Preventing Plumbing ProblemsPreventing Plumbing Problems

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Preventing Plumbing Problems

After moving into a new home, I realized that there were a few problems that I didn't notice during the initial inspection. I started looking around at the plumbing, and it was surprising to see how many problems there were with the house. There were bad smells coming out of the drains, the pipes seemed like they were always clogged, and I was having trouble getting hot water. I knew that I needed to do what I could to prevent plumbing problems, and it all started with working with the right professional. This blog is here to help people to recognize the signs of plumbing problems.

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Did you know that the little section on the end of your faucet has an "aerator" screen? That's why there are tiny little bubbles of air in the water. But this screen tends to get clogged up with particles and over time (if it gets clogged enough) it may even mess up the water pressure coming out of your faucet. If you've been noticing a water pressure problem recently, this may be the culprit, so try cleaning it out before sending for a plumber.

First, you need to remove the tip of the faucet, called the "head." (Make sure the faucet is off before you do this and block the drain, perhaps with a cloth that will allow water but not faucet parts through, so you don't accidentally drop anything down it.) Next, you'll unscrew the head with a pair of pliers, but, as you can imagine, that metal-on-metal action could cause some nasty scratches. Protect your faucet by using one of these techniques:

  • Applying masking tape to the faucet head
  • Wrapping the jaws of the pliers in tape (electrical or masking)
  • Wrapping the faucet head with paper 

The head will need to be carefully turned in a clockwise direction to get it to come loose. Don't squish it; it's made of metal, yes, but it may not be as strong as your pliers!

Once you've fully unscrewed it, it will come away in your hand and you can look at it to find the aerator screen, which is a tiny mesh screen that may be buried beneath a flow restrictor, washer, and possibly a couple of other parts. Be sure to take note of which order these parts are in so you can reassemble them correctly later on. Once you've disassembled the head, use an old toothbrush to scrub all the parts individually, and, once the aerator screen looks unclogged again, you're ready for reassembly.

One last thing you can do (if you think the parts could use a little extra cleaning power) is to place some vinegar in a little container and submerge the parts, then leave them there for several hours. This is optional, of course, so if you need to use the faucet now you can just skip it and instead stack the parts back up and use your wrench to screw the faucet back together (working counter-clockwise this time).

You can then turn on your faucet and see if the flow has improved. If it hasn't, and soaking it in vinegar doesn't help either, talk to a professional like those at High Speed Plumbing Inc. for assistance. Remember, other faucets in your house (such as the bathroom faucet) also have aerator screens and may need to be cleaned occasionally as well.