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Know Your Household Plumbing

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Your plumbing includes all of the pipes and fixtures on your property, from the meter or valve near the street to the faucets inside your home. Here are a few important components to be familiar with:

 Main Shutoff Valve

This valve is normally located where the water line enters your home through the foundation. It can be used to shut the water off in an emergency or when plumbing improvements are being made. It can also be turned off while the property is vacant to prevent water damage that unforeseen leaks might cause. To make sure this valve works properly, turn it off and verify that the water flow to your fixtures has stopped completely. When the valve is turned back on, it should be opened fully to allow unrestricted water flow.

Water Valve

 


Pressure Reducing Valve

Pressure Reducing Valve

Most houses built after 1972 are equipped with a pressure reducing valve (PRV), which is normally located near the main shutoff water valve.  PRVs are usually bell-shaped devices, approximately 4" in length that are designed to keep the water pressure inside your home from exceeding a set limit usually below 80 psi. This helps prevents "knocking" in pipes and other stresses caused by high pressure. If this is the case in your home, we recommend you check, and if needed, adjust your PRV, or call a plumber or handyman to do so. If you do not have a PRV, it is recommended you install one, as pressures fluctuate throughout the Town's water distribution network.

 


Hot Water Heaters

Hot water heaters do just as their name suggests, provide a source of hot water for your home appliances, kitchen, and bath fixtures. However, hot water heaters manufactured between 1993 and 1996 possibility contain a defective dip tube. The dip tube may disintegrate inside the heater tank and plastic white chips then flow to the water faucets. The white chips do not pose a health risk but can decrease water flow to faucets and clog aerators. To test whether the chips are from the dip tube, gently heat them. If they smoke and smell like plastic, they are from the dip tube. Another way to check is to place the chips in a cup of water. Chips that float are from the dip tube. To fix the problem, you must replace the dip tube. After dip tube replacement, flush the hot water heater to ensure that all white chips are cleared from the tank and piping.

Hot Water Heater

 

If you notice water leaking from your hot water heater's relief valve, the valve may be faulty and require replacement or the valve may be leaking due to thermal expansion. Please review our guide on Thermal Expansion to aid in your decision to contact a plumber.


Sinks That Leak

Money in Sink

Leaky sinks can be a major source of water waste and cost you money. Faucet leaks are usually caused by worn-out seals. Since each type of faucet requires different materials to fix the leak, consult your local hardware store for the most accurate repair information and to obtain replacement parts.

 


Toilet Flappers

The toilet flapper is located at the bottom of the tank and seals the tank drain until the handle is pushed.  If the seal is not tight, leakage can occur, resulting in the toilet unexpectedly refilling or making running water sounds. To check if the toilet flapper is working properly, there are two tests you can do:
• Shred some toilet paper and toss it into the bowl. Flush the toilet and see if all the paper is gone.  If it is not, then the flapper setting needs to be adjusted.
• Add a few drops of food coloring to the tank behind the bowl. Wait 10 minutes without flushing.  If the color appears in the bowl, the flapper is likely defective or leaking.
For further information regarding how to replace the toilet flapper, consult your local hardware store.

Toilet Flapper

 


Pipes In Your Yard

Service Piping

Water service lines are the pipes that run underground from the meter or valve near the street to the main water valve inside the house. Sanitary sewer laterals are the pipes that run underground from the property line cleanout to the house sewer connection. The pipes are typically made of copper, plastic, or combinations of both, and are your property and responsibility. Always contact Miss Utility (Dial 811) prior to digging anywhere in your yard. Water meters are owned and maintained by the Town of Leesburg (Dial 703-737-7075).

 


Fire Hydrant Use

The first and main purpose of hydrants is for fire protection. Homeowners are not permitted to access fire hydrants for any activities, including filling pools. Pool owners are encouraged to use their garden hose and outdoor spigot to fill their pool or hire a pool-filling service.

Fire Hydrant