Frequently Answered Questions


Water Heaters

Water Heater Maintenance?  Once a year: 1.) Turn off electric power or gas before doing anything. Damage will result if element comes on when tank is dry. Turn of water supplying water heater. Note that a time switch is NOT a safe place to turn off the electricity! Do it from the circuit breaker, or pull the fuse. 2.) Drain the water heater. After tank is drained, and hose is still attached, open and close the inlet valve a few times to help flush the sediment out. Do this 'til the water comes out clear. You may have to dismantle the valve, if there are large chunks of scale coming loose. 3.) Remove the sacrificial anode, which looks like a plug in the top of the tank. Inspect; it should be almost as long as the water heater. Replace if any portion of it is thinner than about 1/4";. 4.) With anode out, shine a flashlight inside of tank to inspect for rust. If you see a lot of rust, it's probably time to replace it...before it fails. Water heaters are normally glass- or ceramic-lined to prevent corrosion; this is also what the anode's for. The heat of the water hastens corrosion, once it starts. 5.) Open up the element access panels. Disconnect one wire from each of the elements. With a volt-ohm-meter, check to see that both elements are still functional (the resistance across the terminals should be ??? ohms, but if your meter peaks out with exceptionally high ohms, it's time to replace the element). 6.) Wrap everything up. Turn on the water. Open a hot water faucet to let the air out. When the tank is full, turn on electricity. Wait a while for the water to all heat up. If you are replacing a water heater, install a special pan underneath designed to catch water should the tank develop a leak (or pop off the pop-off valve). Have it drain to a safe place (outside; floor drain).

On demand hot water system?

In the past on demand or Tankless water heaters could not provide adequate hot water for a typical house. Recently though as technology has improved and computer controls have been implemented Tankless water heaters have proved that they are every bit as good and in many ways better than a regular Tank type heater. Tankless water heaters work on demand. They only heat water when necessary but heat as much as is necessary when needed. Instead of wasting energy and money storing hot water when it is not needed, Tankless water heaters provide only as much hot water as needed.


Are Tankless heaters energy efficient?

Heating water can cost up to hundreds of dollars per year, but using a Tankless water heater will allow a home to use up to 50% less energy for the same amount of hot water. This affords a tremendous monthly savings by just changing the type of water heater you own. Tankless heaters provide endless hot water for long hot showers or Jacuzzi tubs filled to the top without waiting for the tank to refill. Call us today and allow us to look at your existing system and determine if a Tankless Water Heater is right for you.


Gas Water Heater Height ? Gas heaters have to be at least 18" off the floor because combustible fumes *sink* and can be ignited by the pilot light.


Low Flush Toilet Problems - IMHO Till the year 2001 there was a lot of consumer dissatisfaction with 1.6 GAL toilets. The manufactures had to design and build them to meet a government water conservation deadline and in many cases simply didn't produce a good flushing 1.6 gpf toilet initially. They blamed the Congress. The consumer blamed the manufacturer or plumber. Whatever - we were stuck (no pun intended) with 'em. Some in our trade (who think about this kind of thing), even proposed about using 2 1/2"; drain pipes instead of 3"; main drains. That would make for a higher level of water (think cross section) carrying the waste in the pipe. This points up the first problem. The W/Cs were designed and tested on modern plumbing. That is, 3" plastic drains - not older 4" to 6" cast iron. There is very little water (again think cross section) at the bottom of a 6" cast iron pipe to move waste along . Low flush W/Cs do work better in new homes. Other situations that I've seen that effect low flush W/Cs are; where the toilet is in the house and what other plumbing fixtures are available to wash down the drain pipes. Toilets on the end of long runs to the building drain outfall are most likely to plug up. It's important to keep a CONSTANT 1/4"; per foot grade. With plastic drain pipes they must be *hung* every 4 feet and it wouldn't hurt to actually look at them any time you're under the house to see that they have not begun to sag. *Guest* toilets tend to plug up more often than *master* baths - there is no shower washing the drain down. I really think the code needs to address this issue in pipe design. I know that I am aware of where, and in what order I decide to plug in the drains in the new houses I plumb. It makes a difference where the clothes washing machine drain goes now, and the code does not say ,well, %#~ about it!



