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Plumbing FAQ

At Cole Plumbing, we believe it is important to address your most frequently asked plumbing questions. From emergency plumbing services to slab leak repair, we’ve put together a comprehensive run down of questions we hear most often. Whether you’re contemplating what kind of plumbing repair is best for you or need to know what to look for in a quality plumber, we have you covered.

The Cole Plumbing team is here to provide easy-to-understand answers to your plumbing questions and guide you through the basics of common repairs. Leaky faucets and faulty garbage disposals are just the tip of the plumbing iceberg. Let’s dive into the most frequently asked plumbing questions.

What type of pipe material is used in my home?

To determine what type of plumbing material you have in your home, follow our piping guide below:

  • Copper: Plumbing in home built from the 1970 into the early 2000s was likely built with copper pipes. These pipes are a bronze color when new and slowly fade to a deep rust or brown color over the years. Copper pipes last about 50+ years.
  • Galvanized Steel: If you pipes are a gray metal color, they’re likely made of galvanized steel. This material is cheaper than copper and was often used in homes leading up to the 1970s. The material was used less when builders discovered it only lasted for about 40 years.
  • PB (polybutylene): This piping is usually marked with “PB2110.” These flexible pipes are usually gray but can also be black or blue.
  • PVC (polyvinyl-chloride): The white plastic pipes are most commonly seen under your kitchen or bathroom sinks used as drain pipes.
  • PEX (cross-linked polyethylene): Plastic tubing that is usually white, red, or blue and used to indicate hot and cold lines. Plumbers use this type of material because of its flexibility.
  • Cast Iron: This pipe has a black finish and was used in homes through the mid-1960s.

What are the most common plumbing problems?

Plumbing problems are sure to happen. Even in newer homes, clogged drains or a water leak can show when you least expect it. Whether you’re living through the repairs or an older home, or just purchasing a new home and want to be prepared, these are the most common plumbing problems:

Why you should never unclog your drains without a plumber

When you’re dealing with minor clogs, it’s possible that you are thinking about how DIY remedy will work to clear your pipes. However, do-it-yourself methods of drain cleaning are never a completely viable solution to your plumbing problems. DIY methods of drain cleaning like drain snaking your drain with a wire hanger and pouring harsh chemicals down your drain never come without consequence. Your drains are an essential part of your property that should be taken care of with precision and accuracy. Using at-home methods of drain cleaning involve unnecessary guesswork that only temporarily mask your plumbing problems instead of solving them all together. Snaking your drain on your own only reaches surface clogs and blockages and not deeper ones within your pipe that could be causing the actual problems. In addition, chemical drain cleaner use toxic ingredients that create a slime and sludge within your pipes that can stay within your pipe for long periods of time. Instead of trying to fix your plumbing problems on your own, call your team of local experts at Cole Plumbing today.

How do I clean my plumbing system?

The best way to clean your home plumbing system is with a non-toxic Hydro Jetting treatment form your Montgomery AL plumber. Schedule a Hydro Jetting treatment for your home every two to three years.

What is Hydro Jetting?

Hydro Jetting does not use chemicals. By forcing water through your pipes at nearly 4000 PSI, the Cole Plumbing team can remove buildup, debris, and tree roots. The water is sprayed at an extremely high pressure and flushes away the debris, allowing water and waste to flow through your plumbing freely.

How do I avoid clogged pipes?

Clogged pipes can be a major inconvenience. Whether it’s a slow-draining tub or a severe blockage in your main sewer line, addressing the problem immediately will help prevent further damage. The best way to prevent clogged pipes is to be mindful of what you put down your drains and toilet. Use these tips as a guide:

  • Run cold water when using the garbage disposal
  • A drain strainer should be used if there is no garbage disposal
  • Avoid pouring grease or oil down the drain
  • After washing dishes, run hot water to rinse away grease
  • Clear drain stoppers in shower and bathtub
  • Only flush waste and toilet tissue down toilet
  • Pump septic tank every two to three years
  • Avoid coffee grounds, bones, grease, fruit peels and other fibrous foods in garbage disposal

What is a plumbing emergency?

As helpful as it would be, plumbing problems don’t just occur during regular business hours. When leaks and clogs present themselves on the weekend or the middle of the night, you must determine if it constitutes a call to your Montgomery emergency plumber. Each homeowner will ultimately decide what ranks as an emergency, but our checklist can help:

Does the problem only affect one faucet, drain, or shower? If the problem is secluded to only one pipe, it can likely wait until Monday morning. Can you shut off a water valve to make the problem stop? If you can pause the problem temporarily, wait until normal business hours to call the plumber. Does the water work? If your water is completely shut off (and it’s not a municipality problem) call the emergency plumber. Is flooding occuring? If a burst pipe or water main break is causing flooding in or outside of your home, you’re dealing with an emergency.

Do I have a water leak?

Detecting a water leak can be difficult if your home is built on a slab or your pipes run underground. The most common signs of a water leak include:

  • Damp or spongy flooring
  • Unexpected Increase in monthly water bill
  • Sound of running water coming from walls
  • Loss in water pressure
  • Grass is greener in one part of yard

If you experience any of these issues, contact your Montgomery AL plumber for leak detection service.

