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Need some plumbing help? Here's some answers to the most commonly asked plumbing questions.

Plumbing Emergencies

In a plumbing emergency, you'll need to stop the flow of water quickly. To do this, you and each member of your family needs to know the location of the shutoff valve for every fixture and appliance, as well as the main shutoff valve for the house, and how they operate.

  • If the emergency involves a specific fixture or appliance, first look for its shutoff valve and turn it clockwise to shut off the water to that fixture or appliance only.
  • The valve is usually located underneath a fixture such as a sink or a toilet, or behind an appliance, such as a clothes washer, at the point where the water supply pipe (or pipes) connects to it.
  • If the problem is not with a particular fixture or appliance, or if there's no shutoff valve for the fixture or appliance, use the main shutoff valve to turn off the water supply to the entire house.
  • Turn the valve clockwise to shut it off.
  • If valve is stiff enough that you should need a wrench to open it, you should keep one in close proximity to shut off.
  • If the main shutoff valve itself is defective and needs to be repaired, call Chadwick Plumbing at (256) 845-1382; we can dispatch someone with the special tool that's required to shut off the water at the street.

Leaking or Broken Pipes

  • Turn off the main shutoff valve to prevent water damage.
  • Make temporary repairs to stop the leak. A piece of bicycle inner tube or garden hose with a hose clamp around it should allow you to turn the water on temporarily, or until the plumber arrives.
  • The pipe will have to be replaced as soon as it's convenient to do so.

A Stopped-Up Sink

  • Shut off any faucet or appliance (such as dishwasher) that's draining into the sink.
  • Unclog the sink using a plunger or snake.
  • DO NOT use a chemical drain cleaner if the line is completely blocked.

A Faucet That Won't Shut Off

  • Immediately turn off the water at the fixture shutoff valve underneath the sink.
  • If there's no valve there, turn off the main shutoff valve.
  • Repair the faucet or, if necessary, replace it.

A Steaming Hot Water Faucet

  • Open all the hot water faucets to relieve the overheated hot water heater.
  • Turn off the gas or electric supply to the heater.
  • Let the faucets run until cold water flows from them. This indicates that the water in the heater is no longer overheated.
  • Call Chadwick Plumbing at (256) 845-1382 to make any necessary repairs to the water heater's thermostat and pressure relief valve.

Troubleshooting Gas Water Heaters

Knowing how to light the pilot is one key to living with a gas water heater; see the instructions on the tank. For safety, a gas heater has a thermocouple. This is thermoelectric device that impinges on the pilot flame and shuts off the gas if the pilot light goes out. The gas flame should be blue. If it's orange, adjust the shutter; if it's still orange, call for service.

Twice a year, inspect the flue assembly to be sure it's properly aligned and all its joints are sealed. Then check the flue by placing your hand near the draft diverter (with the burner on); air flowing out indicates an obstruction that should be removed. Every year or two, shut off the gas, remove the access panel, and clean the burner ports, using stiff wire or a needle. If you ever smell gas, get out of the house immediately and call the gas company.

Note: premature failure on water heaters (and plumbing fixtures) is most often attributed to excessive water pressure (above 80 PSI). Your plumber can test your water pressure to see if it is within safe limits, and make suggestions to reduce pressure if necessary.

There is no hot water

Check for:

  • Unlit pilot light.
  • Pilot light won't keep burning.
  • Clogged burner.
  • Defective thermocouple.
  • The gas is not coming out.


  • Carefully relight the pilot.
  • Make sure the gas controls are completely turned on. Then check the thermocouple and be sure it is firmly connected to the gas control unit and positioned near the pilot flame.
  • Replace the thermocouple.
  • Inspect or test gas control valve.
  • Call Chadwick Plumbing at (256) 845-1382.
There isn't enough hot water

Check for:

  • Incorrectly set thermostat.
  • Defective thermostat.
  • Too small of a water tank.
  • Clogged burner.
  • Sediment has formed in the tank.
  • Leaking hot water faucets.


  • Turn the thermostat higher.
  • Install a larger water tank.
  • Turn off the gas and drain the tank.
  • Repair or replace the faucets.
  • Call Chadwick Plumbing at (256) 845-1382.
The water heater is very noisy

Check for:

  • Scale and sediments in the tank.


  • Turn off the gas and drain the tank.
The water is too hot

Check for:

  • Wrong setting on thermostat.
  • Defective thermostat.
  • Blocked exhaust vent.