MORE on Low Flush Toilet Problems? You might buy a better flushing toilet for your situation. Some air assisted toilet flush well. When the low gallonage gravity toilets first came out I replaced a couple of new Kohler Wellworth Lites with the Am.Std. air assist toilet with good results. That was then and this is now. Today most brands of gravity toilets flush well (including the redesigned Kohler Wellworth models). Power assisted toilets tend to be noisy and frankly, today I definitely do not recommend power assisted toilets.
By the end of 1999 (most brands of U.S. made) gravity toilets manufactured were flushing fine. At the end of 2000 my guess is that over 85% of 1.6gpf toilets flushed well. Today go with (buy) gravity toilets (made in America). Keep life simple.



MORE - MORE on Low Flush Toilet Problems? In my experience of selling and using toilets, I have found that the Atlas model of Universal Rundle (now owned by Crane) flushes great. These toilets flush better than just "well", they flush great. Also, I have tried using many brands of pressure assisted toilets. Many of them have ";dry bowl";. This means that the air directs the water into only parts of the bowl surface leaving solid waste in the bowl if it does not land in the right place. The only way to make it move is to find an implement to move the waste to the right bowl area. Answering the question of ";Can you fix the toilet to use more water?"; The answer is likely: Your toilet may have a small round Styrofoam piece on the flapper chain, move the piece along the chain until the flapper closes more slowly. Also bend the float arm upward so the ballcock valve allows more water into the tank. There may also be an adjustment screw on the ballcock valve to keep it open a bit longer. The reason that you need to make these adjustments is that the major manufacturers were forced to rush to market using existing molds and technology without time to develop other strategies that make using 1.6 gallons successful. The reason that the Universal Rundle Atlas model (and now many others) work without being power assisted is that they have taken the opportunity to develop the proper technology years ago. The entire toilet: flush valve, ballcock assembly, water tank and bowl are all designed to work together for maximum efficiency.


Toilet Leaks at Base in Moved Toilet Location or New Floor Install ? Is the top of the flange even (or close to even) with the finished floor? If it to low - then use two wax rings. One regular wax ring on the bottom and one (or more) with the plastic horn insert on top. ) I have seen leaks like you describe if the glued flange is not really glued in all the way. Take a look at that - if your floor and flange is flush. Sometimes you need to shim the toilet if the floor is uneven or the flange is to high.


High Pressure Makes My Toilet *Run* (with new ballcock)? If your water pressure is so high that it leaks past a Fluidmaster 400A or another new ballcock - then you NEED a pressure reducing valve. Other water pipes, connectors, clothes washing machine hoses and your water heater could leak or break. Best to get a pressure regulator if your pressure to the house is more than 60 pounds (80 is code throughout most of the U.S.).


Sealing the W/C tank to the Bowl? get the best results by using the large donut gasket of the type that is square cut inside to match the shape of the nut on the bottom of the tank. Sealant will not help. Tighten the bolts down evenly to the point where the tank is snug on the bowl. Over tightening will break the bowl and/or tank.


When I Run The Clothes Washer My Toilet Bubbles/Overflows or My Shower Overflows? When the lowest plumbing fixture in the house overflows when another fixture (like a clothes washer) is draining; the septic tank needs to be pumped, there is a break in the sewer pipe outside the house or the main drain is plugged somewhere.

MORE: When I Run The Clothes Washer My Toilet Bubbles/Overflows or My Shower Overflows? The washing machine line could be connected too close to the "suds rinse zone", meaning the washer waste ties into the waste or soil line of another fixture too close to the problem fixture. What is happening is the water is rushing by the suds at a high velocity, pushing ahead of the suds. Because the fixture is the closest place of relief, the suds will come up into the fixture, even a toilet. The code requires that a washing machine, kitchen sink, shower, and dishwasher line be connected at least 5' downstream from any fixture branch. This could be just one of many possibilities for the bubbling and backup.

