On the House Questions and Answers

By Morris and James Carey
Friday March 15, 2002

Q. Mary asks: I recently had someone test my water. I learned that my water at this point is unsafe to consume. I am told that I have methane gas in my water and that some kind of release valve could be mounted on my tank to release this gas. Is this possible and, if so, how do I find the equipment or tools needed for the job? 

A. We don’t think that methane gas should be anywhere near ones home — it’s explosive! There are sleeves that can be added to your well that can remove air and other gasses from your water — before it gets to your home. Check with a well contractor for more details. This might not qualify as a do-it-yourself project. If you want to drink your well water, run it through a reverse osmosis filtration system. A small one that will supply drinking water to a family of four will run about $1,000 installed. 




Q. John asks: There is a “slamming” when the toilet valve shuts off. I recently replaced floating arms in both our toilets with floating cup ball cocks. Now, when the water shuts off, the valve slams shut hard and it sounds like water hammer. What should I do? 

A. If it sounds like a water hammer it probably is. This is not uncommon when a new valve is installed. Open the valve by removing a few screws, lubricate the gasket and replace it. Do this on both valves. If rubber-gasket lube isn’t enough, install an air chamber (shock absorbers) at each of the toilet supply pipes. 




Q. Gracie asks: The waste water from the clothes washer and kitchen sink drain onto the floor of the garage or into the backyard through a pipe on the exterior of the home-kitchen wall. This pipe was broken prior to moving in and remains open. Should I call a plumber? 

A. Waste water from your clothes washer and kitchen sink should not drain onto the garage floor or into the backyard. This waste should discharge into an onsite septic tank or a municipal sewage system. Anything less is unsanitary. 

We suggest you contact a reliable plumber or sewer and drain service in your area to make sure that the drainpipes are configured properly and draining freely. 




Q. Bonnie asks: Our hot-water heater safety-pressure valve runs all the time and drains all the water out of the tank. Why? 

A. All water heaters have a temperature-and-pressure-relief valve that is designed to prevent the water heater from exploding. Some manufacturers suggest testing the valve every six months or so by raising and lowering the test lever on the valve. This should produce a sudden burst of hot water from the drain line connected to the valve. More frequent testing can reduce the chance of a leak caused by mineral and corrosion buildup. However, if a leak results immediately after a test, simply operate the test lever several times to free lodged debris that might be preventing the valve from seating properly. 

There are a few reasons why your valve is running all the time and wasting water and energy. The valve might be built up with corrosion. Try flipping the test lever up and down a couple of times and tap the stem using a hammer to seat the valve. If this doesn’t do the trick, check to make sure that the thermostat (located on the controller) hasn’t been turned up. It should be set on medium for the safest and most efficient operation. Excessively hot water will cause the temperature-and-pressure-relief valve to open. Test the temperature of the water by using a thermometer in a glass filled with hot water from the tap. The temperature should not exceed 130 F. 

Finally, excessively high water pressure can cause the temperature-and-pressure-relief valve to leak. Residential water pressure should run between 30 psi and 55 psi. Pressure exceeding 55 psi can potentially damage clothes washers, dishwashers, icemakers and other water-supplied automatic appliances. Most homes have a water-pressure regulator valve at the location where the water enters the building. You can test the water pressure by using a gauge available from the hardware store. Screw the gauge onto a hose bib and turn on the water. You can adjust the water pressure by turning a nut or screw on the pressure regulator. 




For more home improvement tips and information, visit www.onthehouse.com.