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Plumbing FAQ

Mr. Rooter® Plumbing knows that you have a lot of questions about why you should use the plumbing professionals at Mr. Rooter Plumbing and about plumbing in general. We have listed some of the more frequently asked questions below.

Can you tell me exactly how much this plumbing job will cost me?

In our years of experience, we have found that our customers prefer an accurate price based on their exact plumbing problem. Most phone quotes are subject to change once the service technician sees the job. We don't think that is fair to you. By allowing us to diagnose your plumbing problem in person, you will know exactly what it will take to get the job done. Contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing today for a quote on all of your plumbing repair needs.

How much is a plumbing inspection?

Mr. Rooter Plumbing offers a complimentary plumbing check-up to all commercial businesses, schools, hospitals, and other institutions suffering from repetitive drain clogs or plumbing problems. As a part of the no obligation check-up, our plumbing experts perform a complete walk through and examination of your kitchen, bar, restroom and other facilities and systems. Our check-up, combined with a preventive maintenance schedule, will ensure your plumbing and drainage systems are working properly. In fact, our plumbers can install an auto-injection system which can eliminate costly grease-related problems which cause slow an stopped drains.

What is the difference between hard water and soft water?

Parts of the U.S. have what is commonly referred to as "hard water," and people who live in these areas battle the problems that hard water creates. The most common defense against hard water, which is a nuisance but not a health hazard, is to install a home water softener. Water softening involves exchanging calcium and magnesium minerals present in the water – which cause the hardness – with sodium. As the water softener processes gallon after gallon of hard water on a daily basis, the treatment capability of the softener becomes depleted and must be recharged or regenerated.

When do you need commercial plumbing services?

Commercial plumbing services are right for anyone who doesn't have the time or tools to troubleshoot their own plumbing problems. Even a problem as mundane as a broken toilet may require commercial plumbing help if you aren't able to fix the problem.

Commercial operations have more complex design and maintenance needs than a residence. A problem in one area could indicate a need for a closer inspection of the entire commercial plumbing system, especially if the trouble is with water flow or leaking pipes or fittings. If it's clear you can't handle your plumbing issue with a quick do-it-yourself solution such as replacing a defective flapper or broken handle, Contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing and we can give you an in-person estimate on the problem and how much it will cost to fix.

What causes clogged drains?

There are a number of common issues that create a need for drain cleaning. Soap by itself is not a problem, but combine that with hair and there can be an issue. Another common problem is quilted toilet paper, which doesn't break apart as easily as non-quilted brands. Believe it or not, clumped cat litter can also become a major source of clogging if flushed down the toilet. Symptoms that you need drain cleaning include: drains that are slow to empty after normal use, garbage disposals that don't eliminate effectively, and problems with normal toilet flushing. Experts recommend trying a bio drain cleaning solution as a preventive measure, such as BiochoiceES® drain cleaning solution; this works for organic clogs, but if you have foreign objects or hair in your drains you may require additional drain-cleaning service to fix the problem.

When do I need drain cleaning services?

If you are having problems with your drains that cleaning products can't fix, it may be time to call in a professional drain cleaning service. Foreign objects lodged in your toilet or garbage disposal, completely blocked drains, and broken pipes are common reasons to bring in professional drain cleaning services. If you experience these symptoms after a storm or natural disaster, our professionals can diagnose serious issues such as major damage to the main drain pipe or sewage system. Sometimes a video inspection is the only way to see the damage, and fixing problems deep in your system requires specialized equipment. When calling a drain service, be sure to tell them the exact nature of any emergency, including how many areas of the house are affected by leaking water, overflowing toilets, or other problems. Also report the color of the water and any debris you may see; this information may be important when diagnosing and assigning service priorities to your problem.

What is FOG and how do I properly handle it?

If you find yourself constantly battling drainage problems, particularly in your kitchen sink, you may be fighting FOG. Educating yourself can help you prevent FOG from causing major damage to your home as well as the environment.

What is FOG?

“FOG” is an acronym for fats, oils and greases that enter your plumbing system and can cause problems of epic proportions.

Where does it come from?

Fats, oils and greases are a natural by-product of cooking and food preparation. They are found in many food products including shortening, butter, margarine, dairy products, baked goods, eggs, dressings, sauces, coffee, meats, food scraps, and more. Washing dishes that once held these products and running FOG-ridden items through your garbage disposal can all contribute to FOG buildup.

FOG’s Effects on Plumbing and Sewers

FOG can clog plumbing pipes and sewer systems similar to the way cholesterol clogs your arteries. Fats, oils and greases are insoluble in water. Dish soaps won’t help. Worse, as FOG cools, it floats on the surface of sewer fluids and solidifies on pipes. As a result, pipes may need to be cleaned more frequently, replaced sooner, or become completely blocked and cause a sewage backup into your home or sewer overflow onto streets. When FOG causes plumbing problems such as these, contact your local Mr. Rooter® plumber for plumbing repair services.

How to Properly Handle FOG

You can help protect both Mother Nature and your home environment by properly disposing of fats, oils and greases, preventing sewage overflow from contaminating waterways and your home.

