Know Where Your Water Shut Off Valve Is – Before A Disaster Happens

There are a few things that every homeowner should always know, no matter what. One of them being, where the shutoff valve is for the water.

I can’t tell you how many times in my career, I’ve gone out to an emergency call in the small hours of the morning, and there’s water, absolutely, blasting out of the ceiling simply, because the customer didn’t know where to shut the water off.

Water, generally speaking, comes into the building in one place, and that’s in your foundation. So, if you’ve got a typical house, like a cape or a ranch or something like that, you’re going to go down to the front of your basement stairs, and you might have to turn right or turn left. It might be right in front of you.

You’re going to see that copper pipe coming straight in. There’s going to be a valve of some sort, and it’s going to run through the water meter. Okay?

Know Where Your Water Shut Off Valve Is - Before Disaster Strikes

Know Where Your Water Shut Off Valve Is – Before Disaster Strikes

You have to know where that is, and you have to know whether the valve is working or not. A lot of the older buildings in New York City, the valve, I wouldn’t touch it if my life depended on it, because it would just snap right off in my hand.

In which case, I’d tell them that we’re going to have to schedule an appointment with the department of Environmental Protection. Shut the water on the street. Replace the valve, and upgrade the services we called.

In the suburbs, in newer homes, you’re going to have a newer valve. That’s going to be usually a ball valve which is that yellow lever handle type valve that you most likely have seen. That just kind of swings off and it’s shut. OK. So, if you have an explosion, a pipe burst, or something like that, with the water lines, you’re going to want to be able to run down to shut that valve off.

That means not storing the kids camping equipment in front of it, tents, wooden pallets, and firewood, I’ve seen it all.

I mean, we’ve got water pouring out of a ceiling on the third floor, and we have to move out the summer equipment to get up the valve. Keep your valve accessible. It’s very important! You might not think it is, but I promise, you will if something happens in the home.

Know Where Your Water Shut Off Valve Is

If you’re not sure where your water shut off valve is, please call us, your local Cape Coral plumber, and we’d be happy to advise you over the phone of where you should look for your water shut off valve!

What You’ll Need:

  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench
  • Pressure Gauge

If you discover a problem with the water pressure in your house, it might indicate that you have to make a couple of changes to the water pressure regulator. Most houses do not have an actual pressure regulator set up, however if you have one and it is not adjusted effectively, you might have either too much, or insufficient pressure in your faucet or shower. With the right devices, you will be able to adjust the water pressure regulator by yourself instead of employing a licensed plumber.

How To Change Your Water Pressure At Home

Step 1 – Locate the Supply Line
First you need to locate the water system line that provides water to your residence. Once you have actually found the line you will certainly be able to find the water meter. This is typically installed in the basement, if you have one. If you live in an apartment or a home on top of a crawl space in cooler environments, the meter is normally not in the crawl space as it might freeze, it may be under the cooking area sink or in an utility room.

Step 2 – Find the Valve (Regulator)
As soon as you have found the water meter, find the valve. The valve is made of brass and has a bell shaped mid-area with a medium sized screw at the tip of the bell. Make sure that your supply line has adequate pressure before adjusting the pressure valve.

Step 3 – Adjust the Screw
Now that you have located the valve and the screw, you need to loosen the locknut all the way with the wrench. The screw is your adjuster and it can be steered just by loosening the locknut. As you tighten the screw the water pressure ends up being greater and as you loosen the screw the water pressure reduces. Turn the screw clockwise to tighten it and enhance the pressure, or turn it counterclockwise to reduce the pressure.

Do not be too rash. You need to tighten the screw little by little, in slow increments. Examine the result each time you tighten up the screw. If the water pressure is too high, it could result in leakages and forcing the toilets to run all the time.

Step 4 – Check the Pressure
Once you have adjusted the screw the water pressure you need to check that it is now at an acceptable level. Inspect the faucets in your home to see if the pressure is now as you want it. Also be sure to check there is no leaking at the pipes.

If you find that after adjusting the pressure valve there is no significant enhancement, your valve might be defective and will need to be changed.

Changing a valve could be a bit challenging and it is usually best to seek help from an experienced, professional plumber.

If you’ve noticed discolouration on your shower head (chalky white, green or brown) and it runs with very little power, then it probably means you’ve got a lot of calcium or limescale build up which means its time clean your shower head.While this offers no risk to your health, it does mean that you’re not going to get the greatest performance out of your shower that you could be enjoying. So if this is what is happening to you, here’s what you can do about it without necessarily having to call your local plumber.