Slow Shower Drain ?As a plumber, I see plugged drains when *Liquid Plumber* type products don't work - though these products shouldn't hurt the pipes. Care should be taken when using them around kitchen sink/dishwasher drains. I have seen them backup into the dish washer. If the chemicals don't work - then try renting a small power snake. This WILL do the job. Those little hand drum snakes at the hardware store just are not up to a 2"; shower drain. BTW, I've never seen any damaged pipes caused by drain cleaners. Older hands than myself say they don't like drain cleaners because the chemicals make their snakes brittle - that sounds like crystallization - I've just never seen it myself and I'm skeptical. There are a bazillon gallons of that stuff sold and I think that it would be obvious if it was a problem. I just don't think it (drain cleaners) work in most cases.


How Do I Get A Snake Down a Tub Drain? To get a snake in the drain you take off the *overflow plate*. That's the chrome thing on the tub wall with two screws. When you pull it out - two sections of the stopper mechanism will come with it. It's hinged so it will bend through the hole. Chances are that hair caught on the end of this mechanism is clogging the drain- you might not even need to snake it. BTW - A snake will not go through the drain hole at the bottom of the tub.


Do Unused Drains Dry Up and Get Rough Inside? Yes, drain pipes do dry out and get real rough. Will it clear up with use? Maybe.


Leaking Bathtub Drain Right at the Drain Hole? It is replaced from the top, that is sitting in the tub. Hopefully you have *crosshairs* or a couple of little *nibs* inside the drain flange (the chrome part). That's the part that unscrews. The tool is called a *pickle* - it has a fork at one end and crossed slots at the other. Or a *dumbell* which is tapered and has crossed slots at both ends. Or just use pliers and stick the handle end down into the drain, catch the cross hairs or nibs and unscrew. Clean off the old plumbers putty. Slide a new washer between the underside of the tub and the *shoe* (part with female threads) and put putty around the chrome flange and screw it back in. You can use an internal pipe wrench for flanges missing the crosshairs.


Can Clogged Vents Stop Up Drains? Yes and no. A toilet with no vent may not flush the contents out of the bowl, but any other drain will work without a vent. (NOTE: the code is that all fixtures shall be vented). Only twice in 15 years has the vents been the cause of a drain backup. In one case it was roofers who stuffed the old roofing material down the vents and the other was just a stray piece of wood. In both cases the material made its way down into the drain pipe and had to be removed. No amount of *vent cleaning* would have done any good.


Leak Somewhere in the Plumbing in my Shower/Bath? from Noah Lamy ( - I see this all the time and nine times out of ten it's the grout or a bad pan under the shower. Before anything else I try to determine if the leak is constant or if it is periodic. If it is constant there is a good chance the leak is in the pressurized water lines. Usually the leak is periodic so I have a series of tests that I perform to track it down. Sometimes a quick visual inspection of the tile will show that the grout is shot and is the most likely cause of the leak but I will often complete the rest of my tests to be sure. What I do is first fill the tub half way and drain it. This will tell me if it's in the drain pipe. For a shower with a lead or vinyl pan I block the drain and fill the base with water. This will tell me if the pan leaks. Then I remove the shower head and put a 1/2" cap on the shower arm and turn on the pressure. This will tell me if there is a leak in the pipe between the shower valve and the shower arm. If no leak has shown up by then I tend to think the leak is water bleeding through the tile due to bad grouting or that water is escaping the shower and going down through flaws in the bathroom floor. I can check this by taping up a plastic dropcloth inside the shower covering all the tile work and having the customer use the shower normally for a day or two. If the leak has suddenly disappeared then we know it coming through the tile. A few cups of water on the floor will show a leak through bad tile or a cracked floor base. If none of this works, it's time to open the walls. Thanks Noah, I agree 100%. Much of this detective work can be done by the owner/renter which saves time and money ... Hill


Connect Sump Pump Outflow to Septic? It is illegal to connect any rain or ground water to the sewer. IF, however, you do hookup - at the very least put a trap in the in the line to keep sewer gas out of the house.


The drain pipes under the kitchen sink and the garbage disposal keep coming loose. Don't mix PVC washers and nuts with metal washers and nuts. Keep them consistent. The plastic washers (ferrules) go with the plastic pipe and washers. The thicker side faces the nut and the thinner side the *cup*. The metal pipe uses metal nuts and square cut rubber washers. Also, make sure that all the pipes fit down into the next pipe as deeply as they can go.


