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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Here are just some of the questions many homeowners usually have when first contacting us. If you don't see what you're looking, please feel free to give us a call anytime, 24 hours / 7 days a week and we will be glad to help answer any and all questions you may have about your specific plumbing or heating needs.

1. Why do faucets leak?
2. Why doesn’t my old water heater work as well as it used to?
3. What is meant by a “pressure balancing” shower faucet?
4. Where can I locate the valve to shut off the water supply to my home?
5. Should I close and open the main water supply shutoff valve periodically?
6. Why do I hear a vibrating noise in my pipes?
7. I am hearing a whistle sound that seems to be connected to the plumbing system. It comes and goes at times, but I can't find the cause of it. What could cause this?
8. Can I increase the water pressure in my bathroom faucet?
9. Can I replace my two-handled faucet with a single-handle faucet?
10. What is the average lifetime of a gas water heater?
11. How is FHR and Therms used to compare the efficiency of water heaters?
12. What is a hot water recirculating system?
13. How do I choose the best electric or gas tankless water heater for my 3,500 sq. ft. home?
14. What is the difference between a storage tank water heater and a tankless water heater?
15. How do tankless water heaters work?
16. Why does my bathtub constantly have standing water?
17. I have a high water bill this month and my usage hasn't changed nor do I have any leaks that I'm aware of in the house. Has the water department made a mistake?
18. We can’t we use more than one plumbing fixture at a time because the pressure is too low. What can be done?

1: Why do faucets leak?
Leaks occur when seals inside the faucet become dirty or worn. Though you may choose to replace worn parts, replacing your old faucet with a new one can upgrade the look of your kitchen, bathroom or tub/shower decor and avoid further repair problems.

2. Why doesn't my old water heater work as well as it used to?
This is usually due to a sediment buildup in your tank. As water heaters grow older, they accumulate sediment and lime deposits. If these deposits are not removed periodically, the sediment will create a barrier between the burner and the water, greatly reducing the water heater's performance level. This results in an increase in the amount of fuel required to deliver hot water.

3. What is meant by a "pressure balancing" shower faucet?
A pressure balancing shower faucet senses fluctuations in hot or cold water pressure, caused by actions such as flushing toilets or starting dishwashers. A pressure balancing valve compensates for these fluctuations, keeping the water temperature constant and comfortable.

4. Where can I locate the valve to shut off the water supply to my home?
To locate your shutoff valve, look for the outside water line that leads to your home. The water line usually flows directly from the water meter to a location inside the residence. The most likely places for the valve to be located are on the internal pipes near your outside walls or where the water enters the structure. Severe flooding and damage that can occur when pipes burst can be prevented by knowing how to shut off the water supply quickly.  Every member of your household should learn this important information in order to act fast if an emergency plumbing situation should arise.  Your next step should be to immediately call Hawthorne Mechanical, and we'll be there as quickly as possible, most often times in 45 minutes.

5. Should I close and open the main water supply shutoff valve periodically?
Yes. You want to make sure they're not stuck in the open position just when you have a water emergency.  Do the same periodic check for the shutoff valves on your sinks, tubs, and toilets, too.

6. Why do I hear a vibrating noise in my pipes?
Noises can be fairly common in plumbing supply lines. If a washer in a faucet or valve is loose, you'll hear it rattling or knocking. If the sound occurs when you open and close faucets rapidly, it generally means pipes are loose, and can be corrected by anchoring pipes more securely. If it really bothers you, you can add air chambers at the end of long pipe runs. Call Hawthorne Mechanical to handle this installation.    

7. I am hearing a whistle sound that seems to be connected to the plumbing system. It comes and goes at times, but I can't find the cause of it. What could cause this?
The sound you are describing is usually caused by a toilet fill valve that is slowly leaking. To locate the leaking toilet, remove the lid of each toilet tank and adjust the fill valve mechanism until it stops. Once you have found the toilet causing the problem, call us to repair or replace the fill valve.

