Here you will find many of the basic to more in-depth plumbing and HVAC questions we receive and answers to these questions.

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Plumbing Q&A

If it doesn’t work and just buzzes it’s jammed with something. Most disposals have a fitting for an Allen wrench underneath to manually jar it loose after you have felt for it (turned off of course!). Another way is to use a wooden broom handle. Place it in the disposal wedged against a blade and firmly push clockwise.

Most often, when it’s clogged from disposal activity (carrot shavings, etc.), the U-shaped trap is clogged. Screw off the plastic attachment fittings and you will remove the trap. Empty it. That’s typically your problem.

Some common calls for water heater repair that do not necessitate water heater replacement are a bad igniter (gas) or heating element (electric). Pilot lights can sometimes blow out. If it’s your water heater leaking, then more than likely you will need to replace it.

Chances are good either your shut-offs are bad or your faucet. Both are inexpensive to replace.

Do you have kids? Most likely something is obstructing the flow in the toilet itself. It’s an easy fix but typically requires an experienced plumber to remove the obstruction.

Call us first. We may be able to walk you through how to fix it yourself. If not, then get three estimates first to make sure you’re getting the best price. We’re passionate about saving you money. Even if you choose not to use us, call us and we’ll let you know if the other company is charging too much.

Look for signs such as unexplained increases in water bills, damp or discolored patches on walls or ceilings, and the sound of running water when no fixtures are in use.

Try using a plunger or a drain snake to clear the blockage. If that doesn’t work, consider using a chemical drain cleaner, but be cautious and follow the instructions carefully. If the clog persists, it’s best to call a professional plumber.

A running toilet is often caused by a faulty flapper valve, which can usually be replaced easily and inexpensively. It could also be due to issues with the fill valve or the float mechanism.

This is a question we often receive from customers who own a second home in northern Arizona where temperatures often dip below freezing. We advise insulating pipes in unheated areas, such as crawl spaces and attics. Keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes under sinks. Let faucets drip during extremely cold weather to prevent freezing.

Sediment buildup in the tank is a common cause of noises like popping or banging. Flushing the tank periodically can help prevent this buildup.

The frequency depends on factors like the size of your tank and the number of people in your household. As a general guideline, it’s recommended to have it pumped every 3-5 years.

While chemical drain cleaners can be effective, they can also damage pipes if used incorrectly or too frequently. It’s best to use them sparingly and as a last resort.

Check for clogged aerators on faucets and showerheads. If that doesn’t solve the problem, there may be issues with the water supply line or the pressure regulator, which would require professional attention.

Evacuate the premises immediately and call your gas company or emergency services. Do not use any electrical devices, light switches, or open flames, as they could ignite the gas.

Install low-flow fixtures, such as toilets, faucets, and showerheads, to reduce water usage. Consider upgrading to a tankless water heater for improved energy efficiency. Additionally, fix any leaks promptly to conserve water.

Hard water contains high levels of minerals, primarily calcium and magnesium. These minerals can cause issues such as scale buildup in pipes and appliances, soap scum, and reduced efficiency of water heaters.

A water softener uses a process called ion exchange to remove calcium and magnesium ions from the water, replacing them with sodium or potassium ions. This process helps prevent scale buildup and makes the water “soft.” It can also extend the lifetime of fixtures and appliances and keep HVAC drain lines clear of sediment.

Common signs of hard water include white or chalky deposits on faucets, showerheads, and dishes, as well as dry or itchy skin and dull, dingy laundry.

Softened water can prolong the lifespan of appliances and plumbing fixtures by reducing scale buildup. It also helps soap and detergents lather more effectively, leading to cleaner dishes, laundry, and skin.

The frequency of salt refilling depends on the size of your water softener and the hardness of your water. As a general guideline, check the salt level monthly and refill as needed.

Water softened with sodium can be consumed in moderation by most people without health risks. However, individuals on sodium-restricted diets or with certain health conditions should consult a healthcare professional before consuming softened water.

