What Can Go Wrong Inside Your Toilet Tank?

There are all sorts of things that can go wrong downstream from your toilet, especially if you’ve been flushing things that belong in the wastebasket. But what about that jumble of parts hidden inside your toilet tank? There are plenty of things that can go wrong there as well, and some of them are simple enough for you to fix on your own.

The Flapper

We’re not talking about the famous dancing ladies of the Roaring 20s. In toilet terms, the flapper is a small rubber disc that covers a hole at the bottom of your toilet tank. It’s what’s holding back all the water in your tank from becoming the next flush.

Flappers are fairly long lasting but they can degrade over time. Since the job of the flapper is to create a watertight seal, even a small crack or chip could lead to a running toilet. It’s also possible for the flapper to become stuck open, misaligned or even tangled in the chain that attaches it to the flush arm.

If your toilet is running, the flapper should be one of the first things you check. And if you discover that it’s a little worse for wear, you should buy a replacement at your local plumbing store. Swapping in a new flapper for the old one is a simple matter of snapping the rubber hinges onto the flush valve and reattaching the chain to the flush arm.

The Flush Chain

The chain itself can also be a problem. If it breaks, your toilet won’t flush. If it’s too long, your toilet might flush weakly or not at all. And if it’s too short, it could hold your flapper partially open and lead to a running toilet.

It’s easy to check for these problems with a visual inspection. These chains usually have removable links, so it’s simple to adjust the link or repair a chain with a single broken link.

The Flush Handle and Arm

The flush handle on the outside of your toilet attaches to an arm that extends into the middle of the tank. This is a very simple mechanism, but it’s one that can break, especially if any of the parts are made of plastic (which they often are). A broken flush handle and arm assembly must be replaced, but replacements are commonly available at hardware stores and often install with no tools at all.

The Float

The float is an air-filled ball attached to an arm. It sits just above water level, and when your tank is refilling after a flush, the float tells the fill valve when to stop. If the float becomes damaged or stuck, it may need repair or replacement.

A damaged float or float arm should be replaced altogether. If it’s merely sticky, try draining your toilet tank (shut off the toilet’s main valve and flush), drying the arm’s moving parts and spraying it with a little lubricant.

The Fill Valve

The real workhorse inside your toilet tank is the fill valve, which refills the tank with water after each flush. While normally reliable, these can eventually break for all sorts of reasons. And when that happens, the entire valve assembly must be replaced. You might want to call a plumber for this one if you’re not comfortable with DIY parts replacement, but it’s still not the most complicated job. New toilet tank fill valves typically ship with detailed installation instructions.

Replacing the fill valve requires you to shut off the toilet’s water supply and drain the tank so that you can remove the old valve. Depending on the valve’s design, you might be able to do this without tools by simply unscrewing a few retainer caps. Alternatively, you might need a screwdriver or small adjustable wrench.

Have other problems inside your toilet tank? Our plumbers are ready to come to the rescue. Just reach out to Rods Away and request emergency assistance!

What Can Smart Meters Do For You?

For many homeowners, the smart home comes together piecemeal: a few smart outlets here, a smart appliance there, and eventually a smart thermostat — all of which can be controlled with a few taps of a smartphone. But while many elements of the smart home are focused on electrical and HVAC systems, there’s one device that can bring your household plumbing into the mix: the smart water meter.

There are several different models of smart water meters, and unless you live in a water municipality that is on the cutting edge of technology, you’ll probably need to buy your own if you want to harness this technology. But over time, these smart water meters can pay for themselves in terms of water conservation — and in the event of a leak, they could even pay for themselves in a matter of days.

State of the Art

Household water management technology has come a long way in a short time. For much of the 20th Century, the only way to tell if you had a plumbing leak was the hard way: the unmistakable smell of festering mold — or worse, leaking sewage.

More recently, water sensors made it possible to catch plumbing leaks before they caused too much damage. These portable, battery-operated sensors produce high-pitched beeps when they detected moisture, and placing them around sinks, toilets, water heaters and other plumbing areas can be an effective means of stopping water damage before it gets out of control.