Moen Faucet Repair? Moen faucets have cartridges that can be replaced. There is a clip (on top) that has to be pulled up and out before the cartridge can be replaced. Often it seems stuck as if it will not come out. Some replacement cartridges provide a plastic square to turn the cartridge in the valve body 1/4 turn. This breaks it free from the valve grease that it is stuck in. If, after replacing the unit ,the hot and cold are reversed, re-install with the cartridge turned 180 degrees.


Delta Faucet Repair? You can buy a Delta single handle faucet repair kit with a tool for maybe five to seven bucks. It has all the instructions and is very easy to do.


The Faucet CLUNKS When We Turn It On ? 99% of the time when you hear a clunk in any pipe when you turn a faucet on/off - it's a loose washer in the faucet. When you take it apart be sure you get the old washer and a screw. If you don't - turn the water back on and flush out the missing part.


The bathroom faucet does not drip UNLESS the toilet is flushed or some other faucet is turned on. Could be a loose washer. The pressure holds it down when no other faucet is running water and the lower pressure let's it rise up a bit when other water is used.


Claw Foot Tub Faucets? These faucets are special to CFTs they have 2 3/8"; centers. Some units have 1/2"; and some have 3/4"; water connections at the back. The 3/4"; needs special CFT supply pipes. Most older faucets are not code and it is still easy to buy non-code faucets. The code is that the faucet spout must have a gap of at least 1"; between the top of the tub rim and the bottom of the spout - that's so bath water in the tub cannot siphon back into the drinking water supply. A great place to buy new clawfoot faucets is at PlumbingWorld.

Repairing (garden) hose bibbs? IMHO unless the hose bib is new enough to match the insides with the exact same brand, model et - replace the darn thing. You can try , but , I just don't seem to have permanent success when I just repair them. Now to replace them- if they come through the wall under the house then they can be unscrewed or unsoldered from the crawl space. If it is above the floor a *window* has to opened in the wall. Just unscrewing it from outside will often result in a broken pipe in the wall.

Construction Tips and Code

Sweating Bronze Valves and Sweating in General. Soldering valves to copper pipe requires a little more heat to sweat because of the thicker walls. But sweating copper is really all the same ... Scour both the outside of the pipe and the inside of the *cup* of the fitting to be soldered. Flux them both (make sure not to touch the cleaned copper with your hands because the natural oils of your hands can cause the soldered joints to not be "perfect") and apply heat all around the cup. I then put my flame on one spot (usually the bottom) and apply the solder to the opposite side until the solder flows to the heat (make sure to not overheat). The solder always runs to the heat. You can over heat it - so once the solder flows around to the heat - stop - and clean it up with a dry rag (I prefer a rag made from cotton). If you use a wet rag it can make the job look rather sloppy but that will also work.


Cutting Cast Iron and Plastic/Cast Connections ?You cut the cast iron with a reciprocal saw like a Milwaukee Sawzall all. Use heavy metal blades like Lenox 614R type. I start with the six inchers. It will take several to get through the side of the pipe . Once you have made a cut into the pipe - it will go faster. You'll need the long metal blades to finish the job. At first-it will seem like it will never cut it-but it will. Use Mission or Fernco No Flex couplings- one on each side-to connect the plastic and cast iron. Do not forget the vents!

In most situations I use a Ridgid ratchet cast iron cutter on iron waste pipes, but sometimes conditions are too confined to use that tool. Then I use a mini-grinder with a diamond wheel (they're $100 each but one lasts a lifetime) to cut as much as I can reach with that tool and finish the cut with the sawzall and a grit-edge blade. BTW the grinder with the diamond wheel is terrific for cutting tile, concrete and brick. A little dusty though.