  • Caution
    Never pour FOG down the sink – even disposals cannot properly handle fats, oils and greases. Use a sink strainer, disposing of as much food as possible in the trash.
  • Contain
    Save FOG, such as bacon grease and meat drippings, in containers with lids where they can harden and congeal for recycling or disposal in the garbage. Used glass jars, large yogurt containers, and coffee cans are great for this.
  • Pre-clean
    Scrape greasy pans and dishes into the garbage or compost. Wipe them with a paper towel or newspaper before washing.
  • Dispose and recycle
    Composting bins and recycling drop-offs are great places to dispose of FOG. They can be recycled into biofuels or re-used in the form of gardening compost. Check with your city for solid waste disposal programs that accept used cooking oil, such as hazardous waste collection programs.

What is the difference between gas and electric water heaters?

When you think about where your energy dollars go, it is easy to see the obvious energy drains all around us – lights, washer and dryer, kitchen appliances, televisions and computers, and heating and air conditioning. Even your pool pump is eating up energy. What you might have forgotten is the expense of heating up all of the water you and your family use for your daily needs. Tucked into a closet, the garage or the basement, it you hardly give it a thought until it fails. Whether you have an electric water heater or gas water heater, did you know that up to 25% of each or your energy dollars actually goes to heat that water?

Is It Time To Replace Your Water Heater?

Like most appliances, advancements in water heater design have resulted in vast improvements over the older, outdated and energy-guzzling models. Today's water heaters have become much more energy efficient. If you are like the typical homeowner, your water heater is 10 to 15 years old – and needs to be replaced. When it comes to the types of water heaters -- electric water vs gas water heater, they are both much more efficient now. Now you can replace that energy drain with a more efficient water heater that will help you save on your utility bill every month.

When choosing a new water heater, it's essential to consider the type of energy source or fuel type you will use, including its cost and availability. The fuel your water heating system uses will not only affect your water heater's size and energy efficiency, but also its annual operation costs. The most common choice homeowners face when selecting a new water heater is “electric water heater vs gas water heater”. Whether choosing an electric water heater vs gas water heater, ensure that the water heating system you choose will not only provide enough hot water for your household’s needs, but that it will do so energy efficiently.

Electric Water Heater vs. Gas Water Heater

Here are the main selling points of each type, to help you make your decision a little easier:

Choose an Electric Water Heater if you:

  • Are building a new home or planning a major remodeling project.
  • Can pay more up front to trade off on an approximately 50% reduction in water heating bills.
  • Can accommodate a condensate drain.
  • Best if you plan to replace your current electric water heater, but your existing unit is still working.

Choose a Gas Water Heater if you:

  • Are building a new home or planning a major remodeling project.
  • Can pay more up front to reduce water heating bills by approximately 30%.
  • Often run out of hot water.
  • Have space to accommodate special venting and a condensate drain.
  • Best if you plan to replace your current gas water heater, but your existing unit is still working.

Whole-House Gas Tankless

  • Are building a new home or planning a major remodeling project.
  • Have limited space.
  • Often run out of hot water.
  • Want a water heater with a longer lifetime.
  • Can pay more up front to reduce water heating bills by about 30%.
  • Are able to schedule a regular maintenance check every few years.
  • Best if you plan to replace your current gas water heater, but your existing unit is still working.

What are some common water heater problems and how do I handle them?

Your water heater usually sits out of sight, relatively unnoticed, until you have a problem. If you're like most of us, as long as the heater is delivering hot water on demand, you don't bother to check on it. However, like other mechanical systems in your home, water heaters can have problems.

Common Water Heater Problems

Many common water heater problems can be fixed without having to call a service professional. Others are better left to the pros. Below is a list of the most common problems and how you should handle them:

  1. Too little hot water. A water tank that produces too little hot water is one of the many common water heater problems you may encounter. Usually this can be solved by turning up the temperature on the tank's thermostat. Be careful, however, not to turn the temperature up too high, as this can be a scalding hazard.
  2. No hot water. If you don't get any hot water when you turn on the hot water faucets and your water heater is gas-powered, the most likely problem is a pilot light that has blown out. This can be due to a faulty thermocouple or a faulty pilot control valve. Another likely cause is a heating element (if you have an electric water heater) or the thermocouple (for a gas water heater) that needs to be replaced. Replacing the heating element or thermocouple is a relatively easy job for a plumbing professional. Unless you have such training, you're well-advised to let a pro handle this repair.
  3. Smelly water. Smelly hot water usually means that the water has become infected with bacteria. Generally, you can detect a rotten egg-type smell. You can generally solve this yourself by flushing the tank and filling it with a solution of water and hydrogen peroxide. Allow the solution to sit in the tank for two hours or so and then flush with clear water. If the tank is still smelly, it's best to call a plumbing contractor. If both the hot and cold water coming out of your fixtures is smelly, the cause is more than likely not related to your water heater.
  4. A noisy water tank. If your water tank is making noise, it could be a sign of one of several problems. The most likely is that your tank has sediment in the bottom of it and that the heating element is literally burning the sediment. If that is the case, you'll need to drain your water tank, a fairly easy procedure and something you should do about once a year as regular maintenance anyway.

    The other situation that might be causing your water tank to make noise is the heating element starting to burn out. Having a service professional replace the heating element should solve the situation.
  5. Leaking tank. Unfortunately, once your tank starts to leak, it's finished and it's time for a new one. Leaks, even small ones, are not something you want to ignore. You certainly don't want a 30 or 60-gallon tank draining in your basement or utility room. At the first sign of a leak, contact your local Mr. Rooter® to see about getting a new water heater.

Knowing when to call a professional and when to attempt a repair yourself can save you money on maintaining your water tank. Just a little knowledge about troubleshooting can make a big difference.

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