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Identifying and Fixing Leaky Toilets

  • Do you hear water running in your toilet, even when the tank is full? The fill valve may be faulty. Correcting this problem can save up to 50 gallons of water a day, saving you money on your water bill. Here's how to do it

  • Is your toilet cycling on and off? Does it make an occasional hissing noise? The rubber flapper at the bottom of the tank is not seating properly, causing water to slowly drain from the tank. Adjusting or replacing the flapper will usually fix this problem. Here's how to do it

  • If you're not sure whether your toilet is leaking, it's easy to check for a leak. Click on this link to learn more: How to Detect a Toilet Leak

  • If you need to test your toilet for a leak, we have free non-toxic dye tablet tests (complete with instructions) available for pick-up at our office. 

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Fixing Leaky Faucets

  • A dripping faucet can cause your water bill to be unusually high. While they're usually easily noticed inside the home, outside faucets often go unchecked—because they're not something you see regularly.

  • The same is true of garden hose nozzles, even in the off position, they will often have a slow leak. It's always best to turn off garden hoses at the faucet, rather than relying on the nozzle.

  • Whether it's an inside or outside faucet that's leaking, check out these tips on how to Repair a Faucet Leak to get it fixed.

Keeping Irrigation Systems in Check

Next to a leaky toilet, your home, business, or school’s irrigation system is often the #1 culprit in high water bills. It's important to inspect and tune up your system at least once a year, using the guidelines below. For a more in-depth explanation of all irrigation systems and their proper tune-up steps, visit this website: http://www.irrigationtutorials.com/faq/tune-up.htm

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Spray-Type Sprinklers:

  1. Remove the nozzle from each head and clean the screen with an old toothbrush.

  2. Turn on the sprinklers and look for partially blocked nozzles. If the fan-shaped spray of water is not even and uniform, a grain of sand is likely stuck in the nozzle. Use a plastic or wood tool (like a toothpick) rather than a metal knife blade, because nozzles are easy to scratch, and scratches can ruin the spray pattern. Even better, replace the nozzle.

  3. Using the adjustment screw on top of each nozzle, adjust the water direction. If the heads are creating a lot of mist, turn the screw clockwise. After adjusting, make sure the spray still goes all the way to the next sprinkler.

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Drip Irrigation Systems:

  1. Turn on the water and inspect each drip or spray nozzle to locate and replace or repair any that have become dislodged, clogged, or been damaged by rodents.

  2. Check your timer regularly and adjust according to the season.

  3. At the end of the season, drain the system and store timers in the garage or another area of your home that won't drop below freezing.

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Rotor-Type Sprinklers:

  1. Turn on each valve, one at a time, and carefully inspect your irrigation system. Look for wet spots that could indicate a leaking irrigation pipe. Repair any leaks.

  2. Replace the controller battery.

  3. Straighten any sprinkler heads that are leaning to the side (leaning heads create dry spots and waste water).

  4. Replace any broken or malfunctioning sprinklers with the same brand and model as the other sprinklers on the same valve circuit; note: most manufacturers use different flow rates in their sprinkler heads so it’s important to get the same brand and model.

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Winterization Checklist

Shut Off Water

Protect Your Pipes

  1. Disconnect and drain all garden hoses.

  2. Insulate exterior pipes and faucets with newspaper, rags, or insulating material, then cover with plastic and secure with string or wire.  You can also use electric heat tape.

  3. Insulate interior pipes and faucets located in cold areas of your home (including unheated attics, basements, garages and crawl spaces) the same way as Step 2.

  4. Locate your home’s main water shut-off valve and test it prior to an emergency, so you can stop excessive water loss and flooding if a pipe breaks. If it's not easily turned by hand, use a wrench to turn it firmly—but gently—in a clockwise direction.

  5. Alternatively, you can turn off your water at the meter box by using a “Water Meter Valve Key” tool (shown below; costs roughly $15 at most hardware stores).

Locating Your Main Water Shut-Off Valve:

This valve is either round or shaped like a lever. It’s

usually located in your basement, crawlspace, garage, or outdoor foundation, often near the front faucet. Turn or move it to the right to shut off the main water supply to your house. If you are having difficulties, just give us a call at (425) 337-3647.

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Additional Safety Measures

  1. If you have a yard sprinkler system, drain and blow out the system completely.

  2. On extra cold nights, open the doors of closets or cabinets that are located near water pipes on your home’s exterior walls.

  3. For maximum protection, apply caulk around incoming pipes, and close or block your home’s foundation vents during the coldest months (open them up once the threat of freezing has passed to prevent dry rot).

If you have a second home or cabin that is left unoccupied for several days (or longer)...

  • Turn off the main water shut-off valve.

  • Turn off the electricity or gas to the water heater. If the house is going to be vacant for an extended length of time, the water heater should also be drained.

  • Open and drain indoor and outdoor faucets.

  • After the water is turned off, flush the toilet once to drain the tank but not the bowl.

  • Leave the heat on at a minimum temperature to help keep pipes from freezing in the walls.

Thaw Frozen Pipe

How to Thaw a Frozen Pipe

If you turn on a faucet and only a little trickle (or no water) comes out, your pipe is probably frozen.

1. Locate the suspected frozen area of the pipe—usually where pipes are up against exterior walls, or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.

2. Turn on the faucet closest to the suspected frozen area. This will allow water to flow through the pipe once the frozen area begins to melt, which will help more ice melt inside the pipe.

3. SLOWLY try to thaw the frozen section of pipe.  Soak some old rags in hot water and wrap them around the pipe. When the wet rags cool, re-soak them in hot water and continue to apply until water begins to flow again.

DO NOT...

use an open flame such as a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, candle, or cigarette lighter, as this can cause the water in the frozen pipe to boil and explode the pipe. Open flames also present a serious fire danger, as well as exposure to lethal carbon monoxide.

What to Do if a Pipe Breaks

IMMEDIATELY turn off the main water shut-off valve to minimize flooding and damage.

If you’re unable to turn off your water, call us for help at (425) 337-3647. Our crews are very busy during freeze emergencies, so we may not be able to respond in time to prevent flooding damage...this is why it’s critical that you know the location of your main water shut-off valve (and how to turn it off). It’s also important to keep your water meter unobstructed for easy access.

 

Remember, you are responsible for protecting and repairing the section of water pipes that run from the water meter, all the way into your home.

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