Q: Adding a new Drain to Cast Iron Pipe Where There is a Cleanout? A couple of ways to go. That *little rect. box* is a cleanout plug. It's brass. If you can unscrew it great - if not cut - off the square with a Sawzall- all and you will find that it's hollow. Then cut from the center out to the threads in pie sections. Peel the plug out of the female threads. If you're lucky it will be 3". Screw in a 3" male adapter and kick on out... However it may be 3 1/2" which is no longer made. Use a 5" by 3" Fernco bell with the 5" over the hub of the cleanout. Bush down with a 3"; by 2"bush in the 3" end of the Fernco and your home again. The other way is to take a section out of the cast pipe, use Fernco's around a PVC or ABS Sanitary Tee (whatever your state uses). That *6" iron pipe* is most likely 4" cast. You can cut it with a Sawzall-all or snap it with a *ratchet cutter* that is made to cut cast iron. I bought one for $340 - so you might want to rent or beg/borrow one. BE SURE that if you take a section out of the cast, that the upper section of the pipe is supported so whole thing does not come crashing down.

Is Replacing a Tub a Big Job? It is a JOB. A couple of suggestions... while you're at it replace the waste and overflow and if possible the tub/shower faucet. Second, you can get tub surrounds in two pieces that will fit through doors and Three (I like the Sterling brand surrounds), American Standard makes an *Americast* tub that has the properties of a cast iron - but without the weight. I personally prefer Kohler cast iron over Americast as I think it's more durable. BTW you can break out the old cast tub with a sledge hammer and cut up a metal tub with a Sawzall.

Using Tubing Cutter Tips Hold the cutters square to the pipe and be sure the tubing is in ALL the rollers. I find when I begin to *thread* the copper - it's because I don't have the tubing all the way inside and in all the rollers. Let the cutters do the cutting. Over tightening wears out the cutting wheel and squishes the tubing out of round. For tight spots they make *knuckle* cutters - or use a small triangle saw. Actually - these days I'm using a Makita cordless reciprocal saw to cut most of my *in place* copper.


Will Natural Gas Corrode Galvanized Pipe? In the old days, sometimes after a long time. This was generally due to the poor quality of galvanizing. Today using galvanized pipe generally presents no threat. Plumbers tend to use black pipe with gas for two main reasons. One is that it costs less than galvanized (except I've seen some home centers charging more for black which must be because of consumers lack of knowledge of "cost"). The other is that if galvanized pipes are used for water then using black for gas distinguishes the two uses. Imagine using galvanized for both gas and water in the same house? That could present a problem in people distinguishing which pipes are carrying what. I like to suggest painting galvanized pipes used for gas yellow. Today there exists flexible stainless steel gas pipe and it always yellow (that I've seen) so painting piping that is for gas yellow seems like a good idea. If pipe is in the ground it will tend to corrode faster (depends on the soil conditions). Many areas do not allow galvanized pipe underground for gas piping and factory coated steel pipe must be used. In some areas plastic pipe is allowed underground (with electric wire above it to allow for locating of that plastic gas pipe as well as warning tape above that pipe as well).


Gas Water Heater Height ? Gas heaters have to be at least 18" off the floor because combustible fumes *sink* and can be ignited by the pilot light.

Garbage Disposals

Garbage Disposal Repair? Garbage Disposal problems can be plumbing, electrical or appliance. If the disposal doesn't work at all - no *hum* or any sound, then push the red (reset) button on the bottom of the disposal. If that doesn't work, check the breaker in the electrical panel. If the unit *hums* but doesn't turn then you can try unsticking it.. Some units come with a wrench that you can use to turn the cutter flywheel from the bottom. ( An allen wrench will work). Or, use a *plumber's friend* , broom handle- something with a handle, and stick it in the disposal and try to turn the cutting wheel around. In effect - unstick it. If the unit doesn't respond to the above, it's time for an appliance repair man or replace the unit.


Garbage Disposals/Dishwashers and Septic Systems? It's my understanding that having a disposal is like having another person adding to the load on the septic system. So... are you currently under utilizing your system, over using or about right? Dishwasher on a septic system? I don't think really matters. If I had a dishwasher - I'd run it into a disposal even if I did not use the disposal for anything else.


The dishwasher does not completely drain itself. Dishwashers are supposed to leave some water in the unit at the end of each cycle. This is to keep the element type heater, used for drying the dishes, from burning up. It's a lot like a water heater element. If a lot of water stays in the sump - the drain could be clogged. A partially clogged air gap will do the same thing. The air gap is that little chrome dome on the kitchen counter.

