Common Plumbing Issues for Atlanta Homeowners - Home Reports

Plumbing problems can create considerable damage for Atlanta homeowners and can be time consuming to repair. While some do-it-yourselfers enjoy fixing even the toughest plumbing problems, many homeowners leave the dirty work to professional Atlanta plumbing companies. Before trying to get plumbing repairs done, you should understand some basic plumbing concepts and problems.

Flooding and Overflowing. The most important thing you can know to avoid flooding and overflowing is how to shut off the water supply. It's good to do this before attempting to do repairs or call an Atlanta plumbing company. Most homes have a main water shutoff valve located adjacent to the water meter. All family members should know where the valve is located and how to use it in an emergency. It's a good idea to periodically check the valve to ensure it's functioning properly. Additionally, most fixtures, such as toilets and sinks, have individual shutoff valves located in their supply lines.

Clogged Drains. Many calls to an Atlanta plumbing company can be avoided by following a few drain rules. First, never pour grease down a drain. Next, don't flush larger items, such as feminine hygiene products, down the toilet. Don't use the plumbing system until you know where the clog is and its severity.

Drain Cleaning. Depending on the cause and location of a clog, drain cleaning may or may not be effective. Additionally, because clogs in multiple places can contribute to the problem, successfully clearing one problem spot might not solve all long-term problems.

Kitchen Plumbing. Sink trap blockages are relatively easy to clear because the trap is easily accessible under the sink and can be completely removed and cleaned. This may be something you can do yourself without having to call an Atlanta plumbing contractor.

Grease clogs. Grease clogs generally require a plumber. Grease naturally sticks to the walls of drain lines, which makes it relatively difficult to remove. The grease usually builds up in the two-inch drainpipe that connects the kitchen sink to the main four-inch drainpipe that handles toilet waste and leads to the sewer. In some cases, the most economically feasible alternative is to replace the two-inch drain line. However, because of the high cost of replacing the line, the first attempt at alleviating the problem is to use a plumber's snake to punch a hole through the grease and remove as much of the grease as possible. Because this repair cannot remove all of the grease, in time the line usually reclogs. If the same drain repeatedly clogs, you may need to replace the line instead of investing more money in additional snaking.

Dripping Faucets. Dripping faucets are usually caused by wear on the tap, rubber washer/O-ring or valve seat. Since various faucet designs shut off water flow differently, a variety of components can cause the faucet to drip.

Toilet Issues. Your run-of-the-mill toilet clog is best handled with a toilet plunger, which is much less expensive than an Atlanta plumber. If, however, the clog is difficult to remove with a plunger, plumbers can use special tools called augers, or snakes. Snakes are long, flexible, spring-like tools that are inserted into the clogged drain and rotated to manually break up the clog. Reputable plumbers will have with them the right tools for the job, tools that won't damage fixtures.

If your toilet runs continually, chances are it's caused by a flapper or tank valve that does not seat properly after the toilet is flushed. Until the flapper or tank valve seats properly, all of the water entering the tank flows directly into the toilet bowl. Sometimes simply jiggling the tank handle will reseat the flapper or tank ball, thus allowing the tank to refill and the toilet to stop running. If the problem recurs, the flapper or tank ball may be out of adjustment, the chain from the handle may be too long, or there could be a poorly adjusted refill mechanism. The problem is usually corrected by cleaning or replacing the flapper or tank ball.

If your toilet won't flush, first check to see if the handle chain is still connected. If not, reconnecting it yourself may save you an Atlanta plumber's charges. If that's not the problem, and you see the tank is empty, it may be that no water is getting to the toilet from the supply line.

Sewer Line Clogs. One problem you'll definitely want to call a qualified Atlanta plumbing company about is clogs in your main sewer line. Generally, the process happens like this. First, a seal, joint or pipe section breaks. Then tree roots, sensing a source of water, grow into the line. The roots gradually fill the line and block the flow of water and waste. From here you have two options. You can replace the line, which means you won't have another clog like that until it breaks. Or, you can just cut the roots out. This option is far less expensive in the short run, but far more likely to need to be repeated before long. The water is still pouring out of the breaks in the line and attracting new root growth. In fact, the damaged roots can shift after being cut and re-clog the line immediately.

Water Pressure. Water enclosed in a fixed space increases in pressure as its temperature rises. By design, a typical home's plumbing system is a fixed space while the plumbing is not in use. As hot water is used, the water heater refills with cold water, and the cold water is gradually heated. If no other parts of the plumbing system are used while the cold water is being heated in the water heater, the pressure in the home's plumbing system will increase. To avoid a dangerous pressure level, plumbing codes require a device to control thermal expansion. A thermal expansion tank is usually the preferred option, because it relieves pressure without wasting water. This tank contains a flexible membrane and a compressible air cushion designed to deform under excessive pressure, thus maintaining pressure at a moderate level.

Another way a home's plumbing system deals with excess water pressure is the use of pressure-reducing valves. A pressure-reducing valve is a bell-shaped device often located in the water supply line at some point between the high-pressure street main and the water lines in the house. Many municipal water systems carry twice as much pressure as is required by the typical house. Because household plumbing is not designed to handle the excess pressure, the pressure-reducing valve is very important. A defective pressure-reducing valve can result in water hammer -- a banging sound heard immediately after flowing water is turned off -- or cavitation, which is a squealing sound heard when water flows through a partially closed squealing. A defective valve could also result in a burst pipe or pipe fitting. Testing the house's water pressure identifies any problems with the pressure-reducing valve.

Choosing a contractor. Atlanta plumbers, like any contractor working at your home, should carry both workers' compensation insurance and liability insurance. They should also have all the proper permits, install fixtures up to code and try to get to the root of each problem. Choosing a Best Pick™ Atlanta plumbing contractor will ensure that your plumber has the proper licenses and insurance.