There are three things you’re going to need:

  • A plastic ziplock type bag (large enough to fully cover your shower head)
  • A heavy duty elastic band or tie wrap
  • Distilled white vinegar (not rice vinegar, balsamic or cider)

Process to clean your shower head

Once you have all of this items, you simply half fill the ziplock bag How To Clean Your Shower Head Using White Vinegarwith your white vinegar (don’t dilute it). Place the half filled back over the shower head (or if your shower head can be taken off the wall mount, you can then immerse the shower head into the bag), and then secure it using the elastic band or tie wrap.

You then leave this in place for between 12 and 24 hours (depending on how much limescale is in place) to soak. It’s important to make sure that the entire shower head is immersed in the vinegar. The vinegar will then power through any limescale during that time period.

OK, so now ‘at least’ 12 hours has past, and now you can carefully remove the bag from the shower head and and can empty the vinegar down the shower drain (If you want to kill two birds with one stone and clean your drain in the process, dump some baking soda down the drain before pouring out the vinegar and your drain will get cleaned as well).

Next run hot water through the shower for a few minutes minutes and let the vinegar rinse off (the vinegar smell will go away once everything has dried). Within minutes your shower will work wonderfully and you’ll be able to start enjoying your showering experience once more.

If you find that your shower pressure (and water pressure throughout the house) isn’t what it should be, please give us a call at (239) 330-6115 and we’d be happy to send a licensed plumber to your home to test the water pressure and correct the problem as required.

How To Fix A Leaking Faucet

How To Fix A Leaking Faucet

How To Fix A Leaking Faucet

Did you know that you can fix a leaking shower faucet and save hundreds of gallons of water a year? Most people just think of a dripping faucet as an annoyance and don’t realize how much precious water is being wasted one drop at a time. The good news is that almost anyone with a few basic hand tools can learn how to fix most dripping faucets.

Let’s start with the basics. Faucets have one primary purpose, to allow the water in your pipes to be used in a controlled manner. This means that they have to open to allow water out of the pipes and close to keep water in the pipes. Not rocket science, right? The closing part is what we want to concentrate on here.

There Are Two Basic Faucet Designs

Faucets drip when they fail to completely trap the water in the pipes. Most faucets use one of two basic methods to stop the water flow. Some, primarily older designs, use rubber or neoprene washers which tighten against a “seat” and block the flow of water. Drips from these faucets are addressed by replacing the washers and/or seats. We’ll talk about how to do that in a minute. Most other faucet designs involve some sort of cartridge. Some people call these “washerless” faucets. Repairing newer style water faucets like these usually involves replacing the cartridge(s).

Washers And Seats

Older faucet designs often use washers to block the water and keep it in the pipes. Tightening the handle compresses the washer against a “seat” and seals the opening, thus stopping the water flow. If you need to do a bathtub faucet repair on a three handle wall faucet you probably have this type. You will also run into this style if you need to fix a leaking shower faucet hat has two handles. Many sink and lavatory faucets also use washers. One way to tell whether or not your faucets use washers is to see if the handle gets harder to turn as you turn it off. If turning it really tight stops the drip, this probably, but not always, means that you have washers. If you do have a dripping faucet that has washers, the basic repair process is very similar whether you need to know how to repair a shower faucet,repair a leaking tub faucet or fix a dripping sink faucet. There is, however, one important difference.

Bathtub Faucet Repair

The one critical thing to remember when fixing a leaky bathtub faucet is that you will have to turn the water off to the entire house before removing any parts other than the outer trim pieces. If you’re not sure which pieces are trim, just turn the water off first just in case. Once you have turned off the main water to the house you can begin taking things apart. There are lots of different brands and designs of faucets out there and they all come apart a little differently, so you will have to sort of feel your way through.

Removing The Trim

The first step is to remove the handles. This is usually done by removing a cap to expose the handle screw and then removing the screw. Next, remove the handle. This may require a little finesse, as the handles sometimes get stuck in place. One trick is to place the handles of a pair of channel lock pliers behind the valve handle, one on each side, and tap evenly on the handle to nudge it loose. If this doesn’t work you can buy a special tool to remove handles but these tools are sometimes hard to find and usually a little patience is all you need to do the trick.

After he handles are off, there is usually some sort of sleeve over the stem itself. This typically has to come off too. Once again, there are many different configurations. One popular design uses threaded plastic tubes to connect the trim sleeve with the valve. Other types have the sleeve threaded directly onto the valve. You will have to figure this step out before you can proceed. If you can determine what brand valve you have there is a good chance of finding instructions on-line.

Now For The Root Of The Problem

OK, so you have removed both the handles and any remaining trim sleeve from the valve.

Now you are ready to get to the root of the problem, your valve stem. The washer is almost always at the other end of the valve stem from the handle. Usually the stem is threaded into the valve body and you will just need to unscrew it to remove it. Here’s a tip. Stick the handle back on for a second and open the valve half way. This relieves pressure on the stem and makes it easier to unscrew. Now you just need to make sure you are loosening the correct nut.

