Here are answers to questions we often receive from our customers. We have included links to rebate programs and useful sites on the lower right with more comprehensive information to help keep your water working for you and save a few bucks.

Why does my toilet keep running?
It needs a new fill valve, the flapper isn’t seated or is worn out, or the tank lever is stuck and will not allow the flapper to reseat.

Why does my toilet turn itself on every so often?
The flapper is worn out and leaks or the flush valve (the large hole in the center where the water discharges to the bowl) is pitted and needs to be replaced.

When should I replace my faucet?
When faucets are more than 20 years old or when repairs would cost more than a replacement. Most new faucets can be repaired with factory parts. Always keep fixture literature in case parts need to be ordered. Taking digital photos is an easy way to help us identify fixtures and necessary parts.

When should I replace my water heater?
If a water heater is more than 12 years old, we recommend replacing it.

Why do I run out of hot water before I’ve finished taking a shower?
The water heater might need a new dip tube on the cold water inlet or a new element – if the heater is electric.

Why is the hot water temperature inconsistent?
Gas water heater thermostats lose sensitivity over time which means the water must be cooler before the burner turns on and hotter before it turns off. If the water is too hot and you have an electric water heater, the thermostat probably needs to be replaced.

How do I keep my in-sink disposal in good repair?
Grind small amounts of food along with a lot of water. Continue to run the water after turning the disposal off. From time to time grind a handful of ice cubes along with water. A wedge of fresh lemon will help keep it odor-free. Foods that are NOT recommended for disposals and/or kitchen drains: oily or greasy foods, bones, nut shells, artichoke leaves, potato or root vegetable peelings, corn cobs, coffee grounds, onion skins, celery, bones or rice. A natural enzyme is highly recommended over chemical drain treatments which damage the pipes and/or are harmful to the environment.

Why does my faucet have low flow?
It’s helpful to isolate a low-flow problem to the hot and/or cold sides of specific fixtures. If the flow is low on the hot and cold sides and the faucet was installed before 1970, the aerators might be plugged. Cleaning them out is quite easy.

Why does my garbage disposal “hum”?
It’s jammed and will pop the reset button. The manufacturer provides an L-shaped tool called an “allen” wrench that can be used to release the jammed rotor. Once the allen wrench is inserted into the center hole at the bottom of the motor, the motor can be turned back and forth to release the rotor. If this is unsuccessful, the bearings are the problem and the unit should be replaced.

Should I use an in-sink disposal if I have a septic tank?
It’s usually fine to use a garbage disposal with a septic system. Using lots of water is best for drain pipes and it’s a good idea to add enzymes to the septic system to lengthen the time between pump-outs.

Why is my tub/shower valve leaking?
It has debris lodged inside where it needs to seat or the seat is pitted and the rubber seal is damaged. The debris can be cleaned out and the parts replaced.

Which plunger is best for unclogging drains or toilets?
Most clogs are fairly simple and can be cleared out with a plunger. We highly recommend spending the extra couple dollars and getting the narrow ended plungers that can get down into the toilet drain rather than the wider (typical red colored) plungers that you have to fit over the top of the drain. The latter are messier, cause more splashing, and can even get inverted (inside out) if over worked.

Before plunging, spread newspaper around the base of the toilet, and scoop out some of the water from the toilet bowl into a bucket to make room for plunging. Once you’ve got everything prepared, insert the plunger securely into the drain at the bottom of the toilet bowl, and carefully exert short pumps until you can feel the suction building up.

You should be able to physically feel the clog loosening and you can increase the pressure that you exert until the drain clears. Often, if you’ve done an adequate job, it will begin to drain on its own without manually flushing the toilet handle.

How do I know if my house needs re-piping?
If you have dirty water when you fill the sink or bathtub or a glass of water, if someone in the shower gets scalded when someone else flushes a toilet, when you can’t run a faucet in the kitchen and the bathroom at the same time, and/or if the pipes are over 50 years old!

How do I clear a clogged drain?
The best way is to use a mechanical snake. We discourage the use of chemicals because they are hard on the pipes and the environment.

Do you make service calls?
We service and/or replace just about any plumbing fixture you can think of – toilets, sinks, faucets, shower systems, water heaters, sump pumps, sewage ejectors, rain drains, catch basins. We do gas as well as water piping, but we do not install sprinkler systems.

Do you give bids and estimates?
We quote jobs that cost over $500. Otherwise we can approximate the amount of time and material a job might require without making a formal bid.

I’d like to remodel my bathroom/kitchen…where do I begin?
Think about what you like to do/wish you had in the space you’re hoping to remodel. Collect photos that show features you like. Develop a plan, preferably with a designer, as well as a budget. Think about your priorities and what you’re willing to live with during and after the process. Give us a call. We have over two decades of experience and up-to-the-minute innovations to help make your water work for you!

How Do I Locate My Water Shutoff Valve and Gas Shutoff Valve?
Some things in life are worth learning before it’s too late—like the locations of your water and gas shutoff valves. These shutoff valves are often hidden in some dark corners of the house. But if a water pipe springs a leak, knowing where the shutoff valve is could save you thousands in water damage repairs. What’s more, you can’t make those major plumbing repairs or improvements unless you first turn off the water. The same goes for turning off the gas.

Home water and gas systems contain two types of shutoff valves: main or master shutoff valves for stopping the flow of gas or water to the entire house, and individual or supply shutoff valves for specific appliances and fixtures. Locate these valves and keep tools necessary to turn the valves nearby in case of an emergency.

Main water shutoff valves (CLICK FOR YOUTUBE INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS)

The water line coming in from the street is always connected to the water meter followed by a master shutoff valve for the entire home. Close this one valve and you have shut off water throughout the house — it’s instant action for serious emergencies. A meter key (available online or your local plumbing supply store) is a handy tool for shutting off water at the street. If you need to shut off the water at the main valve make sure the hot water tank is turned down to pilot. Electric hot water tanks require special attention, and it is best to enlist the aid of a plumbing and heating professional. However, if the emergency calls for the main water system to be shut off, the electric water system should also be shut off. The electric can be shut off at the main electrical fuse box by either removing the fuse from the box or switching the breaker to an “off “position. (Check and see if your breakers are labeled – if they’re not, this would be a great time to do it!) The electricity to the hot water tank should not be turned on until the water tank has been refilled with water—see the owner’s manual that comes with the electric hot water heater. To turn off this valve, turn the handle clockwise until it stops.

Main gas shutoff valves ( CLICK FOR YOUTUBE INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS )

Typically your main gas shutoff valve is on the side of your house at the meter. Turn off your gas meter ONLY if you smell gas or hear the hissing sound of gas escaping. As you face the meter, you will see a pipe running from the ground to the meter. The shut-off valve is usually located about 6 to 8 inches above the ground. Take a 10 “or 12″ adjustable wrench and turn the valve 1/4 turn in either direction, until the valve is crosswise to the pipe thus shutting off the gas.

Plan a family house tour with parents and older children. All should know what to do if water emergencies arise when they are alone in the house. If you are hiring a contractor to do anything near your gas or water lines show them the location of the shut offs in the event of an emergency. If you need help locating and labeling the shut off valves, give us a call and we will send a friendly plumber to take care of it for you.

ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy in 2010 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 33 million cars — all while saving nearly $18 billion on their utility bills.

*Any links to external Web sites and/or non-Bruner Plumbing pages or returned from Web search engines are provided as a courtesy. They should not be construed as an endorsement of the content or views of the linked materials.

Bruner Plumbing • We Make Water Work! • Post Office Box 23985, Tigard, Oregon 97281-3985 • 503-624-4880 • CCB# 81837