But water sensors may not detect leaks until well after water gets where it ought not to be. The latest technological innovation in leak prevention — smart water meters — can detect new leaks within minutes, sending alerts directly to a homeowner’s smartphone. Most models can even allow the main water supply to be shut down with the tap of a button, even from thousands of miles away, preventing catastrophic damage in the time it takes for a plumber to arrive and make repairs.

Stop Leaks, Prevent Disasters and Save Water

Smart water meters are installed directly to your main water line, which means installation is beyond the experience level of the average amateur plumber. To be on the safe side, you should factor professional installation by a licensed plumber into the overall cost.

You’ll also need a reliable wireless Internet connection in your home, because that’s how smart water meters alert you to emergencies and keep you in control of your household plumbing.

Once installed, a smart water meter can conduct pressure tests on a daily schedule or on demand. These tests are capable of detecting even tiny leaks, allowing you to find and fix the problem long before mold growth or structural damage become concerns.

Perhaps most importantly, smart water meters can be programmed to shut off your home’s entire water system as soon as a catastrophic water leak is detected, giving you peace of mind while you’re away from home. Something like a burst pipe can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage if it occurs while your home is unoccupied, but with this layer of protection, your home will be spared the deluge and you can make arrangements for emergency repairs and cleanup even before you return home.

The most sophisticated smart water meters can even help you track your water consumption and break it down among the individual fixtures and appliances in your home. Like smart electric meters, which detect unique electrical “signatures” from each appliance and device in a home, smart water meters can similarly tell your toilet from your washing machine by detecting unique hydraulic pulses. If you’re trying to conserve water, the data generated through this process can help you make smarter decisions about where to prioritize your water reduction.

Does this sound like a smart upgrade for your home? If so, start shopping around today to find the best smart water meter for your budget and needs, and don’t forget to call Rods Away when you’re ready for professional installation.

Why You Shouldn’t Close Vents

Maybe you grew up in a home where rarely used rooms were closed off and vents were also closed in those rooms. You may have been told that this would save the money. The truth is that the practice of closing vents actually harms your furnace.

Closing vents creates back pressure on the system. Furnaces are chosen and installed depending on the square footage of your house. Changing the output by closing vents means that your system is not operating optimally. Your system needs the proper balance of supply and return air, otherwise it will have a shorter lifespan and you will need to replace it sooner than expected. You will also have improved air circulation and it will actually lower your utility bill because it won’t be causing stress on your system thus overworking it.

What happens if your humidity level is too high?

  • Mold growth
  • Peeling paint or wallpaper
  • Decay of wooden floor joists and subflooring
  • Increase in pests
  • Dust mites

To avoid having any of these problems, use your air conditioner. If you don’t have an air conditioner, use ceiling fans to help with air circulation. Use bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans, and in severe cases, use a dehumidifier.

In extreme cases of high humidity, your health could be at risk, causing:

  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Fainting
  • Heat stroke

What happens if your humidity level is too low?

  • Cracks in drywall and plaster
  • Wall paneling, wood trim and hardwood flooring can shrink
  • More dust

To combat low humidity, air seal your house and/or use a humidifier. If you choose to use a humidifier, make sure that you are not adding too much moisture into your house.

Low humidity can affect your health as well causing:

  • Dry skin
  • Irritated sinuses and throat
  • Itchy eyes
  • Viruses spread more quickly

What is the Difference Between a Water Conditioner and a Water Softener?

WATER CONDITIONER

WATER SOFTENER

Reduces scaling in pipes Reduces scaling in pipes
Reduces white or yellow-ish spots around faucets and drains Reduces white or yellow-ish spots around faucets and drains
Does not waste water back-flushing a brine tank Regularly back-flushes the brine tank
Retains calcium and magnesium Replaces the calcium and magnesium with twice the amount of sodium
Does not require regular salt replenishment Eliminates water spots from dishes
Allows soap to lather with ease, reducing soap scum
Allows you to use less soap, detergent, and dish soap
Corrosive to plumbing
Harmful to the environment
New installations banned in many cities across the US

Is your water pressure to high?

Do you know what to look for?