8. Can I increase the water pressure in my bathroom faucet?
Check if the emergency shutoff under your sink is fully open.  Next, check to see if the rubber washers or seals have begun to deteriorate, as that is a big culprit of water pressure loss. Because calcium and lime buildup also cause low water pressure, you may even need to clean your aerators. For tips on cleaning the aerators, read the next question.

9. Can I replace my two-handled faucet with a single-handle faucet?
The answer is usually yes because faucet dimensions and sink openings are standard throughout the plumbing industry.  There are a few exceptions, so check the size of the sink opening before you buy new fixtures.

10. What is the average lifetime of a gas water heater?
The average lifetime of gas water heater is 9 years. The range is 5-14 years.

11. How is FHR and Therms used to compare the efficiency of water heaters?
The first hour rating (FHR) tells you the number of gallons per hour of hot water. Therms relate to the gas consumption of water heater. When you are shopping for hot water heater, compare the energy factor on the energy guide label. FHR and Therms are not sufficient to calculate the energy factor. Also remember to compare water heaters of equal capacity and FHR.

12. What is a hot water recirculating system?
A "hot water re-circulating" system usually refers to a domestic hot water system that circulates the heated water through the house continuously so as to eliminate or shorten the delay in hot water reaching the faucet after the user turns it on. These systems are most common in multifamily or large building applications where otherwise the delays would be truly unacceptable. They can be require a great deal of energy if the pipes aren't well insulated.

13. How do I choose the best electric or gas tankless water heater for my 3,500 sq. ft. home?
Sizing of hot water heaters should not be based on the size of the house.  The most important factor are the number of occupants and their peak hour water demand.

14. What is the difference between a storage tank water heater and a tankless water heater?
Tank water heaters store and heat water at all times, thus incurring higher operating costs, whereas tankless water heaters only heat water as needed. In addition, tank heaters have a limited supply of hot water, while tankless heaters provide an unlimited supply of hot water.

15. How do tankless water heaters work?
Noritz & Rinnai water heaters work on demand. They only heat water when necessary. When a hot water fixture is opened or hot water is required by an appliance, the heater will sense the demand and heat water accordingly. Instead of wasting energy and money storing hot water when it is not needed, tankless water heaters provide only as much hot water as needed.

16. Why does my bathtub constantly have standing water?
The main cause of drainage problems in tubs in showers is hair clogging the pipes.  Physical removal of hair is best. Overuse of chemical based drain clearing products will eat away and corrode metal piping causing many kinds of repair issues.  Always let us know when you have used one of these harsh chemicals before we work on the pipes to protect us from the chemicals.

17. I have a high water bill this month and my usage hasn't changed nor do I have any leaks that I'm aware of in the house. Has the water department made a mistake?
Most often this tends to be a leak on the water service line. In most cases it is more cost effective to install a new water service line then try to find the leak on the old one. If the line is copper, it might be worth the effort to find the leak, but mostly we recommend replacement. There are some simple tests that we can do to figure out if the water service line is leaking. Sometimes the water department will bill you based on a usage average. After they read your meter then the bill will reflect the difference between actual usage and the amount already billed. If you are unsure and need some help, give us a call and we will be happy to help you figure it out.

18. We can’t we use more than one plumbing fixture at a time because the pressure is too low - What can be done?
When you have this kind of a problem it is typically a problem with the water service or the piping inside the house. A common misconception is that the pressure is bad, however the pressure may be fine but it is more a problem with the volume of water coming out. A lot of homes built prior to 1975 had galvanized water service lines. A lot of the homes built prior to 1965 had galvanized piping throughout them. The problem with galvanized pipe is that it rusts over time and eventually the inside of the pipe fills with rust leaving only a fraction of the space that it once had. A lot of homes see a lot of benefit in replacing the water service line that will allow them to run multiple fixtures at a time without having an issue with the water volume dropping. If you are interested in having this done - give us a call we will be happy check your home and quote you a price!

 
 
 

 

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