Ask the Plumber!

Q: I have a toilet that’s been running for months now, and I’ve tried taking care of it myself with no success. I figure that hiring a plumber to fix it would cost much more than the few dollars I would pay in water bills. Am I right?

A: Thank you for your question. The cost of water goes up all the time, and you may not realize that even a minor faucet drip can increase water costs significantly. With the economy the way it is, you want to try and conserve as much as possible. In fact, a toilet that is running can easily waste more than 100 gallons of water a day or over 3,000 gallons a month! In addition, not only are you being charged for the wasted water but you also incur sewer charges by your municipality. You will be able to recoup the cost of the plumber’s bill within the first few months or less.

You should also have your toilet checked for other potential problems. Many people don’t consider that all the parts in the tank wear out over time and can cause an even more serious leak through your ceiling. A good plumber will assess the overall condition of your toilet, and if it is an older model, can give you options on replacing it with a lower consumption toilet that will save you even more money in the end. Remember, sometimes a little more spent now will save you hundreds in the long run.

Q: My disposal is making strange noises, but still seems to be doing its job. Should I get this checked out?

A: This is probably the number one overlooked plumbing fixture in a home. You flip a switch and you hear a noise, so everything must be working, right? The fact is that disposal motors can run for a very, very long time. Unfortunately, even the best disposal (which most people don’t have) only lasts about 10-12 years before the blades become dull. Most disposals are of a builder’s-grade quality and the blades rust off within 2-4 years. Dull or rusted blades mean that your disposal may sound like it is working, but it’s not. The number one cause of kitchen sink clogs is old disposals. Without sharp blades or blades at all, the food you put down there simply goes right into the drain, causing potential for future stoppage. A simple test for most disposals is to take a flashlight and looked down into it. Do you see rust and corrosion? Can you see any blades?

Also, very loud disposals are indicators of cheaper models that don’t last very long. Definitely have a plumber come out and look at it. Don’t get hit with a double whammy- disposal replacement and kitchen sink stoppage. Replacing a disposal today will prevent the post-holiday stoppage later on, making you and your plumber very happy!

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