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How do pipes and drains fail over time?

The following animation demonstrates the natural corrosion process of metal based pipes and drains. Additionally, the inside of your drains slowly accumulate a variety of gunk that further disrupts proper flow.

The following questions and comments are common problems that may occur in the plumbing of almost every residential household. For service in Willmar, Kandiyohi County or surrounding areas, give us a call today.

Foul Odors

I have a foul odor coming from my garbage disposer. What can I do to eliminate this odor?

Foul odors occur from a buildup of food debris within the disposer. To eliminate this odor, place ice cubes and lemon or orange peels in the disposer and run for 30 seconds. Next, squirt a little liquid dish detergent into the disposer while it is still running. Finally, run cold water for about 30 seconds to rinse all the debris away. This can be done on a routine basis to keep your disposer clean and odor free.

I am getting a foul odor from the guest bathroom in the basement. We hardly ever use this bathroom, but it is embarrassing when guests stay at our home.

Plumbing systems are designed to prevent foul odors from entering the house by means of the trap attached to fixtures. Traps contain water to seal out foul odors; if the water seal evaporates, the odors enter the house. To solve this problem, pour a bucket of water in each trap, sink, shower and floor drain. This will prevent the odors from entering the house.

Why do I have a foul odor like rotten eggs when I run my hot water?

This is caused by the minerals in well water reacting with the anode rod in your water heater. This rod can be removed by an experienced plumber, however it may shorten the lifespan of your water heater.

Freezing Pipes

In Minnesota the winters are cold and we were told to turn off the outside faucets in the fall before the freezing weather arrives. We did this, however the pipes leading to our outside faucet still froze and broke. What did we do wrong?

Turning off the water is not enough. You must also disconnect the garden hose connected to the faucet to allow the water in the pipe to drain out. This will allow the piping to withstand the cold weather.

Why did my drain freeze up under my kitchen sink last winter for first time in 25 years?

Kitchen sinks are typically plumbed in outside walls in older homes, with aging of the home the insulation settles and the pipe may become exposed to colder temperatures causing the pipe to freeze. This can be prevented by leaving your cabinet doors open during extremely cold temperatures.

Root Growth in sewer pipes

How do roots grow?

Tree and shrub roots require oxygen and water to grow. Growth rate is variable and is affected by the soil depth, water supply, aeration, mineral supply and temperature.

Roots generally extend up to two or three times the height of the tree, but can extend as far as seven times the height of the tree. Large, mature trees may have thousands of feet of root system searching for nutrients. Roots will be less extensive in clay soils than in sandy or well-drained soils.

How does weather impact root growth?

During drought conditions and in the winter, roots will travel long distances in search of moisture. When trees and shrubs get thirsty, they follow the trail of moisture vapors escaping from small cracks, holes, or poorly sealed joints in the water and sewer lines. The roots penetrate the opening to reach the nutrients and moisture inside the pipes.

What happens when roots get inside lines?

If not disturbed, the roots will completely fill the pipe with multiple hair-like root masses at each point of entry. The root masses quickly become clogged with toilet tissue, grease and other debris flowing from homes and businesses to the main sewer, resulting in reduced flow and slowed drains. A complete blockage may occur if the roots are not removed and root growth impeded..

Some pipe materials are more susceptible to root intrusion than others. Clay tile pipe is easily penetrated and damaged by tree roots. Concrete pipe and PVC pipe may also allow root intrusion, but to a lesser extent than clay pipe. PVC pipe usually has fewer joints and the tightly fitted joints are less likely to leak as a result of settlement around the pipe.

How can I control roots in my pipes?

Your pipes may need to be augered on a routine basis after roots have been discovered in the sewer pipes. If the pipes are damaged from the extensive root growth the pipe may collapse. This problem can be diagnosed by with the use of a sewer camera. If this occurs, the pipes will need to be repaired or replaced.

Slow Drains & Faucets

My shower head and faucet aerators have a buildup of a white substance around the area where the water comes out. Is there anything I can do other than replace them?

The unsightly buildup is mineral deposits. To remove these deposits from the showerhead, take a plastic bag and pour a cup of vinegar in it. Place the bag over the showerhead and use a twist tie to hold it in place overnight. In the morning, remove the bag and use an old toothbrush to gently scrub off the deposits. You might be able to remove the aerators from the faucets and allow them to soak in the vinegar overnight.

I had some of the water pipes in my house replaced and now the water pressure seems low coming from my bathroom faucet?

After some plumbing repairs, pipe residue in older pipes can become loosened and can plug up the aerator on your faucets. Simply removing the aerator and rinsing it out will most likely remedy the problem.

Our kitchen drain has taken longer than usual to drain during the past year, is there anything that I can do to remedy the slow drain?

After the drain is cleared with a drain auger be conscious of the amount of grease that is put down the drain. The grease will build up in the drain pipe and trap and eventually occlude the pipe.

Water Temperature & Water Bills

The temperature of my hot water seems to be higher than what I think I need. How can I conserve energy, yet also be sure that there is an adequate amount of hot water?

Most people are comfortable with their hot water set at 120F, which is also the new standard that manufacturers use when pre-setting it at the factory. If you have an older model, set the thermostat at medium. On a gas model, there is a dial on the front of the gas valve. On electric models, the thermostats (there may be two) are concealed behind the two panels on the side of the tank. NOTE: Turn off the electricity before removing the panels. There are exposed wires behind the panels containing HIGH VOLTAGE.

There are four people in our house and we are constantly running out of hot water. After a five-minute shower, the water starts to turn cold. This was never a problem until recently.

There are two possibilities. First, the dip tube may have broken off. This is a tube that forces incoming water to the bottom of the tank so that hot water will be drawn off of the top. When the dip tube breaks, cold water entering the tank mixes with the hot water and cools it down. This can occur in both gas and electric models.

Second, if your water heater is electric, the lower element that heats the water may not be operating properly, thus only the upper half of the tank will heat up. The cause of this problem could be a bad element or a thermostat malfunction.

My water bill has been higher than normal, but none of the faucets are leaking.

Sounds like the toilet is leaking. First, check the water level to ensure that water is not overflowing the tank by way of the overflow pipe. This is the pipe in the middle of the tank. It has small tubing connected to it. If water is running into the overflow, adjust the fill valve to stop the flow approximately one inch below the top of the overflow tube or to the water level mark stamped on the side of the tank.

Second, put a few drops of food coloring into the tank to test the flush valve mechanism. If the water in the bowl changes color within 15 minutes, this is an indication that water is leaking into the toilet bowl and that the ball or flapper needs to be replaced.