Lots of valves have a packing nut around the stem. It is usually a little smaller and just in front of the actual connection with the valve body. The packing nut’s purpose is to squeeze some special packing material around the stem to prevent water from leaking around the stem when the valve is in use. Loosening the packing nut won’t help you, you need to get your wrench on the actual connection to the valve body. By the way, a deep socket is often the only tool that will work to remove the valve stem.

Removing The Valve Stem

The easiest way to make sure you have the correct nut is to see if there is a gap opening up between the nut and the valve body as you loosen the nut. The valve stem itself will also usually turn when you have the right one. If you have loosened the packing nut by mistake, don’t worry, you will adjust it before you are finished anyway. Go ahead and remove both stems and keep up with which one is which, it matters on many valves.

After you have the stems out you should be able to find the washer on the “inside” end. If it is nicked, torn or brittle it is likely the cause of your drip. Even if it looks brand new, go ahead and replace it. You’ve already come this far. You can get replacement washers at almost any hardware store. Sometimes you may want to replace the whole stem, especially if the handle end is stripped out. It’s best to just take the stem with you to the store and see if you can match it up. Most Do It Yourself stores have replacement stems for many popular brands. If your valve has a center diverter valve to switch the waterfrom the tub spout to the shower head the same process applies. Many times it is easier to replace the diverter stem than to repair it. This really depends on the design of the stem.

How Are Your Seats?

One more thing to check is the seats. These are the part of the valve body that the washer tightens up against to stop the water flow. If you can get your finger inside the valve, feel of the seats and see if they feel rough. If so, it would be best to replace them if you can get them out. The inside of the seats, which is where the water flows through when the valve is open, usually have either a hex or square recess. Special seat wrenches are used to remove the seats. You can usually get these wrenches at the same place you get the other parts and they’re not expensive. You just stick the wrench through the seat and unscrew it. The replacement seats screw back in the same way, just put a little pipe dope on the threads before you install it.

Put It All Back Together

Once you’ve figured out what needs to be replaced and have done that, you just need to put everything back together. If your valve has packing nuts don’t put the trim back on until you have turned the water back on. Once the water is on, go ahead and stick the handle on for a second and open the valve. Make sure no water is leaking around the stem. If it is leaking, with the handle opened half way, snug down the packing nut until the leak stops. Easy does it. If you get it too tight the handle will be hard to turn. Now finish installing the trim pieces and you are done.

Repairing Newer Style Water Faucets

If you have a newer, “washerless” type valve the repair process is similar, but usually easier. Many of these type valves use a self contained cartridge. If the valve starts to drip, just replace the cartridge and you’re done. You still need to turn the water off and remove the handles and trim. The cartridge is usually held in place by a retaining nut on the valve body or, in the case of most Moen valves, by a retaining clip. Simply remove the cartridge and put another one in it’s place. If your hot and cold are backwards when you finish, turn the water back off, pull the cartridge back out, turn it over 180 degrees and re-install it.

Delta Style Valves

One other common design that is considered “washerless” was made famous by Delta and copied by several other makers. It uses little “cup” seals that fit over springs recessed in the back of the valve body. The springs press these “seals” against the cartridge and regulate the flow through little tapered openings in the cartridge. If you have one of these and it’s dripping, changing these springs and seals will usually correct it. Here’s a tip. Once you have the cartridge out of the way, insert a phillips screwdriver into the seal and pop both the seal and spring out. Stick the new ones on the end of the screwdriver to help guide them into place. This is especially helpful if you don’t have long slender fingers.

Delta, and a few imitators, also have a faucet design that uses a ball instead of a cartridge. This is not as common in tub or shower valves but there are plenty of them out there. The springs and seals are the same but there are lots more o-rings an parts to deal with. The good news is that these parts are readily available. While it’s a little more complicated than learning how to repair a Moen kitchen faucet, which is a piece of cake, it is still easier than working with most washer type faucets.

These Techniques Work In The Kitchen Too

Armed with the knowledge you’ve gained in this article you now not only know how to repair a shower faucet and to repair a leaking tub faucet, but you can apply these skills to many other faucets as well. After fixing a leaky bathtub faucet, stopping a dripping outside hose faucet will be a breeze. The techniques that you will use to complete a “washerless” bathtub faucet repair can be used when repairing newer style water faucets of all kinds. Whether you have an old dripping tub faucet or a newer kitchen faucet that just won’t quite shut off you can now fix it. So put these new skills to use, roll up your sleeves and stop that drip!

Copyright 2008 Bryan Stevens

Bryan Stevens is a Licensed Master Plumber with a knack for teaching homeowners how to do their own basic plumbing repairs themselves. He has an amazing mini-course called “How To Unclog A Toilet And Other DIY Plumbing Tips”. To claim your FREE copy visit: How To Unclog A Toilet

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If you are in need of a local Cape Coral plumber, why not call us at (239) 330-6115 and ask us for a free quote?