How do you repair a slab leak?

A slab leak is when a water pipe beneath your home’s slab bursts or leaks. An underground pipe leak can cause the soil to become saturated and cause the slab to shift or sink. A spot repair technique is the most common way to repair a slab leak. If the piping beneath the slab is old or suffering advanced corrosion, a more permanent repair may be to re-pipe or move the plumbing.

How long do water heaters last?

The typical water heater lasts 8 to 12 years. Routine maintenance will help extend the life of your unit. If you have a traditional tank, draining the water heater once yearly will help rid the unit of sediment and minerals that can settle at the bottom. If your water heater isn’t advanced in age and is showing signs of trouble, call a water heater repair technician in Montgomery to get your unit running efficiently.

What’s the best temperature for a hot water heater?

A number of factors go into the best temperature for your water heater. The EPA recommends a setting between 120 and 140 degrees. It’s important to not go below that recommendation as bacteria can grow in water that is too cool, threatening your family’s health. If the temperature is set too high, you’ll waste energy and risk scalding burns with water usage.

How do I unclog a toilet?

A clogged toilet is problematic for your home and can quickly turn into a health risk if waste is not disposed of properly. If your toilet isn’t flushing, try removing the clog with one of these methods:

  • Plunger: Seal the plunger around the toilet drain and plunge rapidly several times. If the plunger doesn’t release the clog, try a plumbing snake.
  • Plumbing auger: A plumbing snake can be pushed through the toilet drain to grab a clog.

If neither of these methods work and the water from the toilet is not releasing, call a Montgomery plumber immediately.

Do I need a new toilet?

If you continuously have problems with your toilet, it may be time to replace it. A few signs that it’s time to replace your toilet include:

  • Continuous clogs
  • Multiple flushes after each use
  • Age (toilets 10 years or older aren’t energy efficient)
  • Ongoing leaks

Will you have to tear up my yard to repair the sewer line?

With trenchless sewer repair techniques used by Cole Plumbing, we can complete most sewer line repair work without excavating. Traditional sewer repair creates a double cost to property owners - the sewer line repair and then repairing yard work, driveway, or flooring. With trenchless sewer line repair, our technicians solve your plumbing problems with minimal invasion to your property.

Types of trenchless sewer repair:

  • Pull-in-place lining
  • Inversion lining
  • Epoxy coating

Each of these processes has as different set of requirements and its own pricing scale.

How do I stop tree roots from invading my plumbing?

Tree roots that invade your plumbing can create severe damage if not remedied quickly. Tree roots can break through underground plumbing, blocking the flow of water and waste to and from your home. To avoid tree root invasion, try one of these methods:

  • Tree Removal: If the tree continues to be a problem, have it professionally removed. The cost of tree removal will be minimal compared to constantly repairing your plumbing.
  • Root Barrier: Install a root barrier around any new trees by digging an 18 to 24-inch trench around the root zone. The barrier will keep the roots from invading your pipes.
  • Routine Plumbing Maintenance: Have a camera inspection performed every two to three years to detect invasive roots. You can spot small plumbing concerns before they become expensive repairs.
  • Sewer Line Cleaning: Hydro Jetting is an environmentally friendly way to clean your pipes. The intense water pressure can cut through clogs, debris and tree roots.

Does homeowners insurance cover burst pipe damage?

Damage caused by broken pipes is one of the most common homeowners insurance claims. Most insurance companies will cover damage caused by leaking or burst pipes if the damage wasn’t preventable. There are steps you can take to avoid broken pipes or leaking appliances:

  • Ensure tubs and showers are caulked and sealed properly
  • Inspect for leaking faucets indoors and outside
  • Insulate pipes if you live in a cold climate
  • Routinely inspect appliance hoses on your dishwasher or washing machine and replace as needed

How do I prevent pipes from freezing?

Prevent frozen pipes by following these pipe insulation steps:

  1. Run heating cable along the pipes before covering with insulation. The cable will keep the pipes at a constant temperature.
  2. Inspect the outside of your home looking for visible cracks near the foundation or basement. Use spray foam or caulking to fill cracks.
  3. Shut off the water valves to your outdoor faucets. Allow excess water to drain then cover the faucets with an insulated dome to prevent freezing.
  4. Allow the warm air in your home to reach the pipes beneath your sinks by opening the cabinet doors.
  5. Have your HVAC system checked annually to prevent your heating system from crashing during the winter months. The freezing temperatures can quickly affect your pipes.
  6. Allow a small, slow drip to come from your faucets. Running the water even a minimal amount will help prevent frozen pipes.

Cole Plumbing is Montgomery’s leading plumbing and HVAC company. Our technicians are available to help you through the maintenance of home ownership. We’ll evaluate the problems, explain the situation, and provide you with straight forward solutions that will quickly get your home back to normal. Call Cole Plumbing today for your plumbing or HVAC needs.

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