Water Distribution

Copper Water Pipe Vs Plastic ? IMHO copper rules in most situations (unless you have low pH or aggressive water) ! Over time, the plastic can sometimes *sag* and possibly get brittle. If it needs to be repaired or altered in any way, the pipe will have to be glued and you will have no water 'til it dries. Copper-you can solder, turn it on, test it and know that all is well. Any plastic to metal connection is weak, such as where the water heater connection is made. Mice and rats love many plastics. They chew on it to keep their teeth from growing through their lower jaw.


Sizing Water Pipes? If you lived alone, only using one plumbing fixture at a time - correct pipe size wouldn't be a big issue. However when you are in the shower and someone flushes the toilet - it is a big deal. The basic rule is *two fixtures on a 1/2"; pipe*. You need min. 3/4"; incoming cold pipe for a one bath house. Just running 3/4"; to each fixture in the house won't hurt, but there will be no real gain. To size a water distribution system, get a copy of your state code book. It will spell it out in terms of beginning pressure, the furthest fixture from the meter and the number of fixtures in the house. Each fixture is worth *so many units* and you are allowed *so many units* for each size pipe as you get further from the meter.


What Type Pipe from Water Meter to House? If the run from the house to the street is short (under 60 feet) I'd use *Type L * soft copper. It is less likely to break and it has no fittings in the ground except at each end of the pipe. For longer runs my next choice would be schedule 40 PVC pipe. Not a bad choice at all. I would not use flexible plastic - that is black *poly* pipe. It comes in a roll. Way to soft and the metal clamps and hard plastic (or metal) connectors will break over time. I repair them weekly.
My Black Poly Pipe Pet Peeve My experience with black poly pipe (comes in a roll) is that it leaks. It is too soft. Hard surfaces (rocks) rub holes in it and where ever there is a transition to another type of pipe or an elbow it will leak there - because of the hard adapter, radiator clamps and the soft pipe. Schedule 40 PVC or copper is the best way to go with water mains.

Burying water pipes outside ? Find out what the freeze depth is in your area and bury the pipes below that level. Here (Atlanta area) it is about 18 Inches. Use schedule 40 PVC for cold water and CVPC for hot (if you are running that out also).

Protect Well From Freezing Most household well water systems are enclosed in a well house or a well box. An effective enclosure would be well insulated and have a built-in heat source, such as a heat lamp. Some enclosures are built below ground level with walls below the frost line to keep them from freezing.

But many well enclosures lack insulation or a heat source. Modifications to your system, remodeling, wear and tear from use, wet or missing insulation, torn weather-stripping, or improper design from the outset - any or all of these conditions could put your well at risk.

Plan ahead. Here are some options:

1. Do nothing. If you don't make any changes to your well house, you may face the prospect of frozen pipes again, but you can always turn on a faucet when temperatures drop. Moving water - a good drip will do - is far less apt to freeze. Turn up the flow at the first sign of a slowing drip rate.

This option is a good "panic" measure, but it's definitely not good water stewardship. You'll be using energy to kick the pump on more often than necessary and wasting water at the same time.

2. Put an incandescent (not fluorescent) light bulb in the well house. Place it near the pump, and leave it on during cold weather. A 100-watt bulb makes a great little space heater. Make sure the light can't get knocked over or set something on fire.

This option provides a fair degree of security, but it's not an energy-efficient alternative. If the light stays on 24 hours a day through the winter months, you'll spend about $3-$5 a month.

3. Inspect your well house or box before the weather turns bad. Make sure there are no drafty holes, broken windows or missing insulation. Put heat tape on the pump and plumbing. (Follow directions on the package.) Heat tape made specifically for this purpose is available at most hardware stores. Plug in the heat tape. Initial costs may be $10-$30, depending on how much exposed pipe you have. Heat tape will be pretty reliable as long as the power stays on.

4. Weatherize the well house. Install new weather-stripping, caulk and repair the roof. Add insulation if you didn't have it before. Put in new insulation, if the existing material has been damaged.

Install a thermostatically controlled space heater. Set it at 45-50 degrees. The heater may or may not use more electricity than the heat tape or light bulb approach, depending on the weather. It will be more reliable.