  • Reset the thermostat.
  • Check the vent and clear it.
  • Call Chadwick Plumbing at (256) 845-1382.
Water is leaking from the water heater

Check for:

  • Leak in the draincock.
  • Leaking safety valve.
  • Hole in the tank.
  • Leak in the plumbing connection.


  • Close it tightly or replace it.
  • Check the water temperature. If it's too hot, the thermostat may be broken. If the safety valve is defective, replace it.
  • Buy a new water heater.
  • Call Chadwick Plumbing at (256) 845-1382.
  • Note: premature wear and tear on water heaters (and plumbing fixtures) is most often attributed to excessive water pressure (above 80 PSI). See information related to pressure reducing valves.

Troubleshooting Electric Water Heaters

When an electric heater has problems, suspect the heating elements, their thermostats, and the high-temperature cutoff. The two heating elements (upper and lower), immersed in water, are controlled by thermostats which, along with the high-temperature cutoff, are concealed behind a panel on the side (insulation must be cut away for access after removing the panel). If the high-temperature cutoff has tripped due to water that's too hot, the solution may be as easy as pushing the reset button. High voltage and inaccessibility warrant a service call to adjust the thermostats, reset the high-temperature cutoff, or to replace any of these components of the heating elements themselves.

The water temperature is too high

Check for:

  • Thermostat is on the wrong setting.
  • Inadequate insulation around the thermostats.


  • Turn up the thermostat.
  • Add insulation around the thermostats.
  • Test the thermostat and replace if necessary.
There is a water leak

Check for:

  • Defective gasket or seal on the element.
  • Defective safety valve.
  • The tank is rusted through.
  • Leaking plumbing connections.


  • Check and replace gasket or seal.
  • Check and replace the safety valve.
  • Consider replacing water heater.
  • Call Chadwick Plumbing at (256) 845-1382.
Water heater becomes unusually noisy

Check for:

  • Accumulation of rust, scale or sediment in the tank.
  • Scale has formed on the elements.


  • Drain the tank and flush it out.
  • Remove the elements, soak with vinegar and then scrape off the scale.
The hot water pipe is rusty or discolored

Check for:

  • Accumulation of rust or sediment in the tank.
  • Scale has formed on the elements.
  • Corroded water pipe.


  • Drain the tank.
  • Remove the elements, soak them in vinegar and then scrape off the scale.
  • Call Chadwick Plumbing at (256) 845-1382 to inspect for necessary repairs.

Troubleshooting Toilet Problems

Two assemblies are concealed under the lid of a toilet tank; a ball cock assembly, which regulates the filling of he tank, and a flush valve assembly, which controls the flow of water from the tank to the bowl. When someone presses the flush handle, the trip lever raises the lift wires (or chain) connected to the tank stopper. As the stopper goes up, water rushes through the valve seat into the bowl via the flush passages. The water in the bowl yields to gravity and is siphoned out the trap.

Once the tank empties, the stopper drops into the flush valve seat. The float ball trips the ball cock assembly to let a new supply of water into the tank through the tank fill tube. As the tank water level rises, the float ball rises until it gets high enough to shut off the flow of water. If the water fails to shut off, the overflow tube carries water down into the bowl to prevent an overflow.

Toilet is being noisy

Check for:

  • Restricted water flow.
  • Defective ball cock assembly.


  • Adjust the shutoff valve first.
  • Oil the trip lever or replace the ball cock washers.
  • Replace the entire ball cock assembly.
  • CAUTION: First turn off the water at the fixture shutoff valve. Then flush the toilet to empty the tank and sponge out any remaining water.
Running toilet

Check for:

  • Float arm not rising high enough.
  • Water-filled float ball.
  • Tank stopper not seating properly.
  • Corroded flush valve seal.
  • Cracked overflow tube.
  • Ball cock valve doesn't shut off.


  • Bend float arm down or away from tank wall.
  • Replace ball.
  • Adjust stopper guide rod and lift wires or chain. Replace defective stopper.
  • Scour valve seat or replace.
  • Replace tube or install new flush valve assembly.
  • Oil trip lever, replace faulty washers, or install new ball cock assembly.
Clogged toilet

Check for:

  • Blockage in drain.


  • Remove blockage with plunger or closet auger.
The toilet flushes inadequately

Check for:

  • Faulty linkage between handle and trip lever.
  • Tank stopper closes before tank empties.
  • Leak between tank and bowl.
  • Clogged flush passages.


