Common Plumbing Questions: Answered

As a homeowner, it’s only natural to have plumbing questions. While some plumbing problems are quite complicated and may require the expertise of a professional, many issues are minor and can be fixed with a bit of time and elbow grease. Not only will homeowners who understand the complexities of plumbing be better prepared to make the best decisions when a plumbing problem arises, but they may be able to take care of the problem themselves.

Q: What are the most important plumbing tools to keep at home?

A: The most well-known tool is the plunger – an essential tool that should be found in every household due to its usability and effectiveness. It can be used for unclogging toilets, sinks, showers, and tubs. Next on the list is a hand auger, which should be used for difficult clogs. With over 25-feet of steel cable, the hand auger is capable of handling clogs a plunger can’t. Finally, a wet-dry shop vacuum, though not strictly a plumbing tool, can be a lifesaver in the case of a flood. If a broken pipe or appliance has flooded a room, getting the water up as quickly as possible with the vacuum can mean the difference between saving a floor and having to completely replace one.

Q: How can I increase my water pressure?

A: Typically, issues with water pressure can be attributed to a volume or flow issue. A restriction in a line, or having a line that’s too long or under sized, could be the problem. If a pressure gauge is installed, you can check the pressure yourself. Water pressure in most households should be around 50 PSI. Look at the gauge with all the water off, and then once again when the water is on full. If the pressure is okay until you turn the water on, then it’s a flow problem. If the pressure problem only happens to a particular faucet, it might be possible to improve the pressure by cleaning the faucet or installing a new aerator on the end of the spout. Over time, faucets can clog and reduce the flow.

Q: How can I avoid frozen pipes?

A: If the pipes in question are exposed to an unheated area (garage, basement) or are outside, the pipes should be wrapped with foam or some type of insulation material and bound with electrical tape. If you can get your hands on electrical wire heating wrap, this will keep the pipes above freezing even in very cold weather. If you’re concerned about pipes within a wall, you can poke small holes through the wall and cover the pipes with insulating foam. If the pipes are totally inaccessible, leave a trickle of water running– this will warm the pipe slightly and slow down the freezing process.

Q: Is there a difference between hard and soft water?

A: Yes, and the difference can be damaging to both your home and your body. Hard water is water that contains a noticeable amount of dissolved materials, like calcium and magnesium. Soft water is treated in such a way that the only ion present is sodium. If you’re experiencing damaged clothing after laundry, excessive soap consumption, pipe scaling, deterioration of faucets and fixtures, or undesirable odors or tastes in your water, you may have a water problem. In addition to improving soap lather and removing soap scum, using a water softener can have financial benefits as well. In homes with water softeners, energy bills are noticeably lower and, since appliances don’t have to work so hard, the lives of washing machines, dishwashers, and water heaters can be prolonged.

Organize Your Linen Cabinet in a Few, Easy Steps

Linen cabinets are an awesome addition to any bathroom – they ensure extra towels and linens are always within reach and, depending on the style of linen cabinet chosen, can also act as a beautiful focal point in your bathroom space. Typically, linen cabinets are used as a catchall for bath essentials, towels, sheets, and personal hygiene products. With such a variety of items being stored, it’s easy for the space to become overwhelmingly cluttered. If you avoid opening the doors of your linen cabinet for fear of what lies within, these tips can help you condense and organize your linen cabinet.

Bundle Spare Sheets

For many people, the main source of their linen tower clutter is sheet sets that somehow get separated or tangled. By bundling sheets together, you can avoid mismatched sets and heavy piles that topple over. Sheets can be bundled together by stacking sheets in a wicker basket, or tying the sets together with leftover wrapping paper ribbons. Don’t forget to add labels so you’ll know which size bed the sheets are intended for. Aim to have at least two sets of sheets for each bed in the house.

Purge Frequently

How many times have you headed to Costco and bought toilet paper in bulk, only to realize you already had ten rolls hidden in the back of your linen cabinet? A common mistake many homeowners and renters make is purging linen closets and cabinets only when necessary. By adding linen closet organization to your monthly cleaning list, you’ll be able to keep a better inventory and avoid accidentally purchasing the same item twice. In order to better keep control of your inventory, try fixing a dry erase board on the inside of your linen cabinet – as items run low, make a note.

Utilize Hanging Hooks

Every space has a hidden potential if you’re willing to think outside the box and get a little creative. By installing hooks from the walls of linen cabinets, you can conveniently hang loofa, robes, towels, and whatever else you can think of. If you don’t want to go through the effort of purchasing and installing hooks, repurpose your old shower rod and hooks for linen cabinet storage. It’s as simple as trimming down the rod to fit in your linen cabinet, installing the rod towards the back of your linen cabinet, and hanging items like washcloths, hand towels, and spare loofas from the hooks.

Maximize Shelf Space

By using stackable boxes, bins, or basket for storing small items like cosmetics or first aid supplies, you can maximize vertical space on the shelves of your linen cabinet. Another good way to corral small items, like cotton balls and q-tips, together is to arrange them on a tray or in a drawer which you can easily slide in and out of your linen closet. For easy maintenance and cleaning, be sure to use a tray that’s both waterproof and wipeable. If you use your linen cabinet to store shower products while not in use, load up a caddy with bath products so you can easily move the products in and out of the shower.

Clean Bathroom? Check.

Whether you clean your bathroom in a few hours or spread the task out over a few days, it can be hard remembering to scrub every tile, dust every surface, and wash every towel. By using this handy daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly bathroom cleaning checklist, you’ll keep work to a minimum and give yourself the time you need to do the things you love. If you have a larger family, consider handing parts of this checklist to family members, delegate tasks, and ensure everyone sticks to the schedule.

Daily:

  • Wipe down sink, tub, and faucets after each use
  • Wipe down counters
  • Spray shower and shower curtain/door with cleaning mist after use
  • Wipe down counters

Weekly:

  • Scrub bathtub/shower/tiles
  • Scrub & disinfect the sink & toilet
  • Clean mirrors & faucets
  • Wipe down & disinfect counters
  • Wash toothbrush holders & cups used for rinsing
  • Wash & refill soap dispenser or soap dish
  • Wipe down & disinfect door & doorknobs
  • Empty & wipe down the wastebasket
  • Vacuum, sweep, or mop the floor
  • Wipe down any switch plates, moldings, or baseboards
  • Replace & wash towels
  • Dust windowsills & other exposed surfaces
  • Wash any rugs or mats, if necessary (Some prefer to wash rugs bi-weekly)

Monthly:

  • Wipe down & disinfect the fronts of cabinets & drawers
  • Organize medicine cabinets, linen towers & items in drawers
  • Deal with any mold & mildew in the bathroom
  • Check & restock supplies, including toiletries & cleaning supplies

Quarterly:

  • Clean & re-seal grout (if needed)
  • Dispose of expired or old medication, cosmetics & toiletries
  • Change or launder the shower curtain & liner
  • Wash walls & ceiling
  • Launder window curtains, if applicable

Yearly:

  • Wash windows inside & out
  • Replace torn mats & rugs
  • Replace torn window curtains, if applicable
  • Clean out/vacuum ventilator
  • Deep-clean carpet, if applicable