How to Fix a Running Toilet

A toilet that runs constantly is a water-wasting, noisy nuisance. They also defeat the purpose of the water-conserving toilet requirements that many cities now have. Do you need a plumber to fix the problem or can you do it yourself?

While the idea of trying to repair your toilet may seem daunting, it is often simpler than it appears. In the world of do-it-yourself home repairs, a running toilet is on the short-list of inexpensive, fairly simple jobs. There are not a lot of parts to a toilet and there are limited number of things that can go wrong. Plus, if you get started and decide that you are in over your head, you can rest assured knowing that your efforts are unlikely to cause you to have to pay a plumber more than if you had hired one to being with.

 Look and learn
The simplest troubleshooting process for a running toilet is to simply remove the top of the tank, flush and watch. Odds are that you will have one of two problems:  Either the flapper is not completely closing and making a solid seal over the drain or the float is not returning to the top-most position where it will turn the water off.

A good visual check is to watch the water level. If the water rises and goes into the overflow tube, then your flapper seal is probably fine. That means the most likely culprit is your floater. If the water keeps running but never reaches the overflow, then your flapper seal is probably not good.

If the flapper is the culprit, you can either try cleaning it or just spend a few bucks and replace it. With only about three connection points and one way to put it on, it is almost impossible to do it wrong.

If it is the floater, you will have a few options. Floater assemblies have an adjuster that allows you to set the height of the floater. Simply set it so that it sits lower in the water. This will cause the floater to trigger the water to turn off sooner.

If that either does not work or you are unsure how to do that on your particular system, a time-honored work-around is to just bend the bar attached the floater so that it dips lower into the water. It may not be as refined as using the adjuster, but it has the same effect.

Of course, if you cannot determine whether it is the floater or the flapper or something else, do not worry. It is easy enough to replace the entire assembly. In fact, you can find complete replacement kits at hardware stores. You can find plenty of kits priced between $10-20. Another upside to this approach is that they come with step-by-step instructions specifically for that style of assembly, so there is no guesswork.

If all else fails, or you just aren’t in a diy mood, call Solution Plumbing. We’re here to help!

Flooding Alarms: More Than An Ounce of Prevention

When people think of flood damage, they commonly think of damage caused by torrential rains flooding neighborhoods.  While that is certainly a concern for many homeowners, there is another cause for flooding that nearly every homeowner needs to be prepared for.  That is flooding that is caused by malfunctioning appliances, especially water heaters.

Every year, thousands of people have to deal with the consequences of a broken appliance.  In addition to a huge mess, those consequences include water damage and the costs of repairs and cleaning.  In some cases, that damage runs into the thousands of dollars.  This is especially true if the flooding occurs when you are away from your home for an extended period of time, such as a vacation.

While insurance is good to have, there is something else you should invest in:  a flood sensor.  Flood sensors basically do exactly what their name suggests:  they detect flooding and notify you when one occurs.

Flood sensors come in two broad categories:  alarms and alarms plus water shutoff.  Alarms are the simplest and least expensive safety measure.  You can buy very simple stand-alone systems that function much like smoke detectors.  When they sense flooding, they trigger an audible alarm.  You can get one for under $15.

Of course, such a simple an inexpensive system is only effective if you are within hearing range of the alarm.  More complex systems will send messages to your mobile phone.  There are also systems that use a central panel that monitors multiple sensors—such as ones near water heaters, clothes washers, dishwashers, etc.

Another option becoming more commonly available is including flood sensors in your home security system.  If you are already paying a monitoring fee for home security (or will be), this may be the most cost-effective solution.

The other type of systems are those that will stop the flow of water when a sensor is triggered.  These systems are more expensive, but they have the added advantage of preventing excessive damage.  If the dishwasher overflows while you are home, you may notice it in time to turn it off and prevent much damage.  However, if your water heater or washing machine breaks and starts flooding while you are away for the weekend, then that could mean hundreds of gallons of water flooding your home.

Every day, homes are damaged by flooding brought on not by Mother Nature, but by defective appliances.  Flood sensors cannot stop the damage entirely, but they can notify you of an emergency and even turn off the water to minimize damage.  When it comes to stemming the tide of flood damage, every second matters.  Every second is money.

Considering how inexpensive they are, they make very good insurance investments.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Tankless Water Heaters

Sooner or later, you will have to replace your hot water heater. When that time comes, you may consider replacing it with a tankless hot water heater. Tankless hot water heaters are a popular option for home-owners, but there are both benefits and disadvantages to selecting a tankless model versus a traditional water heater.

Benefits:

  • They provide an unlimited supply of hot water when you want it. As their name indicates, tankless hot water heaters do not use a tank. This means that there is no need to fill a tank and then slowly heat it before you have hot water. Instead, the water is heated as soon as you demand it and for as long as you need it. That means you can shower for as long as you want to without ending with an unpleasantly cold finish.
  • They are energy-efficient. Because they do not use energy keeping water hot even when it is not needed, tankless hot water heaters save energy.
  • They have a longer life-expectancy than tank systems. The typical life-expectancy of a tankless hot water heater is 20 years—about 50 – 100 percent longer than tank systems.
  • They offer many features and options. Some models include features such as digital displays, self-diagnostic programs, and/or remote controls that allow you to adjust the temperature.

Disadvantages:

  • Potentially inconsistent water temperature. If you select a model without self-modulating temperature control, you may experience fluctuations in water temperature depending upon how much water you are using.
  • Potentially insufficient hot water. Tankless water heaters heat water as you need it. However, they can only heat a certain volume at a time. If you get a system that too small, you may find that it cannot handle simultaneous demands, such as providing enough hot water for two showers or a shower and a washing machine.
  • Depending upon your electricity provider, your energy-efficiency may get expensive. Whereas tank systems consume a fairly steady supply of electricity, tankless systems draw power in surges when the system is called upon to heat water. Electric companies that impose a demand charge fee may cause your electric bill to increase.

Tankless water heaters are an increasingly popular choice for homeowners. However, it is important to understand the benefits and disadvantages they offer before deciding upon the best option to meet your needs.