Regular maintenance tasks include checking salt levels, cleaning the brine tank periodically, and scheduling professional inspections and servicing as needed.

DIY installation is possible for some homeowners, especially for smaller, portable water softeners. However, larger systems or those connected to the plumbing may require professional installation to ensure proper setup and function.

Consider factors such as the hardness of your water, the size of your household, your budget, and available space for installation. Consulting with a PlumbSmart water treatment professional can help you select the best option for your needs.

Clogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including hair, soap scum, food particles, grease, and mineral buildup. Tree roots can also invade sewer lines, causing blockages.

Use drain screens or traps to catch hair and debris, avoid pouring grease or oil down drains, and run hot water down drains periodically to help prevent buildup. Regularly cleaning drains with baking soda and vinegar can also help prevent clogs.

Try using a plunger or a drain snake to clear the blockage. If that doesn’t work, consider using a chemical drain cleaner, but be cautious and follow the instructions carefully. For stubborn clogs, it’s best to call a professional plumber.

Chemical drain cleaners can be effective but may also damage pipes if used incorrectly or too frequently. It’s best to use them sparingly and as a last resort. Alternatively, natural methods like baking soda and vinegar can be safer options.

Signs of a clog in the main sewer line include multiple drains backing up simultaneously, gurgling sounds coming from drains or toilets, and sewage odors in the home. If you suspect a main line clog, it’s important to call a plumber promptly.

Yes, drain snakes are a common tool for clearing clogs and are available for purchase at most hardware stores. However, using a drain snake requires some skill and caution to avoid damaging pipes or getting the snake stuck.

The cost of unclogging a drain can vary depending on factors such as the severity of the clog, the location of the clog, and whether it requires professional assistance. Simple clogs may be cleared inexpensively, while more complex clogs or main line clogs may require more extensive work and cost more. Because of this, PlumbSmart offers a $49 drain cleaning service that can quickly and inexpensively clear a drain that plungers and chemicals cannot. Call us for details.

Plant trees away from sewer lines if possible, and consider installing barriers or root barriers to prevent roots from infiltrating pipes. Regular inspections by a plumber can also help detect and address root intrusion early.

The time it takes to unclog a drain depends on factors such as the severity of the clog and the method used for clearing it. Simple clogs may be cleared in a matter of minutes, while more stubborn clogs may require more time and effort.

Avoid putting fibrous or starchy foods, grease, oil, or large quantities of food scraps down the disposal. Run cold water while using the disposal and periodically grind ice cubes or citrus peels to help keep it clean and free-flowing.

Signs like recurring clogs, slow drains, foul odors, sewage backups, or pooling water in your yard may indicate the need for repair or replacement.

Professional inspection using cameras can identify issues like cracks, blockages, root intrusion, or collapsed pipes, helping determine the extent of the problem. PlumbSmart offers a $99 sewer camera inspection service.

Tree root intrusion, aging pipes, ground shifting, corrosion, clogs from grease or foreign objects, and environmental factors can all contribute to sewer line damage.

Repair options may include patching, lining, or pipe bursting. Replacement may involve traditional excavation or trenchless methods, depending on the extent of the damage and accessibility.

Trenchless methods involve minimal excavation, using techniques like pipe lining or pipe bursting to repair or replace damaged sewer lines without the need for extensive digging. Trenchless sewer replacement offers several benefits, such as minimal disruption to a homeowner’s interior living space as well as exterior landscaping. Additionally, a homeowner may save as much as 75% in reduced labor costs since there’s no need for extensive excavation.

The duration depends on factors like the extent of damage, the chosen repair method, and accessibility. Trenchless methods typically take less time compared to traditional excavation.

Costs vary depending on factors like the extent of damage, the chosen repair method, and local labor and material prices. It’s best to get estimates from multiple reputable contractors.

