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5 Plumbing Basics Everyone Should Know


You might not think twice about your plumbing system—until it stops working right. When your pipes and fixtures act up, you often need to work fast to prevent property damage. Save yourself some money and hassle by becoming familiar with these five plumbing basics.

How to Turn off the Water Main

If your plumbing system springs a leak, it’s vital to turn off the water as quickly as possible to reduce property damage. Most modern homes have a shut-off valve near the water meter. For a wheel-type valve, turn clockwise until the water stops. For a lever, turn clockwise until it’s perpendicular to the pipe. Locate your water shut-off valve today so you can access it quickly in an emergency.

How to Check for Water Leaks

If your home is connected to the municipal water supply, a water meter measures your incoming water, which determines what you pay on your monthly or quarterly water bills. Any time your bill seems higher than usual, take a quick reading of your water meter. Then, refrain from using any water for two hours. Read the meter again, and if it has gone up, that means you have a leak somewhere. Schedule leak detection to pinpoint and correct the problem.

How to Test the Water Pressure

Ask your water company to test your water pressure for you or purchase a water-pressure tester from a home improvement store. This gauge attaches to an outdoor spigot and delivers a reading when you turn on the faucet. Look for 40 to 80 psi, the standard residential pressure range. If it’s any higher or lower, speak with a plumber about adjusting the pressure regulator.

How to Test Your Water Heater’s TPR Valve

The temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve is a safety mechanism that prevents your water heater from building up too much pressure. Test it once a year to make sure it’s working properly. Place a bucket below the discharge tube and flip open the valve for about five seconds to make sure it opens fully. Make sure the valve snaps back tightly when you release it. If it leaks, contact a plumber for assistance.

How to Replace a Toilet Flapper

A worn-out or ill-fitting toilet flapper can allow water to leak from the tank into the bowl. Fortunately, this is an easy fix. First, twist the valve on the wall behind the toilet to turn off the water supply. Then, flush the toilet. Remove the tank lid and locate the rubber flapper attached to the chain. Detach the flapper and take it with you to the hardware store to help you select a proper replacement. Attach the new flapper, turn the water back on, and flush the toilet to test that your upgrade worked.

If you have trouble with any of these plumbing basics, or you have more questions about repairing or maintaining your pipes and fixtures, please contact Albert Nahman Services at (510) 876-9725 . We have provided exceptional plumbing services to Berkeley homeowners since 1981.

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