  • Tighten setscrew on handle linkage or replace handle.
  • Adjust stopper guide rod and lift wires or chain.
  • Tighten tank bolts or couplings or replace gasket.
  • Clear obstructions from passages with wire.
The toilet is leaking

  • To stop a leak between the tank and bowl of a bowl-mounted toilet tank, tighten the bolts in the tank, or remove them and replace their gaskets.
  • To seal the connections on a wall-mounted tank, tighten the couplings on the pipe connecting the tank and bowl, or unscrew the couplings, remove the pipe, and replace the washers.
  • If the bowl leaks around its base, you'll have to lift the bowl up and reseal it along the base.
  • If you don't want to do this job yourself, call us at (256) 845-1382.
Professional Tips

  • When loosening connections, avoid slipping with a wrench and cracking the fixture by dousing stubborn connections with penetrating oil.
  • When trying to detect a tank leak, add food coloring to the tank water if you can't tell whether your toilet is leaking around the tank bolts or just sweating. Wait an hour; then touch the bolt tips and nuts under the tank with white tissue. If the tissue shows coloring, you have a leak; otherwise, it's condensation.

Stopped Up Sink Drains

A stopped sink drain isn't just an inconvenience; it can sometimes be an emergency. It's always best to prevent clogs before they happen. Be alert to the warning signs of a sluggish drain. It's easier to open a drain that's slowing down than one that's stopped completely.

  • Run or pour scalding water down the drain to break up grease buildups.
  • If hot water doesn't unclog the drain, there could be some object in the drain.
  • To check, remove and thoroughly clean the sink pop-up stopper or strainer.
  • Determine if the clog is close to the sink by checking the other drains in your home. If more than one won't clear, something is blocking the main sewer.
  • The most effective way to clear a clog is with a snake.
  • You can try using a plunger or a chemical drain.

Clearing Drains with a Plunger

The plunger is a good drain-clearing tool, but it often fails to work because it's incorrectly used. Don't make the typical mistake of pumping up and down two or three times, expecting the water to whoosh down the drain. Though no great expertise is needed to use this simple tool, here are a few tips to guide you:

  • Choose a plunger with a suction cup large enough to cover the drain opening completely.
  • Fill the clogged fixture with enough water to cover the plunger cup.
  • Coat the rim of the plunger cup with petroleum jelly to ensure a tight seal.
  • Block off all other outlets (the overflow, second drain in a double sink, adjacent fixtures) with wet rags.
  • Insert the plunger into the water at an angle so no air remains trapped under it.
  • Use 15 to 20 forceful strokes, holding the plunger upright and pumping vigorously.
  • Repeat the plunging two or three times before giving up.

Using Chemical Drain Cleaners

Though routine use of chemical drain cleaners to prevent clogs may eventually damage your pipes, these cleaners can be helpful in opening clogged drains. If water is draining somewhat, but plunging has failed to open the drain completely, you may want to try using a drain cleaner. Whenever you use chemicals, do so with caution and in a well-ventilated room. Be sure to take the following precautions:

  • Never use a plunger if a chemical cleaner is present in the drain; you risk splashing caustic water on yourself.
  • Wear rubber gloves to prevent the chemicals from burning your skin.
  • Don't use a chemical cleaner if the blockage is total, especially if the fixture is filled with water. It won't clear the blockage and you'll face another problem-how to get rid of the caustic water.
  • Never use a chemical cleaner in a garbage disposal.
  • Read labels and match cleaners with clogs. Alkalis cut grease; acids dissolve soap and hair.
  • Don't mix chemicals. Mixing an acid and an alkali cleaner can cause an explosion.
  • Don't look down the drain after pouring a chemical. The solution often boils up and gives off toxic fumes.

Fixing Clogged Bathtub Drains

Before trying any drain-clearing methods on a plugged drain, check that the tub's pop-up stopper is opening fully and is free of hair and debris. If the stopper isn't the problem, then the drainpipe is probably clogged. First, try a plunger or chemical drain cleaner.

  • Most tubs have a P-Trap in the drain. In some homes, the tub may have a drum trap in the floor near the tub instead (it will have a removable metal cover and a rubber gasket).
  • Using a snake in a tub P-Trap is much like snaking out a sink trap. If you have a drum trap, first try snaking it clear through the tub overflow.
  • If that doesn't work, bailout all the standing water from the tub.
  • Then, using an adjustable-end wrench, unscrew the trap cover slowly.
  • Have rags ready for any water that wells up.
  • Remove the cover, bail out and clean the trap.
  • If, after this, water does not well up, snake toward he tub; if water does well up, snake toward he main drain.
  • If you can't reach the clog from the trap, it's probably deeper in he main drain.