Coverage depends on your policy and the cause of the damage. Damage from normal wear and tear may not be covered, but sudden and accidental damage, like a tree root intrusion, might be covered.

Regular maintenance, avoiding flushing non-biodegradable items, proper tree planting away from sewer lines, and being mindful of what goes down drains can help prevent future issues.

Sewer work can be complex and potentially hazardous. It’s often best left to licensed professionals with the expertise and equipment to safely and effectively address sewer line issues.

Slab leak refers to a leak in the water lines located beneath the concrete foundation of a building. These leaks can cause water damage to the building’s structure and require immediate attention.

Slab leaks can be caused by various factors, including corrosion of pipes, shifting soil, poor installation, or abrasion from rocks or debris. Additionally, extreme temperatures have the potential to cause slab leaks. Cold temperatures can cause pipes to contract, while heat can cause them to expand, which may lead to stress on the pipes and potentially cause leaks in the slab. Because of this, slab leaks often occur in the coldest and hottest months of the year.

Signs of a slab leak include unexplained increases in water bills, damp or warm spots on the floor, cracks in walls or floors, or the sound of running water when no fixtures are in use.

Slab leaks can lead to structural damage, mold growth, and compromised water quality if left untreated. They can also attract pests and cause a decrease in property value.

Repairs for slab leaks often involve locating the leak using specialized equipment, such as leak detection devices or thermal imaging cameras, and then accessing the affected pipe either by breaking through the slab or using alternative methods like tunneling.

Repiping may be necessary if your building has old or deteriorating pipes, frequent leaks, low water pressure, or discolored water. Repiping involves replacing all or part of the plumbing system with new pipes.

Repiping can improve water quality, prevent future leaks, increase water pressure, and enhance the overall reliability and longevity of your plumbing system.

Copper piping is traditional and durable, known for its longevity and resistance to corrosion. PEX, on the other hand, is a newer alternative made of cross-linked polyethylene, which is flexible, easier to install, and less prone to bursting in freezing temperatures. Both have their advantages depending on factors like cost, ease of installation, and environmental considerations.

The time required for repiping depends on various factors such as the size of the building, the extent of the plumbing system, and the method of installation. It could take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.

The cost of repiping can vary widely depending on factors such as the size of the building, the method and type of piping used, and the extent of the work needed. It’s best to get multiple quotes from reputable plumbing contractors.

In some cases, homeowners insurance may cover the cost of repiping if the damage is sudden and accidental, such as a burst pipe. However, coverage varies depending on your policy and the cause of the damage. It’s essential to review your insurance policy and consult with your provider. If you’re unsure what to ask your insurer, PlumbSmart can work with your insurance company to find out what your warranty entails and whether repairs can be performed without any out-of-pocket cost to you.


HVAC is an acronym for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. HVAC signifies the entire heating and cooling system, consisting of; thermostat, furnace, heat exchanger, evaporator coil, duct work, vents, filters, condensing unit, and refrigerant lines.

Air filters should be changed regularly every 1 – 3 months to maintain efficiency. Dirty filters are not only unhealthy they increase your utility bill.

A fee some companies charge to cover the expense incurred traveling to a home or business to inspect and diagnose issues with a heating or air conditioning system. Unlike most companies, PlumbSmart does not bill a service call fee or trip charge and offers free estimates.

Annual maintenance is recommended in spring or early summer for 2 reasons; 1. To ensure the unit if working efficiently and providing comfort year round. 2. Identifying issues with performance early, before they can develop into larger problems that could result in costly repair bills.

Do you have kids? Most likely something is obstructing the flow in the toilet itself. It’s an easy fix but typically requires an experienced plumber to remove the obstruction.

Look for the manufacture date on the equipment label found on the outside of your air conditioner unit. If the manufacture date is more than five years old it is likely out of warranty, however warranties vary by model and manufacturer. You can call and speak with someone in our office who can look up the unit and advise you whether it is still under warranty.