With any of these options, check the well system during cold snaps. If you are worried about power outages, learn to drain your storage tanks and how to re-prime your water system.

You might also purchase a safe propane or kerosene space heater. Use it on those very cold nights when storm fronts roll through and knock trees across power lines. Just remember it's not a good idea to operate unvented combustion heaters in an inhabited space.

Repairing (garden) hose bibbs? IMHO unless the HB is new enough to match the insides with the exact same brand, model et - replace the darn thing. You can try , but , I just don't seem to have permanent success when I just repair them. Now to replace them- if they come through the wall under the house then they can be unscrewed or unsoldered from the crawl space. If it is above the floor a *window* has to opened in the wall. Just unscrewing it from outside will often result in a broken pipe in the wall.

Polybutylene Pipe?

LATEST NEWS: A Washington Post article on June 15, page F4, reports that homeowners who had polybutylene plastic pipes breaks before August 21, 1995, have only until August 21, 1996 to file a claim for reimbursement from the Consumer Plumbing Recovery Center at area 800 867-4698. About 37,000 homeowners have had their polybutylene plumbing replaced so far, under the terms of the national class action settlement.

On November 8, 1995 a national 950 million dollar Polybutylene Pipe settlement was approved, in which similar suits across 21 states were joined with Cox vs Shell and Hoechst Celanese, including Spencer vs. Shell in Alabama. Eljer Industries and Dupont have agreed to contribute to the fund, bringing all major parties into the settlement.

A detailed article in the Washington Post, Friday November 10th, says this settlement is more generous than earlier proposed in Cox v. Shell. Homeowners will nonetheless be given an opportunity to opt out of the new terms of this settlement.

It will take about 4 weeks for the new settlement agreement and claims procedures to be mailed to those who have already registered.

If you have not already done so, you should register to receive information about the Cox v. Shell settlement by calling (800) 876-4698.


Water Quality

Rust in Dishwasher ? There is no way to clean rust out of old galvanized pipes. Most dish washers have a screen where the water connects to the machine. You access it through the lower front panel. Another solution would be to put a filter on just the hot water pipe to the washer. If you replace the pipe - use copper - and connect to the old galvanized with a dialectic union.


Rattling Pipes? I find several reasons why pipes rattle. The most common is that the washer in the faucet or valve is loose. Another is that the pipe is touching another pipe or hard surface in the wall (OUCH!). And for hot water rattles, the energy saving nipples that screw in the top of the water heater, sometimes make a serious rattling noise when you turn on any hot water tap. They have a ball in them that acts like a check valve. Under a dish washer it could be that the soft copper water supply is hitting a hard surface or the machine itself is not tight in the opening and is jumping around.

The Faucet CLUNKS When We Turn It On ? 99% of the time when you hear a clunk in any pipe when you turn a faucet on/off - it's a loose washer in the faucet. When you take it apart be sure you get the old washer and a screw. If you don't - turn the water back on and flush out the missing part.

Anti Hammer Device? Up until 10/15 years ago we put in anti hammer tubes. The *powers that be* found that the tubes got water logged over time. So - it's no longer code. In commercial installs, spring loaded devices are used especially at the end of long runs or at the end of a series of fixtures like urinals. To replace the air in the anti hammers, drain down the water in the whole house with the faucets turned on. The idea is that when you turn the water back on it will compress the air at the highest point at the end of each pipe. That's what the *powers that be* realized that plumbers were not plumbing for - and home owners would not do.


Shower Stall on Concrete Floor Smells? If you can see water in the trap , then the trap is holding water and you know it's working. Even if the trap is undersized (1 1/2"; instead of 2";) it would work. So the problem is probably a leaking drain pipe, the shower drain itself (the part that is connected to the shower stall) or it's leaking where the two connect. Can't fix the pipe or the drain itself without pulling the shower out. But, if you can see a rubber or lead ring around the pipe as it sticks up into the shower drain - that can be removed and a new one put in. This is a pretty common practice in concrete shower installs.

Garbage Disposal Smells? Put ice cubes in the disposal (about 1/2 way), run the disposal, flush out with cold water. Next put 1/2 a lemon and grind it up.


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