Fixing Clogged Shower Drains

Though it may difficult to unclog a shower drain with a plunger, it's worth a try. If that doesn't work, maneuver a snake down the drain opening into the trap. As a last resort, you can use a garden hose.

  • Attach the hose to an outdoor faucet or to an indoor faucet with a threaded adapter.
  • Push the hose deep into the drain and pack rags into the opening.
  • Turning the water on in short, hard bursts should open the drain.

CAUTION: Never leave a hose in any drain: a sudden drop in water pressure could siphon sewage back into the fresh water supply.

Preventing Kitchen Drain Clogs

No plumbing problem is more common or more frustrating than a clogged drain.

  • Kitchen sink drains clog most often because of a buildup of grease that traps food particles.
  • Hair and soap are often at fault in bathroom drains.

Drains can usually be cleared easily and inexpensively, but taking some simple precautions will help you avoid stop-ups. Proper disposal of kitchen waste will keep sink drain clogs to a minimum.

  • Don't pour grease down the kitchen sink.
  • Don't wash coffee grounds down the sink. Throw them out.
  • Be sparing with chemical cleaners, particularly if you have brass, steel, or cast-iron traps and drainpipes; some caustic chemicals can corrode metal pipes.
  • If used no more than once every few months, cleaners containing sodium hydroxide or sodium nitrate can be safe and effective.
  • Clean floor drain strainers. Some tubs, showers, and basement floor drains have strainers that are screwed into the drain opening. You can easily remove these strainers and reach down into the drain with a bent wire to clear out accumulated debris. And be sure to scrub the strainer.
  • Clean pop-up stoppers in the bathroom sink and the tub regularly. Lift out sink pop-ups once a week and rinse them off.
  • Every few months, remove the overflow plate on a tub and pull up the pop-up assembly to reach the spring or rocker arm. Remove accumulated hair and rinse thoroughly.
  • Keep the sewer pipes from the house free of tree roots that may invade them. If roots are a particular problem in your yard, you may need to call in professionals once a year or so to clear the pipes. They'll use an electric auger to cut out the roots.
  • Flush the drain-waste and vent systems whenever you go up onto your house roof to clean out downspouts or gutters. Run water from a garden hose into all vents, giving them a minute or two of full flow.

Troubleshooting Faucet Problems

The first step in fixing a leaking or sluggish faucet is identifying which of the two basic types of faucets you're dealing with.

  • Compression Faucet - Older design with two handles and one.
  • Washerless Faucet - More recent design, usually with a single lever or knob that controls the flow and mix of hot and cold water by aligning interior openings with the water inlets. These faucets may be one of several type: disc, valve, ball, or cartridge. Because models vary with the manufacturer, it's important to get identical replacement parts.
Professional Faucet Tips

  • When you're taking the faucet apart, douse stubborn connections with penetrating oil before trying to loosen them with a wrench. Tape-wrap the wrench's jaws to prevent marring visible parts of the fixture.
  • Before starting any faucet repair, plug the sink so small parts can't fall down the drain.
  • Line the sink with a towel to prevent damage from tools or parts accidentally dropped.
  • As you disassemble the faucet, line up the pieces in the order that you remove them so you can put them back together properly.
  • CAUTION: Before you work on a faucet, turn off the water at the fixture shutoff valves or the main shutoff valve and open the faucet to drain the pipes.
Leaking Compression Faucets

If your faucet has separate hot and cold water handles, it's probably a compression faucet (also called a stem or washer faucet). In this faucet, a rubber seat washer is secured to the stem, which has very coarse threads on the outside. When you turn the handle to shut off the faucet, the stem is screwed down, compressing the washer against the valve seat in the faucet body. The stem is secured by a packing nut, which compresses the packing (twine, a washer, or an O-ring) and prevents water from leaking around the stem.