  • Banging pipes: One of the most common signs of high water pressure is a banging sound in the pipes.
  • Spitting from the faucet aerator when turning on a faucet: If your faucet aerator isn’t clogged, then high water pressure may be the culprit.
  • Shortened life of your water heater: The life expectancy of a tanked water heater is 8-12 years.
  • Leaking faucets: Another sign of high water pressure is a faucet that leaks only when another plumbing appliance is in use.
  • Shortened life of a washing machine: The lifespan of a washing machine is 10-14 years.
  • Running toilets: A leaky or running toilet is a less common sign, but still possible.

Don’t ignore any of these signs. They could indicate a major problem. High water pressure can destroy fixtures, especially those connecting your appliances to water sources, resulting in leaks and increased wear and tear of appliances and reducing their lifespan.

Learn More and Contact Us

If you suspect high water pressure or another plumbing issue, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with us here at Rods Away anytime. We would love to help you out. Call 01495 687667 to speak with a member of our team today!

What You Can Flush Down the Toilet — And Toilet Lies We Have All Believed

The toilet: a porcelain throne designed for one purpose, yet used for many. For some, the toilet is a small but necessary part of the day: a quick pit-stop in the middle of a busy routine. For others, the toilet is a place of comfort and relaxation: a seat on which to linger, located inside a room that is sometimes the best option for peace and quiet. While both of these toilet treatments are acceptable, there is one that is not. The time has come to spread the message: the toilet is not a trashcan.

Our plumbing experts here at Rods Away know it’s important to discuss the toilet and how to use it properly. Toilet users should know which items should and shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet, helping you save money and the environment! Read on to learn more about your toilet, and contact our team to schedule professional toilet repairs today!

Flushing Your Toilet: Where Does the Waste Water Go?

Once a toilet is flushed, toilet water (and everything else in it) is sent through pipes on a property that are connected to the municipal sewer system. Once in the sewer, toilet waste water is sent to the city’s wastewater treatment facility. There, wastewater from homes, along with wastewater from businesses, industries, and other properties, is treated by a variety of processes to reduce or remove pollutants.

Wastewater treatment facilities use a number of methods to reduce and remove pollutants from water. These methods include primary treatments, which involve screening and settling out large particles. All municipal water treatment facilities also employ secondary treatment methods, which use bacteria to remove microscopic organic materials, as well as chlorine to kill off bacteria and disinfect water. Some municipal treatment facilities take things a step further and employ a final, advanced treatment process to reduce the presence of pollutants that are of special concern to the local waterbody (such as nitrogen or phosphorus). Once treatment is concluded, the water is piped back into the local water supply.

Bringing it All Together: Water Treatment, Plumbing, and What Goes Down the Toilet

With modern municipal water treatment facilities in place, it would seem that virtually anything could be flushed down the toilet — after all, it would just be filtered out, right? Wrong. Even the most advanced water treatment facilities can only filter certain materials out of water. There are other materials, such as many inorganic substances, that will remain in water even after filtration. Further, some substances are simply difficult for water treatment facilities filter out of water—if they even make it that far. Many large, solid objects flushed down toilets can damage plumbing and get stuck in pipes, leading expensive repairs and replacements for private property owners.

To keep your local water supply clean and protect your plumbing from unwanted damages, it’s vital that you flush only permissible items down the toilet. In the following sections, we cover which items should be flushed down the toilet, and which items should be saved for disposal by alternate means.

Things You Should Flush Down the Toilet

It may surprise the average property owner to read that the list of things you should flush down the toilet is surprisingly small. However, if given just a moment of thought, the “toilet shortlist” makes perfect sense. After all, toilets are designed to do away with human excrement and nothing else —flushing other items down these bathroom fixtures just doesn’t make sense (and can, in fact, cause significant damage in a number of ways). The list of things you should flush down the toilet includes:

• Human excrement. The true purpose of a toilet—to do away with human excrement. (This includes both number 1 and number 2.)
• Toilet paper. Toilet paper is a necessary item for many toilet-related duties. It is also fairly easy to filter and is best disposed of by being flushed down the toilet.

Things You Should Not Flush Down the Toilet

The above list covers all of the things that should be flushed down the toilet. As you can see, it is quite short. All items not on the above list should not be flushed down the toilet. This includes all other and liquids and solids — including a vast list of things that may disappear after being flushed.

