Water Conservation Matters, Your Plumbing System

Plumbing Knowledge 101: Every Homeowners Guide to the Basics

Plumbing, often considered the lifeblood of any home, is a vital system for the smooth functioning of various amenities, from sinks to showers and toilets to water heaters. Yet, for many homeowners, plumbing remains a mysterious and often intimidating aspect of household maintenance. “Plumbing Knowledge 101: A Homeowner’s Guide to the Basics” aims to demystify this essential system by providing clear and concise insights into its fundamental principles.

Whether you’re a new homeowner seeking to understand the basics or an experienced one looking to enhance your plumbing know-how, this guide will equip you with the foundational knowledge needed to navigate common plumbing issues with confidence and ease. From understanding pipe materials to identifying common problems and knowing when to call a professional, this introduction sets the stage for an enlightening journey into plumbing.

The concept of “knowledge is power” is frequently linked to Francis Bacon, stemming from his work “Meditationes Sacrae” (1597). In his correspondence, Thomas Jefferson employed this phrase at least four times, notably in discussions regarding establishing a state university in Virginia. The quote is accurate, and in this case, we’ll apply it to your plumbing system.

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Plumbing Knowledge 101: Know How to Turn Off Your Gas at the Meter

While most homeowners may know where their gas meter is located, some may not. So, the first step is locating your gas meter. A homeowner may call 911 or their gas company’s emergency line in most gas emergencies. However, knowing how to turn off the gas at the meter will give you a step up on a gas leak in your home, which could save valuable time. 

Note: Only switch off your meter when it’s safe if you smell natural gas, hear escaping gas, or notice other indications of a leak.

As you approach the meter, you’ll notice a pipe extending from the ground to the meter. Adjacent to this pipe, you’ll find a shutoff valve positioned approximately 6 to 8 inches above ground level. Using a 12-inch or larger adjustable wrench, simply turn the valve a quarter of a turn in either direction until it is perpendicular to the pipe.

Tip: It’s always handy to keep a 12-inch or larger adjustable wrench alongside your emergency supplies or near the valve for quick access. Avoid storing the wrench directly on the meter or any natural gas piping or equipment for safety reasons.

Another reminder: ONLY your gas company can turn your natural gas back on once it’s been turned off.

Plumbing Systems Gas Meter, Plumbing Knowledge 101

Plumbing Knowledge 101: Know How to Turn Off the Water to Your Home Quickly

Can you imagine you notice a water leak in a wall or maybe even the worst possible scenario, a burst pipe? Time is of the essence to keep the damage at a minimum. Every home has a water shutoff valve, and everyone high school age and older should know how to shut off the water to their home. Most water shutoff valves are located near the incoming water supply. A good rule of thumb is to draw an imaginary line from the meter to the home; you can usually find your shutoff valve somewhere along that line. In some cases, it’s close to the water heater; in older homes, it could be on the home’s exterior. 

Plumbing Tips Find Your Shut Off Valve and Avoid the Plumbing Survival Nightmare

Know How to Turn Off the Water at the Meter

Every home has a water meter. Your water meter serves as a reliable and precise tool for measuring the water consumption in your home or building. Typically housed in a small box within the ground, near the street or property boundary, this device provides accurate tracking of water usage. It’s essential to maintain clear access to your meter box for reading and servicing purposes. Many homeowners may not realize that their water meter falls within a utility easement, emphasizing the need for sufficient space around the meter and its box. 

When landscaping or installing fencing, leaving ample room is crucial to enable easy access for reading, servicing, and potential repairs. Ultimately, ensuring the visibility and accessibility of your meter box falls under the responsibility of the property owner, guaranteeing seamless management of water usage and maintenance.

Know How to Turn Off the Water at the Meter

There are two water shutoff valves in your water meter. One is for the water company to shut off, and the other is a shutoff for the homeowner. Rarely will you need to shut the water off at the meter, especially if you have already located your home’s shutoff valve. However, your water meter plays an important role besides tracking water usage. It will also tell a homeowner if there is a water leak in the home. 

Every water meter has a flow indicator that will tell a homeowner if a leak exists in the home. Every meter has a handle to turn the water off; slightly turning the handle a quarter turn clockwise will turn the water off to the home. Having a trial run is a good idea if you’ve never done it before. Unlike your gas meter, which can only be turned back on by the gas company, the homeowner can turn your water meter on and off.  

Plumbing Knowledge 101: Know Where Your Cleanouts Are on Your Property

The sewer cleanout is a valuable feature in your plumbing system, comprising a pipe or pipes equipped with a cap, allowing easy access to clear blockages within the sewer line. The lateral sewer line plays a crucial role in maintaining efficient waste disposal by connecting your home to the main public sewer system. Typically situated along the lateral sewer line, the sewer cleanout facilitates swift and hassle-free maintenance whenever necessary. This accessibility ensures that any potential blockages are swiftly addressed, contributing to the smooth operation of your plumbing system and uninterrupted wastewater flow. Every homeowner needs to know where their cleanout(s) are located. So, Plumbing Knowledge 101 says to know where your cleanouts are located.