Watch the above video to learn how to unblock a toilet quickly

No matter who you are, at some point you’re going to be faced with a clogged toilet. Not something any of us looks forward to facing, but you need to be well prepared for when it does happen, because you don’t want to be heading down to the store to purchase a plunger with the block still in place. Not great for anyone else who needs to use the bathroom while the clog is still in place, and probably not great for the odor of the house either.

So, how do you know when a toilet’s clogged? Well that is pretty straight forward – the water level comes up higher than normal and if you continue to flush the toilet you’ll find that it overflows from the bowl onto the floor.

So, the basic piece of equipment that your going to need is an item called a plunger. There are different types of plungers on the marketing, but the plunger that we would recommend would be one that has a solid wooden handle. There are other styles on the market that are plastic, almost like an accordion, we don’t recommend those. There are dual purpose plungers that are designed to work with both a sink and a toilet. The difference being that the dual purpose plungers have a little pocket that can be pulled out from the bottom of the cup that fit nicely into the bottom of the toilet bowl that help to create a strong seal when the plunger is being used.

So How Do You Unblock A Toilet?

how to unblock a toilet quicklySo, once have your plunger, (and your clogged toilet) the first thing you need to do is insert your plunger into the toilet, stand up. You want to be directly over the top, and you simply push down on the stick of the plunger. You’ll notice that the cup kind of collapses inside itself, but don’t worry, that is exactly what you want to see. You then need to pull back on the stick, and it is this pulling back motion that will help to clear the blockage.  You’ll probably need to do this a few times, before removing the plunger from the bowls and seeing if the water level starts to go down. If not then simply repeat the above steps a few more times and then check to see if you’re successful. And that is how to unblock a toilet quickly!

If after carrying out these steps you’re still unsuccessful and the water level simply won’t drop, then you’re probably going to need to call a licensed plumber to carry out the repair for you.

How Does A Toilet Work?


Toilet, lavatory, loo, water closet, WC, John, crapper, can—it’s amazing we have so many names for something we care to talk about so little. Toilets are hardly the most glamorous of inventions, but imagine trying to live without them. About 40 percent of the world’s people (some 2.6 billion of us) are in that unhappy position, lacking even basic sanitation. At the opposite end of the scale, in Japan, people have amazing electronic toilets that do everything from opening and closing the lid automatically to playing music while you use them. Most of the world’s toilets are more modest than this, but they’re still pretty ingenious “machines.” Let’s take a closer look and  learn how does a toilet work.

At first sight, toilets seem quite simple: you have a waste pipe going through the floor and a tank of water up above (called a cistern) waiting to flush into it when someone pushes a button or pulls a lever or a chain. Most flush toilets are purely mechanical: pull the chain and the cistern empties through the force of gravity, washing the bowl clean for use again. They are literally mechanical because they flush and refill using levers inside—and levers are examples of what scientists call simple machines.

There’s a little bit more to toilets than this. When you flush, the cistern has to refill automatically from a kind of faucet on the side and the refilling operation has to last just long enough to fill the tank without making it overflow. The “hole in the ground” is more sophisticated than it looks as well. You may have noticed that toilets always have a little water in the bottom of them; even when you flush them, they never empty completely. Some water is always trapped in a big curved pipe at the base of the toilet known as the S-bend (or S-trap). This little bit of water effectively seals off the sewage pipe beneath it, stopping germs and bad smells from coming up into your bathroom.

What happens when you flush?How does a toilet work

  1. Press the handle to flush the toilet and you operate a lever (dotted line) inside the cistern.
  2. The lever opens a valve called the flapper (green) that allows the cistern to empty into the toilet bowl beneath.
  3. Water flows from the cistern through holes in the rim so it washes the bowl as well as flushing the contents away.
  4. There’s enough water flowing down from the cistern to flush the toilet around the S-bend (S-trap). Some water always remains at the bottom of the toilet, however, for hygiene reasons.
  5. The contents of the toilet are flushed down the main drain.
  6. As the cistern empties, the plastic float (red) falls downward, tilting the ballcock lever.
  7. The ballcock opens the inlet valve (green) at the base of the cistern, which works a bit like a faucet (tap). Water flows in, refilling the cistern, and pushing the float back up again.
  8. When the float reaches the correct level, the ballcock switches off the water supply and the toilet is ready to flush again.

(You can read the full article here

If you’re having problems with your toilet system, and you’re in the Cape Coral or Lee County area, please call us, your local Cape Coral plumber, at (239) 330-6115 and we’d be happy to send a licensed plumbing technician to carry out the repair.