  • If water leaks around the handle, tighten the packing nut. If that fails, replace the packing.
  • If the faucet leaks from the spout, either a washer is defective or a valve seat is badly corroded.
  • To find out which side needs work, turn off the shutoff valves one at a time; the leak will stop when one or the other is turned off.
  • Take off the handle, remove the stem, and either replace the washer or replace or recondition the valve seat.
Taking the Faucet Apart

  • With the handle removed, lift off the stem and packing nuts by turning the nuts counterclockwise with an adjustable-end wrench or a pair of rib-joint pliers. (Be careful not to strip the nuts).
  • Unscrew the stem, lifting it straight out of the faucet body.
  • Examine the threads.
  • If they're damaged or worn, replace the stem; if not, check the packing for wear.
Replacing the Packing and Washer

  • To replace the worn packing either remove the O-ring o packing washer and slide on an exact duplicate, or scrape off the twine and wrap new twine clockwise around the stem.
  • To replace a cracked or worn seat washer, remove the screw and washer; install a duplicate washer. If the threads are too worn to hold a screw, snap in a swivel washer.
Working On the Valve Seat

  • To replace a removable valve seat that's pitted or corroded, insert a seat wrench into the valve seat and turn it counterclockwise until the seat lifts out. The new valve seat should be an exact duplicate. Coat the threads of the new seat with pipe joint compound before installing it.
  • To recondition a non-removable valve seat, grind down its burrs with a seat dresser, an inexpensive tool you can buy from a plumbing supply dealer. Insert and turn clockwise once or twice until the seat is smooth; remove metal filings with a damp cloth.
Cleaning Your Faucet Aerator

If the flow from your faucet is sluggish, the trouble may be in the faucet aerator. This device, at the tip of most faucet spouts, mixes air and water for a smooth flow. But minerals or dirt particles in the water often build up on the screen and disc, blocking the flow. If mineral deposits are to blame or if aerator parts are damaged, it's best to replace the aerator. If dirt is the problem, follow these steps:

  • Unscrew the aerator from the end of the spout.
  • To loosen stubborn connections, douse them with penetrating oil.
  • Disassemble and set the parts aside in order.
  • Clean the screen and disc with a brush and soapy water.
  • Use a pin or toothpick to open any clogged holes in the disc.
  • Flush all the parts with water before putting them back together.
Leaking Valve Faucets

A valve faucet has a valve assembly on each side (one for hot water, one for cold) through which water flows up and out the spout. Moving the handle from side to side controls the mix, moving forward and backward controls the flow.

  • The main problems you may encounter with a valve faucet are spout leaks, loose handle assemblies, and sluggish flow.
  • A leak at the base of the spout may be due to a faulty spout O-Ring.
  • If the spout drips, you may need to replace one or more of the valve assembly parts.
  • If the handle is loose, a simple adjustment to the handle screw or carn assembly at the back of the faucet can remedy it.
  • If sluggish flow is the problem, the strainers or aerator may be clogged with sediment and need cleaning.
Leaking Ball Faucets

In a ball faucet, water flows when openings in the rotating all align with hot and cold water inlets in the faucet body.

  • If water leaks from under the handle, leave the water on and tighten the adjusting ring.
  • If the leak persists, turn off the water and replace the carn.
  • For a dripping spout, replace the inlet seals and springs or the all.
  • Cure any leaks around the spout sleeve by replacing the O-Rings on the faucet body.
Leaking Cartridge Faucets

A cartridge faucet has a series of holes in the stem-and-cartridge assembly that align to control the mix and flow of water. Usually, leaks occur because of worn O-Rings or a faulty cartridge.

  • Look at the O-Rings on the faucet body. If they're in good shape, remove the cartridge (look under the spout sleeve on the outside of the faucet for the retainer clip that holds the cartridge in place).
  • If the cartridge is worn, replace it with a duplicate.
  • Cartridges vary, so read the manufacturer's instructions before installing a new one. The most common type has a flat side that must face front. Otherwise, the hot and cold water supply will be reversed.
  • Be sure to fit the retainer clip snugly into its slot.
Tub Faucets

Like sink faucets, tub faucets can be compression style or washerless. To take apart any style tub faucet, pry off the cap, unscrew the handle, and remove the escutcheon. In a compression faucet, you'll see the stem and packing nut. You may need to use a deep-socket wrench to grip and loosen a recessed packing nut. To repair a washerless tub faucet, remove the stop tube and draw out the retainer clip to get at the cartridge.

Troubleshooting Shower Heads

  • If your shower head leaks where it meets the arm, you probably need to replace the washer. To reach it, loosen the collar, using tape-wrapped rib-joint pliers. Unscrew the head from the adjusting ring.
  • Erratic or weak pressure usually indicates mineral buildup. To restore proper flow, clean outlet holes with a pin or unscrew a perforated face plate and soak it overnight in vinegar, then scrub it clean.
  • If the shower head pivots stiffly, check the washer for wear and coat the swivel ball with petroleum jelly before reassembling.

