20 Plumbing Tips Every Canadian Homeowner Needs to Know
Tip #1: Know where your main shut-off valve is at all times
As a homeowner, you need to keep your main shut-off valve accessible and the space uncluttered around it so that you can quickly turn off the water in an emergency – like a burst pipe. This valve is usually located where the water main enters your home in the basement.
Tip#2: Hissing toilet? Don’t ignore it!
If you hear hissing coming from your toilet, it means that water is flowing into the bowl faster than it can flow out. This is a waste of water and it’s also putting unnecessary strain on your toilet components, which could lead to costly repairs down the road. The most likely cause of this problem is a faulty or damaged flush valve. Same goes for faucets!
If you’re handy, you can try to fix the problem yourself by replacing the flush valve. If you’re not confident in your abilities, or if the problem persists after you’ve replaced the valve, call a professional plumber.
Tip#3: How to deal with foul odor from floor drains
If you have a floor drain in your basement or laundry room that emits a foul odor, it’s probably because the P-trap (the U-shaped pipe that drains water out of the fixture) is dry. The P-trap needs water in it to function properly and prevent sewer gases from seeping into your home. This problem can be ON and OFF depending on atmospheric pressure.
To fix this problem, simply pour a gallon of water down the drain to refill the P-trap. The odor should go away immediately. If it doesn’t, there could be a bigger issue at play and you should call a plumber.
Tip#4: Who stank up the bathroom? (Sink overflow)
If you notice a foul odor coming from your bathroom sink, it’s probably because of an overflow hole that’s located on the front or side of the sink. Overflow holes are there to prevent water from spilling out of the sink if the drain becomes clogged. However, they can also trap dirt, hair, and other debris over time, which can cause an unpleasant smell.
To clean an overflow hole, put some baking soda directly into the overflow hole or pour some chemicals like Lysol that kill bacteria. Or you can insert a wire hanger into the hole and fish out the debris. If the odor persists, it’s time to call a professional plumber.
Tip#5: Is your toilet gurgling? Check on your drains.
If you have gurgling noise from the toilet, your drain may be clogged. Toilet gurgling can be a sign of a clog in the main sewer line. If you hear this noise, try flushing your toilet to see if the water level goes down. If it doesn’t, there’s most likely a clog somewhere in your home’s sewer line.
This is a serious problem that needs to be fixed by a professional plumber who will check your sewer with a high-definition drain camera and unclog your drains with drain snakes or hydro jets.
Tip#6: What it means if your water temperature fluctuates a lot
If you notice that your water temperature fluctuates a lot, you probably have cross connection due to a broken cartridge. In this case, hot water flows through the cartridge into a cold water pipe or vice versa. In most cases, the shower cartridge causes the issue and a replacement can fix this problem.
Tip#7: Prepping your pipes for Canadian winters
Everybody knows that water to the garden tap must be closed for Winter, but it doesn’t just stop there. You have to remove/drain the water from the pipe between the shut-off valve in the basement and the outside tap. For this, disconnect the hose and leave the outside tap in the ON position, and remove the drain port from the basement shut-off valve.
Also, make sure to insulate all exposed pipes in your home. This will prevent them from freezing and bursting during the cold winter months.
Tip#8: Don’t cheap out on your faucets
Faucets are one of the most used fixtures in your home, so it’s important to buy good quality ones that will last (especially during washroom and kitchen renovations when most homeowners look into it). Cheap faucets may seem like a good deal at first, but they will end up costing you more in the long run because they will need to be replaced more often. It’s better to invest in a good quality faucet that will last you for many years.
What are some good faucet brands? There are many high-quality faucet brands on the market, but some of our favorites include Moen, Delta, and Kohler.
Tip#9: Check on your water meter as you would on your Grandma
Be sure to keep an eye (or rather, an ear) on your water meter. If water is not used in the house, the numbers on the meter must stay the same. If you notice changes or rotation of the tiny triangles on the meter, there is leaking water flow through the meter and it badly affects your water bill.
If you hear a ticking noise, it means that there’s water running somewhere in your house even when all the faucets are turned off. This is most likely due to a leaky toilet or a dripping faucet.
Tip#10: Hear banging noises? Your house isn’t haunted.
Sometimes people can hear banging noise after using faucets or plumbing fixtures. Don’t ignore this. It’s known as water hammering which makes pipes shake and the joints may start leaking. To avoid this, install a water hammer arrestor on the incoming water line near the main shut-off valve.
Tip#11: Renovating? Use the opportunity to switch out your old pipes.
If you’re renovating your home, this is the perfect opportunity to switch out any old or damaged pipes behind the drywall or under the concrete floor in your basement. This is also a good time to add any additional piping that you may need, such as an additional water line for your fridge or a gas line for your stove.
Tip#12: Get some licensed hands on your plumbing repairs or installations
All plumbing repairs and installations should be performed by a licensed professional plumber. This is not only for your own safety, but also to ensure that the job is done properly and up to code.
Hiring a licensed plumber also gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the job is backed by a warranty. If something goes wrong, you can simply contact the plumbing company and they will come out to fix the problem at no additional cost to you.
Tip#13: Get backwater valves (AKA, the guardian angel for your basement)
If you live in an area that is susceptible to flooding or leaks (like during the winter), it’s a good idea to have backwater valves installed. These are handy one-way valves that are installed on the sewer line leading into your home and they act as a barrier, preventing sewage and stormwater from backing up into your home through the drains.
Cities are growing and the load on sewers is increasing causing more backups. This is especially important if you have a finished basement, as water damage can be very costly to repair.
Tip#14: Do a health check on your water tank
Did you know that if your water tank is less than 12 years old, insurance will cover water damage in most cases?
Now that you know, it’s a good idea to do a health check on your water tank every few years. The most important thing to look for is rust, as this can lead to leaks. If you see any, it’s time to call in a professional to have a look and potentially replace the tank.
Tip#15: Be prepared during outages with a battery-powered backup sump pump
If you live in an area with severe weather, it’s a good idea to have a battery-powered backup sump pump on hand in case of power outages. This way, if your primary sump pump fails or the power goes out, the backup will automatically kick in, and rest assured, your basement will stay dry.
Tip#16: Your kitchen sink doesn’t digest cooking oil very well.
Pouring cooking oil down the drain is a surefire way to clog it. Instead, let the oil cool and solidify, then scrape it into the trash.
Tip#17: Your toilet isn’t a personal disposal bin.
The only things that should go down your toilet are human waste and toilet paper. Everything else, like napkins, tampons, and paper towels will cause a clog (and we all know how unpleasant that can be).
Tip#18: Know when you might need new pipes
If you have tree roots in your underground sewer or main drain pipe, remember that snaking is a temporary solution. Roots in the pipe mean there are cracks and they can not be repaired by themselves. New roots grow bigger and it leads to complete pipe collapse following sewage backup. You’ll need to get new pipes installed.
Tip#19: Regulate your hot water tank with a mixing valve to avoid skin burns
Install a mixing valve on your hot water tank especially if you have small children and your faucets and showerheads are more than 20 years old and have two handles. The mixing valve dilutes extremely hot water from the tank with cold water and makes water no higher than 50 degrees centigrade which is the maximum our skin withstands without burning.
Tip#20: Call Mister Plumber for reliable drain & plumbing services
Mister Plumber has been providing quality drain and plumbing services in Toronto for over 18 years. We’re available 24/7 for all your plumbing needs, big or small. Contact us today!
There you have it – 20 plumbing tips every Canadian homeowner needs to know! By following these simple tips, you can avoid many common plumbing problems and save yourself a lot of time, money, and headaches.