Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is a plumbing vent?

plumbing vent or drain waste vent (DWV)

A. All water fixtures in the house, be it a tub, toilet, sink or floor drain, need a plumbing vent on the drain to make it work properly. This is a drain waste vent (DWV) that’s part of a system that removes sewage and greywater from a building and regulates air pressure in the waste-system pipes to help everything flow freely.

Q. Why is a plumbing vent needed?

A. The drain-waste-vent system carries away used water and wastes to sewers or septic tanks. If there is no plumbing vent, a number of problems may occur:

  • A fixture without a vent may drain slowly
  • The drain will likely make gurgling noises
  • The water in the trap could drain out, resulting in a potent sewer smell
  • Methane gas emitted from an unsealed trap poses a health risk

Q. How does a plumbing snake work?

A. The basic process is as follows:

  1. Push the end of the snake into the drain opening and turn the handle on the drum that contains the coiled-up snake
  2. Keep pushing more of the snake into the drain until you feel resistance
  3. Rotate the snake against the blockage until you feel it feed freely into the pipe.

Q. Which plumbing pipe is best?

A. Residential plumbing pipes come in many varieties and types of metal and plastic. Each pipe has its pros and cons and particular special usages in the home. When considering a large re-piping project for your home, it’s important to understand your options.

Copper pipes have been proven reliable since the 1960s. They aren’t prone to leaks, are durable and have a long life span; however this is the most expensive type of pipe available. Other options include galvanized steel, PVC, chlorinated PVC and cross-linked polyethylene. Talk to a plumbing specialist to get advice on the best piping for your needs.

Q. Why do my plumbing pipes make noise?

A. Water pipes that bang, hammer or squeal may be an indication of plumbing problems as well as simply being a nuisance. Noisy water pipes are typically caused by one of five things, namely:

  1. Water hammer
  2. Loose pipes
  3. A worn out washer
  4. The main shut off valve
  5. The toilet

Q. What is water hammer?

A. When you shut off a faucet, water that has been rushing through the pipe is brought to an abrupt halt. Normally, there’s an air chamber in the pipe in the wall behind each hot and cold faucet. When the rushing water is stopped, it pushes up the pipe and hits a cushion of air. That prevents the water force from causing pipes to rattle, or hammer.

Hammering can develop when the air in the vertical riser is lost, meaning the cushioning effect is also lost.

Q. How do you solve water hammer?

Water hammer can often be corrected by shutting off the main water, opening all the faucets and draining the whole house from the lowest faucet. When water is restored, air will again be pushed into the risers designed to prevent water hammer.

Q. Why do loose pipes cause plumbing noise?

under the sink pipes

A. A loose pipe under the house can cause plumbing noise because flushed water moving quickly and in large volumes can cause the pipe to sway and make a rattling noise. A little stabilization may be all that’s needed. You should be able to find the source by looking and listening in the basement while someone flushes the toilet.

Q. How do you resolve noise caused by worn out washers?

A. Whistling or squealing in pipes is often caused by a worn out washer in a faucet or valve. A common source of squealing is in the valves that connect to the washing machine. If you notice the squealing sound happens when the washing machine is running, there’s an easy fix.

Shut off the valve, check the washers in the hose and replace them if they look worn or cracked. If that doesn’t work, shut off the water in the house and repair the faucet. One of the faucet’s washers is likely worn or the valve seat is worn causing water to be forced through a smaller opening, which causes the noise.

Q. How do you stop squealing caused by the main shut off valve?

main shut off valve

A. If the squealing noise seems to resonate throughout the whole house, it could be either the main shut off valve for the house or the water pressure regulator. Turn off the water at the main street valve and repair or replace the valve. If that doesn’t stop the squealing and you have a pressure reducer on the incoming cold water line, it could be in the reducer’s manifold.

Q. How do you fix plumbing noise coming from a toilet?

A. If, after flushing the toilet, you hear a banging or rattling at the end of the fill cycle, it’s likely that the ballcock assembly, which controls the fill process, is worn. Depending on the style and how new it is, you might be able to repair it. Otherwise, replace it with a better one.

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