Troubleshooting Sink Sprays and Diverters

A kitchen sink spray has a spray head attached to a hose, which is connected to a diverter valve in the faucet body. When you squeeze the spray head handle, the diverter valve reroutes water from the faucet to the spray head hose.

  • If the flow is sluggish, make sure the hose isn't kinked.
  • Clean the aerator in the spray nozzle.
  • Continued sluggishness may indicate diverter valve problems.
  • Clean the valve or replace it.
  • If the spray head leaks, remove it from the hose and replace the washer.
  • For a leak at the faucet end of the hose, tighten the hose coupling.
  • If the hose itself leaks, it's probably cracked. Replace it.

Leaking Pipes

A higher than normal water bill might be your first indication of a leaking pipe. Or you might hear the sound of running water even when all your fixtures are turned off. When you suspect a leak, check the fixtures first to make sure all the faucets are tightly closed. Then go to the water meter, if you have one. If the dial is moving, you're losing water somewhere in the system.

Locating the Leak

  • The sound of running water helps. If you hear it, follow it to its source.
  • If water is staining the ceiling or dripping down, the leak is more than likely directly above.
  • Line the sink with a towel to prevent damage from tools or parts accidentally dropped.
  • Occasionally, water may travel along a joist and then stain or drip at a point some distance from the leak.
  • If water stains a wall, it means there's a leak in a section of pipe.
  • Any wall stain is likely to be below the actual location of the leak and you'll probably need to remove part of the wall to find it.
  • Without the sound of running water and without drips or stains as evidence, leaks are more difficult to find. Using a flashlight, check all the pipes in the basement or in the crawl space.
  • Call Chadwick Plumbing at (256) 845-1382 to perform leak-detection.
Fixing the Leak

If the leak is major, turn off the water immediately, either at the fixture shutoff valve or the main shutoff valve. You'll probably have to replace the leaky section of pipe. If your experience working with pipes is limited, you'll probably want to call in a plumber to do the job. If the leak is small, the ultimate solution is to replace the pipe, but there are temporary solutions until you have time for the replacement job. These methods work for small leaks only.

  • Clamps should stop most leaks temporarily if they're used with a solid rubber blanket. It's a good idea to buy a sheet of rubber, as well as some clamps sized to fit your pipes at a hardware store and keep them on hand just for this purpose.
  • A sleeve clamp that exactly fits the pipe diameter works best. Wrap a rubber blanket over the leak, then screw the clamp down over the blanket.
  • An adjustable hose clamp used with a rubber blanket stops a pinhole leak.
  • If nothing else is at hand, use a C-clamp, a small block of wood and a rubber blanket.
  • In a pinch, try applying epoxy putty around a joint where a clamp won't work. The pipe must be dry for the putty to adhere. Turn off the water supply to the leak and leave the water off until the putty hardens completely on the pipe.
  • If you don't have a clamp or putty, you can still stop a small leak temporarily by plugging it with a pencil point.

Troubleshooting Noisy Pipes

Pipe noises range from loud hammering sounds to high-pitched squeaks. The causes may be loose pipes, water logged air chambers, or water pressure that's too high. Anchoring exposed pipes is a simple solution; other remedies such as anchoring pipes concealed inside walls, floors or ceilings, may call for a professional.


Pipes are usually anchored with pipe straps every 6 to 8 feet for horizontal runs, 8 to 10 feet for vertical.

  • If your pipes bang when you turn on the water, you may need to add straps, cushion the pipes with a rubber blanket, or both.
  • When you anchor a pipe, especially a plastic one, leave room for expansion.
  • Don't use galvanized straps on copper pipes.

Only hot water pipes squeak. As the pipe expands, it moves in its strap, and friction causes the squeak.

Water Hammer

This noise occurs when you turn off the water at a faucet or an appliance quickly. The water flowing through the pipes slams to a stop, causing a hammering noise.

Check for:

  • Loose Pipes.
  • Faulty air chambers. These lengths of pipe, installed behind fixtures and appliances, hold air that cushions the shock when flowing water is shut off. They can get filled with water and lose their effectiveness.
  • Water pressure that's above 80 PSI.


  • Anchor the pipes.
  • To restore air to the chambers, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve. Open all the faucets to drain the system. Close the faucets and turn the water on again. The air chambers should fill with air.
  • To lower the pressure, install a pressure-reducing valve. You can call Chadwick Plumbing at (256) 845-1382 to do the work if this is a job that you don't want to do yourself.

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