Locate Your Clean-outs in Your Plumbing System

The Most Basics for Any Homeowner, Hard Water Deposits 

Most of us have already seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where actor Michael Constantine, known as Gus Portokalos, uses Windex on everything. Well, across the internet, some think vinegar and baking soda are the fix-all for everything from drain cleaning to drain fresheners. While I don’t want to minimize the power of vinegar and baking soda, some products work much better. For example, you can replace four faucet aerators for less than $8. So, buy a new one before you try and soak the hard water deposit from your aerator.

The same can be true with shower heads with mineral deposits. While soaking a showerhead in vinegar may seem like the organic method for removing mineral deposits, think again. You’ll be brushing and scraping to chip away at those deposits only after soaking overnight. Some products will successfully remove calcium deposits. For example, CLM® costs less than $15 for 80oz and will remove calcium, rust, and lime. You’ll have enough to clean all your showerheads for the next year. So, let’s take a common sense approach to removing hardwater deposits. Additionally, there are other products that work as well, so do your research.

Plumbing Knowledge 101: Changing a Toilet Flapper

You don’t need to be a do-it-yourselfer to change a toilet flapper. The hardest part is driving to your home center to purchase a new one.

Changing a toilet flapper is a straightforward process that can be completed with a few simple steps:

1. Turn off the Water: 

Locate the water supply valve near the base of your toilet and turn it clockwise to shut off the water flow.

2. Flush the Toilet: 

Flush the toilet to drain the tank completely. Make sure there is minimal water left in the tank when you start working.

3. Remove the Old Flapper: 

Lift the lid off the toilet tank and locate the flapper. The flapper is usually attached to the flush valve at the bottom of the tank. Disconnect the chain or strap that connects the flapper to the flush lever. Remove the old flapper from the flush valve by unhooking it or sliding it off the overflow tube. **If it’s your first time completing such a task, take a picture before you start.

 4. Install the New Flapper: 

Position the new flapper onto the flush valve, making sure it fits snugly and creates a good seal. If the flapper has a chain or strap, attach it to the flush lever at a length that allows it to close properly when the toilet is flushed. **Remember to take the old flapper to your home center to match it up.

5. Turn the Water Back On: 

Once you have the new flapper installed, turn the water supply valve counterclockwise to restore the water flow to the toilet.

6. Test the Flapper: 

Flush the toilet a few times to confirm the new flapper works correctly and forms a tight seal each time.

7. Adjust if Necessary: 

If the flapper doesn’t close properly or has too much slack in the chain, adjust the chain length accordingly until the flapper closes smoothly after each flush.

8. Replace the Tank Lid: 

Once satisfied with the flapper’s performance, carefully place the tank lid back onto the toilet tank.

** No tools required for removing a toilet flapper.

Bathroom Water Leaks / Plumbing Knowledge 101

Changing a toilet flapper is a simple plumbing task that can help improve your toilet’s efficiency and prevent water wastage from leaks. If you encounter any difficulties or if the problem persists after replacing the flapper, it may be a sign of a more significant issue, and you may need to consult a professional plumber.

Brandon and Family, Licensed plumbing contractor

Family Owned & Operated

My name is Brandon Mageno. I'm the founder, President, and CEO of Big B's Plumbing Company. As the founder, I never thought about being average or good. My passion for being the best plumbing company in Southern California has always been the same. Providing plumbing services to this great county is simply in my DNA. Nothing makes me happier than to see a satisfied customer. Learn More About Us

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I called Big B's Plumbing because I the hot water would not turn off in our master bathroom. I tried to turn the valve off under the sink and it broke off, so I had to shut off the main water to the house. It was noticeable the valves were original to the home. When I called, the rep stated that I would be informed about the service tech and their experience along with services offered "On The Spot". I was on a bit of a time crunch...
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Found them on Google and they had good quality reviews. Made the call and set up the appointment for same day. Dispatch called me a few hours later to confirm our appointment and let me know that the technician Mathew was on the way. This was supposed to be an easy job once Mathew arrived. But it turned out to be so much more than that. Without hesitation or a sour look on his face, he dove deep into his van...
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Randy was very knowledgeable and professional. He helped us figure out what we could do with the space given for our bathroom with our remodel. He picked out perfect fixtures and the work he did was beautiful. The cleaned up properly when they were done and everything was handled in one day! I will be calling for Randy anytime we have any plumbing needs. Thank you for doing such a great job!
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