Do not be fooled: if it disappears down your toilet, it can still cause damage down the line. Below is a list of common items that should not be flushed down the toilet (as well as reasons why they should not be flushed).

• Household products such as cleansers, beauty products, medicine, auto fluids, paint, and lawn care products. Wastewater treatment facilities are designed to treat organic materials, not inorganic hazardous chemicals. Flushing these chemicals down the drain can lead to the contamination of your local rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.
• Excess household grease (such as meat fats, lard, cooking oil, shortening, butter and margarine), diapers, condoms, and personal hygiene products. These materials can clog pipes and lead to costly plumbing repairs. In some cases, they can cause raw sewage to overflow in your home or yard, or in public areas, which can in turn lead to contaminated waterways.
• Motor oil and photographic chemicals. These chemicals are hazardous and cannot be completely filtered by municipal water treatment facilities. Their presence in the water supply can lead to severe water contamination.
• Large solid objects. Thinking of flushing your trash down the toilet? Think twice. Large solid objects can often et caught in pipes, which can lead to costly plumbing repairs and replacements for you.

Other Toilet and Bathroom Myths

To conclude this guide, we’ll spend a bit of space discussing and debunking several toilet-related myths. Ranging from the weird to the downright dangerous. Believing them could lead to environmental degradation, property damage, and money out of your pocket.

 Myth #1: “Flushable” toilet wipes are okay to flush down the toilet. These wipes may be marketed as “flushable,” but most of them aren’t nearly as biodegradable as toilet paper. They can clog pipes and contaminate waterways.
• Myth #2: A brick placed in the back of a toilet tank will save water. Bricks may take up space —but they’ll also deteriorate over time and cause other things in your toilet to break. The intended effect can also backfire, leading to too much water displacement and a necessity to flush twice.
• Myth #3: Toilet bowl tablets that contain bleach will keep the toilet clean. Cleaning your toilet bowl with bleach may seem like a good idea, but it’s really quite the opposite. If the tablet contains bleach and is designed to sit in the tank, it will destroy the working parts of a toilet within months. Nobody wants to have to buy a new toilet.

Toilet repairs and replacements From Rods Away

Even with the best toilet etiquette, accidents still happen. If you have a busted toilet in your home or business, it’s best to contact a professional in your area to address the problem efficiently and effectively. Here at Rods Away, we are proud to offer toilet repairs and toilet replacements to homes and businesses across South Wales. Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact our team today!

5 SIGNS YOU NEED TO CALL A PLUMBER

There are plumbing problems you can handle on your own, but others are too big to tackle. Do you know when you need to call in professional help? The five scenarios below may surprise you.

  1. The tap won’t stop drippingMost people have lived with a dripping tap at some point. After all, a slight leak like that really isn’t causing much trouble – or is it? Left unchecked, that dripping can lead to a lot of wasted water: According to the EPA, a leak of 1 drip per second can waste as much as 3,000 gallons of water a year! Worse yet, the leak could be indicative of a bigger plumbing problem. You can try your own hand at fixing the leak, but if that doesn’t work don’t be afraid to call in the professionals. A residential plumber can get to the source of the trouble.
  2. Your bathtub won’t drainA bathtub clog must be dealt with immediately. It will only worsen with time, and you’ll be left with more standing water in your tub. A plumber can clear the obstruction and check to be certain it isn’t part of a bigger problem. You can save yourself time and aggravation by addressing the problem early whenever possible. Call in a professional as soon as your tub begins draining slowly, before it escalates to a full clog.
  3. Water isn’t flowing correctlyPoor or inconsistent water pressure throughout your home can be a problem. If it’s only in the shower or a faucet or two it may simply be a matter of cleaning mineral buildup out of the fixture. However, widespread problems with water flow could be indicative of a bigger issue with the supply line. A plumber will know how to both diagnose and fix the problem to restore your water pressure to normal.
  4. Your pipes are frozenThis is a wintertime plumbing nightmare. If you’ve ever experienced frozen pipes, you know it’s advisable to call a plumber right away. If you haven’t, count yourself lucky and make the call now. It’s wise to bring in a professional before a frozen pipe cracks or bursts, rather than attempting a do-it-yourself thawing. A burst pipe can leave you with a big mess and extensive water damage to your home and belongings. Don’t take a chance; let the experts handle it.
  5. Your toilet’s clogged and the plunger isn’t helpingOther than burst pipes, there’s nothing quite so urgent as a toilet clog a plunger can’t clear. The problem could be a sewage line issue too big to be for your basic plunger. Rather than scratch the porcelain or do other damage by trying to break the clog up yourself, call in an expert with the tools and expertise to get your toilet working again.

