Most people don’t have the time to study the intricacies of all their pipes, fixtures, and appliances, but a little bit of knowledge is both practical and essential for anyone. Homeowners with questions or concerns about the basic functions of their pipes, fixtures and appliances can learn a lot from the answers to these frequently asked questions.

Why Is My Toilet Running?

A running toilet that continuously feeds the tank, or even just occasionally refills unexpectedly can be an annoyance, but it doesn’t seem like a big deal… until the water bill shows up. If not addressed quickly, that steady stream of water into the tank adds up fast. I’ve gotten distress calls from homeowners in a panic, wondering why their water bill has gone up by hundreds of dollars, and by far the most frequent culprit is a toilet leak that’s simply been left to run its course.

Luckily, the fix for a running toilet is easy, and well within the ability of most DIY-ers. The first place to look is the handle-flapper connection, which may be corrected with a simple adjustment. Or you may have to replace the fill valve, which is a more complicated solution, but still not overly difficult. Need a pro to repair your toilet? Call Jeff-N-Carl's Plumbing for all your plumbing needs!

Where is this Leak Coming From?

It often starts with a water stain on a ceiling or wall. There’s a leak in your home, and you know you need to fix the problem. The obvious source for the leak would be right on the other side of the wall. But when you look there, there’s no obvious source of water. Before you know it, you’re tearing open walls and swearing up a storm as you try to find the source of the leak.

Water leaks can be infuriating to track down because water will often travel over joists or other structural material, not falling onto ceiling or wall covering until it gets far enough away to confuse the poor contractor trying to track it down. Each leak must be dealt with individually. Unfortunately, this means that there’s no one single method to tracking down a water leak. But as a starting point, this expert response shows some of the thought process behind tracking down a leak around a water heater. Sometimes leaks can be difficult to fix on their own. If you need a pro, Call Jeff-N-Carl's Plumbing for all your plumbing needs!

What Can I Put in the Garbage Disposal?

There’s no shortage of advice available on what can or can’t be put in a garbage disposal. One source will say never put coffee grounds in a disposal, while another will swear by them for cleaning and eliminating odors. Complicating matters is that some disposals are more robust and can handle a wider variety of items than others.

The one universal is: never put anything in the disposal that you wouldn’t chew up and swallow yourself. So no plastic, glass, or other non-biodegradable items.

And remember, just because something can go through the disposal, doesn’t mean it won’t create a clog further down the line. The best practice is to run cold (not hot) water through the disposal before placing any food in it, and keep the water running throughout the disposal grind cycle as well as for a few seconds after you turn the disposal off. Anything to help keep the debris moving through the pipes.

For the definitive answer for your situation, you’ll need to check with the manufacturer for a list of materials that your disposal can handle. If you don’t have the user’s manual, look for a brand name and model number on the disposal itself. This information is usually located on the bottom of the unit. With that information, a quick internet search should provide a link to the manual.

If you don’t have a garbage disposal or if you need to install a new one, seek out a garbage disposal installer and Call Jeff-N-Carl's Plumbing for all your plumbing needs!

How Long Does a Hot Water Heater Last?

Most water heaters have about a fifteen year lifespan. Naturally there’s some variety, and your water heater may have a shorter or longer working life.

The best tip for extending the life of a traditional tank water heater is to flush out the tank once every year or so. Sediments from the water build up in the tank over time, and can interfere with the heater’s efficiency and the amount of hot water available at any time. Whether your heater is gas or electric, it will have a hose bib near its base. Set the heater to its ‘vacation’ setting. Turn off the cold water supply to the tank, and open up the hot water on one or two faucets elsewhere in the house. Then simply hook up a hose to the bib, run it to your floor drain or somewhere else that the water can drain to safely, and run the tank out.