the risk of a frozen pipe. These techniques should minimize any chance of frozen plumbing.

Business License number: CFC1427182
Backflow Repair Certification Number: BFCR#R-1490
Backflow Tester Certification Number: B08-17-6807


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