Greencastle Plumbing Guide: How to Test for Water Leaks

A water leak can be a big problem. Not only does it increase your bill – pouring water out of pipes that you now have to pay for – but it puts your Greencastle home and its foundation at risk. Steady water flowing into concrete under your home is incredibly dangerous if left unchecked. Here are some quick tips to check for a leak if you suspect there might be a problem.

Your First Clue

The first clue that there might be a leak in your home is the water meter. If it suddenly starts to rise much faster than normal, you probably have a leak. You use the same amount of water on most days for showers, dishes and laundry. If the meter goes up by double each day, that water must be going somewhere. Many meters will even have a marker on them that indicates a leak (a red flag that you are using too much water and it’s probably a leak).

Finding the Leak

If you notice your water meter rising when all of your water using appliances are off (or the little warning meter is going off), you have a leak – let’s find it.

Start by turning off the main shut off valve to your home. Make sure your shut off valve is working properly by running a faucet after the valve is closed to see if water still comes out. If the leak indicator or meter is still moving after the shutoff valve is closed, the leak is before the shutoff valve, but after the meter. If it’s not moving, the leak is somewhere in your home, after the shutoff valve.

From here, look for signs of water damage or dampness throughout your home (and possibly outside). Most of the time, an indoor leak will manifest somewhere – either in a dripping ceiling or a damp spot on the carpet.

If no such evidence presents itself, look outside for water. Damp spots on your lawn on dry days are a sure sign as well. If you cannot find any signs of water leakage on or around your property, it may be time to call in a professional plumber to take a closer look.

How to Get My Furnace Ready for Winter: A Tip from a Greencastle Contractor

Being cold in the winter is normal – as long as you are outside. But you shouldn’t be cold inside your Greencastle home. If that happens, the first place to look to is your furnace, which may not be working correctly. Furnaces are like any other piece of mechanical equipment. They need to be maintained and serviced on a regular basis to ensure they are working at peak efficiency and warming your entire home at your desired comfort level.

First of all, check and see when you last had your furnace serviced. If it has been over one year ago, you should schedule a maintenance inspection from your local qualified heating and cooling professional. And when you make that appointment, ask about service agreements and getting on a regular maintenance schedule. Most heating and cooling contractors offer service agreement plans which include furnace and air conditioning check-ups on an annual basis.

Okay, so you know who to call for maintenance but what can you do yourself? First of all, give your furnace a little “help” by checking the vents and returns throughout the house. Ensure that there are no obstructions or blockages such as rugs, clothing, furniture, etc. You need to have unobstructed paths for your heated and return air to flow. The more congested the path, the harder your furnace will have to work. And while you’re at it, make sure your vents are open or closed, depending on how much you use your rooms. For example, if you have an extra bedroom that doesn’t need to be heated, closed off the vent or close the damper in the ductwork. The heated air will be diverted to other parts of your home where it is needed.

Another maintenance function that you can perform is cleaning or replacing the furnace filter. Depending on the size of your home and its air quality (occupants, pets, etc.), you may want to clean or replace your air filter every one to three months. A dirty filter can restrict airflow and can put contaminants like dirt and dust right back into your air system. If you don’t know how to replace your air filter, consult the furnace owner’s manual or go online to learn more. If your furnace uses an electrostatic air filter, it will need to be removed and cleaned, either by using a hose or with soapy water and a hose. Make sure you let it dry before re-installing it.

You may also want to inspect any electrical wires around your furnace to ensure none are broken or frayed. A visual inspection should be good enough.

Once you have done what you can, let your Greencastle heating and cooling professional take over from there. They are licensed and trained to inspect your furnace and ensure that it is in peak operating condition.

How Can I Get Better Flow from My Faucets? A Question From Gettysburg

Most of us realize that a drain can get clogged or that the pipes in our Gettysburg home might require extra repairs every now and then, but rarely do we realize that when the faucet is not providing a strong, steady flow of water, it is likely because of a clog in the actual faucet. If you are suffering from low flow in your faucets or worse, sputtering and clogging, here are some tips to help fix the problem.

Why it Happens

The reason that so many faucets now have problems related to clogging is that they have been changed and redesigned over the years to reduce water flow. Older faucets would pour ridiculous amounts of water through the drain – not at all good for the environment. Today, aerators and other technology advancements greatly reduce the amount of water used, but also tend to cause these types of clogs.

Checking Your Aerator

The easiest way to fix a slow flowing faucet is to check the aerator tip for unwanted sediment. Despite filtration of tap water, over time small bits of sand, dirt, and other sediment can and will build up in the aerator. That sediment should be cleaned out of the tip of the aerator at least once a month to keep it from slowing the flow of water.

If a water main breaks somewhere or a problem occurs in the water supply outside of your home, this type of sediment might start to build up more rapidly and cause immediate clogs in your faucet. Other things that might build up include pieces of pipe or flux from plumbing joints that break free and enter the water supply. None of it poses a health problem, but it can be frustrating when it gets into your faucets and blocks the water supply.

Valve Cartridge

If the aerator is not the problem it may be in the valve cartridge. To fix this, you will need to replace the part. Each faucet can be very different, so you should refer to your owner’s manual (many of which are online) for how to take this part out of the faucet assembly. When you go to the hardware store, be sure to take the valve cartridge with you so you can get the exact piece you need for replacement.

The easiest way to avoid a clog in your faucets is to be careful with any repairs you make. While a water main break is not something you can control, you can control how the water supply is affected when someone does repairs on your home’s plumbing. Leave faucets open outside, turn the main valve back on slowly and check your faucet immediately after the repair to ensure no sediment gets clogged in the assembly.