Need some professional guidance?

Your local Rods Away plumber is always here to help. If you’re concerned about a plumbing problem give us a call.

Heavy rain & flooding

Over the past few days we have received a numerous amount of calls from customers, who have had issues with their outside drains flooding after some heavy rainfall.

Some of the time this can be caused by the heavy rain washing leaves and other small debris down the small drains causing them to block up. To help reduce this problem, ensure that you have a grid cover on top of you drain to help prevent this happening.

In some cases we have found that some of the drains have not been able to deal with the high flow of water and advised the customer to look at the pipe work and flow angle to ensure the propper run is there.

If you are having issues with blocked drains, give us a call or contact us for more information.

WHAT’S WATER HAMMER — AND HOW DO I FIX IT?

Do you sometimes hear a loud “thunk” sound when you turn off a faucet or when the water stops flowing into your washing machine or dishwasher? That’s a phenomenon called “water hammer”, and it’s more than a disturbing noise — it can be the sound of serious plumbing damage.

What’s Making That Racket?

The water in your plumbing pipes is under pressure. When it’s rushing through an open faucet and you turn it off suddenly, the flow of water slams into the closed valve, creating a hydraulic shock. The impact can cause all sorts of problems, including broken pipes, loose fittings and damage to water-connected appliances.

The shockwaves from water hammer can also cause your pipes to physically move from the jolt. If they’re not adequately secured to the joists in your home with suitable pipe straps, the moving pipes may bang against your walls, making even more noise and increasing the odds of damage.

What Can I Do About It?

Unless your home’s plumbing system is very old, you probably already have one solution in place: air chambers. An air chamber is a short length of vertical pipe installed right behind a valve. Because this piece of pipe is higher than the valve, it fills with air instead of water, and the air acts as a shock absorber when the flow of water stops suddenly.

Water hammer sometimes occurs at valves that have air chambers installed. When this happens, the cause is usually that water has bubbled up into the air chamber over time, nullifying its protective effects. But fixing this is relatively easy — simply shut off the home’s main water valve, then open faucets at the highest and lowest points of the structure. As the remaining water drains from your plumbing system, the air chambers will automatically refill with air. Reopen your main water valve and check the noisy faucet or appliance to see if the problem persists.

If your plumbing system doesn’t have air chambers and you’re experiencing water hammer, you might want to consider having them installed. You could also have devices called water hammer arrestors installed in the same place. The main benefit of an arrestor is that it’s a sealed system, so it won’t fill up with water over time. But the main drawback is that arrestors will eventually need to be replaced, whereas air chambers will keep working for decades.

Check Your Water Pressure

Even with air chambers or water hammer arrestors, you could continue to experience this problem if your home’s water pressure is too high. This is easy enough to check if you have a water pressure gauge, which you can buy for a few dollars at most hardware stores. Simply screw the gauge onto your hose bib and fully open the faucet while all of the other faucets and fixtures in your home are closed. Safe water pressure can range anywhere from 50 to 80 psi, and if your water pressure is above this range, it’s a good idea to take action.

One way to correct this is to contact your local water utility to report your high pressure problem and see what they’re able to do. They may be able to send someone to your home to reduce the pressure at the water meter. Another option is to hire a licensed plumber to install a water pressure regulator.

As you can see, tracking down the cause of water hammer and even fixing the problem can be a fairly simply DIY exercise. But if you ever need some professional assistance with more complicated steps like installing new water hammer arrestors or pressure regulators, reach out to your local Benjamin Franklin without delay. Water hammer is a serious problem that deserves your attention!